Thursday, January 31, 2013

For Kerry

This blog post is especially for my friend Kerry who asked if she could see a house walkthrough. 
Okay, let's start at the front door.  It still has the bright blue undercoat showing cos we are over painting for the moment.  Eventually that door will be 'Manor Red' which is a medium gloss dark reddy brown.  We haven't decided whether or not to paint those indented panels in a different colour or have the whole lot the same.
As you open the front door you are in the entry.  We have a copper sculpture thingy for on the wall that is still in a box somewhere, but we are also toying with the idea of putting a mirror on the wall here, to reflect the light coming in from the pretty glass door panels.
If you head left after the entry you will find yourself in our bedroom.  We also have the desk in here as the room is huge.  I am sitting at the desk writing this blog post right now.  I have some work to do on the quilt that is on our bed.  It is falling to pieces, particularly the borders that hang over the bed.  I am thinking I will cut the borders off and re-bind the quilt into a smaller lap quilt, as I do have a half finished quilt that would look great on the bed (yes Kerry, the Indian Orange Peel quilt!!).  It's on my list for completion this year.
 We are fortunate to have a really nice ensuite attached to our bedroom.  It is interesting that using only rainwater in our house, the shower glass stays a lot cleaner, yay, less cleaning!
 
 Ok, heading back into the entry and looking right, you can see the living area.  This is a large open plan area in the middle of the house, comprised of sitting area, meals area and the kitchen.  We are really liking having it all together rather than in separate rooms.
 Walking into the living area and looking to the right you see the sitting/tv area.  I took all these photos in the late afternoon and for about 2 hours we get direct sun coming in through these two windows.  Hence the need for curtains, but for now we are using old sheets.
 
 Heading left into the living area and looking towards the front of the house you can see the blending of meals and sitting.  All our walls are very bare at the moment as we haven't unpacked any wall art yet.  Looking forward to putting up some adornments on the walls.  The fire is just out of sight to the right of that bookcase.
 
 Looking from the sitting area towards the back of the house you can see the meals area with the kitchen off to the left. 
 
 From the meals area you look into the kitchen, which I still love the best of all the rooms in the house.  In fact everything in the house works well together, spacing wise and positioning.  Everything seems easy and within reach.
 
 Heading into the kitchen and looking slightly left you can see the walk-in pantry.  What a fabulous thing this is.  It is still in a somewhat chaotic state but amazing how much stuff can be fitted in here.  I have big baskets all around the walls at floor level which are great for home produce such as potatoes/pumpkins/onions etc, but also for keeping all those pesky plastic containers that disappear into the murky depths of cupboards.  Much easier to find plastics in a big open basket!  Behind the pantry door are four skinny shelves which is where we keep preserves and other stuff in jars.  Presently you would find pickled olives, pickled beetroot and pickled onions.  Next to the stove you can see the breadmaker, our trusty friend.  We use it about three times a week.
 
 In the kitchen, turning around to face the living area once again, you can see the meals area on the left, and fridge/freezer area.  The dog's bed is just around the corner from the fridge, right in the middle of the living area so she can lie there and view her domain.
 
 Walking through the living area, past the meals area on the left, we come to the hallway.
 
 First door on the left is the laundry.  The dog's night bed is on the floor, and the latest boxes of stuff to unpack are sitting on top of the drawers.  This is the darkest room in the house due to the solid door and small window, but I imagine it will lighten up when we paint the door white.
 
 Looking to the right of the laundry you can see the wall length line of cupboard doors.  There are three sliding doors concealing floor to ceiling shelves, which is just brilliant.  I love having a house with a decent amount of storage space!
 
 Back out to the hallway and heading into the first room on the right we find my sewing room.  There is a line of tall cupboards along the wall to the left, a sewing table in the far corner and my cupboard unit in the centre of the room.  Basically the unit is six little cupboards/drawers positioned in a 'u' shape with a melamine top on it, long enough to give a bit of an overhang at one end.  That's the end I sit at.  The top is fantastic for working with patchwork as I don't need to bend over and it is big enough to spread things out properly to cut and measure.  Those rolls of fabric on top are for making curtains, my next mission.
 
 Further into the sewing room you can see the sewing corner more clearly.  To the left of that I have a bookcase with all my craft books.  There is also a lot of crap in this room that we haven't found a home for yet, but it is tidy enough to get started with the curtains!  I am itching to hang some quilts on the walls in here!
 
 From the sewing table looking back towards the door, you can see the big cupboards where all my fabric and other stuff is stored. 
 
 Back out in the hallway and entering the second door on the left we find the loo.  Complete with psychedelic ceramic cow adorning the window ledge.  I will be happy when we have a bit of garden growing out the back, currently the wind blows all the dust and sand around and I keep finding it all over the top of the loo.  Amazing how much comes in through the tiny open part of the window actually.
Third door on the left is the main and guest bathroom.  This the bathroom that contains the bath, a new thing for us.  Love it. 
 
 Second and last room on the right is the guest bedroom.  You are seeing it warts and all as I haven't yet stripped the sheets from the bed after the last visitors left.  I should have done it before the photo but couldn't be stuffed.  :-) 
 
 Finally, the room at the end of the hall is the back bedroom.  There are two single beds in here plus we will store a bit of our stuff in the cupboards as well, leaving a couple of drawers for visitors.  Steve's tools are all over the chest of drawers as he had just put up a curtain rod for me.  This will be the first curtain I make, the prototype.  And maybe the wonky one, if I haven't measured properly, this will be my test case.  In the past I have always made curtains using the tape with the slots in it for the hooks to make the pleats, but this time I am having a go at making the pleats myself.  Watch this space...
 And to finish up, this is the view from the back bedroom down the hallway towards the living area.  Pepper is watching you from her bed.  There's the fire behind her to the left and the kitchen behind her to the right.
 So that's where we are at, this is our happy home that we love.  Still some boxes to unpack but we have done most of them.  The shed is an atrocious mess but Steve is working through it slowly, trying to work out where the workshop area will be, the beer brewing area will be, the garden area will be, and so on.  It all takes time, slowly does it.  :-)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pumpkins Are Ready When Pumpkins Are Ready

After 2 or 3 weeks of hobbling around I can happily announce that my back is hunky dory, yay.  This is one of the methods of self-healing I used.... hot water, bubbles and wine, luvly.  Mum gave me a nifty bath pillow for Xmas which is really comfortable, it has suction cups to keep it in place.  Tres good.
 
We had the pleasure of the company of mum and dad for 3 nights.  Here they are in front of dad's new car which got its first country run.  It was lovely to have to you to stay!  xx
 
Have I ever talked about kikuyu?  It is lovely, lush, green grass but my god it is hard to keep it out of where you don't want it to be, talk about rampant!  This is a wood pile we stacked up about a year ago that has all but been covered over by the kikuyu, and we needed to move the wood.  Mindful of the possibility of slithery things that may have taken up house within the pile, we dragged the wood out using a very long pole with a hook on the end.  No snakes to be found but my goodness it was hard work fighting to get the wood out amongst the tangled kikuyu!
Here is wood now, in a nice, neat, civilised pile.  I need to spray around the perimeter of the pile with Zero a bit more often to keep the grass at bay.
Steve has made a start on the shifting of much sand from in front of the house.  When the sand pad was done by the earth moving guys, they put a lot more in front than was necessary, just to keep everything stable whilst the house was being built.  Consequently we have heaps and heaps of sand to shift.  I need to poison that lovely looking green grass there too, cos it's kikuyu!  We are going to plant a small lawn there, but we are going to use Emerald kikuyu which is a new strain, it is much less rampant than the wild stuff, but is very very green and tough and resistant to drought.
This is time of year for wonderful sunsets.  Here is another glorious golden moment.  I love taking sunset shots with that dead branch of the the jarrah tree in the foreground.
We harvested a big bed of leeks last week, they just quietly sat there and grew like very well behaved plants, with little love and care from us.  Excellent.
 
I spent a morning chopping them all up then I cooked them gently til soft with some of our garlic.  I froze half the batch for future meals and with the rest made a big batch of potato and leek soup.  It was superb even if I say so myself!  Yummy.  Even better that we grew the garlic and the leeks and the potatoes ourselves.  I am very proud.  :-)
I've told you about the pumpkins that are growing all over the place, and that apparently you wait until the plants are dying back before you cut the pumpkins,  Wellllll, I couldn't wait and I cut one.  The stem was starting to brown off a bit so I thought it might be ready.  I popped it into the pantry for a few day to harden off, and this morning Steve chopped it up for me.  Looks okay although a bit pale.  I diced it up, boiled it and then mashed it all up, with the intent of freezing cupfuls ready for making pumpkin scones and pumpkin soup.  I have to say however, that I tasted some and it is very very bland with not much pumpkin taste at all.  Serves me right for picking it too early.  I'll use to to make scones but I think I'd better add cheese to the mix as well to give them some taste.  One lives and learns!
 
We have been looking for a rug for our living room floor.  Although we love the vinyl timber-look floor and love the feel of it under our bare feet, we are mindful of the need for something cosy underfoot as the weather cools down.  Bearing in mind that we have already ordered two red recliner chairs, we were hunting for a rug with a hint of red.  Ta-dah, this is what we bought.  What do you think?  We love that it is quite different and the colour goes really well with all the wood in the room.  Better still, we bought it from Harvey Norman and although their sale had finished a few days before, they had forgotten to take the '40% off' labelling off the rug, so they honoured the discount and we got it for 40% off (well done Harvey Norman for your integrity).
My friend Kerry has requested a blog post walking through the house showing every room, so that is the plan for the next post okay Kerry.  :-)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nothing Beats A Bird Sitting On Your Foot

It's been a bit of a bugger over the last week when I could barely move with blasted sciatica.  Damn and blast it, I am supposed to brimming with health and vitality, not a whinging, drug filled invalid!  Anyway, thankfully over the last few days things have improved and I am mobile once again.

We continue unpacking boxes and sorting our possessions, working out sensible places to keep them.  I have become a blue and white china lover over the last few years, and decided that rather than have my favourite things stuffed into a cupboard, that it would be much nicer to put them where I can see them.
It's been rather windy here of late, which is good in that the temperatures have been very comfortable, but bad in that the sand that surrounds our house is being blown all over the place.  I left the back path unswept for a couple of days and those two rectangular mats were virtually invisible under all the sand!!  Looking forward to establishing a kitchen garden/rockery thingy out here in a few months time.
We are finally being able to pick tomatoes that are not riddled with holes.  We haven't got around to spraying yet but notice that the cabbage white butterflies are not as prolific as in December, maybe that's just how it is.  Anyway, we are picking them half ripe and leaving them in a warm spot in the kitchen to ripen.  Fried herbed tomatoes with sausages was on the menu the other night, it was yum!
The beans are finally starting to produce. 

The chives are in abundance and look so pretty with their mauve flowers.
We have monster fennel plants.  We actually stuffed up here, what we meant to grow what globe fennel, with the fat bulb thing at ground level that you can roast or slice into salads.  These 6 plants never did that, they just grew like flippin' trees with no bulb thingies in sight.  They are over 2 metres tall and covered in flowers which the bees love.  We found out that there are two sorts of fennel so this is obviously the other sort!  Not to worry, I am waiting for the flowers to go to seed and shall collect the seed to use in the kitchen.
I keep finding hidden ginormous pumpkins!  Can't wait to try one.  I believe we have to wait until the foliage dies down and the stems start to die and dry before cutting the pumpkins, so a while yet.
This little bird, a fantail, absolutely made my day yesterday.  I'd been doing a bit of gardening, being fed up with being incapacitated, but was feeling really sore and miserable.  I noticed this gorgeous little thing dancing around on the grass, tail fanning, catching little insects amongst the lawn clippings.  It was totally unbothered by my presence, coming really close while I watched.  Then I kicked around some lawn clippings to send forth more little bugs for it to eat, when, bless its little cotton socks, it landed on my boot and sat there for about 20 seconds until it spotted another bug then flew off to catch it.  Amazing how unbothered a wild bird was in my company.  I smiled for the rest of the day.  :-)

Now we have moved over to the house I have to start thinking about where to put the clothes line.  It's so funny here, having 5 acres of land, it makes decisions about where to put things so hard - too much choice!  In the end I decided to just string up a temporary line to try the position out.  This is at the back of the house and I am quite pleased with it, there is always a good breeze there but more importantly, it gets afternoon sun.  I discovered unexpectedly here, that if clothes are on a line in the shade after about 4pm, not matter how warm it is, they get damp, so that was a good observation and will factor into the final decision.  How do you like my recycled paint bucket to keep the pegs in.  :-)
As you know, I go on and on and on about kangaroos and how much I love them and love watching them.  Well I do!  And we still feel so privileged that the roos are happy to graze on our land.  This is the joey that is in the process of being turfed out of the pouch, mum chucks him out for most of the day now.  I say him, but haven't been able to definitely ascertain this.  All I can say is that this is one feisty little joey!  He is really funny to watch, he'll pop out of mum's pouch, then go mental for a bit, hopping all over the place in his uncoordinated, gangly way, then will leap all over his mum, box her ears, zoom around a bit more, then take a flying leap back into the pouch for a nap.  I've been trying to take a video of his antics, no luck yet.
He's quite different from the last few joeys here, they have all been a lot quieter and scared to leave mum's side, but this one is going to be mischief maker!  These two photos were taken through our bedroom window, they were about 5 metres away from us.  I love roos!!

I spent a few hours in my sewing room yesterday.  It's been sitting there full of unpacked boxes.  I wanted to wait for the right time to start unpacking and sorting, didn't want to spoil it by rushing through it.  So yesterday I had the pleasure of finding all my stuff again and working out where to put it.  I think I now know where most of the bits and pieces are, the only big job left is to deal with the huge pile of wall art - my darling husband needs to get busy with his drill and picture/quilt hanging doodads. 

Off on a slight tangent, I found this in amongst some crochet patterns.  It's rather timely as our dear daughter has just celebrated her birthday, and this recollection is from a couple of years ago when she has a significant birthday.  Maybe you just had to have been there, but I giggled and giggled when I read it and remembered...

1. Decide to surprise daughter by having flowers and chocs delivered to her place of work for her birthday

2. Email back and forth with florist to ensure they will do lunch time delivery rather than late afternoon delivery as daughter works 7am - 3pm
- ok, they will make an exception.

3. Find out by chance at 10.15am that daughter has decided to have
half-day flexi and finish at 11 am instead of 3pm. Panic

4. Ring daughter's work colleague to confirm this, see if he can think
of way to keep her at work ("this is Michelle we are talking about" says work colleague.... "stubborn" LOL), threaten to strangle daughter...
work colleague thinks this is a good idea

5. Ring daughter and try to maintain sensible conversation whilst subtly
trying to determine daughter's movements.

6. Ring florist and frantically get delivery redirected to daughter's
home, with worry in back of mind that apartment block is confusing and awkward for any sort of delivery. Florist will ring deliverer on mobile
to intercept delivery, which is enroute already.

7. Ring daughter again with another subterfuge conversation to determine
movements.... daughter says she is going shopping if boyfriend wants to go with her. I suggest I might visit her in my lunch break (to try and
keep her at home)... daughter is incredulous over sudden need for mother to visit.

8. Ring and text daughter's boyfriend frantically to get him in on the
act to try and keep daughter in one place for more than a few hours, and to tell him he does not want to go shopping.

9. Run around like a lunatic to make time to drive to daughter's house
in lunchbreak. Decide that if visiting should take birthday present which is currently not wrapped as was going to give to daughter on Saturday at family gathering. Race home and wrap present.

10. Stress about florist delivery instructions and email them with more
info to identify apartment building.

11. Text daughter's boyfriend repeatedly to hear of delivery... nothing
yet. Think grateful thoughts of boyfriend who is trying to help situation

12. Spend pleasant hour at daughter's house and wonder where delivery is


13. Go back to work and decide that if delivery has failed then will pay
redelivery fee the next day and try again. Think more thoughts of strangling daughter

14. Get text message from daughter's boyfriend to say daughter has had
phonecall from a lady up the street who has found a delivery on her doorstep, with daughter's mobile number on docket. Think kind thoughts
of lady who rang daughter to let her know. Daughter enroute to retrieve mystery delivery.

15. Daughter rings her mother to say thank you and then has to listen to
entire saga of mother's day. Lots of laughter and penny dropping as to mother's weird phone calls.

16. Mention to daughter that florist deliverer was going to phone
daughter's mobile if problem delivering, so it could be sorted. Daughter says oh yes, I did have a call from a number I didn't recognise.... didn't answer it. Smile sweetly and think more thoughts of strangling of child.

17. Remember never to order flowers for daughter again, unless trapped
in hospital bed with broken leg.

18. Arrive home - drink wine

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year

Hello!  It's that crazy season when one has trouble pausing for breath, but it's been wonderful.  We've delighted in the company of our kids and grandkids, friends and other family members over the last 2 weeks. 

We were slightly stressed pre-Xmas re getting the concrete done and getting our furniture in.  Concrete was finished and finally, on Dec 21st, 2 very nice strapping gentlemen with a big truck brought all our big furniture from the storage unit, and carefully carried it into the house for us.  Hooray!
On the 23rd Dec we excitedly awaited the arrival of our first house guests, our lovely daughter Michelle and her equally lovely partner Michael, even though he is a Geelong supporter.  :-)
 It was so lovely to catch up, sit and chat, eat yummy food and sample a variety of tipple.  :-)
 
Then on Boxing Day we welcomed our wonderful son Paul and gorgeous granddaughters Stevie and Riley.  One moment it was calm and peaceful then POW!  ha ha ha, don't you just love the Christmas bedlam look after littlies have madly opened all their presents.
We had lots of fun with the girls, they loved walking down the hill to see the kangaroos, who would take flight and jump over the fence, then Stevie and Riley would pretend they were kangaroos and jump around.  Here is Stevie looking very trendy with the sunnies propped over the curled hat brim, she explained to me that this was how you have to wear your hat and sunnies.
We went to the beach and we went to the park and we went to the playground.  And when we were all at home the girls had all their Christmas toys to play with.  Here is Riley with her toy digital camera that she loved.
 
We have two hammocks strung up in our peppermint tree forested area, it's a lovely lovely place to relax on warm days.  The girls really enjoyed having swings in the hammocks too.  We went for our kangaroo searching walk and came back via the hammocks and what did the girls find but Michael who thought he'd sneak off for a quiet read in the hammock.  Ha!  Found you Michael!  :-)
 Here's Paul looking relaxed and happy.  Was so good to have you to stay.  :-)
 We've said goodbye to them all now as they've returned home, and now we have the pleasure of the company of my brother and nephews.  They've gone off fishing and snorkelling today.  Go figure, we've had a week of warm, summy weather and today there is a gale blowing and it's cloudy and wild.  Oh well.  While they are amusing themselves Steve and I are starting to turn our attention to the many boxes of things we have yet to unpack.   Look at our poor shed, it's been a dumping ground for everything over the past month.  Slowly but surely we will work our way through it all.

On a wildlife front, I love it when I can look out of my kitchen window and see someone looking back at me.  This mum kangaroo is around a lot, isn't she pretty and just look at her beautiful joey.  The joey is rather large now, the poor mum's pouch is just about dragging on the ground!  It's interesting to watch her, she has taken to lying down and then turfing joey out of the pouch for a bit, and the joey leaps around like a crazy thing then dives back into the pouch.  She is turfing the joey out more and more so I guess it wont be long until joey is out for good.  It's also interesting to see that last year's joey still spends all his time with her, grazing alongside her.
 Look what else I spied out the kitchen window - bunny!  Bad bunny in fact, see here it's reaching up just about to nibble on one of my acacia plants.  Steve reckons he's dreaming of bunny pie, hmmm
 
 We've had some lovely skies and sunsets over the last week.  The jarrah tree in front of the house has a dead section at the top and the kookaburras love to sit on it and laugh hysterically.  This one was having a peaceful moment and I like the silhouette shot of it with the pink sky behind.
This was last night's sky, amazing isn't it. Looks like the fires of hell! There's another kookaburra sitting in the tree too.
 
 We've had a buy up of some new furniture.  We were a bit worried having a house with one big living area that all our different types of wood furniture would look weird together, but in fact we really like the assortment of warm wood colours.  We have wanted a decent sized coffee table for ages so when we heard that the local very nice furniture shop was having a big sale, off we trotted.  This is the coffee table we bought, it's beautiful.
 And when we found out it had a matching hall cupboard, and we had a entry devoid of a piece of furniture, well, that came home too!
And Steve is rapt.  The other thing we wanted was a big tv/entertainment unit.  We've been looking for ages, not finding quite what we wanted, but this one is perfect.  Now Steve has the fun job of connecting fifty trillion wires between all the electrical doodads ha ha.
I did a wee cruise around the garden with my camera yesterday.  Things are a bit neglected of late what with moving into the house and lots of visitors, but there are lots of interesting things growing.  This is our tiny new fig tree.  It's been in the ground for about 15 months, and sat there like a tiny stick until 2 months ago when it finally decided that it was happy and started growing like mad.  There are about 15 figs on it.  We haven't netted this tree yet so it will be interesting to see who gets to eat the figs, us or the parrots!
 The thing I am very excited about is pumpkins!  We've never grown them before.  I planted a couple of seeds downhill of the pig poo compost pile and they slowly but steadily took off.  The vines have gone crazy now the weather has warmed up, and upon poking around under the vigorous foliage it is very exciting to find beauties like this.
Another plant sprung up beside my compost bin and that too has produced many fat and healthy looking pumpkins.  These are a different variety, I think they might be called Japanese pumpkins.  We are looking forward to harvesting and storing them all.  Visions of gallons of pumpkin soup and many many pumpkin scones brings a smile to my face.  :-)
Steve has grown the most unbelievable onions, they are massive, quite a few of them weigh half a kilo each!  They are juicy and sweet and we are enjoying eating them roasted, or chopped up with our potatoes in potato salad.
 Tomatoes have been a bit of a disaster so far.  Remember when I bought those lacewing larva with visions of them gobbling up all the little caterpillars and bugs?  It was a big fail because of the storm the day after I released them, I think it killed them all as we haven't seen any since.  Needless to say, moths, caterpillars and bugs abound, and they love eating the tomatoes.  So many holes in them, not happy.  We have a biological insect spray and will have to use it as much as we'd rather not spray.  Then hopefully we will get to eat some of the many many tomatoes on the plants!
 Although they are struggling a bit with the dry ground I am rapt with my sunflowers.  I want to store the heads of luscious sunflower seeds and the bees are doing a fine job of fertilising the flowers.  Amazing how much the bees seem to love these flowers.  They are such a happy looking flower don't you think.  And on that cheerful note, I think I'd better finish this mammoth blog post!!