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

~Irish blessing


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Six Months


Our little man is six months old today. What a whirlwind it has been. The house and garden have very much taken a back seat this past winter but as the weather warms up I am planning to dust off my paint rollers and gardening clogs and hopefully start sharing a few photos again here along the way. Today though, we're just relaxing and having cupcakes.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's a Boy!

Busy, busy, but wanted to let everyone know we are home and doing well :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nursery Tree

Just like the night before Christmas, today we decorated our Love Mae nursery tree.


Only two sleeps to go...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Almost there

With only a week to go until the baby is due we are getting there...

The cot is assembled, although I still need to figure out the baby monitor. Why does it come with 2 sensor pads if the second one is 'optional'? Why are European instruction manuals so confusing?


The 'baby's ensuite' now has running water in the old washstand. Tom did an amazing job revamping this old piece. Looks great, huh?


And with the bathroom dust-free now and so close to completion the nursery is finally taking shape.


Got to love Ikea


and this super cool cardboard elephant puzzle from Urban Outfiitters.


Finally a good home for these cast iron bunny bookends I picked up years ago in an op shop in Tilba Tilba.


'Carrots' the donkey rocker - a gorgeous gift from Mum. He makes a 'crunching' sound when you hold the carrot up to his muzzle.


And for the pièce de résistance, I've ordered one of these beautiful Love Mae fabric tree decals.


Plus a few birds to dot throughout the branches.


Let's hope our little one loves their enchanted forest as much as I do.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Penny Tiles

I am so in love with our penny round mosaic tiles. They feel amazing underfoot, especially in the shower, and when teamed with the subway tiled walls give our two little bathrooms an old New York apartment feel.

I think I first came across this look in Julie Holloway's beautiful Milk and Honey Home,


and then really fell hard for them in decorator Anna Spiro's vintage eclectic bathroom.


More and more now, I'm seeing rooms where they've taken the penny tiles UP the walls and they give an amazing neo-modern, almost futuristic feel. Have a look at Mina's fabulous almost Kubrickesque bathroom over at La Residence to see what I mean.


And some are even using actual pennies!

Stand Hotel, NY via Apartment Therapy

I've posted these two photos before, but these are the penny tiles we used for our ensuite floor last year,




and we've just finished using them again in the 'kids' ensuite'. Again, they were fairly easy to work with but I thought for those interested in having a go, I should mention a few lessons learned...

Like most mosaics, the penny tiles come glued onto conveniently sized mesh sheets so you can actually cut them with scissors, although you may need tile nippers for any edge that requires half a tile.

Now, I'm not sure where a professional tiler would stand on this, but we found that it's pretty much impossible to use a notched trowel to apply the tile adhesive, as with other tiling, because when you put the mosaic sheet down the thicker bands of adhesive squish up between the tiles. For us, it was easier to spread the tile adhesive quite thinly and evenly and gently press the tiles down.


Remember to start at one end of the room and work across is rows. Don't work towards a center point like I did in the first bathroom, or you'll end up pulling many many individual tiles off to make them fit evenly together. If you're working your way out of a small room, I really think it would be better to do it over a few days, allowing for sections to dry, rather than trying to make the sheets meet in the middle.


Grouting the penny tiles is also quite easy as no shaping is required. Just smooth it on and sponge it down so it's nice and even. Like in the other bathroom, we used Dunlop 'misty grey'.


 In a last minute decision, we decided to take the penny tiles up the bath and over the hob, indulging just a little in that whimsical retro feel. It's a childrens' bathroom after all.


The trickiest part was shaping the tiles around the hob. We thought cut edges would look too rough on the corners so Tom did some 'sculpting' with a slightly firmer grout to smooth and fill the gaps.


It's all nice and dry now, so tomorrow all the joints can be caulked and we will be nearly there. 

I'm hoping on Sunday we may even have time to put the cot and change table together! 

Happy weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Summer Garden

I have to admit our little garden is getting a bit overgrown. With me on crutches and Tom trying to get the second ensuite finished the weeding and pruning has had to take a back seat. At the same time though, I don't think the garden has ever been as beautiful. Perhaps being so housebound allows me more time to appreciate it, but I've always been partial to a bit of decay and jungle so unpruned stringy messes of salvias and gaura, studded with summer flowers and swarming with bees, really appeal to me.


In its second year, the garden is also full of little flowering surprises. Despite all the shade we have to contend with, it's definitely a summer garden. The spring garden never really got going the way I hoped it would. The foxgloves and roses were wonderful, but the spring bulbs, with the exception of a few freesias, mostly flopped and failed as if some fat animal had sat on them. Was it too dry? Not enough sun? Any tips would be welcome.

Right now though almost every visit to the garden brings a bright new discovery.

Ginger flowers in our little tropical hot spot.


A single water hyacinth flower surprised us yesterday.


The madagascar jasmine is finally in bloom and smells, well blooming amazing.



On the edible front it's all about finding those gems that really thrive on neglect. The perpetual spinach lives up to its name rain or shine and is a fantastic, easy source of cooking greens.


The corn, like many of our crops, is just too tempting to hungry critters, so we won't be bothering with it again. Such a shame as freshly picked corn is so delicious. We at least are lucky to get very fresh, yummy organic corn in our ceres order.


The tomatoes down the side are booming, and despite my concerns about poor air flow and blight, are so far so good.


Our baby is due now in only 4 weeks! While I'm hoping I'll be off crutches soon after the birth, I imagine just adapting to life with a small baby will also mean there's not a lot of time for gardening, so we're planning on streamlining the edibles to just herbs, trees and a few low maintenance favourites. The pond is a safety hazard for a crawling baby, so a new project has been devised to move the fish into this wine barrel...


then move the herbs into the fruit crates which will cease to house carrots, beetroots and other things that are are just getting eaten by rats and possums anyway.

Painting the back of the house is also something I hoped I'd finish this summer, but hopefully I'll sneak some time over the next few months between feeds, changes and naps.


And the nursery? It's all still in boxes while the second bathroom is finished off - otherwise the whole lot will get covered in renovation dust. We are very very close now though, so next week there should be a post on tiling with penny mosaics, then hopefully some nursery photos soon after that.

Oh, and I am tardy as usual, but I had to include these lovely blooms and say happy belated Valentine's Day.


My husband knows me too well. I love all flowers but especially the pink ones.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Waterproofing the bath/shower area

You may remember me writing about the shocking state of the subfloor and joists when we started demolishing our bedroom ensuite last year. It was pretty bad, not just mouldy bad, which you might expect under old tiles, but earthworms living in soggy chipboard bad. The bathroom wasn't that old either - only early 90s - but from what we could make of the remnants, no waterproofing of the shower area had ever been properly done, just chipboard with villaboard over the top and then tiles laid straight on. 

Now I'm no expert, but something I've learned is that while villaboard is a water resistant product, it's not waterproof and if it's used in shower or bath areas it needs to have a waterproof membrane applied to it up to 1800mm high. Some people use 'blue board' in their showers as it has a water resistant coating, but blue board is actually an exterior product for eaves and has really poor tile adhesion, so villaboard or wet area plasterboard with a membrane over the top is the way to go.  The membrane comes in a tub and you brush or roller it on like a thick paint. You also need to use a bond breaker (either a 'bond breaker bandage' or a neutral cure silicone - see video) on any joins, cover over any fixings with a waterproof polyurethane product (we used marine sikaflex) and use reinforcement bandage around any gaps such as taps etc.


If you want to tile your own bathroom, but feel a bit nervous about doing the waterproofing there are tradesman that will come in and do just the membrane for you. The video below though should give you an idea of what's involved.


There are membrane kits available from the major hardware stores that come with membrane, bandage etc. Dunlop do one and Crommelin is also readily available. We used Crommelin because a friend had half a tub leftover after doing his own bathroom. Even with two generous coats, it was more than enough to do the shower area in the ensuite #1 and the bath area is ensuite#2 with plenty left over. It's a bit smelly, but not too bad, and only takes a couple of hours to dry between coats so it's easily all done in a day.

You can use masking tape between the wet area to be tiled and the area to be painted, but it's probably not necessary if you have a steady hand. The tiles will overlap a bit over anyway.


And we extended the membrane over the whole floor as it's to be a children's bathroom and splashing is bound to happen.



I've been a bit slack and these photos are actually from last week and don't show all of Tom's late night painting work. Our weekend was packed full of childbirth education classes and similarly themed excursions, but tiling will hopefully commence over this coming Australia Day weekend. Don't worry though, time out is scheduled to catch up with a few friends for some drinks and an inaugural pavlova. Hope everyone has a great long weekend.

Pottery Barn

Does anyone remember that episode of Seinfeld when Kramer keeps receiving unwanted Pottery Barn catalogues and ends up going down there and throwing them back into the store? 


For a long time that was my main association with the store when the name came up, and frankly 'pottery' + 'barn' doesn't conjure up the most glamourous impression. Being hauled up with pregnancy SPD though has left me with a dangerous amount of time to explore online shopping, and I stumbled upon their post-Christmas sale during some browsing a few weeks ago and found amongst, yes a fair bit of dagginess, some rather tempting wares. I have to be honest, the customer service and online ordering has been a difficult process. The shipping is expensive - even at half off which is their current special - and the disorganisation - mislabeled products, photos that don't match descriptions and emails that are responded to without being properly read are really annoying. For instance I ordered a bargain doona cover (or duvet cover as it is known in the states), made in Italy and lovely printed cotton on sale for $37 plus matching pillowcases (excuse me, 'shams') for around $14, only to be told that the 'shams' were sold out after I'd paid. Too late to cancel the order, I had to pay more than double for them through a US ebay reseller in order to get the matching look I wanted, but hey, it was still a lot cheaper than buying bed linen from somewhere like DJs so I didn't fare too badly in the end I guess.


My Romona: The Romana 'duvet' cover, but called 'Romona' on the PB website.

The order arrived quite quickly through DHL, and I'm pretty happy with my various little bargains. Not so happy the 'train rack' (just makes me think 'train wreck') towel shelf I ordered didn't come with it and seems to be lost in international postage somewhere, but otherwise everything seems to be decent quality, certainly for the price, and was packed safely for the journey. 


A nice, simple bedskirt. A glass butter dish. Finally a bin small enough for our ensuite. A 'paper holder' for the laundry loo, and a 'small marble canister' whose dimensions are annoyingly quite different from the photo on the website - I purchased it to hold toothbrushes in the new bathroom but it will have to hold cotton balls or something. It does match the measurements listed on the site though, so the lesson is read the fine print.

So for the most part, it's a thumbs up for Pottery Barn. It looks like stuff I could have bought from say a trendy boutique in Fitzroy but for a lot less money. And that reminds me, I picked up one of these Danlamp incandescent bulbs from Twenty21 on Johnston St.


Thanks Anita for the tip :) It gives the dining table a lovely romantic glow.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Smelling the Roses

Aren't these Dainty Bess roses amazing? All turned east so we can enjoy their pink frilly beauty from the kitchen doorway. 


They smell really divine too, and are just one of the pleasures in the garden right now that make a few adversities that we're facing right now that much easier. Unfortunately in the third trimester I've lost my ability to do much gardening, having been hit with a bad case of SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) that's left me hobbling about on crutches. It's enormously frustrating, with nesting urges peaking and boxes I can't lift or do anything with sitting in our still to be set up nursery. Being mostly housebound, I don't know what I'd do without a bit of nature to go out and enjoy every day. Tom is as usual being an absolute superman, and still chipping away at the bathroom renovation between all of the other household duties he's had to pick up. The waterproofing is done now, so I'll take a few snaps and try to do a post on it as promised over the next few days. But for now I'll be grabbing a book (loving Kaz Cooke's Kidwrangling for a bit of afternoon reading right now) and finding a sunny spot amongst the flowers.