Friday, 14 December 2012

Concrete VS Rain

As we approach Christmas and the joy of family coming to stay for the very first time, we are in the midst of the final organising of big trucks.  It has been a tad stressful as the weather has delayed things over and over again.  Essentially we are awaiting concrete around the outside of the house, and this needs to be done before we can get our furniture in.  Waiting, waiting waiting!

We are surrounded by a finished building site, you know, sand and more sand.  We ummed and ahhed during construction as to what to surround the house with.  Timber decking? - no, too expensive and too much maintenance, we want low maintenance.  Paving? - memories of weeds and ants from our house in Perth has put us off, again, too much maintenance.  We decided on concrete, specifically coloured concrete.  Once it's done and sealed, the maintenance is minimal.  After some contemplation we decided on a colour called 'Mocha', a warm brown in keeping with the nature colours we have used around our house already.

Finally the concreter rang to say he'd be coming to start our job.  First the formwork.  I like curves and luckily curves were no problem!
 
 The first dribble of concrete emerges from the truck.
 
The front of the house has concrete.  But what's this, not rain!  Yes, flippin' rain, torrential rain and gale force winds.  Fabulous.  This is not conducive to the laying of concrete!
I take my hat off to the concreting guys, they were amazing.  Not only were they running around in the pouring rain with barrow loads of concrete, they also has to construct this huge lean-to to protect it.  Well done boys.
 
The next day dawned bright and sunny so the concrete  started drying out.  Looks rather good eh, I just love the curves!  I can't wait to start putting some plants in, but that is a way off yet.
 
The boys were back today doing the next section of concrete.  Interesting the difference in  colour between wet and dry 'Mocha' concrete.  We will put a sealer on it in a month or so, so I guess the colour will end up somewhere between the two extremes shown here.  It is BRILLIANT to be able to walk out our front door onto a hard surface, instead of into a sand dune!
 
A random photo, I hadn't seen the kitchen with just the lighting from the rangehood before, and thought it looked rather beautiful.
 Amidst concrete and rain, we also harvested our garlic.  Here it is drying out after being pulled.
And after the removal of sand and the outer layers, da dum, organically grown purple garlic!  Every time we have roast vegies, we roast a couple of these globes.  Absolutely delicious, yum yum yum!
With all the unseasonal rain that is upon us, the grass is growing like a mad thing.  I mowed this afternoon, have I mentioned how much I love our ride-on mower Helga?  Amongst the sand and mess of building a house, I thought it looked lovely after being mowed, all neat and tidy.  The sandy area in the foreground of the photo has been seeded with Emerald Kikuyu, which is supposed to be less rampant than normal kikuyu, so we shall see.  I just wanted to cover up the sand from all the construction and trucks driving through. The December rain is helping to keep it growing which is great.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

292 Days Later..

The move into our house has begun.  We are collecting boxes and boxes and boxes from the storage unit where they have patiently sat all year.  The painting of my sewing room is complete so this is the storage area for the boxes until we get time to sort things out.
 
The painting of the house continues, some days we are amazing, getting through heaps of painting, but other days we are so sore or fed up that we down paint tools and do something else. One of the painting days had somewhat of a calamity, I was busy painting the pantry and Steve was in the bedroom.  Pepper was in the living room which was largely clear apart from paint tins on a big piece of cardboard, plus one paint tray that contained the dregs of ceiling white ready for cleaning out.  I came out of the pantry to find the brand new living area floor covered in white footprints, yes, the bloody dog had navigated her way through the paint tins and walked through the paint roller tray.  I screamed!  Then the dog was unceremoniously thrown outside.  As it turned out the paint came off the sealed floor fairly easily but I reckon I was in shock over it for the next 2 days!  Here is a photo of her ladyship a few days later still showing the evidence, see the "greybeige" toenails.
Here is the finally completely painted pantry, all ready to be filled.  Behind the door are another 4 shelves, shallow ones.  We had those added to the pantry to store jars of stuff.  As we are planning to preserve as much home grown food as we can, it seemed an important inclusion.
I carted all the pantry stuff from the shed to the house, and unpacked boxes of kitchen bits and pieces.  Lots to do!
 
 Now you may ask yourself why there are dishes in the wheelbarrow?
 
This is our present to ourselves, a spiffy new dishwasher, and the wonderful Steve installed it.  So when I knew this was imminent I started saving the dishes instead of washing them up in the shed, which I was never very good at and smashed god knows how many glasses during that time!  So, once that dishwasher was in I piled the dishes into the wheelbarrow and carted them over to the house.  I cannot begin to say how much joy that gave me, not having to wash the dishes in the shed sink again.  :-)
 Speaking of the wonderful Steve, here he is looking knackered.  It seems to be a permanent state of affairs at the moment!
 
Despite the dog's indiscretion I decided to buy her a new bed for the new house.  She has struggled a bit to climb into it as it is taller than her old bed and she is a geriatric, but once in it she sleeps like a log.


 Someone is a bit tired after their bath...
 So, finally, 292 days after leaving Perth and moving into our shed, we dragged the beds from the shed into the house and moved ourselves in.  And a timely choice of day it was too, as that night the heavens opened, the wind roared and the hail bucketed down.  You can see how heavy the rain was through the windows.
 And the hail on the ground.  What struck us immediately being in the house is the quiet.  Had we been in the shed this night we wouldn't have been able to hear ourselves think, the noise of the weather would have been deafening.  In the house it was just a vague noise and we had to look out the windows to actually see what the weather was doing.
With the inclement weather the temperature plummeted, so Steve gleefully piled wood into the fire and lit her up.
 
Nothing like a glass of wine and a fire-warmed bum.  Note the dog-proof room in the background.  Thanks Lesley for the loan of the gate!
 
The next mission was to set about trying out the new oven.  Our first oven cooked meal was roasted vegetables - potatoes, carrots and garlic from our garden and pumpkin from a local grower, delicious just with gravy.
 And then for dessert, apple and rhubarb crumble with custard, also cooked in the oven.  In fact the oven is so wide the crumble was cooked on the same shelf as the vegies, right along side.  It was a great meal!
 
I am really loving the kitchen.  Even though I am still stumbling my way around it and trying to find things, it all fits together really well.  Good karma or something.  ( edit: I will add what my daughter said this morning....Good karma in the kitchen? Do you mean good Feng Shui? I don’t think your kitchen has a next life to acquire good karma for… :P       -  ok ok, good Feng Shui then my dear! :-)  )
Plus as you know already, I love the colours in there, very peaceful.  And when the sun comes in the window in the early morning, the reflections from the sink dance on the ceiling.

Steve managed to find our big tv in storage and set it up.  We don't have the sound surround connected yet, but what a luxurious thrill to have a break from painting to sit in comfy chairs and watch the cricket.  We are hoping to get the rest of our furniture here within the next week or two, but for now we have sufficient to get by.  Slowly but surely we are organising ourselves, trying to have breaks to recharge our batteries, but we are getting there.  We are reveling in the space we suddenly have, and we keep losing each other, having been living in one room all year, suddenly we have all these rooms to be in!
So, here we have it, our house on the hill. Halfway over the hill in fact.  And we are living in it! Life is good.

Friday, 23 November 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, 14 November 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.