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The Girl with the Daffodil Tattoo

A Welsh girl let loose in a wild world

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spice rack

Desk tidy

You will need:

Materials:
Boxes (choose your sizes to suit your needs)
Clean cans/jars
Drawing pins
Strong tape, preferably clear

Tools:
Box cutter
Long ruler (optional, but useful)

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This project is super simple. Just remember to work with the shape/stength of the boxes you have at hand. Happy crafting!

Cardboard notice board

You will need:
Command strips
Cardboard box
Box cutter

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Limits:
Your imagination

The Case of the Pillow Cases

There is nothing that makes my blood boil more than Spanish pillows. What can I say? It’s the little things in life.

Don’t know what I mean? Close your eyes, and picture a bed.

Does it look like this?

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Or maybe this?

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Well, if you move abroad, be very careful that you buy pillowcases that fit your pillows, because guess what: some countries have ANOTHER SIZE OF PILLOW. Observe:

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Longer and slimmer, it is no better or worse than the “standard” pillow that one can purchase in the dreaded Ikea. It’s just a very slightly different shape, enough to need a different sized pillow case.

Then, there’s the one pillow for two people idea.

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Staying in my friend’s mum’s house, I actually slept on a bed a bit like that (minus the chap with the beret). My partner and I were reticent about sharing a pillow, but to our surprise there was no tug of war in the night. Maybe this whole long pillow business is so crazy, it just might work!

When I first moved to Spain, I had no idea about the different pillow system. I bought one pillow case that was long enough for a 2 meter long pillow (sigh) and one that was for a single Spanish bed, but my ONE PILLOW I bought from  Ikea didn’t fit either of them (see fig. 1).

Pillow case

Then the supermarket told me there was no refund on pillow cases that had been opened, which I thought made sense, but I still pulled this face.

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4 years later, I was buying pillow cases for my pillows from a shop I’d stumbled upon in the neighbourhood. The other shop I had found was wickedly expensive, but this one was reasonably priced and the lady was nice. Finally, my three pillows, kindly donated by my landlord/friend, would be sheathed in pillow cases that ACTUALLY FITTED them. All three pillows were completely different sizes to each other, as well as the random selection of pillow cases my boyfriend had amassed in my several months of absence (one of which was SQUARE. A square pillow case. SQUARE. Don’t even get me started).

Pillow case 2

I had done it. Finally we had pillows with their very own pillow cases. I basked in my own glory in the Basque Country. In your face, annoying things that you never get used to when you live abroad!

Weeks later, my landlord/housemate/friend told me (via email) that he wouldn’t be reimbursing me for the pillow cases as he does for other things I buy for the flat, as they were “just” for our use, “not for the house”, and that we would “take them with us” when we left. I sighed.

In the last 5 years, I’ve moved house 23 times. I’ve lived in 5 different countries, on 3 continents. I have chronic back pain from carrying my minimalist possessions, leaving behind me a trail of clothes horses and home made spice racks (see fig. 2) in my previous apartments.

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(Fig. 2. “The Homemade Eco Spice Rack”)

Today, my most prized possession is my library card, as it saves me from buying books and so the inevitable wrench of saying goodbye to them. Packing, unpacking, repacking, tedious chores of the nomadic.

I know that there is absolutely no way in hell that I am bringing with me three random sized pillow cases with me to the next country I live in. I’ll have enough to transport; electronic cables for laptops, kindles, phones, and other “essential” electronicy doodads take up a surprising amount of space, and are actually quite expensive to replace.

I looked at my pillows, snug in their red and purple cases.

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They cost me around 18 euros. So if I use them for 12 months, they will have cost me about 1.50 euros a month. I’ll take that rental price.

Dear Pillow Cases,

When I leave Spain, I’m not taking you babies with me, but you were definitely worth spending 20 euros on.

Never change, my sweet cotton friends.

Never change.

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Spice Rack (1/5 Difficulty)

This is a perfect first project, and so so easy. All you need is a pair of scissors, some tape, and a box that would be roughly 30cm by 20 cm by 20cm (12″ x 8″ x 8″). I used a wine box.

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>tape up flaps (these will form the backs of your mini shelving unit)

>place box so the taped up flaps are now on the right and left, in each of your hands.

>cut the box in half.

>place one half on top of the other.

>tape together.

Enjoy!

Why recycle and upcycle instead of buying on the highstreet?

In the past 5 years, I’ve lived in 23 houses, in 5 countries, and 4 continents, and if I have learned one thing, it is this: EVERYTHING IS RENTED.

If you buy something for 6 euros/dollars/pounds, and you are able to use that thing for 6 months before it breaks or you are leaving and it doesn’t fit in your back pack, then you have rented that thing for 1 euro/dollar/pound a month.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. It allows mass production in a way never before possible, yet on an individual level it deskills. Why learn how to make pastry if you can easily buy it from the supermarket? Why learn how to make anything at all then.

Society is built upon exchange; we give our hard earned cash for goods and services. I can’t make cloth, so I pay for it. But what are the conditions of the workers? Does the company pay the workers a living wage? Does the factory employ women and give them economic independence? Does the item require a raw material that people are murdered for? (Iraq and the war for oil, minerals sold by militants in the Congo for Iphones). Can I live without this thing? Can I make it myself? Can I buy locally?

Money is power, and our choices as consumers affect the actions of big business. Guilt and “oh dearism” can make us think “there’s nothing I can do. Both options are bad. Christmas is so stressful. I’ll just buy all the presents from Amazon”.

I believe we can make a difference by becoming aware of global problems, and not accepting how consumerism/capitalism teaches us that buying things is so important. We can make them too, and we can use recycled materials. Every time I make something, it makes me feel happy, satisfied in my own handiwork. The only limit is your imagination.

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