Tuesday, 31 July 2012

junkaholics unite

Hi, my name is Zefi and I'm a junkaholic.

I know I have a problem.

I admit it. Don't they say admitting it is half the battle?

But what if I don't want to change?

I'm like Harry... "No Zefi, NO! Don't look in the tip shop!"

"I. Can't. Help. It. Its. So. Beauuuuutiful! ARRRRGGGGHHHH"

I feel for Harry.

Yesterday on the way home through Margate, I couldn't resist the pull of the Re-Use Shop.

This afternoon, I couldn't resist the tug of another junk shop.

Ok. Two.




I started off with some money in my pocket and now (don't tell Wayne) I owe $43 on things I've 'put aside' with my name on them.

I just can't help it!

And I don't want to be cured. I like this disease.

I mean, I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. What's one teeny weeny addiction?

It ain't hurting anyone!

Today's haul included some rusty hinges, some lovely old spoons, a collection of old deep fryer baskets (I have a cunning plan for them!) and a galvanised milk bottle carrier.

As well as this little cutie:

And this (really? A rabbit decoupaged with cats?)

And yes, another poodle. But I have this fellow's brothers so I had to complete the family.

Well. No one's perfect.


jumping for joy & a bit down at the mouth

I've been featured on a blog!


I always dreamed this moment would come... :)

Seriously. I've been blogging for a while now, firstly just to keep in touch with friends and family as I gallivanted around the greek islands. Then to share my adventures on the new farm. And eventually, to brag about all the things I get up to.

Embarassingly, though I think I've been blogging for about 2 years now, I don't have many followers. Though quite a few people read apparently.

You know... unexpected people (not you, Merrill, or you, Diane. You better read cause you'll be quizzed later!)

I'll be chugging along happily at work and someone will comment on something I wrote on my blog.

Or Wayne will get off the phone with his brother's partner in South Australia and tell me they asked about our plumbing issues.


Small world.

I started reading blogs by some talented women with gorgeous houses and beautiful furniture, getting inspiration (and feeling more than a little envious). Somewhere along the line I started commenting on blogs, linked up on a link party or three, and some of my items got me some nice comments.

It feels nice. :)

Angie from Knick of Time was impressed enough with my retro tin storage that she featured it on her blog.

Anyway... That explains the jumping for joy, but what about the down at the mouth bit?

Well... yesterday I stopped in at one of my favourite shops in New Norfolk and learned that a dog grooming shop will be opening in town very soon.

Till now I've been the only local groomer, even though I only worked part time, at first driving to people's places and washing dogs in bathtubs and laundry tubs till we moved to the farm. Then working out of the casita where I set up a proper grooming room with hydrobath and all.

There have been mobile groomers who would come out this way, but people who lived further out had to go all the way to the city for a groom, or they would (if they were lucky enough to know about me) come to me.

My grooming business has grown lots since moving here - some by word of mouth, others by referral from the local vet, flyers and business cards placed around town.

Most of my customers learn about me from their sister, brother in law, neighbour, hairdresser, etc. I love meeting new people and I love that I can walk in town and say hello to half the people I meet.

I'm a good groomer. I'm good with dogs. I love dogs. In fact, that's what I say on my business card!

So I know I'm not going to lose my customers, at least not all of them. I look after their dogs and treat them well and get them looking great.

But I'm kicking myself for missed opportunities.

I should have been the one to open a business in town. I did think about it quite a few times. But a shop means overheads and you need the business to cope with overheads. Working from home enables me to build the business slowly, to work at my own pace (ie I take my time doing the dogs as I can afford to), and I can pick and chose my hours.

With a 'proper' job, grooming is my second job. I work on it on weekends or my days off. In summer when the days are longer and more people notice Fifi needs a clip, I also work some afternoons.

I'm flexible.

I'm not stuck in a shop with bills to pay regardless of how many dogs I groom that month.

I'm confident in my skills. I know I'm good.

Yet, I feel depressed at the prospect of a grooming shop opening in town.

Am I being silly? New Norfolk isn't a big town... I was hoping to groom more and work less as time went on.

Now I wonder if it will happen.


Ok, now I've talked myself into a funk I better go before I talk myself into sticking my head in the oven - and its electric so that would be a total failure.


Monday, 30 July 2012

how not to blog

  1. Turn on the computer and make a cup of coffee as it starts up.
  2. Sit at desk, opening tabs with right hand while patting standard poodle with left hand.
  3. Spend the next 15 minutes wiping up coffee from desk, under printer, under monitor and inside keyboard while yelling out four letter words as you jump around trying to blot up a full cup of coffee with tissues when said standard poodle shakes his head and spills coffee all over the desk.
  4. Throw away all the post-it notes you had on your desk with reminders and lists of things to do, plus entire unused post-it pads as they're soaked beyond repair.
  5. Wonder just how resilient SD cards and USB sticks are to coffee drenching...

Ok. So now I've sorted that out and have a big pink towel on my desk soaking up any leftover coffee from under the monitor stand and the printer guts, I can tell you about my weekend.

I did NOTHING. Not a thing. 

Well. Ok. I did groom 3 dogs. And we did go visit some friends for dinner and stayed over-night. That was very nice.

And we stopped by to renew our dog registrations.

But other than that I did nothing.

Oh, on the way back from our friends' place we drove past the Margate Tip Shop. Or Re-Use Shop as its called.

You know me. I never met a tip shop I didn't like. Or could resist stopping at.

Wayne wasn't impressed. We were too busy, didn't have time to stop. 

But I had the keys and I was driving. So I went and looked while he waited impatiently in the car.

I found a few goodies... 4 doilies which I'm now collecting to make curtains as inspired by an image I fell in love with on Pinterest. Some rusty bits and pieces (I love my rusty bits), and another $1 kitchen chair!

I'll soon have more chairs that I can possibly use, but hey, it was a nice chair, sitting out there in the rain! I couldn't just LEAVE it there, now could I?

Here is a picture of the doilies, tea stained and drying out on the towel which is drying out my monitor.

And here is a picture of the chair. Cool find for $1, huh?

Needs a bit of TLC, but that's what I'm here for!


Saturday, 28 July 2012

kelly's keys


I can blog about this now. I couldn't before cause I made it as a house-warming gift for our friends Kelly and Simon and I wanted it to be a surprise. They moved into a little house on a dairy farm a few weeks ago. We haven't managed to go up and see it yet, partly due to coming down with the flu when we were expected there for dinner.

They came to visit today (and brought Rio and Chloe to have their nails done*) so I got to give Kelly her presents - this key rack I made for them and a few other things I found which I knew she'd like.

Kelly's pretty mad about black and white cows.

Hence the black and white ribbon on the key rack.

It all started out as a pretty plain, very old, very weathered piece of barn wood.

I roughly painted it with some blue/grey home made chalk paint, then handpainted some old style keys onto it. I loved the way the wood was worn away at one end so I painted the key and grey to make it look like the wearing had happend after, not before, the wood was painted.

I sprayed some old silver coloured hooks white using a flat white spray paint and put them along the bottom for keys... 

It needed something more... So I put an extra, smaller, hook into the worn area and added a heart I made out of some very rusty wire.

Better. Yet it still needed more... So I added a key I'd aged using a concoction I found on Pinterest. It was meant to rust it but didn't. Still, it looked old(er).

Yep. It was getting closer.

I drilled 2 rather big holes into it and got Wayne to do more of his cute knots with some jute rope. I had to buy a new set of drill bits cause I didn't have any big enough. (Any excuse will do to buy more hardware.)

Yep. It was getting there, but it still needed something more. I had to look at it for a long time before I would work it out. I hung it on the wall in the living room where I'd see it as I walked by every day.

Then I had a brainwave. It needed a bow.

A cowhide bow!

Have you ever tried to find cowhide ribbon? 

I bought some plain white ribbon from the fabric store in town and painted cow spots on it using a sharpie. Didn't look too bad.

I made a double bow and looped some wire around the ribbon and the key and hung them onto the hook with the rusty heart.

I'm actually really happy with it. I think it came up pretty good considering the many false starts!

Adding this project to Addicted2Decorating Link Party.


*Rio and Chloe are jack russell terriers. Rio is a gorgeous little ratbag who's already been introduced to the joys of hydrobathing and having his nails done with a dremel. Chloe is only 8 weeks old and it was her introduction to the dremel today.

There's almost nothing cuter than a baby jack russell. Chloe is the sweetest thing!

Friday, 27 July 2012

kitchen re-do mania

From the day we set foot on the farm, I've dreamed of a new kitchen.

Well... maybe not a totally new one. A recycled, updated, old kitchen.

I want a farm kitchen, with a timber table (got that!) and a mix of white and wood and mismatched furniture and timber lining on the walls and shelves and a dishwasher.

I want a built-in oven and a stove top that sits in the benchtop. I'm over the freestanding stove and the gap large enough to drop a semi-trailer down on either side.

I'm sick of the blue benchtops and the ugly laminate cupboards.

Sure, there's tons of storage space in this kitchen. Would you believe I haven't actually filled up the cupboards totally? There's still room for a few more appliances I'll use once every 2 years whether I need to or not.

For the last 18 months I've been drawing sketches of how I can make the kitchen bigger, prettier, more practical.

I've been knocking down walls and pulling out cabinets, moving windows and putting in new doors and hardware on a regular basis ... in my dreams.


Last week I think I finally clicked on a plan.

Of course, we don't have the money to re-do the kitchen right now. It was one of those things I put on the 'To Do when my house in Fentonbury sells' List.

And the house hasn't sold yet.

In fact, I don't know if it will sell in this market. Nothing is selling. And I think I may have found some mature and reliable tenants for it.

After the last lot I'm rather scared to rent it out again. But reality is I can't keep paying 2 mortgages out of my measley wage.

Anyway, back to the kitchen nightmare dream.

This is what the kitchen looks like now. 

Yes, the mess is almost part of the layout of the kitchen.

Yes, I may be insane to even think of re-doing the kitchen while I live with Pigpen Wayne, especially the all white cabinets... 

So, here is my kitchen in all its glory.

Its a U shape, when you walk through the door (you come into the house via the mudroom, through a tiny entry-way, then into the kitchen. I call it a rabbit warren...) this is the first thing you see. There is just not enough bench space. There's no wall space so things like my pretty tins, the spice and coffee cabinets have to sit on the bench and take up precious space.

That corner cabinet has sliding baskets in it, handy but a bit smelly, like its been wet at some stage.


Love the drawers. Especially the deep ones for dishes and baking dishes.

The sink is under the window which now looks into the mud room. And I really hate how they made upper cabinets and then had to angle them back to allow for the windows.

See those gaps next to the stove? I think Barney went in there looking for stuff Wayne had dropped while cooking, and he hasn't been seen since.


Another cabinet cut at an angle to allow for the window. Those shelves are useless, you can barely see anything on them and reaching them is a challenge.

Oh yeah. There's a big window into the living room as well.

Under the microwave upper cabinet is a small bench area. Barely enough to butter your toast with the breadbox and fruit bowls.

I hate the corner cupboards.

Yep. My kitchen is a disgrace.

I've decided I need to do some major work. I want to remove the window which now looks into the mud room. I want to replace the tall skinny window in the corner near the stove with the bigger one from the other side to allow more light into the kitchen.

I want to knock out half a wall so that when you enter through the mud room you go directly into the kitchen (an L shaped kitchen) and not into a tiny dark space.

I want to make that tiny dark space (where the fridge lives cause it doesn't fit in the kitchen!) into a pantry by building a large cupboard 'around' the fridge. With the wall gone it will be in the kitchen, though around a corner, in the short part of the L.

I want to remove the pantry from where it is in the kitchen now, making more room for the table, and bring in my pretty kitchen hutch from the living room.

I want shelves to display the things I like.

I want to move the stove to the side where the sink is now and put the sink where the stove is with the window above it.

I want thick bamboo benchtops.

I want timber doors and old fashioned hardware.

I want a new floor covering. After seeing the black and white tiles in the mud room after a rainy day, I think I might opt for something less mud-worthy.

Polished floors would be great.

I want timber panelling on the walls. Painted timber panelling. On all the walls. And a glass backsplash behind the stove.

And I want a dishwasher. And a big double sink. (ok, a butler's sink would be ideal!)

And shelves. Did I mention I want shelves?

That's not too much to want is it?

Surely I deserve the kitchen of my dreams!

I plan to re-use the cabinet carcasses where I can, only buying what I need (like for the stove and oven). I'll make my own shelves and brackets from timber. I'll re-use the old pantry to make the new one.

And it'll still cost way more than I can afford. A new stove. A new oven. A new rangehood. New doors. And labour.

I ain't moving windows and knocking out walls by myself.

So, I live with what I have and try not to hate it too much.

Lately I've started leaving comments on the blogs I'm following. Kim at The Money Pit is updating her kitchen. I'm so envious. She had a dilema and asked people's opinion. I gave her mine and, guess what? She is taking my suggestion! I feel good. Here is her post with her final decision on what her kitchen will look like.

Now will someone help me re-do my kitchen? 

I mean, can someone come and help me do it? Its a big job and I don't know how brave I actually am.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

where's dinner and do you have regrets?

Where's dinner?

Do you ever regret throwing something(s) way? It isn't something I think of often, but lately something I read reminded me of stuff I threw out many years ago which I now feel a bit bad about.

Not the photos of a particular ex-boyfriend...  I can live without that memory.

No, I don't regret that. But there are some small things that I do regret throwing out.

You know how, when you're in love and everything seems like it'll last forever, this is the man of your dreams, the white picket fence looms in the future and your rose tinted glasses haven't yet come off and been crushed underfoot? At that point in a relationship you think you want to erase all the previous loves of your life and begin anew. Wipe the slate clean so to speak.
So you throw away all those old love letters you cherished for years. The ones from your first boyfriend who you thought was SO romantic (till you realised that most of his letters were simply lyrics from his favourite songs). Or the great passionate summer romance you had where the guy could only speak french and italian and who's letters you had to read with the assistance of a dictionary or a friend who spoke italian.

And the gifts. You decide you can live without that little heart charm given to you by the man you believed would be your life partner. Or the sweatshirt a two-timing louse gave you from Disneyland, telling you that he wore it while visiting there and felt like you had your arms around him. 


You toss these things out, without a thought, without regrets. You give away the charm or drop clothing into the brotherhood bin.

(Now you kick yourself for not selling the stuff and making a quick buck out of it, but you never worked that way.)

No. The stuff I regret throwing away were things given to me by people (men) who I wasn't actually involved with - thus somehow the stuff they gave me was more genuine. Untainted. And I still threw it away.

One of those things was a painting. A watercolour given to me by a french boy I met when I was in Paris on a school trip at age 16. We sat up all night, in the hostel kitchen where he worked while attending art school, drinking hot chocolate out of huge bowls, and talking - Paris by night outside the window... Then he snuck me out to see his place (a tiny loft) where he didn't try to seduce me or take advantage of me, but instead gave me a drawing to remember him by and asked for a page from my visual diary to remember me by.

It was so innocent. So exciting! Doesn't every girl dream of a romantic night in Paris?

Hello? Do you have my dinner?
The other thing was a poem, written to me by a guy I thought was a friend. Who it seems had more feelings for me than I was aware. It was a beautiful, sensitive poem, asking me to give him a chance, to stay in Greece and not return to Australia.

When I thought I was in love with Mr Right, I threw these things out along with old photos and old love letters.

Why would I throw away a painting? Or a poem? They're art, someone's hard work and talent.

Yet I did. 

I've also thrown away, given away, or sold (not so often) things I've grown out of or no longer need. Those items I don't regret... in general.

I do regret not holding on to my mother's old clothes however, even after they no longer fitted me. They were beautiful 1960s outfits, mohair twin sets and tweed pedal pushers. Nice.

Well... we can't keep everything. We have to move on and make space in our home, our lives and our hearts.

And a clean out of the old is good for the soul, right?

Plus, there's the added advantage that by getting rid of old stuff, you make room for MORE stuff.

Yeah. I like that.

Lets not look at it as throwing things away, but rather as making room for new (old) stuff!

Like these 7in long nails I found at an op shop last week. How wonderful are they? I can already see them as part of a project....


Sunday, 22 July 2012

blue crystals, chains and rust


There's something about the combination of rust and sparkle that just does it for me. And lace and burlap, but that's another story entirely.

When I found the first hand sander at a tip shop some time ago I bought it cause I just loved the smoothness and softness of the wood where it had been worn smooth by use. I had no idea what I'd do with it.

In fact if it didn't still have sandpaper stapled to it, I wouldn't have had a clue what it was.

Then I found another. And another. It was like once I'd seen one, I was seeing them everywhere. 


Like cars. Have you ever noticed that you can go through life quite happily not having a clue what a Holden Astra looks like, but then you see one and suddenly they're everywhere?

That's how it works with wooden hand sanders too. Once your eyes are open to them, they're everywhere. And I'm buying them. I can only hope I find more. I have more ideas of what to use them for.

An image on Pinterest of a collection of clunky rusty objects on chains gave me the idea that this sander would be ideal to hang a random collection of objects from.

The first one I made I already had a few items in my miscellanous box which were just waiting for the right project. This time around I actually had to scavenge to find the right items.

I went through my miscellaneous box, I went through my collection of spoons, I even went through the bottom of Wayne's tool boxes. I got some goodies there, but unfortunately Wayne saw me and confiscated them.

Oh well. Easy come, easy go.

Still, I had a few interesting things in my pile. A couple of old hinges. An old spoon. Some rusty nuts, bolts and washers. One of my collection of metal cup cake tins. Lots and lots of rusty wire in shapes made by Wayne. Beads. Crystals.


This is one reason I just hate it that tip shops are closing. The one in New Norfolk is gone. Another is soon to close. You can't get the same amount of rusty junk in op shops. 

At a tip shop you often find boxes full of crap, just begging for me to go through them. Which I do, carefully sifting through all the rusty hardware and finding a bent hinge, a crooked hook, a broken doorknob.


I just love that stuff.

I'm wierd.

However, there's no arguing that a collection of junk and sparkle like this looks pretty amazing.

This particular suncatcher has chains and silver beads from a broken necklace, strands of watchmakers chain and a blue crystal with aurora borealis finish which makes it reflect colours in the sun.

I apologise for the overload of photos... I couldn't make up my mind which ones to use, so I just used them all! :)


welcome stars

I'm finally starting to feel more like myself. There's still a whole lot of coughing, spluttering, sneezing and wheezing going on, but all in all - I'm feeling better. Thank goodness. This not being able to do stuff (create) has been killing me. 

Last night I finished a couple of projects that only needed tweaking (and got Wayne to tweak a couple more).

The welcome sign is one of them. This had been on the hallway wall for a couple of weeks and all it needed was to be photographed outside where the walls weren't the same colour as the paint on the timber. How did I do that? I started with flat white paint, added a touch of this and a drop of that and mixed up a colour that looks almost exactly the same as the colour on my walls!


Anyway, this project only needed photographing so here goes.

The timber piece is one that came off the old stable. I gave it a brush of pale blue/grey paint and then hand painted the word on it. I printed the word out, rubbed the back of the paper with charcoal and traced the letters, then painted them. I've found that doing it by hand beats any kind of transfer method I've tried. Using a thin brush and some acrylic paint I can give the letters the worn look I want by using more or less paint in areas.

I then took some sticks from under one of our gum trees and made stars using thin silver wire for the joins.

I added a few beads to the bottom of each star for a bit of bling. You can't see the beads as well in the photos as you can in real life which is a pity.

All in all, I think it came up rather nice. When I see it near the door it makes me smile.

 Now on to other stuff!