Sunday, May 20, 2018

Off, with a bang!

The May, birthday parties for our children, have come and gone. But not without their respective dramas. David had his car damaged, while parking at Grand Central in Toowoomba - a major shopping complex. It was a hit and run, that had the paint scraped on his car door, and the mirror dangling.

It happened the day before Peter's birthday too. David was collecting last minute party supplies. It's going to be an expensive birthday, after paying the $600 excess on our car insurance. But it wasn't going to ruin our day, because cars are just things. Money comes and goes. Parties however, are about making lasting memories. Those were the important things, to invest our thoughts and feelings into.

So what of the amigurumi present, I was fervently crocheting, for his big day...


Hurry up Luigi, get dressed!


Thanks to this clever crochet pattern, I made Mario, in about a week. I had a bunch of other stuff to do, in between. So Mario patiently awaited the arrival of his brother Luigi. Thankfully, it only took about 3 days to make him. Because who can resit the Mario brothers, right?


Two men & an egg!


Not long after Luigi was finished, I had my sights set on making a Yoshi egg. Apologies to those unfamiliar, with the Mario Brothers franchise. This will all sound like gobbledygook! But strangely enough, Yoshi is a dinosaur (a happy go lucky guy) who has this ability to devour his friends and enemies, and turn them into eggs.

Normally, it's Mario's job to avoid Yoshi in the various platform games, but in this case, they make excellent babysitters! So why would Yoshi want to eat them?


The Mario gang


Luckily, the Mario Brothers, were almost the same size as Yoshi - who was an official Merchandise plushie, Peter got from his uncle, several birthday's ago. How were the amigurumi plushies, received? Well, Peter takes them to bed every night, they get up every morning and eat breakfast with him. He calls them his best friends, and even talks with them.

I was hoping he'd like them, but I was amazed how MUCH he does! Which makes the amount of time I put into them, extremely worthwhile. We seriously could have saved us some money, avoiding the other toys we purchased. They have barely had a look in.

I had a lot of fun, making the Mario brothers, too. I could easily become addicted to making amigurumi. But more than that, it was really nice to be able to give my son, something I made with my hands.


Friday, May 11, 2018

Ma-Ma Mia

Just a sneak-peek, at what I've been up to lately. A bit of wool, a crochet hook and some free patterns, made by some very clever people...


From head to toe


...and I have the makings of a wee birthday present - Amigurumi style. As if one was not enough, however, I had to go and make two! A pair of pixelated brothers. Can you guess who they are?


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

May mornings & mulberries

May is always a busy time of year for us. Both our kids have their birthdays. That's why I've been quiet on my blog, lately. Otherwise, ferreting my little surprises away, and making gifts all round. But I wanted to take time, this morning, to write. As I was inspired by a few things.




Like...the sun dipping underneath our verandah, as it always does, this time of year. May. The last month of autumn. When the morning sun comes in like this, I know winter is not far away. Maybe I needed the reminder, because I've been so busy otherwise.

I tip my hat to the tea-cups, sunlight and the lull of a May morning. Yes, I see you there, and; appreciate the reminder.




I also noticed, on my way to feeding the chickens, the last vestiges of the rain that fell, all day yesterday, and overnight. The thick droplets clung to the foliage, like the shiny treasures they are. Our parched ground, so needed their company.

After feeding the chickens, I wandered down to the birdbath, at the bottom of the gully. And on my way, heard a succession of those droplets, like a chorus of wee Christmas bells, falling to the ground. I tried to dodge the low hanging branches, to avoid wetting my camera. As there was something, I wanted to share with you all.


 

Our bird bath, is a tithe to the animals and landscape, for sharing their space with us. We always keep it full. Do you see the wonderful treasure, which has planted itself, nearby? A wee, mulberry seedling.

A kurrawong, or brush turkey, was responsible perhaps? Taking a drink and having a splash about, after dining on our mulberries in Spring. The moist ground, combined with rich manure and fermented seed, made a little miracle for me to be in awe of.

I will keep the delightful treasure, and as it grows - the mulberry will eventually dwarf the birdbath. May mornings, and mulberries. Thank you for reminding me, things will always happen at their appointed time. No matter how busy, or stressed, I get.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Meaningful exchanges.

The cooler weather has settled in, recently. Although the daytime temps are still nearing the high 20's (Celsius). This particular change in season, can only mean one thing. The return of the retaining wall project...


Setting up


We were fortunate recently, to remove some volcanic rock, from a local Toowoombarite's yard (hello, Amy). They needed them gone, and we needed rocks. It was the perfect arrangement. We have them roughly stacked for storage, so this is not their final resting place.

David took out a dead, acacia (black wattle) with nothing more than an axe, and some grunt. It had to happen, before we started laying rocks. So now we're ready to get back to work on the wall again. Slow and steady, will get us there.

I was thrilled to receive an invite, to collect the rocks. Because I get to share a part of someone's yard, and they get to share, part of our wall.  I also shared some of my sourdough starter, Griffin, so even our kitchens' have a special affiliation. Thank you Amy (and husband) for thinking of us.



Sunday, April 22, 2018

Old is new again

I had another wood-working project in the pipeline, but it's more a restoration project, than one, built from scratch. It's a piece of furniture, which has become a family heirloom. First purchased for my sister and I to share - when she moved out, it temporarily became mine. That is, until my younger brother was born. And so it has been juggled around the siblings, to cater for the different clothes, we constantly grew out of.

My mother kept it, after all her kids moved out. Generously, it came into my possession again, when our daughter was born. You can do that with old furniture though. It takes a lot of beating! Nevertheless, my cabinet was destined to meet it's match, with a pair of cockatiel parrots. Their cage took up residence, on top of the cabinet, because it still resided in my daughter's room.


I swear...I didn't do it


Being the generous owner she is, they were allowed outside their cage, after school. Parrot beaks are designed to gnaw on wood and seeds with hard shells. Given the cage took up all the space on the cabinet, we figured they wouldn't be able to get at it. Not so! Clever, nimble, birds, found a way.


Not entirely me


They also managed to peel off a chink of wood, caused from normal, wear and tear. Not satisfied, they proceeded to enlarge it! On many an afternoon stroll, on the carpet, they gradually chipped away at the wooden scar. Of course, I was oblivious - I'm sure my daughter had an idea though *wink*.


Definitely NOT me!


Then there were...the droppings! When let out, the birds would perch on top of their cage. Naturally, the cabinet caught the brunt of it. Enough was enough. Time to rescue our family heirloom. So we organised an early birthday present for our daughter, and purchased a large cage on wheels. We moved the cabinet of drawers, out, and the birdcage, could take it's place in her room.


Okay...that was me


Our poor, abused, family heirloom, had no permanent home. So it resided in the middle of a small hallway, between some bedrooms, and a bathroom. Thankfully, I had a plan though! It's prospects would turn around, soon.


Guilty too


See all this stuff, hidden behind the cabinet? They were leftovers, from another house re-shuffle. My fabric stash for sewing, and some of my husband's hat collection, were evicted from various places, because I needed the furniture for other tasks. You know how it goes!

So the fabric stash was destined to love the new cabinet, and the new cabinet was destined for that naked wall. It just needed a bit of fixing, is all.


Undecided


I'm sure this is jut normal wear and tear, but it's possible the cockatiels helped it along. If I was going to repaint the cabinet, I would have to patch-up, a lot of holes.


Who's responsible?


Oh, this was definitely us kids!! Someone threw a hissy-fit. I can't remember who it was, or what it was over - but the poor cabinet wore the brunt of it. The sides were made of ply, (or thin, silky oak, my mum believes) which gave way. All these years (at least 15, it's been in my possession) I've been meaning to fix it.

So eventually, the day came, I would...


Done


Wood filler. Fantastic stuff! Cheap (in the powdered form) and great at hiding a multiple sins. You'd never know by the outside of the cabinet, what took place. The inside, however, kept the truth immortalised...


The wolverine was here


It never did affect the drawers opening and closing, so there it can stay. I like a bit of history, in wooden furniture. There were many things I chose to keep, simply because I didn't want a new piece of furniture. I wanted the story to be immortalised, forever.

On the other hand, there were just some things, which had to go!


A relief to remove


Green florals from the 80's, I don't mind. It's the fact it was contact, and would catch dust in the corners, it didn't quite reach. I wanted a less permanent option. Something I could remove for cleaning, and allow the wood to breath.


 Keeping the green theme


Unfortunately, I couldn't find paper drawer liners - my first option. I did come across some tablecloth vinyl instead. Removable and wipeable. I quite liked the pattern, too. It would suit the final finish, I was hoping to achieve.


Almost naked, drawers


The main body of the cabinet would be painted, because it needed a lot of wood filler. But the drawers, would be roughly stripped, and not painted. Since my mum told me the drawers were made of silky-oak, many years ago, I've always wondered what silky-oak, looked like.

Well, now I have revealed the wonderful wood, and even kept some of the blue paint, and white undercoat too. I couldn't do away with all those memories. Especially since my mum's original paint job, has withstood 3 of her children, 1 grandchild (to date) and 2 parrots!


Looks weird in this position


This is the cabinet, with most of it's blue paint removed. Upside down, too, because it was going to be easier to paint that way. Before I covered it over, I wanted a picture of all that lovely, silky-oak, wood.


Before (matt) and after (shiny)


I am coming to the end of this story soon, but first, the area I was going to leave exposed, included the cabinet top. I could have sanded it smooth, but why? 

At some point I'll get some furniture wax, but chose to treat it with a mixture of ingredients I had at home. Apple cider vinegar, mixed with raw linseed oil, lemon and eucalyptus oil. It smelled divine, and the wood felt so silky to touch, afterwards - even without sanding.


 A sneak-peek


Afterwards, I was reminded of the smell of wooden furniture in my Nan's house. It was like having a felled tree in your home. I never knew what I was smelling, back then. Now I do, because we work with a lot of trees in our backyard. Felled wood is raw, refreshing and I'm surprised after all these years, it still retains some of that original scent of silky-oak.


Loving it's new home


My finished set of drawers are not perfect, but they were never intended to be. I wanted to fix some damage, put hard-wearing paint on the main body, and let a bit of history show through. I even kept the back, original (see pic with junk behind cabinet). No stripping, sanding or painting the entire back section. Just to maintain that original, blue and white prosperity - telling of childrens' clothes, unfortunate hissy-fits and (in the scheme of things) sharing based on need.

A set of blue drawers, gets a new lease on life. But I know...I still haven't found a new home for all those hats! Another time.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Lego play

It's nearly the end of Easter holidays, but there's still time for some last minute, imaginative play. Peter loves lego, and received several play-sets from relatives, last Christmas. The plain, 600 piece, block-set has been the one he plays with the most. Because he can make all sorts of things out of them!

Right now he's going through a gaming phase....


Pac-man hunts down ~
3 ghosts, a strawberry and 2 cherries


He doesn't really play games on a console, but he loves to watch them on Youtube. First, it was Mario. Now, Pac-Man. He tried to recreate them with his lego blocks, recently. Proving to be rather challenging, he decided to ask for help. So a collaboration was formed, between him and his two folks.

Because Pac-Man was our introduction to console games. Arcade games were the only option our generation had, back then. Heck, the personal computer wasn't even rolled out, until we were in high school!

Enough nostalgia though. Except maybe for Lego blocks. Fun to play with, but never walk barefoot around them. Or you'll be cursing up a storm! Man, do those things hurt. But kept contained, they're great play on the holidays.  


What the...?


And that was supposed to be the end of it! I was ready to hit "publish", when Peter mumbled something about ghosts, behind me. When I turned around, I saw this imaginative stack. That boy, sure loves his lego!

It's the one plastic toy, I don't mind having in the house. He has a box full of toys, but lego would have to be, what he plays with the most. He still plays with the mega-blocks (larger version of lego) we gave him as a toddler. I wonder what Peter will think of making next?

Is there a favourite toy you enjoyed as a child - or perhaps your children, or grandchildren, love? My favourite imaginative play, as a child, was building cubby houses!


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Finished

I didn't mean to wait so long, before writing this post. It's the finished project I spoke about painting, recently. With Easter holidays, traveling for relatives' birthday's, starting a week long art challenge via Instagram, and work in general, this is the soonest, I could commit to blogging.

So, what did I end up making....


Click to enlarge
 

It's a bench seat, with built-in shoe storage. I told you it was going to be simple. It's a necessary piece of furniture nonetheless, as I was having a shoe storage problem (read: explosion!) near the front door.


Real life


Even with a shoe cull, last year, the shoes were beginning to pile up everywhere. Especially since our youngest, needed more shoes to wear, as well. There's actually more shoe mess, not shown in the above picture, but I'm dealing with the shoe storage problem, one area at a time.


Problem solved


Specifically, there was a lack of space for boots! They were stored under a hallway table, adjacent to this area. With boots being so tall too, I could never find a shoe rack I could purchase, that would allow me to store shoes above them. Hence, why I decided to make my own bench seat, shoe rack.


Practical and functional


This furniture, solved several more problems, than shoe storage though. My husband was using a nearby coffee table, to pull his work shoes on. A table, our son always had covered with lego! So it was a matter of moving lego, to find a suitable place to sit down. Not any more though.

It also dealt with the school bag problem, emerging after our son started school this year. Our eldest, packs her own bag, so it lives in her room. We still had to pack his bag though, so it tended to live on the couch, nearest the kitchen. This bench seat, however, is in a better position, and it frees up the couch again!

There are several more, woodworking projects I have to design, that deal specifically with niche, storage areas. They're such simple projects too, but high in real estate value. Meaning, I get more storage per the same locale. All in good time though.