Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 68: Sailing

The deck at the rear and the south side is now finished and boy, is it big!  Bob has used a cyprus pine and it is a really lovely colour.  While Bob says that he normally leaves his decking unsealed and lets it go grey naturally, I'm thinking that it might look good with sealer or oil.  This will mean a fair bit of maintenance over time, but the colour of the wood is so lovely that I'd like to preserve it.  Something else to discuss.  I'm thinking that I should be able to pick lemons from the deck using an extentable claw thing - the whole intention of the cut away corner of the deck was to ensure that the lemon tree was not harmed but it is very close, as you can see.

This morning we met with the Sailmaker to discuss options for the western side of the deck, because it is very exposed and needs something over it.  Bob's vision was always that the west side be protected with sails and it was his suggestion that we contact a maker so that they can work together as far as possible in terms of structures required for support.  The Sailmaker thought that was a great idea and is going away to put together a design and pricing.  Bob and the Sailmaker have spoken and it sounds like they both have the same vision.  Which is good as you disagree with Bob and your peril! We will likely have two sails, which I want in different colours, and a vertical drop which will deal with the late afternoon sun on really hot days.

The Landlady has just arrived home and she has bought a smaller house closer to the city, which was always on the cards.  So we are going to have to move out by September at the latest and need to start working on this now.  A pity, but it was always a risk.  So we really hope that Bob can finish by 30 October rather than the contract date of 31 December so that we can get bak in ASAP!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 64: Homemade

As I was working from home yesterday and wanted to pay a visit to Bob the Builder, I thought I had better take down some morning tea, so made Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. 

These are cookies, not biscuits, because I made them from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that I bought from Walmart in Orlando, Florida last year.  I have long had a fascination with American cookery but have found the cookbooks incomprehensible.  I have no idea what powdered sugar or light colored (sic) corn syrup is, we don't have Half and Half here and a stick of butter is not a measure familiar to Aussies.  But this little beauty translates most of the tricky terms and measures and cost only USD9. Stos thinks I have had more entertainment out of this purchase than anything else I have bought recently.  It's like a home economics text in that it has a glossary, provides details of cooking basics, kitchen appliances and equipment.  And it contains all the  American recipes that you have heard about such as:

- Biscuits (scones)
- Grits (not really sure of the equivalent, but seems like polenta)
- Red Velvet cake (chocolate cake with lots of red colouring)
- Fried chicken (self explanatory but salt and buttermilk is involved)

I haven't seen a recipe for St Louis Gooey Butter Cake (doesn't this sound wonderful), but maybe this is very localised.

I have made a few things out of this book and they have turned all out well.  Bob was looking forward to having his allocation of the cookies and the folks at the Day Job were very pleased to polish off the rest.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 63: All hands on deck

Bob the Builder was busy last  week and had some friends in with some serious equipment.  On Wednesday a man with a small crane came in to place the posts that support the deck at the rear and south side of the house.  Most of them are also reclaimed telegraph poles, like the one supporting the roof in the rear section of the building.  The timber for the deck also arrived so Bob has put in the beams to support the deck.  Not sure when this will be finished but I am already planning to drink G&Ts out there next summer.  And it is so big!  The west side is 3 metres wide and while it has been built according to the plans, I had no real concept of the size.  I find it difficult to visualise things until they are right in front of my nose -  I think it's a girl thing.  Our job for this week is to contact the guy who will make the sails for the back deck to find out what fittings are needed to attach them to the house.  This is not something we have thought about to date so will just contact the guy who made the sails for Mum & Dad's carport.  The other thing that we need to get is the shower channel/grate for the ensuite so that Pete can plumb this in. 
On Saturday night S & S came over for dinner. I had invited them over as we hadn't caught up for S's birthday on 7 April due to the Day Job being 7 days during April, the wedding. the 50th etc, but had forgotten that I was going to the inaugural meeting of the Melbourne chapter to the Modern Quilt Guild, which was an all day affair.  However Stos came to the rescue and offered to cook dinner which ended up being of roast lamb and stewed quince and apple topped with Mum's sponge pudding recipe (which I made).  I gave S what I thought was a really cool pair of teatowels from Illustrated Living in the UK.  I saw the blue teatowel  in a copy of Frankie magazine and had to find out how to get it. 

(pictures from Ilustrated Living)
I looked on the website and saw that they came as a double pack with the Keep Calm and Carry on teatowel but it didn't look like they normally ship to Australia.  But when I e-mailed, they told me that there had been so many enquiries from Oz that they organised a special rate to ship here.  I ended up ordering 5 - one each for me and S, one for the Landlady and 2 for F at the Day Job.  They arrived in less than a week, which was impressive.  S loved her gift, they both enjoyed their dinner and we happily showed off pics of the house.  A great way to spend a cold autumn night.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 57: Five Faves

I've just been down to the house and seen that some of the roof framing is up but it's too dark to take pictures. So for something different, I thought I'd play along with Five Faves hosted by Meet Me at Mikes.

1/. House. I am loving the pace that my house is coming along at. And while I don't think building is for the faint of heart, the experience so far has been quite good (knock on wood). We are breaking the unwritten rule that you should not enter into a business transaction with a friend, but we love it that Bob the Builder is passionate about our house and are also appreciating the fact that he deals with tradies who are reliable, helpful and accessible.

2/. Ashes to Ashes. I started watching Series 2 of A2A one year ago when I wrecked my knee and consequently was not out playing squash on Monday nights when it was screening. Maybe it was the fact that I couldn't do any exercise at the time, but I became obsessed with it. I managed to get my hands on Life on Mars, which I finished earlier in the year, have worked through A2A series 1, and am now revisiting series 2. The hair, the clothes, the attitudes; you gotta love the 80's. But for my money, LOM was better - you cannot beat an episode starting with coppers hooning around in a Cortina, with Ballroom Blitz as the intro music. I can't wait for Series 3 of A2A to screen here - no signs of it coming up on the ABC website and you can't watch any of the episodes on the BBC from Australia. So I may just have to buy the DVD which is due out in the UK in July.

3/. Melbourne weather. As you might have gathered, I don't like the cold. But there is something about coming home from the Day Job on a chilly night to put on trakkie dacs, slippers, turning the heater on and watching another episode of Ashes to Ashes. This novelty will wear off very soon.

4/. Cooking. Stos does most of the cooking as he gets home earlier than I do and is more organised. Ever since we have been married and I started my long period of part time study, that's the way it has been. But I do like to cook and the last two Sundays have made very tasty dishes - this Lamb rice pilaf with walnuts and yoghurt was delicious. Note to self - must do this more often.

5/. Dalmatian substitutes. We miss K & P a lot. But while we are building, the best place for them to be is with their extended family at the breeders. Hoever we have a couple of pooches to love here at the Landlady's place - meet R & K.

I love corgis because my family had them when I was growing up. These days, they are not the snappy things they were (ours loved the family, but disliked all other visitors). R & K are real cuties who are always up for a snuggle. This makes our life bearable until we can get our girls back again.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 55: Big Five Ohhh

No further progress at the house to report since the last post. We had a look around the framed upper floor today but have decided that we really need to get the kitchen people in to come up with some suggestions on layout.  We can see a benefit in having the bigger windows on the south side, but need to get our heads around how we then fit a 900 ml stove and the planned walk in pantry on the same side, that also includes a door to the decking. 

But on to social matters.  Last night we went to a milestone birthday for a very dear friend W.  I can't remember when I first met W; it was through playing hockey at the same club and I think I might have been about 16 or 17.  We became close when we were both with boyfriends who played in the same team at our club.  Mine was a keeper, her's wasn't.  W forms the nucleus of the "original" hockey mob, which includes S, sister of Bob, and another group of 10 or so girls who I have known for long periods of time.  Our respect and admiration for W knows no end; she is one of the most caring, generous people that I have ever met.  She is endlessly kind and supportive of her friends; a confidante and supporter of many through a number of different trials and tribulations.  Since she and her family made a seachange some years ago and her  involvement in catering has increased, we don't see as much as her as we would like, but when we do catch up (particularly with the "originals") it feels like nothing has changed, and we pick up where we left off.  We talk like mad, have a few beverages and laugh hysterically at the silliest things.  It is fun and liberating to be yourself with people who share history and many memories. The theme of the party last night was "Leather and Lace" and to maintain the dignity of the attendees, the only photo I'll put up is the magnificent cake made by P (to the right of the photo)- above all, these girls (including me) love a dress up theme and get right into the spirit of things.  And you can probably imagine some of the outfits that appeared.  But what happens at the party stays at the party. The partners are also pretty good value at these events, but we were all upstaged by another guest who let it all hang out literally.  We'll leave it at that.  We had a lot of fun on the night and the subsequent sleepover, followed by a traditional bacon and eggs breakfast.  The icing on the cake was the attendance of some old members of the gang who had come from interstate to celebrate. I wouldn't have missed this for the world.  Happy Birthday W - we love you!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 52: Four walls

In our part of the world it is getting colder and darker. It's not winter yet, but I am totally over being cold and can't wait for summer. Even though the day job is less hectic than during half year, the work days are still long and I don't get home in daylight, so documenting progress on the house is a bit tricky. Last night I wandered down and was able to see the frame for the upper level partially completed, but photos were out of the question. Stos had a couple of jobs to do on the way home, so left a bit earlier and managed to get a few pictures in, as shown above. The upper level frame looks to be finished; Bob has built the space for the kitchen window to the larger size and I still think it is too big. A walk in pantry, the fridge and the 900m upright oven/stove have to fit on the south side of the kitchen and the window takes up too much space for no real benefit. We will have a closer look on the weekend, but it's clear to me that we should stick with the original design. Bob has suggested getting the kitchen guy in soon so that we can hear his suggestions for lay out, so that we can start thinking about design and style and not be under pressure when the time comes to install the kitchen. This is an important part of the house for us - we really use our kitchen and need space for two people to work comfortably - so this is a big deal. I have some ideas about what I would like - drawers rather than cupboards, a watery green glass splash back and probably white cabinetry. Stainless steel benchtops appeal, otherwise the formed stone always looks good. As there will be a timber floor and feature pole in this room, using wood for the kitchen seems OTT. But there are a lot of magazines to flick through and I'm hoping that a design will leap off the pages as my inspiration. Perhaps there is a benefit to these cold days - when curling up on the couch with a stack of interior design magazines seems like an attractive option to leaving the house.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 49: A room with a view

Another week gone and more progress. The sub-floor is down on the upper level and we can get a sense of the size of the big room on the upper level and the view. We are up approximately one metre higher than in the old place and the views are greatly improved. You can also get a better sense of dimensions on the lower level floor now that there is a "ceiling" in place. When I spoke to Bob the other day, he was thinking about evening up the windows in the corner of the kitchen. From that point, you can see the city per the photo above on the left (admittedly zoomed in to eliminate the dump next door) . At the moment, the plan specifies a window 1,000mm high by 2,700mm wide on the west and the abutting window is 1,000 x 900mm. Originally I liked the idea of increased light and symmetry but after measuring it up, it looks like it will take up too much of the kitchen wall and we are not really getting any advantage. We will need to have a chat about this, methinks. We can also see the flashing for the decking in the colour that we speedily chose two weeks ago, but we are still none the wiser as to how it will look. I think we need to get a colour specialist in to help on this one, particularly since we want to have a red front door and there will also be timber finishes on the windows and a timber feature pole as part of the support for the front porch. Upcoming works this week are digging holes for the stirrups that the poles holding up the deck will sit in, the frame on the upper level and construction of the deck (if the materials arrive quickly). Bob has also started sanding back the central pole and the lovely red colour of the Ironbark is showing through. This is going to look gorgeous in the middle of the upper level!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day 45: My creative space

As I don't currently have a creative space of my own, I'm going to cheat and show you what I made at the Stitches and Craft Show today. I had the day off to attend - it felt like wagging school, but I wanted to have a day off to do nothing in particular. So after a lovely sleep in, I went down to have a chat to Bob the Builder and Pete the Plumber. They were disappointed that I wasn't bringing them morning tea (note to self, must keep the tradies happy) but we had a chat about what they were up to, which was putting up the flashing for the deck, then Robert will be working on the floor for the upper level.

Then off to Caufield Racecourse for the Stiches and Craft Show. A bit of a trek from our place but an enjoyable day out. I sat in a session discussing trends in colour and styles in interior design, which is obviously of interest. Apparently turquoise is the colour of the year - fine by me as I love turquoise and will probably use it in the bathrooms whether it's colour of the year or not. Then off to a DIY framing session, a craft bar to make a lovely broach from Liberty fabric (in turquoise, see above) and then to a screen printing session run by Lara from Harvest Textiles for the team at Ink and Spindle . That was great fun but a little confronting to just come up with a design quickly to print on to a tea towel in a relatively short period of time. However after seeing the teal and aqua inks, a seaside scene quickly came to mind. The marine life may not be anatomically correct but I think that you can work out what they are! The efforts of the afternoon are above. I enjoy a number of crafts but I really enjoy the relatively instant gratification of fabric printing, so I'm keen to do the two day Ink and Spindle screen printing course later in the year. More real creative spaces can be found over here - Kootoyoo.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day 43: Introducing Bob the Builder

Nothing further happening until tomorrow, so I thought I'd introduce Bob the Builder, pictured above with his trusty nail gun. I have known Bob since I was 13 years old. I met him at the same time as I met his sister, S, who is my closest friend, through hockey. Their mother was also involved as were their younger sisters, and over time got to know the whole family. I always got along well with Bob - he played Under 16 boys at when we played Under 16 girls competition and we all trained at the same time. I was a goalkeeper and later, Bob would stand behind the goals and chat to me when things were quiet down in defence. They were great days as S played right back and another good friend L played left back and we had a lot of fun. And we played on grass; none of that synthetic stuff! I have kept in contact with Bob over the years, mainly through catch ups with the family when S is visiting from Sydney. The family has always made me feel very welcome and Stos and I are without fail invited to a gathering at these times,. Strangely, when we first bought this house (now block), I asked Bob to drop by with S and her partner D (also a builder) to see if he had any suggestions. While D had some good ideas, for rennovation Bob just said "Pull it down" and wasn't interested. Prophetic as it turns out, but far from not being of interest, it is now as much his project as ours and he is passionate about it to the point that we are going to have some healthy debates about look and finish. But that's fine - I would rather that than have someone just building a mass market design, with no stake or interest in the outcome other than completing the requirements of the contract. I must get around to putting up a link to Bob's website so that people can see some of the wonderful properties that he has built, and having been to all that he has lived in himself, I can say that they are as impressive as they look. But our house will be a different shape given that we have a rectangular block as opposed to the irregular land that Bob normally builds on, so it will be quite unique. Just the way we want it. Photo courtesy of Bob's youngest sister Y, who turned up for a visit when I didn't have my camera - great work!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day 41- Working for the weekend

The day job is finally under control and it has been wonderful to have two days off. But so busy! Yesterday was normal gym and shopping morning then picked up some furniture purchases for the new house (gorgeous Florence Broadhurst ottomans) then off to another sale to try and get an overdue birthday gift (no luck). Following that, we dropped into a bathroom place that closes at 12pm on Saturdays - normally we only remember this when sailing past in the afternoon, on to another big bathroom chain which is having a sale, then up north to try and track down a sample of the Colourbond shade that we think we might select. On the way, we went through a relatively new suburb and cheekily nicked down (short) driveways to match our Colourbond samples to garage doors. We have managed to track our semi chosen colour to the newish CFA building in a suburb to the north but I'm still none the wiser on if this is the right choice or not. Of all the 4 shades of grey that we are considering, we have knocked out one as too green, another as too blue; now I think the colour we have (almost) agreed on is too light, but the last is probably too dark!

Day: Floored

Finally the day job is going back to be confined to the day, so I have been able to get down to the site and see it in daylight. Progress last week was the laying of the sub-floor and the requisite insulation. Not quite as exciting as seeing the frame on the lower level go up, but progress none the less. We spoke to Bob last night and he needs to make a trip to the country to pick up his scaffolding, so won't be back on the job until Wednesday.

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon driving around looking at Colourbond. A relatively new estate nearby has a number of houses with Colourbond roofs so we took a drive through there on the way to another estate that was listed in the Colourbond site as having some of the colours we were interested in. As many of the houses are close to the street, we were able to check our samples to garage doors to confirm the colours. We felt like silly school kids, but it is not easy to connect a large area of colour to a 5 x 2cm sample at a distance. And after all this, we are none the wiser. Of the four shades of grey we are looking at, one is too green, another too blue, one is too dark and the one that I was convinced was right looks too pale. I think we are going to need some expert help on this one, given that we also want to have a red front door and the window finishes will be natural timber, with the timber poles at the rear holding up the deck and the feature pole forming part of the front porch.

After all of this running around (which included trips to bathroom display centres as well), we headed down to Mornington to see Ro Baby. Bob's sister, who is a close friend, was showing her dog nearby and staying the night, so Ro invited us to dinner and invited some other people, including another friend from the olden days. Ro put on a superb seafood feast, much to the dismay of Stos, who ended up having sausages and rice. This was a spread that would have put Rick Stein to shame; crab, crayfish, fish curry, prawns, oysters and smoked salmon from a small producer. A long drive, but well worth it for the great food and the chance to catch up with old friends who should get together more often and to meet some lovely new ones. I think the next catch up will be at the new place in the New Year, but I've got my work cut out to equal Ro's hospitality.