Tuesday, 26 June 2012

letters the old fashioned way

I used to love writing (and receiving!) letters. Back when I was a teenager I used to write letters regularly. I had a pen-pal in Germany for quite a few years, and later I always stayed in touch with people I met by mail.

I've always been a social person and love to meet new people. I make friends everywhere I go and love sharing even a few simple words with people in passing in the supermarket or the post office.

Summers on Paros were the best back then. There were always so many people on holidays and I was there, waiting to befriend them and show them the best beaches. Among the many friends I made over the many years I lived in Greece and summered on Paros, a few stand out:

Mark, an english guy who came back to visit a few times and with whom I exchanged many fun, imaginative letters. One memorable letter he wrote to me was on toilet paper. I wrote him a letter and glued all the pages together. We had that kind of relationship.

Another was Inge, a lifelong friend. We met on Paros one year and then spent the next few years catching up on Paros or in Holland, exchanging letters in between.

Believe it or not, while we wrote real letters we were in touch way more than we are now, with email at our fingertips. sigh.

Going to the letterbox was a very exciting time. Nothing compares to finding a letter in the mailbox, ripping it open eagerly on the spot, or taking it to a quiet corner to savour every moment of it...

Back then I would make and send Christmas cards every single year. Now I still make them. but I email them. I post the bare minimum of cards. If you're not on the computer, sorry. Too hard.

Now, email has taken over letters, but somehow, getting an email doesn't have the same thrill as find an envelope with a stamp from foreign regions had. Email is quicker, faster, more efficient... but its soul-less compared to real letters....

I spent many days sitting at a table at home, in a cafe or library, pen in hand... picking favourite pens, different papers which would inspire me to write... the smell of new stationery... folding and placing a finished letter in an envelope, addressing it and sending it on its way.

I miss those days.

Back to reality and the era of the word on a monitor!

This is the story of an old in-tray.

I found this little beauty in an op shop somewhere along the line. It was plain and boring. I thought it would make a really pretty wall-hung letter holder.

I did a mock-up in Photoshop to see if it would work.  I liked the idea.

So I got to work. I painted it blue. Hated it. Painted it pale green. Hated that. Ended up a pale grey. Liked that. Distressed it a bit on the corners. Then I painted the inside of the tray with black chalkboard paint. I did it in a way that the edges were rough cause I liked that more casual look.

I then used some old wire, threading it through some holes that were already there and adding a few more. Originally I was going to just put the wire across in a kind of zig zag pattern, using the unevenly placed holes. Then I spontaneously crossed wires to create a rather more unexpected effect.

Like a letter holder on drugs.

I liked it! I did a trial run with a letter I just got in the post. It worked. Good!

To finish it off, I added a wire hanger, then wrapped it with jute string to match the string I tied the chalk with. I wrote "letters" in my bad handwriting. Dressed it up with some old postcards and letters and its done!

So, do you like it as much as I do?


PS: You'll find this item for sale in my etsy shop (in links above). I've also added it to the Knick of Time Tuesday Vintage Style Link Party. Go check it out.

photo wheel

I haven't been inspired to get out and make stuff lately. I mean, I've gone to the workshop and looked around and did a tiny bit here or there, but somehow nothing seems to click. I always have a ton of ideas when I'm at work or lying in bed trying to get to sleep. But come the light of a day when I'm at home and can actually take out a drill or the circular saw, even looking at my list can't shove me into gear.

Its sad. At least I've had a more or less restful weekend.

However, I did manage to do a few smaller things lately - while watching TV in the evening. I love multitasking, don't you? Here is one such small project.

While looking for some old barn wood in the area around the stable, I came across this round, greasy, red metal object. 

I have no idea what it is, other than its most likely part of some tractor the previous owner used to keep in the old shed. This is what it looked like when I found it in the dirt.

I picked it up and gave it a good wash with dishwashing liquid to get rid of the grease and I was happy with how it came up. Clean but not pristine looking. There was a bit of rust on it, but as you may have noticed, I quite like rust.

I decided to make it into a display item. Or a paperweight. I'm not entirely sure what it is. However, it is now a photo display as well as whatever else it wants to be.

I found some photos of myself and Wayne from our first year on the farm. I put them together in a strip using Photoshop. I then reduced the saturation till the image was almost black and white.

Since I wanted it to look old and discoloured, I went to town on it with some tea and coffee grounds,.

I think I overdid the distressing...

 As an afterthought, I found a metal thingy with a point on it amongst my stuff and put the 'wheel' on top of it. That way you can spin it around to see the photos.

I know I keep showing the same side of the wheel, but its a photo of me and Billybear, my toy poodle who died a few months after we moved here. I miss my little boy.


Sunday, 24 June 2012

my home doesn't look like that


I see the most beautiful houses on the blogs I follow. I pin images of rooms I admire and wish I could recreate in our home. The ideal kitchen, the perfect bedroom, the gorgeous living room, the pretty and fun bathroom...

But that's not what my house looks like.

Yeah, I have quite a few pretty items in my home. Lots of things which are special to me cause they are items I've found in unlikely places, items I've saved, restored or made myself. Like the tins holding my brushes and pencils. Or the old tea crate holding my paints and the old nail crates holding my canvases which I found at a farm auction.

What I don't have is a perfect home. My house is a mish mash of things which I like, things I had already, things I've been given or inherited, that don't match. 

I have spots of "pretty" and corners of "attractive", but no cohesiveness, no overall theme or feel to my home. Even the nice spots aren't perfect to photograph cause "yucky" isn't far away: the salmon carpet or peach blinds or blue benchtops or something is always in the way.

I think I was getting there in my home in Fentonbury, finally getting the place to tie in together and flow from one room to another, but it took years to get it to that stage where things just fit together. The house on the farm remains a mess. The salmon carpet is a thorn in my side. And we have too much furniture which doesn't really fit or suit in the rest of the house.

I'd like a bedroom with open space and simple lines. I'd like a walk in wardrobe in the tiny room next door to the bedroom. I'd like a pretty guest room with simple yet elegant items. I'd like a bathroom I didn't cringe about when showing people the house. I'd like a kitchen with character.

I admire photos like this bedroom for its simplicity, or this living room for its low key elegance... but there is no way I can have a house of white on white as much as I would love it. No french provincial for me. I live with 4 dogs (and Wayne) on a farm with lots of mud.

I put black and white tile vinyl in the mudroom and I'm already sorry. 

And that's not even talking about the kitchen. I would love a big country kitchen like this, but there's not enough room for an island bench, let alone an island and a table. So I'll have to make do with what I have and hopefully achieve something more like this or this. One day. When I have the time and money...

Till then, my kitchen is a mess. Blue laminex benchtop. White laminate cupboards. A laminate tile backsplash. Boring. No character. Bordering on ugly. A single sink. No dishwasher. Tons of cupboard space but not much area to display things I like...

I'm itching to change things around. To do up the kitchen, to make my walk-in-wardrobe, to redo the guest room... to repaint the entire living room a pale grey or creamy white... The living room was meant to be pale grey but when the paint went on the walls it looked light blue. 

One day. I pray for patience, and I want it now.

We had the horse's hooves done today. Wally was a total pain to do. He's still playing up really badly with one of his back legs. We had the chiropractor fix him but he's still horrible about it. It got done in the end but I think Simon (the farrier) and Wayne had a few years knocked off their time on earth.

Dancer was great - she was extremely hard to catch due to her shyness over her head, but a few carrots and she was soon almost back to normal. Thank goodness.

Ben was a sweetie as always, till he nipped Kellie in the tit.

He thought it was a nice soft spot to nibble. Hm...

We also have a visitor here tonight. When Kellie and I went into the New Norfolk to buy something for desert we saw a gorgeous black and white english staffie, an intact male with a collar on, walking on the bridge with a group of motley teenagers. He crossed the road and almost got hit by two cars and the kids didn't seem to care.

When I stopped the car and abused them for having their dog offlead, they said he just followed them and he wasn't theirs. I said they should take him back where they found him and they said 'We ain't walking back up there'. I was so angry. Kellie and I got him in the car and after shopping we got in touch with the council animal control officer. He'll be over to pick him up in the morning and hopefully find his owners.

He's the sweetest thing. He's bedded down in the grooming room for the night, food and water and he's just gone to sleep.

I swear. No way could I leave him wandering the street with these idiotic kids. And being an intact male I didn't want him to end up in the wrong hands.

The council really should put me on their payroll.


Saturday, 23 June 2012

life as we know it

It's Saturday night and I have to tell you, I'm disappointed in myself. I had all these plans. I'd made notes and updated my To Do list with things I thought I could finish today, and things I could start...

I had a grooming appointment in the morning, but that wouldn't slow me down. Then I had another one. That's ok, I took it in stride. I did the dogs. And the mechanic came over and fixed my car.

By the time I finished the dogs, went and got the paper, checked on the pumpkin soup and had a sandwich, it was 2.30pm. Given it's dark around 5pm, I didn't have much daytime left.

I took some photos of projects I had finished. I put a stopper behind the toilet door. I then went to the workshop with the best intentions. I had planned to cut up the old timber I'd put in there to dry out and paint it. Instead I did 5min work on a garden project, had a look around to find things I had on my list - I found some, gave up on others.

That was the extent of my work.

I told myself it was too cold to work out there and I would work in the house. After finishing the soup I decided I was too tired and would be better off watching Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Private Practice. I tape them, then indulge myself watching them the next day minus the ads!

Time in front of the TV aside, I haven't had an unproductive day, but I just could not get into working. I can't find the energy today. My sore hands aren't helping either.

Its really getting me down. I probably have carpal tunnel in my right wrist but that's not so bad right now. What's bothering me now is my left hand. I've had pain in my left thumb for days now. Before that it was my left middle finger. What's going on?

I a blood test to see if I had arthritis and the results were negative. Celebrations all round. Then the doc told me that only tells her that I don't have one type of arthritis. So basically, its still 50% that I may have arthritis.

I'm actually really worried. I work with my hands all the time - grooming, making things, home decorating and rennovating. If I can't do that stuff any more... its everything I love doing. Having one sore wrist is bad enough.

Maybe having a sore right wrist for so long and compensating with the left is the cause of the problems in my left hand. I don't know. All I know is that I'm over this and want my hands to be happy and healthy and strong so I can use them!

To be honest, what worries me most is that I may not be able to continue grooming for long if this keeps up. My dream to cut back on work and grooming from home goes up in smoke if my hands are stuffed.

Enough of that. Lets talk about something else.

Its been pretty cold lately. I took these photos the other day when we had the biggest frost this year and the fog didn't lift all day.

Its quite pretty actually. Wayne, of course, complains about the cold... Here he is getting ready to go out and feed the horses in the morning.

 Remember the beautiful kitchen table I made? Well, this is how it looks most of the time.

Ok. To be fair. Not all the time. Now and then Wayne actually clears off his tools so we can eat on it.

Montana has a bite on her neck. She just won't learn... She had a go at Mischa and she's the one with the war wounds. It was all over visiting kids and attention. Sigh. Its not bad, one tooth mark. I just hope it doesn't become infected like last time.

There have also been more sick and dead wallabies. I walked around the top paddock and found 2 more dead ones down near the creek. Then I found one which died trying to burrow under the little dog house we put by the dam for the ducks.

That was an experience I'd rather never have to repeat, pulling that poor rotting thing out from under there to get rid of it... yeeeech.

There was another one which didn't seem to pay attention to the barking dogs and stayed out after daylight. I caught it on the 2nd day and took it to the vet. Turns out it was blind and had neurological damage due to toxoplasmosis. They had to put it down.

"Toxoplasmosis is a zoonosis. T. gondii infection can cause abortion and foetal abnormalities in pregnant women and encephalitis in immunocompromised people."

It causes almost certain death in wallabies, miscarriages in sheep and spells trouble to pregnant women.

Toxo is spread by feral cats. Well, cats in general, but there are a lot of feral cats around. People who have cats and let them roam, or who dump unwanted cats into the bush are responsible for this. Toxo can affect humans and other animals, but native wildlife is much more susceptible to it.

I'm not a cat hater. I just don't have cats of my own and I don't want one. I believe cat owners should have to register their cats and neuter them, just like dog owners need to register (and hopefully neuter) their dogs. And cats should have cat runs and not be allowed to roam free.

Toxoplasmosis is a horrible, slow death and wallabies are apparently dying all over the place, the vet said.

Seeing a wallaby out in daylight is a sure sign that something's wrong.

I do have a good story though. Thankfully. One day last week I saw a very cute little dog on the side of the road. He was a schnauzer mix with a schnauzer haircut. He was timid but I managed to get close and pat him. He had a tag which said Burnie Council on it and no one on the street knew who owned him. He looked like he was about 18-24 months old.

I took him to the local vet and left it to them to chase up his owners. I had to go to work. They called me later in the day. His owners were on holiday in Hobart and he'd gotten out of the place they were staying. They were very happy he was safe and they said to pass on their thanks. I was glad the little boy was reunited with his parents.

So, I'll leave you with another photo of Montana and Romeo back to back. It makes my heart smile.


Friday, 22 June 2012

wirey wedgetail

Wayne is a whiz when it comes to wire. When he was off from work cause of his ribs he got really bored and made this little guy. He's a wedge tailed eagle. We have wedgies living not far from us in the hills but they're not seen often down this far.

I once saw a couple of wedge tailed eagles on the way to Ledgerwood in the north of Tasmania. They were huge! They were eating some roadkill by the road as I drove past and I swear, they looked into the car window as they sat there. When I pulled up to take a photo of them, they flew away. Magnificent birds.

Anyway, this little fellow needed a perch and a nest. So Wayne made him one.

I hot blued the wedgie and nest to a broken bit of wood and added a couple of marbles as eggs.

Kinda cute huh?


the shoe has dropped

Its better to think of bad luck as two shoes dropping than 'trouble comes in threes'...

Then again maybe it has come in threes. And thats not counting Wayne's broken rib episode but other, unrelated incidents of bad luck/bad timing.

Its three is if we start our count on Sunday when we went out to feed the horses and Dancer had blood running down the front of her head. We couldn't get a good look at it, but it looked for all the world like a small hole in her forehead, just above one eye. Like a bullet hole.

Dancer has come a LONG way since we got her. She was headshy and scared and would kick soon as look at you. She's become the sweetest thing on earth. In fact I love rugging and unrugging her more than any of the others, thats how sweet she is. Now, after trying to see her wound and holding her back she's gone back to being head shy and moving off if we go anywhere near her front. sigh.

My theory is that maybe someone was shooting wallabies and shot in the direction of our paddock, the bullet hitting her with just enough force to make a hole but not penetrate the skull. I dont know. If I could get a good look at it I'd know.

On the positive side, it looks like its healing well despite our poor efforts to clean and treat it.

So that was No. 1.

No. 2 is that the baffle plate fell in the wood heater again. It has happened before but Wayne managed to fix it. Now, when we are at our coldest, its decided to fall and make our heater almost unusable. Its totally stuffed. Terrific timing.

We'd had the heater going for at least 2 weeks constantly before this, when temperatures were 16 during the day and you could argue that we didn't need the heater burning. But its easier to keep it going and warm than to start from scratch every afternoon. It could have fallen then. We'd have been able to remove it and fix the heater without freezing our tits off.

As it is, Wayne has managed to get it back up for now and will cut a new baffle for it over the weekend. But we need a serious overhaul on this heater. What we really need is a new heater. This one is stuffed.

And then we come to No. 3.

Yesterday morning I go out to start up the car and there's no clutch. Nothing. Its got the resistance of a sheet of toilet paper.

And the ute is packed with a bookcase and some louvre doors I got at a tip shop. We left it loaded in the garage cause it was dark when we got home the night before.

Wonderful. So we have a loaded ute we need to unload before we can go anywhere.

We're picking up some mysterious sounding parts for my car this afternoon (something about a slave and master..) and the mechanic will be fixing it over the weekend. I hope.

Thank goodness we have the ute.

We also have 'blue' an old Nissan 4x4 (red of course) which is unroadworthy and totally untrustworthy but which Wayne likes to hold onto cause of its ability to climb up our hill and go where no man has been before.

Our place looks like a real farm (and slightly trashy) when there are 3 or more cars parked outside the house, but at times like this its good to have a second car which actually works.

So. Here's hoping this run of bad luck has reached its end.

We really could do with some good luck right about now.

Anyone looking to buy a gorgeous house in a beautiful area of Tasmania? If so, contact me. I have the house for you in beautiful Fentonbury!


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

shabby coat racks

In my travels, I've come across lots of odds and ends in grimy boxes in the back of junk shops. One item I seem to find lots of is the humble towel rail holder 'cup'. I looked at these cuties and thought "I can do something with them."

So I began collecting them. I ended up with quite a few in different sizes.

I looked in the pile of old timber in our paddock and found this beauty. An old door or window frame, white paint cracked and chipping, holes where nails once were. In short: in pretty bad shape.

Just the way I like it.

I gave it a good clean, scraped off any peeling paint. I cut the piece of wood in half and sorted out the hardware. The smaller piece of wood got 3 rail holders, the bigger one got four. I attached them to the timber using screws.

I had some big beads and some marbles. I had to find the right size to fit inside the cup without disappearing (I lost one marble, never to be retreived again...).

I used liquid nails (turns out I would have been better to use clear silicone but I didn't think of it at the time). I filled the cups with the liquid nails and sat the bead/marble in it. Then let it dry.

Here's a closeup. The liquid nails kind of overflowed as I set the marbles in so when it was tacky I scraped the excess off with my fingernail.

I used the red marbles on the one rack, the white beads on the other. Basically the size of the actual cup dictated what I could put in it - some were too small, others were too big for the beads or marble. I guess if I'd bought new ones they would have matched!

Lastly I drilled holes in either end where the coat racks would be attached to a wall with screws. In order to hang and show them off I used some red and white baker's twine on the red marble coat rack.

Since the bottom of the timber was black and chipped, I painted the sides (especially the freshly cut sides) black using a bit of vaseline to create the chippy look.

Finally, some photos of the white bead coat rack. This one I hung with some baker's twine I made myself using some white nylon twine and some blue hay bale twine. I'm nothing if not inventive.

I tried it out as a coat rack - hanging a jean jacket on it...

And with a towel. I think I prefer it as a towel rail in the bathroom.

Kinda cute huh? If you like old paint, cracks, chips and old nail holes. Which I do. I like things with character. And history. These bits of wood have all come out of the old house on our property and have been sitting in sheds and wood piles for many years.


This project has been entered into a link party at Funky Junk Interiors.

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Monday, 18 June 2012

work is giving me a headache

Work will be the death of me

Its been a quiet weekend at Lake Wobegon Wind Dancer Farm. We just haven't had the energy or the time to get up to much. Sometimes just day to day living takes all you have to give.

I've dedicated quite a bit of my time this last week to thinking about things... adding to my to do list and not so much crossing things off but re-arranging them! You know, the way council workers do to potholes. Just when you think you've memorized them they go moving them on you.

Well, such is my To Do List. Every so often I go through it and re-organise the categories. In fact, I do that with my Pinterest boards also. Keeps me on my toes.

Last weekend when Wayne's friend Chris was visiting my To Do list was the subject of much amusement. I'd forgotten to hide it (like a secret diary). I use the coffee table in the living room as a crafting table where I work while I watch TV and had it sitting there... in the open... at the mercy of any and all prying eyes.

Oh the embrassament. 304 things to do 'today'.


Having to work is just ruining my life. If I didn't have to work 4 days a week at a job, then groom dogs on my 'days off' I could dedicate more time to my art, my design jobs and my hobby projects. Wouldn't that be the life?

Note to self: buy a lottery ticket.


Saturday, 16 June 2012

here little piggy

It all began with a cute little graphic I found of a fat little pig. I thought "I can do something with that!"

I had this piece of tassie oak (some of our leftover mud room cladding). I had already sanded it knowing i would use it but not knowing what for yet. 

The piggy was perfect. I knew this piece of wood wanted to be a little wall plaque with a vase.

First I transferred the image onto the wood using the same method I used for the Fresh Eggs sign.

Then I finished it off using a sharpie and gave it a couple of coats of water based varnish.

I had a few different sized bands (I have no idea what their official name is, plumbers use them). I also have a collection of jars. I found a jar and a clamp that suited eachother. This particular clamp didn't have holes in it so I had to drill a hole to screw it onto the timber.

Once that was done, the clamp mounted and the jar attached securely,  I drilled holes in the timber and hung it with an old piece of wire.

A few blue marguerites from my pitiful winter garden ... I wish I had big flowering hydrangeas. A hydrangea would look so good in this little vase. In summer maybe.