Cooking, Renovations and Fun Stuff

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Xmas Day Food

The Recipes

Baby beetroot, fresh out of the garden on Christmas morning

Roast vegetable salad (with the beetroot out of the garden)

Garlic prawn salad

Prawn racks

Chocolate pavlova


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Garden Update

In September I set up some raised garden beds in our back yard:

We planted some seedlings in early October, and after a false start (the mulch made great hiding spots for earwigs, which nibbled all the green leafy veges), they're growing well.

The back bed (to the left of the compost bin) has beetroot and lettuce, the middle bed has parsley, coriander and bok choy, and the front bed has three different kinds of tomatoes. We've been harvesting the coriander for a week or so now, and will have the first of the bok choy tonight.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Around the House

I haven’t blogged much lately, but I’ve been keeping busy around the house.

I painted the hallway. ‘Before’ pic below (with some sample colours painted on the left-hand wall)

hall 1

The green made it feel dark and old-fashioned. ‘After’ pic below – much lighter!

hall 2

I also set up some garden beds in the back yard. I wanted them to be raised, as we have a large dog, and also because an apple tree has the prime spot and I needed to work around that. To save money I used bricks we already had to form the edges of the beds.


vege garden 1


vege garden 2

Will be planting the garden beds out with veges in the next few weeks.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

TJ’s operation

A couple of years ago Rob noticed a small lump on TJ’s flank. It slowly got bigger, so last year the vet took a biopsy of it. It wasn’t cancerous, just a lipoma (soft fatty tissue mass), but we were advised to have it removed within the next six to 12 months. It continued to increase in size so we decided to go ahead with having it removed as we were worried about how many stitches TJ would have to have if it continued to grow. So yesterday he went in to have the lump removed.

tj lump

I took him down to the vet (about 10 minutes’ walk from our house), and Rob and his friend Luke went to pick him up. They managed to get him into Luke’s  car OK (TJ loves going in the car!) but he didn’t want to get out. He was still dopey from the anaesthetic, and every time he moved towards the door of the car he banged the Elizabethan collar around his head and yelped from the discomfort of the wound. We ended up building a little ramp from the car door down to the driveway, then I got in behind TJ to encourage him to get out, and Rob coaxed him from the front. He finally got out and I got him into the house.

His ‘after’ pic below, but be warned, it’s  pretty gory! He has a tube in to help drain away fluid and infection from the site, so he’s dripping a bit, and finds it hard to get comfortable. We all had quite a restless night! The drain will come out in about five days, and the stitches another five days after that. In the meantime we have to restrict his activity. That should be fairly easy to begin with – I took him outside to go to the toilet this morning, and he just huddled against a bush then wanted to come inside again. I think he’s feeling the cold with a big chunk of fur missing!


tj after op 3

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bathroom Renovation - Complete

Come in, let me show you around…

The first thing you see on entering the bathroom is the basin. The shower screen is to the right:P1010016

The shower screen is hinged so it can be pushed to one side when it’s not in use, to make the room seem bigger:


The shower head is on a rail, so it’s height adjustable. It’s also detachable and on a hose, so you can use it to clean the bath and shower area (or the dog):P1010007

There’s a recessed shelf to keep our soap and shampoo in:P1010004

And a ‘soaker’ bath (extra deep and extra wide):P1010015


Before and After Pics

Originally the shower was the first thing you saw when you entered the bathroom:bathroom 2

Now the basin is the first thing you see. You might be able to spot the little panel heater just behind the door in the pic below. It has a timer on it so it’s set to come on before we get up in the morning so we have a nice warm bathroom:

bathroom 2 after

We used to have to walk to the end of the bathroom to get to the vanity. The space was narrow and you could only fit one person in the bathroom at at time:bathroom 3

Now the bath is at the end of the room where the vanity used to be:bathroom 3 after

The space is much more user-friendly now. Rob and I can both use the bathroom at the same time, and there’s even a spot for TJ:


We also had the toilet renovated, with new floor tiles to match the bathroom, and a new toilet suite. I also painted the toilet, as it used to be green and white, like the hall wall to the right in the pic below. Changing that is my next job…


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 24

I decided to keep working on the walls today. Where I had hand-painted (cut in) the corners of the bathroom that the roller couldn’t get to, it looked a bit lighter than the rolled areas, so I hand-painted those areas again, just to get everything looking uniform.

Then it was on to the toilet walls. They were a bit patchy from the partial prep coat applied a week ago, so I sanded back the rough bits, vacuumed up the dust off the floor and walls, then applied another prep coat, waited two hours then put a coat of colour on.

Tomorrow I’ll put the last coat of colour on the toilet walls, then do the windows and doors in both rooms. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 23

Got two coats of paint on the ceiling and walls of the bathroom today. Not sure about the colour, but hopefully it will look better once it’s dry. Tomorrow I’ll do the window and door, and possibly the walls in the toilet.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 22

I’ve got a few days free until my next batch of work arrives, so am taking this opportunity to paint the bathroom (was too tired last weekend).

So today I washed down all the surfaces that I wanted to paint in the bathroom, then stuck painters tape next to all the surfaces I wanted to paint (to avoid any bleeds), and then I covered the bathroom in drop sheets. And then do you think I could start painting? No. Since the ceiling and walls were bare plaster, and the window frame and door frame were bare timber, I first had to apply a prepcoat to prime, seal and undercoat the surfaces. All of that took most of the day, so actual painting will be tomorrow. Once I’ve decided on a colour. Too. Many. Whites.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 21

We were planning to paint the bathroom today, but scraping back the flaking paint on the inside of the window frame took much longer than expected. While I was doing that, Rob washed the toilet walls with sugar soap, and put as much prep coat on the toilet walls as he could (a large man with a broken rib in a small space can only do so much). Hope to get the rest done on the weekend.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 20

The bath repair man was here today and was able to fix the damage to the bath – yay!

Now we have another problem. The soft-close toilet seat won’t actually stay up when Rob wants to use it. The project manger took it off and put it back on a couple of times, but wasn’t able to fix it. He thinks it’s a faulty soft-close mechanism so has put in a service call to Reece (the place the toilet was bought from). Someone there will come out and sort it out for us.

I managed to do a little bit of prep for painting today, sanding back the two-tone suede effect paint in the toilet so we can cover it in a low-sheen paint in one colour. I also sanded the window frame and door frame in the toilet. Whoever painted them last put water-based paint directly over the top of oil-based paint and it had started to peel off.  Unfortunately all the sanding made a huge mess :-(

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 19

This morning the glass guy came to install the shower screen (it took less time to make the screen than I expected!). The screen has been made so that it folds back out of the way when not in use, so it has been put in that position for now, with instructions not to touch it for two days.

Bathroom Renovation – Day 18

This morning the project manager came in to do a few things, including mounting a bracket on the wall for the panel heater, and giving the plaster a sand in preparation for painting. He also arranged for a cleaner to come later in the day to clean up all the dust and dirt. Unfortunately once the bath was clean, a deep scratch could be seen in the bottom of it:

bath april 17

The bath has been fairly well protected at all stages of the reno – it has been covered with surface protector (like thick blue bubble wrap) and/or a sheet of ply, but somehow it still got damaged.

Someone is coming out in the next day or so to assess the damage and see what can be done. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 17

The carpenter came back this morning to fit off the accessories. He installed two towel rails, finished off the strip drain for the shower, rehung the toilet and bathroom doors and put a door stop in the bathroom.

In the afternoon a tiler came out to silicon all the ‘control joints’. According to The Floor Elf, a control joint  is ‘one grout line, all the way down the length of your installation, that is filled with colored silicone or caulk rather than grout. The purpose of a soft joint is to allow movement in your installation without cracking tiles or grout. When placed properly it will absorb any ‘normal’ seasonal and structural movements inherent in structures.’

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 16

Another busy day in the bathroom. The electrician came first thing to do his final fit off. He put the light fitting back in and put in a new light switch and also finished off the power points. The new extractor fan was also put in (ducted through the outside wall of the second storey, since the eaves outside the bathroom on the ground floor are asbestos).

Next up was the plumber. He installed the toilet, put in the bath mixer and bath spout, the shower mixer and shower head, and the basin and tap. Can’t use anything yet though as silicone still needs to be applied to the tiled areas.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 15

The tiler came back this morning to grout all the tiles. He did a great job with all the tiling and we’re happy with how the room’s coming together. Not long to go now!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 14

The tiler finished laying the wall tiles today. He will be back tomorrow to do all the grouting.

Now that the tiles are all in place, the glass man was able to pop in this afternoon and measure up to make the shower screen. It may take up to a couple of weeks to produce, so will be the last thing to go in.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 13

The tiler was back today and was able to finish laying the floor tiles and do some more work on the walls.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 12

It was action stations this morning, as the carpenters came back to rip out the framework for one side of the bath and replace it. The plumber was here at the same time to move the bath mixer, as we decided the original placement was too low. Later in the day the areas that had work done were re-waterproofed.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 11

The tiler arrived early this morning and talked us through his suggestions for the layout of the floor and wall tiles, to make sure we were happy with it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t happy with how the bath framework had been done, as it meant the tiles wouldn’t sit properly. So he did what he could today (mostly floor tiles), and tomorrow the bath area will be fixed so he can continue tiling on Wednesday.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 10

When the plasterer was here on Wednesday he patched over the hole in the ceiling where the old fan was:

bathroom april 3 3

I queried this with the building supervisor on Thursday morning, as we were told at the planning stage that our old textured ceiling would look odd with a smooth patch at one end and it would be best to have a new ceiling. The plasterer missed the ceiling instructions when he was here on Wednesday, so he came back this morning to put in a new ceiling and cornices:

bathroom april 5 1

The old door frame was stripped out as part of the demolition, so this afternoon the carpenters came back and put in a new door frame so the tiler will have an edge to tile up to.

Without frame:

bathroom april 5 3

With frame:

bathroom april 5 4 

Our window was previously framed by some ‘lovely’ plastic edging, seen in the pic below:

bathroom 1

It now has a new frame:

bathroom april 5 4

Tiling starts on Monday.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 9

Today the wet areas of the bathroom were waterproofed, in preparation for tiling.

So at the end of the day yesterday the bathroom walls looked like this:

bathroom april 3 1

And when the waterproofer finished today, they looked like this:

bathroom april 4 1

He also did the floor and the side of the bath

bathroom april 4 3

It’s stinky stuff!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 8

The plasterers came today so our walls are finally in!

We’ve gone from this:

bathroom 22 March

to this:

bathroom april 3 1

They also patched the hole in the ceiling where the old fan came out.

So we’ve gone from this:

bathroom 26 March 2

to this:

bathroom april 3 3

Getting there!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 7

To my surprise the cabinetmaker turned up today to install the mirrored cabinet.

Previously, when you entered the bathroom, the first thing you saw was the shower cubicle. I’m standing in the doorway to take the pic below, which gives you a rough idea of what you’ll see now when you enter the bathroom.

bathroom 28 March 1

The basin will be directly below.

Here’s a side view. You might be able to see that it’s recessed into the wall cavity, so it won’t stick out too far above the basin.

bathroom 28 March 2

Here’s what it looks like with the left side open. The hole in the bottom is for the power point. The shelves are all adjustable, so we can keep an electric toothbrush in there to charge if we want to.

bathroom 28 March 3

Have a great Easter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 6

The carpenters were back today to do some work on the bathroom floor. They put cement sheet down around the grate that the plumber roughed in the other day. So we have gone from this

bathroom 19 March 2

to this

bathroom 20 March 2

to this

Bathroom 28 March 1

The carpenters also did some more work around the bath, which I think is in preparation for plastering and tiling.

bathroom 27 March 2

Due to Easter there won’t be anything happening in the bathroom until next Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bathroom Renovation – Day 5

This morning the electrician was here for a couple of hours to rough in the new wiring.

In the old bathroom layout, all the wiring was on the right-hand wall. The light switch will remain in the same position, but because the new basin will be in a diagonally opposite position to where it was, wiring had to be run around the room for new power points.

In the right of the pic below you can see the wiring for the light switch and the rectangular metal bracket where the power point used to be. In the centre of the pic you can see a white junction box, and the electrician has run the new wiring via this, round to the left

bathroom 26 March 4

the new wiring continues above the bath, past the shower area…

bathroom 26 March 5

into the new basin area. There will be a power point hidden in the mirrored cabinet above the basin, and one down low on the left-hand wall for a panel heater.

bathroom 26 March 6

We also wanted the old extractor fan taken out, since its position over the old shower meant it vented into the ceiling cavity – not ideal.

bathroom 26 March 1

bathroom 26 March 2

We wanted a new extractor fan put in closer to the outside wall of the house, so it vents to the outside. The electrician prepared an opening for it (the small hole is for the existing light fitting).

bathroom 26 March 3

However, he didn’t prepare the vent through the eaves to the outside as the eaves may be asbestos…