Painting Posts

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Yes, this is a post about painting but more importantly, we were actually painting posts.

We have a large area under our highset house which was simply an untamed soil embankment when we first came here almost 15 years ago.  This was unusable and generated a lot of dust in the house.  A few years later we had most of the area concreted.  We had no specific plan and for the last 10 years it has mostly been a storage and work area.

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Nevertheless, in the back of our minds was a half-hatched plan to turn at least part of it into an outdoor entertainment area.  Part of the reason is that this is by far the coolest area of our home during the summer.

Our half-hatched plan has developed over a few years but it was not until this year that we have had time to really get started.  We intend to screen part of the area using Ekodeck battens.  The first step of this process was to paint the steel posts.

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Most of the posts are painted dark gray to match the other exterior paintwork on the lower level of the house.  However, we painted the posts which will be in the middle of the designated area in a much lighter hue.  This will ensure that they are easily visible.  We will combine this with strategic placement of furniture and plants to minimise any risk of accidents.

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We plan to create a green screen using multiple hanging baskets hung at different levels in the section which contains the light-coloured cross-bracing.

Several weeks ago we bought the timber for the support rails.  The 21 pieces have been cut to length, painted and are stacked in preparation for the next stage of the construction.

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After much planning and preparation we are finally seeing results.  The difference between the first and third photos in this post is the result of about 5 hours work by GMan and I today.

I think we deserve a couple of rest days after that effort.  We have a lunch date planned for tomorrow and are going to the movies on Saturday.

 

 

Project Preparation

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Well, I had a couple of days off from blogging as we have been out and about. Yesterday WordPress decided it did not want to play the game when I tried to write this post. However, all seems to be well again and I am back in business.

Over the last couple of days we have purchased some materials and equipment for the next DIY project. 

For a number of years we have talked about creating a defined entertaining area under our high-set house.  When we first moved here over 14 years ago, this area was simply sloping dirt which was of absolutely no use and merely contributed to the dirt and dust which made its way into the house.  So, we had the area concreted , albeit on a couple of levels.  Since then it has really been a storage area for materials collected for future projects as well as overflow from the workshop area.  We had decided that the best approach was to screen off an area for casual entertaining using battens and the remainder could still be used for storage.  After literally years of discussion and refinements of the design we are ready to begin.

Initially, we planned to use salvaged hardwood for the rails but realised that we could not source enough timber of consistent dimensions that was straight and true so we opted for new timber from Bunnings in this instance.  After carefully measuring and calculating our requirements we bought the necessary lengths whilst ensuring the minimum amount of waste.

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The other major requirement for this project which GMan had identified was a saw which would make a quick and accurate cut.  There were 21 rails to be cut plus approximately 170 (yet to be purchased) battens.  He decided on this mitre saw and stand.

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The rails were cut to length in no time and are now ready to be painted.  We also need to sand and paint the rusted steel posts before attaching the rails.  

This is clearly not a job which will be done in a week but we are confident that our planning and preparation will ensure the success of the end result.

I am looking forward to being able to use the entertainment area during the summer as our summers are becoming increasingly hotter and this area is definitely the coolest place in the house.

 

 

Patched Pants

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Some would say that these shorts are not worth mending.  They are at least 25 years old and once upon a time they were 3/4 length travel pants.  After much wearing the knees finally gave way and I cut them off into a fairly unflattering pair of shorts.  They were only ever destined to be worn around the yard but they get a good workout fulfilling that role.  An incredibly comfortable pair of shorts that are lightweight and perfect for our hot summers.

They have been patched several times but the most recent rips almost saw the end of them.

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I decided to make an attempt on one more patch.

I selected a piece of strong cotton fabric which would generously cover the two large rips.  I then cut a matching piece of double-sided iron-on interfacing and ironed it to the wrong side of the patch.

 

Remove the paper backing and place on the wrong side of the area to be patched.  Make sure that the rips are closely aligned then press again to fuse the patch to the garment.

Use a wide zigzag stitch to stitch over the rip.  You may need to do several runs to cover it.  Finally, use a narrower zigzag stitch to finish the edges of the patch.

The outside and inside views when completed.

This is not invisible or even particularly neat so is really only suitable for clothes where looks are not important.

We spend a significant amount of time in the garden or painting and renovating so functional ‘old’ clothes are a must.  It makes sense to extend the life of them as much as possible.

My shorts with multiple patches have survived to see another summer but that is a few months away yet.  It is good to be prepared, though.

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Construction Progress

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Today I thought I would share some of the progress on a couple of construction projects.  After some time in the design and preparation phase, the cold frame is beginning to take shape.

We bought the 2 hardwood sleepers to create the back wall of the cold frame.

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They are now in position.

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The compost tumbler which can be seen in the background was quite close to where we were working so it has been moved.  GMan is yet to decide on a final location for it.

The area under the house is perfect for storage of materials and construction jobs.  The panels of wire on the left hand side are earmarked for the top of the pergola.

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The wire will be installed once a couple more crossbars are in place.  But first the crossbars need to be painted.

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We normally do the painting under the house but on a sunny and windy day like today it was perfect to paint outdoors.  The shorter pieces on the trestles at the right of the photo are the corner posts for the cold frame.

There will be more photos when the construction is completed.

Site Preparation

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In my last post I mentioned that we had ordered a garden shed. We have been debating the need for a shed for a number of years and have finally bitten the bullet.

It will be a very simple 3m X 3m structure with double opening doors at the front. There are no windows, no side door and no power. It is really no more than an oversized lawn locker to store the mowers, mulcher, brushcutter and possibly wheelbarrow as well as some storage shelving for accessories and fuel.

This will create some real workspace in the area known as the workshop.

It will probably be 3-4 weeks before the shed is ready to be installed but there was a bit of site preparation to be done beforehand.

This is a view of the area where the shed is to be placed.  There is no ‘before’ photo but it had become somewhat overgrown so we cut back shrubs and some heliconias as well as moving some logs which had been dumped there.

The impending construction is certainly motivation to clear up the area surrounding the new shed.

We have quite a large stand of heliconias so we removed a few that were encroaching on the access to the would-be shed as well as using the opportunity to clean out some of the spent ones.  The edge of the clump is clearly visible on the left-hand side of the photo.

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The shed will be in the centre foreground of the photo.

Looking slightly to the right you can see the area where we have almost finished moving what was a huge pile of mulch.  We will be planting several shrubs once the mulch is cleared.

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The shed site is not the only one we are preparing.  Yesterday we moved all of the furniture from our verandah which extends around 2 sides of the house in preparation for the floor to be sanded and recoated.  The sanding was supposed to happen today but it rained overnight and some of the flooring was wet so the start has been delayed.

This is the long side at the front of the house.

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The shorter end which looks out towards the vegetable garden.

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In other garden news, GMan planted clivias along the western edge of the driveway.  These were sourced from multiple plants we had in pots.  Most are orange but there are also some yellow ones.  My $20 investment in a single orange clivia which I bout almost 20 years ago has paid handsome dividends.  The yellow ones have also multiplied from a single plant which was a gift several years ago.

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I think the clivia plants will make a nice border to the edge of the driveway.  The area behind them is a work in progress.  The shrubs were planted in mid-December and are growing quite well.  You can see some of the piles of mulch which have been moved from the site near the shed.  We plan to lay some sheets of cardboard to suppress the weeds then cover them with the mulch.

Finding Balance

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It is a little over 6 months since I finished work and I am now beginning to look at how I manage my time at home.

While I was working it was the time available which dictated what I achieved at home.  However, now that has all changed as my time is my own.

The first 6 months were taken up with the final preparations for our overseas trip followed by 9 weeks overseas then it was less than 2 months until Christmas and a road trip and family Christmas.

My activities can be roughly divided into the following categories (in alphabetical order, not priority):

Cooking – meal preparation – sometimes in bulk
Exercise – aquarobics, gym and walking
Gardening – growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs
Household maintenance/renovations – usually in conjunction with GMan
Online/Computer – blog, Facebook, emails
Relaxing – reading, music, television
Routine housework – making bed, washing, ironing, sweeping, vacuuming
Sewing – clothes, mending, patchwork and Boomerang bags
Socialising – book club, film society, theatre, friends, family, Air BnB guests
Shopping – groceries and miscellaneous
Travel – local, interstate and overseas

By their very nature, housework and cooking tend to occur everyday.  Formal exercise is twice a week but I am trying to include either some walking or gardening every other day.

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I try to find time for some gardening, relaxing and computer work each day.

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Sewing and socialising usually happen several days a week.

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Shopping is as little as possible but groceries are mostly once a week.

Some activities cross over such as aquarobics and socialising.  I also try to combine activities and errands to limit the number of trips I make into our local town (8km away).

From time to time a particular activity may demand a substantial block of time to the exclusion of almost everything else but I generally try to keep a mix of activities each day or so.

 

 

 

Why Did We Wait?

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We have lived in this house for almost 14 years and made various changes to both the interior and exterior of the house.  The kitchen, laundry and bathroom have had major upgrades.  Windows, external cladding, verandah railings and flooring have all been replaced as well as the outdoor staircase.  The entire interior of the house has been painted, floor coverings replaced and built-in wardrobes added.

But apart from buying timber venetian blinds for 2 of the front windows we have never had any window coverings.  It has not really been a necessity from a privacy point of view since we live on a small acreage with no close neighbours.

However, the combined lounge/dining room has quite a large expanse of windows and we do find that it makes the room quite cold on winter evenings and I would love to be able to draw the curtains to cover the glass and make it feel more cosy.

We did not do anything about it initially as we knew that we would replace the old windows.  The upgraded windows are louvres and one section of them is quite close to the slow-combustion heater so I was unsure as to what sort of window treatments would work best.  Hence, winter would come and go each year and still the inertia and indecision remained.  This is a post on the same subject from 2011.

The combination of a few cold nights and some free time once I had finished work meant that I decided to check out a relatively local business, Custom Curtains and Shade at Beerwah.  It is barely a month since we first ventured to the showroom where we discussed a couple of different fabric and colour options  A few days later we had a measure and quote, decided on our choice of fabric and today the finished products were installed.

Here is the result and I really do not know why we procrastinated for so long before deciding to get the Roman blinds for this room.

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After almost 14 years the living area now looks ‘complete’ to my satisfaction.

Progress

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Well, the bedroom is painted and the new flooring laid.

Tonight we reassembled the bed frame, replaced the mattress and made the bed.  Now I am ready to sleep in it.

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Here is a closer view of the new floor.

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After much discussion and debate prior to making our decision, we are very happy with the finished product.  It will be much easier to keep clean.

The chest of drawers, cedar box and my dressing table will be put back on the weekend when we have more time.

 

 

One Simple Change

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A few days after Christmas we ordered a new lounge suite.  This had been on the agenda for quite some time and we finally found the time to search out what we wanted on the internet and then went to see (and sit in) it in real life.The delivery time was expected to be 10 – 12 weeks but we asked if we could make a bit longer so that it would be delivered after our holidays in April.

One of the reasons we were looking at an extended delivery time was because we knew that there were a few other jobs that we wanted to do before we had a new lounge suite in the living room.

The main priority was to have the vinyl flooring in the lounge, dining room, kitchen, hallway and study re-surfaced.  This had not been done since the flooring was first laid about 10 years ago and was well overdue.  The main problem is that since it comprises such a major area of the house it is a challenge to move all of the furniture out of the way.  This seemed like the perfect time.

So now there is furniture and contents of shelves and cupboards stacked almost anywhere I can find a space.

The guest bedroom

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The front entry

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The floors are not the only area in need of some maintenance.  The kitchen ceiling was in poor condition and was GMan’s list of jobs.  He had already noted that since the living areas of the house are open plan that he would repaint all of the ceilings.

Of course, you paint the ceiling before refinishing the floors.

The kitchen and front entry were done a couple of weeks ago.  You can read about it here.  The lounge and dining room are currently being painted.

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Our bedroom has been completely emptied and GMan repainted the walls today.  The photo is before the painting.  Tomorrow the carpet will be replaced with vinyl flooring which will be much easier to keep clean, especially since we live on acreage in a semi-rural area.

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The bed frame has been dismantled and is in the study.

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We are sleeping on the mattress on the floor in my sewing room for a couple of nights.

Once the bedroom flooring is done and that room can be reassembled things will improve a bit.  The next step will be to arrange for the resealing of the other flooring.

Moving furniture is almost as much of an impetus to declutter as moving house.  We will not necessarily be putting everything back where it came from as we have realised that times have changed and some things that were essentials 10 years ago do not necessarily have a place here anymore.  There is no rush so we will carefully consider everything as we reassemble various rooms.

There will be ‘after’ photos in due course.

Recalibrated

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This blog post has been unfolding in my mind over the past few days as the next phase of our lives – retirement – is on the horizon but looming ever closer.

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We have been ’empty-nesters’, with no children at home for over 12 years.  This coincided with our move from Brisbane to our current home on a semi-rural block of 1.5 acres.  There has been no shortage of things to do as we have developed the garden as well as undertaken several renovations to the house.  There are other projects which we are looking forward to working on once we have more time but most of the major work has been done.  Additionally, we have gradually sorted, culled, decluttered and generally streamlined a lot of stuff so the day-to-day cleaning and maintenance is becoming simpler and easier.

To add to the busyness we have both continued to work full-time, however, this will change when we retire in the middle of next year.

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I am regularly quizzed by well-meaning people as to what I am going to when I retire and my somewhat truthful but flippant answer is ‘travel’.  Of course, travel will be only a small part of what we do.  I think my comment to GMan a few weeks ago really summed it up when I said that I was looking forward to having 7 days to do what I currently try to fit into 2 days of the weekend.

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A few things recently have led me to rethink how I manage my working hours which I am fortunate enough to have very flexible arrangements.  However, this has led to me not working in the most efficient manner at times.  Even though I will still be working full-time I have decided to structure my office and working from home times so that I will only work 4 days each week with Mondays off each week apart from once a month when I will swap it for a Tuesday so that I can continue my involvement in a community project.  Thursdays will a full day of working from home and I will be in the office on the other 3 days.  There is still a degree of flexibility if I need to swap my days around for a particular reason.

I believe that having a 3 day weekend most weeks will allow me to do things I want to do at home without feeling quite so rushed and be be organised for the remainder of the week.  I am thinking particularly of cooking and meal preparation and gardening.

With only 10 months (but who’s counting) until I retire I also need to consider how I will manage the workload whilst handing over the role to my replacement in the first half of next year.

There are certainly different seasons of our lives and what was necessary when I had young children is not relevant in my current situation.  We are all at different stages of our lives and sometimes the biggest hurdle is actually identifying what is best for you and your family now.  It will not be the same as mine but by finding what works for you will help to promote a sense of calm, peace and gratitude while minimising angst and stress.

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It is admirable to strive for goals and targets but do not wish your life away.  Be grateful for what you have today because this stage of your life will not last forever.