Tuesday, 30 September 2014

new office blind, the cheap way

One project finished.

And what an adventure it was!

You already saw a preview yesterday...

This is what the blind in the office looked like before.


Like everything else in this house when we bought it.


I wanted a new blind. I've been wanting a new blind forever, but since I made over the office its been a lot higher on my list of 'wants'. But I didn't want to spend a ton, or even a little...

Enter the painting the blind idea.

First I planned to paint stripes; paint the blind white, then paint stripes in pale grey with a distressed look... to kind of match the kitchen blind but to not be identical.

But I didn't have any light grey paint. I did have aqua, so I mixed up a batch of light aqua and got ready to paint stripes.

Have I ever mentioned my bad relationship with numbers?

I hate measuring things... hence my slapdash creative methods.

Well, suffice it to say I stuffed up the stripes.

So, I did what any self respecting DIY-stuffer-upper would do... I painted the whole blind aqua.

Then I decided to try chevron ... cause its so much LESS numerically demanding!

I have no idea what I was thinking. I was in the zone.

I looked up 'how to DIY chevron easily' on Pinterest and found a suggestion that I grid up first. I used a book as my 'slightly off-square' shape and pencilled in a grid.

I then used an off-cut of timber to achieve the width of my stripes... and very soon ended up totally off my grid.

Eh. No one's perfect.

I masked off my stripes and used a mini roller to paint in the stripes. I only gave them one coat using the chalk paint mix I was using on the chests of drawers and wardrobe* so that the effect is a bit uneven and 'washed out' in spots. The old look I was after.

The masking tape lifted up a few small spots of aqua as well, thus giving it an even older, more distressed look...

Oh well, it may not be perfect, but it looks ok... As my mother likes to say "many will see it, few will notice".

This morning I erased all the darn pencil lines and painted the back all white. One happy accident was the difference in the aqua vs white. The aqua is semi gloss and the chalk paint is matt so the blind now has both colour and texture.

However, this is one adventure I'm not likely to repeat soon. If ever.

I do enjoy painting, measuring not so much. And painting on the floor I can live without.

The difference in the office is amazing.

Take another look at how it was before:

And now:

Much better!

Today I also went a little crazy and added pom poms to half the window.


Cause I could.

Cause I had the pom poms and didn't know what to do with them.

The photo sucks, but the pom poms are kinda pretty. As long as you ignore all the bird poop on the window and the view of the garage.

All in all, its been nice to finish something, even though it wasn't really on the To Do list for this week.


* My DIY approach is simple: once you get a paint out and start painting, paint anything and everything you can in that colour while the brush is wet.

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Monday, 29 September 2014

lazy no more

Well, the wierd lazy thing I had going on at the beginning of the weekend is over.

Since my post complaining about my lack of energy or desire to DO anything, I got this urge to start something...

First I decided I'd vacuum the bedroom. Which lead to moving furniture. Which led to deciding, well... since I've emptied the furniture to move it, why not paint it? I've always meant to after all..

Then, since I had the paint out, I decided I could paint something else...

It just escalated from there. I didn't go to bed till 3am last night (morning?) and I woke up at 6.30am cause I was eager to keep working.

I've been working on my projects all day again today and I'm exhausted and just want to go to bed...

But right now this is what the bedroom looks like:

I'll have to move all that stuff and un-bury the bed before I can go to sleep.

Here are a few glimpses of what I've been working on... first my first (and absolutely last) attempt at a chevron pattern:

My chests of drawers:

And my boring pine wardrobe:

Still a way to go.

I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

farm fresh

This is a little project I did a couple of weeks ago in another burst of inspiration I didn't ignore. I mean, if you just sit down and wait, it passes and you can continue to just be lazy.

But while organising the pantry, I decided it was high time I put the baskets I bought off ebay to use. See, I bought these little beauties cheap on ebay (and paid way too much for postage) so I could keep onions and potatos in style.

Problem is, I had nowhere to put them!

You'd think the perfect spot would be in the dark and gloomy entry, near the pantry. But there's absolutely nowhere to put them in there. Not enough room on the wall near the door, behind the door won't work, alongside the wall where the fridge is just interferes with the door opening... Its already so squishy in there you can't have one person at the fridge while another is trying to get in or out of the house.

So what do do?

Well, I decided that the only spot I could conceivably put them as on the side of the kitchen cupboard. But no way was I going to put hooks onto that!

I measured the side of the cupboard and went out to the casita for a scrounge. Sure enough, I had the perfect thing. This was a narrow door off something I picked up from somewhere sometime long ago.

I put one of those galvanised shed hooks (for brooms and gardening tools) on the back and just hooked it over the side of the cupboard. Perfect.

Excuse my blurry photos. Taking photos inside is always dodgey without proper lighting. I have proper lighting... I'm just too lazy to get it!

I did have to do some cleaning, some sanding, remove the rotted support slats on the back and replace them with new ones... and paint a sign.

It might have been easier to just make the thing from scratch with pallet wood... but it wouldn't have that "I just got saved from the rubbish pile" look to it.

Its kinda funny too, cause today I saw this project by Denise On A Whim... we seem to have had similar inspiration on our signs. Of course her writing is much neater than mine.

Unfortunately I couldn't leave the baskets 'au naturel' because the bird wire has spikey rough edges. I can just see reaching in for an onion (smaller, top basket) or potato (bigger, lower basket) and ripping your hand to shreds.

Or more like Wayne reaching in and ripping his hand to shreds.

So I lined the baskets with a table napkin (top) and a flour sack (bottom). I guess that's better anyway cause it keeps the contents in the dark. Dark is good for potatos and onions...


sag drag and fall

(as opposed to flip flop and fly)

I have no idea what's wrong with me.

I can't seem to find the energy to do anything. Or the desire to try to find the energy.

Yesterday I did get one paint of topcoat on the woodwork in the tiny hallway (4 door frames) and the window in the bathroom. But I was seriously dragging my feet as I did it and then I forgot to wash the brushes cause I got sidetracked feeding dogs and feeding and rugging horses...

I did 4 loads of washing, groomed two dogs, cleaning the living room and tried an alternate furniture arrangement (it sucked) and sprayed all the weeds I could using one full load of the backpack sprayer. Then it rained and all my good work went down the drain.

I didn't even bother trying to get the clothes in off the line.

Ok, when I list the things I did yesterday it doesn't sound like I was lazy, but trust me... I was. This is not normal behaviour for me. I get up in the morning and I start doing stuff, starting with feeding animals, then moving on to whatever I have in my mind for the day... usually changing them as I go cause I get distracted and sidelined. Like weeding. I see a huge weed and grab the weeder, then, before I know it, half an hour has gone by.

Normally, I'd be painting in the hallway, cleaning or organising things in the house, then I'd find a project I want to do and get onto that. Somewhere along the line I still manage to finish the cleaning and organising jobs I start and do a second coat of paint.

Right now I'm finding I really have to push myself to get off my butt.

Then, instead of getting online and posting on the blog or catching up with all the emails in my inbox, I watch tv like a couch potato.

Wayne says its cause I need to rest.

I say its cause I'm feeling a bit down when things don't work out. Like the living room re-arrangement. Or the waste of weed spraying.

This morning I gave myself permission to be lazy. I got up, fed animals, pooperscooped the yard, did some weeding (see? all it takes is a walk across what passes as a lawn and I can't help myself), put up some wire trellis for the sweet peas which didn't hear that they were supposed to die in winter and are trying to crawl up the porch rails. I also put a trellis up for the jasmine which I want to encourage to grow up the side of the casita.

Its blowing a gale out there and I am trying to convince myself to do another coat on the woodwork (do I really need to? Its just a tiny hallway. Will anyone notice?) or something else productive. Like sew a liner into the large laundry basket I got. Or clean up the wire shelf thingy I got for the office. Oh and tidy the office. Again. And clean the kitchen. And bathroom. And bedroom.

Or maybe just pick one of those and do that.

Right now I just don't really care to do anything.

However, just so this isn't an entirely boring whining post, here's a little something I did to the kitchen wall last week during one of those short bursts of inspiration and energy. I put my two antique food covers and a grain sieve I bought in Greece (you'll recognise this one Zef) on the wall above the cupboard in the kitchen.

I've had these for a few years now but never had anywhere to put them. Now they have a spot and when I need them I can just use the new stepladder to get them down.

Yes, a new stepladder. I realised that the 60s stool/stepladder I have is probably not as strong as it should be for me to climb up to reach high places... I bought a folding stepladder which is slim enough to fit in the gap between the pantry and the wall in our tiny entry way. Its already come in really handy. I've used it to organise the pantry last weekend and while painting in the hallway.

Here are some photos of the hallway with the newly painted walls (which should really have had a third coat but I ran out of paint and its only a tiny hallway anyway, who will notice?

I decided to hang some of my fruit labels above the doorways to cheer the place up a bit. This is above the office door.

Above the bathroom and kitchen doors where I need to put a nice light fitting. Love my Tasmanian fruit label with a poodle on it! Ironically I bought it on ebay from the USA many years ago.

Last, the living room door and the spare room door (on the right).

I know have a blank wall on the left where I'm considering putting some hooks for our bags so they don't sit on the floor or any available surface in the kitchen.

Here's a look at the ugly, but now organised, pantry in our squishy entry.

When I was doing this last week I made a small shelf out of some leftover bamboo flooring to double the space for the small containers.

I think I know what my problem is... power tool withdrawal. I need to make something. I felt energised when I made the stupid little shelf last week. But I can't make anything till I clean out the casita so I can actually get to the power tools. And find anything else I need.

Maybe I'll have more energy tomorrow.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

spring is in the air

This time of year I get a bug... the gardening bug. I just can't help myself. Soon as the weather starts to turn nice I start buying plants. Or growing seeds. Or taking cuttings. 

Things I probably should have done earlier in the year...

For the last month or so I've had a friend helping me to sort out the garden and even the driveway. I've been putting succulents in every kind of container I can find, like these old sieves, and a small watering can. They'll look spectacular when they grow and fill out.

And how about these caddies I made out of old baking tins and stuff? I took them to a market, they didn't sell, so I thought hey, why not use them as planters? They look much better now!

And of course there's the collection on our front step. I got the old rooster cheap cause he was chipped, I put tiny succulents in tin cans, a Twinings tin, some bonsai pots, a coffee pot and of course, the wonderful ammo box.

I just love succulents. I tossed these little guys in a horrible, dry, rocky spot beside the garage where even weeds hestitated to grow. They're looking wonderful with a few rusty bits around them.

I sure love my galvanised buckets.

The vegetable garden is starting to take shape. We now have one full bed of strawberries and one and a half of raspberries. The plan is to have 2 full beds of raspberries.

Other plants are taking off and flowering. I love my hardenbergia. Its going to make that little corner between two sheds look pretty and not neglected. I got a new azalea as well... hope that likes it there and I don't just kill it like I do so many things...

If you're wondering why the pots... well that area gets really wet in winter, so by cutting the bottom off the pot and putting the plant in above the ground I'm working on the theory that the plants won't drown.

I got a valencia orange tree for my birthday. I've put it in a cheap pot for now and have planted a ton of pansies around it and another pot for some pretty colour.

And my gorgeous ornamental current is bushing up and smelling divine.

With M's help I've put in some new cottage garden plants like foxgloves, my lupins are coming back and the columbines are close to blooming. We pulled out some plants which I didn't like or didn't like where I'd put them and relocated them. Most of them seem to be coping with the change.

We dug up some daffodils and snow drops from the bottom paddock and relocated them to the driveway. Yeah, wrong time of year for that, but the idea is to eventually have them blooming all along the driveway, not just in the bottom paddock.

I bought some gazanias and we went and dug up more from the road side where they grow wild. I figure anything that can grow wild should manage fine in my driveway.

We also got tons of african daisies to put along the embankment in the yard. That area needs some work before we can plant anything there, but that's fine. One day I want an embankment full of pink and white daisies.

Life is looking good in the garden right now.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

polished concrete

Have you noticed how suddenly its all about polished concrete? Like its the big new thing, better than sliced bread, bigger than Ben-Hur, the new in thing, the must have...

I'm confused.

I grew up in Greece (well from aged 10-24 anyway) and to us there polished concrete - with exposed aggregate - was everywhere.

It wasn't trendy.

It was boring, old fashioned and we couldn't wait to get rid of it. When Dad built our new house in the seventies, he went for carpet and tiles. All new homes in Greece that I know have floorboards, tiles or carpet.

Yet here in Australia, everyone seems to be going bezerk over polished concrete.

I'm confused.

Mind you, I get the polished concrete where the aggregate isn't exposed. Its just shiny grey and somehow more interesting to me... cause to me, the exposed aggregate type of polished concrete is not special.

Its the floor in my aunt's kitchen. Its the floor in our first house till we put carpet over it. Its the floor outside the monastery on Paros, and in the church, and just about every single old floor I ever stepped on.

How did it become the new up market thing?

Someone better tell all those greeks they're on the cutting edge of interior design!


we have goslings!

For the last few weeks Anabelle (our goose) has been sitting on a nest. We had no idea how many eggs she had as she wouldn't let us near her. And the boys, Hank and Jethro, were really protective of her.

Yesterday Wayne came back from feeding the ducks and told me we had goslings!

This morning I went out myself, to see them. There are three little guys. There are three eggs as well.

The boys and Anabelle circled the little guys and tried to hide them from me. I hope they do as good a job with the crows and hawks. At least the goslings are bigger than the baby ducks are when they first hatch.

Hank and Anabelle told me in no uncertain terms that the babies were theirs and I had to keep my distance.

A very muddy Chipmunk kept an eye on me in case I dropped some grain that he could scoff up.

Isn't the little brat a disgrace? He hates being brushed. I think I'll corner him and brush him anyway... and look at that tummy!


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

sam and the fly

I've had the pleasure lately to be working with a really talented young man called Sam. I work with Sam as an art tutor and we do wire work together. He lives in supported accommodation and my Junkyard Dog sculptures inspired his house manager to contact me in the hopes that Sam would like to try something new.

I love working with Sam. He has a great work ethic and gets so intense when he concentrates.

This is the first project we worked on together. I've named it Louie the Fly after the famous Mortein commercial.

Sam had never worked with wire before, so this is a little wonky in some ways, but beautiful in the randomness of the wire work.

Louie has been filled with broken and discarded items, mostly plastic - junk really... kind of perfect for a fly.

Basically I showed Sam how to work with the wire, we made the body of the fly first. At that stage it was just a roundish shape made of wire. I looked at it, thought about what it could be and formed the frame for the head. From there I did the structural/shape and Sam did the fine wire weaving work.

The current project is looking amazing.

Sometimes I love my job!


PS. Do you have any idea how hard it is to take photos of wire sculptures?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

an outdoor firebox

This last weekend I did a little work in the garden.

Actually, I've been doing a little work in the garden for a couple of weeks now. The emphasis is on little... I've had a friend helping me and he's been doing the heavy lifting. I've had him help me move some plants, put in new plants and prepare the vegetable patch for planting.

We have a cement slab in our yard which used to hold a water tank many years before we bought the place. Its just a useless concrete slab in between the house and the Hill Hoist (Australian icon, aka clothes line) which tends to collect 'stuff'. You know the stuff I mean, the kind of stuff you think "I can't be bothered taking that back to the right shed now, I'll just leave it here..."

When we first moved here I asked Wayne to build a trellis there to block the view of the clothes line and water tanks. I had visions that the clematis and banksia roses I planted in front of it covering the trellis and providing a gorgeous screen.

Here are a couple of photos of the trellis from two years ago. First a view of from the clothes line towards the house.

Looking towards the corner of the casita - you can see the clothes line and one of the water tanks.

And looking back towards the house from the other side. The plants are more than double in size since then, but still nowhere near the gorgeous screen I envisaged.

Here are some pics taken on the weekend of the same area. In this one you can see the clothesline behind the trellis. You'll also see the copper artwork I distressed to get the green patina. Its now garden art.

This spot is great for sitting and relaxing in the afternoons, once the sun heads down behind the trellis. You look over the middle paddock towards the hill, the dam and stable, back up the valley behind the house, and all the front yard. So, when Wayne decided to get rid of the big wood stove he had in the garage and asked if I wanted it as a garden ornament, I jumped at it.  Its perfect for my little outdoor relaxing area.

What would an outdoor post from me be without horses and a gratuitous poodle in the shot?

The wood stove is heavy and very rusty. Just gorgeous. Wayne removed the door and side panels so you can see the rusty metal sides in all their glory. I put some potting mix in the box itself and put in some succulents. They'll get full morning sun there but shade in the afternoon. I added some of my favourite pots: a once red bucket, a once red biscuit tin and an old jam pan. They're filled with succulents as well. Only succulents will survive that position in pots in summer as it gets full sun almost all day long.

While I was at potting up succulents, I did a few more. Here's another favourite of mine. The old mop bucket!

Oh boy, I used to hate those things when I was growing up.

I love spring. I love looking at the garden and seeing the flowers bloom and what new flowers pop up that I don't remember putting in.


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