Monday, 12 December 2011

Some plans.

Well, still recovering from surgery and the weather yet again has been too lousy to really do much. So I shall show you the plans I have for the east side of the house.
The super cheap 2nd hand aluminum large sliding window will replace the old rotting and broken window which is my teen son's room. It will allow lots of light and more importantly, some decent cross ventilation in the warmer months.The sink, which is from the old caravan, will be used under the tap to wash hands, or soak pot plants or let a few stray birds take a bath.

Lots going on here! We will move the outdoor power point toward the front of the house, near my son's room. The old steel pool fencing is going to be my cat's fixed but temporary outdoor chill out room. You can see we have started the actual run from the deck. The paint at the moment is left over from my friend's house. I can't afford to clad the house yet so covering up that vile fibro is a great way to reuse the paint and protect the house from the weather. Wasn't sure I liked the War Ship Grey but it has grown on me and it changes colour from deep blue to light grey depending on the time of day.You can just make out the steel metal hangars for the deck on the far end. There will be a covered lockable area where the tractor is sitting, for storage of our machines, and then above that a deck/walkway. Right now there is no escape route out the back. I figure a deck would be a sensible thing to have and also utilises an otherwise dead space below. 
Misseewer Oscaaaaar!This darling chap is driving me nuts! He wants to go outside all the time but unfortunately he would put an Olympic high jumper to shame with his prowess at leaping. He leaps to kill birds and where I live there are many beautiful native parrots, and teeny tiny blue fairy wrens. I have designed a cat run for him, and as you can see we are making a start on it. He is not impressed at having to be on a lead when I take him outside for his daily nibble on the long grass. His look is typical Sylvester the cat's, "Sufferin' succotash, what's a cat to do? I know! I'll pee on her bed, THAT'LL learn her!" ....and so he does, if he hasn't been outside for a while. Hence forth the cat run shall be made! Ok, for now at least some place he can lick his bits in private.  
  Well, that's all for now! 
Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Missing in Action

Hello all!   
  Again I have been missing in action! This time due to some medical issues which have been going on for some time. I had surgery 3 days ago and feel crud. Had urgent ultrasounds and doctor appointments these past few weeks. There was a scare with Ovarian Cancer but so far so good. Had some bits taken out and soon I shall be rocking and rolling again!   Stick with me and I will be back real soon with more excitement on the home front. This time it will be Reno stuff not medical stuff. (I ought to start a blog about my health issues!)  

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Love and other bruises.

 Hi Happy Renovators!
I have not posted for a few weeks now. There is a good reason. I got injured and couldn't do much for a week or so. Then I got the great news that what I thought was a badly sprained wrist is actually Oesteoarthritis and severe Tendonitis. Great, just great! So a whole week of resting the hand and the bruised leg and no work made me cranky!
  Leg got bruised when I was helping David to carry up the driveway some 150mm 8 metre length storm water pipe to lay in the trench he has started. With all the heavy rains lately the drive is a mess. He, unfortunately, dropped his end causing it to bounce and jar my grip and hurt my sore wrist even more and all in the space of a nano-second my leg which was in mid back stride got dumped with a 40 kg weight with a sharp rounded edge. I said a few choice words and the pain was intense. I thought I had cut it open and dreaded to look to see if I had a flap of muscle and skin torn away. Luckily for me, it was a cool day, so I had worn thick socks and thick track suit pants. I think those saved me from further damage. 
 Pretty horrible, hey! At least nothing is broken.

Day 6 bruising.   
I also had some fun with my new wrist brace. I really find it difficult to wear and can barely do anything while I am wearing it. Has really slowed me down doing much.  I did however manage to assemble my new toy! The new wooden work bench. 

My newest fashion accessory.    
 I think the highlight of the past 2 weeks has been discovering all the old landfill used from the 1930's right through to the late 1970's. With all the rains the top soil has washed away exposing lots of broken crockery and bottles just waiting to slash a tyre up the driveway! Some interesting pieces in the booty I got the other day. Old Marmite milk-glass jar in the top left. This is from the 1930's Pity it wasn't intact, could have sold it for a fortune then got the damn driveway fixed! 

 Oh well, time to get back to work, sore wrist or not!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Trick or Treat!

Seems I can't miss a trick lately. Old Aussie saying. However, it is true. I am really very despondent today. Let me explain;
 My friend David, (who has been working in Adelaide, South Australia) flew back in the early hours of Saturday morning with the intent of fixing the driveway which was washed away a week ago from the heavy deluge of flooding rains. So much for that idea! Here is the cause of that not happening! 

 Yep a ruddy great tree on my neighbour's boundary decided to drop in to say, "Hello!"
  Whilst it may look easy peasy to get rid of, it is actually about 2 feet in width in the trunk. David got rid of the canopy and tossed it over the neighbour's property. (It is the law, you are allowed.) We had no working chainsaw so............

The SES (State Emergency Service) came to the rescue! It seems lots of trees are falling down and causing havoc due to the high winds and unseasonal rains. They have their work cut out for them! Ha ha!
 You can see me on my deck looking down at the activity.

 I hate Halloween, yet it seems we are having our own spooky adventures right now. I just want a treat! Nice spa, massage, glass of champagne.......aaaaaaaahhhhh.......

Monday, 24 October 2011


Well, golly me! Two days ago we had really lovely hot 32 celsius (near 80F) then around 6.30pm the thunder rolled in, then the lightning and then..BAM!!!! All hell broke loose with 35mm (1 and half inches) of rain in less than 14 minutes! I live on a very steep hill and the gravel brought down the pathway backed up, and created a levee, and then a diversion for the water to come to my front door! So, it was battle stations to hurriedly sweep and shovel away the water whilst dodging the lightning strikes.

 The next day we saw the damage. The poor old pathway now devoid of helpful gravel; Gone. The long driveway which we had just put two truck loads of gravel on last week; Gone. Gouged out creeks are now part of my landscape. Today the rains still continued albeit lightly, but the damaged sections are allowing the new channels of water run off to continue scouring the ground. This is not good. 

 Whilst I could look at it as being a terrible event and cry and carry on about the work now involved with redoing the path and drive, I can only marvel at how Mother Nature is intent on doing what she does best. As my 18 year old son said as we hoisted loads of gravel away in frenzied madness all the while getting drenched to the skin; "Wow, you can see how rivers get created!" Yes, indeed, Mother Nature doesn't care if we are in her way or not. That is why I respect her and love her dearly.
Cheerio for now whilst I dry off and pour a glass of wine. Tonight the heater is back on and coziness abounds!
Here are some photos of the damage.

There is a drain under those concrete blocks but it couldn't cope with the deluge coming from the top of the pathway. I am standing right near the front door. This is after we got rid of most of the gravel from the night before.

Side pathway with all the gravel from the top of the property. Things fell over or got washed down the hill. Sigh.......
The exposed 1950's fill on the driveway which had lots of broken glass and broken crockery in it. Lost all the topsoil and gravel.

My poor old dog Tess halfway down our driveway. Photo looking at the rear of the house. We started painting it in a nice blue grey. The house not the drive! LOL!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Finally coming together

   Last evening I felt very happy and content after a long hard days slog. I went out to sit on the deck with my magazine and glass of wine. I had forgotten we had changed the railing. The joy I felt at putting the items down safely was something akin to looking at your newborn baby. Such a simple thing for most, but for me I almost cried. I could not stop smiling at how wonderful it all seems to be coming together ; Finally!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A light bulb moment!

I often sit out on my deck with a glass of wine at the end of a hard days renovation/gardening. I have a little old chair I use as a table. It's a bit wonky but does the job. As I swing on the patio deck chair I love to look out at the sunset over the mountain and relax. Just one problem! The top rail of the deck surround is right at eye level. I've been wanting to change it for ages but was wracking my brain on how to make it without spending a fortune. I intend to put marine grade cable across there instead of the wooden rails, but wanted to put perhaps a tube of steel along the top as a safety rail. Well, to cut a long story short, I figured out if I just cut the top rail at the position of the poles, the middle pole is flat, just turn it and TA-DA! Instant safety rail, which is flat enough to allow a view AND will hold my glass of wine, plate of sandwiches or a cup of tea! The only cost has been 7 new brackets with scrolls on them. 2 on each end, one in the middle on the far side as the plank is wider than the pole and needs support on the overhang, and two in the middle to add extra strength. (Plus they look pretty) I intend to do the whole deck which is in effect, 3 sections. 21 brackets, and a new coat of paint.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

David my friend, attaching the brackets.
View toward the east side of the house. You can see Oscar's cat enclosure on my deck, which also doubles as the drying washing space.

  Here are some photos of some pretty flowers and my kitty kat, just because.

$3 roses! Supermarket end of week special. Isn't that orange just gorgeous! Reminds me of the sunset!

$2 lillies in the op shop vase I recently purchased.
Oscar the Siamese looking innocent. (Yeah, right!)
  Hope all in your life is going well!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sun's out, Smoke's in

Today is a nice sunny day, (sort of) Friend helping to lay the 2 tonnes of crushed rock for our long driveway. Me digging out agapanthus and replacing with azaleas. Neighbour starting burn off....Uh oh! 
 Why, oh why, do people still need to burn off in this day and age of composting and council green waste pick up? I have severe asthma, these neighbours NEVER let me know they are about to burn off, ( I have asked nicely and given them my phone number in case they are too lazy to walk to the house) and besides, who likes their house, clothes and furniture stinking of wet grass smoke? 
 So no more work today outdoors! Mutter, mutter, mutter.........
The smoke coming up the hill into my house. Taken on the back deck of my place. Below neighbour's property starts just behind the caravan. Cough cough splutter choke.....

Below neighbour burning off. Taken through my cat's enclosure on my back deck.
 Off now to get away from the smoke to go bargain shopping for some bits I can do up and sell! Woohoo!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Raining again! Gah!

Hey! What gives with this crazy Aussie weather? I mean, come ON already! Yesterday I was pottering around and trying to get the garden ready for Phase 2,978 of the plan, thinking, 'Oooooh, I CAN have my gorgeous roses and fruit trees, too!' and daydreamed of sitting under an apricot tree with the scent of roses wafting past my nostrils:.....Aaaaaaaaah. Heaven! Then today, TODAY! The thunder boomed loudly, the dog scurried under my desk, the rain started like as if we had moved to the Tropics. I then put back my gardening gloves and hat, sat down and thought, "Well, I DO live in Melbourne; the city of 4 seasons in one day....but this is ridiculous!" Record rainfall and it had to be the year I feel able to do all these renovations in one hit! Oh well...........

  So instead of getting much done outdoors in preparation of the hot summer we are due to have, I decided to fiddle with the banner on my blog. I reckon it looks ok, but I am only learning, so give me a kind-hearted break. 
 Then after having a nice hot cup of tea and thinking of what else I can do that doesn't involve me getting drenched, I got to thinking of all the gorgeous sunsets we get here in Healesville. I am of the mind set that I will never miss a sunset! No matter what is going on, I will stop and watch and admire nature's farewell of the day. I'd like to share some of my photos I have taken over the years of some gorgeous sunsets with you.  I hope you like them!

  Cheerio for now!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Time to show you my 'projects'

Ok the moment you have all been waiting for! Ok, maybe not. It's just that it's been cold, miserable, raining, thunder, lightning, very very frightening all week. Supposed to be Spring! So I haven't been very enthused about laying the vinyl tiles in the bathroom. With little light in there and so cold, I just couldn't be bothered. So now I shall bore you or excite you with some items I am doing up. Some will be for sale and some to stay in the hovel, I mean, home. Tee hee hee.
 Some before and after shots of my handiwork!
The 'op shop' special. There are two identical.  

In her new 'outfit'!The pics really don't do the piece justice. I wish I had somewhere nice where I could show these off to take photos.   
I even added some 'dings' to where it would be likely someone used their thumb to open the drawer.
Please ignore the mess! The old Wertheim sewing table I bought on ebay. The dog was not part of the purchase! Had her for nearly 7 years and she follows me everywhere!

Looking much prettier with a fresh coat of paint and black wax. The base is a dark green but will be sprayed black once the weather is nice again.
Detail of the top. Lovely aged look. It already had some great wear on such a new pine top. The black wax brings it out beautifully I think!
  I do have some more projects I am doing and will endeavour to show you soon. The light is really poor this week to show them off nicely. Plus, I am still getting used to my new camera, too!
Someone gave me a huge bag of red chillies and I am making Sweet Chilli Sauce, so I'd best get it off the boil before it turns into sweet sticky stove top! 

Till next time!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Oh my aching bones!

Well, today was a glorious sunny day here in Healesville. 20c feels like summer is on its way! Having said that, I had to do some maintainence work in the garden to get my summer crops in and make sure the Aussie garden I am creating will cope with the heat we will no doubt get. Already this week after heavy rains, in only a few days the garden is dry. Water restrictions have been down graded from Stage 3 to Stage 2. This is due to the drought of 18 years finally breaking and filling up most of the cities dams to near capacity or in the case of our local reservoir, overflowing for 12 months. The rains we had this year were incredible!        
Maroondah Dam June 2008 This was winter!

Maroondah Dam February 2011 This is our summer. Big difference!

This means we can now hand water with a trigger nozzle at any time. This is great, but I still use the old fashioned bucket of rain water and an old tin cup to water in my seedlings till they have established. I have a drip system running through the main vegie patch and hope to connect that up to the rain water tank we have up the hill to gravity feed the drip system. I HATE using tap water for a couple of reasons. One; why should I have to pay for something that falls out of the sky, and two; most tap water has chemicals in it which only make the plants not thrive very well.

 I ripped out a lomandra longifolia today and potted up the individual corms. They had nice long strappy leaves. Whilst it is a lovely drought tolerant plant and the birds love to hide in it, it was blocking the new blueberry bush I planted. I will sell on the pots for $2 each. The soil came from the dig out we did a year ago from an old embankment. The worms have been doing a great job and now the soil is excellent! The pots I already had. So this is a good way to help reimburse some costs to get on with the jobs!

  So I hauled the soil back into the retaining wall and planted another blueberry plant (Sunshine Blue) I did a ton of that yesterday as well. Talk about a great abdominal workout! So nice to be able to reuse the same soil which now is a gorgeous pile of loamy soil instead of the heavy clay it was a year ago. Lots of rotting vegetation in it and the worms have created a masterpiece! I should be stuffing my face with a ton of blueberries next season!

  Tomorrow I hope to put in the other section of the drip system, continue putting dirt into the new vegie patch and plant out some tomatoes. That's after all the other work I have to do!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Bedroom door saga

I decided some time ago to replace the boring old plain core door to my bedroom and install something with a bit of character. I searched high and low for a door to fit. 75.5 cms wide x 2010 cms tall x 30cms deep . Easy you would think? NO! The standard Aussie door can be between 82 to 87 cms wide. Height is usually 2040cms. I went on a treasure hunt, scouring old 2nd hand dealers stores, searching demolition sites, checking on ebay regularly, but to no avail. Gah! Obviously who ever had done the renovation before me had a lot to answer for! 
  Many older houses had odd sized doors. That was perfectly ok with me. Having spent fruitless hours searching though, I came to the conclusion that either the door space needed to be widened and given some extra height or I would simply undress in the evenings for all and sundry to admire. After giving this some more thought, I do believe my polar bear suntan would be too much for poor innocent eyes, so the widening and heightening began!
  Alas! Yet again, more problems. The door jamb was made with left over odd bits of skirting board and hard against my teen son's bedroom. The fact there is barely any support in the wall above my door space made it impossible to open this up for a newer door. It was also discovered that the whole door jamb is out by 8mms! (almost an inch) It appears that the previous renovator was either drunk or had astigmatism. How the hell could it be so glaringly out? It was time for ME to get drunk!
  Eventually I bit the bullet and bought an older Californian Bungalow style door. I would prefer something a bit more individual but this will do for now. Amazingly enough it was cheaper than I expected to pay. Only $50. (Believe me in Melbourne, Australia this is cheap!) It was painted a dark almost black that is taking me forever to paint strip. It has many bumps and scrapes but it has character. Poor old thing needs a reason for living and my home is it. I will probably keep the side into my bedroom in the original wood and just clear coat it. The outer side I am umming and ahhing to paint in white. 
 We can't change immediately the original door frame and to do so would only invite disaster of the shrieking of this redhead kind. So for now, the new/old door is shaved and primped to fit. No lock or handle was supplied, so temporarily it will just have to suffice with a newer handle I bought a long time ago. 
Poor old girl needing a new outfit.

Monday, 15 August 2011

'What's my scene'...sung to the Hooroo Guru's song, of course!

'...and another thing I have been wondering I crazy to believe in ideals?' 
Yah, well, that's how it feels for me at the moment. I came here years ago from a great brick veneer house, all decorated in my style and also the era (late 80's early 90's.....gak... I shudder now!) and I was happy with that. This place; Fibro cement late 1950's cottage. I had ideas to make it a kind of a get-away cottage style. Make you feel like you had left the hardships of life and run away to a little almost English style cottage. Then came the illness, and the drought. Pffft! My enthusiasm waned. The garden, lovingly planted out by the original owner all roses and geraniums and herbs, all died in our longest drought on record. Time for a rethink. 
  I found that my soul craved being close to nature. I always hated paying big money for fresh vegetables. I figured this garden could cope, being on a hill and quite large (15 metres wide by 50 metres approximately, and that's just the front yard!) I decided to rip out the front garden which was basically heavy clay and no drainage, and put large retaining walls in. Then all back filled with agricultural piping, layered with large scoria and covered in geotex. Then the walls were stapled with black plastic to avoid any possible contaminent from the treated pine sleepers. We have been told by the CSIRO that there is little risk, but I am a perfectionist and don't need the extra stress of a 'maybe'! Then we filled the lot with 'Drought Master' soil. A mix of composted material with organic matter and soil wetter. Excellent stuff!
 Ok so that is all good. But my main thing is; Now what is my scene? My style inside the house? I am finding too many ideas are going round in my head and looking on the internet and through magazines is making my brain turn into slush! I love Art Deco, but this house is 1950's. I love French provincial but that style is abit pretentious for what this cottage is. I really want a Modern Country style but where to begin without looking too plastic yet too rustic? The lack of room and the stupid layouts of the rooms doesn't help with a good solid design. Maybe I should just move elsewhere...... sigh..........
Ok a few photos of the front garden for you to view!
 This is the front garden when I got here in 2004. Nice,the clay was causing issues and the rain would just fill the front grassed area like a bog.

 This is the garden redone. Long way to go till finished. This area  will have large pavers leading to a brick paved courtyard with a water feature.
 Fruits of my labours. This harvested over 80kgs of different varieties of tomatoes. I had Butternut pumpkins, basil, and spaghetti squash. Early 2011.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Some pics of the challenge.

Here are some interesting photos of the place when we first got it back in early 2004. I hope in time the gaudy holiday house back in the '60's look will be replaced with a modern country style. Hasn't been an easy journey so far, but we seem to have broken the back of the main disasters and look forward to seeing this old girl turn into a blushing bride real soon!