Monday, 29 December 2014

boring pine chest to pretty pine chest

Here's something I learned today:

Sanding dust can give your hair great texture. Forget expensive sculpting gels, mud or whatever. Just go sand something.

...It does nothing for your hands however.

Anyway, thought I'd share a successful makeover (unlike so many not so successful ones).

When Wayne and I moved in together, he had two tallboys and a wardrobe. They were plain pine and rather boring. One of the tallboys was a mess, the drawers kept dropping when you pulled them out, the base was falling out of them... its in the casita right now holding odds and ends till I decide whether I can fix it.

The other one and the wardrobe went into our bedroom... I use them for my own clothes cause I made Wayne his own walk in wardrobe

Yes. The man has more clothes than I do! And shoes. What can I say?

I make do with a measely pine wardrobe and two chests of drawers: a smaller one I bought when I lived in Fentonbury and the one Wayne owns.

I always planned to do something with them but I had to wait till I had time and energy. Not so much for the painting, but for the carting and carrying. I'd already painted my chest of drawers white many years ago, so I wanted to make the three of them match better.

At least be less offensive.

I don't have any before photos cause I didn't take any. And the external drive I put all my old photos on has decided to not work... I found this photo online which will give you an idea of what it looked like. The one I've done up is a 6 drawer tallboy, it doesn't have the two smaller drawers at the top. The one in the casita has the two smaller drawers, but you get the idea. Nothing fancy, just a plain pine chest of drawers. No cute feet, no fancy bits, just plain jane.

So, first thing I did was empty everything onto the bed (and then the floor cause we need to sleep in the bed!) and take it down to the casita where the tools are. I gave it a very light sand and then painted it with some antique white I mixed up with a bit of unsanded grout. I like the look and feel of chalk paint and have always just made my own.

In the vein of using what I have and not spending extra money, I looked through my collection of handles and knobs. I needed 12, not so easy to have 12 matching ones. So I decided to mix and match and I love the result.

For the top two drawers I used simple black metal handles I got on clearance last year. I wish I'd bought more.

For the lower drawers I used the black cup pulls I'd originally bought for the kitchen but decided they were too small. They're fine for the drawers. I have delicate fingers...

After the entire thing was painted (and some of the drawers glued and clamped) I gave the whole thing a light sand, revealing a bit of timber here and there... not overly distressed. Just enough.

Lastly I gave it a wax using some lemon scented furniture wax I got on ebay last year. The wax gives it some protection from being marked or getting grimy fingerprints and makes it easier to dust.

If you ever feel like dusting, that is.

All the bedrooms in this house are small. Annoyingly so. Its not easy to decorate and have storage without the room feeling cluttered. Unmatched items make it worse.

Maybe I really need to try and fix the matching chest of drawers...

I wonder if I can change the tracks on the drawers to make them work better...?


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Friday, 26 December 2014

the laziest christmas tree in the universe

Ok, since I mentioned my poor attempt at Christmas decorating, I thought I'd share my pathetic 'tree' for this year.

I was going to build a tree out of old timber or a pallet, which would have required sawing, nailing, measuring, assembling... but while searching my scrap pile I saw this piece of door I'd been using to spray paint items on. You can see some gold, white and black...

I checked it. It was rough, it took chalk... So much easier than building a tree!

There. Are you satisfied?

The poodles are ok with it, so I'm good with it.

And no mess to clean up. When I'm over looking at it, I just take it down to the casita and use it to spray paint on again.


Thursday, 25 December 2014

artist case

In case you're wondering what Wayne got for Christmas, well he got a couple of things. Two of them were Viking related: a feast knife and a Fenris cross (a norse wolf cross).

He likes Vikings... what's not to like about them?

Anyway, the other thing I got him involved a bit of gathering separate (but related) items and a bit of DIY.

I'd seen a soluble graphite presentation box which I liked but when I went back to get it they were sold out. They only had a smaller version but it just wasn't as good. The box I'd seen originally had a soluble graphite block, a soluble pit charcoal block and a brush. 

I decided I'd buy the bits and make my own presentation/carry case for Wayne. I bought a small tub of soluble pit charcoal, one each of graphite in regular colour and one sepia, an eraser, 2 soluble graphite pencils in different leads and three brushes of different sizes.

I located an old tin toolbox I had in the casita which was perfect. I had two of them, cause I collect things like that... I made one into a grooming room sign a few years ago (and sorry, I don't have a photo, I put all my photos and a heap of other stuff on an external drive which decided to give up the ghost), and the other was the perfect size for Wayne's gift.

So, first things first: I gave it a good clean and a bit of a scrub with some steel wool. Its got some rust and some staining, but hey, that's part of the beauty of it, right? I then painted his nickname on it.


But the best thing is the inside!

I had to make compartments for each of the bits so they wouldn't just jumble around. They needed to have their own little spots. 

I had an offcut of pine which was just the right size. I cut the bits I needed, sanded any rough spots off, then used liquid nails to glue it together.

Overkill? Perhaps. But I couldn't find the PVA and the liquid nails was there, saying "go on, use me!"

I also used the glue to fix the pine frame to the tin.

I added a small bowl I had for water, put in the pencils, brushes and graphite blocks. Voila. Presentation case and carry case all in one!

I had planned to spray paint it, but I like the plain pine. I may have to give it a clear coat later to protect the timber from staining, but maybe not. It might add to the patina... what do you think?

I added a good quality drawing block and gave it to Wayne this morning. Now I await his masterpieces.

At least I hope he tries it out. He used to do pen and ink work years ago and I'd like to see him art again.


merry christmas and all that jazz

Its Christmas! I've always quite liked Christmas though I don't do the decorating thing. Without a family or a big celebration, it just doesn't seem worth going to all that trouble. The poodles don't really care one way or another. As long as they get plenty of pats and food, they're happy.

All I did this year was pick up half a door I'd been using in the casita as a spray painting base, draw a tree on it with chalk and sit it on the wood heater. That was my Christmas tree.

Oh, I also climbed on a ladder and put fairy lights on the trellis in the garden. They're not working properly. Great.

Oh well. I tried.

We just had a couple of good friends come over for Christmas lunch. I baked melomakarona on Christmas eve and Wayne roasted a turkey roll, a leg of lamb and a bit of beef.

'Cause, apparently, you can't have too much meat.

Our friend Chris brought over a ham ('cause.... see above), and Patrice brought cheese and nibbles and a great sweet potato salad. We also had prawns and I made a greek salad and individual pavlovas. I topped them with raspberries picked from our garden this morning.

We started on nibbles and drinks around 11.30am and had 'lunch' around 5pm. All I had was a plate of salads and 2 small slices of ham and one of lamb. Then my pav.

'Cause there's always room for dessert.

Now I can't move.

I've lost my ability to over-eat.

Presents-wise its been good. I got a new portable cd player cause my old one broke ages ago. I use it while grooming or doing DIY projects. Its essential.

I also got another power tool to add to my collection! Wayne got me an electric staple gun. Yeah!

I think I may try reupholstering an old armchair I have in my office... stay tuned for that badly done makeover in the new year...


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

the armchair makeover is complete

Remember the armchair I pressure cleaned a few weeks ago?

Well its finally finished and back in the house.

The washing went well and the drying took a long time cause the weather turned nasty. We had days of rain so I had to keep the armchair in the casita with the heater on it intermittently in order to dry it completely.

Then, once it was dry I got it wet again.

I had to. I wanted to dye it. The colour I wanted was brown but it was almost impossible to find the brown in any shade at all. I ended up with 2 packs of RIT powder dye, one was a reddish brown and the other was dark brown. I mixed them together and made up a bucket full of dye as per the instructions.

It took quite a few coats and I got bored of the process before the dye covered the pattern.

Here it is after the first coat. I applied the dye with a foam roller.

Around coat two the weather got better for a few minutes so I was able to put it outside to get some sun.

Coat three started to go a redder brown.

Coat four I figured I liked the flower patterns showing through. Kind of like an aged faded fabric instead of an incomplete dye job.

Of course before I could put it in the house I needed a new cushion. The dogs had chewed chunks out of the original one. It took me almost a month to buy the foam and fabric.

I only have one question about dyeing furniture though: what about the salt? After the chair dried I had to use a damp cloth to wipe off the salt which rose to the surface. Now I'm a bit concerned the dogs will notice the chair is rather tasty and start licking it.

I made the cushion cover today and was able to bring the armchair up to the living room. The fabric I chose for the cover is plain cause I couldn't find anything else that would suit the chair. Obviously patterns wouldn't work cause of the flowers showing through the dye, but that's what I'd have in mind originally. I got some brown piping and put that around the cushion cover to tie it in a bit and give it some punch.

I'm quite happy with how it looks.

Even if the sewing leaves a lot to be desired.

Yep. No closeups. My sewing won't stand up to such scrutiny. It works, that's enough for me. My sewing is of the same school as Patrice's DIY projects 'where close enough is good enough'.

Seriously, I don't think I did too bad considering I had no real plan, hadn't even intended to tackle this job today, just put down the foam and cut out the shapes and sewed them together willy nilly.

You won't notice in the photos but I rearranged some furniture. I'd share photos if the room was tidy, but there is washing to fold on the coffee table and Wayne's new desk is buried under a pile of junk already. I cleaned ok? That was enough!

What I did basically was move the couch and put it against the (stupid, ugly) poles in the middle of our living room facing the back window, put the small bookcase behind it and swapped the old cabinet with the big bookcase cause I think it feels better.

There are more changes to come but I'm trying to sneak up on them so Wayne doesn't become too upset.


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Sunday, 7 December 2014

step by step, we're getting there

Our home may not be beautiful and neat, but one thing I can say for it... it has character. Like the side of the garage where some previous owner thought 'what the hell, you can't see this side from the gate' and stopped painting it blue. And all the rusty bits of metal leaned up against the corner to stop the dogs from excavating all my plants in pursuit of some critter burrowed under the shed.

The foxgloves Ginny gave me are so tall I've had to stake them, and the lobelia and alyssum are looking great...

I hadn't posted for a few days as I haven't really had much to share. I've been busy with work and haven't put any time into doing anything creative worth sharing. However, things are slowly moving along. I've had my trusty helper come out and do some of the heavy lifting for me so things are coming together in the yard.

For one thing, he's put a brick border along the footpath to stop the blue metal (gravel) from falling onto the path and then into the 'lawn'.

(I use the word loosely.)

I love the neat new look. Maybe it needs a brick border on the other side too?

You can see the tyre wall is coming along too.

Another view of the tyre wall from the garage to the front gate and our wonky wood shed. We figure about 3 more loads of tyres and we're onto the next phase: soil and pinebark. I've already got some plants in the tyres down the front end, I need a whole lot more to fill the whole wall.

I've had my trusty helper put carpet down along the path between the house and driveway retaining wall. That area has always been a problem. Some of it has blue metal and the rest had weeds... almost impossible to mow with all the gravel mixed into the grass. This way no more weeds and I can buy more gravel to put on top of the carpet. You can't really see it in the pic but there's another brick border to hold in the gravel at the far end of the walkway.

We put carpet skirts around the trees we planted in the paddock as well. I told Wayne I was over weeds and planned to carpet the entire yard. He was not impressed.

We also put up a bit more wire for the potato vine and sweet peas to grow up. The garden is beginning to look really nice.

Well... except for the weeds where the lawn should be and the bare patches where I poisoned weeds...

I got a pleasant surprise the other day. This plant grew in one of the garden beds and I had no idea what it was. I wasn't even sure if it was a weed or not. But since I didn't recognise it as a weed I let it grow and voila! Its a delphinium!

I'd bought delphinium seeds a couple of years ago and not a single one grew. I think I tossed the soil from the empty pots in this area and look what grew!

I'm loving the way gardens can surprise you like that. This is a new thing for me. Mostly things I put in the garden surprise me by disappearing.

Meanwhile we had to do an emergency operation on the hardenbergia and azalea corner... another critter living behind them I guess, cause I came home to find dirty dogs and the plants almost ripped out. Its a pity cause both of them had just started to take off.

When I bought the azalea Patrice was all 'oh, you'll kill it' and I was on track to prove her wrong. Hopefully no permanent damage was done.

A rickety cage made of a dog pen side, some old trellis, bits of wood and tied together with hay bale twine... add the tyre wall... a bit white trashy huh?

Oh well.

I'll just call it the 'Make Do' culture. I'm recycling and using what I have on hand.

And I have a LOT of hay bale twine...


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

the conditions i'm forced to work in

This afternoon I went into the casita to have another look at the office desk I'm working on for Wayne. This is what I was greeted with:

Little Chipmunk peered out around the corner at me.

I was disturbing little chubby's dinner.

Here's a preview of the desk I'm working on from one angle...

...or from another...

Chipmunk looked at me suspiciously. He wanted to be sure I wasn't going to turn on another sander like I did yesterday.

Gave him indigestion all night.

When he was assured there were no power tools lurking, he went back to burying his head in the bucket.


Can't a little horse eat in peace around here?

Well, frankly, no. Its my workshop, not your dining room. Horses are supposed to eat in the yard. Or the stable. 

Or the yard.


Its all Wayne's fault. When he discovered that Chipmunk had discovered he could jump up the step and come in through the bottom half of the dutch door to the casita, he began letting him in while he prepared horse feeds, which lead to Chippy dining indoors.

It works great.

Most of the time.

There was that one time when the wind blew the bottom door shut and Chipmunk was stuck in there all night.

...There was poop everywhere.

Including on the legs of the desk I'm working on.

On the legs.


How did he even get it up there?


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

the answer to everything else is pressure cleaning

Let me start at the beginning...

Years ago I bought a lounge suite at an auction for something like $25. I gave away the love seat as I didn't like it, but kept the granny style, wing back armchairs cause they were just so comfortable.

One move, too much furniture and many years later, the armchairs had ended up in the garage as Wayne's men shed seating. As a result they were covered in grease, dirt, horse and dog hair. They were stinky and filthy.

A week ago Patrice came over and saw them and while examining them I remembered why I bought them in the first place: comfort. Even with the granny floral. So I let Patrice have one and I decided to keep the other. She planned on reupholstering hers (good luck girl, too hard for me!) while I thought if I got the pressure cleaner on mine I could clean it up enough to dye it and bring it back into the house... after I eliminated the skirt...

Well, yesterday Patrice emailed me saying that scrubbing it with dishwashing liquid was working but that she thought my idea of the pressure cleaner was worth trying. By the time I hit send on my 'come on over' email she was at the gate.

We got out the second chair, put it on the path, filled the soap container on the cleaner with sugar soap and connected the hose to the hot water tap.

...Which promptly heated up and burst off the connection and flooded the laundry.

Eh. That's ok. Our laundry is in the casita and its a horrible mess anyway.

I reconnected the hose and we gave that chair the best clean its ever had.

Its sparkling clean! I don't think it was that clean when I bought it!

Now we know: the answer to any cleaning problem is a pressure cleaner! Need a new couch cause the one you have is filthy? Pressure clean it!

Patrice took the pressure cleaner to her house to use on her half cleaned chair, and promptly flooded her laundry.

For the second time in two days.

She has the cleanest laundry floor in the world.

Day before she forgot she had all her plant cuttings sitting in water in the laundry tub, put on a wash and flooded the laundry.

When Patrice got home she didn't check her hose was secure enough, turned on the hot tap and it burst off just like mine did. Obviously she doesn't learn from others' mistakes...

The upshot is that the chairs are totally clean but they do need some drying... we had hot weather, and some wind to help dry them. Even with that though, the armchair wasn't dry by 7pm. I put it in the grooming room and put the heater on it.

My armchair has an eaten cushion. Thanks dogs. I'll need to make a new one for it, but since I plan to dye it I figure I can match, or mismatch, the cushion when I'm ready. New foam is needed as well, obviously.

The point is that its all doable now that the armchairs don't smell like a dog-loving mechanic's armpit.

This is so exciting. Patrice has been bouncing all over the place bragging that we're the smartest people in Australia since the idea worked.

I'm content to know that I'll soon have another comfy armchair for the house which isn't going to cost me $$.

Wayne isn't too impressed. He's lost his comfy seating in the man shed. He'll have to live with it for a while, but when I rearrange the living room (his biggest nightmare) he'll be getting another armchair. Not sure if he'd rather do without armchairs in order to avoid the furniture re-arrangement...


Sunday, 23 November 2014

a place for my jewellery

You know those days when you just have to make something, and finish it, just so you can feel like you're actually achieving something?

For so long I've been working on things which need time before I can have the satisfaction of the finished job... like working in the garden, planting seeds or working in the casita. It'll be a while before I can share the fruits of those labours... they're more work in progress (or an ongoing never ending battle).

So, I decided it was time to tackle something I could finish in a few hours.

For a while now that I've known I need somewhere to keep my jewellery. I don't have tons of it, but I do have a few things I like to wear. And when I finish wearing something I tend to hang it on the nearest doorknob.

Not ideal.

I also didn't want to make it a statement piece. I like the pretty ideas on Pinterest but didn't want something that made my jewellery a feature. So I measured the width of the wardrobe and found a long frame I had which would fit on the side. The idea being that it would be there, easy to reach but not on the wall like art.

In the spirit of quick and easy (and cheap), I didn't remove the print and replace it with something I could screw cup hooks into, I just taped up the frame and sprayed the print with gloss black (cause that's all I had and hey, silver looks good on black). I then used transparent plastic sticky hooks for hangers.

Did I mention easy?

Since the wardrobe is now white (and still unfinished), the frame looks nice with the original timber and white finish. Maybe I'll paint it one day, but it will do for now.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

the answer to everything is WHITE

I like to surround myself with clever and talented people.. (Or maybe clever and talented people are attracted to me cause I'm so clever and talented...) Either way, I have really great friends who inspire me constantly.

One of those friends is my newest BFF, Patrice, who lives just down the road from here. She moved to Tasmania from interstate not long ago and we met through this very blog. She'd just bought a house and was thinking about renovating her kitchen, did a google search and found my kitchen remodel.

Small world.

We don't see eachother that much despite the fact that you could probably throw a stone from my housed to hers cause we're both always so busy - what with work and houses to dismantle and put back together... but we love to compare notes and give eachother ideas for even more projects.

Wayne has rued the day I met Patrice.

A couple of weeks ago Patrice got into high gear with her guest room as she was expecting a visitor. I love what she's done with it. Makes my guest room look downright drab and gloomy.

I'm going to share the pics Patrice sent me of the room before and after. I think the transformation is amazing and its so simple and was done really cheaply.

Basically she just painted everything Dulux Antique White USA and made her own curtains (which she's not happy with but they're ok for now or for the next few months or forever depending on her inspiration and financial situation).

This is the room before.

What? Aren't guest rooms always storage areas?

This is the room now. All fresh and bright.

Painting the walls and bed white instantly brightened the place up. Taking inspiration from the green pillow covers she selected a fabric for the curtains which looked good in the shop but turned out a little too lime for her taste. Ain't that always the way?

She also repainted this gorgeous little dresser she's had for years. I think its on its 34th coat of paint now.

It used to be a lot smaller...

You can't tell in the pic above but she repainted an old chair the same dark green in the cat print. And notice below: no more dark brown door!

Clean and simple, right?

Love it.

I think I may have to find an excuse to go stay over one night.

Just to try it out...


Friday, 21 November 2014

homestead news

Summer is on its way down under and the grass is growing at lightening speed (except for all the bald patches on our 'lawn' where I poisoned all the weeds). The vegetable patch is starting to produce stuff.

Strawberries actually. Only strawberries. This is my first bowl from the garden. They're the sweetest tastiest strawberries I've ever had!

Last weekend I lay straw around the strawberry plants to stop them growing on the ground and keep them slightly above slug dining level. And Matthew and I made a frame and put up bird netting. We used scrap wood which we cut up as stakes, then tied some thin old moulding (which had been left in the yard by the previous owner) to create a cage. We used hay bale twine to tie it all together.

Very pretty. In a redneck kind of way.

Then we put flat head nails down the side of the garden box so we can hook the net down tight.

A good job I think. Today's strawberry crop was less chewed on than the odd strawberry I'd been picking lately.

This morning while I groomed, Matthew came around again to do a bit more work on the tyre wall and I got him to move the poor abused pussy willows to a better spot. Here they are at the side of the casita, to the left of the vegetable garden. Five of the seven I'd originally had.

Those poor trees have had the roughest time in their short lives. Firstly, they were just sticks I cut off the trees I had in Fentonbury before I moved here. Pussy willows will grow from sticks. I'd originally put them in the ground just below the dam.

Our dam is spring fed and it leaks. I wanted something to take up some of that water.

We put some electric fence up around them to keep the horses out and they grew for a while.

Then we had to move the electricity to another fence (you know, we play games with it, some days this fence is on, some days that one's on... it amuses us), the horses got in and gave them a haircut.

We put the fence back on and they grew again.

Then we needed to dam shored up so we dug them out and moved them to a spot on the far side of the back paddock, near the creek. Plenty of moisture there too.

We put up posts and tied electric fence wire around it to keep the horses out. They looked like they died for a while, but then they came back. The trees, not the horses.

The horses realised the fence wasn't on and they gave them another haircut.

We gave up. They were just sticks with roughly chewed ends for a long time. Then this spring they got new growth.

The other day I was thinking how I want more trees in the yard but we don't actually have anywhere to put them, and it dawned on me that I could plant trees outside the vegetable garden, outside our yard... and that I could still enjoy them there.

Best of both worlds. The trees won't stop the sun on the vegie patch, only in the late afternoon. They'll give us a bit of a screen from the road and the house opposite us way down there. And once they're grown enough they'll also provide a bit of a wind break and give the horses a bit more shelter.

So today Matthew dug them up and planted them for the third time.

Third time lucky don't they say?

We put up another fake electric fence with lots of wire and stakes and even angled posts to keep it strong.

Fingers crossed this time.