Friday, November 23, 2012

Floors!

Hip hip hooray, we have floor coverings!  And mighty fine they are too.  Please allow me to assail you with many photos of our lovely floors....
 
Our living area floors are timber-look vinyl, we went for a good quality one from here.  As much as we love the feel of carpet underfoot, judging by the amount of dirt and dust we accumulate on ourselves from working outdoors, we decided it was foolhardy to carpet throughout, so we have only carpeted the bedrooms.

The floor colour is lighter than it is showing in the photos, but such a variety of grain, knotholes and saw marks on these amazing vinyl planks, it is really beautiful.  And the thing I love the most is the sound when you walk on it - pad pad pad, not clonk clonk clonk like on a real timber floor.  And it is waterproof so no warping if we have an unfortunate water leak in the house. We have invested some money into an Enjo floor dust/mop thingy, seems a good idea to keep the planks looking lovely.  For those that are interested, did you know you can now buy Enjo products online?
I especially love the colour scheme in the kitchen, the floor fits in really well with the cupboards.
 
Now that we have floors down, we have started bringing carloads of bits and pieces from the storage unit where our stuff has patiently sat since January.  Don't the stools look nice at the breakfast bar.
 
This is the carpet for our bedroom - hard to photograph carpet to make it look interesting, but believe me, it is wonderful to sink one's toes into it when for months the only floor surface has been concrete!
 
We are madly madly madly painting as much as we can so we can try to move in to the house some time next week.  We had thoughts of not moving in until all the painting is finished but we can't wait any longer!!  We wont be able to move our big furniture in for a few weeks as we need the outside concrete done first (try lugging heavy stuff on a trolley through a quagmire of soft sand!), but we can shift enough stuff from the shed into the house to be able to settle in in a spartan way.  It will give me a chance to learn how to use the oven before Christmas!

Whilst all this painting stuff is going on, our poor vegie garden has been somewhat neglected.  We had a day of harvesting the broad beans however, there were so many!  These are most of the pods.
And after shelling, 3 1/2 kilos of beans!  We blanched and froze most of them, but I used some to make a nice dip using broad beans, feta cheese, garlic and mint.  Yum!
Steve was dying to pull up one of his garlic, he has the most enormous looking globes of garlic growing, which are getting close to harvest time.  When I said I needed garlic for the dip, he trotted off to the vegie patch and pulled one up, along with some mint for the dip and some carrots for dipping into the dip.

 
 Fresh, new garlic, what a wonderful sight!
 
Our friends Anne and Ian popped in for a visit so they were dragged around the house whilst we excitedly showed them everything that has been going on.  Lovely to see you both!
Our house now has a sparkly new TV antenna.  A man came to install it, on a nice tall pole, with a booster so we get a good signal from Mount Barker.  We went to the storage unit and fossicked around until we found our big tv, which we brought back to the house so we could check the stations.  One autoscan later and we now have all the digital channels hooray!  As of next week we will be able to choose from the crap on 20 odd channels instead of the two occasional and then snowy channels we have had with our one bunny ear hanging off the water tank.  Bliss!
On a final note, we get all sorts of bugs in and around our shed, I have learned to tolerate them.  Including the most enormous beetles, which I don't mind except when they fly at me and scare the hell out of me.  Steve saw a huge beetle in the middle of the floor and picked it up to put it outside.  On closer inspection he was thrilled to discover it was a Rhinoceros Beetle.  Steve was an avid insect collector when he was a lad, and the one bug that had eluded him was a Rhinoceros Beetle.  Here it is posing for a photo before we let it go, kind of cute in a creepy sort of way.  I knew you would be thrilled to see this...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Show Time

Last weekend was the Albany Show and we trotted along like excited children!  We gave up going to Royal Show in Perth years ago cos it got so big and expensive, but the thought of visiting a country show was very appealing.
There was a young people's Scottish Pipe Band, they were really good!
There was home-made wine and it was fascinating to see some of the varieties.  Parsley, rhubarb and parsnip to name but a few!
There was needlecraft.  Quite a few of the ladies in my embroidery group won prizes which was lovely to see.
There was a display of ancient machinery, loads of old engines chugging away which enthralled Steve.  He reckoned one of them was the same as one he used to have to crank up when he was an apprentice.  So.... how OLD does that make him then,  ha ha ha.
There were brightly coloured rides to churn people's inside all ways and around.  We observed only.
There was the champion fleece.
There were alpacas, lots of alpacas.  Don't you just love their dorky facial expressions.  I soooooo want an alpaca!  One day....
 There were chickens, I never realised how many different shapes and sizes of chickens there are.  Look at the beautiful feathers on this one.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I think this variety is called an Orpington.
 And there were floofy chickens, called Silkys.  Aren't they cool, like little rock stars with their fluffy feet and fluffy hairdos.  I think I want Silkys.  And Bantams.  And Orpingtons.  And lots more.  I love buk buks!
 
There were lots of moo cows.  I think the Murray Greys were my favourite, a gorgeous dappled warm grey colour.  Although the Black Angus are very handsome too.  And all the others....
 And sheep, loads of different breeds of sheep.  I never realised how big some sheep are, particularly the Dorpers.... the ones that shed their fleece.  Guess what, I want a sheep too!
This made me laugh, I walked along all the pens, each holding one sheep, when I came across this pen, holding this cute, fluffy little dog, who posed prettily then looked at me as if to say "aren't I a pretty sheep".  Imposter! :-).
 
 House news.  We have had handover and we have the keys!  Yahoo!  The building supervisor just has to pop back a right a couple of minor wrongs and then he will be finished.  We hope to move in in a couple of weeks.
 So we are currently, yes, I sound like a broken record, PAINTING!  We have just started the inside in full force, trying to get as much done before the floor coverings go in.  I know this looks like the most boring photo in the world, but it is evidence of hard work, of the first coat, which is sticky undercoat stuff called UltraPrep.  This will apparently make the paint stick nicely to the gyprock. We've almost done the whole house with a coat of UltraPrep so are feeling pleased with ourselves.  Two coats of paint to follow....
We are quite a good painting team, Steve likes to do the big areas and use a roller, whereas I like to do the fiddly stuff with a brush, so between us it is coming along well.  Steve did the huge ceiling in the main living area today, and I tackled the walk-in pantry, which had its awkward moments and needed some grovelling on the floor to complete. 
 We were very excited when our wood fire was installed the other day.  Isn't it beautiful.  We paid extra and got the decorative mesh that sits over the flue.  Not only does it look nice, but it is also only warm to touch, so no burnies of the fingers from the flue.  Here is Steve looking as pleased a punch as he is about to put a match to the very first fire.  It was agony actually, the first two fires had to be tiny ones, just kindling, to cure the paint.  We patiently sat through the two, small, 15 minute fires to cure the paint, then let it cool down.
THEN, we were allowed to have a big fire, yay!  It was awesome.  :-)
 
 Now you may just have to trust me on this, but here is a photo of the very first puff of smoke coming out of our brand new chimney.  :-)
 On the garden front, this was a pleasing sight.  We haven't planted our orchard yet, as we had to wait until only recently to know where all the earthworks were going to be.... we didn't want to plant fruit trees then have to shift them all, so we postponed it.  But we do have one small apple tree in a pot.  Steve bought it as a minute stick via mail order from Diggers Club.  We've had it for about 18 months and it has suddenly had a growth spurt.  It's an old English variety cooking apple called a Bramley.  It has suddenly burst into blossom and if you look carefully at the bottom of the photo, yes, there are two tiny apples there!!  Maybe more to come, but as it's such a tiny tree we'll have to pull off any more than about four or five we think.  I never knew apple blossom had a scent, these flowers smell just lovely.
 Update regarding the lacewing larva that I released about 10 days ago.  Well, I haven't seen one since!  This is not necessarily a bad thing as apparently they are hard to spot, they camouflage themselves well, but I am a bit concerned as we had torrential rain the day after I released them all, so perhaps they are no more.  I'll know in a few weeks when, if they have survived and pupated, the adults should start emerging.  I reckon they would be easier to see.  I'll report again later.  Even if this lot come to nothing, I will definitely buy more.

We had a visit from Steve's cousin Terry and his partner Heather the other day.  It was lovely to see them, we haven't seen Terry for quite a few years.  I had to laugh at this photo, quite by chance the boys are in exactly the same position!  Except for the fact that ONE of them needs a shave!  :-)

On a final note, this is what I am currently working on in my embroidery group.  I decided to do some blackwork, and instead of just stitching a sampler of lines or squares of the different fill patterns, I drew up some funky flowers and am using a different fill pattern in each petal.  I edged each petal in stem stitch using coton a broder thread, and am using a single strand of DMC cotton for the fill.  I'm really enjoying doing it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Release The Hounds

As I mentioned in the last post, I ordered 500 predatory insect eggs, specifically those of the green lacewing, as an organic method of helping to control insect pests.  The delivery was duly received and I watched with my magnifying glass inside the little plastic tub of chaff until I could see little critters crawling around.  Yesterday I released them into the two areas we are growing vegies where I am hoping they will feast upon moth eggs, aphids and whitefly.  I nicked a couple of photos off the Net in case you are curious as to what they look like. 

This is an adult green lacewing, pretty isn't it.  If any of the 500 eggs matures, then I'm hoping to see some of these in a few weeks time.  The adults feed on nectar and pollen.
 
And this is a lacewing larvae, which is what I released yesterday.  They were very tiny, maybe 2 mm long, but they will grow to about 8 mm before pupating.  These are the ferocious predators that I'm hoping will help keeps bad bugs in check.  Apparently they have little spines on their backs and they like to adorn these with cast-off body parts of their meals and other detritus, in order to camouflage themselves.... how deliciously gruesome!
We are continuing to eat hearty meals of our vegies - potatoes, carrots, snow peas and broad beans in abundance, and the very last of the sugar snap peas.  The spring plantings of warm weather vegies are growing well.  Here we have sweetcorn.
More lettuce. It pays to try and be organised with lettuce, and plant half a dozen every few weeks, to get a regular supply.  Easier said than done to remember to do this! 
Sunflower plants.  I'm really pleased with these, they have good strong stems, which they need as it can get pretty windy here.  The eventual intention for growing sunflowers is to give our future chooks the best present of all, a seed head each to peck into happy oblivion.
This is what happens when you don't work the soil sufficiently before planting carrots, they grow legs!  I gather what happens is that they hit an obstacle, fork and go round it.  I planted two rows of carrots and these are from the front row, which is obviously too near the edge of my tilled soil.  They still taste okay though, just a bit more awkward to peel!
I have a old blueberry plant in a pot.  Eventually we are planning a small berry orchard under permanent netting and want to grow strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and silvanberries.  For now I am relying on my old faithful.  It's the skankiest looking plant you ever did see but for its size it produces terrific blueberries.  I've got it right outside the shed door so I can keep an eye on it from a naughty thieving bird point of view.  I reckon I'm scoffing a dozen blueberries a day, and graciously letting Steve have the odd one or two.  I confess to being a bit possessive about my blueberries.
I love growing herbs and am very interested in their properties and uses.  One herb that I always struggled to grow well in Perth was thyme, I was an expert at killing it.  So I am rapt to see how well it is growing down here.  I have a big pot in which is growing thyme, lemon thyme and creeping thyme.  They have burst into a mass of flower over the past few weeks and are very pretty.
I usually have little pots on the go, either growing herbs from seed or from cuttings.  A friend gave me a piece of her pink flowering rosemary, so I snipped it into about 20 cuttings and potted them.  Amazingly I think they've all taken which is great as I want to plant a lot of rosemary in the new house garden.
The house is still creeping towards handover.  It should have already happened but there have been a couple of holdups.  Tomorrow hopefully.  In the meantime we have had our gas bottles delivered.  Which means we now have hot water, yay!
We have bathroom mirrors and shower screens.  And, joy of joys, we can now use the shower.  The most tedious thing about our 9 months of living in the shed has been showering in a very rudimentary fashion, so to be able to wander over to the house with towel over one shoulder, and stand on tiles and get blasted by abundant, super hot water, is heaven indeed.  :-)
 The floor coverings are due to be started on the 19th November and our grand plan is to start moving in to the house after that.  Most of our stuff is in storage, and the storage unit is stuffed to the hilt.  So we've started moving some of the smaller things into the shed so we have a bit more room to manoevre in the storage unit.  So, basically it's a case of moving a big load of crap from one place to another.  And the current locale is the shed, where we live.  You know those tv programmes about hoarding addicts, when they have house full to the ceiling of stuff and have to crawl through tunnels and caves to move through the house?  That's a bit like how I'm feeling in the shed at the moment..... toooooo much stuff!  Only a few more weeks, that's what I keep telling myself.  It's going to be rather strange living in a house again, I guess it will take us some time to get used to it.  And I supposed I will have to do housework...... :-)