Sunday, June 26, 2011

Scared to face the music tomorrow

Today was just one of those weird crazy days with its own momentum. Poor Legoman doesn't know what hit him. All he wanted to do was try out his new  attachments for our Dyson vacuum cleaner. As that involved moving one of our lounge chairs I pounced, knowing this kind of opportunity may not come again for months.

Then we started to clean that huge bank of north facing windows inside and out that were covered in dust and mould and had not been cleaned properly since we moved in 10 months ago. The kids were enthusiastic for all of about 10 minutes then dropped like flies and started doing their own thing, with a few nudges along the way. Liongirl threw the contents of an entire puzzle box across the floor in a huff and while in timeout in her room proceeded to pull at least 87 books out of her bookshelf before coming to her senses and setting up a tea party quite happily.

While waiting for the final spray of my favourite mould killer to do its work, we set up a blanket in the garden and had a morning tea picnic. Then the windows were finished- sparkling clean, and the old blinds and brackets removed. This window is north facing and has the most wonderful winter light streaming in and we never use the blinds so they are gone.

And then Roboboy suddenly wanted a nap. Which he hasn't remotely considered since he was at kindy about 9 months ago. Sure enough he was sick- fever 39.5. So we provided drinks, cuddles, panadol and copious tv while he collapsed on the lounge. So between cooking Chicken, corn and noodle soup from scratch and providing regular temperature checks and medication, I decided, I as am prone to do, that now would be the ideal time to start painting that really clean wall. Windows open to remove fumes- check. Kids nearby to supervise- check. Legoman happily building lego with Liongirl- check. Would you belive I nearly covered that entire wall? Photos coming soon.

I had to scrape this section back as the paint was bubbling. I love seeing the layers of colour history in an old house. Under the custard comes spearmint green. Under that is an olivey green. Goodness knows what's under that one. I usually undercoat and then sand any imperfections as there is likely to be some lead paint around and much better to leave it undisturbed and sand the layer of new undercoat.

So, tomorrow is looking like a day to be feared. Child one- sick with high fevers and severe phobia of taking any medication. Child 2 still on antibiotics from recent infection, still snotty and whingy but thankfully no fear of taking medication. Mother in law sick with pneumonia so unable to be of any assistance. Mother at work. Husband at work. Me- oh yes I've got what child one has. Starting to feel better after 9 days of not feeling good but the glands in my neck are so swollen I look like a rugby forward and can't turn my head properly. Will be getting throught the day courtesy of ABC kids and knowing that no matter what, Legoman will make sure he will be home in time for me to watch "The Block".

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gifted Rosella seeds

In my work I am lucky enough to get to look after people and get to know them over many many years. Sometimes we talk about mutual interests, like gardening. Recently, one lady that  I know well mentioned that a friend of hers propagated rosella bushes. My ears pricked up immediately as I have been looking for one of these bushes since I saw one in a  friend's garden. They are gorgeous to look at and functional as well, with flowers that can be used to make jam, or even a tea of sorts.

The following week she returned and came bearing gifts. A little jar full of those blue stones and some seeds mixed in. The blue granules are copper sulphate and are there to keep the mould away until September when it should be warm enough to plant the seeds. And another much bigger jar full of rosella flowers, dried and ready for making an infusion. The taste was unusual, warm and rich with a vague hint of berries and with just  a little sugar it was delicious. The colour of the water was also a beautiful pinky ruby red and inspired a photograph.

Things have been quiet over here at Betsy's as we are currently in the midst of the inaugural Winter Solstice 2011 Snotfest. There is not a lot of room for inspiration or creativity when the most frequently uttered sentence is "Mama, I've got gooby, need tissue" in the most piteous high pitched whining tone ever imagined. You know they really are sick when they conk out while watching "The Fairies" on the telly.

There was a tiny reprieve though today with a quick peek in my favourite oppy. As I was ferretting through the manchester I was told there was also a 5% discount for completing a questionnaire. As if there was any doubt about bringing home this little pile of vintage sheet beauties but at $4.75 each, no further thought was required.

My favourite is the orange floral on the top, closely followed by the mustard floral doona cover with matching ruffled pillowcase on the bottom of the pile, would you believe original tags still intact. Although the statement on the tag that it was part of a collection that also included matching curtains and  wallpaper was slightly concerning.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Totally addicted to fetes

We hit another of our local school fetes today. We couldn't not go, we have mates at this one. Who need our support, and companionship on the unlimited rides. We are starting to worry though that the smalls may start to consider it normal weekend etiquette to obtain an all day ride pass to while away those gorgeous blue skied wintery days. This was the lolly necklace tree on the sweet stall. These necklaces are THE item to have and sold out in a jiffy. A few fantales and a lollipop on a ribbon and Bob's your uncle thankyou very much and even the boys are lining up for these.

How cool is that tree adorned in all it's sugary glory?

And check out the sweet stall in general. Looks as spectacular as a box of chocolates I think. Put together by a mate of mine who runs the best Wedding and Reception Stylist company in the Southern hemisphere. ( Ok well definitely Queensland- she just won the two top Bridal Industry awards for Wedding Hire and Decorating) I will now shamelessly plug her talents - if you are planning a beach or garden wedding pop over to Beautiful Beach Weddings and take a peek.

Of course we had to sample the wares. How cute are these fairy mushroom sprinkle marshmallows on a stick?

And how good is a $1 helicopter toy when it provides hours of fun and conversation.

Not to forget those rides in the last hour or so when there are no queues and you can just go back on over and over and over and over......

And the other really good part for me was getting to sneak in at 7 am on my own to ferret through the trash and treasure. A mountain of kids books for $1 each, Real Living magazines for 50cents each (I only started buying this year but managed to find most of 2010) and a pile of puzzles for $2 a pop. We are all wonderfully weary and are vowing no more fetes...... well, until August at least.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reverse Garbage

Today we trotted off to Reverse Garbage to check out the free kids workshops as part of a family fun open day celebrating their recent move to new larger premises. Roboboy was most pleased with his huge fill a bag for $7 haul plus the green plastic thingy for 20 cents that is destined to become the foundations for a medieval castle.

 Liongirl is doing a spectacular version of her sulky lip pout. Unsure if this is because she has just realized she has spent the morning wearing a bonnet designed for a 6 month old baby or if she knows she can't compete with Roboboys cracker of a pose that surely destines him for a Target catalogue feature.

They spent a good hour or so whiling away time at a creative workshop for kids. All the bits and bobs you could dream of - fur, fabric plastic thingies, string, adhesive dots and unlimited glue, scissors and hole punches.

Within an hour they had made mobiles, a plane, a spotty dinosaur, a furry mouse and a necklace. Not to mention Liongirl herself using an entire bottle of glue. Then it was time to check out the warehouse and fill a bag with craft goodies to take home.

Reverse garbage takes off cuts and remnants from all kinds of factories  and businesses then on sells them to the community to avoid them going to landfill. The also have a small shop where you can buy items crafted from these cast off items. The warehouse is a den of crafting treasures. Including things you never knew you needed.

Spiky wheels, sheepskin remnants, topographical maps - they have them.

Looking for that Luna Park mask?

Plaster feet - with toes for $2, without for $1. Which frankly begs the question- where are the toes?

Oodles of fabric remnants, ropes, cords and carpet bits.

And every boy needs his very own man at work road sign. Actually this would have been a good back up for Roboboy's second birthday as the combine harvester proved difficult to source.

The kids loved filling the bag with goodies of their choice, and as soon as Roboboy can sway the democratic prep vote towards a space theme I'll be back for some of that silver padded stuff in the bucket on the right.

Back home a creative vibe was happening and we launched into creating our turret for the castle theme at school. Legoman and the kids snaffled some of my grey deck paint and started work.

Can you see where we are heading? Tomorrow we have to add some arched windows, cobblestone walls, a drawbridge and a moat, then it's off to school.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The perils of vintage wallpaper

This blog post could equally be titled "Corkboard and wallpaper- lessons in frustration" or "How to have big ideas and execute them poorly".

I have about a dozen projects on the go over here at Betsy's and today I really just wanted to follow through and complete something. I attacked this with a crazed zealot like intensity that comes from having a very short window of time without interruptions. It was also one of those slightly spur of the moment creative ventures that came about while I was painting some more white walls. I had just done another coat and while waiting the 2 requisite hours to recoat, decided that I could probably use the same paint elsewhere.

I have had this corkboard since I was about 14. The fact that  it  has followed me from my childhood bedroom  to 3 share houses to this house seems downright strange. Many other items have been culled and forgotten but this humble corkboard has hung in there. Back in the 80's it was brown with pine trim.

Back in about 1997 it received a white undercoat and it's pretty much looked like this since then. Recently I stumbled across some wonderful vintage wallpaper and thought that Corky might appreciate a makeover. Having never used wallpaper before I have to admit I was a little sucked in by the funkiness of it all and given that vj walls are not suitable for wallpaper, this was the only place I could think of to try it out.

Well aware of my  lack of skills with respect to wallpaper wrangling, I decided to pretend the wallpaper was just plain paper and use spray adhesive to attach it to the cork. Seems like a reasonable and well considered concept doesn't it.?
Except that despite generously spraying both the paper and the board, there was pretty much nothing  happening in the adhesive department. Hmm. So I thought maybe I should treat it like wallpaper and follow the wallpapering instructions. So, I cut it to size, dunked it in a bucket of warm water and tried again. Still, pretty much nothing happening. So I sprayed a little bit more adhesive and then it seemed to stick a little. And then unstick itself. Despite furious smoothing out of lumps, there are some rumples and the adhesion quotient is on the low end.

I'm still not sure if it was due to the fact that  the wallpaper is vintage 80's and has lost it's adhesive tendencies or if the painted cork is the issue. Legoman's take is that the porous cork is probably absorbing all the glue. Hate to think he might actually be on the money. Eventually with much cursing and half a can of spray adhesive it seems to have stuck although it wouldn't surprise me if it all detaches and rolls off tomorrow when it completely dries.

I do think that while it's still intact it does look quite lovely. And it's completely finished ( until I have to superglue it back together). Product disclaimer :  Any obvious wrinkles in wallpaper should be (until proven otherwise)  presumed to be reflections from the rumply folds in  my new boots (thankyou Myer stocktake sale and a gift voucher ferretted from the depths of my purse).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vintage clobber and friends with chainsaws

It was a weekend of epic proportions over here at Betsy's. The momentous occasion involved both children going for their first sleepover together at Nonna's. Not being the sort of people who would waste such an opportunity we packed in as much as we could. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant, saw a movie, slept in until 8 am (the first 8 continuous hours of sleep had for about 5 years) and then went out for brunch at our favourite West End cafe.
Then there was even time for a little prowl around the West End shops. The above photo is from a cute little shop called

and they had some wonderful local designers as well as the cute little under the stairs arrangement of vintage inspired kids clothes and a toy room and blackboard.

A few doors down was a haven of vintage goodies called Bang Doll Vintage.

It was a visual feast of colour with outfits for the whole family. Fancy some lederhosen for your 7 yo son, yep they had those as well (on the left behind that lovely mustard coloured bag) . I was also quite inspired by the vintage apron collection and  a gorgeous red velvet brocade lounge that the owner  proudly told me he rescued  mere minutes before an encounter with a bulldozer at the tip.

I was quite enamoured with the green and yellow ensemble. Legoman was relieved that it appeared to be a tiny size 6. Yellow and lime green are really not my colours but gosh such a glorious sight to feast the eyes on.

We wanted to pop into Nook which is the cutest little shop of hand made bits and bobs but unfortunately they were shut. The shop cat was most welcoming however and was more than happy to come and smooch us.

Other than breakfast we displayed superb shopping restraint. Probably because later that day we planned to head off to an art gallery to look at an exhibition of one of our favourite artists. More on that soon.....

Back home, children all delivered it was time for some friends with chainsaws. One of our friends who follows the blog offered to send her hubby over with his chainsaw expertise to help Legoman with that massive branch. There was much pontificating over weights, angles and anticipated trajectories before one  large branch swung down on the end of a rope. Another small tree was felled before they became nervous and moved onto warming the barbie instead. As I was anticipating many more felled branches than actually occurred the photos are frankly almost as unimpressive as the actual branch felling but watching the good man with the machine was pure artistry.

Meanwhile the boys armed themselves with hammers and got stuck into some serious macadamnia nut collecting and cracking. We have a random 70's style concrete slab in our backyard which is the home of all nut cracking attempts and chalk art works. Legoman keeps wanting to dig it up but boys love nothing more than a good concrete slab and for the time being it is staying.

And the girls, well there were numerous tea parties, baking of sandpit cakes and a hearty game of Dora snakes and ladders. When you are 2 that actually involves lots of excited dice throwing and shouting of random unrelated numbers.

Eternal gratitude to Nonnas and understanding friends with powertools.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rapunzel Rapunzel

Roboboy's prep class just packed up the pirate theme and the new theme (chosen by democratic vote) is castles, knights , dragons and princesses. Roboboy is not a fan of democracy as his theme suggestions of Lego, Polar bears and Space have not been widely embraced.  Another mum has created the castle and  the banquet table complete with silverware  ( I am working on a turret with drawbridge) and all we needed was a really long plait to create Rapunzel's hair.

 I had been contemplating where to get really thick wool, and lots of it for this momentous task when lo and behold look what I found in a bag at the op shop for a measly $4.  I have never seen wool this thick before- about 1 cm diameter but still soft. And in exactly the right colours, can you believe it?
Despite cutting all the lengths the same, I did end up with lots of short bits so the plait gets thinner as it goes towards the bottom. Lucky I'm not employed as a hairdresser. Hard to tell in the photo but it's about 2 m in length so should look impressive.

I also found this gorgeous fabric and some crochet patterns.

And the unexpected bonus was this lovely little Sylvac jug for $4. Like everything that comes home with me, it's all about the colour. Oh and a little orange reel of thread as well.

Does anyone else have THOSE op shop experiences where you actually NEED and the op shop provides?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fabric florals and milk glass

I recently popped into my favourite op shop that had finally reopened after being flooded in January and closed for several months. I was so excited to find some glorious fabric and some beautiful milk glass for $1 a piece. A little side table came home as well but is still in the boot.

The orange floral fabric is huge and in pristine condition. It still has that slightly stiff feel of never washed fabric. The little Australiana tablecloth has a few marks but I plan to cut it up. The gorgeous mustardy seersucker is a huge round tablecloth and also has some marks but I think it might become some new cushions. Mustard is the new black over here at Betsy's.

I usually plan to go to two op shops at a time just in case one is a dud. A tiny church op shop five minutes away revealed the gorgeous thick brown floral curtains in the first picture. They also had not one but two chenille bedspreads for $4 each. The pale pink is so soft it's like a giant marshmallow. It also has some patches of fading so is easy to justify snipping.

So many things to tackle, just need to chat to the toddler about her recent decision to drop the day nap.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hello Industrial Chemist

Roboboy went to a 7 year old birthday party today. Not just any party, no, this was a Professor Jellybean party. And for Roboboy it was love at first sight. A whole gang of boys donning labcoats, oversized nerd goggles and an hour of intense concentration while various forms of goo were created. Chemical reactions were witnessed and long stretchy snakes formed almost by magic. The air was full of boy excitement, even the news that No, there would not be any explosions, did not dampen the mood.

Professor Jellybean came, set up all the tables and stools, talked them through three experiments, left party bags ( with no lollies just sciency gadgets) then packed all her gear an hour or so later and left the boys to marvel at their creations.

Roboboy was so proud of his container of stretchy snakes and rainbow balls, he even went up at the end to personally thank Professor Jellybean for the experience. I used to joke about how when he ended up as a Human Rights lawyer all would be forgiven regarding the sheer hard work he has given me from the age of 2 until now. Looking at these images and his recent obsession with quartz crystal collection ( he pinched 3 more from the party boys driveway) I am thinking geologist, civil engineer or Nanotechnologist for biological warfare  are looking like the top three career options. If not, these photos are going straight to the pile for 21 st birthday humiliation.

Back home this afternoon all the boys tackled that huge pile of tree bits that Legoman left all over the deck yesterday. Just the sight of all this destruction flushed out the two younger Menace brothers who were straight in with handsaws to do some serious chopping.

I took the opportunity to sneak up onto the roof and scope out the view. This was over to the southwest. Look at those gorgeous rolling purple ranges.

And more to the west, gorgeous sunset and whirly gig to prove, yes, I really did go up on the crest of our roof. Oh yes and Roboboy had to come too of course. The feeling of being up there almost on top of the world was magical.