Monday, 25 March 2013

project wardrobe room DIY

We have a small room in this house. A really small room. Big enough for a single bed, a chest of drawers and a wardrobe but not much else.

We've used it as Wayne's wardrobe room since we moved in, with a single bed just in case we overflow with visitors.

It was always a mess.

Wayne owns too many clothes for one wardrobe, a cupboard, a chest of drawers... and this house.

He owns too many boots and shoes for any normal human being except Imelda Marcos.

I've been sick of that room pretty much forever and I've been dying to make it into a walk in wardrobe with as much hanging space as I could fit into it.

So, I finally put Project Wardrobe Room into action. I decided the easiest way to make a wardrobe was to start with something someone else had built.

I like the industrial look of hardware shelving so I was looking for nice galvanised metal shelf units meant for workshops. Unfortunately the better/bigger/taller ones are made with powder coating these days. Darn.

So, I adapted. Instead of galvanised metal I went with grey walls, black units and white shelves. (And salmon carpet...) 

I bought 2 hardware shelf units on sale a couple of weeks ago. 

I also bought 2 thick towel rails with the matching attachments.

Working towards Project Wardrobe Room, a few weeks ago I donated the single bed. Then I promptly replaced it with other bits of furniture ...which I managed to get out of the room last week. 

I started pn Saturday. 

Step 1: I opened the boxes with the shelf units, removed the mdf shelves and painted them antique white USA using the paint I'd bought for the woodwork in Fentonbury.

Step 2: Paint the walls.

I wanted to paint it grey, but I was going to stick to not spending any more money on this project than I already had. I searched my paint tins and found I still had about 1/3 tin of the dark grey I used on the living room feature wall. I mixed in about 1/4 of the light beige I'd used on my woodwork and added a bit of ceiling white for that extra lightness to get a shade of grey I kinda liked.

Then I painted the two walls I could access cause the third wall still had a big heavy wardrobe full of clothes, a large chest of drawers and a cupboard, all chockablock full of clothes, draped with clothes, ties, belts and scattered with shoes and boots.

Once on the wall the paint looked more blue than grey. (NB. My monitor is stuffed and I can't seem to get it back to the colour balance I had before. Everything looks more blue than normal on here right now.)

Anyway, it must be the light in this house... or the salmon carpet, but greys tend to look blue-ish in here. The 'grey' I picked for the living room looks like light blue.

Step 3. Put together the units. I glanced at the instructions then proceeded to put the units together using one of Wayne's old cowboy boots as a rubber mallet. 

I cut a piece of vinyl left over from the mud room for the bottom shelf - easier to clean when dirty boots inevitably leave their mark. I also turned the top shelves upside down so you see the white side, not the unpainted mdf side.

Step 4: Find the towel rails and fittings. Search and search and search. Get annoyed, then angry. Have a cup of coffee and then finally locate them in the last place you thought to look.

Step 5: Swear at the idiot who used sticky tape to hold the two rails together. Then swear some more at the idiots who stick labels on their products with glue strong enough to glue King Kong to the empire state building. Use eucalyptus oil to get the label and gunk off.

Step 6: Figure out where the rails needed to go in order to hold the shirts and jackets, then screw them in place - screwing directly onto the mdf shelving. This bit was like a step aerobics class, involving as it did a lot of up and down the stepladder after dropped screws, dropped rails, dropped end caps.

My exercise for the week.

Step 7: Remove all clothing from the wardrobe and stack it on the shelves and hang it on the rails - shirts on top, jackets on the bottom. Boots on the bottom shelves. Discover that there's no way on earth all the shirts will fit on these 2 rails and put some back into the wardrobe. That left me with an empty cupboard which I pushed, pulled and manhandled out onto the deck for removal later (Wayne! I have a job for you!)

Step 8: I moved the chest of drawers closer to the wardrobe and moved an old timber chest I had in the bedroom into the wardrobe room. This will hold Wayne's swag (aussie sleeping bag for camping).

I like the feel in the room. So much more organised. Neat. How long it will stay that way is anyone's guess.

Last touches: I vacuumed. I put in a brighter globe (does anyone else hate those energy saver light globes which take ages to light to their fullest?). I removed the granny light cover that was there and am planning to replace it with something a little more interesting.

Still to do: A different curtain for the window. The light fitting. The other wall. There are suit jackets and pants, more shirts and many shoes that still need to find homes in the new look wardrobe room. Do I keep a chest of drawers to hold underwear and handkerchiefs or do I go with more of the same shelving and rails with baskets to hold the small stuff... there-in lies the question. 


Now I'm left to clean up the disaster in the living room and put away the 1 tonne of washing I finally folded.


Wayne's reaction?

"You done good."

"So, do you like it?"


A man of monosyllables.

But he likes it. It sure beats the kitchen chalkboard fiasco of 2013... which is still fresh in my memory as I've only removed half of the chalkboard so far.


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DIY Show Off


Saturday, 23 March 2013

monumental fail.... kitchen chalkboard

I don't fail in my projects often. I stall, I flounder, I re-evaluate... but I don't often fail.

This project was a monumental, irrevocable, unadulterated failure.

I had planned to transform this:

Into this:

Simple, it seemed. Easy. Piece of cake.

I washed down the laminated doors of the pantry.

I smeared on a product called ESP for preparing surfaces to take paint. Tiles, laminate, metal, anything, without sanding.

Now, I've used this product before. Twice. Once many years ago in Melbourne when I painted the ugly dark wood laminate doors and drawer fronts of a gorgeous old 60s kitchen dresser. I wipe it on, wiped it off after 90 minutes, then painted it with a glossy oil based paint.

In Fentonbury I did it on the kitchen cabinets and walls which were all lacquered pine. Wiped it on, wiped it off, undercoated and topcoated in acrylic. This wasn't as great a success. Perhaps cause the topcoat was acrylic and not oil paint. It chipped. Not too badly.

Then we have this:

Maybe its cause the tin of ESP was old... Maybe its cause I didn't undercoat (I'm leaning towards that)... but the paint just wiped off! Even after 3 days.


Wayne hated it. Said it was like looking into the abyss when he sat at the kitchen table, why on earth would I put a black wall in a small kitchen.

Well... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

This morning I got up and saw this: 

No doubt about this project...

So, when (if) I find the energy I'll climb on a chair and start scrubbing the paint off. Should be easy enough.

ha. ha. ha.


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

new boots!


I got me some new boots!

I've wanted a pair of these babies since I first saw them ages ago. I even ordered a pair with paisley bottoms online but they after months of "they'll be in soon" I finally got the dreaded "Sorry, we can no longer supply them" email.

The boot in the photo isn't MY boot. Mine are similar but have flowers and more red and pink and orange.

While wasting time in the city yesterday after work I had a look in an outdoor shop I rarely visit. They had one pair of these boots on sale for half price.

I just had to have them.

I don't know if its a good thing or a bad thing that I'm excited about the fact that I just bought mud boots.

Way classier than gum boots, but still.... boots for mucking around in the mud.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

sag drag and fall

I am so tired.

I finally got up on that ladder and painted under the eaves on the east side of the house so that side is now finished.

Well... almost finished. I still have to paint the window surrounds and nail the wire up to keep the birds out. I can hear one scratching around in the ceiling over my desk as I type...

I still have two more sides to paint the high bits, under the eaves, the window surrounds and the rails. And adding wire to keep out birds.

Then I have to consider oiling or staining the deck...

It never ends.

I used to flip flop and fly but now I sag drag and fall. (lyrics from an old rockabilly song).

My neck and upper back ache from balancing precariously on the ladder and reaching above my head to paint. My hair has tips in it. None a hairdresser put in, more like the ones I give myself as I lean back to paint a bit on one side while my hair brushes the bits I painted on the other side...

And the weather, which was so uncooperative for so long, being stinking hot and windy, has suddenly turned chilly.

I think summer is over and I haven't yet finished painting the house.

I need to put all other projects on hold and get it done before winter really sets in. Once the rains start I think it'll be next summer before the rails dry enough to apply paint.

Meanwhile, on an exciting note, I've been in touch with the family who bought Ben. He's doing well and they love him. I'm so glad. When they were here they said they may have a couple of horses which might suit me. I got photos of one of them the other day.

Meet Chester, a chestnut standard bred boy, 15hh, 10 years old.

I'm in love.

He's gorgeous, isn't he? I love boys anyway so I may be a bit biased. But he's just so pretty! And such a lovely colour. 

At this point I confess that I've always had a mistrust of chestnuts, ever since a chesnut boy named Tito threw me repeatedly when I was taking riding lessons many years ago. But Chester has a trustworthy face, don't you think?

At 15hh, Chester is a lot smaller than Ben too. When we bought Ben he was 16hh according to what we were told. He's now 16.3hh. He's huge. He grew tons while we had him. As you can imagine, the drop from 15 hands is a lot less than the drop from 16.3 hands.

I always wanted a BIG horse. My first horse was a 14.3hh quarter horse x named Schnapps. I wanted a 16-17hh horse then. Now I'm leaning the other way...

I might even have a hope in hell of getting my leg up into the stirrup of a 15hh horse. 

We can only hope!

Anyway, I'll share photos of the mare they have too, an appaloosa... then we'll go out one day in a couple of weeks and I'll get to ride them and see how I feel about them. I'm so excited!


Monday, 11 March 2013

blindingly blue chairs


Yesterday we picked up my new adirondack chairs.

When I chose the colour for them I wanted them dark dark navy blue. Deep and rich. I took home swatches and compared and deliberated...

And I STILL got it wrong!

Does this look like rich dark blue to you?

To me it looks like a vibrant cobalt blue.

This is what the swatch looks like:

Sigh. It looked dark blue to me.

On the chairs: vibrant blue. Greek island blue.

Not that there's anything wrong with that... just, its not the blue I was going for. And it cost a ton as well cause its an ultra deep base. AND I have a ton of it left over.

It might be the fact that I chose gloss paint and the surface of the chairs is slightly ridged. They're made out of treated pine so they can be left outside in the weather and not get ruined. That's also why I chose gloss paint... easier to wipe bird poop off.

Still, I guess I can live with them for now. Maybe if I put the over on the dam side of the porch, where there's no roof and they'll be exposed to the sun and rain, they'll dull down a bit.

I love them... They're great chairs. Really comfy and well made. But so bright! Ugh. Maybe I should have just stuck to white. Can't go wrong with white....

You may have noticed the flour sacks making another appearance as cushions. Can't leave them outside when we're not home though. Romeo would use them as chew toys and Montana and Barney would sleep on them. White and dog prints don't mix well.

I found this cute little ex wire birdhouse. It used to have some sort of fibre stuff on it but that's long gone. There's still some bird poop on it though. I love the wonkiness of it. I'll be doing something with this soon.

Meanwhile I mentioned shopping, did I not? Well, lately I've been on a mission to get a sink into the mud room. Outside the toilet.

The toilet is small and cause of the way the door swings and the window, there's no space for a tiny sink in there. Plus Wayne has huge hands, can you imagine him trying to wash his hands in a sink the size of an espresso cup?

I've never minded the fact that our toilet is off the mud room (it used to be outside!), but I've hated that in order to wash your hands after using the 'facilities' you have to walk through the mud room, through the entry/pantry area, through the kitchen, into the hallway and into the bathroom. Now (well, soon) we'll be able to wash our hands right after doing our business. What a novel experience for us!

So, in my quest for the perfect sink I looked at quite a few online. I looked for 2nd hand of course. I found a nice looking ensuite sized one for $30 but wasn't sure without seeing it. I found a really nice looking pale blue cast iron and enamel one nearby but when I tried to go see it, turned out the house was on top of the mountain and I almost had a heart attach when my wheels started to spin on a tight uphill bend.

My car doesn't have good traction.

See, I'd arranged for our plumber to come over this morning to do some work and fit the new sink while he's here. Plus the new gooseneck tap for the kitchen sink. I hate low taps in kitchens. Bad enough I only have a single tub sink but to have a low tap as well was like adding insult to injury.

I lived with it for 2 years. It was time.

In the end, with the plumber's visit looming and no sink to be found, I dragged Wayne to Bunnings yesterday and had him pretend to wash his hands in a couple of smaller sinks to try them out. (He loved that!)

I ended up buying a pretty little squarish sink for $99, plus whatever for the tap.

Then we traipsed off to visit Anna, pick up the chairs her husband made, give her the painting I'd done, had a swim etc. While having fish and chips for lunch at Opossum Bay, I noticed a note in the window which said "pedestal sink, good condition $20, see John" and an address just around the corner.

Everyone started to tease me. I'd spent over $100 on my sink and I could have gotten that one, etc.

Don't mess with me. They didn't think I'd go...

I did.

John was the sweetest stooped little old man, he showed me the sink in his shed, telling me it came from the bungalow in his back yard which the kids had renovated and replaced everything old with new stuff. He said he hadn't wanted to advertise it but a sign in the shop was enough, he only need to find the "right person, someone just like you who loves old things".

So I bought it.

Being me, I also bought a solid timber door he had in the shed. It was right behind the sink. I looked at the sink, said I'd come back with the trailer and get it and btw, would he sell me the door? We think it might be huon pine. Great value at $20!

The sink isn't plumbed in yet, (I had cleaned it, but dirty boots got it!) we forgot its a public holiday and when the plumber came up he couldn't buy the bits and pieces he needed to finish the job. He'll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile I undercoated the back wall so it would be easier to paint later.

The timber in that area is old timber from piles we found in the paddock. Wayne re-used all the best bits to line out that room. I'll need to re-undercoat it to stop the wood stains from coming through, but it should be ok.

By tomorrow afternoon we'll have a usable sink in the mudroom. 



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Beyond The Picket Fence  

swimming without wetsuits

Its not a greek island, but it sure is beautiful, huh?

This is the beach at Opossum Bay, down south of Hobart. We went to visit our friends down there yesterday and, naturally, it was a cool, windy, cloudy and otherwise "not swimming" type of day.

But we swam anyway. I mean, we were there! And lately I've been dreaming of Greece. A lot. In fact, some of my dreams are more like nightmares.

In the nightmares I'm on Paros and the weather is cold or rough or I'm too busy and I never get to the beach. Its like "wont swim today, maybe tomorrow"... I wake up so depressed. I was on Paros and I didn't get in the water.

Now, I guess you have to know me to know how that would be a nightmare. I live in the water in summer when I'm in Greece. Maybe I'm part fish. My idea of the perfect greek holiday is to wake up early, get to beach by 10am or earlier, while its still fresh and cool out, grab myself an umbrella and lounge chair (you hire those by the day) and stay there all day.

I order coffee from the nearest bar, buy water as needed, eat fruit I bring with me if I'm hungry and spend the entire day reading and swimming, drying off and getting wet again. In the shade of the umbrella. I still turn as brown as a berry, but except for time spent in the water I never really sunbathe.

Its amazing that I chose to live inland, in the country really, considering how much I love the water. The best explanation I can think of is that Greece has always been the sea for me where Australia has always been country. I love the Australian countryside more than I love its beaches. They're rough, huge waves which terrify me and, lets not forget... sharks!

Plus Tasmanian waters are legendary for being cold. We could see the icebergs from the beach. Ha. 

So when we went to Anna's beach (not Opossum Bay beach but another one nearby) and the water was calm with gentle lapping waves and I could see the sand and shells in the sand in the water, it was the closest I've come in a long time to the beaches of Greece. I can imagine on a sunny hot day it would be heaven.

I even started to think about selling up and buying a place down there. Imagine living close enough to the beach to walk the dogs down there every day like Anna does, and swim as often as you like. Imagine being able to submerse yourself in cold water to cool your blood down on hot days!

Wayne and I both braved the water without wetsuits and, actually, after the initial shock to the system it was fine. Beautiful in fact. Have I mentioned how much I love being in the sea?

They're predicting 35 degrees C tomorrow. 

I'm thinking of going to visit Anna again.

Better go wash out the bathing suits and dry them so I can take them to work tomorrow!


PS I also did some shopping while down there. More on that later!

Monday, 4 March 2013

tillie and toby

Tillie and Toby - that smudge in the top right corner isn't on the painting. I did it while cropping the image...


I've finally finished the dog portrait I started weeks ago.

Why did it take so long you ask? Well, sometimes things just click.

Then other times they don't.

This was one of the "don't" times. When I started I got Toby right straight off - he clicked. (that's the little black dog.) I felt I captured his expression straight away.

Tillie was much harder. She looks like an ewok or cousin It. She's the sweetest dog in real life, but I just couldn't find HER under the hair.

In the end I think I scrubbed her out and redrew her three times.

I'm using pastels on Art Spectrum pastel paper - this paper is like very fine sandpaper so it holds pastel really well, but it also allows you to wipe it off and even wash it off with a damp sponge and redraw over it.

I'm finally happy with it now and I can say I'm so relieved. I thought I'd never finish it and I'd never get my new adirondack chairs. They're the trade you see. If I never finished the painting, I'd never get my chairs.

The deck isn't finished yet of course. I'm still painting the house. Like a greek: siga siga.

That means "slowly slowly". Wouldn't want to over-exert ourselves now, would we?

I did a bit of painting this weekend. I worked on the front part of the house, undercoating 2 sections of the rails and posts before I ran out of my 3 in 1 Prepcoat/Sealer/Undercoat.

(I was really glad to run out 'cause I hate painting with oil based paints. The reprieve is temporary... I have to buy more.)

Then I moved to the back of the house where I started painting the topmost bits of wall and under the eaves. This is slow going, greek or not. Its climb up, paint above your head, get down, move the ladder, find a relatively stable spot to put it, climb up, paint above your head. Repeat endlessly.

I think I did about 2/3 of that side before I decided to call it a day. The horses, chickens, ducks and dogs all needed feeding. Not to mention the human.

Today I spent all my energy brushcutting the weeds in our yard. Its ridiculous really. We have "journey to the centre of the earth" cracks in what used to be our lawn and is now a crispy desert, and yet along the fenceline we have weeds and thistles almost waist high.

On the plus side, the garden is producing well. I'm being over-run by tomatoes, zucchinis and apple cucumbers. Don't get me wrong, I love fresh home grown produce. Especially the tomatoes and cucumbers... but they're staging a revolution in there, I swear. Every time I look around they've multiplied!

a different kind of horse

I've had these photos for ages and found them while tidying up my desktop today. I just have to share cause I think this is incredible work.

One day, a long time ago, I drove down the Cygnet and as I came around the bend and looked down the hill I saw a horse grazing in a paddock just outside town. As I got closer the horse started to looks strange... see through, ghostly...

It was made of barbed wire!

Since then they've moved the horse to just inside town, outside a gallery on the main street. I'm so sorry I didn't get a photo of it in the paddock. The weatherboards don't do it justice. In a paddock it looked like a real horse, here its just a sculpture.

Even so, its an incredible piece of work. I have no idea who made it or who owns it, but its beautiful. All made of wire and metal.

How cool is that? I think we need one of these for our paddock. And a couple of corregated iron cows. And a corregated iron poodle of course.


Saturday, 2 March 2013

chipped paint, old motorcycles and good coffee

There's nothing better than a good coffee.

And there's nothing better than a good coffee in a great environment.

I lived in Melbourne for about 20 years and Melbourne's full of cafes with atmosphere. If I was to be honest, one of the things I miss most about living in Melbourne would be the cafes... breakfast at a retro cafe on Brunswick Street, or a lazy brunch at a cafe on Sydney Road a short walk from my flat, catching up with friends after work or after a long roller blade in a cool cafe in St Kilda...

There are a few nice cafes here in New Norflolk and around Hobart, but its always great to discover another.

A few weeks ago a new place opened near work. Its called Moto Vecchia and I thought it was going to be a motorcycle shop. 

I was half right.

Its a cafe in a big cement-floored room filled with old furniture that wouldn't be out of place at my grandmother's house, and old motorcycles which could have come from my grandfather's shed.

Natalina, the owner and chef, told me it was a tribute to her family and told me a bit about her grandparents who came to Australia as a young couple many years ago. It struck a cord with me, I remember the stories my parents would tell of their early days here. 

I also knew exactly how it felt to be the 'wog' kid in school, having a lunchbox full of home made bread, cheese, fresh tomato and boiled eggs for lunch while the aussie kids ate vegemite sandwiches. 

I still remember how embarrassed I'd be when mom would pull out her checkered tea towels and spread out our lunch in public: small fried meatballs, boiled eggs, olives, chopped up tomatoes and cheese, rolled vine leaves. All I wanted was to go buy a pie from the shop like everyone else. I didn't want to be stared at, I wanted to fit in.

Nowadays I'd kill for one of mom's lunches.

How the world has changed.

Anyway, if you're ever in Rosny, drop in and check it out. Its worth it.

This old motorbike is from the 1920s, sorry about the blurry photo.

This tiny children's bike hangs on a wall.

Its normal to have a motorbike next to your lounge suite.


dragonfly windchime & other shiny things

I haven't been doing much these last few weeks, but I 've been messing up the living room with my wiring and beading so I could knock up a few more wind chimes for the local shop I sell through.

I do enjoy making these things as I watch TV, sorting through my boxes and collections of odds and ends till I find something which inspires me, then putting bits together to form something pretty.

As you know, I love rusty things, old things, crystal beads and shiny wire. A few weeks ago I bought my first couple of spools of coloured wire and I'm loving them!

This little dragonfly is made of a mix of silver wire, gold wire and silver beads. It sits on what I believe is the cover from an old car light I found in a tip shop. It makes the best sound when the wind jingles the tea spoons.

This heart is made from an old coat hanger bound with red and white lace and embellished with an odd collection of keys, crystal beads and a tiny sugar spoon.

A silver napkin holder makes this very loud windchime for those who like more of a chime. It consists of a collection of spoons, forks, orange glass beads, a large clear crystal and a tiny star cookie cutter.

More chimes to share soon, though I should really be concentrating on finishing the house painting. But that's ok... I can wire and bead while I catch up on episodes of Dexter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, CSI, Bones and Downton Abbey.

I have ecclectic taste in TV series.