Week 13: Crafting, disaster prep and charity

As I write this post, Queensland is recovering from a cyclone and flood event. The wild weather of the last few days has affected the lives of so many, and my thoughts are with those people. The floodwaters are receding in my neck of the woods, and life goes on. But for me at least, the recent wild weather has got me thinking about being a bit more prepared. Look out for a few more survivalist experiences in the coming weeks and months.

Day 85: Lip balm candle

Ever since making a candle from a block of butter, I have been somewhat fascinated with the idea of emergency candles. It seems you can make a candle out of a wide assortment of household goods from butter to crayons and numerous items in between. On day 85 I thought I’d try to make an emergency candle using a stick of lip balm.

This candle is really simple, burns for approximately 20-30 minutes and gives off a surprising amount of light. Here’s what you need:

A tissue (or toilet paper)
A toothpick (or similar)
A stick of lip balm
A lighter

Materials for lip balm candle
Materials for lip balm candle: lip balm, a tissue, toothpick, lighter

To make the candle, simply tear a small section of tissue and roll it into a wick shape. Poke a hole into the centre of your lip balm with the toothpick. Rub a little lip balm on you tissue wick and push it into the lip balm. Light lip balm and there you have it.

Day 86: Joined instructables and posted my own how to

If you haven’t yet discovered Instructables I recommend you check them out. Instructables is a fantastic how to website where you can learn how to make pretty much anything (it’s been invaluable to me so far on my 1 thing new challenge). For Monday’s new thing I signed up to the site and became a contributor, uploading my lip balm candle making instructions to the website (if you are interested, you can see it here).

Instructables is free and really easy to use for readers and contributors. Once you create your contributor account you can write a brief profile with a link to your webpage and add an image if you like. The dashboard and editor are quite straightforward to use and there a free lessons available if you would like some more information on how to structure and write your instructable. So if you have a great idea, craft or life hack you’d like to share, head over to instructables and publish it.

Day 87: Crochet headband

Do you ever feel that in this modern world we have forgotten how to do things that generations before us took for granted? My Mum for example, used to sew (she made most of my clothes as a kid, until I was about 8 or 9) and she knew how to knit and crochet (not that she did either of those very often, my Nan was the knitter). I couldn’t imagine making all my son’s clothes, or knitting a jumper for myself (mind you, these days it costs more to purchase the materials than it does the completed garment!) So on day 87, I decided to teach myself to crochet.

Now I am not a fan of doilies and such (when I think crochet I always think of granny type tea caddies and stuff) but a quick google search found a number of crochet patterns that were quite nice. Some of the crocheted beanies and blankets wouldn’t look out of place in the more upmarket department stores. That said, I wanted to crochet something smaller that I would be able to finish in no more than an hour or two so I decided to crochet a headband.crochet hook, yarn, headband

Thanks to Alissa’s Craft Corner on YouTube I found a step-by-step guide for a simple headband and in under 2 hours I had crocheted my very first item. I doubt I’ll wear it out, but it’s great for keeping my hair off my face when applying and removing makeup!Crocheted headband

Day 88: Ice cream in a bag

I have always wanted to make homemade ice cream but I don’t have an ice cream maker, and the idea of churning it by hand every half hour or so puts me off the whole idea. So when I found out you can make ice cream in a plastic bag I knew I would have to give it a try.

Ice cream in a bag is another simple idea, although it takes a fair bit of patience (and endurance) to get the ice cream to the right consistency (I must admit, I gave up a little too early – I ran out of ice – and my ice cream ended up like soft serve. Next time I’ll do better.)

To make ice cream in a bag you will need:Ice cream in a bag ingredients

½ cup double cream
½ cup full cream milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbs sugar
Optional: Chocolate chips, chopped fruit, chopped nuts for flavour.
1 medium zip lock bag
2 large zip lock bags
1 cup rock salt
Lots of ice cubes


  1. Add cream, milk, vanilla, sugar and optional flavouring (I used chocolate chips) into the medium zip lock bag.
  2. Remove as much air as you can then seal.
  3. Put one large bag in the other and with ice and all of rock salt (you double bag the ice and salt)
  4. Place smaller bag in large one with ice and the bags.
  5. Shake
  6. Shake some more
  7. Keep shaking
  8. When the cream mixture looks like ice cream, it is ready.

I made the mistake of only using one large bag and it burst, showering me, my son and the kitchen with ice and salt. So make sure you double bag before shaking. I would also recommend holding the bag by both ends when shaking so that you don’t end up with a salt and ice shower!Ice cream

My ice cream was delicious, but could have done with being a little more set. Unfortunately, after the bag bursting episode, I didn’t have enough ice left to fill up my bag, so my ice cream was pretty soft. I will however, give this another go as it was pretty easy and tasted yummy!

Day 89: Saved important documents to the cloud

On Thursday the Gold Coast was hit by the tail end of ex-cyclone Debbie. All the schools were closed and many business also shut their doors (including my place of work), sending their employees home, before the flood waters rose too high. This got me thinking about emergency planning and what to save in the event our house got flooded (luckily it didn’t although the park behind us was completely flooded and the waters crept under the fence into our garden).

Like most people, I have a box of important documents in our study – you know, marriage and birth certificates, passports, insurances, things I think I’d grab in the event of a flood or fire (along with photos and other irreplaceable items – how much do I think I could carry in an emergency?!) Well, as the unrelentless rain beat down and the news reported of flooding and chaos, it occurred to me that I should copy and save my important documents to the cloud. That way, it wouldn’t matter too much if the originals were destroyed. (D’oh why didn’t I think of that before?)

Consequently, day 89’s 1 thing new saw me photographing, cropping and uploading all my important documentation to the cloud. I already store most of the photographs I take online, so if (heaven forbid) anything did happen to destroy our home, we wouldn’t be left without those important items that are irreplaceable.

Day 90: Strike anywhere matches

On Friday I awoke to gale force winds and more flooding. The schools were closed again (much to my 9 year old’s delight!) so I had to take the day off work too. As I watched the news and saw the devastating effects of the weather, I started thinking of ways in which I should be more prepared for emergencies. (Other than making emergency candles from butter or lip balm, I had nothing!) With thoughts of survival in my head, the first thing that occurred to me was fire. Surely, one thing I’d need in an emergency is a way to make fire? Not satisfied with using safety matches (what happens if the box gets wet or ruined?) I looked up strike anywhere matches. It seems strike anywhere matches are near impossible to buy in Australia (sometimes I think we really are living in a nanny state!) so I found instructions on how to make my own.Materials for strike anywhere matches

Now I took loads of photos, and had planned to lay it all out here in a step-by-step guide but I am sorry to say the damn things wouldn’t light!@#*&! I spent ages, carefully sanding phosphorous off the match box, stripping and rolling the strike heads, mixing and painstakingly applying the mixture to each individual match, letting it dry for hours… all for it not to work! I am rather perplexed as to why it didn’t work, actually. I followed the instructions to the letter. All I can think of is that perhaps the safety matches in Australia are constructed differently than those in the example I followed. Needless to say I am pretty disappointed. Looks like I am stuck with safety matches after all.

Day 91: Donated bike to the Surfers Sunrise Rotary Wheelchair Project

Saturday’s 1 thing new was my husband’s idea. He found out about a local charity that turns unwanted bicycles into wheelchairs for underprivileged disabled children in underdeveloped countries. We were a little concerned that the recent floods and road closures would mean that the volunteers at Surfers Sunrise Rotary Wheelchair Project wouldn’t be operating, but we trekked up there with my old bike anyway. Happily, the work shed was open and Darel, was more than happy to accept our donation and give us a tour of their workshop.

When we arrived, the volunteers were in the process of creating the wheelchair kits. They strip the bicycles and parts of the frame and handlebars while the wheels and other aluminium parts are recycled for cash. The seat support is made of thick plywood and is cut out by volunteers at the shed. The kit, comprising parts of the bike frame cut to size, the plywood, the seat and wheels, is packaged up and sent to a local prison to be put together. Some wheelchairs are assembled by workers at the local work for the dole scheme. Then they all come back to be checked by the volunteers at the rotary work shed before being sent off to their final destination.

[Video credit Soul Arch media 2014]




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