The adventure of trying to make a house a home that we built for our family of six plus some craft, home décor, recipes & any family fun we might have.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

My first DIY project....

My beautiful barn style door that
 I'm working on.

So after the 6 weeks I've had away from blogging over the Christmas/school holiday's I'm back and I'm ready for what 2013 has to offer. It's hard to believe that January is almost over and we are inching closer and closer to the end of another year. There isn't much changing here this year. Caelan is in Year 3, Mackenna is off to pre Prep and my other two cherubs will be at home with mummy but we're looking into having Viveca attend day care one day a week so that she can further develop her social skills.
I had grand plans of doing a few projects during the holiday session however things don't always go the way you want them to so you just need to adjust and refocus your attention. This year I'm hoping that I'll be able to focus more of my attention on decorating this house, spending time with the children and thinking up new things to blog about. Now to blog I need things to share so I thought it was about time that I started working on a project that I've been wanting to do for about four months now.

Over the weekend I pulled out the old barn door that I got from a lovely lady who was advertising it on  Gumtree four months ago. I paid $30 for it and Mr Opoes doesn't know why I wanted an old door when we don't really need another one. The reason I purchased the door was because it was made from timber and it isn't hollow like the internal doors you can purchase from the local hardware store. I have plans of making something out of it BUT first I have to remove all the hardware and then there is 47 years of paint that also needs removing. Yeah.

So I thought I'd share some pictures with you so that you can see what I'm working with.

The first thing piece of hardware off
was really easy.

Part 2 these need removing because they are SHARP

Simple slot screw to remove.

Had to use paint stripper due to the amount of paint.

FINALLY I removed the screw and by this stage
it was too late to do anything else.

In the interest of keeping it real it took me nearly two hours to remove the seven phillips screws from the bottom of the door. Next I tried to remove the slotted screws but I experienced a heap of problems so I made a trip to the local hardware shop to buy a couple of items to remove the eight slotted screws from the metal hinge plate. Back at home I removed two of them, sprayed the other screws with CRC and left it overnight. Unfortunately the CRC didn't help and I wasn't able to loosen any of the other six screws. I then applied my Orange paint stripper, left it 20 minutes and the removed most of the paint from around the screws. My next plan is to spray WD-40 and try adding a little heat from my blow dryer to see if this will help with the removal process. I know that I have a bit of a rust issue to work with and then there is also the issue of the paint. I'm also going to try to strip some more of the paint from off the metal hinges.

I'll give you more of an update as I progress on this project especially as its not going to be as easy as I'd hoped. I'm hoping to get this all finished within the next few months so that I can surprise Mr Opoes with my DIY skills. I had hoped to have finished it in time for Valentines Day but it looks like it'll take me quiet some time to complete the job successfully.


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Landscaping Part One - Retaining Wall.

Back in December we celebrated 6 months in our new house and we got to thinking that it was about time we got the landscaping done. There were a few reasons for why it was important for us to start on the landscaping. The children spend too much time inside, so having grass means that they can get outside and play. Secondly, I could start creating a vegetable garden in the hopes that it would start producing vegetables that I can use (thus saving us money) and lastly it will finish off the house while also providing street appeal.

Originally Mr Opoes and I wanted to do the landscaping ourselves but after getting a few quotes we quickly realised that it wasn't as simple as we had initially thought. We needed to build two retaining walls which we would have to get someone in to do due to the fact that neither Mr Opoes or I had the confidence that wed be able to do it correctly. However, what was more of an issue was that with four children finding the time to do the job ourselves was humanly impossible. The other issue we faced would be the weather, especially during summer when the temperatures and humidity can get really high. So after doing some calculations we realised that it could take us anywhere up to 6 months to do the job ourselves and during this time we'd need to have the children babysit which would take sometime to organise.

With less than a week before Christmas our lovely landscaper Barry and his boys arrived at 6.30am to start doing the prep work for the retaining wall. I was a little shocked especially as I'd only just woken up, I was still in my p.j's and I hadn't had my morning cup of tea. So Barry ran us through what they'd be doing in the two working day's left in 2012 and they got to work. We have opted for a concrete retaining wall as it'll last longer than a timber one. The timber retaining walls need to be replaced every 10-12 years and I don't really want to have the grass and vegetable patch driven over with a bobcat so using concrete was a better option. However, although the concrete lasts longer cost wise its more expensive.

So at the conclusion of 2012 we had the retaining walls completed and from here we could see how much backyard the kid's would have to play in. As we live on a battle axe block the majority of the landscaping will be happening at the rear but we are also making a few little improvements along the driveway so that we can add street appeal to the property. Here are a few before and after pictures for you to see.

All the supplies for the retaining wall.

Before: right hand corner of backyard.

After: right hand corner of backyard

Before: left corner of the backyard near rain water tank.

After: left corner of the backyard near rain water tank.

Before: looking towards the front of the house, left side.

After: looking towards the front of the house, left side.

I will share some more pictures and details with you next week as things progress a bit more. I'm hoping that everything will be finished by the end of January so that the kids can spend some time playing outside from about mid-February especially as summer will be coming to an end. Who knows to celebrate we might fire up the BBQ, eat sausages and Mr Opoes might even have a cold beer as he looks over Barry's work.


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Try Something New Tuesday # 8

Summer Pavlova

Summer is only 5 weeks away from ending and the weather in Brisbane has been hot and humid for the majority of the season. The entire country has experienced tough conditions this summer so I decided to try my hand at making a Pavlova. Growing up my mother made beautiful Pavlova's and I always remember her worrying about how it would turn out, whether or not she had created enough height and then complaining about the lack of colour after she removed it from the oven. Every time she made her Pavlova she would state that her grandmother always made a beautiful Pavlova.

Now what's funny about this whole thing is that there was never anything wrong with her Pavlova's, everyone was yummy and it was a highlight to every meal. There seems to be a debate between Australia and New Zealand about who created the PAVLOVA and I would have to argue that the Pavlova originated in New Zealand only because my mother, her grandmother and I were all born in New Zealand. Now if you ask Mr Opoes he'll tell you that the Pavlova originated in Australia because his mother and his grandmother also made them while he was growing up.

Australia looking Pavlova which I found here

I think that the only difference between each countries original Pavlova's was the fruit used to decorated the Pavlova's top. In Australia (especially Queensland) mango and banana's are used on top and in New Zealand fresh kiwi fruit is generally used to decorate the Pavlova. So there you have it, that's my theory. So because I'm getting closer and closer to the big 4 zero and I've never made a Pavlova I decided that I would try to make one. My mother had made heaps by my age and I had shied away from making a Pavlova in part because they seemed SCARY. So to start 2013 I thought I'd attempt a Donna Hay creation.

Summer Pavlova
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch), sifted
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 cup pouring cream
fruit of choice

1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
2. Place the egg white into a metal bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form.
3. Slowly add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. The mixture should triple in size during this process.
4. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk it until its just combined.
5. Shape the mixture into an 18 cm (7 inch) round on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

this is my Pavlova just out of the oven.

6. Reduce the oven to 120°C (250°F) and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.
7. Turn oven off and allow the Pavlova to cool completely in the oven. If possible leave it in the oven for the night so that it can cool completely.
8. Once cooled, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the Pavlova. Top with fruit and serve immediately. Serves 8-10.

My Pavlova had a few holes in it.

Now if you have any Pavlova left over I would keep it in a cool place because the cream could go off and this won't be good for the people eating it later. If you want to make this a few days in advance you can BUT it needs to be kept UNDRESSED,  in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

I piled a whole heap of fruit on top of the Pavlova.

As you can see mine had lots of fruit on it because I was a little worried that the inside wouldn't be as high as the outer crust. While I was putting the cream on top it did collapse a little which was upsetting especially as I didn't end up adding all the cream. I must say that it tasted great and everyone ate it which was a first for this family. I will definitely be making this again but next time I might only use two fruits like Donna suggested.

See you next week when I try to trick the children into thinking that we are having take away instead of a stir fry that mummy whipped up.


Monday, 28 January 2013

Welcome 2013.....

So I've had 6 weeks away from blogging. I've spent quality time my kids and Mr Opoes during which time we have had a great time. Christmas has come and gone, 2013 is well under way and I've made my list of 'resolutions', the majority of them I've already broken or I will have by the end of February. It's the same every year, I have the best intentions. I really strive to address each item on my list BUT every year my list doesn't change much and I end up giving up trying to achieving anything around the beginning of February. So this year I only have a few things I want to achieve. Fingers crossed that I can work on achieving these few goals.

So these are the THREE most important things I want to achieve in 2013.

As you may remembered, last year I attempted to declutter the entire house while also trying to get it organised within a week. Sadly, nothing much changed. In less than a day the children came home and anything that I had achieved went out the window because their curious little minds and fingers wanted to investigate everything that I'd done. So this year I've booked a Professional Organiser who will work with me to declutter, organise and place our items so that the house is functional, while also been easy to manage and maintain. I'm hoping that the children will love the look of the house once its finished. After we've DECLUTTERED it I want to start educating the children on how to maintain the house and hopefully then I can introduce them to doing chores, I want to change the way they've lived and together I want us to take PRIDE in our house.

We've lived in our new house for 7½ months and in this time we haven't added a thing to it. I've had a heap of idea's, I've made lists, set budgets, priced everything, purchased a few small decorative things and then I've made adjustments to the list in the hope that it'll get me started on one of the planned projects. So my goal for 2013 is to decorate one area. Being a procrastinator means that I'm tossing up between our study and the kid's retreat area. At the moment the kid's area is more important especially as Caelan starts back at school tomorrow and he needs an area to do his homework.
Having the area set up also means that all the children can use the space, it'll give them a place to read and play while also giving me the opportunity to help Caelan with his homework. I've gathered a few images from Pinterest that I like and I've taped area's off in the room so that I can get a feel for the layout. One thing I've realised is that I might have to get an electrician to add another power point as the kid's will eventually need to use computers and with only one power point I'm not going to be able to run four laptops at once without causing major problems in the future. Having the electrician in now will allow use to work on the desk design so that I don't have to make any additional changes to it later. Here are a few things from my Pinterest board that I want to put into the room.

found here
found here

Fingers crossed I get things organised and that I can cross them off my ever growing list. Who knows once I finish the kids area I might get started on the study or maybe a few other area's.

Growing up my mother had this organisation system that allowed her to do all her housework, look after us kids and she still wore make up everyday. Unfortunately, I am not my mother. I've longed to have a beautifully, spotless house but unfortunately my organisational skills are no were near ready for me to be that brilliant. So this year I want to get better organised with my housework so that I can spend sometime each week to work on a craft project, a DIY project or even working on doing a bit of work on decorating one of the many lifeless rooms in our house. It would be great to get some type of system going so that I could possible work on creating a special space for each of the children. Who knows I could even get the opportunity to start sewing again or even doing something as simple as reading a book.
So although I only have three resolutions that I want to accomplish in 2013 I'm hoping that along the way I'll develop a system that will allow me to work towards getting rid of any future clutter so that I can get things under control. I'm thinking that once we get rid of all the negative energy (declutter) in our house we may have the ability to become more creative, we may develop skills we never knew we had or we may grow as individuals and as a family unit.  If nothing else I would really, really like to get this house cleaner so its set up for all of us to enjoy.