Friday, 31 January 2014

what i have and haven't done

Despite all rumours to the contrary, I haven't been abducted by aliens, I'm not in some out of the way hospital with amnesia and I'm not lying dead in a ditch.

Although, when I look around the house right now I'm seriously tempted to run off and join the circus...

I've just been... busy.

The kitchen is... not quite happening... I'll have an update on that soon.

The living room looks like the dogs are running the household. They've trained me to do the washing but they're really useless at folding and putting clothes away. Eh. That's ok. The baskets of clean clothes fill in the spaces in the living room which would otherwise look bare and boring.

The guest room... well, let me put it this way: I went in there to find something the other day and got pinned under a stack of boxes. If the dogs hadn't found me I think Wayne would have wondered why I'd left him till the smell gave it away.

The office looks like my brain exploded.

Yeah. Really. Every project, every little thing I've kept cause 'it'll come in handy one day' or 'I have plans for' is on the floor. Every available surface is covered in 'things to finish', 'things to sort' and 'things to put away when I find a place for them'. When you walk in there you have to shuffle so you don't step on anything sharp.

I went in there the other day to clean up so I can find the paperwork I know I need to do, but I was so overwhelmed by the site, I gave up. I just didn't know where to start.

I think I need to move.

How do people manage?

I mean it, how do people manage to do everything that needs to be done? I know I've asked this before, but no one is giving away their secrets.

I'm only working 3.5 days. And I groom dogs which is really another job, but its at home so it almost isn't like having a 'real job'. You'd think I'd have tons of time to DO things, right? Well, I thought I'd have tons of time to do things.

But I don't.

Sometimes I know its cause I'm just too tired or worn out by the heat (have I mentioned I hate the heat?) to lift a finger. Not to even fold washing.

I had such big plans for this summer. I was going to finish painting the house - then found I had a great excuse to put it off... after all, I can't paint till the new kitchen window goes in, right? I was going to paint the rails on the porch... At least I managed to wash an section of them today so I can (hopefully) start painting there this weekend so the potato vine can start climbing instead of grovelling. I planned to ride more. Or ride SOME. I planned to make stuff for the next market. ha. I planned to do up a couple of old pieces of furniture...

I guess I should consider the few things that I have done and not beat myself up about it. I've started a kitchen renovation. I've patched up the bathroom to make it more user friendly without actually remodelling it. I put in garden beds (by organising someone else to do the work) and grew a lot of my own plants from seeds. I (we) got the driveway and dam fixed. I (we) raised ducklings. And got geese. And a miniature horse. I got Dancer broken to saddle and have started riding her.

So I've done tons.

Why do I feel like I haven't done anything?


Monday, 20 January 2014

wally and mini me

Never say never, right?

We always used to let horses in the front yard. We had no garden in our front yard.

I now have a garden which I'm loving. I've really gotten into watching plants grow and flowers bloom.

I said "we are never letting horses in the yard again."

Here is Chipmunk.

In the front yard.

Dancing dangerously close to the garden bed...

Chipmunk has been coming into the yard every day. Twice a day if we're home.

So far he's only eaten my blue fescue. That poor plant. It was just beginning to come back from the last time it was cropped by a horse.

He's nibbled on my pink cordyline. He sniffed around the alyssum and got yelled at.

And he's walked through two of the garden beds.

He has no respect!

Chipmunk and Wally have really hit it off. Wally seems totally taken by the little guy and I think he quite likes Wally as well.

So far they've only been allowed to spend time getting to know eachother over the fence. We're not ready to let such a tiny horse in with such big ones.

The really interesting thing is that Wally is Chipmunk's protector as well.

Cas hates Chipmunk. I saw her coming at him, ears back and teeth bared. Wally got between her and Chipmunk, threatening her with bites and kicks. It really is amazing to watch. I'm really surprised too. I really didn't think Wally would take to the little guy. Its beautiful to see them together.


Sunday, 19 January 2014

chainsaw vs thigh - retaining wall update

Thought this image was scary enough without being too graphic.

Yesterday was one of those days where I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Handyman was here, putting the new shower head in (one of those handheld things on a rail), Wayne was finishing off the front end of the retaining wall and I was lost sheeping (wandering around wondering what to do), when Wayne solved my problem.

He thought spending the rest of the day in the emergency ward of the Royal Hobart Hospital would be a good way to pass the time.

He wanted to even off the tops of the posts on the wall and thought the chainsaw was the easiest way to do it. All was going fine, though not exactly neat, when the chainsaw kicked back.

I was there. I saw it happen. I started yelling and swearing at him before he jumped back, blood dripping down his leg.

Man. If he really wanted to cut his shorts off shorter he could have asked to use my scissors!

Luckily the chainsaw didn't cut off his leg. There was a big deep cut on his leg just above the knee though.

I've had first aid training. I was prepared.

I ran around screaming, in a panic.

Thank goodness Handyman was there. He asked me to get a towel and tape and asked me to calm down. He wrapped the leg in the towel, secured it with the tape while I got the car and drove Wayne to the e.r. where he eventually got 15 stitches to show off to his friends. Eventually, 4 hours later.

What can I say about emergency rooms? I've been to one myself four times (once in an ambulance). This time was no better.


I really wonder about their priorities. Wayne saw the triage nurse who removed the towel and put on a dressing, then he was asked to wait. And wait. And wait.

While we waited we saw all kinds of things. People walking in who looked totally healthy and not in pain, yet they were seen straight away. I realise there may be more to a case than meets the eye, but..

A guy with a broken toe was seen before Wayne.

A broken toe. One of the smaller toes.

I've had a broken big toe and I didn't get an xray or anything. I was told to go home, rest and keep it elevated. I did get a set of crutches though.

One guy came in with his partner, dressed for a wedding or something, and told the triage nurse he'd been having heart palpitations for 48 hours.

48 hours. He could have gone to his doctor. But he waited till Saturday afternoon to go to emergency.

Say the word heart and you get seen straight away.

Another group seemed to be having a social occasion, friends arrived and gathered as we waited. "Bit bored today. Think we'll go hang out at the emergency ward."

I was in the middle of giving Wayne a lecture - all about how if he'd cut his leg right through and it was hanging by a thread, how he'd have bled out before I could get him to hospital, let alone wait for an ambulance - when a guy walked by holding a single shoe in his hands. Oops. Hope his partner didn't lose her leg....

Anyway, Wayne is fine. Physically. Mentally I'm no so sure about.

And he's in the dog house as well.

Though that expression is wrong for this instance cause around here it means the lap of luxury cause the dogs are more part of the family than we are.

I'm not very happy with him right now. I mean, he's made a mess of the retaining wall. It looks like crap.

Plus, I had things I could have done in the city. If he'd needed to go in earlier I could have gone shopping while he waited in the e.r. How inconsiderate can he be?


I really could have done without that.



Saturday, 18 January 2014

a bigger bathroom - work in progress

As you know, things snowball around here.

First it was a broken oven, suddenly it was a kitchen remodel and a bathroom disruption.

I can't actually call it a bathroom remodel as Wayne put his foot down. He was ok with moving the hot water cylinder. He was ok with removing the bathtub to get to the pipes and cause we never use it and it really needed to be gone.

He was not ok with me adding to the work (and cost) by redoing the bathroom "while we're at it".

In fact, he actually said "Once the bathtub is removed thats it. We live with the bathroom as it is."

That doesn't scare me. For one thing, just having the tub out makes a huge difference, and I love the shelves I put in. There's tons I can do to make room more user-friendly and less gag-worthy.

And in a year... who knows...?

To recap... This is what the bathroom looked like before we removed the bathtub. A tiny square room with lamipanelled walls. Ick. You had to walk in between the shower and wall, then almost turn sideways to get past the corner of the shower and the vanity. Once in, you had a narrow space between the shower, bath and vanity in which to do your thing.

Once the bathtub was removed, we suddenly had space! The entry was still cramped, but then it opened up into a much bigger room than before. With the shelves on the wall for storage and an empty wall opposite I can move the towel rails and hangers from the left and right of the doorway, giving you a sense of more space.

Removing the bathtub left a huge hole in the wall where the laminpanel was broken to get to the pipes. Easy fixed. I got a piece of masonite from the casita (see? keeping things comes in handy), cut it to size and screwed it onto the wall. I then got out one of my many mixed up paint colours and found one that almost totally matches the colour of the walls.

I then looked around the house for a piece of furniture I could put in the space for storage and added bench space. I found an old wire drawer unit I've had for yonks. Its hand many roles over the years - bedside table when I was a student, linen storage, dog towel storage. For the last couple of years its been unsused space in the laundry.

A good wash and a top was all it needed to bring it into the bathroom. I had some laminate flooring pieces I got off a friend. I cut one to size and voila - new top!

Laminate flooring clicks together so I had to reinforce by screwing a couple of pieces of wood underneath. I love the extra space it gives me now.

And while we're at it, I might add a small note on the toothbrush holder. Remember the toothbrush holder I was so happy with? 

Well, turns out test tubes are the worst thing you can use to hold toothbrushes. Water dripping off the ends gathers in the bottom and become stagnant and the stench is unbelievable.

I had to replace them with large gauge syringes. They still get gunky at the bottom and need cleaning now and then, but they let the water out and don't stink!

I should be posting that in my failed projects!


baby steps - kitchen update

Where did we leave off on the kitchen saga? Last time I posted about it we'd run into the minor snag of the power cables and facing a battle with the power company.

Not much has happened on that front yet.

In fact, nothing has happened on that front yet. The electrician only came in this morning to get the details he needed to put in the paperwork! Who knows when he'd have done it if I hadn't called him to remind him we were waiting...

Did I tell you we added to that job?

See, the power comes into the house near the front door (the door furthest from the driveway of course), which means that we will never be able to put a roof on that side of the porch. It makes perfect sense that, since they'll already be there to move the meter box, that they should move the connection/whatever its called too. Just a bit further over so we can put a roof on the front porch.

One day. If Wayne ever gets over the cost of the kitchen renovation.

The Handyman now has all the timber he needs to do the job, so he's already started on putting a wall in where the old window was. On the side without the power cables, of course.

Did I mention we added to that job?

Ok, this wasn't all my doing! I was the one who asked him to put a ceiling in the mud room. (Its just corregated iron in there now). Wayne was the one who asked him to enclose the end of the porch.

Its not a bad idea. The wind and rain come in that way and everything we leave outside gets wet.

Yeah, yeah, it was a stupid place to put a porch, but it was the ONLY place we could put a porch.

An enclosed end will give us a spot where we can safely leave things out of the weather.

'Cause the mud room isn't big enough for all our coats and boots.


fancy bleach jeans

In between posts about kitchens and navel gazing, I thought I'd continue to post the odd crafty DIY project.

I have this old pair of jeans that I wear when I'm having a bloated tummy day. They aren't 'good' jeans, just a very cheap pair I picked up a few years ago. Strangely enough, they've outlived my 'good' jeans.

Anyway, they had a light spot on one leg where I'd probably splashed a bit of bleach somehow. Like when I decided stuff the natural shower cleaners, I'm going with the big guns.

Since I'm not ready to totally throw them out, I figured I'd use them to experiment with.

I got out a small watercolour paintbrush, a bit of bleach and started painting.

I did it in two stages as I was winging it. Typical Zefi. I decide to do something then just go off and do it without real preparation or planning.

The fabric absorbed the bleach really quickly so I had to keep charging up the brush, then it would  'leach' into the fabric and spread. Thus the variations in line thickness.

It turned out ok though.

I'd wear them in public.


Friday, 17 January 2014

saving the hydrangeas

Today was HOT.

Ok, maybe not as hot as it gets in, say, Uganda, but HOT.

I was working in Hobart today, in air conditioning, so that was ok. It was the thought of coming home afterwards, to a house that's been baking in the sun for a few hours, no air conditioning and no breeze that kind of worried me.

Thing is, our house must be in the hottest pocket of the Derwent Valley. I thought it was hot in Fentonbury but I was always buoyed by the knowledge that Bushy Park was always hotter (or colder) by a few degrees. And they had fog. Almost every single day in winter.

Then we moved to Magra. Where it gets cold. And foggy. And wet.

And hot.

On Wednesday they predicted something in the 30s (celsius of course). I doubt it got to that. In Hobart at least. It was warm, but not stifling. There was a cool breeze coming off the Derwent. I drove to New Norfolk and it was quite pleasant there too. Hot sun but a cool breeze. Windy almost.

Then I went home.

Not a skerrick of a breeze. Just stinking, stifling, sticky, sickening heat.

I parked the car in the carport and the first thing I saw was my gorgeous wilting hydrangeas. They were melting into the ground!

Now you know I don't do well in the heat. If I didn't love those plants I'd have said “Oh well, they'll get watered tonight when I do the rest of the garden” and gone inside to sit in front of a fan and groan. But I do love them. They're the first hydrangeas I've ever managed to keep alive a week beyond purchase!

And they were doing so well in that spot... Its south facing so doesn't get as much sun as the rest of the garden, I water them daily in summer, they seemed happy.

I gave them an emergency drink and ran around the casita gathering all three of my umbrellas which I put up around them. (Thanks goodness for showing dogs and accumulating umbrellas!)

I bet the neighbours drive past and think “That crazy woman. Now she's put umbrellas over her garden.”

Today was predicted to be the hottest day in Tasmania for the last 50 years or something. Tomorrow will be 20 degrees cooler, they say. Thank goodness for our changeable weather conditions!

Meanwhile, I decided to go to the movies today. I wanted to see Saving Mr Banks cause 1. I love Tom Hanks ( if Tom ever called I'd dump Wayne in a flash), 2. who doesn't love Mary Poppins, and 3. movie theatres are air conditioned!

I almost missed the movie. Well, ok, not quite, but I'm glad I decided to get there an hour early to have a coffee and relax. Took me 30 minutes to get into the car park. There were two older women in small cars stuck in some kind of standoff, jammed so that neither could get in or out.

Honestly. You know what they say about women drivers? Well, I had to agree today. I almost got out of my car and offered to drive the car out of the parking lot for the totally useless one.

I managed to get my car in, and out, without any trouble. Trust me, four door 4x4 utes aren't made for tight parking spots... Most people just don't know how to drive.

Anyway, loved the movie. Laughed lots and cried some. And guess what? It had cooled down and even rained a bit when I got out.

Thank goodness for Tasmania's changeable weather. It bears repeating.


Monday, 13 January 2014

the tiny guy is home

Chipmunk is home!

We picked him up today. You know we've been going up to see him every afternoon and slowly getting him used to being handled, lead and taking food from our mouths.

He's just SO cute.

He walked right up into the float behind Wayne. No fear, no panic, no trouble. He walked right up the ramp and that was that.

Of course, putting a miniature horse in a float meant for 'normal' sized horses was a new experience for Wayne. The breastplate/bar was above Chipmunk's forehead...

In the end Wayne rode in the back with him just in case, to make sure he was safe. When we got home the little man just talked off calmly - poodles jumping around him, sniffing his butt and barking, Wally carrying on in the paddock. It was all new but he took it all in his stride.

As if all that wasn't enough for the little guy in one day, Wayne walked him down the steps into the casita, all the way to the dutch door at the end where Wally was waiting to meet him new friend.

It was gorgeous.

But most of all, I couldn't believe how calm Chipmunk was through it all, through all the new stuff: home, animals, environment. He took it all in his stride. And for the first time ever, he let me touch him all over his body and legs and wasn't skittish at all. I got my fill of hugs today.

I'm so proud of him.

For now he's in the tiny yard off the casita, till he settles in. Then he'll move into the smallest of our paddocks. I don't know if I want him running with the big horses. He's just so small. I also want him close to the house so he can come in to 'play' more often.

He'll be like one of the dogs. I'd love it if he and the dogs would play together. Wouldn't that be cool!


Sunday, 12 January 2014

i'm not perfect

I know, I know. Its a shock. But its true. I'm not perfect.

In fact, I have no idea how those bloggers I follow manage to do so much in their day! They blog every day and have something productive to share every single time.

Its not that I don't DO things. I do. I make stuff, I re-arrange furniture, I change rooms around... I work at a 'real job', groom dogs, try to keep up with the yard work, fight the never-ending battle with cape weed and dirty dishes. And I don't even have kids. Some of these bloggers have children.

How do they do it? I mean, I can ignore the dogs if they pester me while I'm trying to work. You can't ignore children. Well, not unless you want child services to visit...

Do they never sleep? Is that it?

See, I have these photos. I took them the other day when the guys were here working.

I just never got around to resizing them and posting them when I blogged. Even though they were relevant to that post.

So in the spirit of sharing, here are the missing pics.

This is the 'before' pic of the side of the house. Actually, its a little after 'before' as one plant has already been pulled out and a concrete slab has been put down for the hot water cylinder to sit on.

Here is the hot water cylinder, sitting on our front porch. With Barney watching over things.

Here is the hot water cylinder on the slab at the side of the house. A much better spot for it. Out of the way.

Here is the porch minus the hot water cylinder. Much bigger now. With Romeo overseeing things.

Here is the retaining wall on the side of the driveway. 

Here is the retaining wall with the next section started. Wayne worked on this in the hot sun all weekend.

How do you know when Wayne has had enough for the day?

There are always a few things left lying around in the yard... I guess he's not perfect either.


tin crown tweaked

 Remember this tin crown?

I was happy with it. I thought it was finished.

Goes to show what I know!

I put it on the shelf and called it done.

Wayne walked past and tweaked it. A bit. Just a tiny bit.

And now its better.

All he did was bend out the points a bit and suddenly it was better. It was perfect!

Don't you hate it when someone else can see something you don't?


romeo and juliet


This is Romeo with Juliet.

I did mention that an old friend and her family visited us on New Year's day, right? Well I've finally got around to sharing the photos.

The girls are gorgeous, but best of all was the look on Juliet's face when I introduced her to Romeo. 

It was a match made in heaven!

Of course Montana and Barney got their share of cuddles too!

Our kids. Mine just happen to be furry!


the benchtop question - kitchen update

You know how I said I'd found the perfect timber for the benchtop? I found some tasmanian myrtle in 40mm thick boards. Perfect cause I want a thick benchtop.

Now the thing is, I'm not sure about the colour... Don't get me wrong, I love the colour of myrtle, I'm just not entirely sure its the colour benchtop I want in my kitchen... Maybe its cause I loved the look of my previous kitchen...

This is sort of what my benchtop would look like in myrtle. More or less. We don't know how much 'tiger' or 'fiddleback' it might have in it till we sand it back.

I do like images I've seen of kitchens with white walls and cupboards and dark benchtops, but I think I've always loved the light wood better I think... and the myrtle benchtops I've seen in person are much darker than the myrtle benchtop above.

Here are a couple of photos of myrtle floorboards.

I have no idea why the floorboards are pinker in the top one but not so much in the second one. The point is that myrtle has a pinky/red hue and its a dark wood.

So, do I want that, or do I want the lighter look of tasmanian oak?

Here are some photos of tassie oak.

I love the lighter look of the tassie oak (which is actually eucalyptus). The guy we get our timber from has tons of tassie oak so that's not an issue, however he doesn't have boards in the same thickness as the myrtle. I'd have to go with thinner boards and double them up on the edges to give the appearance of a thicker benchtop.

The first time I ever had a solid timber benchtop was in my home in Fentonbury. I loved that kitchen. Here are a couple of photos when I'd finished making it over. You can see the whole kitchen makeover here.

By the way, the floors in my house in Fentonbury were tas oak as well, but they'd been sanded and polished in the kitchen and dining room. In the bedroom I removed carpet in myself I found old floorboards which were worn. I didn't sand them, just punched in nails and sanded a couple of rough spots, then gave it a few coats of water based polyurethane or whatever its called. They turned out like this. Love them best!

So, what do you think? Help me decide! 

Of course there's no rush. It'll be at least 4 weeks before the power cables are moved, at least that long till the new kitchen cabinets are ready and installed... Not to mention that Handyman (who's making the benchtop) will be out of action due to knee surgery for a while. No doubt he'll go in for surgery soon as my kitchen is ready for a benchtop. The way things are panning out we'll have a new kitchen with a jigsaw of old benchtop gaffer taped together for a few months.

I have time to decide.


Saturday, 11 January 2014

i'm a big fan

Thought I'd quickly share these photos of the birthday present I got Wayne this year.

I was looking through the old tool section of a local antique store when I saw this little beauty and just had to grab it. Its a heavy duty fan of some kind of machinery.

(We like getting eachother useless rusty things as gifts. Love it!)

I love the chippy paint and the rust. The photos suck, but hopefully I'll get better photos of it when I put it up somewhere.

Don't you think it'd make a terrific light fitting for the new kitchen?

Then again, its Wayne's present, not mine. Maybe it'd look better on the garage wall!


Friday, 10 January 2014

we've stalled - kitchen update

One day into the renovation and we've hit a wall.

A wall with seriously thick power lines in it.

And that's the best thing that happened today.

This is how it went.

Yesterday the handyman had leveled the slab the hot water cylinder was to sit on. The electrician cut the power to said hot water cylinder since what we thought was cutting the power to it didn't stop it producing hot water.

On the positive side, we didn't have to go days without hot water.

I did manage to find an electrician, as you may have deduced.

Today the plumber arrived at 7.30-ish and started working on removing the vanity - so we could remove the bathtub, so we could access the wall behind it, so we could plumb in the hot water cylinder in its new spot. Nothing is ever simple.

At 8am the handyman and the plumber's sidekick arrived to help remove the tub and do the other work lined up for them.

Handyman had to remove all the top cabinets from the kitchen and 2 windows, then put the new window I'd managed to find, which I drove down to the city to pick up.

Of course cast iron tubs aren't that easy to move. It took the three of them a lot of hard work to move it out to the porch where it'll sit till I can sell it.

Anyone wanna buy an original, large, clawfoot tub with all its feet and only 2 small chips in the enamel? If our bathroom wasn't so tiny I'd have loved to keep it.

Anyway... it was all going smoothly... there was a hole in the floor where they had to cap off the bathtub drain, and a hole in the wall panel where they had to put in the hot water pipes, not to mention holes in the plaster on the other side, almost hidden by the fridge. I only noticed that after the plumber left.

Along with the fact that he didn't put silicone around the vanity when he put it back in, left the hole in the ground for Handyman to fix and left the gate to the paddock open and the cover off the pressure pump.

What is it with these guys?

So, as I was saying, it was all going well till the plumber put the water back on. Then we had a fountain in the bathroom.

See, while I was out picking up windows he called to ask me which side the hot water was on. I said left. Meaning the sink. He meant the bathtub, where it was on the right.

What? Isn't it like that in your house? Sheesh.... You'd think I was the only one with odd plumbing!

One minor flood and a ton of wet towels later, the hot water cylinder was plumbed in.

I even have water in the vanity again.

Meanwhile Handyman lets out a sound I could only interpret as not good.

Luckily the electrician was here to connect up the hot water cylinder so he had a look. He shook his head. He agreed. This was not good.

Turns out the power cables to the meter box run alongside the small window Handyman had just removed. There was no way to move them aside and they were right in the middle of where the new window was going to go.

Great. They'd totally stuff up my view.

Ok... now why did none of us even think that might be a possibility? The meter box was right there, staring us in the face... surely if we'd opened it we'd have seen the cables disappearing into the wall above it... sigh.

Decisions needed to be made. Redesign the kitchen and put the window to the one side of the wall or go through the process of moving the cables and meter box.

I said move the box.

So now the electrician has to fill out a form requesting work to be done, he'll hear from the power company in about a week (if we're lucky) and the job will get done in about 4 weeks (again, if we're lucky).

Meanwhile I have 2 holes in my kitchen wall.

This is about where the work stalled... 

We put a tarp over the window into the mud room. That's fine. Its an 'inside' window. Handyman put the small window back in.


On a positive note, the hot water cylinder is no longer on the front porch. Yeah!

See the cables in the window? OUCH.

And I have this great metal grate which it used to stand on I can do something with.

So that's where we stand right now.

We have a kitchen with a hole in one wall, no upper cabinets, bulkheads which still need removing and a ton of old cabinets in the casita. I'll probably use some of those in the grooming room and laundry. Waste not, want not.