Sunday, July 29, 2012

Thrifting with friends

I have managed to convert a few friends to the joys of op shopping and this week, we were out with a map and a plan.  One friend has a very specific list of items she needs for her house, the other seems to have a knack for fossicking out amazing outfits. Neither of them have any interest in pyrex, vintage sheets, milkglass or kitsch salt and pepper shakes but I am training them up in case they go somewhere very adventurous on a day that I am at work.

While my head is in the mode of designing a new kitchen, I could not leave this little hen and chicks salt and pepper set behind. I am very much in love with this fabric too, it came in a scraps pack from the op shop a while back. I think this week would have to be one of my best for finds. For a start there was the vintage duck egg blue chenille.

Backed with a vintage sheet that had unfortunately been used as a painting dropsheet. The horror!. I will unpick this I think and then use this glorious fringed colour on our bed.

I think there were squeals and bouncing up and down when I stumbled across this little beauty. A gorgeous pristine never used brown floral Sheriden vintage sheet set. Amazingly, Zara seemed to find the exact same sheet in the purple tones and in equally pristine condition. Go the synchronized thrifting.

And I couldn't leave this one behind either, although slightly faded it was so so soft, and pink which is vintage sheet gold.

And on my personal wishlist, finally after all this time, some turquoise pyrex. And a set of two nesting bowls at that. These were from my local oppie and I am sure the karmic reward for the two full bags of kids books and clothes that I was dropping off.

There is some more of this wonderfulness but I am falling asleep while I type. Back soon with more goodies, creative kids, accessories for Betsy and a very happy Legoman.

Linking with Sophie for more vintage goodies.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Winter sunshine productivity

Yep, the sun has been shining down, everyone is recovered and we have all been busy, busy, busy. I finally finished this little corduroy bunny for a friend's baby boy. I even managed a little embroidery so all the big brothers know who this bunny belongs too.

Legoman was inspired to do a little deconstruction. He is itching to take the back of our house apart piece by piece, sometimes I humour him and let him destroy things. In this case, some rafters and lattice on our silly little deck that block the light and don't really offer much else. ( Except perhaps structural support, hoping the whole thing doesn't keel over now).

I do like being able to see more of that wonderful old frangipani tree. When we renovate, the lounge room will extend out to the cubby door and we are thinking of putting a big fixed pane window in to enjoy looking out onto that lovely tree. In the meantime, I need to finish painting that back wall of the house in just one shade of grey.

We also started work on the back garden. This potentially snake infested prairie that was a for a short time our chook run, was next on the list. (Our chooks were foxed about this time last year, we will probably get some more after we renovate). There is a nasty raised garden bed under here that we are going to dig out, this will give us more lawn and then we will put some thought into some new planting along the back fence.

And would you believe it but the minute there is rampant  destruction, neighbourhood boys are flushed out and ready to wield mattocks. We need all the enthusiastic ten year olds we can get, there is a vast quantity of CARPET under all the dirt. We have already found masses of it already, if you are lucky it comes out in a sheet, otherwise it seems to come out one unravelled strand at a time.

And it wasn't all work and no play either. Since we had all this spare wood from the deck decon lying around, surely something could be done.

How about making a start on a treehouse platform thingy, for crazy wild stunt swinging.

Hard to get a good shot when they are having this much fun.

Next weekend, there is going to be a whole lotta digging going on over here at Betsy's.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vintage sheet frocks and other fancies

Someone left a comment a while back asking me what I did with all the vintage sheets I had collected. I thought I had best provide some evidence that I do not have a certifiable hoarding disorder. A few months back,  I did finally finish making a frock for miss Liongirl. The stitching is a little wonky and that was the first ruffle I have ever attempted. Despite this, she loves it (the pocket pouch helps) and I can't wait to make a few more as this one will be too short by the time next summer comes.

Other than dresses, the vintage sheetage gets a variety of loving over here at Betsy's. Often they are actually on the bed, being used as, you'll never believe it........ bed sheets.

When there is a new batch freshly washed, they give me a wonderful view out of my lounge room windows. (We are moving the washing line as it is not quite as exciting with the socks and jocks load).

Often when the weather is good, we drag a few outside and whip up a cubby. So much easier on the eye than a tarp.

I haven't found many lately though, they are few and far between these days. This is one of the few in as many months.

Remember when I made this little minature quilt for the toy cot? I want to make a bigger version of this next, a tea party mat for miss Liongirl, maybe even with chenille backing so we can snuggle under it if we are out and about.

I do really need to sort and iron my stash as a priority, so some pics of that another time. I'll leave you with some washing line joy.

Linking in with Sophie for more vintage goodies.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Drizzly grey day snippets

Did I mention that my entire lounge room is finally ALL white. I think amidst the general flurry I completely forgot to share this miracle. When it stops raining and there is some decent light,  I will share the wonder that is no more custard.

Roboboy went back to school, I did manage a quick oppie ferret this week. I often find a few of the same sort of thing in the one ferret. The colours in these blankies just seem to pop more with the drizzly grey days we are having. The top one is my favourite. If there was a remote chance it would be worn, I would attempt to turn it into a coat for miss Liongirl. I do have some other ideas percolating though.

Look what else popped up too. It looks like pyrex but it's actually Arcopal, all the way from France.

Perfect weather  for whipping up some teddy bear pancakes. With the kids sick for the holidays, I think I watched a lot more Playschool than usual. Or was it Peppa Pig? Miss Liongirl is in charge of banana slicing, Roboboy helps with the mix and they both get to decorate -those dairy free choc chips are a fantastic shape. We have experimented with cats and pigs too, these drizzly grey days just keep inspiring pancakes.

Roboboy has been designing computers again.

And I  have been photographing all his art and carefully choosing which ones to keep. This was one of the few paintings he did at kindy when he was four. I think it was an army tank. I love the  colours, I think I need to get an Ikea frame for this one.

Speaking of Ikea, we did  recently get a stool for Roboboy so he can reach to feed his fish. I even let him choose the colour, so there is also a bit of painting going on over here.

Back soon  to share it all when the sun comes out and I can take some decent pictures.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Creamy rice and all things nice

Well it's been a horror few weeks here at Betsy's. There was the rain, and there was the influenza which my children decided to both acquire, one painstaking week at a time. Yep, that was 7 days of  high fevers and sleep deprivation with miss Liongirl and then another 7 days of Groundhog day with Roboboy. He now takes the house record for a fever at 40.4 which saw his brain bubbling. He was obviously  delerious as at 3 a.m he started spouting off maths equations. As I staggered around calculating panadol doses, he was confirming that 12 plus 6 does indeed equal 18. So, other than that first day out in the rain to the toy sales, our total outings for the school holidays =  NIL. (Unless you count that sanity dash of  mine to Coles, just so I could leave the house).

In order to stay sane, I did what any sensible, sleep deprived, housebound, brain addled mother does. I went shopping on Etsy, and  cooked comfort food.  The gorgeous little print above came flying across the world from Handmade by Alice Apple and suddenly I started feeling a little better.

I was inspired to try a Rice pudding recipe in the latest edition of House and Garden. I should have been more suspicious about the fact that it contained five eggs. It was a dry disgusting eggy disaster despite me following the directions exactly. I was so cranky I decided that I could do a better job on my own and after much huffing around the kitchen, I did it, I actually managed to make the creamiest of creamy rice, DAIRY FREE. Yep, a small miracle really. I can only imagine how good this would be if it had real milk, but for an imposter it's pretty good and super easy. I'll post the recipe down the bottom.

This child has been eating like a bird and doing maths for fun. He needs to go back to school. I need him to go back to school, hopefully tomorrow.

He did manage to complete one new giant artwork. Let's call it "All my guppies and my fish tank make me really happy".

This child has still been wearing inappropriate summer clothing if there is even the tiniest scrap of sun.

All this enforced time at home has allowed us to tackle some of those jobs that just never get done. We sat in the warm sunshine and painstakingly repaired 13 toddler books that had been on the receiving end of vigorous flap ripping from a much younger Liongirl.

And, we read through this pile that came home from the oppie last week.

And lastly, I am trying to not run screaming from the house upon the discovery that Legoman has now spent the day in bed with fevers and chills........... Best be off to make another batch of this yumminess.

Creamy rice (to ward off insanity and other ills)

 Add 3/4 cup medium grain rice to 3 cups of  rice milk ( or any milk) to a saucepan and bring to the boil.Turn down and simmer on a low heat for 20 mins, stirring intermittently.

In a small bowl whisk 1 egg with 1/3 cup caster sugar. Take pan off heat and add egg/sugar mix and stir quickly. Pop pan back on low heat and stir frequently while egg cooks through for another 5 minutes. Serve into ramekins and eat hot or cold. Super- yum!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Been there done that- renovations

This blog was always intended to be about the renovation of our little blue house called Betsy. Along the way, it has become a creative outlet, a space to share a love of op shop finds and a pictorial memory of some of the best moments with my children. A bits and pieces, all over the shop kind of blog. As we are still a little way off starting Betsy's makeover renovation, I thought you might like to see what we got up to last time we did this renovating caper.

This renovation is pretty much spot on ten years old, and I still love our old house. We will be doing some things differently this time but the underlying threads are still the same. There will be white vj walls, there will be pine wood floors and there will be lots of colour. There will also be a view of trees from every window. In my mind, that's a perfect house.

Want to take a peek at a  queenslander renovation circa 2002? (I might add these photos are all from the real estate agent and my house was never actually this tidy or clutter free in real life). When we bought this workers cottage in 2000 she was shabby and had a red roof, cream walls and forest green trim. The front fence was falling down and the stairs came straight down from top to bottom and were very steep and dangerous.

She had three bedrooms, a small lounge/dining/kitchen area and a tacked on bathroom at the back. It was a long skinny block that sloped up towards the back of the house. We did not want to raise and excavate under the house so we simply added an extension onto the back. We used a draftsman and virtually all the design was our own.  It took 11 weeks and there were some medium sized dramas with the builder. We swore at the time we would NEVER renovate again. It then took us about another two years to finish painting the interior of the house ourselves. I swore I would NEVER gap fill or paint another VJ ceiling ever again.

We took a long time planning the kitchen, luckily we are both details people. I miss this kitchen. The island was Corian, the other bench stainless steel, the cupboards laminate . The red wall was simply painted in case we changed our minds, but we never did. It was a very functional kitchen and we will be taking all the best bits of this one for Betsy. It had symmetry, no overhead cupboards and a huge shallow pantry along one wall. My only regret was perhaps the stainless steel bench, it scratched easily, rusted slightly and it was a total pain to keep the splashback clean.

We chose to keep all the joinery in the original red cedar and this really suited the tropical vibe of this house. For Betsy we are doing all the doors and windows white. The living/dining/kitchen/deck was the bulk of the extension, see the pale yellow floors of new pine. These were quite white when installed but yellowed up over  a decade, still never as honey as the original floors but as the join was in the hallway, the transition was not obvious.

Before kids we would lie on this daybed all weekend reading books and gazing up into that mango tree. That tree clinched us buying the house. Snap when we bought Betsy, her huge poinciana was the clincher.

We intend to do a similar style of gabled deck roof for Betsy, however she will have a much wider span than this.

There is no money to give Betsy a new bathroom. I'll just fondly remember this one.

This shower did not need a door ( I hate cleaning glass) and that bath was the deepest and widest we could find (the kids miss that bath- it was practically a pool). We thought we were buying purple mosaics but they ended up looking more like a shimmering mermaids tail. Can I add that white tiled floors were an exceptionally bad idea with small children. We are still experiencing karmic payback for this exceptionally poor decision as Betsy also has white tiled bathroom floors.

The ensuite had a double shower and a vanity made from an old balinese cabinet.

Because the open plan living/kitchen/dining room was white, we painted all the bedrooms different colours ( I had to get my colour fix somewhere). The colour of our bedroom was very restful. That doona cover is the only one I liked for a decade, it finally retired last year and now that I have discovered vintage sheets I want to sew my own.

Looking back I see that perhaps I am to blame for miss Liongirl's pink obsession. Before kids this room was a dark dark navy and was an office. See the gorgeous honey coloured pine in this old part of the house? Roboboy's room was lilac and the spare room was a neutral kind of coffee colour.

The two front bedrooms faced north and had wonderful french doors that opened onto the front verandah. We would lie in bed with the doors flung open on the weekends the let the sun drench the room, while the kids zoomed their ride ons along the verandah. Both my children were born while living in this house and I have lots of wonderful memories. Luckily, she is just around the corner so I can check on her every day on the drive home. She was bought by an investor and the family renting her have been kind enough to say that they love our old house so much they are having trouble leaving her to buy their own house.

So, now that ten years have passed and the bad memories of renovating have faded, we are getting excited about doing it all again, with a lot more wisdom, experience and a new vision for a new girl called Betsy.