Monday, 30 December 2013

rusty wreath reborn

I love rust. Its no secret. When I see a piece of rusty wire, no matter how bad its condition, my heart skips a beat.

I found this old piece of messed up rusty wire out the back of our property somewhere and picked it up. It was pretty mangled. No way to unravel it, so I did the next best thing. I weaved it into a circle, added a few bits of rusty barbed wire and called it a wreath.

You can see how it looked in its first incarnation here.

I lived with it like that for a while but it just wasn't ... finished.

You know what I mean.


It needed something... more. It needed a strand of wire with glittery green beads on it.

And a couple of aged keys.

The wire with beads was given to my by a friend who said 'I thought you'd be able to use this'... how right she was!

I love the shine of the gold wire and the sparkle of the beads against the flatness and colour of the rusty wire.

I love the tangles of the wire.

I'd say its finished now... it just works!


PS On an aside, the 'search this blog' link isn't working... I have no idea why. It used to work!

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Sunday, 29 December 2013

retaining walls and eliminating glassware

Things are progressing... Every day is a small step forward.

Wayne's been working really hard on the new retaining wall. This is how it looked yesterday when he stopped for the day. 

He worked in the heat all day to get this far. He's definitely a better man than I am! Even the small bit of heat I got was enough to knock me out.

Today the weather is cold and windy. It rained most of the night too. It is Tasmania after all. 

But I'm not complaining. 

Anyway, this morning we went in to the hardware store where Wayne bought 24 bags of concrete mix. I bought 2 towel rails. 

Turns out I wasn't quite done in the bathroom yet.

While Wayne continued on the retaining wall, getting all the posts in, I put up two towel rails. 

Till now I've had an over the door type of coat rack for Wayne to hang his towels and 2 hooks on the wall for mine. I was sick of knocking Wayne's towels off the coat hooks every time I walked past them. Plus I much prefer rails to hang towels on, so today I made the leap. I know that one day I'll be re-doing the bathroom, but till then I may as well make it more bearable. And I'm definitely liking it with the new shelves.

I'd like to say it was quick and easy. I've done this before. But once again it was a comedy of errors, putting the fittings on backwards, putting screws in, taking them out, re-doing things. You get the picture. At one stage I was sure I was going to hit an electric cable so I put on rubber gloves and rubber soled shoes, told everyone I loved them, closed my eyes and drilled.

Luckily I didn't hit anything.

But Wayne did.

He hit another water pipe.

I told you, the guy should hire himself out as a water diviner. With a crowbar instead of a rod.

Luckily he hit it but didn't puncture it. Thankfully. Herman Too is too young to hear the foul language that puncturing the pipe would have brought forth.

Did I mention Herman Too is back in the bathroom?

We released him the other day and he ran to the other ducklings in his slightly off-kilter way. They didn't shun him for living in the big house. All was well. 

Or so we thought.

Yesterday afternoon, after the weather had turned cool, I was watering my flowers when I noticed two ducklings in a deep water bowl. One hopped out. The other was soaking wet and did not look good.

Have you ever seen a soaking wet duckling? I sure hadn't and I was sure he was a goner.

I fished him out of the bowl, gave him to Wayne to dry and warm up while I went in search of the large plastic tub, the heating pad and blankets. The poor little thing couldn't even walk, he just kind of crawled. I was sure he wouldn't make it. But he did. He's back to being chirpy and a bit brave.

Looks like Herman Too has moved back in. I suspect he'll be here till he goes to college.

Maybe he can be our house duck.

(I'm still pretty sure Herman Too is a girl.)

Other than that, I spent most of the day today cleaning the kitchen. And by cleaning I don't mean washing dishes and floors (though I did that too). I mean clearing out cupboards.

The work in the kitchen will be done. I need to start preparing. All the top cupboards are empty now since they'll be the first to go. I packed up a ton of stuff we don't need on hand and filled up boxes with things to go away.

Getting there slowly.


Saturday, 28 December 2013

the bathroom - or how to make a 15 minute job last 5 hours

This morning I had a plan. I was going to clean the house. And by clean I mean a real spring clean type of clean. Clean up, clear out, organise.

I was optimistic. I'd start in the bathroom cause its the smallest room and would be the quickest to clean and tidy, then move on to the living room, the bedrooms, the office...


I started in the bathroom around 11am.

I finished around 4.30pm.

How come it took me so long to clean and tidy such a small and ugly room?

Well, cause its small and ugly. I just got to the point where I was hating it more than ever... I decided to take out the tall narrow cabinet I had in there for towels and put up some shelves to make it look more... bearable.

It sounded easy, right?

First I removed the ugly gold and cream fittings from the wall which were never used to hang towels on.

I used my new contra saw to cut down old cupboard doors from the kitchen to make shelves. I had planned to put up 4 shelves but decided to leave it to 3, the top one would have been too high.

The top shelf holds my bottle collection. Minus one which broke in the move. All crammed in. I will thin them out and only keep the antiques there later. 

The second shelf will hold Wayne's towels and, for now, holds my poodle mirror and a small duck basket.

The third shelf will hold my towels, a larger duck basket with soap bars and my small caddy with my toiletries.

I may be the only person in the world who's like this, but if I don't have my beauty products out where I can see them, I forget to use them. Ok, not the deodorant. I remember that! And my moisturizer but I do forget to use eye cream or cleansers etc.

Below the shelf, on top of the bathtub, I've put two baskets which I need to make labels for. The tall tennis ball basket will hold bath mats, the larger one will hold hand towels.

I quickly painted a timber door I had from a tip shop trip a while ago. It serves as a shelf over the end of the bathtub. We never use the bathtub so its a waste of space...

While I was at it, I cleaned out the vanity and threw out anything I didn't use or need. How cathartic! I found I needed more space to put some other products (my perfume bottles, hair spray, etc) so I knocked up a quick caddy to hold them.

I had this odd little box which would be perfect, all it needed was a handle. I found a couple of bits of pine off a cut down bit of trellis. I nailed that to the ends of the box. Then I found an old hammer handle which I used as the caddy handle.

I will paint it one day, but for now its fine as is. It holds stuff and that's all that matters.

I did discover that taking shortcuts often ends up in disaster.

See, the drill was in the bathroom. I was making the caddy in the workshop in the casita. It was too far to walk in the sun... (about 50 metres). I was too lazy to go get the drill so I just put a nail through the end of the hammer handle.

And split the wood.

So, a clever person like myself soon found a way to fix it... I got a clamp and put it around it, holding it together so it won't split. HA!

I had to put a nut on the other side to hold the handle in place cause it had a hole way bigger than the nail head. Hey. Make do, right?

So there you go.

Five hours later and I have an orderly bathroom, complete with clean floor, walls, shower, sink, and organised storage. I celebrated by having a shower.

I'm exhausted. I have a headache. Don't yell at me, I think I'm dehydrated too. I never drink enough and its been hot today.

Time for a rest.


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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

christmas morning - the booty

Montana with her new toys.

Well, its Christmas morning. What a great start to a great day.

First thing I saw when I got up was this little gift train on the kitchen table. Each chocolate had a note on it saying "Merry Christmas Zefi" from all the animals: Montana, Romeo, Barney, the chickens, ducks, horses and even Herman Too.

Yep. That's the limping duckling's name. It was a lucky name for Little Herman, so that's his name now.

Or her name.

Wayne's not much for wrapping. He said he was going to wrap presents last night so I left out wrapping paper and tape but didn't hear any wrapping noises.

This morning I found out why.

This was my first Christmas present, carefully wrapped in a throw. Romeo stands guard.

This is my second present, carefully hidden for me to find. heheheh

I laughed so much this morning. I adored the chocolate train and the presents are great! I got power tools! What more can a girl want?

One is a Dremel moto saw (click image to see what it does):

I'm so excited!!!!! I've wanted something like this for a while.

The other one is a Rockwell contra saw:

Woohoo!!!! Watch me now!

How can you not love a man who gives you power tools for Christmas?

The dogs got some home made dog biscuits and some toys. The poodles were into the toys instantly. Barney only wanted the biscuits.

Wayne got a new soft leather wallet, a 1932 indian head coin on a leather thong and a hand forged viking feast knife.

He loves the knife.

He collects knives.

... in fact, if you think about it, its a bit of a worry. I gave him a knife to add to his collection, he gave me 2 power saws... Plus we now have 2 bows each and a LOT of arrows...

If I wasn't actually in this relationship, I'd be a bit concerned.


ps. I'm sorry about the alignment of this post. All posts, but this in particular. The alignment isn't working for some strange reason!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

vintage book christmas tree

... or how to do a token Christmas tree when you're not really doing the decoration thing.

Firstly, you panic cause its, like, Christmas, and you have nothing Christmassy to blog about.

You grab a pile of old books you have lying around the house.

You stack them up, making sure they're in the right order so they form a 'tree' shape. Or a pyramid shape.

You look around for something to top the 'tree' with. Locate a wooden star you've used before.

Balance it on top of the book stack.

You look around for something to trim the tree... I mean, it might just be a stack of books, but the trimming is what makes it a Christmas tree, right?

You find a broken string of pearls you once found on the ground near a bin in the city, and picked up, cause, like, why not. See? You knew it would come in handy one day.

You artfully drape the pearls over the tree.

You step back and admire it, thinking "there, did my Christmas bit".

Then you go get a camera, take a photo and blog about it.


PS I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, 23 December 2013

a primitive bird

Time to share something creative. Its been all ducks, geese, seeds and driveways lately on this blog.

Here's a primitive* little bird I made out of some old fabric scaps. The inspiration came from artwork I'd seen on, where else, Pinterest.

*Primitive = my hand stitching is pretty primitive.

The idea was to make a picture using fabric instead of paints or pastels.

I learned a couple of things doing this.

I enjoyed doing it.
Its much quicker to paint or draw.
I'm way better with a brush than a needle.

It was worth trying it, though, right?

Still, I had fun. Hand stitching is therapeutic. You can do it while you watch TV if you're not too invested in actually watching TV.

I framed it in an old frame I'd got at a tip shop. One of those 'slide a photo in and stand it up on the dressing table' type of frames.

Its a cheerful little bird. And its made up almost entirely of small scaps which had been destined for the bin cause they were too small to make anything else out of.

When I get the chance (time, inspiration, whatever), I'll make another one or three.

Meanwhile, the duckling is still alive. Maybe even a little livelier today...? He cheeped at me.

I checked on him this morning, dreading what I'd find, but found a snug little duckling, some food eaten and all the water gone. Most likely spilled. Still, he was alive! That's a win.

This afternoon I gave him a bigger box, more space but still snug and warm. I hope his foot gets better. I really do.


ps. When I say 'he', I have no idea, he could be a she like Little Herman is.

pps. Little Herman was the runt of a duckling we saved and raised a couple of years ago. I named him Little Herman and he turned out to be a she.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

the driveway, the garden... its all happening here

I thought I'd share some photos of the last couple of weekends here. Its been rather hectic.

As you already know through my posts on the ducklings, last weekend we had an excavator here digging up the driveway and shoring up the dam. 

The driveway is something we knew we'd have to do from the day we bought the farm. See, the guy who originally put the driveway in created a nice slope from the bottom of the hill straight to the house.

It successfully funneled all rainwater from the hill under the house and into the front yard. In heavy rainstorms we'd have Niagara Falls on our garden path, right down into the casita. All winter our lawn (or what passes as lawn) is like a sponge. You walk and squelch.

So, we booked this job in as soon as the weather was good enough.

Below are some photos of the excavator at work putting a slight slope and a new surface on the driveway, and digging a trench to catch rainwater and move it away from the house.

We hope.

Below, Barney overseeing the job.

Now, of course, we have a trench under the gate so need to find a way to stop poodles getting out and wallabies getting in!

Cass (aka the Masked Avenger) checks out the works behind the garage.

The view of the new sloped sides... What will I do with them? I had thought we'd get a steeper 'wall' which we'd put in sleepers to create a retaining wall. What we have instead is a slope of hard clay soil. 

I think the rain will end up washing that down so I know we need to do something about it. But what? Ideas welcome. I do plan to put in a lot of plants up the top, things like pigface and other hardy plants which will grow and trail downwards.

Its looking a bit stark and moonscape-ish right now. It needs something, don't you agree?

The dam looked quite pretty with all the reeds and grass on its gently sloping sides, but it was leaking and all the area below the dam was soggy and marshy. Lately the sides of the dam had started collapsing too. It definitely needed fixing.

This is what the dam looks like now. Another moonscape. But hopefully, no more leaks. What the guy did was build up the lower side of the dam and scoop out the high side. That way rainwater from the paddock will flow INTO the dam, not around it. It was wierd, but the dam walls were higher on that side and lower on the bottom side. Wierd.

Anyway, we hope this works. We'll see if things dry out around the dam this summer and see how it goes in winter. That'll be real test.

This weekend there was some gardening work done as well. I'd mowed and organised what I wanted to have done, then I got a friend to come over and put some new plants in for me plus a new garden bed.

I've already proved to myself that I'm not made to garden so I decided to pay someone to do it for me. That way I can have a pretty garden without the pain!

Below is the back of corner of the house (the office window). Our old picnic table and an old metal table serve as my potting area and seedling raising benches.

I have to admit... I'm absolutely loving growing plants from seeds! I get a rush when I see the tiny plants breaking through the dirt, then plant a heap of things in my garden which I grew myself.

I have more seeds to plant now. I think I've become addicted. Soon I won't have room for more plants in the garden unless I put in more beds...

I'm gonna need a bigger yard!

Below is the corner of my cute timber shed. The hydrangeas are going really well. Even the stumpy one the horses ate and which was in a spot it hated. Its been moved and is starting to grow now.

I got Sharon to put in a few of my seedlings and a bog salvia I bought last week. The tag said it'll get big. I hope so!

Here's a sneak peek at some plants I bought for the driveway wall. I'll re-pot them till they get bigger, then put them in in autumn. That way they'll have time to settle in before the next hot dry summer.

My snap dragons are going well. Except the red one. That seems to be dying. That's fine by me. I didn't like the red one anyway.

Actually, I dreamed of a garden of blue, purple and white flowers only. Then mauves and pinks snuck in. I have a salvia hotlips which is red and white. I put in 2 pale yellow banksia roses. I planted a ton of osteospermums which are pastel yellow, orange and white... I have the yellow snap dragons (I'm hoping the red one is really on its way out)...

Looks like I'm not getting my blue, purple and white garden. Its more of a cottage garden with all colours, but I would prefer not to have red or bright yellow. Or bright orange... I'll be ok with those on the driveway, but not in the garden itself.

I can always pull things out, right?

I'm a floral racist.

Anyway, here are some photos of the front of the house. I really need to finish painting. I have a huge potato vine dying to climb but I can't let it till I paint the post its meant to climb up on. The lavenders are doing really well, and most of the other flowers are doing great too. Some not so great. I had to replace a few which died with my home grown seedlings.

Any ideas on what to do with this area? Its where the septic tank is and I have these pipes I'd like to hide somehow. I have plants growing on both sides, and up on the trellis. That will hide it a bit, but the pipes in the ground... maybe I need something cute, little gnome houses or something...

Excuse the washing on the line. This is the new garden bed I got Sharon to put in for me. I wanted to pretty up that area of the yard. I had tried to grow 2 blue plumbagos there before but managed to kill them both. Hopefully the new plants will do better. I have a sort of orange blossom tree (no idea what it is but its not an orange tree) some lupins (no idea what colours), plus my homegrown seedlings including swan river daisies and columbines.

Watch this space. One day it will be a garden! I can't wait to see it all growing and full.

When Sharon finished doing the gardening she had some leftover pine bark. I had her put it in the swampy corner near the carport. For now it is a good place to grow my succulents.

I really have become quite interested in gardening. I blame old age. A friend of mine once told me that the older you get, the more you appreciate watching things grow. I think its happened to me.

Dad would be proud.


love our geeses to pieces

The geese have settled in well. Yesterday they started to seem comfortable in the penned enclosure, playing in the buckets of water and not phased by us looking in on them.

We decided it was time to introduce them to their new home. It involved Wayne and I 'herding' them out the pen, through the  yard and out to the paddock and the dam.

First photo shows them making their way through the yard. Henry leads the way. Turns out Henry is quite the brave boy!

 Scrambling up the steep dam side was a bit of hard work...

But the view from the top was worth it!

Of course, they then had to scramble down into the water. Henry led the way, of course.

Then it was just enjoying the water, after 2 days of dry land.

I think they like it here. Well, they're still here, so here's hoping. At least we now know they're not homing geese.

The ducks are a bit put out. Till now it was just them on the dam, now they have to share with these gigantic birds. They're not too impressed. I think they've reached a truce - sharing the dam but keeping a respectful distance.

Meanwhile the duck saga continues.

Yesterday morning we enticed the 2 mother ducks and their brood (which had halved in the last few days) into the chicken coop. From there we were able to catch the mothers and then the babies. We put them all into the safe pen. All seems well there. No losses yet.

However, this afternoon Wayne came in with a tiny duckling in his hands. This little baby has an injured leg and was apparently being trodden on and pushed around by the others. He didn't stand a chance out there. I've put him in a cardboard box lined with a dog heating pad, some warm blankets and water and food. If he makes it through the night he may have a chance in here.