Thursday, 26 June 2014

Bright idea!

Our insulation efforts are proving very effective - and we certainly notice a difference if venturing from any of the front areas to the smallest room in the house!

There was no toilet window curtain when we moved in.  I found an odd double-layer lace item at an op-shop.  It may have been a dressing table skirt.

Whatever it's previous use, the length of lace was cheap at a dollar and till now has afforded good privacy. Of course, lace doesn't offer any insulation in winter! I found a warmer window covering today in the form of a small, lighter-weight quilt. I hung it over the curtain rod, then folded the edges under (to adjust the width) and pinned them in place.

The bright colours prompted a mini makeover, which included hanging some more of Vaughan's artwork.  I found a new tapestry frame at an op-shop today.  It was $5.00 (though still had it's ancient $25.00 original price tag).  Seemingly tapestry frames don't have glass, which I didn't notice till I unwrapped the packaging at home. Oh, well - I'm sure Vaughan's ladybugs don't mind!

The ladybugs and frog mask have been hung opposite the now-quilted window. I've had the frog prints for many years.  They were my two favourites from an old calendar, so I had them professionally framed, way back in 1997 - and yes, I still like them!

I'm hoping the window quilt causes a dramatic improvement to the temperature of the room.  Fingers crossed for frog-tastic results!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Garden babies!

My garden has babies!

The peas I planted on 13 June have sprouted and look like tiny green butterflies! Aren't they lovely?!

On very close inspection I can see a few bok choi just poking through also. How neat is that?!  As far as I can see (and I peered quite intently), there's no other action yet but I'll keep looking!

Monday, 23 June 2014

The foul weather fowl!

I was admiring my windowsill chookies this morning and decided they really needed some offspring. So I made spring chickens - hah! The original trio (two yellow floral and one pale green) were fairly cute but I wasn't entirely satisfied with them. They seemed to be lacking ... something.

We accomplished a few missions in town this afternoon.  Erin had a bag of donations for the op-shop and I looked there for a frame, without success.

The dump shop yielded some good loot - five items for $10.  I only wanted my frame, so reimbursed Erin $2.  Of course, I thought the frame was pretty much the size I needed for Vaughan's chook picture.  It wasn't and the young artist didn't wish his work to be extensively trimmed. 

I asked him to bring out his art folder and we spotted this black chook, which fit the frame better.  You might notice the chook is carrying an umbrella.  I asked Vaughan about it and he said they had done the art at school "after reading some book", though further explanation wasn't forthcoming!  I'll just assume it is foul weather fowl (from Melbourne)!

I put up another hook for the newly framed fowl and then stuck a third hook higher up for the original artwork, still on it's temporary hanger.  I'll measure that picture before setting out again to find a suitable frame!

You can see the $2 frame with it's original print at the bottom of the second collage.  It was a bit grubby and took a lot of encouragement to yield the unwanted contents.  I used a lot of goo remover to clean off the old sticky tape and washed the frame, glass and cord thoroughly.  Nick put some superglue in the joints.  I reckon it's come up wonderfully - and much prefer Vaughan's art to the photographic print it came with!

After framing the black chook, I made another windowsill chick with some brown velvet.  This one has a small comb and is my favourite of today's four, so he'll be staying with the bigger chookies.  I might "hatch" some siblings for him later.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Kitchen chooks ...

I did a bit more work in the kitchen today, using my chookie bunting as a cue for further interior decorating.

Vaughan created a fantastic chook picture last year and was happy to have it on display.  I'm pondering a more permanent frame - hopefully the dump shop will have the right size!

I also fabricated (hah!) a couple of windowsill chookies this afternoon.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

My window views!

You might be wondering at the current window insulation focus. I mentioned the fact that we have big windows here but I can't see (hah!) that I've shared any photos of the kitchen, dining and lounge areas.

As I write this post at 10:00am, it is currently 5 degrees outside.  It was similarly cold last night when we were all listening to stories in the lounge room.

As you can see this end of the house is open-plan with a high raked ceiling.   We use our fire constantly and it puts out wonderful heat but even so it's a big ask for it to fully heat the area, particularly with so many huge windows.

We didn't have any insulation last year, relying only upon the basic (and on some windows, ill-fitting) curtains. As we head further into winter though, the memory of Vaughan and I last year, snuggled on the lounge in our sleeping bag nest, is becoming increasingly clearer!

I haven't tackled that window yet.  It's the largest of all but it's curtains are open during the day and I don't want to block the view by my insulation method. 

I'm also conscious that I may need to use (more) blankets for coverage and their weight might be an issue across the longer width.  Another factor to consider is the volume of condensation that accumulates overnight - Oscar can only consume so much! Therefore there's a good chance whatever I use will become damp (or wet) and needs to be fairly easy to clean at the end of winter.  I'll keep pondering the last window but we've all definitely noticed a marked improvement in temperature since the others have been "dressed"!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Window dressing ...

I've been pleasantly surprised by how much difference my kitchen window solution has made to our inside comfort level.

I was on a mission to achieve more window dressing today and enlisted Nick's aid.

The air conditioner window was first on our list.  In recent weeks one curtain has stayed open, leaving the panels above and below the air conditioner exposed.

Nick tacked some of our carpet tiles in place so they covered the small glass panel.  A piece of pre-quilted fabric was strung to cover the other glass panels (beside the air conditioner).  The smaller photo shows the view from outside.

The dining area window was next - shown in the second photo collage.

This took quite a while, mainly because I wanted to be able to open and close the insulating "curtains". I made them from a cotton weave blanket, which was purchased new for Erin's baby bed!

While out this afternoon, we got some hooks. I'll get Nick to install them tomorrow, so I can create curtain tie-backs to hold the blanketing aside during the day.

I've been pondering our entry sliding door for a few weeks. I can't find the old blanket I had intended to use so decided to hang this one instead. It's a bit flasher than the MIA cheapie - but it's important to create a good first (door) impression!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Kitchen cover-up!

I slept in yesterday. It's a rarity, so I made the most of the opportunity! Nick worked outside but each time he came back in, he had dragon breath so I didn't venture out. Slack, I know!

Well, slack as far as further seed planting was concerned.  I made soup, focaccia, cheffed proper baked beans and solved my kitchen window issue - so was fairly productive in the scheme of things.

Hamby Home(in)stead has a lot of windows.  Big windows.  They are great for admiring the view.  Not so great for keeping the house warm in winter.  I'm on a mission to create extra insulation behind the curtains, where there are curtains.  When we moved in there were a few bare windows.  I left the kitchen one as it was because I liked looking out.  (You might remember at one stage last year the chookies liked looking in)!  It stayed bare last winter but tis now fixed.

As part of my window insulation research, I discovered the existence of window quilts.  They seemed like a good idea, though required a bit more effort than I was willing to expend.  I did have a piece of pre-quilted fabric though and we purchased curtain rods and the necessary hardware (from the dump shop, of course)!  Nick installed the first curtain rod and was considering the best way of fixing the second. 

I played around with other options last night and discovered that one of the fleece covers I made for our camping air mattresses was just the right length to slide over the curtain rod.  Too easy!  It didn't look all that inspiring but noticeably improved the temperature in the kitchen area. 

Obviously there is a bit of a gap between the bottom of the cover and the window sill.  That's fine as I still want to look out and quite often the dishes stack up fairly high in the dish drainer so a longer curtain (or equivalent) would be in the way. 

I wasn't quite sure how to make the fleece cover more appealing then remembered that bunting is a big thing at the moment, or seems to be according to various craft tutorials.  I decided to make some using materials on hand.  (You might have gathered there is a huge amount of material on hand)!  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  Tis important for the kitchen sink to be cheerful!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Lettuce begin again!

We started our raised garden bed last September with high hopes - and there was some success. 

Vaughan ate many carrots and our corn grew but proved too much temptation for Tea.  Our rainbow chard was one of the best crops and it was still kicking along when we returned from Yowah!

Overall all though, my first foray into vegetable gardening was somewhat disappointing.  It had been difficult to maintain enthusiasm when Tea was such a menace and I pretty much gave up on the exercise.  Now that the horrible heifer has been confined to quarters for well over a month, I'm daring to garden again and decided today was the day to start.  Let's hope Friday the 13th is a lucky day for gardens (and gardeners)!

Armed with the "Home Harvest" publication distributed by our local councils, I rummaged through my box of seed packets and chose according to the annual planting guide on page 43!  I planted peas, lettuce and radish (with Vaughan's assistance). 

I bought a few more seeds from The Reject Shop this afternoon, taking advantage of our family discount - thanks Nissa!  The growing advice on the packets differs from what I remembered of the planting guide information in my booklet (which I left at home), so after much deliberation I purchased broad beans, broccoli, rocket and spinach.  I'll try to plant them tomorrow.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Tea Gate!

We were chatting with our landlady today, talking of fences and how wonderfully Tea is behaving now that she's learned to respect the electric fence.  (She's stayed in her paddock for nearly four weeks - a record)!

As we stood looking over at Tea, Nick commented that the only weak link of the large paddock is the gate.

It wasn't long after that conversation that I looked out the window and spotted our cow on her knees, attempting to wriggle through the gap between the gate and fencepost!

She was so determined that the fencepost was moving and looked as if it were being lifted out of the ground. 

I ran from the house to shout sternly at Tea. 

She retreated quickly, looking very guilty!

Nick grabbed some pliers and effected a modification to the gate, running a strand of electric fencing tape along the opening.  As you can see, his efforts were closely supervised by our would-be escapee. 

The large bow in the gate isn't Tea's doing.  One of the visiting bulls enjoyed rubbing against the mesh - and the gate wasn't up to his one-tonne attention!  Tea pushes on the gate too but isn't anywhere near as heavy as him - yet!

I'm not sure how much Tea weighs but I did measure her while Nick was fixing the gate.  Last June she measured 75cm to the top of her shoulder and now she is 118cm.  That's an increase of 43cm in just one year!  I measured Vaughan last night and in the same period he has grown 4cm, so is currently 138cm tall - which gives him a little clearance over Tea. 

(It seems I also measured Tea in August last year.  She was 90cm then, a height increase of 15cm in 11 weeks.  Not quite ten months down the track, she's achieved another 28cm).