Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Week in Pictures...

** We finished painting the bathroom the day before Christmas Eve (what is that? Christmas Eve Eve?)...Actually, I lie: It's not finished at all. The walls and ceilings are done but the architraves and doors currently have nothing more than the undercoat and I'm not rushing to get it done. We're coming into the hottest part of the year now and it is simply too hot for paint: It'll dry on the brush and become nothing more than a sticky mess. So I shall finish the painting when the weather cools.
** I know it's supposed to be an enjoyable time but Christmas stresses me out! I didn't finish cooking, cleaning the house and wrapping presents until 12.30 in the morning. We were both so very, very tired and yet barely a wink of sleep was had on account of the noisy neighbours across the road. They partied in the noisiest way possible until 9am Christmas morning (and then no doubt slept all day). I'm fairly certain that isn't appropriate neighbourly behaviour.
** Despite being uber tired, Christmas Day was nice: BBQ breakfast with the in-laws followed by lunch with my family. I received a bunch of wonderful, useful gifts - cookery, crockery, kitchenware, framed photos, books and jewellery, plus my sister made me carrot cake cupcakes. We handmade 99% of the Christmas gifts we gave this year and although it required a lot of preparation, we didn't have to fight the Christmas shoppers to get any of it done. It felt good to give without blowing the budget too.
** The rest of week has passed rather slowly, much to my delight. The weather for the most part has been pleasant with temperatures in the low 30s (degrees Celsius) and cool southerly breezes in the evenings. Until last night even the neighbours had been quiet! But now we are getting ourselves ready for the first heatwave of the summer, which is looking to be a real stinker (a heatwave in South Australia is 5 or more consecutive days of 37*C and above, by the way). I plan to wile away the days with a good book or two.
How about you?

Friday, December 28, 2012

365 Mail Art Project: Week 12

I hope everyone had a pleasant festive season?
Inbetween trying to research my maternal grandmother's family tree (it would appear her people don't exist) I've been dabbling in a bit more mail art.
This week's theme = Feel Good Inc.
I made postcards.
#27 of 365:
Fancy a cup?
For C in USA...

#28 of 365:
A clean slate on its way to C in Germany...

#29 of 365:
Bright and happy for B in Malaysia...

#30 of 365:
A very hungry caterpillar for T in Holland...

#31 of 365:
And some classic Victorian glamour for H in Holland...

#32 of 365:
A bird with a french fry for S in Malaysia...

#33 of 365:
A state of dreaming for W in Australia...

#34 of 365:
Getting lost in books with F in Australia...

#35 of 365:
And - finally! - wondering where the time went with M in Australia.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Reading Challenge for 2013...

Every year I participate in at least one online reading challenge. I find they are a fantastic motivator to read those books I currently have waiting to be read.
After having scoured the internet for a suitable challenge I came across Under the Covers' 2013 Immortal Reading Challenge. Here's the nitty-gritty of the challenge:

1. The Immortals Reading Challenge runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013. You can join at anytime from now and throughout the year. This is a 2013 challenge, so books read before January 1 will not count to your progress.

2. You pick your goal! Read as many books as you’d like for each species. This means that you can do just one category or all five or a combination of. The choice depends on you and your reading pace.
*Under the Covers have chosen to have a three book per species standard. However, if this is a breeze for you, then feel free to tackle on the additional bonus entries of two more books of the same level.

3. Re-reads are acceptable.

4. Books chosen can be of any genre.

5. To participate, copy and paste this post on your blog along with the challenge button. We ask that you provide a link back to the sign-up page in case others wish to participate.

6. Readers without blogs can still participate! Keep track of your progress with Goodreads, Shelfari or LibraryThing.
To sign up:
1. Make a sign up post announcement, listing the level you’ve chosen and a list of books you plan to read. If you don’t have a blog, post on GoodReads or another site as a thread where we can access your list of books. Be sure to take the image code above.
2.  Go to Under the Covers Book Blog and using the list below, add your entry with a link directly to that post so we can see what you’ll be reading.
Every month during 2013 we will make a challenge update post where you can come and updates us on how you’re doing with your challenge.
Category 1: Vampires
Some ideas for Vampire books
Read any THREE books with vampires as the main characters.
Bonus Entries: Additional TWO books with vampires
Category 2: Angels and Demons
Some ideas for Angels and Demons books
Read any THREE books with angels and/or demons as the main characters.
Bonus Entries: Additional TWO books with angels and/or demons
Category 3: Fae and Magic
Some ideas for Fae books
Read any THREE books with Fae/Witches as the main characters
Bonus Entries: Additional TWO books on Fae/Witches.
Category 4: Shifters/Werewolves
Some ideas for Shifter books
Read any THREE books with shifters or werewolves as the main characters.
Bonus Entries: Additional TWO books on shifters or werewolves.
I have decided to commit to the first category - VAMPIRES - as I have more than enough vamp-fic on Mt TBR. I shall aim to read the following five during the course of the challenge:
Dracula, My Love by Syrie James
The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
The Countess by Rebecca Johns
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
I'd also like to have crack at reading at least three books for the other three categories and at present I have the following books on my shelf that I'd like to add to the challenge:
Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier (Cat 3: Fae & Magic)
The Raven Queen by Jules Watson (Cat 3: Fae & Magic)
Time Keepers by Nicki J. Markus (Cat 4: Shifters/Werewolves)
But, alas! I need more books than I currently have to qualify for the remaining categories in the challenge!
So I've decided to do a shout-out to any authors or publishers who are seeking reviews for their books to help me out with 3 books for Category 2 (Angels & Demons), 1 book for Category 3 (Fae & Magic), and 2 books for Category 4 (Shifters/Werewolves). If you an author or a publisher feel free to contact me at sorcha (dot) sidhe (at) gmail (dot) com with details of the book(s) on offer for review (my book review policies can be found here).
If you have decided to participate in an online reading challenge in 2013 I'd love to know the details and follow your progress.
Happy Reading!

Friday, December 21, 2012

365 Mail Art Project: Week 11

Well, it's the 21 December 2012 and I'm waiting for the end of the world!
I've no idea when or where or what is supposed to happen but I'm keeping a close eye on the skies and keeping my fingers-crossed for three days of darkness! (I figure that if there is no sun the predicted temperature of 45*C won't be able to take place over the weekend. Logical, right?)
Whilst I await impending doom, I've been dilly-dalling in a bit of mail art. Zombie mail art, to be exact, because when I think of the apocalypse I think of brain-eating zombies. Lock all your windows and doors, people!
If all goes to plan, the following pieces of mail art will be sent today and postmarked 21/12/12:
#24 of 365:
Zombies of the Apocalypse no.1 on its way to Rachel in Alaska...

#25 of 365:
Zombies of the Apocalypse no. 2 on its way to Laura in Victoria, Australia...

#26 of 365:
Didn't quite turn out like I'd hoped, but Zombies of the Apocalypse no. 3 will be sent to Gillian in Scotland.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Week in Pictures...

** I traded cupcakes for a bathroom reno. Ha! I wish! Although, I did make plenty of butterfly cupcakes whilst the tradies were here. Those babies go down a treat.
** I found some stewed quandongs in the freezer (last year's pick) so I took them out and made Wild Peach Pie. As I was feeling generous I let Shane and his mum also have a piece each. I ate the rest.
** I took my first bubblebath in four years, although I didn't pick the best day: It was humid and I found sitting in a steaming bath to be a little suffocating after about 20 minutes. On the upside, the water didn't go cold!
** It was stupidly hot the past week and looks to repeat the week ahead. At this stage the BoM is predicting we'll be celebrating sweating Christmas Day in style with temperatures in the mid-40s (degrees Celsius) and possible thunderstorms. I'd much rather be snowed in.
** Sign that it's almost Christmas #1: The agapanthus have begun to bloom!
Sign that it's almost Christmas #2: Apricots on the tree, almost ripe enough to pick but not quite. Give it a few days (this is what I keep telling myself despite the fact that I'm so impatient I've been eating them half green. They still taste pretty amazing, though).
** One of the great things about having a garden is pretty little surprises like venturing down to the vegie patch and finding the leeks (which didn't grow big enough to pick) in flower.
How was your week?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

365 Mail Art Project: Weeks 8 - 10

Oh! How I would love to be showing you a multitude of mail art pieces from the last three weeks, but alas! I've only managed to make 3 pieces during that time on account of a certain bathroom renovation, which has taken up all my time and energy. And it's still ongoing: As soon as I finish this post I must get back to painting it.
But for now, here's some mail art:
#21 of 365:
Inspired by said bathroom renovation I am sending Ulrika in Sweden the bath I wanted but couldn't have...

#22 of 365:
Whilst Laura in Canada is getting the Mr Armitage I wanted but could not have...

#23 of 365:
And my sweet penfriend Ele in Italy will be receiving a vintage Santa, who I suspect will be arriving a little late. C├ęst la vie!
I'll be back next Friday the 21st December with some mail art in celebration of the apocalypse! That's assuming, of course, that the world doesn't plunge into darkness and I lose my internet connection as a result. That would be so very annoying.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bathroom Renovation: Days 13 - 16

It has been the last four days that have been the most stressful of our bathroom renovation, as now we're up to the part that matters: The stuff that everyone will see - what we will see on a daily basis.
This is the part where you keep an eye on everything because there's nothing worse than finding a tradie doing something different than what you've asked for, especially when it's something you're going to be forced to look at for the rest of your life. Or, at least the next 15 years. When something's not quite right it can certainly feel like a lifetime. Trust me.
We're at the stage where we can see how things will look once they're finished. We wanted a resort feel to our bathroom: Simple, practical, classy. We chose slate grey tiles for the floor and plain, glossy white tiles for the walls, white bath and vanity unit with a gloss finish, and high quality chrome fittings.
I would say that things are 90% on par with how I'd imagined them to be. I reckon that's pretty good. Not everything could be done exactly as we'd planned but when dealing with old houses and having a bathroom set over an underground water tank, we knew there would be limitations. Afterall, the bathroom design changed three times before we came up with something that would actually work with the space and location we'd been given.
The tradies will finish up today. The bathroom will be back in use from this evening. Tomorrow I will start painting.
The end is in sight!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bathroom Renovation: Days 5 - 12

Just a quick update today on the progress of our bathroom reno, which has now reached day 12. There's not many photos to share as not a lot has happened in the past 8 days. In fact, for 4 of those 8 days, nothing happened at all!
We picked up the replacement basin, showerhead and mixer last Saturday morning after the original order was lost in transit, only to discover that the mixer was not the one we wanted. So on Monday morning we had to order the correct mixer tap and that arrived Tuesday around noon. Then we had to get the plumber in, a local who was a real champ: Dropped everything to come around and get the pipe-work done so that the tilers could come in the following day.
The floor tiles in the toilet have not yet been grouted but they are glued to the floor. As you can see, we currently have no loo so I've been staying at the in-laws - I can live without a functioning bathroom but the loss of a functioning (albiet barely) toilet is a whole different matter!
Today the floor tiles in the bathroom should be laid and, if all goes according to plan, our new toilet may be installed later this afternoon. We're still a few days off finishing but I'm hoping it'll all be complete by the end of the upcoming weekend.
If I was to be perfectly honest I would say that I am completely over the whole thing. Something that was supposed to take 10 days (max!) is now looking to be around 16 days before completion. That's practically a whole extra week! And the people to blame? That'd be the freight company who lost our original order of basin, showerhead and mixer-tap, which had they not "misplaced" it would have been with us a week prior to the tradespeople coming in to do the work.
And don't even get me started on the mess that will need cleaning up! You should see the place...No, I take that back. You shouldn't see it at all: It's embarrassing.
I really am going to need that long soak in a hot bath once it's all over!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Week in Pictures...

** You know those weeks where not a lot happens but a lot happens at the same time? We had one of those.
** The bathroom reno is all-consuming. It seems that every time we make a small piece of progress a new problem pops up and we end up at a standstill again. At this stage we'll be without a functioning bathroom for another week and all because of a MIXER TAP.
** I simply not have the time for my Mail Art Project this week, which was probably a good thing in hindsight as I was lacking in inspiration anyhow. No doubt anything I had tried to make would have been a complete waste of time. However, I did manage to write out all our Christmas cards instead.
** My Ma turned 50. FIFTY. I can't even imagine it: It seems so far in the future and yet so close at the same time. She celebrated with a dinner at a local restaurant with her family and friends and we ate cake - chocolate sponge with cream and strawberries, to be exact.
Here's to another fifty, yeah?

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.