Thursday, 31 January 2013

losing a friend...

... but gaining a place to visit.

Merrill is on her way to her new home in Victoria right now.

She decided that the climate in Tasmania didn't suit her health-wise and that the artist inside her was crying for an environment more conducive to creating.

Here's hoping that Victoria is that environment.

It does sound lovely... and the adventure! I envy her the excitement of a new home, a new place, meeting new people. I think its a wonderful opportunity and glad she decided to go for it.

I convinced her to start a blog so I set one up for her this afternoon. Take a look and tell me what you think:

I'll let her explain the title.

Meanwhile I've been feeling rather seedy lately. I've been flirting with the flu for about a week now - I got the sore throat, the headache, the chills, the dry coughing which keeps me up half the night. I didn't get the fever luckily.

As a result though, I haven't done much. Then again, I could blame Merrill and having a guest for not getting anything done...

Or the fact that Wayne's away so I have to do everything around here on my own. Nothing makes you appreciate the other person as much as taking on their chores.

I got home yesterday and spent 2.5 hours feeding chickens, horses, dogs and ducks, burying a wallaby one of my dogs killed in the morning, turning on the pump and watering the paddocks, flipping to the other pump to fill the tank, watering the vegie patch...

I was exhausted by the end of it. 

What made things take longer was the fact the Ben is down the road currently, at boot camp. He's with a friend who's teaching him manners and giving him experience having someone on his back (and not throwing them off).

Here's hoping I get a horse I can actually ride at the end of it.

However, having him down the road adds to the chores as I have to drive down and feed him twice a day... not as easy as walking down to the paddock to feed the horses.

So I have nothing new to share. No new projects. No new decorating or crafting. I did manage to sort the lids in the plastics cupboard. I was sick of the mess in there so I used two ice cream tubs to hold lids.

Nothing too exciting.

Next item on the agenda: organise the pots cupboard and the lids in there...

and organise the pantry...

Baby steps...


Friday, 25 January 2013

coat rack FAIL

Thought I'd share this beautiful coat rack fail with you, just to show you I'm not perfect and I can't do EVERYTHING (in case you did actually believe that).

I had this brilliant idea that I could make a cute coat rack using these antique style brass coat hooks I'd gotten on sale a long time ago.

I had this small piece of old skirting board which was perfect. How hard can it be?

Harder than I thought, turns out.

Firstly, I didn't measure correctly. Sure the hooks were evenly spaced, but I forgot to take into consideration the space on the ends... that should have been smaller and the space between should have been bigger.

First fail.

Then I couldn't get the darn screws in properly so that the plates sat flat! I tried all kinds of things... every effort digging me deeper into the quagmire of failure.

The skirting board was hardwood... the drill too strong... the screw heads just popped off left right and centre.

I gave up.

I gave it to Wayne and asked if he could fix it.

He fixed it.

He broke the timber and gave me the hooks to use on another project.

I dont know if I can... I'm scared of them now!


Monday, 21 January 2013

a box for ursa

When I first met Merrill she had a heart dog. Her name was Ursa. Unfortunately, I never really go to know Ursa as she developed a brain tumour and the first time I met her was also the last.

Its so sad when you lose any beloved pet... they are members of the family. Its even harder when its one you've hand raised from a baby and which is much a part of you as your own heart.

When I lost Billybear, my toy poodle - my special boy - I made a small box to keep his ashes. It wasn't the first time I'd made a 'memory box'. I made one for Scooter the year before. But with Billy I used the words of a song as part of the box. The song was The Dance by Garth Brooks. Its a song about love and life and how pain is part of loving.

I promised Merrill I'd make her a special box for Ursa's ashes to take with her to her new home. I used a photo of Ursa's paws... there's something so beautiful and vulnerable about her paws.

I also incorporated both the words of The Dance, and the words Ursa said to Merrill through an animal communicator. They are beautiful words.


The Dance
Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye

And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment, wasn't I a king
But if I'd only known how the king would fall
Hey who's to say, you know I might have changed it all

And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance

Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain,
but I'd have had to miss the dance

Shared at:

Beyond The Picket Fence

The Girl Creative

Saturday, 19 January 2013

pretty things make it home

Do you remember the heart wreath I made for our front door as a welcome? Well, I loved it, but Wayne kept knocking it around as he came and went. So in the end I gave it to a friend as a housewarming present and hung up something new...

Wayne made this and its the perfect front door decoration! Just my kind of thing.

Have I mentioned how great Wayne is? Yesterday I asked him to price an air staple gun for my birdproofing the house and he came home with one for me! 

Nothing melts a girl's heart like power tools!

Its a big week next week. Merrill is moving to Victoria and I'm helping her sell stuff before her move, adopting some of her stuff for us, and organising to make room for things here! I'm buying her old leather sofa and armchairs (cause its leather!) and 2 of her bookcases.

The headache... We have too much stuff. This is not a big house. Four bedrooms, but not big bedrooms. In fact, the smallest bedroom is so small you have to go outside to change your mind.

ha. ha.

I've always wanted to say that.

Now I have and I apologise.

Anyway, small bedrooms, a huge living room but too much furniture. I like things to look pretty and this place ain't pretty. Yet.

I have pretty corners. Like this one on the coffee table...

And this one on the other coffee table...

But I have plans. I've sold my grey couch. I'm donating the single bed and tons of clothing and bedding to the fire relief. The other couch and the recliner are both looking scared. 

I plan to make more room in here so I can feel the space. And the smallest bedroom will soon be a walk in wardrobe!

Stay tuned!


Friday, 18 January 2013

what do the internet and potted herbs have in common?

 I've been having some time off blogging.

Some of it was voluntary. I actually made a decision to not blog for a few days last week. Then a couple of other days I didn't blog cause I was too busy doing other things... like... living.

Then I had some internet connection issues which caused me to mutter under my breath a lot and storm out of the office in disgust repeatedly.

The internet issues are continuing currently but I'm on the netbook, connected to the modem directly via a red umbilical cord. I can't move from this chair if I want to be online.

At least I'm online, right? It would be better if I could remember my email password so I could log on to my webmail.

That's the thing when you get too comfortable with your own computer. You set up your passwords in the computer memory (probably a really bad thing if you let others on your computer!) and you log in to sites on a permanent basis. ie no need to actually remember passwords.

Now I have to search for the safe place I wrote my password.

But I may have the situation under control before I need to panic.

See, I've been having internet connectivity problems for a while now. A couple of months for sure. Some days it worked fine. Other days I couldn't log on at all. When it was bad I couldn't log on to the Activ8me website to get the phone number to call... When it was working fine I would think 'eh, its ok now, why call?'

Yesterday afternoon I finally snapped and called. I spoke to a nice man in India who said that the only way to get to the bottom of the problem was to disconnect the router and hardwire the computer into the modem direct.

Great. That means only one computer in the house has internet access for the period.

(Guess who's?)

So I crawl around on my knees, unplugging bits and pieces and plugging other bits in. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that step 1 didn't work. I had to spend a second day, talking to another nice man in India, in order to set up the netbook to actually connect using the red umbilical cord.

Now that's working. I've been putting it through its paces and so far no dropouts.

Step 1 seems to show that the satellite dish is working fine.

Tomorrow I'll call again and see what the next step is. It could be the router. It could be the little silver box thingy on the modem cable.  Whatever it is,  I have finally gotten someone to confirm my suspicions:

That the satellite dish is interfering with the TV antenna and our reception. 


Why is it that when I say something is a problem I get pooh-poohed, but when someone else says it it makes sense?

Anyway, on another subject entirely, I made these little hanging baskets for outside the casita a few weeks ago and never got around to sharing them.

I used some old colanders I'd been collecting for a while with this project in mind, and some chains bought from the hardware store. I then lined the colanders with hanging basket fibre, added potting mix and put in basil and coriander.

I made one double hanging basket and 2 single ones which I hung on either side of the casita door.

You may have noticed my collection of pot plants below the double hanging basket. I actually I had to move all my pots there to get them out of the worst of the sun before they died.

Notice the barbed wire clover Wayne made me? He called it a flower, but its a four leaf clover. That's ok by me. I can use the luck!

Anyway, this is how my plants looked 2 weeks ago. Since then the coriander has died and the basil is looking sickly.

I never have luck growing herbs. I don't know what I do wrong but they just don't seem to like me much. I give them pretty pots to live in and they repay me by dying.



Monday, 14 January 2013

name and shame...

Yes, he's so cute.

He looks so sweet and innocent. Dopey even. Mommy's boy. A sook and a cuddler.

But leave him alone in the house with nothing to do and this is what I come back to:


Yep. That's the one.

He's not so innocent or sweet after all.

He's a pillow killer. And a doona killer (who can forget this?)...

And, it turns out... he's the chook killer.

Not that I have proof. But the circumstantial evidence is mounting up.

Yesterday he was out in the paddock for ages with Wayne as he worked on the stable (which, btw, is looking great). He was good all day.

Then, just as Wayne was getting ready to knock off and come in, Romeo went off after a chook. I heard the squalking and the swearing and ran out. We called him off the chase, but he did it.

There's no denying the fact that he went after a chook.


Anyhow, here is the stable - the third bay is up, walls finished. All it needs is a roof (and guttering and a rainwater tank) which the guys will be putting up this weekend . If all goes well. Looks like we'll have stables for the horses for this winter!

Meanwhile we're looking after a friend's golden retriever while she's on a bushwalk for 3 days. He's a gorgeous boy. Who can resist those soulful eyes?

His name is Maru. She adopted him when the chinese students who owned him returned to their country and left him behind about 8 years ago. She said she'd foster him till he found a new home and a week turned into years. He's 12 now.

The poodles noses were out of joint but I'm not sure who's more worried about who... I know Maru is a bit worried about going into poodle territory unless I'm there to usher him in (he clings to me, so sweet), but I've seen the way the poodles both give him ample personal space.

Maru will grumble and let them know when he's not happy!

Anyway, there's a truce going on now, he's been accepted as part of the pack so all is well. Though he's NEVER allowed out into the paddock. He doesn't know horses and I thought Wally had surely killed him last time he went out there (while he was visiting with his mom). He went for Wally not realising that Wally doesn't back off to dogs, then flopped into a submissive position when Wally returned fire. Our dogs know to run when horses go after them. So Wally stomped on him. That's what I saw. Wayne says he didn't... but I was sure we had a dead dog. 

Thankfully he's fine and that was over a week ago now.


A chook killing poodle is more than enough to deal with!


Saturday, 12 January 2013

a new place to store eggs

Today was a day of relaxation and enjoying eachother's company at Wind Dancer. No house painting.

We started the day with a sleep in, some time just sitting quietly and watching our animals, a brunch of french toast, bacon, maple syrup and banana... Then we spent some time reading and relaxing.

Then we went grocery shopping.

Ok, that wasn't relaxing but we started out going for a drive to a small town I thought we'd be able to have a coffee in a cute cafe and explore the antique shops. Turns out the town had ONE antique shop and no cafes... Who knew?

Anyway, since I haven't done much new lately in terms of craft or decorating, I thought I'd share my cute little egg cabinet. I found this at a local op shop a couple of weeks ago. I just loved it! Had to have it. Even Wayne agreed it was gorgeous.

So now I'm the one in charge of storing our eggs cause I have a strict rotation system. Fresh eggs go into the cabinet, then when that fills up, are moved into the fridge. Wayne tried to grasp my rotation method but decided it was safer to just let me handle it.

I now find eggs all over the kitchen where he leaves them for me to store.

On the subject of eggs... we lost 2 chickens in the last 2 days.

I'm not impressed. I found one of our black chooks dead in the yard yesterday afternoon, and this afternoon Wayne found one of the brown ones dead.

Both had been obviously killed by the dogs. But this is what I don't get. Yesterday morning when Wayne went out to the hen house, one of the black hens must have come into the yard... But neither he, nor I heard any sounds at all.

Later on, while grooming, poodles locked in the house and Barney and Mischa in the yard, I did hear some loud sound. I went outside and saw nothing untoward, thought I'd simply heard the rooster crowing and went back to work.

Well, now I think it was Barney and Mischa killing that chook. Because there was no sound of squabbles or anything later on when all the dogs were in the yard.

This afternoon when Wayne went out to feed the chickens and put them in the coop he said he was there, with the dogs the whole time. He said they ran around and ignored the ducks and chickens like they usually do. There was no chasing or squalking or sounds you'd associate with a chicken hunt. Yet there was a dead chicken with obvious bite marks on her and still warm.

I just don't get it. They've all been so good at ignoring the chickens for so long, why this suddenly?

I am heartbroken.

On a happier note, one of our chickens is sitting on 5 eggs. We plan to catch them soon as they hatch and put them in a pen to get them through chick-hood. If we don't the birds or stray cat we've seen around here will get them as they do the ducklings.

We've lost all the ducklings we had a couple of weeks ago.


Its nature I guess.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

house painting progress - slow

Why is it that things always take so much longer than you anticipate?

I've been painting pretty much all day. Six hours at least. And I haven't even finished the first coat of the short side of the house!

I started off by finishing the top right hand corner of the mud room under the porch where I had to stop when it started raining the other day, then moved along painting the whole south side of the house.

I filled my paint bucket 3 times, telling myself that when I finished the 3rd refill I'd quit for the day. I really thought I'd have it all done by the time I finished the 3rd bucket. I only took one quick break to have some chocolate when I realised how hungry I was and found there was nothing I could have a quick snack of in the fridge. I forgot about the twiggy salami sticks. I just had those now. 

I was sure I'd finish the whole side within my 3 bucklet limit, but as it turns out I didn't. I was THIS close!

But by the time I got to the end of the paint in my little bucket I was absolutely buggered. My arm is killing me, I have callouses on my middle finger where I rest the brush and my legs are sore me from balancing precariously on the ladder.

I need a higher ladder...


I'm exhausted.

I don't mind the actual work. I quite like painting. Plus I had Jeffrey Deaver and Lincoln Rhyme to keep me company as I painted (audio books have saved me on many occasions!) But man, the time!

I guess using a 2in brush doesn't help.

(I tried using a bigger brush, 3in, but the weight of it was harder to handle with my sore arm.)

So, what do you think? The colour is strangely lighter than the sample I'd painted on the walls inside and outside the mudroom to live with for the last year to be sure its what I wanted for the house. Perhaps it will darken with the 2nd coat. Still, I think its ok.

Later on I might consider painting the small timber shed you can see behind the house and the garage a darker shade of this grey.

I wish the roof was dark grey, not that blue. But what can you do? I ain't getting up there to paint that!


yeah, no...

There's a very common expression here in Australia which kinda doesn't make sense when you first hear it...

"Yeah, no."

You hear it everywhere. Confusing? Not really. Its pretty simple - it means "Yes, I hear you, but no, I don't agree."

Merrill said it the other day and that's when she realised she'd been living in Australia too long. I, on the other hand, have been saying it for so long I've lost track...

The weather has cooled down a lot since since the heatwave of last week which left me in a puddle in front of a fan and an evaporative cooler. On Tuesday I had to stop painting when the paint flew off my brush in the wind. And yesterday it was downright cold outside.

Today its meant to be 20-26 degrees, overcast and possibly some early showers... I hope for no showers as I want to get out and start painting again. But its still pretty cool and very windy. 

How do house painters do it? If I was a house painter I'd starve to death. I think I'd only be able to work about 10 days out of 365...

Speaking of painting, I started a commission yesterday since it was a non-house-painting day.

This is a portrait of a friend's dogs. I'm doing this in return for 2 adirondack chairs and a matching table which her husband makes. Cool swap huh?

This is stage 1 of the portrait:

And this is one of the chairs he makes. Mine will be painted solid turquoise and will sit on our deck facing the dam.

We visited their house on New Year's Eve for the first time. She has a cute little 'secret garden' thing happening which I love.

A cray pot with a cute tiny ivy growing through it houses a family of wrens. I took some of that ivy but I don't think any of it survived the heatwave... :(

A few cute weathered fence paling bird houses hang in arbours or off trees.

Cute fountains here and there..

Driftwood sculptures and washed up marine objects decorate the garden - what else would you have in a seaside cottage?

I better go outside and check the wind strength vs my ability to keep paint on my brush.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

house painting - taking the first step

Well, I finally got started doing something productive on my holiday. Like painting the house. The outside of the house.

Ever since we moved here I've wanted to paint the house a different colour to the one it is currently. I don't particularly like that creamy yellow colour every other house seems to be painted. Like there's been a huge sale on that colour for the last 15 years...

It took me a while to pick the colour I wanted and I spent many drives dangerously paying more attention to the houses on either side than the road ahead. I'd gone for a pale grey green for my house in Fentonbury and I still love that colour, but I wanted something different this time. More grey... but a warm grey.

I found a house I absolutely loved one day and I'd found my colour! I put a note in the letterbox asking the owners if they knew the name of the colour. Surprisingly, I got an email letting me know the colour was Wattyl White Pepper. Fantastic. 

Step 1 accomplished. I had the colour of my dream home.

Of course, our house is downright ugly compared to the house of my inspiration, but with the addition of the porch and the new enclosed mud room its not quite as bad as it used to be, though there's no chance it will win any beauty contests any time soon.

So, I had my colour picked out. All I had to do was wait till my holiday to get started. 

Then I had to wait till the Christmas busy-ness was over.

Then I had to wait for the weather to get better.

I finally started working on it after the worst of the heat wave was over. First I had to evict quite a few birds from their nests. Then I got out the high pressure water cleaner and hosed down the south side of the house (the short, shady side).

First I undercoated the raw timber on the mud room and the blue aluminium window frames on the south side.

Today I started the first topcoat on the newly undercoated mudroom walls. I was doing great till the wind picked up so much it blew paint right off my brush. When it started drizzling I knew it was time to stop for the day.

Only in Tasmania can we go from 33 degrees one day to cold the next. 

The dogs, of course, were there to help me every step of the way!

More pics to come as I get more done.


Sunday, 6 January 2013

smokin' hot


This was the view from our front porch 2 nights ago. The bushfire started at Lake Repulse by idiot campers who didn't put out a campfire (great name for a holiday destination huh? "Hey honey, lets go to Lake Repulse for a weekend getaway"....) spread down towards Ellendale and all the way down to Bushy Park. 

Fortunately for me, Fentonbury was spared although the fire went within 1 kilometre of the house.

The smoke has been hanging around the entire Derwent Valley and Hobart for days now, but we've been lucky. Nothing like what happened with the fires down south where a whole town burned down and thousands of people had to be evacuated by boat cause the roads were all closed. People had to stand in the sea to escape the flames which burned right down to the beach.

Its wierd. Here I am watching the news, seeing images of the fires and thinking "that doesn't look that bad, they're just small fires"... nothing like the huge fireballs in Victoria a few years ago which burned out King Lake and killed so many people. Compared to those fires, these were piddling little fires.

Seems the size of the fire doesn't have to be so BIG to do a ton of damage...

We've been fine here but it really does make you realise that there are certain things you should have when you choose to live in the country. For instance, on Wind Dancer Farm we have bore water so we have ample water to defend our house and our animals. But without power we'd be lost like everyone else. We really need to buy a generator to run the pump. Cause if there was a fire in our valley we'd have to give serious consideration to what we'd choose to do... if a fire was coming down the hill behind us and our road out was clear, we could just leave. We could take the dogs, but what about the horses?

If a fire was coming up from below us and closed off the road, we'd have no choice but to stay and fight. And to do that we'd need the pump to work.

Since we have pasture around the house and very few trees we think we could easily fight a fire around the house using our irrigation system.

We just need a generator.

Shopping list: 
1 petrol generator.


junk finds

Over the last few months I've quietly been adding to my collection of junk. I've been so busy, however, that I didn't have time to actually sort through it, photograph it or decide what to work on or how.

The other day, being on holidays and all that, I finally got the chance to go through my booty and take photos which I thought I'd share.

The one downside is that I bought a milk bottle carrier from the tip shop and I can't find it anywhere. I know I bought it. I remember it clearly. I was thrilled to find it cause I was picturing it on the table as a centrepiece, jam jars where the milk bottles would be, holding cutlery, napkins and lavender... or holding my blue sea glass bottles with flowers...

But its nowhere to be found. And I've searched repeatedly.

I'm holding out hope... barely. Maybe its somewhere under something, behind something in the shed...

Fingers crossed.

So, meanwhile, let me share these finds with you.

A very large wooden bowl, one of the wooden bowls I've added to my project list. This would look great painted and holding fruit on my table...

An interesting brass trivet. One of a few...

I got tons of frames of various sizes. I just adore the print in this one.

And I love the vintage photo in this one. I think I'm keeping her. I can pretend she's my mother as a little girl... She looks like my mother might have looked. Heck... she looks like me so she must be related!

I got tons of old books. Love this little booklet. Oh so many things I could do with this...

And this tin lid. No tin, just the lid, but how gorgeous is this?

A sample of the tons of miscellaneous junk I've added to my collection... I love my junk. Things to hang off my dangles... and the tape measure! They are so hard to get at a decent price around here.

I love old tools and old bits and pieces.... that old level is just gorgeous. That makes 2 old levels now. One will go in my vintage tool display, the other I have big plans for.

I see another hand sander dangle in my future... and more egg cup bird cages. I now have a substantial collection of both dangle and birdcage materials. I just need to get working.

Now how could I leave this pretty little doorstop piggy behind?

More rusty bits. I love rusty bits. No idea what they are, but I know what I'll use them for and that's what counts.

I have one word for this little silver dish: birdcage!

And I see an extra large wind chime in the future for this:

Wayne got me some of these things (the man may complain about my junk collection, but he knows me well!). He got me this little spice rack too. Now I know I can use this for something other than spices... not sure what, but it will come to me.

Love old tins. This still has the protractor in it.

A french book and an old tray. Just one of the trays I got. And just one of the many vintage books I got.

This was a gift from a friend - an old rake head. Love it.

If you think about it, I must be so easy (and cheap) to buy gifts for. Old, chippy and rusty will do it every time.

Like this tiny little wood plane - it doesn't work but who cares?

I plan to use a lot of the old tools to make another display to match my old shears display. I have two more shallow crates and it wont take me long to put them together. I think they'd look great in the mud room or on the deck with some hooks to hang often-used working tools. 

I just have to get organised.


Easy to say. Not so easy to do!

With the heat lately I've been too wiped out to even sit in the living room in front of a fan and create. I do not cope well with the heat. I managed to strain my arm doing the tiny bit of gardening I did so even hand sewing was out of the question on the hot days.

When its not too hot I have plans on jobs to do outside that I have so far successfully managed to avoid.

For instance I've been talking about removing the bird nests from around the house so I can start washing/painting the house and porch railing... Yesterday while 'researching' and 'planning' I noticed a dead bird's head hanging out of the roof. Great. Better get that out today before it stinks up the office...
Better go. Its still coolish outside. Maybe I should go look over what I could be doing. Then figure out a way to avoid it.