Sunday, 30 December 2012

an old bookcase gets a new look


I've been itching to get stuck into this particular project for a while now. Ever since I made up a space in the living room for Wayne's office. When I did that I moved this bookcase into the space under the window into the kitchen (a perfect fit!) so Wayne could hide away his bits and pieces.... which he never does... but that's beside the point.

The point is that it started out like this: an op shop find, a little worse for wear. It obviously had had glass in it at some stage, possibly a kitchen cupboard, maybe a bookcase...


First I gave it a fresh coat of paint, no distressing in those days. Then I put flyscreen in it to use as a towel cupboard in my bathroom.

That worked well for a while, then I  moved it to the spare room where Bonnard (one of my standard poodles) destroyed it by digging at the flyscreen. He only destroyed the top part of both doors so I just cut the screen and left it like that for a few years.

I mean, it still worked. And it was easier to access things on the top shelf without a screen there!

So, when the office area was created the bookcase lived there without the top screen for a few months. I'd planned to replace the screens with burlap, just hadn't got around to it till today.

Here is a photo after removing one of the doors.

When I'd put in the flyscreen I'd used narrow quad to hold it in place. I had to remove that and managed to do it on both doors without breaking it. Great accomplishment!


I had planned to use some grain sacks I'd found at an antique shop but they were too short. So I got out my stencils and some sharpies and went to work.

All went well till I realised that I'd put the burlap in the first door upside down. Darn. I DID check you know... but somehow still managed to get it wrong.

I had to remove the quad and of course broke every single piece of it that time. Something to do with using slightly bigger flathead nails instead of tiny bullet head ones... d'oh!

Oh well. Live and learn. I had to put the burlap back in right way up using tacks and glue and folding it over to prevent it from fraying. Didn't look too bad actually.

Lastly I had to find a handle. The one I had on there had been gnawed on by Bonnard plus it no longer suited. It was fine for the bathroom as it matched the vanity, but not for the new look. I found an old brass handle I liked in my box of knobs and handles and added it.


So here it is! A little more battered than before, a little more lived in, and way better for hiding all the junk I'd like to keep out of sight when visitors come over!

Ok. The words aren't entirely straight. Pulling on burlap to stretch it has that effect. But I'm pleased with it.

Now... onto the next project! 


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The Girl Creative

Saturday, 29 December 2012

digging it up


This is Dancer, our gorgeous girl. She's a 3yr old anglo arab x warmblood, but she's almost entirely arab to my eye. She's not that big, if she cracks 15hh we'll be happy. But she's the sweetest, prettiest thing. So gentle and loving and trusting. And she moves like a dream.

I've organised a lady who comes highly recommended and who's a great rider to come work with Ben to get him going for me. Hopefully she'll work on me as well to get me going for Ben!

When I feel confident with Ben I think we'll get her to start with Dancer. She's not had any work so far other than the work Wayne put in to get her trusting us and giving us her feet. He'll start ground work with her soon (at least that's the plan) so she'll be ready to start.

If it goes well, I figure this winter Wayne and I will be riding on our tracks! Finally!

Meanwhile, today I finally got off my butt and got motivated to do some work.

I started by clearing out one corner of our metal garden shed. When we first moved in it was meant to be the gardening shed, plus storage since its nice and dry. Over the last 2 years things have spread and it got messy.

I got in there today and made a pile of stuff to go to the tip, organised storage stuff on one end, camping gear in a corner, fishing rods hung on the back wall, gardening tools and equipment one one side. The ride on will park in the middle of that side.

Its clean. Its tidy. And I have room to put my 'projects to do' and to store large finished pieces waiting for a home.

I went down to the casita and climbed over the broken fence (which Wally broke last winter rushing the gate to get into the corral) to retrieve one of the 3 old metal lockers we inherited out on the porch.

I managed to drag one into the casita where I dumped it. I'll ask the boys to bring it up to the metal shed for me later. I figure the lockers will act as storage as well as a space divider.

Then, since I was on a roll, I decided to tackle the oily bog in the garden bed.

I doubt you'll remember this fiasco, but  not long after we moved in I decided that the small 'garden bed' near the small timber shed and carport would make the perfect spot for my hydrangeas. I've always loved hydrangeas and really wanted a spot to grow my own.

So I dug out the pebbles, found weed barrier, pulled that up and started digging holes. Put in the first two hydrangeas ok. Then I hit oil.

Sump oil.

Seems the last owner of this place used that spot to tip out the oil when servicing his cars.

What kind of person does that????


Needless to say, I did what I could. I dug and dug and carted and dug some more. I got sick of the smell of oil. So I did what anyone in my place would do. I put it in the too hard basket.

I put three hydrangeas in the not affected areas and left a hole to deal with 'later'.

Today 'later' finally came around. I started again. Pulling up oil soaked weed barrier and digging, carting and digging more.

I'm a weakling. I can only do a job like that for a short time before my arms fall off. So I called the boys. Wayne and Chris (who's visiting). Chris is too polite to refuse to do me a favour so I got them to dig the soil looked normal. I have a nice big hole now. Tomorrow I'll take the trailer down and buy some topsoil to fill it and I'll finally be able to put in the last hydrangea.

Talk about having a quiet day!


heart tray

How pretty is this tray with its heart handles? When I found it in an op shop it was all pine and looked heavy and chunky. Not that there's anything wrong with chunky. I like chunky. I love chunky sport shoes, I love chunky bracelets. But this tray just looked like something you'd hit a burglar over the head with, not serve tea on. And so un-pretty...

But the hearts. And the solid wood. I couldn't go past that.

So I did what any self-respecting DIY-er would do - I painted it. Sanded it. Painted it using a chalk paint of my own mixing, lightly sanded it again to create a smooth satin feel you can't get enough of touching.

Heavy no more. Chunky it might be, but its also light and pretty now.

It may still come in handy as a weapon of self protection, but you'd think twice about using this pretty tray to pound someone on the head.

I like it when things work out, don't you?

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Homespun Happenings

Friday, 28 December 2012

DIY cake stands

I've always loved looking at the gorgeous cake stands people make out of recycled items. I had a few wooden 'plates'. And I had a few lamp bases and large chunky candle holders.

I figured "I can do that!". So I did.

I made two gorgeous cake stands. Here is the before on one of them:

A chunky candle holder and a wooden plate I'd painted yellow originally and disliked.

After: painted pink in its new life as a cake stand.

Here's the other one. A white one this time.

Before: a lamp base and a wooden plate.

After a pretty white cake stand.

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a little basket

Its the little things, isn't it?

A little basket that no one wanted any more, looking a bit worse for wear, with dusty lace and dustier flowers...

I gave it a makeover and its now looking pretty cute and pleased with itself.

A pink burlap flower with a silver pearl center. Some florist wire for 'interest' and texture...

Now the little basket can hold its head up and unapologetically take its place on a bookcase or a dressing table with pride.


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Beyond The Picket Fence

DIY christmas lights

...Or what to do when the decorative fairy light branches you've dragged around from one house to another for more than 5 years break...

You stuff them into a preserve jar and turn them into a jar full of lights!

Not just Christmas decorations... a bit of sparkle you can enjoy all year round!


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Beyond The Picket Fence

Monday, 24 December 2012

christmas eve

...and all through the house, not a creature was stirrring...

.. wait. I hear the clinking of a spoon as Wayne finishes his dessert.

The dogs are flaked out all over the floor.

The table is set and all pretty for Christmas. (Love my op shop dishes)


I finished the gateleg table (sort of) so we can have a proper christmas dinner at a table somewhere other than in the kitchen.

Not that we have enough room in our living room for a table. I've had to move the couch back to Layout 101 to put the table in there. You'd think having one very big room would mean you have tons of space for everything... but we don't. The wood heater takes up some space. Wayne's office in the living room takes up more space... I dry clothes by the heater in winter.. we have two 3 seater couches and 2 recliner armchairs and 2 coffee tables. Its a miracle we can walk in there.

Anyway, back to the table... It was left at my house after the first lot of tenants left. It was broken and the glue holding the slats together has 'let go'. I've fixed it for now but left the top as it was. I finished painting the legs, distressing it just enough to look natural. I also finished the two chairs so we have a non-matching set of 4 now.

(Yes, there are only 2 chairs at the table right now... I'm aware of that.)

The table settings is simple. Burlap placemats, lavender sprigs from our garden, tags and twine holding cutlery.

The house is clean (ok... well MOST of it is - as my mother would say 'all the mother in law would see' is clean).

I've forbidden Wayne from making a mess, from using the kitchen, from being inside...

Ok. Not that, but I made dinner so I wouldn't have to clean up another mess. The one I cleaned earlier was more than enough, thankyouverymuch.

The pressies are on display in my minimal token nod to christmas - on the shelves in the living room.

This year I've gone for stencils on plain brown wrapping paper. For Wayne I've just numbered the presents so he opens them in the right order. The dangly thing is apparently mine - a whole lot of little parcels joined together on a string. Can't wait to open them!

In case you're wondering about the grey square on the wall... Well... when we moved in I chose that dark grey colour for a feature wall at the far end of the living room. I love it. Everyone who sees it loves it. The rest of the room is painted in that 'meant to be light grey but looks more like light blue in that room' colour. I don't like that so much. 

I wanted a wall with shelves to put framed photos on display. I got some pine, cut it to size, painted it, got some decorative brackets, put them up... then thought, hm. That looks a bit plain. So I painted in a dark grey square behind the shelves.

Its different...

So. Resting now.

Tomorrow is CHRISTMAS!


getting the christmas spirit

It was evading me for a while there.

I mean, it was really absent. I wanted to close up the house, park the car around the back, and pretend I wasn't home.

It wasn't a 'bah humbug' kind of thing. Just a 'really tired and worn out' kind of thing.

However, I seem to be snapping back to my usual hyperactive self. If the fact that I can no longer sleep at night is any indication...

This is what it was like inside my head for the past two nights:

I must clean the house. Vacuum. Might be easier to rip up and replace the carpet at this stage, its so dirty in there. Presents are wrapped. Where will I put the table for us to eat on? I have enough chairs... Should I re-arrange the living room furniture (run through 31 scenarios of where to move what). I really want to make the smallest room into a walk in wardrobe. How to do it? Should I try to build my own our of pallets or MDF? Adapt other objects (old doors, hardware shelving, old lockers)? Will 2 salads be enough for tomorrow or should I make a pasta salad as well? I need to find my bottle holder for a centrepiece on the table. Its in the shed. I think. That shed needs sorting out. Should I use that to store larger projects waiting to be worked on? The lawn really needs mowing. Are the baby birds out of the nests yet? Found another unfeathered dead one on the lawn last night. I want to remove the nests so I can clean the house and start painting. My office is a mess. Gotta change all the throws over the couches. And wash the dogs...


Its exhausting being me.

I've just been so tired lately that I've had no desire (or energy) to tackle anything at all. But somehow, a couple of days ago I recaptured the need to be creative. I took out the old broken gateleg table my first tenants had left behind and started mending it planning to use it as a dining table for Christmas. Then, since I had only a bit of a tin of Stain Cover left and it was on the edge, I undercoated two kitchen chairs which have been waiting to be painted for about a year. I also went through some booty I'd collected from trips to op shops and tip shops over the last month or so. 

I'm back!

What really got the christmas juices flowing however, was going to my friend Amanda's yesterday and making three batches of melomakarona! These delicious traditional greek christmas sweets are one of my favourite. I helped mom make them many times as I grew up but have only made them myself 3 times counting yesterday.

Here is the recipe I use and, let me tell you, its delicious and easy!


Thursday, 20 December 2012

christmas is coming

Is it just me, or does time seem to be playing up this week?

I have so much to do and can't seem to get on top of things. Its so bad I've buried my To Do List cause it was depressing me. If the world does end tomorrow it won't matter.

In the hopes that it doesn't end, I bought chicken for the dogs yesterday - a great sale. Normally a box of chicken frames is $10, on sale for $5, but when I went in they said they had them down to $2.50 each! I'd ordered 4, I said I'd take 5 and the guy at the shop gave me one more as a Christmas present. Isn't that sweet?

Anyway, wishing everyone in blogland a wonderful Christmas (or Holiday Season if you're politically correct) and a great New Year.


Monday, 17 December 2012

silver cup birdcages

You may remember these little bird cages I made from old silver egg cups and an old cup or trophy. I took them to the market where they got lots of attention but everyone kept asking where the birds were.

Wayne explained to people that we'd run into a hitch with our breeding program, in our efforts to breed birds small enough for the cages. I don't think anyone believed him.

Here are the cups as they were before:

And here they are now, with teeny tiny little birds in them.  The birds are less than an inch long (and that includes the tail) so they fit perfectly in the cages, on the little swings.

Really cute.

I have 4 more silver cups waiting for their own cage and a few more birdies waiting for a home.


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Saturday, 15 December 2012

little miracles

Yesterday I was out in the paddock with the horses and dogs when I heard laughter coming from the chicken coop. 

Wayne is the designated chicken feeder, putter-awayer at night, and egg collector. I love listening to him when he goes up there, filling up chicken feeders, calling the chooks...

"Chook chook chook... here you go.... No ducks! You're a duck! Get out!" etc.

But then I heard laughter. Real belly laughter. 

This is why:

At first glance its just another egg, right?

But look again:

Its the smallest chicken egg in the world!

I'm still laughing!

I can picture it now:

The poor chicken that lays the huge eggs, straining and pushing, face all squinched up, leaving claw marks on the perch as she struggles to bring forth the monstrous eggs.

The chicken next door thinking "Eh, that's big enough" and popping out the tiny egg...

Maybe she's lazy. Maybe she's going on strike - "Till we get better food, better working conditions, a new chicken coop, an entertainment centre with blu ray and wide screen TV - this is the size of eggs you'll get from us."

I love this egg!

I love all things miniature. I used to have a big miniature collection of anything tiny. There's the (working) tiny spanner I have on the ute (truck to my american friends) key ring which Wayne gave me. I sold most of my miniatures a few years ago, all except the poodles, but this is one I want to keep.

Now... how best to preserve it... Boil it so its hard? Or punch holes and blow it empty which will mean no stinkiness if it breaks, but its much more fragile...?


PS. The tiny spanner:


I broke it!

I was putting the eggs into the fridge and dropped it!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I'm so sad! :(