Thursday, June 27, 2013

DIY decorative fretwork panel - part 2

It's taken me ages and plenty of erasing to finally settle on a scroll-y shape I liked. Had to make sure the shape fit the offcuts of pine we had left for the job (from the kitchen benches). Fretwork traditionally being such an individual handmade thing by the carpenter or home owner at the time, so I guess we are just adding our bit to the old house.

Mr CH cut out the scrolls using the scroll saw (our third), he's had plenty of practice.

Oil coat and two top coats later and they're ready to go.

The side uprights were nail gunned into place first and then our decorative panel slid inside them and was nailed in.

A bit of punching awkward diagonal nailing across the join as our nails were a bit short.

Delicate trimming.

The boss holds the scroll in place while the lackey snaps a photo, then runs back to lift the nail gun up.

A slightly gloomy rainy day photo, but you get the idea. Nail holes puttied, yet to be painted, we won't be bogging every join with gap filler, no point in these houses, everything moves too much and the joins are neat enough.
Very happy to finally see the little idea realised.
 Would be lovely at Christmas with fairy lights and greenery and a few baubles, dang, now we need one over at our place.
Cost- two pieces of 42mm dressed pine @ approx. $8 each (didn't use the full lengths though)
, leftover 19mm pine pieces, bit of paint, glue, putty and nails = Less than $20 for the decorative fretwork panel.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DIY decorative fretwork panel - part 1

When we cut the new opening between the lounge/dining rooms we had always planned adding a simple decorative divider between the rooms. Nothing too fancy or large, just a little something special, keeping with the humble style of the cottage. Thought I would show how we made it. We used these bits of dowel from an old child's playpen, plus the recycled chair spindles found in the rubbish under the Reno cottage that I talked about back here.

Pieces of 42mm dressed pine were drilled, one end of the uprights scalloped with the scroll saw (or use a jigsaw) and painted.

A dribble of  PVA glue put in each hole.

Two man job, no glue on the other side.

Use something, (preferably a ruler) to make sure both ends are the same distance apart.

Allow to dry overnight.
 Back with the finished panel next time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Recipe filing.


I finally got around to finishing a cull and organisation of my recipe stash that I mentioned a while back. This has been on my to-do-list for longer than I'll admit to. Considering I have never bought an Australian Women's Weekly/ Family Circle etc. magazine in my whole life, I seem to have acquired a ridiculous pile of zip-out-booklets, probably from my mother and aunt, on everything from slimming with seafood to new ways with chicken. I'm really trying to resist adding recipes, esp. those free supermarket ones and the ones on the side of food packets, and instead concentrate on try, throw or keep recipes instead. If I haven't tried it in the last 20 years, I probably won't.

Quite proud of the throw stack, a few hundred recipes.

Found a pic of a very young Livinia Nixon, looking all of 16/17 and and an ad for the Tab you can't buy in Australia anymore.
My oldest recipes in this file would have to be these biscuits and slices from 1974 in all their retro colour goodness.
Though this steamed orange pudding with chocolate sauce and winter casseroles are looking tempting at the moment.
Made a chicken pie with a sliced potato topping last winter, no joke, it looked like a cat sick pie in a photo, looked awful tasted lovely, hence my aversion to the whole photographing food thing.

Scrounged some plastic coated folders the Mr had emptied. Slipped inside the plastic some pretty paper and sticker title pages and used some of those plastic A4 sleeves to slip in recipe cut-outs from magazines, treasured hand written recipes and booklets. Started making dividers and then thought that was a bit too uptight even for me, I know where everything is. Biscuits, slices, cakes/ muffins, cheesecakes/ desserts, Christmas/ confectionery in the sweet folder (the biggest) and savoury slices, pasta, meat and soups and casseroles in the savoury folder. Glad it's done as it was driving me to distraction before, esp. when trying to find all the different pastry recipes I've been wanting to use lately. 

"Upside down Miss Jane!"

 Spiced apple crumble pie with custard
Passionfruit cake with freebie passionfruit.
Sour cream, roast beef, spinach flan with Parmesan crust.
Leftover vege tomato soup with broken pasta and cornbread. Wish all the family enjoyed cornbread.
I've been practicing photographing food in an attempt to banish my dislike of  it. I don't know about you, but I find attempting styling (my plonk and be done way) and taking pics of food very un-natural, do you ever get over the kids asking, "Why are you taking pictures of food, again?" or feeling a bit like a twit.
Do you enjoy taking pictures of food and do you ever make any recipes on other blogs? I find I save the recipes and eventually make about two thirds of them depending on conversions and ingredients I have at the time. I usually stick to Australian recipes unless they have dual conversions.

Made this easy jam shortcake last week and because I felt like playing a bit, I used a heart shaped cutter to make the top. Turned out kind of nice, I think. So simple.


125grams butter                            1/2 cup warmed apricot jam/80gms
2 cups self raising flour/300gms            1 lightly beaten egg or milk for brushing
1/2 cup caster sugar/110gms                 1/3 cup lightly toasted flaked almonds/40g
1 tablespoon/ 20mls lemon juice                                                                  
1 lightly beaten egg/59gms                                                                               

  • Sift flour and rub in butter with fingertips to resemble fine crumbs.
  • Add sugar, egg and lemon juice and mixed gently until combined into dough, chill for 20mins.
  • Divide dough in two and roll out between baking paper.
  • Line bottom and sides of 20cm/8inch pan or tray with half of dough.
  • Spread with warm jam and sprinkle with toasted almond flakes.
  • Roll out remaining dough and cut heart shapes with 5 1/2 cm/ 2 inch cutter.
  • Arrange shapes on top of jam/almonds slightly overlapping.
  • Brush with egg or milk, sprinkle with sugar and bake in moderate oven(180c/350f) for 25 mins checking for browning.
  • Enjoy.
It's my favourite time of year to cook, are you cooking more, to warm up your house?

Two weeks school holidays!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Old-fashioned shed build - concrete stumps.

I think I mentioned back in December? that we (Mr CH) were going to build our long awaited shed and then nothing. Well, the shed was started and then we had Christmas and holidays and back to school and work and three months of almost non-stop rain every weekend. Then Hubby thought about starting his own blog to chronicle his shed building adventures and then decided he had no time to spare. A full time job, plenty of after hours paperwork, renovations on two houses, kid demands etc leaves little time for personal indulgences at the moment. So I'll show a bit of the shed progress that may or may not appear on his own blog spot one day.
So what is an "old-fashioned shed build"?
  For us, it will be, a shed built by the owner (Mr CH), for the owner, using recycled materials (cheap, free, hand-me-downs, salvaged) where possible, as they become available. A shed built like our grandparents did, from whatever they could get their hands on. This shed has been on Mr CH's wish list since we moved here some 15 years ago. Not wanting a standard slab on ground steel shed, the design has been stewing away in Mr CH's head for more than a few years, changed, tweaked and refined into a what he's hoping will be a customized "Man Cave".
 I won't bother you with drawings, council fees, Australian standards or the like, Mr CH might do that one day. Regulations within one area alone are quite different depending on the site location and the zoning of your block, that it would be pointless to go into all those details (and also 'cos it's really boring). I will mention that, because we are on a narrow block we are allowed to build 50cm from the boundary line, we have decided to build 80cm from the boundary. It may look a little closer because of the overhanging vine.
 The shed will be a two part structure, one side being a raised shed on concrete stumps with a lean-to structure on the lower side. If you are interested in all that enviro-impact stuff, then this is one way to lower the carbon impact. Concrete gives off carbon dioxide for it's lifespan and by choosing a raised wooden floor on one side, we have some say in how much concrete is used on one side at least and a wooden floor is kinder on the legs if you are intending to be standing up a lot.

A 2.4 metre cyclone rod ($6 each, used as tie downs for the cyclone rating) was cut with a cutting disk on the angle grinder and the burs ground off with a bench grinder. This is a cheaper alternative to bolts which can cost $2-$3each, so by making his own bolts Mr CH saved himself more than a hundred dollars and it took him roughly an hour to make them all.

Attaching the stirrups to the bearers.
 Free concrete rods (gifted) were cut and welded to the (adjustable) bolts.

More child labour.

 Dig them out (900 deep), to fill them up.

 Mr CH designed and made his own stump moulds. Scraps of plywood screwed together and held above ground with a threaded clamp jig, long enough to span the hole.

 Here's one he prepared earlier.
Not counting the free steel (or the aches and splinters), 19 stumps has cost us $348.75 plus about $10 of welding consumables.
 Guilty of some dump-and-run-blogging at the moment, I'm working hard at ruining my day clothes with oil paint. Trying to take advantage of the fine weather with weatherboards lying all over the yard, almost done as we are expecting more rain before the weekend.
Hope all is well, wasn't it chilly this morning?
We left the back door ajar last night by accident brrrr!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A teeny-tiny table.

I bought this tiny table from an old wares shop some years ago, because one can never have too many small tables. It was originally stained timber and I gave it a sand to remove the old flaky varnish, a lick of white paint and plonked it in the bathroom under a basket of shells, thinking one day I would do something nice (for want of a better word) to it. A buy-something-make-a-spot-for-it-later thing because chances are, when you want a tiny table you won't be able to find one.
So lately it was cleaned (but left in it's slightly battered state) and some pretty paper was glued on with a thin coat of PVA (white glue) and left to dry overnight. Then two coats of leftover floor varnish (waterbased polyurethane) to make it waterproof and seal all the edges and it was done. Pity all makeovers weren't this simple.


Underneath gives an idea of what it used to look like, pine I think with silky oak stays.

Hope you aren't too washed out this week, it's been pouring here and the clothes are free drying near the fire. Seems the sun is starting to peek out today. I've been bringing in the camellias to save them from bruising, how does the Rose claim the title of the most beautiful flower? Surely the Camellia gives it a run for it's money.

Have a lovely weekend.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Veranda jobs

Just a little update over at the Reno cottage. Still lots of fiddly jobs to do for the veranda. These grotty boards have been given a wash even though they will be covered by the fake VJ panels.

Also need to deal with the floor gaps at some stage before varnishing the floor. Neither of us are looking forward to that bit, will involve a bit of grovelling under the house we think.

The fake VJ panels have been installed under the veranda windows. Some parts of the next two awnings have also been painted.

The cover strip for one end is now finished.

 The metal strip that the middle window slides along (for the front facing windows), has been nailed in place once and for all, a bit of a tricky job involved partial nailing and measuring while holding the steel straight and punching the nails in because of the ridge.

Child labour (or future DIYer) enlisted to measure and cut sarking for behind VJ panels. We've run out of insulation for this end, so the sarking will have to do. Don't think it will matter much with all those windows. The windows on this side are still temporarily nailed in and come out when the weather is fine. So they've been in-out-in a lot lately.
 Battens installed to attach the VJ panels to.

All those tricky bits to fit old and new together, chamfering a board on the table saw to hold new windows in from above. One end of veranda done!

We've used some graphite powder in the window bearings to help them run smoothly, still makes a racket and the powder leaves some black dust for a while. Can't use oil as dust sticks to it, interested to know if there are any better products/solutions for window lubrication that would be suitable for these old wooden windows. Do people still use these old windows or does everyone just replace them with aluminium windows?
Well, hope everyone enjoyed their weekend depite the washout.
What is it with wet weekends lately? 
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