Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kid kitsch and Christmas prepping....

The lovely comments on the post before last (dough decorations), about our nice simple Christmas tree made me chuckle. Sorry, thought I should probably come clean. Truth is, the dough ornaments were on the little tree, the bigger tree looks a bit different.
There never has been an elegantly decorated Christmas tree at our place, no matchy, matchy baubles in co-ordinating colours. Most years, our "kid kitsch" tree has looked like the result of a throwing competition. Gone are the days when I would rearrange a few bits when they were off at school, those five ornaments per branch, usually at the eye height of each child, hoping to make our tree look a little less lopsided.
 Our tree may not be stylish but it's all us. From those early days when the ornaments were few and mostly handmade, through the years as each child has added their own creations.
 The Santa with the curly mo and the angel with blue eyes and lips.
Pipe cleaner Santa and peg reindeer.
Plaster of paris angel and a Santa with blue face and orange moustache.

 Every coloured-in piece showing evidence of expired textas and roll up crayons at the end of a long school year. I don't think we have a single Santa or angel that isn't two-toned.
 Ice-cream sticks covered in crepe paper and peg stars.
Pipe cleaner and lace candy canes and wreaths , angels with wonky faces and eyebrows. Paper snowflakes and the gold painted pine cones (I remember making these in my childhood)
We wouldn't have it any other way. And once they've all flown the nest and taken their decorations with them (4 decorations per kid, per year adds up), these might be all we will be left with.

It been a week for last minute preparations, trying some ideas from Pinterest and baking foody gifts, I had to make a slice for Mr CH's end of year lunch (he was on sweets and picked it) whose main ingredients were fat and icing sugar and smothered with chocolate, never making that again!

We like these ideas from Pinterest, esp the upside down gingerbread man cutter for reindeer biscuits.
 We made a gingerbread house that must need re-stumping as the roof is looking a bit saggy, too many cooks on that one. No.3 had fun making a dog (and dog bowl), so our house is more of a gingerbread doghouse.

I think the back looks (a bit) better.

We've had two out of three Birthdays so far, thankfully low key.
Had fun with a work secret santa.

Secret santa presents are still a work in progress and are added to, up until the last minute. Our $20 limit is challenging, but forces you to be creative.  We have fun, some are hilarious and some nice. Past presents have included a dreadlock wig, muscle man apron, egg laying chicken (don't ask!), lots of indulgent food and the booby present - a foot spa! Who uses that?

Trying to make a few more decorations while in the Christmast mood. The day starts at 5am, so you might as well be stitching. Thought I would try a stick tree this year.

Started this tree last year and it's still not finished but the star was added this year. Maybe next year it will have a base?

For someone else.

The Christmas confectionery is progressing and waiting to be divied-up. Usually a once a year thing, so we all enjoy the indulgence.
White cranberry rocky road, rum balls, strawberry oreo fudge, pecan fudge, apricot and triple sec balls, and rocky road fudge and the good old faithful - almond bread.

A parting gift from school (head lice!) has been dealt with and defeated.
 Well, maybe, you never are quite sure....

  And on one of the windiest days of the year, avoiding a fire out on the front road. Might have been kids or a cigarette butt, thankfully the wind was blowing away from our fence. Late afternoon and we didn't even smell or know there was a fire until we saw the firetruck near the front gate. We hear so many sirens daily, that we tend to ignore them.  Burnt a few tree including the big pine tree on the other side of the road so there'll be no swiping a few branches for Christmas this year.

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your families and enjoy a good break if you have some time off work.
Enjoy your family and take care.
See you in 2013.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Painting veranda ceiling.

But first, the littlest fellow brought home from school this super cute house made out of bickies and lollies. All held together with a generous dab of icing mortar. What a cute end of school idea, each child was asked to bring in a packet of biscuits, wafers, lollies, icing sugar etc. They followed a house building plan under the supervision of their substitute teacher. Love the iced vo-vo roof and licorice chimney. He was pretty chuffed with how it worked out.

 Thought I might sneak in a reno post, a quick one, as I have had a sniffle today, darn allergy!!! Guilty of dump and run blogging lately, like everyone else, too many things to do.
Wondering if we could hold them to this guarantee even if we won't be living in the house?
Going against the norm (as usual) and have decided to paint the veranda ceiling green. The same green as the outside walls in fact -Neptune.
 A bit of useless info here, (open)veranda roofs were often painted a cool colour to sooth the senses from the stifling heat. And as the veranda  walls will be painted white, which will be hard enough to keep clean, we thought green might help camouflage any grime on the ceiling.

Wouldn't you think, the paint shop would give us something better than a bit of plastic, after spending a small fortune on one tin of paint. Have you ever used one of these paint pourers? We hadn't, (despite single handedly keeping the paint shop in town in business)

Something so simple, which we managed to fluff. Pour slowly!

Cutting in is my job, which takes forever.

Mr CH can whip through his part quickly with the extender roller.

And then take a day or so to rest the weary neck muscles.

While he was painting, I was skim coating and sanding all the dents in the door and window surrounds.

Mr Ch decided to "shock horror" get something DBSE otherwise known as "done by someone else"!!!  Instead of using the bender in the family machining shed, he ordered some custom bent flashing. Said he felt like he was cheating.
Darn DIYers!

How DIY are we?
Had a little think about that, and was reminded of a few things by hubby.
We've tried house stumping - twice
House roofing - twice
Fence building - once (cheated and got a friend to do the front fence)
House extending- once ,foundations to roof, the first and biggest project to date
Tiling - floor twice, walls once.
Stairs, awnings, arbours
Paving and retaining walls 
A couple of kitchens and a bathroom and a half?
DIY pest control - started after the pest men couldn't guarantee effectiveness with all the rain.
Upholstery and rug cleaning - wouldn't recommend that one, they earn every cent.
 Mr CH has dabbled in a bit of home brewing.
All computer installation and maintenance.
Digital TV booster installation (not 240v)
All car maintenance on one of the cars.
Tree pruning - including removal of one mango tree to make way for house extension
Car engine re-builds and car spraying.
Three steel shed builds
Helped neighbours with reno jobs.
One backyard half pipe - a "build it and they will come" thing
Business owner
Furniture building and renovating
Two wedding cakes - which is two too many
 Lots of removal of other people's home improvements including a 70's brick bbq and a brown shower screen.
Still on the "to do "list
Our kitchen renovation - the oven is groaning!
Second bathroom from scratch (downstairs)
New back fence
Spiral stairs to replace the ladder!!!
Tiling floor of rumpus room
More furniture fix-ups
DIY camera lens fix
Mr CH's shed!!!
Partial kitchen reno (for a relative) on the holidays
Hope this doesn't sound like a "blow you own trumpet" kind of thing, intended more like encouragement, as before buying a house we'd done very little DIY.
In the last 15 years (minus 3 in the country) we've managed to save ourselves more than $100 000  (inspite of council fees) by DIY and never borrowed extra money to renovate. While our fix-ups are not expensive or trendy, the improvements will always be worth more than they cost.
If we hadn't bought the Reno Cottage we would have been debt free by 40, hmmm what's not to like about that?
It does help to have a few tradies in the family and what you can't get "free"help with, you can barter.
Mr CH once machined a pentrometer (soil sampler) for a family friend (civil engineer) in return for him to check and sign off on our house plans.
 Well that was a strange "short" post, wasn't going to write that.
Guess this blog is aptly named.
I'm ready for bed and it's only 8:30!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Making dough Christmas decorations

Have three doughs I thought you might like to try, the salt dough and soda dough I made for this year. The cinnamon decorations I made about 9 years ago. If I remember rightly, I had no trouble with the recipe and they still smell wonderfully spicy. Some insects got into the box the first year and nibbled so they look a bit moth eaten. Now I store them in a separate container. 
My favourite from the two this year would be the soda dough, love the texture. Not as grainy and whiter than the salt dough.
 I used the kids old play dough cutters, which were a bit rough around the edges. Also found a few stamps and bits from the craft cupboard to press into the dough shapes.
I was hoping to use a few as tags on Christmas gifts.

 1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
Mix dry ingredients together and add water.
Knead with hands to form dough.
Roll out and cut into shapes.
Bake in a slow oven for an hour or so, or leave to air dry for a week.
Colour dough or paint with acrylic paints when dry. 
 Hang. (I used rusty wire for these ones)

1 cup ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cloves
3/4 cup of apple sauce
2 tablespoons of PVA glue (white glue)
Mix dry ingredients together.
Stir in apple sauce and glue and mix well.
Work together with your hands to form a dough.
Sprinkle work surface with cinnamon if needed.
Roll out portions of the dough 3-5 millimetres thick and cut into shapes with cutters.
This is not a flexible dough and may need a bit of pushing into shape.
Remember to make a hole near the top for hanging.
Allow to air dry for few days (turn them over a few times) or dry in the sun.

1/2 cup cornflour
1 cup bi-carb soda
3/4 cup water
 Mix ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture congeals (like the cream of tartar play dough)
Place in bowl covered with cling wrap and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Roll out portions of the dough to a few millimetres thick.
Cut and or stamp with your choice of cutters or mould into shapes free-style.
 Remember to make a hole near the top if you want to hang up.
Add a few drops of food colouring if desired.
Bake in a slow oven for 15 mins and allow to air dry for a few days.
The recipe said to bake for longer, however my first tray started to brown, which I didn't want.
You could not bake at all and air dry, I tried this also and it worked fine.
String up.


Good project for the kids!
Have fun.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy vintage finds for 2012

When I went to look for some pics for this post, I found that I had already blogged about most of my thrifty finds this year. I haven't wanted to buy things just to have something to blog about. Though looking around the house, funny you think somethings have been there for an age, they just seem to blend into the gathered things that make our house a home. 
I found lots of things I was very happy to bring home this year, among them another enamel teapot in red.

Which has had me wasting time re-displaying the top of the dresser and swiping the rosey tins Mr CH hasn't used for his guitars yet. The poor white pot has been relocated. NO more really!!! Well maybe one more, don't they say you should display in odd numbers, 3's or 5's?
Just noticed a plate missing as it has the Christmas cake on it.

I bought a few doileys, napkins and hankerchiefs earlier in the year before Grandma's linens turn up.
During winter I found two vintage chenille bedspreads for a few dollars each, the purple one was so yellow, which came clean after a good soak.  They are a bit smaller than the big queen size one I usually use, must be doubles.

I was happy to find this vintage plastic wrap lamp for $6, you can't get a nice new lamp for that.

Must be circa 1960's, as there is a similar lamp in the background of this pic of my mum in the late 60's, though with more ferny stuff on the flowers. (I loved those bark cloth curtains, they had pinky panels on a creamy background)

Another pretty cardbox, love this one.

As it has Christmas cards on the inside, which remind me of Holiday Inn with Bing, sigh.
 We had 39C 102F the other day, I need all the day dreaming I can get.
A few new/old swans found their way here, have a soft spot for Casey ware. The pink swan has a little sticker underneath in an old-fashioned hand to remind someone that a certain person gave her the swan before he was married?

Seems you can get these pic for reasonable price $15, wisdom in the Word. This one is 50cm long.
Like the first part (proverbs 3:5) as one of my all time faves.

Had to have this funky retro planter.

 Would like a nicer pot plant tray to go in it, was hoping the flowers would spill over, but not all seeds came up. Mr CH likes yellow flowers.

Loved this pale yellow biscuit barrel, more for display than to use.

Happy to find this plate, yes it's just a pretty plate....

..until it finds it's long lost buddies. Which started with a bowl from my aunt, then a matching saucer from an oppy. Happy matching plates for $2 total - the sunburst pattern, manufactured by Australian Crown Glass in the 1950's.
 Did you know, as most clear depression glass wasn't considered collectable there is less chance of buying fake reproductions than with the coloured glass pieces. I always check the seam line, usually a pronounced line means an earlier mould. I think you can also tell an older piece by the presence of bubbles and other irregularities.
 Has been a year of Pyrex pie plates, and with almost no effort I have managed to add another 6 plates to the two I already had. I now have three sizes, in three colours. The most expensive $4, the brown one (second from the bottom) free with a piece of furniture.
Will use some of these at Christmas.

Do they come in other colours in Australia?
 Have seen other colours in the Pyrex love on Flickr 

Has been a year of outdoor furniture, which we need lots of. Bought four metal garden chairs for $5 each! So comfortable!

A moment of serendipity.
On a lone trip to the hardware shop (for a tin of paint), I spied some white chairs across the road at my favourite oppy (hawk eyes) as I was driving around the corner, parked in an empty parking spot just after the corner. Walked across the road to have a look with only $20 cash in my purse. Bought them two minutes before and older couple started admiring them. They asked me how much were they as I was loading them in the back of the wagon ( I want to keep this car forever!) Was meant to be! 

Found this outdoor chaise before winter. The 80/90's cushion needs to go and a new paint job is planned (one day!) Has been a very popular seat for both humans and animals.

Moments after I took the above pic, the two little shadows hopped on for a snooze in the shade.

Last one -  my favorite find of the year a 1960's chic outdoor setting. Another lucky find (in an op shop window) out walking the dog after hours and had to wait until Monday morning hoping someone hadn't already bought it.
Fantastic condition, love the plasticy chair cushions, very comfortable, no tears, no blemishes, very heavy. Someone has taken care of them, just a few bits of rust underneath the glass table top (which Mr CH will look at) and some surface rust here and there on the chairs which I have treated with some Rust Converter. Just enough rust not to look like a reproduction.  
 Hubby and I have been wanting a small table and chair setting for a few years now and have looked at the ones at Recollections/EarlySettler for so long, trying to decide old vs new/repro.
 Sometimes it's better to wait a bit, after all we couldn't beat that price.

So I played silly stylist for half an hour before the sun got too hot. Hard pressed to find a non-dehydrated patch of garden at the moment.
Table and chairs - Op-shop $80
Vintage crocheted tablecloth - Grandma's belongings
Gingham crochet cloth - Op shop earlier in the year
Green tray - Mr CH made
Yellow jug - antique fair
Flowers - garden
Lots of girly things this post, did you like my finds? 
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