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.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

thanks for your inspiration pinterest

When I was looking for inspiration for a Christmassy project for work, I naturally looked at Pinterest. I wanted something easy the ladies could make ... I knew I'd find plenty of ideas on Pinterest.

Too many ideas, in fact.

I narrowed it down to these cute little sock snowmen. For this week anyway.

I already had a few white socks at home which were either worn or had lost their sole mates, so I was part of the way there. I had to buy some pretty socks for the top/clothing layer so I got the cheapest ones I could find at Shiploads. And some rice to fill them. We already had tons bits for decoration: beads, bits of felt, buttons, yarn...

Here they are. So cute all lined up like that. Each lady picked socks and decorations, helped fill the socks with rice and dress the little guys.

Here are a couple of closeups:

Darn cute even if I do say so myself.

Now I want about 9 of them for my windowsill.

Hm. Maybe not a good idea. I think the dogs will want to play with them... rice everywhere... on second thoughts, I'll just admire these guys...


Friday, 14 November 2014

where have you been?

No, not you. Me. I'm guessing you've been there, waiting desperately for my next post and worrying that I've been abducted by aliens or swallowed by the mud in our back paddock.

Well, I'm here and I'm fine.

Which is more than can be said for poor Clarice. I had a friend over helping me with the embankment yesterday and he left the gate open and Clarice came into the houseyard.... a death sentence for any creature. I was in the grooming room and didn't see or hear a thing.

I was so sad. I held her a while and apologised to her, then buried her out the back.

The poor rooster is beside himself. He's never been alone. We're picking up some new girls for him tomorrow, but he was so close to Clarice.

Other than that...

My dogs will ignore ducks, geese, chooks, almost anything when they're out in their paddock, but the minute one of them step into the house yard they're history.

Sigh. Here are the culprits.

Montana and Romeo. At least Romeo. He was the one with blood on his mouth.

Barney is not the culprit. I'm pretty sure he was innocent in all this. But he'll support his buddy whenever he can.

When I'm not responsible for the death of creatures, I'm planning to get some good karma by doing wildlife rescue. I did the training on Sunday and am now on the list of volunteers who get texts when there's an animal needing help. Bonorong runs a volunteer rescue service and successfully get to about 90% of emergency calls. They do an amazing job. Now I'm one of them.

Of course, you can only do what you can do, when you can. So far all the notices that have gone out are about animals too far for me to be able to help, or I've been at work. But one day my new knowledge will help me do a better job with injured or sick wildlife than I've been able to do so far.

Here are a couple of cuties at the sanctuary on Sunday. Sugar gliders. Not much chance I'll be called to rescue any of these, but possums, wallabies, birds, bandicoots are possibilities...

NOT these:

No thanks!

In fact, I'm not looking forward to possums either though we were reassured that they're easier than wallabies.

I have my doubts. I've seen the claws on those guys!


Sunday, 2 November 2014

banana spring rolls


Disclaimer: this is not my photo. I found this while looking for recipes online. This is from Temptasian Restaurant in British Columbia,

However, this is what the banana spring roll I had in Victoria looked like.

I am in love. Its seriously good.

So, when I found spring roll pastry in our supermarket that was it. It was on the menu.

Now, I found lots of different recipes, not just with banana, any fruit will work looks like. I did mine simply. No brown sugar in with the banana, just banana in pastry. And it worked beautifully and tasted amazing.

All I did was peel two bananas, wrap them in the pastry with difficulty (their shape doesn't lend to wrapping) and then I tried to do as suggested and use a 'little water' to stick the pastry sheet closed.

Uhuh. Didn't work for me.

Still, I managed to wrap the bananas up somehow, something similar to Christmas presents wrapped by men.

One thing I'd never come across is how fast spring roll pastry cooks! Wow. I don't have a deep fryer so I put a generous amount of vegetable oil in a small frying pan, then put the wrapped bananas in.

Zap. They were done! One side. I had to turn them and basically remove them straight away.

Not sure if I'm going it right, but doesn't deep fryer oil have to be HOT so things cook fast? This sure did.

It was delicious anyway. Even if I didn't cook it right. The pastry is really thin and very crunchy. I served it with caramel dipping sauce from Woolworths and plain vanilla ice cream.

You should try it.

Of course the problem now is that there are still 18 sheets in the packet. And they don't come with plastic between the layers so you can't just remove and defrost the amount you need... I guess I better go make some more. Wouldn't want to waste the pastry now, would we?

Think I might try making smaller parcels this time, cut the bananas up and make the parcels look more like mini spring rolls.

I wonder if they taste ok eaten cold the next day? hm...