Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bathroom Renovation!

My gosh, when we moved into this dump our first home the bathroom was shocking. After the contract was exchanged & before we moved in we repainted over the acid yellow walls in a soothing white (Dulux orchid),  removed a strange built in dressing table complete with 2 mirrors that where surounded by light globes, removed a glass shower screen (very dirrrrty, also not safe as it didn't fit very well) & scrubbed heartily with industrial strength dissinfectant.


Is it making you shudder? This photo is after we did all of the above. We lived with this for about 18 months until we had our resources lined up to Renovate the Bathroom. Oh, Happy Day!!! Mr BC took a few days off work. It was the middle of summer, so we were able to bath the boys in the laundry tub, we also used the showers at the local pool. It was gross, but a small sacrifice to make.

We tore everything back & started afresh. This stage was a bit terrifying because although Mr BC has been blessed with natural handyman skills, & I have spent decades reading homeware magazines, neither of us had ever undertaken any such project before. I think we might have looked at each other & gulped a bit. The run of show went a bit like this;
  1. After removing the walls, ensure the plumbing is working, & in the correct location. Although we discussed mixing it up, we didn't really have the room to move too much around. We needed to keep the bath rather than just have a shower - small children & resale value.
  2. Take the opportunity to fix a pesky leak under the bath.
  3. Install new plaster board.
  4. Paint walls with blue water proofing agent.
  5. Install new vanity - which we bought on ebay for $26. We bought the top separately for about $80. Install the tapware, another online bargain..
  6. Install bath support.
  7. Install bath - see list of Rookie Mistakes, below.
  8. Install bath/shower hardware.
  9. Lay floor tiles - see Rookie Mistakes.
  10. Install Toilet.
  11. Install wall tiles.
  12. Install shower curtain & towel racks.
  13. Book the electrician to come & install the fan/light/heater - final Rookie Mistake.

 Rookie Mistakes
  1. The Bath. We needed a bath that would fit into this particular space, which wasn't exactly standard. The only new bath's that would fit (& that we could afford) where fibreglass, & exactly like the one we where getting rid of. So when we found a deep, enamelled cast iron bath second hand, we where pretty happy! It had a few worn spots, but we where happy to refinish it ourselves. We bought an air compressor from ebay, my father gifted us the paint attachments, we did our research, painted the bath, & installed it......and then after a few weeks, the paint started to peel off. Disaster! We where unable to fix it, & didn't want to respray it now that it was installed in the bathroom, so we peeled all of the paint off, patched up the few spots with a grout pen, & live with it, happily. Every so often we need to get the grout pen out, but I can live with that.
  2. The Floor Tiles. The first thing we bought for the bathroom reno where some beautiful 90cm square beige-y floor tiles. We protected them from monkey shenanigans for 12 months, & the day the tiles where to be layed.....they didn't fit. Somehow we had measured wrong, & we needed another 4 tiles. We tried matching on the web (this is called rookie mistakes, remember?) & then spent a day driving around to different tile retailers, all to no avail. At the 5th tile shop, we looked at each other & said 'fuck it' & bought new tiles on the spot. They where on sale so ended up costing us $90, total. Less than we spent on petrol that day, I'm sure. (between you & me, I like the new tiles better, anyway. Don't tell Mr BC)
  3. The Fan/Light/Heater that we origionally bought (on ebay) didn't fit into the roof cavity. We gifted it to some friends who are about to start their own bathroom reno, & bought another one, retail.
And voila! All worth it.




The cost of the bathroom was about $2800, all up - $600 of that was on tools that we will use again, renovating the rest of the house. It ended up taking just under 1 week. Our biggest splurge was the towel rack you can see to the right of the bath - we shopped around for ages trying to get he cost down & then decided that we saved so much money on the rest of the bathroom we could afford to splurge on a towel rack. We are still trying to find the perfect dark wood cabinet to store towels, but until then a coffee table will have to suffice. The huge mirror you can see was a hand me down from my parents, it used to hang in the dining room.

We are really, really happy with the results. It makes a huge difference to your day, having a civilised bathroom!

Mrs BC
xx

Slice Evolution

When I was a girl, my mother would make this slice to pack into my lunchbox. I used to sell it for 50c & save up for a packet of ciggarettes, as you do. This is her recipe;

Fagin's Chocolate Slice
1 cup of SR Flour
1 cup of brown sugar
2 Tbspns of cocoa
1 cup of dessicated coconut
125g butter, melted
1 egg

Mix all the dry ingredients togethor, then mix in the butter & egg. Press firmly into an 8" oven tray & bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool. Ice with chocolate icing & decorate with sprinkles. Cut into squares.

This makes a nice, fudgy, rich chocolate slice that might even fetch you over a dollar in todays high school playground. What, did you think I smoked in primary school?

My sister & I have been playing around with the recipe; we wanted something a little healthier & also, every playground in this country is now nut free (go on, make the joke - har har!) so the coconut won't do. What we did was replace the coconut with rolled oats. Brilliant! I have changed a few other things too, so now the recipe reads;

Lunchbox Slice
1 cup of organic plain flour
1 teaspn baking powder
half a teaspn of bicarb soda
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of organic raw sugar
125g butter, melted
1 egg.

Mix all the dry ingredients togethor, then mix in the butter & egg. Press into an 20cm oven tray & bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool. Ice. I like to cut into slices, the shape of a muesli bar. Call me quirky.

Cheryl likes to keep the cocoa & add peppermint essence to the icing. I sometimes add chopped apricots & do a lemon glaze icing. Sometimes I leave the slice plain, but instead of icing cover it with melted chocolate. Yummo!




This one had dried cranberrys with a lemon glaze. Oh dear, there is a slice missing! Never mind...

Mrs BC
xx

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Chaos Please

It's about this time of year that I start going through my monthly 'To Do' lists & worrying that I might not actually action everything I wanted to. Do you have a 'To Do' list? I have a small notebook just for 'To Do' lists - I also list other things, like craft projects - current & future, furniture to reupholster/repair/rejuvinate, garden projects, The Op Shop Wish List, ideas for birthday & christmas gifts, things I want to cook, ideas for small businesses, etc, etc. Lots of lists. Lets call it my List Book. I also have a diary. They match. It's tragic.

Anyway, as the year starts to wind up toward Christmas & time starts to go faster, I always check out the things that didnt get done & think Holy Crap!!  How am I going to get all of this done??

But then I always do. Before I escaped from the corporate world I undertook a lot of time management courses. A LOT. At the behest of my boss, who was convinced that if only I had better time management skills, I would be able to juggle more work. Guess what, Dickhead? It was the EXCESSIVE WORK LOAD that stopped me being able to juggle more work, not my time management skills! Suck on that, fucktard!

What? No, I have not had therapy about this. Ahem, moving right along...

As I was saying, there is alot of stuff to do before Santa gets here. This list does not include items from other specific lists (Christmas shopping, House Renovations - general, Sewing, Family stuff, etc) It is just composed of the leftovers from each monthly list. I would like to share that list with you. I was going to appologise for posting in point form (again), but if you are anything like me (& you must be to be visiting here) you are thanking me right now because you luuuurve point form. It's awesome.
  • Put the filing cabinet in order - almost finished..
  • Make freezer jam. Just waiting on Mango season.
  • File recipes
  • Celebrate Halloween
  • Start Christmas craft
  • Paint the front door
  • Plant some fruit trees
  • Sell a lot of stuff on ebay. Seriously, there is so much. I just have to get the ball rolling.
  • Finish the gallery wall project
  • Start yoga classes. Or maybe Zumba...
  • Make Gingerbeer
  • Make Dentist appointments for the kids. Oh OK, me too.
  • Stake the Beans & Cucumbers
  • Fix the lounge upholstery. (I'm nervous. It's leather.)
  • Make a large hypertufa pot for fish & water lilies.
  • Move data from old laptop & desktop to new laptop
  • Scan old photos to digital
  • Move all photos to external hard disk
  • Put pictures on the walls
  • Sew some floor cushions.
Oh I could go on & on, but it's getting boring. I'm confident it will get done, but there seems to be lots of day to day stuff popping up to suck up my time. For example - I had planned to spend tommorow making cakes for the school fete this Sunday, but at 3pm I was handed a crumpled note inviting me to attend a charity morning tea tommorow at 9am, & please bring a plate. For readers outside of Australia, the phrase 'bring a plate' means 'bring a plate of something nice to eat' ie biscuits or slice or something. I'm thinking of skipping this morning tea, because it was short notice & I just didn't have time to bake anything tonight. The first rule of time management is to be protective of your time.

I'm sorry, did you just say I had some sort of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Why thank you, but I haven't even mentioned my love of excel yet. Look on the bright side, imagine the spreadsheeting high jinks I could get up to if I had an iphone!

Psst, Santa? That was a hint!

Mrs BC
xx

Monday, October 18, 2010

Panic! It's Pupil Free Day!

Bloody hell, right in the middle of term? Why do we have to have a pupil free day?? I don't care that The Gentleman seems so happy about it, he'd be happy at school with his friends surely. This is such a busy week already - cakes to bake for the cake stall, bottles to purchase for the bottle drive, guitar lesson, swimming lessons. School Disco. I can't fit a pupil free day in as well!

My whinging falls on deaf ears, although some of those ears do commiserate because they have to put up with it too.

Sigh.

This morning, on the swing set monkey bars, The Gentleman called out for me to watch him, because 'I love doing the spastics!'

I was shocked for a few seconds, then I responded 'Do you mean you love doing gymnastics??'

'Yeah! The spastics! I'm really good at it!'

Sigh.

This morning, snuggled in my bed, with his face pressed to mine & his 3 year old arms wrapped tightly around my neck, Monkey Boy whispered 'We are best friends.'

I'm still a bit teary. About that, not the pupil free day.

Mrs BC
xx

Sunday, October 10, 2010

House Renovations

Mr BC & I bought this, our very first house, just over 3 years ago. It was an utter bomb, & had a family of dirty bogans living in it. They left the house in an astonishingly disgusting state, but we didn't care that much because we where about to move into our first house!!

In the 2 weeks between settlement day & moving day, we managed to;
  • Rip up the carpet & polish the floorboards
  • Steam off approx 5 layers of wall paper from 2 rooms
  • Repaint the entire inside, upstairs & downstairs
  • Remove half of the bathroom 'built ins'
  • Remove some of the kitchen 'built ins'
  • Remove the garage door mechanism & replaster internally
  • Replace all of the light fittings
  • Replace all of the light switches & power points
  • Replace half of the window furnishings
  • Dissinfect every surface at least 3 times
We did this by working our elderly parents remorselessly. And then we moved in. And then, 2 days later, Monkey Boy was born.
Since that time, we have;
  • Replaced the oven
  • Completely renovated the bathroom
  • Repainted the outside of the house
  • Installed some whirly gigs (Mr BCs favourite)
  • Painted feature walls
  • Remodelled the front fence, & painted the fence on 3 sides of the property
  • Replaced the clothes line
  • Installed a large amount of drainage into the yard
  • Removed an above ground pool
  • Built some raised vegetable gardens, including an outside fireplace
  • Relandscaped extensively
  • Rewired most of the house
  • Updated some of the plumbing
  • Installed ceiling insulation
  • Replaced the hot water heater
  • Replaced ceiling fans
  • Installed another shed
  • Updated the stair railing
  • Turned the carport into a loggia
  • Rearranged the furniture endlessly
There are still many, many things to do around here, but far from being exhausted we are full of enthusiasm to get it all done. Mr BC & I have many midnight conversations over cups of tea, walking around the house inside & out, discussing & planning. It's the only time we can string 2 thoughts togethor without the children sucking up our brainspace...
The things on the top of our 'to do' house list currently include;
  • Replacing the current ramshackle side fence & installing a tall colourbond fence between our house & Cape Fear. Mr BC would prefer barb wire along the top, so will have to price that option.
  • Updating the kitchen. Please, dear god, let this be soon. No, please.
  • Replace some window furnishings with plantation shutters
  • Solve a flooring dilemma - some of the uncovered floorboards turned out to be chipboard, were the balcony was origionally enclosed. Gross. To cover with tile? Fake floorboards?
  • Repaint the front door in a nice Fung Shoi red to attract prosperity & good fortune
Things on the bottom of our 'to do' house list include;
  • Installing a deck, & therefore replacing one wall of the lounge room with french doors.
  • Knocking out some walls to enlarge the loungeroom
  • Putting a two storey addition at the other end of the house to provide 3 new bedrooms
  • Enclosing the front stairs
  • Installing an internal spiral staircase/library room
  • Updating the laundry
  • Installing a bathroom downstairs
These lists are not complete, by any means. We have done most of the work ourselves. Mr BC continues to impress me with his handyman skills, & his willlingness to give anything a go. It is so rewarding to turn this tiny little house into something larger than the sum of its parts, using our own hands, ideas, imagination & resourcefulness. Finally, 20 years of reading decorating magazines has paid off!
I find it frustrating that things like laundry, work & the budget get in the way of renovating projects, but I guess that makes the completion of them all the more satisfying. Lets just keep repeating that, shall we?
So, in the background of many of the photos I post, you might see a disgusting kitchen splashback, some rubble, a pile of bricks, or some other hideous decor....know that these things are shortlived, & that I will keep you informed of progress along the way. With photos, I promise.
Mrs BC
xx

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Making Muesli

Teenage Daughter & I love to make Moooooosli. It's yummo, & makes you feel all healthy & virtuous. It's also very easy, & makes the house smell lovely. Mr BC & the monkeys wander in asking if I am making biscuits; you should see the looks of disappointment when they find out it's only muesli! Hahaha!

I guess Muesli is really girl food.

But it's still yummo.

Toast a few tablespoons of coconut in a medium oven. Shredded or desicated, it's up to you. Keep an eye on it though, so it doesn't burn. Check it every 20 seconds or so. NB if you use baking paper, you will thank yourself later..


In a large bowl mix;
  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 2 cups of processed bran (like All Bran, but from the health food aisle)
  • 2 tablespoons of wheatgerm
  • 1 packet of mixed pepitas (dried pumpkin seeds) & sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of finely grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1 cup of sliced almonds
  • the toasted coconut

Melt 125g of butter with half a cup of honey, then pour into the muesli


Spread on a baking tray (the one with the baking paper) & bake in a medium oven until golden, about 60 mins depending on your oven. Be distracted by teenage daughter 'Look I'm growing a flower in a teacup!'


Cool, then mix in the fruit;
  • half cup of chopped dried apricots
  • half cup of sultanas
  • half a cup of chopped dried dates



Mix well, then store in a tightly lidded container. Eat with fresh fruit & yoghurt. Yummo!
Feel free to experiment with the ingredients, there are no rules here people! We once made a tropical muesli with dried pawpaw, dried mango, dried pineapple & macadamia nuts. Berry Muesli is nice with dried strawberrys & craisins..




How to scare the crap out of your parents.


  1. Come off the top of the back yard slippery dip, & land on your face. Did you slip? Where you pushed? Did you jump? We'll never know..
  2. Scream, with your face half covered in blood.
  3. Go to the hospital & get 2 stitches under your nose. This will involve magic numbing cream, Ketamine, a canula, anaesthetic...
  4. Dont wake up from the anaesthetic for a few extra hours. Never mind that every docter & nurse that has come in to see the 'cute little man needing his face stitched up' mentions that children wake up from Ketamine 'almost instantly'. Now they are poking him in the chest yelling 'Wake up! Can you hear me??' Be hooked up to every monitor anyone can think of.
  5. Save yourself from being transferred to the pediatric ward by waking up & demanding a drink. Just joking, Mummy!





Guess there is more to worry about than that neo-nazi haircut at kindy picture day today, huh?

Mrs BC
xx
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