Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bathroom Renovation: Days 1 - 4.

[See those pipes? They represent the most convoluted and confusing rainwater/mains set-up known to humankind! We still can't figure it out.]
Ever gone four days without a bathroom? No doubt if you've had to undertake renovations you know the feeling! Our house is completely chaotic (and terribly messy) at the minute as the bathroom renovation continues. We're not sure how many more days we'll be without the use of it but we are hoping no more than five.

[The most interesting thing about removing walls? Seeing what's behind them! This is the original outside wall to our house, which is over 110 years old. The bathroom is an extension added who-knows-when, but the black scorch mark in this picture is where the original boiler would have been located. To a history-nerd like myself this is fascinating stuff.]
I'm just about to pop over to the in-laws to steal a shower: Today it is 43*C (109*F) with thunderstorms building, so not only hot but sticky to boot. The kind of day when a shower is a M-U-S-T but proves completely redundant, as by the time you've had the shower and redressed you find yourself hot and sticky again.

[If you are contemplating doing a wet-area reno and need to remove tiles then you must invest in a hammer drill if you do not already have one. Using the chisel bit these tiles were off the floor in less than 15 minutes.]
Warnings have been issued that that the thunderstorms may create a lot of lightning and there is the possibility of power outages. I'm hoping the power decides to stay on here because:
(a) Air conditioning does not work without electricity, and
(b) neither do a lot of tradie tools.

[Guess what I've discovered? You can flush a toilet with a bucket of water. No cistern required. You just take said bucket of water and pour it into the bowl and watch the toilet do its sanitary magic. MIND BLOWING.]
We are still waiting on a replacement basin, bath/shower mixer and showerhead to arrive. We're actually onto our third basin: The first got broken in the warehouse and the second got lost in transit. And, of course, without said basin, mixer and showerhead, the plumber cannot do what he needs to do to the pipes so the walls have had to stay off, so far for 3 days longer than originally planned. I still can't comprehend how a freight company can lose the items their supposed to be transporting, and by lost I mean "cannot locate anywhere" (their words, not mine).

[See that bath? I've been waiting four years for that baby. It may not be long but it is wickedly deep. I'm dreaming about the day that I can soak in it.]
I picked up the grout and the paint earlier in the week. I hope I've decided on the right colours. I'm terribly indecisive at the best of times (it took me six months just to decide what we were actually going to put in the bathroom and in the end it was the location of the pipes and the drains that determined where everything is to go anyhow!) but when it comes to choosing paint colours I constantly second-guess myself. Does anyone else have this problem or is it just me?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Week in Pictures...

** This week started hot and ended hot. I had hoped it'd be another few weeks before we'd be subjected to the persistent heat, but clearly Summer has other ideas. When the heat reaches its peak you will find us inside. In the dark. With the air conditioning on. I always find the first string of consecutive hot days to be particularly exhausting and it can take me a few weeks to adjust, and whilst I can get used to it I simply cannot, ever, enjoy it. That's right, people: I think summer sucks the big one.
 ** The heat does provide the perfect opportunity to catch up on all those little inside tasks that tend to be put on the backburner whilst the weather is pleasant and days can be spent outside, in the garden. I cannot wile away the daylight hours watching television, though, as it makes me feel unproductive, so instead I've been getting in a bit of reading, which does not make me feel unproductive at all.
** Bailey-dog doesn't much like the hot days, either. If the mornings are cool enough I'll open the doors and windows to let the breeze flow through and Bailey will take his place at the front door, keeping a keen eye on the neighbours and any passersby.
** Despite the hot weather, Shane and his dad decided to get started on the bathroom renovations. For the moment the room has its bones laid bare but tomorrow will get a new skin. It's messy work, time-consuming and inconvenient. It doesn't help when the local freight company loses the last shipment of goods, either, but I'll leave that story for another day - perhaps the day when there is a happy ending.
** If you are a particularly perceptive person you would have noticed that there is now a link called Shop at the top of my blog, under the banner. You see, this week I decided to open my very own Etsy store of original photography. Nothing flashy, but at present listings include landscape photographic prints and postcards. I didn't want to make a big fuss about it because it is very much a small deal, but at the same time I figure I should mention it, even if it is just in passing. Whilst I don't expect it to be the enterprise of the century, I'll be absolutely over the moon if something sells. Also, if you are an Etsy seller or buyer please feel free to add me to your Circle - I'd really appreciate it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

365 Mail Art Project: Week 7

#18 of 365:
A jumble of thoughts for Claudia in Germany, doodled on a hot (and therefore uneventful) afternoon...

#19 of 365:
The first piece of Christmas-themed mail art for the season (although it most certainly won't be the last) for Turea in England. The baubles are hand-stamped and the envelope I made using vellum paper...

#20 of 365:
Another Twinings tea box envelope, this time for Dara in Australia, decorated with a bit of washi tape and a decoupage cut-out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To Die For by Sandra Byrd...

To Die For: A Novel of Anne BoleynTo Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Byrd
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A quick browse of my bookshelves reveals that I have a bit of an interest in Tudor England - I read quite a lot of fiction and non-fiction on this period in history. I know the facts but I like to read the fiction as I am curious to see how different authors weave their imagination and creativity into their interpretation of those facts. How a writer chooses to portray their central characters is also of particular interest.

Sandra Byrd's protagonist in To Die For is Meg Wyatt, childhood friend and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII. I thought this approach would be an opportunity for the author to present to the reader some different characters and perspectives, exciting new events, and previously unconsidered possibilities.

However, To Die For did not provide any of these things, much to my disappointment. Perhaps it was in part due to the fact that I am familiar with this particular period in history, but I had hoped there would be more insight into Meg's life and how the events of the time impacted upon her existence, and how her opinions, hopes and dreams evolved through her association with the doomed Queen.

This is not the path that the author chose to take the story, though. Rather, To Die For is a regurgitation of the pivotal moments in Anne Boleyn's life as told from Meg's perspective in a "this happened and then that happened" manner. Glimpses into Meg's character are not only rare but fleeting, feeling almost like an interruption of Anne's story - the author quickly passed over Meg's life in order to return her attentions (and the reader's) back onto Anne. As such, I struggled to understand the connection between the characters, nor could I comprehend the reasoning behind their decisions, especially Meg's sudden religious enlightenment after spending half the book as a borderline atheist.

I also found the author's persistent use of words like "mayhap" and "certes" to be distracting as they add nothing to the story as a whole. I do not understand why the author chose to write in this manner and I would have preferred that they be left out completely.

For someone new to the genre (Tudor-fic), this novel may prove to be an enjoyable yet completely forgettable introduction. However, for those readers familiar with the genre and the history, I can only recommend they read something else instead, as To Die For is a novel that provides nothing new.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Week in Pictures...

** What did I do this week? I wrote letters. A lot of letters. Then I received some mail from Louise in the UK with Tudor postage stamps, which made me the happiest little history-nerd on the face of the planet. I still can't believe Tudor postage stamps actually exist. Awesome.
** I watched Ghost Adventures with the Mother-in-Law as Shane was away and I wasn't brave enough to watch it alone. Although she does have an annoying habit of falling asleep halfway through the episodes...
** It rained! For an entire afternoon! It was light and in the end didn't amount to much, but the cooler weather and just being able to sit inside with the windows and doors open listening to the pitter-patter of the rain was truly splendid.
** Completely by accident, I seem to have planted a flower garden that blooms in succession, meaning that we have something in flower almost always, regardless of the time of year. At the moment the native hibiscus and adorable button daisies have just started making an appearance. Also, the agapanthus has flower stems and I expect them to start blooming early December.
What happened in your neck of the woods this past week?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

365 Mail Art Project: Week 6

#14 of 365:
A bit of witch history, animal magic and a splash of red for Lauren in Australia. I finished it off with a tiger postage stamp.

#15 of 365:
Do people keep the envelopes that their mail comes in? I do. 
This envelope for Klementina in Croatia (with whom I share one of my longest penfriendships) is made from vellum paper and decorated with peacock teardrops.

#16 of 365:
Yet another handmade envelope (this time using a page from a gardening magazine) highlighted with some green teardrops for Nicki in Australia.

#17 of 365:
Faeries for Astrid in Austria! This envelope was made from an old Brian Froud calendar (Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book, to be exact), to which I've added the teardrop decoration. My letter to Astrid is so terribly overdue, but what better way to send it than via faeries doing silly things!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How does your garden grow?

I realised this morning that it's been awhile since I've taken you on a stroll around the veggie patch. Winter was quite a disappointing season: I'd hoped to grow some cool season veg but it turned out to be far too cold for anything to grow. Then spring arrived but the frosts persisted, continuing right into October.

It was the second week of October before I considered it safe to plant the summer selection of veg, including eggplant, two kinds of tomatoes, lettuce, basil and oregano, corn, cucumber, zucchini and capsicum.

The weather continues to be full of inconsistencies: Stinking hot one day and cold the next. Today the temperature is hovering around 30 degrees (Celsius) with the breeze blowing in from the south-east. Every now and then it becomes quite gusty and a little chilly, but I won't complain about the coolness of it as no doubt it'll soon be scorching hot yet again.

The veg has been a little slow to grow. I'm not sure if it's the soil or the weather, but today I'll give the plants some seaweed solution and hopefully that'll give them the boost they need. I've had to make cages that slip over the raised garden beds as the birds have been getting in and eating the beetroot and carrot seedlings, which I grow in-ground from seed. The pigeons and the black birds have been the main culprits!

We had to put new tyres on both cars so we saved some of the old tyres to use as garden beds. I started with two zucchini plants but am now only left with the one.

But the surviving zucchini plant is fairing well, despite its slow start. You can see here two baby zucchinis and some more flowers yet to open.

I'll plant some pumpkin seeds, potatoes, watermelon and rockmelon in the coming days. Shane is supposed to be picking me up some soil sometime this week to put in the empty tyres you see here so that I can do just that.

I've taken to leaving the shadecloth on the beds most days. The weather is prone to sudden changes around here and I've found many plants (such as the cucumber, onions, cabbage and lettuce) prefer the protection from the sun and wind that the shadecloth provides.

I've tried my best to follow the principles of companion planting this season in an attempt to ward off pests and disease. So far, so good. The most we've had to contend with is the odd cabbage moth, but otherwise the plants appear to be pest and disease free.

I've also made sure to include beneficial flowers in the veggie patch, namely marigolds and red geranium. There's a multitude of benefits: Not only do they protect the neighbouring vegetable plants from pest attack and assist in pollination, they also add a wonderful splash of colour to the garden beds when in full bloom.
How does your garden grow this season?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Week in Pictures...

** The week started out very thunderstormy, much to our delight. We sat outside and watched the storms approach, the lightning followed by the ominous rumblings of the thunder. The first thunderstorm that hit was so loud it frightenend poor Bailey-dog, who got caught outside in it. Too frightened to move, his Mama (that'd be me) had to dodge lightning to rescue him from the backyard and bring him inside. The storms hit in a whirl of dust before the rain started falling. In the end around 15mm fell over the space of a few hours, and with it being so dry here in the past six months, we happily take whatever Mother Nature is willing to give. 
** The weather for the remaining of the week hovered around the high-20s and low-30s (degrees Celsius) and there was (and continues to be) not a single drop of rain in sight. Today it is supposed to reach 36*C, followed by a cool change at some point this evening. No rain on the radar.
** After a bit of a slump, I've rediscovered my reading mojo. I've almost finished the second book in less than a week. Book reviews should start appearing soon!
** Saturday morning I had to be out of bed at 5am to undertake a day-trip to Adelaide. At 5am it is still dark outside but the good thing about that was the amazingly beautiful sunrise we got to watch over the Ranges.
** The trip to Adelaide served a single purpose: Bathroom Renovation. We collected all the items we'd ordered, purchased the tiles and hunted down the few smaller items (like a mirror and a toilet roll holder) we needed before heading straight back home again. It was a long day but we now have everything we need to renovate the bathroom, which will begin in full ernest in about 10 days time. I am terribly excited about the prospect of finally having a bathtub after 4 years of living without one. Because, sometimes, what a girl really needs is a long soak in the tub with a good book and a mountain of bubbles.

Friday, November 9, 2012

365 Mail Art Project: Week 5

My goodness! How quickly a week passes! I had a multitude of blog posts to make this week and yet here we are: Friday again and all I have to show for the past seven days are two (2!) attempts at mail art. The creative juices were severely lacking this week.
12 of 365:
I recycled some cancelled postage stamps and old correspondence to make a collage envelope for Rusty...

13 of 365:
And made some envelopes using pages of old magazines and washi tape, one of which is on its way to Tomoe.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Week in Pictures...

* Our week started at the beach, where Shane went fishing and caught himself a King George Whiting. Just the one. And nothing else.
* Bailey-dog and I spent our seaside getaway taking strolls along the beach where there was oodles of seaweed to investigate and plenty of seagulls to chase.
* It was hot when we got home. Or perhaps the absence of a sea breeze makes things feel hotter than they actually are? Although, it is 41*C (106*F) today and that is decidedly H-O-T.
* Prior to the temperature well and truly soaring, Bailey-dog and I spent some time outside on Friday: I wrote letters whilst he went to sleep on the grass.
* I picked a cabbage! And it had no grubs or bugs! After the broccoli went straight to seed and with the birds determined to dig out and eat all my new seedlings, this single cabbage makes me pleased beyond measure. Tomorrow it will become coleslaw.