May the roof above us never fall in
And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.

~Irish blessing

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spring Garden Update

It's been yet another busy week that's come and gone in a flash, but in view of the rain predicted for the long weekend I did find time to enjoy a spot of gardening yesterday, getting the tomato seedlings planted out for Cup Day and taking a few snaps of the Spring blooms...

The apricot foxgloves, sewn from the tiniest seed over a year ago, have finally fulfilled their promise of gorgeous speckle-throated flowers.

 I'm glad to say that all the bare-rooted roses we planted in June now have flower buds on them, but this Heidesommer has been the second to open and it's a show-stopper along the side of the house with beautiful cream to white flowers and an amazing honey scent.

I'm loving the little pink bells on this sollya vine, so pretty and delicate for an Australian native,

as is this 'Ivory Whip' grevillea which the possums are finally giving a rest, perhaps because spring has brought an end to the wintry garden famine elsewhere.

Another plant finally getting a thankful reprieve from the possums is the avocado tree which you may remember in August was being eaten to the bone. Can't say whether it was the Quassia or the plastic spikes we put along the fence, but as you can see it's at last making a healthy come back.

As for the other edibles, the Summer garden is coming along nicely with few dramas other than the sowing of the sweetcorn which has been a bit of a challenge. You'd thinking living just a few kms out of the CBD that we wouldn't have so much wildlife to contend with, but the morning after sowing the sweetcorn I found each and every corn kernel had been dug up and presumably eaten. No problem, I had plenty more in the packet so I just re-sowed them and covered the patch with these wire baskets...

but my plan was foiled.

The size and shape of the tunnel suggests a mouse to me, and I have seen the odd common house mouse around the place including a particularly brazen kitchen visitor that we've named Pierre. Unless I actually dig the wire down into the earth, I can't really see a way around this one, so I've just sewn the rest of the corn seed in pots and will have to transplant them when they become less-tempting seedlings.

Hope everyone's gardens get a good soaking this long weekend in preparation for Summer. Tom and I will be making the most of the time off getting a head-start on the bathroom, but will take some time out with friends to watch the ponies (and amazing roses) at Flemington on Tuesday. Good luck to all the punters.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Breaking Rock

One of my close friends has a paleontology background and occasionally volunteers during the holidays at a fossil site in Inverloch which is affectionately known as 'the dig'. Over the years I've been privy to many exciting post-dig discussions centering around 'breaking rock' and the interesting things that may have been discovered that week such as a prehistoric bird bone or carnivorous dinosaur tooth. 

Sometimes I like to think that renovating a house built over 100 years ago draws some parallels with this kind of excavation. In honesty, it's mostly  the newer extensions that we're dealing with - the kitchen and two ensuites - and while the peach and gold tiles at first suggested a renovation in the 1980s, we found things weren't necessarily so. The former owners had no idea when the extensions were built, being at least the third owners since then, and at the time it didn't really seem to matter. It wasn't until Tom started removing the kitchen splashback that it occurred to us that we didn't know if the cement sheeting we were decimating was asbestos, and without knowing what year the kitchen was built, it was very difficult to find out. After examining the fibres and comparing them to various online pictures we decided to err on the side of caution and stopped work until a lab provided us with an analysis proving there was no asbestos in the board. Still, we went on thinking the rooms were probably done some time in the later 80s until we started demolition of the first ensuite and found a clue. It was about half a page of newspaper behind the gyprock, date torn off, but still complete with a movie review of a highly anticipated feature film about to open nationally... it was 1993 and the film was no other than Jurassic Park. I had a good laugh with my paleo friend about 'dating' our bathroom with that one.

Anyway, fast forward six months to this past weekend and the mystery deepens. We always assumed that the 'peaches and cream' ensuites were the originals and therefor the extensions were done in 1993, but when Tom pulled up the cream floor tiles this weekend he revealed an older slate tiled floor. 

I know there must be builders and other experts reading this and thinking if we just looked at the bricks, mortar, roof etc we could clear this all up in an instant, but experts we are not, so in our Scooby Doo-esque detective style we continue to speculate on what we've found.

 I don't think it can be very old, but it does suggest something was there before the 1993 peach revolution. The tiles are in pretty good nick except for one or two, and we're thinking we like them and may ditch the white penny mosaics, buy some sort of slate sealant and leave it as it is.

I did a quick google search of bathrooms with slate floors and these two lovelies caught my eye. 

So what does everyone think. Should the slate tiles stay or should they go?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baby Proofing

It's been another busy week, with the wardrobes all painted now, and the second bathroom ready for the sledgehammer. I still need to find places for my hairdryer etc in the interim, but for now I'm sitting here drinking my decaf latte and thinking about baby proofing. Yes, it's a wee bit early I know, with the baby not even due until March and all, but I can't help but start to see potential hazards, not just for our precious baby but for my precious vases.

For instance these vases here...

As you can see, the low tv unit they're on provides easy access for little hands. I know stuff is just stuff, and you can't take it with you, but the floral vase did come back with me in my suitcase from a trip to Vietnam, and the ribbed ceramic vase is a special piece from a pottery near Tom's parents house on the south coast. Neither  are heirlooms or expensive but I'd be sorry for them to be broken. 

It reminds me of an episode of Malcolm in the Middle where the parents are going away for the weekend and the mum picks up a vase and says to the boys 'This is the one thing left in this house that I still care about', then she smashes it on the ground and says 'Now I don't have to worry.'

I enjoyed Anna Spiro's post back in May titled 'No!' where she wrote:

 " I have always been a firm believer in leaving all my precious objects around the house and teaching  my children to respect my things which will eventually become theirs {whether they like it or not}."  

I really admire this philosophy but I really wonder whether it could possibly work for me.

This ceramic umbrella stand is another example...

and silver 'lucky cat'... he's sturdy but he could hurt a little person if they pulled him over.

Also potentially dangerous is this old wooden ironing board that I've never found a home for so it remains precariously propped up against the wall in the laundry loo.

And this antique Japanese tea chest. Tom secured the Ikea shoe cabinet and bookshelf to the wall, but to fix this to the wall, we'd have to drill holes in it.

People with babies, is this thing climbable? Do I need to worry?

Would love to know what everybody else does about their breakable/potentially dangerous possessions when their babies start crawling. Do you leave it all out and teach them from the beginning, temporarily hide it all away or just decide that nothing lasts forever?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ensuite: Before, During and After

Finally, as promised here, here and here, I have some before and after pics of the ensuite. While it's been a joint effort, thank you thank you thank you to Tom for making my little dream for this formerly pink and pokey room materialise.

So without further ado, the before...

the during...

and the after...

Walls and meatsafe: Murobond Marble

Methven Satinjet

White penny mosiac and subway tiles, grout in Dunlop Misty Grey

It's been quite a long haul, beginning with demolition some time before last Christmas where as you might remember we discovered no waterproofing under the old tiles and a chipboard subfloor that was decaying and riddled with earthworms! Perhaps it was for the best though, as it meant we had to completely pull out the old shower base, allowing us to get a bit more creative with the teeny tiny space.

For those wondering what happened to the print I purchased for this spot above the loo here,

my lovely Mum had it framed for me to match the print in our bedroom.

Pop Music by Violet May

Thing is, it's so beautifully framed I'm now not sure about hanging it in a foggy bathroom and am thinking it ought to go in the hallway. Mum thinks maybe a little unframed oil or acrylic painting might stand up better under the humidity of the bathroom? Or should we just leave it as is? I guess these things are never entirely 'finished'. Next weekend, demolition of ensuite #2 begins...