Tuesday, 28 February 2012

turbo chook lives to tell the tale

I have finally finished the huge pastel of Fergus, a highland stallion, Barbara and their baby. I've been working on this since before Christmas. What with visitors, rennovations, work, heat and all the other things going on, work on it has been inconsistent. Then I also had a period of artists block (if there is such a thing. If there isn't I've just invented it). So I'm quite happy that its finally finished. After blogging tonight I'll be wrapping it in acetate and delivering it after work tomorrow.

That's one thing crossed off my To Do list. Phew.

The weather has been much cooler, thank goodness. The fires which had burned around Bushy Park and Westerway are out and there's no more danger of my house in Fentonbury being scorched. I'm much happier with 18 degree C than I was with 39 degrees. Hard to believe the temps could drop that much in a day, but hey, this is Tasmania.

Despite it still being rather warm yesterday the guys (Wayne and Chris) got stuck into enclosing the mud room. They'd only managed to frame in one of the walls last time Chris was here and now both walls are framed in, the window is in place and the outside of the walls is mostly lined. I say mostly cause while I was in the city on errands (mysterious doings I'll tell you about when the time comes) they ran out of nails for the coil gun and called to ask me to bring some home. Of course, by the time I got here with nails Chris had left so the job wont be finished will next weekend.

However, things are coming along.

Of course, its looking rather ugly right now... and not quite as I'd envisioned it. But hey, we live and learn huh? I'd rather gotten used to that area of the house being open. However, a lick of paint and a front door and we'll be in business.

The plan is to make that the mudroom, an area where, once you enter the house, you can hang your coat, take off your boots and step inside through the inside door....

Which will take you through the current teensy weensy entrance area which holds coats and the fridge, through to the kitchen and then through the hallway and into the living room.

Yes... this is actually the back door of the house. But the front door is on the OTHER side, which would mean you'd have to park the car, step up onto the porch and walk all the way round to the other side of the house to come inside. Forget that.

So, one day, the teensy entrance area will become a walk in pantry and the kitchen will be rearranged to allow for a door directly to the mud room, cutting out the middle room so to speak. One day.

The timber is green which means it will need to dry before I can paint it, but thats fine. Its not as if I dont have a ton of things to keep me busy meanwhile. I mean I could paint the whole rest of the house, couldn't I?

Speaking of other things to keep me busy - I went tip shopping today! Actually, after work this afternoon I went to one of my favourite tip shops where I'd seen three old dining chairs for sale for $5.

$5 each! Thats a bargain. Even tip shops are asking a ton of money for broken old chairs these days. I couldn't pass them up. One is broken at the back, another is missing one rung off its back, but they're all strong and stable, not rickety like so many I've seen. A bit of glue. A bit of luck. And a ton of paint and I've got my new kitchen chairs!

Did I mention the kitchen table I got from another tip shop a week ago? Thats still sitting on the porch waiting for me to sand it back and put a new top on it. It'll go well with the new chairs.

My car is a mobile store room. Its always full of things I am taking to work, bringing home from somewhere or need to drop off somewhere. I have a huge collection of 'green' shopping bags I invariably forget to take into the shop. I have extra clothes just in case, and after one memorable day where I was sent on a hiking program wearing dress shoes, a pair of old sneakers and socks. Today I also had 2 of Wayne's carry bags, his work folder, the nails I'd bought yesterday, a paper making kit I need to take to a program at work on Thursday, some drying racks I found at a tip shop for the same work program, 2 jumpers (it pays to be prepared) and who knows what else.

I added 3 chairs, an old picture frame and 2 old boxes (I have a thing for boxes). Then I went to pick up Wayne and he said '"Don't forget we need to get wheat for the chickens and dry dog food"...

Ooops. "Have you noticed the back of the car?"

I managed to squish it all in somehow. Wheat bags and dog food packed around the chairs in the back. At one stage I hit the brakes at a traffic light and everything shifted. I could just picture the headlines: couple killed in freak accident - decapitated by chairs weighed down and given impetus by bags of wheat.

Thankfully we made it home in one piece. 

On another subject, my kids made me so proud today. I was in the office when I heard a racket out the back of the shed and saw them in that 'attack and kill' mode. I ran out of the house thinking they'd gotten one of the ducks again. Our house yard fence is pretty good but sometimes things still manage to get in and we've already lost 2 ducks and 3 chickens to the dogs.

When they heard me yell they looked at me, looked back at whatever, looked back at me and they came to me!!! I was SO thrilled. The bird meanwhile, was a native hen. We've had a family of them move in lately and this one obviously decided to check out life on the other side of the fence where the grass is greener but deadlier.

Lucky for it, my dogs listened to me! While I lead the dogs inside Wayne went and opened the gate and shooed it out.

These chickens are known as 'turbo chooks' around here cause they're native chickens and they run like Road Runner. I think this one might still be running, after the shock it got.

So thats it for tonight. Hopefully on the weekend I can tackle some projects and post pics. For now all I need to do remember to take everything out of the car!


Sunday, 26 February 2012

musings of a wandering mind

The other day while pooper scooping in the yard (something I dont do nearly as regularly as I should given we have 4 dogs who can poop BIG) I found myself thinking about the joys and responsibilities of owning dogs rather than having children.

For one thing, as I scooped the poop I couldn't help but notice that I keep an eye on the dogs' health / bowel movements by doing so. "Ooh, thats a nice firm one"... "Hmmm... a bit soft and dark, wonder who's got an upset tummy" ... "Ah, nice. White and crumbly. Just the way I remember dog poop from my childhood" etc.

I belong to a poodle discussion group (one of many I've been on through the years) and on there discussions about such things as dog stool consistency, shape and colour is a regular occurence. Disgusting, I know. But no more disgusting than, I'm sure, a mommy group discussing diaper contents. Which I'm sure they do.

See, owning a dog isn't that different from having children. Dog mothers and baby mothers talk about the same things - poop, eating habits, cute things their baby (furry or otherwise) does. They brag, they carry photos to show off to everyone they meet. They talk about their babies incessantly.

See? No difference.

The difference is that eventually the child grows up, the amount of care needed doesn't so much reduce, it changes. You may no longer need to feed and change diapers but you worry about them learning to drive, date, smoking, drugs, etc.

I dont have children, thus I'm an expert at how to raise them. :)

With dogs, they never grow up to independence. With them you have to pooper scoop for the entire length of their life. You're responsible for feeding them, caring for them if they're sick, ensuring they eat well and exercise etc. In other words, dog owners are stuck in that 'young child' phase for the 10+ years of an average dog lifespan.

At least with dogs you dont have to worry about them hating you when they're teenagers, crashing the car or taking drugs. And you dont have to lose your figure to acquire them!

The biggest differences, however, surround the fact that as dog owners we can control our babies' sex lives. We can legally, and without repercussions, get them neutered. If we breed them we get to pick their mate. On the other hand, I have never, so far in my life, heard of a mother having to pay a stud fee to some young buck's parents in order to impregnate her daughter.

Or, which is way worse, having to 'take matters into your own hands' (literally) and act as stud master to your inexperienced son first time he mates, to help him find 'it'.


I guess there are benefits to both types of children... I could do without the pooperscooping though. I'm  tempted to train them all to squat on the toilet...

Anyway, enough on that slightly disturbing topic. On to more fun stuff.

A few months ago I found this image in an old magazine. I did what any self respecting DIY-er would do. I ripped it out and put it in a folder of things I would love to try when I found the time.

I kept thinking I needed to find the right box. I started looking. And guess what? We had one in the casita! It was just the right size but it was filthy. It was full of straw and I think a cat had been using it as a bed. It was a home made crate, made with chipboard and with an old real estate sign from Canberra. Who knows how that got here!

First I cleaned it out. Scraped it out, disinfected it. Then I sanded down the edges where it was rough and uneven (someone had been gnawing on it) and I painted it. I dont have any 'in progress' photos as I didn't think of it. I mixed up a colour using white house paint and acrylic paints. I mixed some yellow ochre into the white as I wanted it to be more cream than white, whiter than the cream on the sign, but closer to it than white would be. When the cream paint dried I rubbed in some burnt umber around the edges so it soaked into the dints and scratches.

I didnt have the same kind of magazine/newspaper to line the inside with, but I had tons of old poodle magazines dating back to the late 70s. So I used them. I used PVA glue to stick them down and painted them over with more PVA once they were dry to seal them. The old fashioned show poodle haircuts added the poodle touch and a bit of age to the box. As if it didnt look old enough as it was.

Then I bought some wheels off Ebay and screwed them onto the bottom. And voila! Coffee table/side table/rolling library!

I have a real thing for boxes. This is an old box I found at a tip shop somewhere which was missing one bottom slat. I asked Wayne to add another slat to it for me and he made me a lid for it too! He used weathered timber we had planned to burn when cleaning up around here, but wont ever burn since we use it for projects all the time. He hinged the lid with a couple of leather straps and made a wire latch for it too. I now keep some tools in it to keep them handy in the kitchen.

And then there's the brilliant red box. This was another tip shop find. It was already red when I found it but missing a latch and handle. I dont have any before photos. I did take some but I cant find them.

Does anyone remember the box I made for Scooter's ashes? I wanted something special for his ashes so I went and bought one of those little pine craft boxes from the hardware store. I primed it then gave it two coats of red. The red I bought was true red which was way too bright so I added black till I got the right colour.

Once the paint was dry I painted it with crackle medium, let that dry and painted the final red coat. Since I had red on red, you couldnt really see the cracks but I had a plan! Instead of letting an under layer of paint show through the cracks, I rubbed burnt umber into them. (Does that sound familiar? I do that a lot). I rubbed and then had to damped the cloth and remove the excess, cause trust me, there was a lot of it. It gave the box an old kind of grimy appearance. I loved it. It now sits in the bedroom on the dresser next to my old window/mirror.

Now back to the other red box. I loved the finish on the Scooter box so much that I wanted to do it again. Also, I spent $550 on an antique chinese dresser when we first moved here which is a similar deep dark red colour with aged cracks and I wanted to kind of match that.

Since the red box was already red I didnt need to undercoat or do much to it. I wanted the dints and scratches so I didnt sand either. I just painted it with the same red I'd used on Scooter's box, mixing up a new batch so its a bit brighter. When the reds were dry I skipped the crackle stage and went straight to the burnt umber rubbing stage.

I decided not to put a closing latch on it its very heavy and there's no way you'd lift it. I bought some small red wheels on Ebay, I think they're a bit too small and too red but they seemed like a good idea at the time.

I asked Wayne to make a handle for it out of an old spoon and this is what he made. Excellent isnt i?

I am thinking rope handles on either side for pulling would be a nice addition...

I keep electrical bits in it, you know, all the extension cords, double adapters, timer switches etc that you always have lying around. I've used it as a temporary bedside table, but basically it just looks good with the bonus of being handy storage for those odds and ends I dont have a drawer for and dont want to go running to shed everytime I need something.

I'm currently working on a few other projects but really, its been so hot here that I'm too drained to do much at all other than lie on the couch and groan. They predicted 34 degrees C yesterday but it got up to 39-40C. Thats 104F! Same today. The house is a mess screaming out for a tidy. The To Do list sits here glaring at me accusingly and I sit and blog, thumbing my nose at the dirty dishes and washing to be sorted.

There's a haze of smoke outside cause the wind and heat yesterday caused a few bushfires further up the valley. The plants are suffering and the poor roosters ran out of water halfway through the day. Lucky I checked and topped it up. I spent 1.5 hrs watering the garden and vegie patch yesterday evening.

I kept the dogs inside most of the day to keep them out of the heat. I did have 3 dogs to groom including 2 standard poodles (one being Little Zefi Munchkin from Pagan's second litter). That coupled with the heat ensured I did nothing yesterday afternoon. I didnt even log on and thats saying something! I have an obessive attachment to my computer under normal circumstances.

I better go hang to washing out to dry (and get smoked) before it gets any hotter.


Monday, 20 February 2012

desperate measures

The weekend has come and gone and there have been no calls from the chicken man about the roosters. Maybe he just lost our number. Yeah. That must be it. I'll make excuses for him just like every girl who ever waited for a phone call that never came. Maybe I'll call him. Is it cool to call him when he said he'd call us? Will he think I'm too forward?

Meanwhile, I've resorted to desperate measures. So far its not working. We still have five roosters. On the other hand, no one visits any more. Which could be considered an upside since I'm too busy to entertain.

I'm exhausted tonight. I had two dogs to groom, then I groomed Montana and Romeo. One of the customer dogs was a regular little girl who is impossible when it comes to doing her feet. I really must get my database going so I can make notes like 'Do not attempt to do her nails no matter how long they look' next to dog's names. And what I charge them. Have I mentioned how hopeless I am as a business person?

The other dog was a new boy, a schnauzer who wasn't in a proper trim as his previous groomer didn't know how to do it. Her failing is my gain. I love doing specialty trims.

I really love it.

Of course I do. Why else would I have spent over 10 hours a weekend grooming a standard poodle for the ring? Only someone who loves grooming, scissoring, brushing, the smell of hairspray and creating hair scultpures would do that.

When I work on the computer I sit in my little office and the poodles usually lie around at my feet and behind me. Sometimes one of them will come and sit beside me and I'll reach out my hand and run my fingers through their topknot, as much to show them love and affection as to comfort me. I adore the feel of poodle hair under my hands.

Anyway, last night as I sat here blogging I reached out and this is what I felt:

The crunch of crusty muddy bits on a grimy topknot. I'd have said I have no idea what she was doing, but unfortunately I know. She was out there trying to burrow under the casita to get the damn critters that're living under there. I've piled bits of timber and rocks on the spot but she manages to keep going.

So today, after I'd groomed the two customer dogs, I tossed Montana and Romeo into the bath and gave them a clip and scissor. Took me hours! My own fault. I'd let them run feral for ages and last time I groomed them I hadn't brushed their legs. That means that this time, since I didnt want skinny shaved legs (poodles don't look their best with their long legs clipped short - thats the long and short of it. Ha ha.) I had to spend a long time dematting and brushing out, then drying out those legs.

I am so glad I'm no longer showing a poodle. My wrist and arm were aching after brushing out 8 legs.

But the kids are looking great tonight, and feeling and smelling way better than last night! Really, there's just about nothing else in this world as good as a freshly washed poodle (after its dried and the wet wool jumper smell is gone). A freshly washed poodle in show coat is number one, that long luxurious coat and the smooth shaved butt... but a soft, clean poodle in a pet trim is the next best thing. I get a kind of emotional recharge just by hugging my poodles.

Once I was talking to someone who had a realdoll for emotional bolstering. I think I'll stick to poodles.       

Before anyone goes and calls the men in white coats, I'll move onto more 'normal' things. I already mentioned my new addiction to Pinterest. Well, one of the simple crafty things I saw in there which I thought I'd try was a way to make beach glass as inspired by this site. You know, that cloudy blue colour of glass which has been dulled by the ocean.

So, the other day I got out some PVA glue, some blue food colouring and some of the many bottles we seem to have been collecting since Christmas. I had to find some use for them!

First I washed them and peeled off the labels. I couldn't get the label glue off entirely in places and I've run out of eucalyptus oil which is meant to work really well. I did the best I could. Then I used a 60s fruit bowl thing I had to hold the bottles upside down thinking that they'd dry better that way. Nope. The glue just collected on the underside and dripped, leaving a small round blob.

The mix I'd made was very watery, you can see in the photo that the bottles are very pale blue. When I did the next coat I painted the mix on by sticking a finger in the bottle, holding it upside down, then standing it on paper. I almost got a finger stuck in the bottle but managed to get it off without any damage to my finger or the bottle.

When they dried I was really pleased with how they came up. They feel nice and look great. I cant even see where the label glue didn't come off properly. I'm using them as a way to keep/display my bracelets.

They sit on the little cabinet above, which I found in a second hand store a few years ago. It was a bit battered and broken down the bottom as you can see, but I painted it, keeping the original latch, and its been a much loved piece of furniture since. Its been used as a bathroom cabinet, a bedside table and is now a handy little spot to store my fabric bits and pieces.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

those voices...

Photo: Wayne's cartoon for a friend's 40th birthday yesterday.

We were invited to Sharon's 40th birthday yesterday and Wayne did one of his wonderful cartoons for her. I matted and framed it. The joke is that her husband is making chairs out of horse shoes and it takes 69 shoes  to make one chair. Wayne's work is great isn't it?

It was a pretty good night. They had a band and the music was good. I had a few dances with Leslie, a friend and neighbour from Fentonbury. She loves dancing with me cause I can lead swing and she loves learning new steps. Sometimes I really miss my old dancing days... I used to love dancing so much that when I'd get to a venue and the band was playing I'd have to run in so as not to miss one precious moment of dancing. I wish one of my old dance partners would come visit and I could show people how its really done! sigh...

Meanwhile, its Sunday night and what am I doing? I'm sitting in front of the computer. I just cant help myself. I've become addicted to Pinterest. I thought it was bad enough when I added Facebook and blogging to my computer time, but now I've found Pinterest... Thank you very much Diane! I thought you were my friend!

My eyes are sore. My butt is chair shaped. And still, I cant tear myself away!

Not only that, I cant wait to try the one million, fourty three thousand and fifteen projects, decorating ideas and clever things I see there. I just need a bigger house and a whole lot more time!

I want to redo my kitchen, re-paint the house, landscape the yard, create secret garden spots, cut wine bottles in half, learn to crochet, felt a mouse, make chandeliers out of jars and old fencing wire, build a couch out of used pallets, and thats just the start of it!

I always knew there wasn't enough time in my day, but now its worse!

I can't stop my brain. I lie in bed at night and my brain is buzzing and ticking. Last night I couldn't sleep cause of the voices inside my head, saying things like "I wonder if the cupboard in the bedroom will fit beside the fridge if I move the coats to the mud room once its finished and put the metal suitcase underneath it to hold shoes... and what if I moved the bookcase from one side of the living room to the other or will it be too wide? must measure it... and I still have that felt, I need to make mug warmers out of it, not to mention the rug I want to make out of old tshirts... must remember to go buy more tshirts..."

Its a curse I tell you!

For a minute today I thought I'd lost my notebook - the one I keep ideas in as well as my To Do lists. The thought of having to start a new list of To Do lists boggled my mind. Thankfully I found it. It was under the pile of 'stuff to file' on my desk.

But I've had a productive day. I've managed to cross quite a few things off my To Do lists today.

I say lists, plural, because I have more than one list. I found that having one list was just too hard. The list got too long and unmanageable. I'd look at it and my mind would go blank.

By breaking the list up into segments I'm able to 'see' more clearly what needs to be done. I have the lists sorted by area of the house or type of activity. 'Kitchen' 'Deck' 'Sewing' etc.

Today I tackled the sewing. Finally. The funny thing is that once I actually got started it didn't take that long at all.

A lady who's dogs I groom gave me some alpaca fleece when she had her boys shorn. It was sitting in bags in my workshop for ages. She said that she makes dog beds out of it every year for her dogs and they love it, so I decided I'd do the same.

Montana and Romeo (the poodles) sleep in the living room on the couch or armchairs as they don't shed. Mischa and Barney have their own beds and, thanks to Barney, most of their bedding is in tatters.

Long story: when we first moved here Mischa and Barney were outside dogs. They had beds in the garage, then on the deck. When Wayne went to Adelaide on holiday I made a bed for them in the entrace and they've been sleeping in the house since. In fact we now have to pry Barney out of bed in the morning or to go out and pee at night.

I found a great, big old box at the tip shop. It was like a large drawer, about 3ft wide, 2ft deep and 7in high. It was painted a mauvey colour and was a bit rough. I sanded it back enough to remove most of the old paint but not totally, cleaned it up, then painted it a pale green. In order to give it a more interesting, aged, appearance, I wiped some of the paint off to expose some of the grain, giving it a limed appearance. I then gave it a couple of coats of estapol to seal it and make it easy to wipe clean.

Once it was finished I put it in the entrance, put in some dog beds and Mischa and Barney curled up together at night. Lately however Barney has claimed it as his bed and Mischa has been sleeping on a thin pad in the hallway. She really needed the new dog bed.

I found some old curtains I'd taken down from the dog grooming room in the casita. They're lined fabric in orange. Tasteful. I cut off the tape, sewed them together, stuffed them with alpaca fleece (after picking the odd stick out of it) and voila: dog beds. Oh, I also put another cover on the outside. I stitched that closed as they both have a bad habit of taking covers off things. This way I can remove and change covers when they get dirty without then ruining the actual bed.

This is Barney's bed.

And here is Mischa on her new bed. I am experimenting with a hessian bag I got from the tip shop. She seems to like it and I love the look of it.

It goes with my postal bag come laundry basket! This post bag was going to be thrown out so we gave it a home. Took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with it but I love it. I put 2 hooks in the bathroom wall and hang it there. When its full I sling it over my shoulder and take it down to the washing machine. (Our bathroom is Ugly with a capital U. One day...)

The sewing extravaganza didn't end there. Last week I went into an outlet store having a huge sale. Jeans for $10. You just cant go wrong at that price. I bought 3 pairs, one short and 2 long. Or they're meant to be long. They're just not quite long enough for me. You know what I mean... I'd have to wear them like those homeboys you see getting around with the top of their shorts (or more) showing and the crotch of their pants somewhere down between their knees. (What is it with that anyway?)

I had some samples of upholstery fabric which I was holding onto to do something with one day. That day came today. I cut it up, stitched a cuff and sewed it onto the bottom of one of the new pairs of jeans. Now I'm looking for another interesting fabric to do the other pair... paisley would be nice. I'll be wearing this pair to work on Tuesday. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

So I got a few things done today. But you see what I mean about crossing one thing off the list and adding another five? The dog beds were on the list. The jean cuffs were a new addition.

We took Ben up to Ashley to have him saddle broken. Or 'backed'. He's had a saddle and bridle on him and we've done plenty of work with him. Neither of us has had the guts to get on him. When he's ready I'll be going down for a few lessons on his back before bringing him home. Wally and Dancer have been unsettled over his absence.

I also rearranged the grooming room and cleaned it. Dog hair gets everywhere! I removed the lino from the toilet floor to allow the floor underneath to dry (if its not already beyond repair). We are now closing the door to the toilet but its almost impossible to get in cause Wayne has hung a tarp over it to keep rain out. And its been raining today. I did some washing and hung it out just in time for it to get wet. Eh. We have good clean rain in Tasmania.

All in all, its been a good day. I feel good. Hopefully the voices will be quiet tonight.


Friday, 17 February 2012

Me and hydrangeas

I've had a busy week. Since when do I not have a busy week? I wish I had 54 hours in each day... Then again, Wayne says that if I did somehow manage to find another 30 hours in each day I'd soon find another 82 things to do which would take at least 41 hours to get through.

Math has never been my strength.

The photo is my first and only white cosmos flower. How was I to know you need a ton of them to produce any kind of display? I bought one little plant from a street side vendor and here it is. A single flower.

Gardening has never been my strength either.

Did I mention the hydrangea fiasco?

After admiring my hydrangeas in their pots for about 3 months and debating the pros and cons of planting them here or there, I finally made a decision. I'd plant them there. There being along the side wall of the small timber shed behind the house. It has a small gravelled area on which I'd been keeping my potted plants, a kind of plant nursery if you will.

So I moved building materials from the side of the house, the perfect spot for the plant nursery to relocate to. I moved pots to the new spot. I moved pebbles to the side. Found weed matting (of course). Cut through that. Then I dug a hole. Plonked in potting mix and hydrangea #1. Repeated the proceedure for hydrangea #2.

At hydrangea #3 I hit a snag.

As I dug there was a sneaky odour of oil. Pebbles seemed a bit sticky. The weed matting darker in colour, heavier.... You got it. I'd struck oil!

I wish.

What I found was the dumping ground for gallons of sump oil.

Who on earth dumps sump oil on the ground right behind their house? The previous owner obviously.

Then he covered it all with weed matting and pebbles, creating an illusion of garden beds to be which a gullible sucker like me would fall for.

I started digging up the oily soil and lugging it out to the area behind the garage where the soil had already been oil soaked. I was soon aching.

I haven't been out there since. The plan was to do a bit of digging and moving pebbles at a time. After a few weeks of small bouts of work I'd have the area dug out, a hole a horse might disappear into, buy new topsoil, filled it up, plant in hydrangea #4 and finally have the garden bed I dreamed of.

Right now I'm wishing I'd put them in large pots.

Other than that I've been well. If you dont count the fact that I'm kinda too scared to eat anything other than toast or chips cause of a dubious tummy. What? They're dry!

I came down with some stomach thing on Wednesday and it isnt entirely settled. Its getting there. Wayne has no sympathy. He has the constitution of an ox. He's probably the only man I know who could go to India and drink the water without getting sick.

On another note, the new chooks are great. We're getting so many eggs now (and me not currently eating eggs) we are getting a build-up of eggs in the fridge. Wayne is 'in love' with his girls.

Speaking of Wayne, he's really been getting into some DIY and craft stuff himself lately. I must take photos of some of the things he's made but here is a gorgeous little bird house he made me out of old tin cans. He hung it on the trellis where, one day, we'll have flowering climbers and a gorgeous nook to sit.

He also made an alien robot to guard the house. It stands in the yard with its laser beam and its knife, ready to challenge any intruders.

I really want to try making some robots. When I have some time...

For now I think I should concentrate on actually finishing the jobs I started last weekend. For instance, put away all the stuff I moved out of the office to make it Zefi-friendly. I still have some boxes in the living room, some on the porch and the vacuum cleaner has been sitting in our ridiculously small bathroom since last weekend.

Before I get on with any more of my projects, whether new or unfinished, I really need to finish the office, clean out the living room and find homes for all the displaced craft items in my workshop. I had gotten a good start on the workshop. Its in the casita (the small old house/shed on our property where I groom dogs) and its my space for my tools and where I'll be doing my bigger, messier craft and DIY projects. Wayne is not allowed near my tools any more. First time he used my circular saw he cut through the power cord and he's never lived it down since.

Better go. I have a big weekend planned.

As usual.


Monday, 13 February 2012

The best laid plans

I had big plans for this weekend... I thought I'd rearrange the office, do some filing, some gardening, mow the lawn, groom some dogs (I had appointments set up for Saturday and Sunday) and then I'd take Monday off (neither Wayne nor I work Mondays) and finish a load of stuff I have to do in the office.

Well, I got some of it done. I mowed the lawn. The only other gardening I did was pick one ripe tomato and re-pot two plants (see pic) and put them on the electrical meter box on the porch.

Oh, I did buy a large glazed planter pot at Mitre 10 where they were on sale for $19.95. How can a girl resist a bargain? I'm going to put my young jasmine in there and train it up the post on the porch. Of course I have to paint the deck first...
I also re-arranged the office. That task took almost all of Saturday. See, when we first moved here we (read I) decided that the back room of the house would make a good office for us to share. I put a long desk under the window for Wayne and put my 2 part desk (meant to be a corner desk) along one wall minus its corner, making into a long desk. I put those wall mounted shelf thingies on the far wall and put up shelves to hold books, binders etc.

That worked great for about 5 minutes. Wayne didn't like the office much. He set himself up in the kitchen. He put his laptop, boxes of pens, his drawing paper, rulers etc, and he'd work there, doing research and creating his weekly cartoon strip.

When it was time to have a meal we had to shove over all the accumulated detritus of his work just to make enough space for our plates. 

It got old quickly.

So I set up a desk in the living room for him. A small desk with a small table on the side to provide a bigger work surface. That was fine till I appropriated the small table for the sewing machine. For the last 3 weeks (ok, I haven't finished sewing yet!) Wayne's been taking over the kitchen table again. It was time to take matters into my own hands.

I decided to make the office more Zefi-friendly.

First I had to move all the crap craft stuff I had in there in boxes. It really was hard to move in the office which may be one reason Wayne avoided it... I piled all that into the living room, the bathroom and onto the porch to go to the casita where I plan to keep the craft stuff I dont need on hand. Then I pushed desks and shoved filing cabinets from one side of the room to the other. And vacuumed where they'd sat for a year.

What I ended up with is this:

My computer on the right, sewing machine on the left, books and other officey stuff on the shelves above. I put the smallest desk, a drawer unit and Wayne's filing cabinet along the wall opposite (behind me when I sit there) so he'd have somewhere to pile up paperwork. I added a more or less comfy chair along the left hand side of the room where the window is. Now I can access the window and open it without busting my guts having to lean over the desk to do it. I have kept the small TV with the dvd player on the right hand side on its small table. The theory is that Wayne will sometimes be allowed to watch TV now as I can work in here and watch dvds as I do. 

At least thats the theory.

Other than that, I haven't done much at all. My day of relaxing and working on the computer (mutually exclusive, I know) seems to have disappeared. We spent most of the morning driving into Hobart to pick up some new hens. We've added 6 young isa browns to Dennis' harem. Dennis being our black rooster.
Wayne has finished stalag 13 and the 4 roosters (aka Boris) have been relocated. Hopefully they'll be relocating further away soon. The chook man we got the new girls from said he IS interested in roosters (now, why didn't Wayne ask him before we went down there??). I sure hope he comes and gets them soon. Two of them are looking decidedly scraggly as they're starting to pick on eachother. I feel so sorry for them, but we can't let them free range any more. Fingers crossed the chook man does come get them.

And tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I thought I'd share this gorgeous heart Wayne made me last year. 

And while I'm at it, I'll share some more photos of stuff I've made or done as promised. Below is a great idea for a bedhead if you're into rustic stuff like we are. I found this old ladder at a tip shop a year or so ago. I've mounted it to the wall and decorated it with all kinds of old horsey things which mostly belong to Wayne. I made the stars for Christmas using sticks and silver wire. The heart and a couple of other items are tied on with raffia. I love raffia!

Below is an old window made into a mirror. I brought this from my house in Fentonbury where it was the bathroom mirror. It now sits on top of my dresser so I can check myself out when I get dressed in the morning. (That's why its up high, I can't see if my bum looks big in it!)

And lastly, I made these little boxes a few years ago using tasmanian oak from old skirting boards from a demolished house. I sanded them back enough to expose the timber, leaving the layers of paint in places. I hinged the lids at the back and now I use them to store jewelry and hair accessories. They add a pretty touch to the bedroom in front of a very old wedding photo of Wayne's uncle.

So there you go. I better get going. I promised I'd make ravioli for dinner tonight so I need to get started.


Monday, 6 February 2012

Stalag 13 and other undertakings

Once again I've been slack in keeping a blog. I used to blog religiously. Then again, I was on holidays back then and everytime something happened, one of my cousins said something funny or I remembered a story from the past, I'd jump on my little netbook and pour my guts out.

But life has changed for me in the last year. Wayne and I got together in a search to buy a property together, we moved in, bought a horse, then another one. Inherited ducks and chooks. Buried ducks and chooks. Lost a dog. Bought new chooks. Learned how to do decking. Found out just how hard it is to maintain pasture where prickles love to grow.

It never ends. Life has become one gigantic 'To Do' list for us.

Over the last few weeks a ton of things have happened. Not all of them good. One of the good ones is that we've decided to relocate the 'boys', aka Boris as they're collectively known, (the light sussex roosters) into more natural, roomier, accommodation. Wayne has been busy building Stalag 13 for them between the casita and the vegie patch. He's been re-using and recycling materials on hand to create fences (see the old sheep grid from the casita, the trellis from the old deck...). Its almost finished now. Some wire to line the fences and the boys can move in. I'm guessing they'll love having a bit more room than a dog run offers and I think they'll love having dirt and grass under their feet.

For our part, we'll love not having roosters crowing right outside the bedroom at 4am.

Did I ever mention that? When the roosters were first moved into their current digs, it was in response to the neighbour who said he never minded the boys visiting his girls, but when they started helping themselves to his vegetable garden he had enough of being Mr Nice Guy. If we didn't put a stop to it, he would. Thus the boys were nabbed and bundled into the dog run. Which has started to smell. Ugh.

So, they first moved in there (always as a temporary measure) it was cause we couldn't bring ourselves to eat them, much less let anyone else eat them. Being confined to a dog run seemed much preferable to being Sunday roast. Not sure they grasped the concept though, as the first night they started crowing every half hour from about 4am onwards. I'd just be falling asleep again when another rooster would start crowing.

I was about to go out there and strangle them with my own two hands by 6am.

However, its amazing what the human mind/ear can get used to. I never hear them any more.

Still, it'll be nice to give them a bit more space. And the shadecloth lined dog run will most likely be converted to a greenhouse if Wayne has anything to say about it. I'm not too sure. We shall see.

As I mentioned, there were other adventures. A couple of weeks ago, when the deck was finished in fact, we had a real doozie of an adventure. Well... Wayne did.

He and Chris had been relaxing and drinking (it was a HOT day). Wayne had found and pulled out his hammock. It was great. What a way to relax! I had a go on it for a while then went off to do something in the paddock with the horses. Chris went and lay in the hammock and RIIIIIP. That was the end of the hammock.

Wayne, being a useful kind of guy, went and got out his eyelet kit to put eyelets into the hammock, strengthening it by doubling it over and all that. He's good with things like that. Then he went and hooked it onto the frame... and RIIIIIIP!

Another man on his ass!

That hammock is history. (Its also good to know it could hold MY weight! LOL)

But the fun and games didn't end there. Wayne went into the paddock to check the sprinkler and tripped over right next to Wally who probably thought another of the horses was muscling in on 'his dad'. Result: Wayne got a wallop of a kick in his arm. It swelled up like a melon and started turning colours.

Being a man, Wayne refused to see a doctor despite having me, Merrill and Chris on his case. Mind you, there had been a fair amount of drinking involved. Remember the photo of Barney with the beer bottles? Do you seriously think he drank them all?

Anyway, suffice it to say, Wayne is still sporting a very impressive hoofprint on his upper arm. He has been to see the doctor and will have a follow up appointment soon. Just in case. I won that round. I have no illusions however. If he wasn't really sore, he wouldn't have gone!

With the deck finished, we now have to enclose the 'mud room' - ie the original old small deck. This will do two things. It'll bring the toilet INTO the house (much more fun in winter!) and it'll give us more room for Wayne's huge collection of coats, jackets, hats and boots.

However, till we get our new guttering (waiting on quotes) and flashing, there's no point in enclosing the room. Naturally, after weeks of sweltering temperatures, this is when the weather decided to change. Cold, windy and wet. Naturally.

The other day the wind and rain was so bad we needed an umbrella just to get into the toilet. And a boat once we got in there. We had niagara falls at the toilet door and rapids around the toilet bowl.

We dried it out, put an extra bit of corregated iron to catch water coming in where the flashing should go, hung a tarp on one side to protect us from rain blown in sideways and put plastic on the floor with some blocks under one end to create a kind of 'ramp' effect so that water going in slides back out.

It should work. In theory anyway. The downside of course is that the ramp interferes with the normal function of the door... therefore we have a toilet with a view. When we sit there we can see over the valley. Lucky none of our neighbours are close enough to get a view of us.

I'm so over this. I want a proper roof over the future mud room and a toilet with a closing door.*

*This is not my first toilet without a door. In my house in Melbourne, my then partner Simon decided to rennovate the bathroom. He ripped out walls, made the tiny bathroom bigger, moved the toilet from the behind the laundry into the new improved bathroom... but failed to put a door on it for about a year. Which was unfortunate cause the new bathroom/toilet was directly off the living room. I lived in a house I couldn't invite friends to cause for one year I had a sheet hanging over the bathroom door.

When I told Simon it was over, I was over him, pack up and leave, he made a last ditch effort to win me back. I came home from work one day to find he'd cleaned the house (as much as you can when you have exposed beams where walls used to be, tiles sitting over holes in the floor where (again) walls used to be), moved furniture to create a proper dining room, had take away on the table and a lit candle... and TA DA! a door on the bathroom!

I was bowled over.

But perhaps its a failing on my part that at that point in time the first thing that came to my mind to say was "That wasn't too hard, was it?"

Not, "Oh honey, all is forgiven". Nope. Not me. Is there something wrong with me as a human being? Am I missing some integral part which makes me better at relationships?

Meanwhile, it seems my blog is more than simply a place to share events and vent about things. I am now also going to share stuff I do and make. I've found over the last couple of years, that I love making stuff. I love learning new things and trying new things. My only regret is not having enough time to do it all!

I've always drawn and done some crafty stuff, but lately I have become obsessed. So this is where you close the window if you're not interested in hearing about my latest accomplishments cause I'm about to share!

I've discovered www.pinterest.com and I love it. I spend an unhealthy amount of time on there just browsing and getting ideas for things I want to do/make/try. I love it.

One of the things I found was that if you cut old T-shirts into strips you can make them curl into a kind of string. A couple of weeks ago at work I took one of my clients (a lady I work one on one with once a week) to an op shop and bought some cheap T-shirts. I cut them up using one of the pinterest ideas to make a couple of vests for her. I decorated one of them with T-shirt flowers as well (another pinterest idea). If I can I'll take photos to share when I see her next.

I had an extra couple of T-shirts... so I decided to try making a headband for myself. I took the brown singlet I'd bought and cut off the bottom hem, split it up one side seam and proceeded to cut it into strips.

I discovered that there are some T-shirts that wont curl. This was one of them. Its more a knit than a Tshirt. Oops.

I then cut up a few strands of purple T-shirt, which DID curl. I tied up the ends of the strips at the size I wanted for my head. I wrapped and stitched the knots into a neater looking sausage shape, and voila. Headband!

Other things I've made recently after being inspired to use my downtime to create all kinds of interesting useful things, is a diary cover.

Basically, I couldn't find a diary I liked more than my filofax, but I wanted to try a day to a page so I thought I'd get a cheap diary and make a cover for it to hold a pen. This is what I came up with. I made the cover using felt and covering the diary pretty much as I used to cover schoolbooks when I was in grade school, only I sewed rather than taped. I decorated it by stitching on the monster with its pen holding loop/hand. I used a hairband as the elasticated closer.

I kind of stuffed up so I had to put the button on the back. So I added another smaller monster there. :) Its a bit wonky having to close the diary at the back, but it works!

Another thing I made was a spot to put the mobile phones while they're charging. Up till now they've sat on top of the two old tins I have decorating my counter top. What I did was get some cardboard (every self respecting crafter has bits of that lying around). I cut it to the shape I wanted, made a pocket using glue and bits of cardboard to give it the depth I wanted. I reinforced the middle with an extra sliver of cardboard, creating two separate pockets for our two phones.

First I covered it in some craft paper I had lying around but I hated it. So I recovered it using some scraps of fabric. Then I loved it.

The only problem with this amazingly handy little contraption is that now I forget to take my phone to work cause its 'in its place' rather than on the counter!

Lastly (for this blog anyway, you're never going to safe again) is a gift box I gave Wayne for his birthday last month. I'd seen something which gave me the idea in a book. It was a tiny memory box thing. What I created for Wayne was a 'home box' - a box with special memories and bits of home so that he can always have a bit of home with him wherever he goes.

First I bought a small craft box and created the message 'home is where the heart is' using the age-old blackmail letter technique. I then filled it with all kinds of goodies. Three horse hair locks from each of the horses. Tiny photos of me and the dogs. A feather from Boris (and by extension, all the chickens). The wire 'W' I'd made as a gift tag for his first Christmas present at the farm. Tiny bags with dirt from our land. A knot of leather. Some rusty nails from the old shed/now stable. All little things which are part of this place, or symbolize home. It lives on his bedside table. :)

Well, enough for today. I've been on here long enough!