Thursday, 19 February 2009

i'm moving!

Not house (goodness, who'd buy it?!), but web address. Also changing: blog name, host, look and some of the content. You can read all about over there. If you've linked to me here, I'd love for you to update your links to - if you still think it worthy of linking to of course! See you there (hopefully!)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

kitchen reno part 2

From the living room. I'm getting a light fitting put in over the dining table. I have a Tord Boontjie garland light fitting I was thinking of putting there but am worried it'll be too small - thoughts?

Slowly, slowly the place is starting to resemble a house again. I spent the weekend putting the doors on and the shelves in place and tidying up the endless supply of sawdust lying around the place (thanks to the rain, the benchtop and sink hole was cut inside. So you can imagine how pleased I was about that). And this is how it looks now.

The view from the hallway.

I had to go back to Ikea today to get the plinths (kickboards to cover the legs) and a few other things they either didn't have before (like LACK wall shelves) or that I totally forgot to buy last time I was there (shelves for the end cabinets that face into the dining/living room). I also was desperate to get the benchtop oil because it hasn't been treated yet. I'm hardly precious about things and quite like the timeworn look of wooden benches and tables. But I'm NOT happy that on the second day of the sink side being completed I discovered this...

Naughty naughty

Luckily, this should easily sand out (hope so anyway!). But people are still banned from my house now because I also discovered yesterday that the electrician had damaged one of the doors while leaning over to fix one of the power points with his tool belt. I'm going to turn it around and swap with the door next to it so problem solved but still highly annoying.

Plates and random glass collection!

Not annoying, however, is the fact I can access my plates and glasses by simply shoving my hand through the top of the cupboard (I haven't put the handles on the doors yet so the less opening and closing of doors, the better!). Obviously this is temporary until the benchtops get put on next week!

The sink, gooseneck tap and dishwasher - my true love! How did I put up with handwashing for sooooo many years?

So this is the sink side. I bought shelves for these base cabinets today and there will be an open shelf the full length of the wall just above the tap and then three horizontal wall cabinets above that. Now, my dilemma. I wasn't going to get a splashback for either side - just one little piece behind the stovetop. But I will, because I think it'll finish off the space and also because I'll need one!! The wall is so uneven there is a rather large gap between the benchtop and the wall. Plus, while being extra careful because of the non-oiled benchtop, I've realised how much water goes everywhere in a kitchen. Never noticed this before! Glass is out of my budget, stainless steel won't go and so I'm starting to lean towards tiles which I was sooooo against just days ago. Any other suggestions? I seriously considered pressed metal (a friend has it in her kitchen and it looks amazing) but I can't imagine that being very practical or easy to clean. So if you have any brilliant ideas/suggestions, I'd love to hear.

Here are the holes the electrician cut in the wrong space. Steve patched them up today, but the eventual splashback will cover them anyway. Phew. But note to oven manufacturers: I'd happily pay an extra dollar or whatever it'd cost to put on vinyl stickers instead of those crap cheap ones that DON'T COME OFF. Gotta get some metho or something. Grr

Still to do....
- Paint the back wall properly (and the little wall with bathroom door in it - plasterer only finished patching it up with this most recent job)
- Paint the ceiling
- Paint the window architraves
- Sand back and re-stain the floor
- Build and attach the wall cabinets and open shelves
- Place the other benchtop
- Hook up the rangehood
- Attach the plinths
- Oil the benchtops
- Get a splashback
- Figure out what to put above the fridge - there will be cover panels on either side of it so you won't see the sides of the fridge. Wall cabinets will be too shallow and base cabinets too high for the space, so maybe shelves? But they'll be too far back too. Might need to custom-make deep shelves for the space.
Hmm, that should keep us busy!!

Monday, 16 February 2009

you can thank us for all the rain and cold...

I'm a fan of my new living room fan. I'm also a fan of the fact I can walk around this room again without tripping over a saucepan or slipping on sawdust! PS: That corner cabinet is usually home to linens and towels. This is until the wall cabinets go up in the kitchen. More on the kitchen tomorrow. PPS: I know I say this a lot, but apologies for crappy quality of images. Turns out, it's a crappy camera, not crappy photography. I know what I want for my birthday this year...

You know how when you wash your car, it rains? Well we had a double whammy: we had bore water installed last week and so it has not stopped raining since. We've used the bore water once. We also had fans installed in all the rooms, hence the wintery weather. And of course, to top it all off, we're all running out of clothes because nothing is drying in the awful weather and we didn't have much to choose from in the first place because I pretty much threw out the entire contents of my wardrobe one "I'm sick of my clothes" day and because the babies grow quicker than I can shop for them. So anyway, you might recall my whinging about the fact my husband wanted a different fan to the modern silver ones we were putting in the bedrooms? Well, I finally got him to the fan shop to choose this "different" fan and this is the result. Steve attempted to choose the bronze version but after headslapping him for such a suggestion, I pointed out the nice black version and SIX WEEKS LATER it finally managed to get attached to the ceiling. So after all my umming and ahhing about whether it'd look weird, it's in and I actually love it! It doesn't have a light on it, so we had wall lights installed on one side of the room and they're all glowy right now and lighting up the room up perfectly. Of course, none of the fan/light installation throughout the house was without drama: wiring in wrong place, no wiring at all, too much wiring, bonus studs and beams, complications in putting fan together... The fun of renovating an old place. Apparently, the previous owners had done some rather strange DIY electrical work. But considering these very same people tiled the back of the bathroom door, I wasn't even slightly surprised at this news! So what do you think of the fan? Fit in ok? We choose the eco version of the Futura Lucci for the bedrooms in the matte silver. They're great - nice and quiet and for fans, look nice too!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Share the love this Valentine's Day

Share the love: give your pennies to the fire victims and use this as a card to remind your loved one how damn lucky you are to be able to see them, hold them, have them still in your life...

I'm in the process of packing up a big batch of clothing for the bushfire appeal, but I also love this idea I heard about today: Sydney artist Matthew Martin is encouraging lovers to print out this sweet design to use as a Valentine's Day card and donate the money you'd spend on cards, chocolates or other gifts to the victims of the Victorian bushfires. Go to this link to print it out and don't forget to call the Australian Red Cross on 1800 811 700 to donate. Hallmark will understand. I don't usually "do" Valentine's Day, but I'm all for it this year, in this way. x

kitchen reno part 1

What I'm looking at right now. You should see the other side of the living room!

Am completely knackered, so not going to bore with all the details just yet, but let me update you in numbers and pictures...
Number of days without a kitchen: 8
Number of sandwiches eaten: 42
Number of arms incredibly sore from sanding and painting three times in one day: 2 (they would be mine)
Number of hiccups so far: 6
Most number of trips to the hardware store in one day: 6
Number of cabinets in place: 5
Number of cabinets to still be put into place: 10
Number of taps working: 0
Number of appliances working: 0
Number of holes in the wrong place the electician cut into the wall that was already sanded and painted? 2
Number of flies killed because the doors were open all day every day: 723. Wait. 724
Number of times we've fallen onto our butts because the floor is so damn slippery from all the swept up sawdust? Me: 2; Steve: 1; Z: 4
Number of days before my dad can come back and finish putting the kitchen in: 12 :(
Number of hours before we can get water and power on in the kitchen: oh god please let it be no more than 15!

Day 1: Looking better already!

The mouse's house (left) and grass growing inside the wall!!

Several floorboards had to be replaced. We nearly had this gaping hole overnight, but luckily the new floor was put in on time.

Day 2: Electrical and plumbing work

Day 5: new walls in and plastered and lights installed

Day 6: dad and his little helper putting together the cabinets. Funnily enough, that plastic hammer worked: teh nails actually went in!

Day 7: Pantry done. The other cabinets on that wall are not flush with the wall yet. Dad needs to come back and put the benchtop on. Am hoping the electrician can connect the oven and cooktop tomorrow. I'm tired of sandwiches and takeaway!

My temporary benchtop!! These are the offcuts from the other side's bench and the cut out from the sink hole!

And just because I don't have enough things in my life to keep me busy (!) I signed up to Twitter last week and actually spent longer than two minutes on it tonight working it out. I think I've got it. Here is where I'll be sending all those little quirks, annoyances or snippets of news too minor or time-consuming to blog about. And much excitement is the fact I can SMS the updates and they'll appear magically on my Twitter profile. How genius. Not sure how long I'll follow this fad (am really good at losing interest in things - Facebook? I only get on to look at friends photos now!), but for now, you can follow me at

Monday, 9 February 2009

can you just imagine this coming towards you...

How frightening.
I'd feel way too guilty whinging about living without a kitchen and blogging about the reno when so many people have lost their lives, homes and livelihood in the disastrous fires so I'm going to give it a miss today. On Friday afternoon there was a fire somewhere in our area - it would have been miles away, but the smoke and smell was quite intense and I found it hard to breathe at times. I thought to myself "here we go..." and sent out a silent sympathetic thought to the firies who we're in for a big weekend and made bets with my husband how long it'd be before the freeway was closed and the trains stopped running. Pretty much every year the central coast gets blocked off for a while due to fires. This is an incredible pain in the rear for anyone who needs to travel to Sydney or is stuck in Sydney trying to get home. It can be hours - at times days - before you're given the all clear. After this horiffic weekend in Victoria, we of course, have no right to complain. In fact, I'm sure every one of us up here would have happily been inconvenienced for a while if it meant Victoria had no fires, no deaths, no devastating tragedy. I cannot imagine the emotions being felt down there...

My husband suggested if the latest federal Stimulus Package is passed, they should immediately halve the amounts they'd planned to hand out and give the other half to the fire victims and to rebuilding the demolished communities. He also said part of it should go to upgrading our firefighting equipment, procedures and training. Because as temperatures rise year to year, our country is only going to burn faster, further and with more fury.

And for those insert-angry-adjective-here animals lighting these fires, I only hope they're found and punished accordingly. I might not be the world's biggest advocate of capital punishment, but in this case, I think being burnt at the stake highly appropriate...

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

is this the world's ugliest kitchen?

The missing door: poor bugga nearly made it. Was hanging on by one tiny nail. But Steve kept forgetting its state and it fell on his foot one time too many and spent its last few days beside the fridge.

It might well have been. But unfortunately it can't claim this distinguished title because it NO LONGER EXISTS!!!! It's sitting all partly smashed up on my front sandpit (what pathetic grass we had has been fried in the heat). And it's never looked better. Even Z is glad to be rid of the "kitchen mess" as he calls it. Gee, do you wonder why I never posted pics of this room? I'm completely embarassed to show this, but seeing that it's all in the past, let's have a laugh, shall we? Yes, I've put up with this for five years. My medal better be in the mail...

A few incredibly exciting facts:

* I painted the doors white when we moved in because I couldn't imagine living with green doors for any amount of time. I did such a crap job, I was wishing for the green to come back.

* The previous owner's son thought himself a handyman. He wasn't. He installed the taps himself did such a bang-up job they didn't work properly. They were replaced numerous times and ground back and had lots of work but no makeover could save the cold one which exploded one day. I'm so used to using warm/hot water for everything I rarely turn the cold water tap on in the bathroom. He also cut a hole too big for the tap nozzle and didn't bother doing anything about it. My non-handyman husband figured expanding filler would do the trick temporarily. It sealed the hole, but, well, look at it! Ugh.

* The tiles are on big sheets of some asbestos-ridden material and weren't the same depth as the rest of the wall, so there was a weird uneven gap no one ever bothered fixing. I don't remember how the piece of wood make its way there but there it is!

Hmm, what's sadder? The contact-covered sheets? The mssing door? The paper towel stuffing the hole where the cold water tap used to be? The lovely aged yellow stains or the fish plug that for some INSANE reason I never replaced??????

One of the delightful tile prints I could admire while cooking. They clearly shopped at the Ugly Tile Shop - same place they got the sunflower tiles that were in my old bathroom!

And another one - I guess they just couldn't decide between the two beauties and chose both...

On a happier note, I did wonder if I was utilising the space enough with the new design. Would I fit everything in? Considering I was ruthless and thew out half the contents of the kitchen cupboards as well, I have a feeling I'll be just fine. Aside from another bag out of sight, this is all I have! I sense a shopping spree coming on!

I started building the cupboards so I had something to store it in. Four packages down, 48 to go...

So I was feeling the pressure with all your "can't wait to see the new kitchen" comments. But I guess, looking at this, anything is going to be a huge improvement isn't it?

Monday, 2 February 2009

bye bye hideous kitchen

Oh the memories....

It's finally happening, people. THIS WEEK. Am so very excited. Builder starts on Wednesday to start ripping out the old one. This is how it looked the first week we moved in. We had all our stuff crammed in the bedrooms and former garage while we attacked the walls removing all the lovely mismatched wood panelling and scraping all the CRAP some genius thought would look great sprayed on the ceiling. There it is all over the floor, which is shame because it's hiding the delightful multi-coloured, animal-hair-covered carpet, which was actually better than what we discovered under the carpet... Once I've finished emptying the kitchen I'll take another pic of how it looks today. I'm afraid to say, it's actually worse: one of the doors recently fell off, the cold tap is no more and we changed the wall cabinet handles over years ago but never bothered to patch up the marks left from the old ones because "we're doing the kitchen soon..."

So soon has arrived. I'm going to start the new blog to coincide with this reno. I've called it The Happy Home because that's what it'll be with a new kitchen. Hopefully. So I'll redirect you when it's time - so far I've been blindly finding my way around Wordpress. Doesn't help that when I finally work something out my computer crashes and I have to start all over again. Am a little over technology... Have a good week. x

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

this week why don't you... this (well a similar one)...

After buying some stationery from Little Brown Pen last year, I begged them to design something our readers could download for free on the website - they graciously agreed, despite my continuous annoying emails. And now you can download a bright and cheery pinwheel garden stationery set right here. And of course there are a gazillion more gorgeous designs to choose from at their Etsy store, like the dandelions we featured in the March issue (pictured. No image of the pinwheel garden, sorry - looooong story, but it's adorable!). And if you're after a unique Valentine's Day card, look no further than their very cool range. So big, big thanks to Evan and Nichole who have just moved to PARIS. Lucky things.

...high-five this...

Good old Bonds have answered my prayers and designed an organic line. It was only a matter of time, of course, but how cute are these leggings?? I think Miss L might be getting a pair in every colour... Cute tops available too - perfect for upcoming winter, which is ridiculous to even contemplate when the weather forecast for the week starts with a 4 most days... Available from Baby's Got Style

...try this...

Next time you make spaghetti (so, possibly sometime this week, right?!) add about two thirds a cup of tomato sauce to the bolognese mix and a teaspoon of sugar. I use this instead of tomato paste for a slightly runnier, sweeter taste. It's YUMMO and makes my homemade lasagne extra awesome as well. this...

I realise school has started back already, but if you hadn't got around to all that labelling of the lunchboxes and school bags and books and clothes, go to Bright Star Kids! My friend Lou told me about these the other day and while I'd heard about them I didn't realise they also did wall decals, clothing labels, kitchen labels, bin labels - labels for everything! Lots of yummy colours and too-cute designs to choose from. this...

Ever seen ecostore in Woollies? I first noticed them while looking to try a new washing powder (my son has eczmea and so everything is a drama!). Then I noticed they did soaps as well and one sniff and I was in love. Seriously the yummiest soap I've ever smelt is their Lemongrass one. Coconut comes a close second... But aside from the delicious smell, they're good for you - no scary ingredients, artificial colours, preservatives or perfumes make them great for sensitive skin. Z loves to open the cupboard and take a big whiff! They've also got a great baby range - I tried the body wash and NO reaction! It's the only one he hasn't had a reaction to and he is a different boy since using their washing powder - eczmea has barely made an appearance, even with the crazy hot weather. I'm hooked. Check out the full range of their products (shampoos, cleansers etc) as well as where you can buy near you (they sell internationally too) on their website.

Friday, 23 January 2009

sneak peek: real living march issue

March 2009: it's all about pattern on pattern on the cover

I know what you're thinking: it's still January and the March issue is hitting shelves on Monday? Ker-azy! Good for you readers who get another issue filled with goodies, but horrid for those working on it who had to work over Christmas to get it to the printers on time. Hopefully the April issue is a longer deadline... Here are a few pages to take you into the weekend. A little bit teasy, isn't it? Unless of course you subscribed - my mother-in-law got hers on Tuesday!

Tie-dye is, erm, leaving its mark on homewares

Office spaces you'll want to work in

Small-space tricks and plenty of eye candy

I didn't post too much exciting stuff this week, so apologies. I've been working crazily. But I have a few projecty things to show you soon. And if I can ever get hold of my builder, we should have a kitchen reno happening SOON. Hooray! Have a great weekend and happy Australia Day for Monday!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

did you guess?

Anyone pick what was unusual about my little hair makeover? Am hoping not, because that means I did good job! The whole thing was DIY: the colour and cut. And yes, this deserves its own post because it's hard work cutting your own hair without making it look like you cut your own hair. To be honest, there are a few floaty longer bits that Steve needs to tidy up for me, but overall? I'm rather thrilled. Haven't been to a hairdresser for about 18 months - Steve and I usually play hairdressers on the deck every few months. But I just might go soon and get them to do the colour properly. This is a wash-out, because there was no way I was braving anything longer than a week or so first time around! So yes, all that back-patting you hear is coming from me! And thanks for compliments! x

morphing into christy turlington

I'll have this cut and colour please. Christy images from Elle magazine via here

Oh ok, not so much. Although I'd very much like to! But I've loved her hair in this photoshoot since the mag came out. In 2002. I've taken a snap to the hairdressers pretty much every time I've been, but it never made it out of my bag. I always chickened out. But the past year I've worn my hair a little shorter, still never past the shoulders, and I thought it's not that much further up the hairline. And it will grow back. And my hair is dark blonde so a darker colour shouldn't be tooo scary....

So, seven years is a long time to make a decision about a haircut and colour change, but I finally did it. I realised I had no major plans for the next while so if it turned into a disaster, noone would see me anyway because I'm always at home and if I did go out, I'd don a hat.

Practically twins! That's me on the left (ha!). Side note: if you're ever feeling too good about yourself, place a pic of yourself next to a supermodel. It's guaranteed to knock your self-esteem down a few notches!

But happily, it's not a total disaster and I love it. More and more every time I look in the mirror. I even want to go darker! There is a (small) point to me posting a pic of me and my hair. I did it for work. The beauty feature in the March issue (out Monday) is all about beauty sceptics. I wondered what I'd do on the web to relate back to it, so figured I'd write about my own little makeover. So, can you guess what I was sceptical about? And what is a little unusual about the process?

A side view. Never had hair this short before. Or dark. Feel like a whole other person! Z even told me "cool hair mummy". He's hilarious.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

icy treat #2: freezies

It was soooo hot today, this was pretty much liquid after the photo was taken.

For as long as I can remember, I've been addicted to slurpies. The petrol station near my home would see my every day in summer (and every third day in winter) when I was growing up. And I'm now McDonald's biggest fan since they brought in their Frozen Cokes - don't even have to get out of the air conditioned car! But my absolute favourite frozen drink is the one I do myself. Could not be easier. If you hate it when your soft drink goes flat towards the end of the bottle, throw it in the freezer. Once frozen, take the bottle out and smash it hard on the ground - it's a very violent game this one - to loosen it up a little and then shake, shake, shake the bottle until it's all mushy. Then squeeze it into a glass (you might need to do some more banging and shaking here - a rather good workout!) and eat with a spoon. Yum. The good thing is, the fizz of the soft drink (even the flatish stuff) means it doesn't freeze as hard as ice and so breaks up nicely to make yummy slurpies. And you know it's not half water, like the shop ones are! My fave is the Deep Spring Orange and Mango Mineral Water. Mmm. Or plain Coke. There are three things I will never, ever buy cheapie homebrand versions of: toilet paper, tissues and cola. It needs to be Coke - or nothing!!

And for the bubbies...

Sassy Teether Feeder, $7.95, Baby Nest. You can also get something similar from Big W.

Can't forget the babies. Miss L is starting to teeth and is chomping down on anything and everything. The ice ring teethers are good, but this is even better: I pop an ice cube (or two) into this mesh feeder, smash it up with a heavy spoon and let her at it. She gets to suck and bite on the ice and actually get a result, something the teethers don't do. But boy you should see the tantrums when the ice runs out! These are also great for messy fruits like mango and banana. Oh and a tip on ice. I've found out (by accident - we have no cold water tap in the kitchen at the moment. It's literally falling apart, hence the need to get on with the reno!) that by freezing warm water, it breaks up itself into nice little bits when you crack it out of the ice tray. Good for little kids who like to eat ice as a snack (or is that just my children who do that?)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

little peek: kids' rooms by pottery barn kids

Chalkboard paint rules. Really want to find plastic cookie jars like the ones on the bench. Anyone?

I was returning a book I'd bought my husband that he already owned (note to self: check bookshelf before buying classics) and instead of buying him something else he hadn't actually read before, I spotted this book and bought it instead. Most of the rooms aren't my taste at all, but I did like the way it was written and that the ideas are all doable. And if you just put your creativeness to good use, you can adapt the projects and ideas to suit your own style. Here are a few fave pages and ideas to steal from them...

Love this playroom: the table was a regular sized table but the legs had been chopped off so it's now child-sized.

I'm desperately seeking library-style book racks like the one next to this bed to pop at the end of my new kitchen bench (which is still in a box in my bedroom...) for the kids play spot I plan to create. Might need to get them built. Or maybe adapt a good-sized spice rack, perhaps!

Nice wall graphics (on right) and to the left is the back of a home office area that incorporates the kids and keeps them busy while you're working. Can't see any ideas to stop tiny children from demanding the "bunnies" (Sony Bravia playdoh bunnies commercial) on Youtube every time they see my laptop open. Damn. And damn me for introducing Z to Youtube.

Cute little crafty zone. Reminds me of my mum's preschool. The pegs and corkboard double as a drying rack and art display. And does anyone use wooden pegs to hang up clothes anymore?

This room I loved. World map murals look great in kids rooms. You can get one here from The Map Shop. And you can get similar box shelves from Big W. Yes, Big W! I think it's about $20 for three-different sized cubes for memory.

Sweet ways to display the plethora of books kids accumulate.

Shared rooms. Cute pic of the kids on the floor. Reminds me of when my sisters and I used to bunk together with our same-striped bedspreads mum made in our chosen colours. Mine was always lilac, Kristie was yellow and Gretchen was of course pink.

Monday, 19 January 2009

this week, why don't you... this...

Make your own library-like cards by simply filling in the boxes with text here. Great for blog to-do lists or unique messages. I thought I'd fill mine with some funny things Z has done in the past few weeks. this...

This lovely lady is called the Molly bag and is, like all her Louenhide sisters, going for 50% off at Real Shopping until January 29. Also, must check out pretty new cushions - might need to put the Paris one on my wishlist... And don't forget: free delivery for any purchase from this site. this...

Yes, even if you don't know children, Rafferty's Garden Apple, Pear + Cinanamon puree should be put into your shopping basket next time you get to the supermarket. Because if you heat it up a little bit and squirt it over a bowl of ice cream, you just might experience heaven. Also good without ice cream. My sister is a pilot and takes these with her so she has yummy healthy snacks at all times (cause we all know how good airline food is!). I'd love to see her co-worker's faces though when she whips out a pouch of baby food! Speaking of baby, no added anything and just what it says in the title also makes it good for the littlest ones. Miss L gobbles these down regularly. Oh, the site has great baby recipes too.

...join this...

Design, make, sell, buy, write about or do anything else that involves kids or kid's products? Join this brilliant online community - Skout - for all kinds of advice, friendship and networking. It's a great way to get your stuff known globally or just pick the brain of like-minded people. this...

I had a flick through Oliver Heath's new book Urban Eco Chic on Saturday and was thisclose to buying it. Only reason I didn't was because I was looking for something specific and had to save my pennies in case the next book shop had it (it didn't, but anyway... ). But it did look lovely - lots of great pics and a heap of info on living a stylish, but greener, life. So I had to check out if he had a website - of course he does! Some lovely pics and info on his site and blog.