Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 130: My Creative Space

My creative space has a few things on the go.  The things I'm most excited about are the work papers from the short interior design course I am doing with F and the basics of the debut quilt.  The course is quite a lot of fun; both F and I are taking a couple of hours leave from the Day Job each Tuesday for 3 weeks to attend.  Our unofficial name for the course is "The Graduate Diploma in Cushion Arranging", but we are both finding it interesting and useful.  For me, it is extremely relevant with all the activity on the building site and F is looking to convert her loungeroom into a more useful and attractive space.  We are learning about colour, lighting, design principles and are working on putting together a design board for use in a room for our houses.  It's fun to take a break from work for a few hours and do something creative.

On the quilt, I've finally sewn up the strip sets and yesterday set about cutting them into blocks.  However I've learned a few lessons about quilting measurements and maths.  The foot on my sewing maching is not 1/4 inch (I thought it was) and now my blocks are not square.  So I thought I would join them up and then trim them - this works OK on the first row, but the blocks are in a different order in the second row, so this won't work for all the squares.  So rather than trying to trim and work in seam allowances, I think I'll unpick them and sew them up again individually.  So my next job is to buy a 1/4 inch foot for the sewing machine along with more thread.  This is turning into an expensive hobby!  So much for the quick results of using strip sets, but it's really my own fault for not being absolutely sure about the measurements and a lesson in the need for precision in quilt making.

For more creative spaces, visit Kootooyoo.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 129: The Tin Lids

I have a couple of days leave owing to me so, having a clear diary, decided to stay home today.  How nice it was to get up at 7.45am, have a leisurely breakfast and set up for some work on the debut quilt.  However, more on that on Creative Space Thursday.  A day off isn't complete without a visit down the road to see what Bob is up to.  He and Pete are going great guns getting the roof on at the front of the house and this should be finished by the end of the week.  The handrails won't go in this week; Bob has to get some brackets made for the glass roof and porch so has told the Steel Man to hold off until he has this worked out.

The most significant progress this week has been settling on somewhere to live.  On Sunday we went to see K (aka Catwoman) to talk about moving in with her from late August.  We had a chat over a cuppa and a meringue and we think it will work well.  R & K had a ball, licking the cats' bowls, then trying to find the owners, who sensibly stayed out of the way.  We are relieved to get our living arrangements sorted out; while we did have options, we were keen to stay in the area and close to public transport and this fits the bill perfectly.  This house is about a kilometre from the building site and a six minute walk to the station (according to the sign in the park opposite).  And, importantly, we did not want to have to move again until our house is finished.  So we are very happy with that Catwoman has offered to share her home with us and look forward to some new experiences over the next few months.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 126: To her door

Not much visible progress this week but the garage door has appeared.  Bob has also ordered the insulation for the roof and Stos and Whitty have moved the air conditioning unit from M & N's yard back to the house so that it can be put into place once the roof is finished.  We are hoping like mad that the weather forecast of rain for the next four days doesn't eventuate because precipitation is not conducive to roofing.

Yesterday was day for pottering around, doing jobs and getting ready to move.  Stos has been moving pot plants back to our own back yard and the Landlady and I have been doing a bit of baking.  The Landlady made her mother's ginger cake and it is a cracker.  Lighter than a gingerbread style cake, she made a couple of modifications and took up my suggestion to top it with lemon icing.  It was delicious.

The recipe is:

Madeleine's ginger cake
6oz butter
6oz caster sugar
2 dessertspoons dried ginger
2 eggs
9oz self-raising flour
2 dessert spoons black treacle
1 cup water (the Landlady substituted 1 cup of orange juice and also added some grated orange rind)

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Mix all other ingredients and stir well.  Cook in a greased and lined tin at about 350F/180C for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, I made pistachio macaroons with honeyed white chocolate ganache from a Women's Weekly recipe book.  I think they will taste good but they aren't the most attractive - sizing is a bit uneven and the first tray was a little overcooked.  On the upside, I think I got the food colouring right and the ganache tasted very good.  However, if this had been Masterchef, I'd have been eliminated!  Notwithstanding, we'll have one or two for dessert and I'll take the rest to KB's place later today - another weapon in the armoury.!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 123: My creative space

My creative space contains:

• One finished granny hex and one in progress for use in the construction of the granny shrug. There really is no excuse for why this is taking so long because once you get used to the large hook, it’s quite simple
• Fabric for my very first quilt. I cut up the strips last weekend to find that the fabric quantities must have been wrong; i.e. being able to cut 11 x 2.5 inch strips out of half a yard of fabric? Anyhow, I’ve had to get more fabric, so Stos came to the rescue and picked some more up for me tonight. So now I need to wash, trim and cut it up – I am really looking forward to putting this together.

• A cheat entry, as it's actually from a few weeks ago. I’ve put up a very bad picture (unfortunately the only one) of my contribution to the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild name badge swap. I didn’t want to show it until I was sure the recipient had it in her hands; as neither she nor I could attend the last sewing session, it was mailed out. When set the challenge of making a name badge incorporating patchwork and/or quilting, measuring no more than 9cm by 9cm, I was a bit stumped, but during a Pump class, I dreamed up the idea of quilting some cute Alexander Henry fabric and using some bling for the name (note to self – must need to increase weights if one has the time to think about sewing projects while exercising). I’m not sure if the execution was that great, but I thought it was cute and original. I hope Bec did too!

On the house front, we caught up with Bob last night. He’s working towards having us back in by mid November, which is music to our ears. However, we’ll plan on the end of November – while things have gone well to date, we do need to be realistic and allow for some delays. The roof will go on the front of the house next week, the hand rails for the deck and external stairs should be installed by the end of July and the window and door frames will be under construction shortly. And the missing garage door has been cut in – a minor victory. Our jobs this week are to look at the glass samples for the external doors and windows, talk to cousin-in-law G about smart wiring, look at kits for ducted vacuum cleaners and think about the colour for the hydronic heating panels. A lot to do this weekend but I really do want to start sewing up the quilt strip sets.

We also need to meet up with someone who I hope we can stay when we have to move out of the Landlady's place next month.  We are going to have a chat with her about how this might work, but my secret weapons are going to be R & K - as she loves corgis, I am going to take them with us to put her in a good frame of mind!  Seriously, she has said that we can stay, so I hope we can make it work to everyone's satisfaction as it would be a good solution for us.  And it will only be for 3 months (knock on wood).

For more creative spaces, hop on over to Kootoyoo.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 119: Look through any window

While the visuals don't look a lot different to the last house update, quite a bit has been going on down the road.  Bob has put up the fascias and had been doing more work on the roof trusses in readiness for steel to be attached towards the end of the week.  Another big piece of work has been figuring out the structure of the glass roof that will go over the internal stairs linking the front part of the house to the back level - one flight goes up to the kitchen/living area and the other leads to the second and third bedrooms, laundry, bathroom and sitting area.  The method he has finally settled on is to build a stud wall in the void so that the glass is simply a roof rather than a box - if there were glass sides, we would be looking on to silver steel and there's no benefit in that.  The glass roof will have an apex and slope down on either side and will be double glazed to protect from heat going in and out.  It will also likely be tinted and Bob thinks that we may need to get a blind fitted for use in summer to protect from the sun.  But that is something we will look at over the coming summer - we'd prefer not to have this great feature and then cover it up but if the option is frying while going up to the kitchen for a snack, then blinds it is.  The other step forward was catching up with the kitchen guy on Wednesday so that we could close out the long running issue of the size of the window on the south wall.  When I told Bob that I'd set a time for the meeting, the comment was "I'd really like to keep the window" meaning that he was going to fight really hard for this.  However after long and earnest discussions we had a two way win:

1/.  Kitchen guy can put in what we want with the window framed up as it - we are happy.  Bob also did not comment on/pick up on our discussion on having a white kitchen as opposed to a timber finish - not sure whether he is resigned to the fact or is saving this for later.  So happy for the time being.
2/.  Window stays at 2.7m - Bob is happy.

We were also impressed with a number of suggestions proposed in terms of materials and fittings.  In the meantime we need to think about putting something on the white wall that will align to the side of the fridge - if not broken up, it will look very boring.  Kitchen guy is going away now to do a concept plan and get back to us.   However we forgot to mention the missing garage door as the weather had turned nasty and we were all keen to get home.  We are not giving up on this and it has to be sorted before the window and door frames are finalised.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 114: Knees up Mother Brown

Today is the 12 month anniversary of my knee reconstruction.  If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me, I am OK, however, the whole knee thing changed my life for the best part of a year, starting from when I ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in March 2009.  The reason that the surgery did not take place sooner was because we had just booked a trip to America for June 2009 and had not taken out travel insurance when the incident occurred 3 days later.  This turned out to be a very good thing in the end because I started rehab work as soon as I could so that when we got back from the trip, I virtually went straight in to hospital for the reconstruction, with my quads in great shape.  This aided my recovery immensely, but it was still a long slow process.  Sixteen months later, life is back to normal, or will be when I go back to competition squash in a couple of weeks.

I have learnt a lot over the last 16 months.  As someone who has never had a serious medical issue (knock on wood) nor has ever been in hospital (other than casualty), this whole process has been a real eye opener. I thought I'd share a few lessons:  some of this probably sounds naive but was honestly news to me.

1/.  If it doesn't hurt, it's serious.  My own GP laughed when I told him I wasn't in any pain - that meant I had really stuffed it up.  If you read about footballers coming off the field with knee injuries, you'll note that it's a good sign when they are in pain.  This is the sort of thing you notice after the event.
2/.  A two and a half week wait to see an orthopaedic surgeon isn't long.  In fact it's pretty quick and usually because your injury in serious (see above).
3/.  Being on crutches is not fun.  But it gives you a tiny glimpse into the world of people with real disabilities.  Not only is catching public transport a nightmare, but simple things like managing a hand bag and carrying food from the kitchen bench to the table are so hard.  Experiencing things like this is the best cure for a tendency to feel sorry for yourself - and makes you grateful to be in this world for only a short time.  It makes you  more conscious of the everyday difficulties other people face and supportive of schemes to make facilities accessible to all.
4/.  Expect the unexpected.  I was prepared;  a bit scared but prepared, for discomfort after surgery and didn't plan on feeling the best but I did not know that morphine would make me sick.  Very sick.  Knowing that this was my prescribed painkiller after discharge made me very determined to get by on anti inflammatories and paracetamol.  And I did.
5/.  Hospitals are awful places.  Even top private hospitals.  You can't get to sleep (especially in a shared ward) and people wake you up to change drips and things during the night.  Where I was, the discharge process was basically non existant;  I had to ask all the questions and I was not even offered a wheelchair to get out to the car.  Fortunately the hospital physio saw me struggling on my crutches and found one for me.  You don't feel like being assertive when you have had no sleep, feel awful and just want to go home.  Stos thought I would have to stay another day when he saw me post op and very sick - I'm pleased he didn't tell me that because I would have been beside myself if I thought I couldn't go home the next day.  Getting home to my own bed was the biggest initial step on the road to recovery.
6/.  There are people who have reconstructive surgery, then don't follow their surgeon's orders.  Or they go to a physio and don't do the prescribed exercises.  It's true - ask my physio.  People are always telling me how lucky I am to have recovered so well and while luck might have a bit to do with it, most of it is due to the fact that I did exactly as I was told even when the exercises made me cry.  You start your rehab the day you get home from hospital and you don't stop.

I know this is a bit of a rant, but I've got it out of my system now and look forward to a successful return to squash to close this whole episode.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 112: We are family

This weekend has been a busy one for catching up with old friends and family.  Last night was a barbeque at L & D's.  It was originally planned as a dinner with the friends (all us girls worked together at various stages), but due to a flying visit from D's son J, this morphed into a barbeque with their family and other friends.  As usual L & D outdid themselves and we had a real feast, cooked by D and co-ordinated by L.  We had drinks, laughed and chatted and, of course, we had photos of the house to show off/bore people to tears with.  Today was a lunch for Dad's milestone birthday at Monsalvat (note the photo of the restaurant on the left is from the Monsalvat website).  My parents aren't usually into big celebrations for birthdays but Dad decided to have a lunch with the family, in-laws and some of their old friends - 26 people in all.  We had a delicious lunch comprising shared entrees of whitebait, scallops, terrine, mushrooms and duck pate followed by choices of Atlantic salmon, fillet mignon or a pumkin and ricotta tart for main course.  If that wasn't enough, a flourless orange birthday cake followed. 

We had to do a photo of the whole family given that it is a rare occasion that we are all together. The above photo doesn't include Stos or D, who were behind the camera at this point but we will get a complete one from another source.   It was also wonderful catching up with Mum and Dad's friends, some of whom we saw a lot of when we were kids but very rarely in recent years.  Dad had a great time but I think that the best part was seeing him with the grandchildren.  And Stos even got into the act by holding 9 month old A (and seeming to enjoy it).  L has suggested that this become his Facebook photo, but he's not keen on the idea.  Afer two days of eating very well, a walk was in order so when we got home K and R went out for the second time today.  A 7pm yoga class finished a very hectic weekend,

Hopefully Bob is refreshed from his holiday and ready to get the roof on the house this week.  We still need to see the kitchen guy, hopefully before the end of this week, so we can agree on the kitchen window and Bob can start building the door and window frames.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 107: Holiday

Bob has been very busy over the last week and is now taking a couple of days off for the school holidays.  The frame at the front of the house is complete and all the roof trusses are in place.  Garage side door issue has still not been resolved but we'll tackle that next week.  I love the fact that I can walk into all the rooms in the house and start thinking about how we are going to use them.  The side that is our bedroom, walk in robe and ensuite will work really well and I think I should be able to get all of my shoes and bags in the wardrobe.  The hall cupboard is huge and should deal with all of the linen and various other bits and pieces we need to store- just as well as there is no central cupboard downstairs, although we'll have the wardrobes in the bedrooms and whatever storage we can fit into the laundry.  There's also quite a bit going on in the background - the hand rails for the deck and external stairs are being made and will be installed by the end of the month, the bi-fold door for the west side has been ordered and Bob is working on the glass roof that will connect the two structures and cover the stairs going up to the kitchen/ living area and downstairs to the other two bedrooms, bathroom and laundry.  While he's kicking back with the boys, he will be talking to glaziers about the type of glass we will need (very strong) and also whether we need to get tinted glass to ensure that the area below doesn't become a hot spot in summer.  The priority for us this week is to chase up the kitchen guy so that we can work out whether we can get everything we want in the kitchen as it is with the larger window on the south side, as one of Bob's next jobs is to start building window and door frames in readiness for the external cladding to be put on.  Have a great holiday Bob and looking forward to more progress next week!