better than malted milk :: a cross stitched chair

before

I had a wee bit of the glums today.  It happens.  Usually a week or so before my period.  Must be a huge hormonal swing of some sort.  I feel it creeping up, find myself feeling very sad, wonder why life is so hard, then remember to tell myself … ah, you feel glum because it’s just that time of the month.  So I stood in the pantry doorway and ate malted milk powder from the jar.  It didn’t really help.  And it made my mouth gummy and I choked a bit and had to dash down a glass of water.

Much better to text Julian in Las Vegas so he knows you feel glum and will call (which he did, straight away, he’s lovely like that).  Then find something simple to do that will let you just be with the feeling but also allow you to find some sweetness. Tried and true recipe for beating the glums.

So today, I vacuumed.  It wasn’t especially sweet, but it did make me feel virtuous – I loathe vacuuming – actually, I loathe all housework.  This allowed me to look at the bathroom with a critical eye – the bath tub had the blue bentwood chair and the clothes hamper sitting in it.  Not exactly conducive to bathing.  So I pulled it all out and cleaned the bath.  Again – big ticks on the virtuous scale – I loathe cleaning the bathroom.

Then I had the blue chair to do something with.  And as I looked at that lovely blue rattan … I thought of something I’d seen on Pinterest!  Check it out … cute as! Simple.  And something that would definitely provide a bit of sweetness :-)
book and fabric

So I got out some red gingham … I bought this gingham at the Vinnies in Bega on our spring break.  It was 5 metres for $3.  Only it was half price day.  So I got 5 metres for $1.50!  I made a skirt with a floral reprodepot trim, now I’ve cross stitched a chair, and I still have heaps left!  That’s a sweet bargain.

And I flipped through one of my all time favourite cross stitch books for a pretty pattern that had just the right number of stitches – couldn’t be more than 24 squares.

the pattern

Perfect!  And making this snowflake on that beautiful blue with the red and white gingham would look very Nordic.  Sweet and perfect!

the strips

I cut (hacked) my strips (just with the scissors) 3 squares wide.  Man do I love fabric that comes with self cutting lines.

fu

Settled onto the hallway floor with my sweet companion.  The only thing she won’t do with me is vacuum.  She’s a sensible dog.

stitching

And set to work.  As more and more of the pattern appeared, I felt those glums subsiding.  I felt stronger, more cheerful … content.  Especially when Abby came home.  There’s nothing like the lovely company of my Abby, Julian, or Mum to shove those glums away.

done

And in less than 2 hours … voila!  I must add … this is a hard rubbish chair.  Picked up from the footpath on the Nepean Highway on our way to Southlands one day.  It has a pair – the pair doesn’t have a seat.  I’m now inspired to finally buy that rattan and fix it just so’s I can cross stitch it!

Can you imagine a farm house kitchen with these lovely bentwood chairs in all different colours pushed in around a scrubbed table, all with red gingham cross stitch?  Oh I can.  It will be an immensely popular photo on Pinterest (hee! hee! hee!) And the best bit is – I see these chairs on the side of the road regularly – yes!

seat

closeup back

texture

Sigh …. look at that nubbly texture … so pretty.  And I love how, with a wee bit of distance, the gingham makes it look like wonderfully thread variegated yarn.

sideon back

And the  colours …. swoon!

side on

Yes, a quick bit of gingham cross stitch was a lovely balm on what was shaping up to be a pretty flat day.  And for that I am very grateful.

 

do you remember the old dresser?

attach to shelf edge with tacks

Do you remember the old dresser that Mum and I wheeled/dragged 2km home last year?  Oh my goodness that was so funny!  Every time Mum and I drive past the house we collected it from (well, their footpath) I have a giggle and think of it. It may well be our most intrepid hard rubbish adventure ever.

Well, a lovely reader asked me recently what became of it.  And I realised I didn’t ever share the restoration of the dresser with you.  Probably because it has not currently reached a finish I am totally pleased with.  I spent a few days scrubbing it back til the wood was smooth and clean.  I oiled it with Danish Oil and then, with Abby’s help, lugged it into the Spare ‘Oom.  Yes, we do live in the Tardis.

But it didn’t have any doors on the lower half.  They’d been removed by a previous owner for goodness only knows what reason (actually, I DO know just the reason – I’ve removed many doors so as to make for easier restoration and then left them gathering dust, propped up in the corner of the shed, before I finally become fed up with looking at their gaping “owner”  and talk Julian into putting them back on – I’m useless with a screw driver).  Alas, these ones were not only not put back on but they didn’t make it out to the footpath either.

So I fancied I could make some doors – and bought some highly inappropriate wood and fiddled about with a tenon saw and mitre box for a weekend and produced nothing useful. Never mind – when I’m an earning nurse, I shall pay the lovely cabinet maker down the road to make me three.

However, back to the tale of what the dresser is doing now.  So there it was in the Spare ‘Oom with clutter on the bottom shelves (not hidden by the missing doors) and a motley collection of children’s novels on the shelves.  It never really sang.

Then one morning recently I was looking at the china which sat on the shelves near the back door – it gets putridly dirty with a dark grey dust that I can only imagine comes from the main road and tram tracks we live on – imagine our lungs! – thinking it really needed to sit somewhere cleaner so that we could actually use it!  Up until this moment, every time we wanted to use it, we had to wash it in hot soapy water first.  Ugh!

Behind me stood the lovely, completely under utilised kitchen dresser – if you turn to your left whilst standing at our kitchen sink you look straight into the Spare ‘Oom and at the dresser.  I knew exactly what needed to happen!

dresser before

China was shifted and washed.  Shelves were washed.  Books were moved (yes they’ll get dusty now but we’re not going to be eating off them anytime soon). China was neatly arranged on dresser.  Hmmm … much nicer than books but the bottom shelves still looked a bit ew.  The solution – fabric of course!  I might be overwhelmed by a tenon saw and timber, but there’s almost nothing I can’t achieve with fabric!

dresser after

As I’m sure you’ll believe, I initially thought of trooping up the road to Darn Cheap and BUYING some fabric.  But then I reminded myself that stashes are for using, not storing, so hunted through the sewing shed instead.  And came up with the perfect, huge piece of Civil War cotton I bought yonks ago to use as a backing on a quilt that has not been finished.  Pft! I don’t believe in being precious with my fabrics’ original purposes :-) And let’s face, when said quilt is done, it will be stitched onto a blanket.

So I made a gorgeous, voluminous, gathered skirt.  Whacked it on with blued tacks.  Then whipped up some lovely prairie points and whacked them on too.  Now … a sensible person would have whacked on the prairie points BEFORE putting the china on the shelves.  I’ve never claimed to be sensible.  It was such a thrilling experience – hoping that nothing would leap off the shelves or chip its neighbour with each blow of the hammer.  It didn’t :-)

denby teddy corner close up of tack teacups green teaset pyrex japanese dollies coloured cups

Now, I’m truly happy with the old kitchen dresser.  It looks so cheery and bright.  The china is all sparkly and clean and ready/easy to use.  And at night, when I look in from the kitchen this is the pretty sight that greets me.

so cosy

Lovely!  And so worth that 2 km madcap trek and a bit of quilt backing.

the ultimate transformation from horror to sweet :: a sewing desk

sad desk

If you happen to follow my instagram, you may have noticed that I picked up a truly dreadful piece of hard rubbish a couple of weeks back.  I was on my way into university to have documents certified for the final grad interview the next day, when I spied an old 60s (?) desk outside a block of dodgy flats.  It was perched amongst a heap of awful rubbish – the kind where you wonder what on earth the people who threw it all there were thinking and why on earth didn’t they put it in their wheelie bins – but I could spy potential.

I checked the time – still had an hour to get to uni and get my documents sorted.  I pulled over, flipped the back seats down and approached the desk.  Ugh.  It was filthy.  But I had a vision :-)  I picked the desk up – the drawers were full.  Gingerly, I opened them – the top drawer had mostly old sewing stuff – but all damp and full of rubbish as well.  The next three drawers were worse.  There were old cards and family photos – some in frames – and just so many bits and pieces.  And it was all icky.  I have a very high ick tolerance – but this was  …  shudder-worthy.  I spied a couple of barely filled shopping bags – stinking of cigarette ash – and carefully tipped the contents of the drawers into them.  Shudder.

By the time I was done, my hands felt revolting and I only had 20 minutes before the clinical office closed at the university.  Hopeless.  So it was back home with the desk.  Unload.  A thorough hand washing with the hottest water I could bear.  And a couple of hours later, when the clinical office was reopened (they keep the most unhelpful hours), I set off once again.

even grafittied very scratched

off with the top

I sent Mum several photos of my fabulous find – oh yes, she exclaimed, I can really see why you just had to stop for it.  NOT.  It was grim.  The top was a complete write-off.  The drawer handles were buggered.  The legs were scratched.  It had even been grafittied.  Oh it was grim.

But I just knew it’s old timber would come up lovely and just where it would fit perfectly into our home and lives.  So last week, on a warm sunny day, I pulled on my summer work clothes and a hat, gathered supplies and set to work, removing all that grime and spray paint and old varnish.  Sadly, it was not a metho scrub moment.  It needed the full strength paint stripper.  And even that was tough work.  But as soon as I began washing the stripper off, I could see that old timber beginning to gleam.

I am the worst at anthropomorphising – I always imagine the timber of my furniture sighing with relief as I scrub it free of decades of dirt and varnish.  Then, it must wriggle with delight as I rub in the Danish oil.  It’s the very odd occasion I can bring myself to paint bare timber – I imagine the poor grain suffocating under the heavy wetness of paint.  Awful!  So Danish oil it is.

scrape and scrub

I spent many many hours pondering what to replace the top with and finally settled on a thick piece of ply from the hardware store that I would cover with some lovely Orla Kiely oilcloth from The Fabric Store in Fitzroy.  I even drove in and bought the jolly fabric – and it was even lovelier in real life than it was on the screen.

But then, I called into Ikea on the way home for new knobs for the desk drawers – the old ones were crap – I love their little black brushed metal knobs – and checked the bargain corner (of course).  There was a kitchen bench top that I had admired online but dismissed from consideration because it was way to expensive.  Only this one wasn’t.  It was a display piece with scuff marks (which rubbed off in seconds with a bit of steel wool) and dramatically reduced.  Eeeeeee!

finished

In a perfect world, the top would be a bit smaller – but hey!  All the more space to craft and it sits as sturdy as.  Can you believe the transformation?!?  I’m in awe.  Look at how that timber gleams.  The knobs are so cute.  It’s a miracle!

only a hint

It wasn’t until I looked at this photo later that I realised you can still see the outlines of the tagging.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed that panel.  It’s ply – and that spray paint just got deep into the grain and – well, that’s the best I could do.  But you know – in real life you just don’t notice it.  And besides – it’s quite funny really.  It’s like this conservative, simple, modest little desk is having a wink and saying “Oh yeah, I’ve seen it all!”

drawers rounded end closeup

And the scratches – most of them are gone – there’s still a few of the deeper ones left, but the wood came up so beautifully rich and syruppy that now they’re just character.  Signs of a life busily led.

original top beautiful top

Now, just in case you didn’t get a good look at the desk top, we have before … hideous old fake wood melamine WITH GRAFITTI !  And after – beautiful, solid, smooth, crisp, clean wood.  I’ve oiled it too.

with machine

And look who looks right at home there!  By the way – have I ever told you the story of this little green machine – my Husqvarna Viking 21 (circa 1950s)?  She too is hard rubbish.  Yep.  I found her having her cords chopped off by a very grumpy man behind an op shop.  ”Oh no!  I exclaimed, “that’s a beautiful old Husqvarna!”  ”It’s rubbish.” he snarled, shoved her back into her original tartan travelling case and HURLED HER INTO A SKIP!!!!  ”Oh that’s terrible!”  I protested.  ”You don’t know what you’re throwing away!”  And I promptly climbed into the skip and pulled her back out.  He ignored me.

I took the sweet little green machine straight to the sewing machine shop in Camberwell where I have my machines serviced and they fixed her up.  They had to find new cords for her power and foot, but they did.  And the service man said she was that kind of beauty they just don’t make any more.  He loved her – and loved the story too.  She sews like a dream – lovely straight, strong stitches, and makes the prettiest hum.  If I’ve told you all this before, I am sorry :-)  I’m getting a bit like dear old Grandad – can’t remember which stories I’ve shared with which folk!  But it’s such a good story anyway – yes? :-)

drawers with placemats tool drawer

And here’s a glimpse of the sweet little desk all set up and ready for action!  Wait til you see where she is!

p.s. I was right to stop wasn’t I :-)

 

the great DMC wool caper

cold and dark

Monday morning … Abby returned to school, Mum and Lucy headed back across the Gippsland to their beachside home, and I had the whole day ahead of me.  It was so bleak and cold – with a heavy hand of dampness to the air – the lovely thing to do would be light the lamps, make tea and settle into an armchair with my knitting and a nice audio book.  Yes!

No.  As those of you who follow along on my Instagram might have noticed, there’s been quite the DMC wool caper going on here at Bootville over the last week.  Spotlight – Australia’s large fabric/craft/homewares merchant – has decided – in all its wisdom – to stop selling DMC embroidery wool.  Instead they are going to stock Semco.  What?  I hear you say.  That’s right – Semco.  A much cheaper range of wool – poorer quality, far smaller colour range and let’s face it – who designs wool embroidery and needlepoint for Semco – um, nobody.  I sought out the manager of the embroidery section of my local Spotlight store and had words – thoughtful, reasonable, polite, grown up words but words nonetheless.  I didn’t want her to be under any illusion that replacing DMC wool with Semco was in any way a considerate thing to do for a business that purports to love and support creativity and those who create.

In fact – I related the story shared with me by the manager of the embroidery section of my local Spotlight 15 years ago when they stopped selling needlepoint canvas – the manager that suggested Spotlight’s business model at the time was to stock what all the local independent stores were stocking, undercut them on price because they could, then once they’d put the little independents out of business – drop any lines that weren’t highly profitable for them with a quick turnover – like needlepoint canvas.  She agreed that yes, that did seem a reasonable assumption to make and no, she could not understand the logic of the national buyer at all.  Nice!  During those years I watched 4 stores I regularly visited and attended classes at – all run by imaginative and passionate women who DID love and support creativity and those who create – who put their whole lives into building communities of creativity and passion – close because they simply couldn’t compete with the juggernaut that is Spotlight.

Does this make me spit my teeth out.  Why yes it does.  But we won’t go any further down this ranty path :-)  Suffice to say – I have spent the grocery budget and more on DMC embroidery wool – it’s just hard to stop when it’s only 25c a skein, you truly adore needlepoint and wool embroidery, and you know it’s going to be that much harder to buy from now on.

And to make the bundles of wool piling up on my sideboards and bookshelves even sweeter – I’d recently hard rubbished a dear little chest of drawers that I thought would be perfect for storing my suddenly growing stash.  I had visions of Julian cutting me little thin dividers of ply and all my wool neatly and numerically arranged.  As it turns out – I’m hopeless at judging size and it’s a wee bit on the small side.  There’ll be no little thin dividers of ply :-)  Instead, there’s mildly organised squashing.  Oh well.

bit grotty

So back to Monday morning – I put on my dirty clothes, dragged the chest out into the driveway and got to work.  I was hopeful it was a job for my usual friends – steelwool and metho – alas it was a stripper number and I had to go buy a tin of toxic burning jelly – ugh.

usual companions lovely flame damaged top

I scraped and scrubbed and scraped and scrubbed until all the old varnish was off, my fingers were stiff and frozen, and my nose was dripping onto my shirt.  There was certainly more I could have achieved if I’d wanted to put in another day of sanding – but I didn’t.  Julian was home on Wednesday morning and I needed this baby oiled, inside and stuffed.

all open

By Tuesday night it was!

neutrals and browns yellows and greens mostly blues pinks purples and reds

There are four drawers – first is neutrals, greys and browns.  Abby and I debated over many of these colours – it would seem I see purple everywhere whereas Abby swore black and blue it was grey.  I capitulated.  Next is yellows, oranges and greens – no problems here.  Third down are the end of the greens, the beginning of the purples and the all the blues.  I feel a bit light on with the blues but … the drawers are full so I’m not sure if I’ll go back for more.  Finally – the rest of the purples (sans all those lovely purples Abby shoved into the grey and brown drawer), all of the pinks and reds.  I DID go back for pinks – and oh my, I now have a lot – I probably have enough to needlepoint bed curtains!

close up blues close up orange close up pinks

Oh I am such a lover of colour.  I keep opening the drawers and just staring dreamily into all that gorgeousness.  And yet – as I begin to think of new projects I feel a shiver of fear – oh no!  I can’t use my lovely colours!  If I use that green there’ll be none left.  They’ll run out!  Yeeeeeees.  Wee bit irrational.

lower left corner lovely wood

And the chest of drawers – despite its quick turnaround, I’m very pleased with the end result and think the lovely flamey grain of the wood has come up a warm, syruppy treat.  I do love me some old and pretty wood :-)

with it's own needlepoint for company with skull top

Here it is – tucked into the corner of the library.  I hung a needlepoint over it to make it feel at home – one of the first needlepoints I did – stitched through the summer of Abby’s birth.  It’s from Mary Norden’s book of Folk Needlepoint – the Swedish Horseman – he has a mate who’s just waiting on the background to be finished.  One day they’ll hang side by side.  And it’s a lovely match for the chess set – the top of the chest really didn’t come up that well – totally different wood to the rest – no warmth at all.  So an all covering chess board is just the ticket.  With a little art deco mirror (from my Nanny Dougall’s beach side cottage in Harrington) and a sheep’s skull (Grandad collected for Abby when he went way out west with Mum a few years back) to give it that old library feel!

jump in

Look at that – so much prettiness.  I just want to sit down, finish the needlepoint pattern I’m working on – it will be a cushion cover based on Turkish rugs that will fit a 24 inch square duck feather cushion insert I have – and get stitching.  Alas, I have a clinical portfolio to edit and deliver to university by this afternoon.  I’d better hop to it.

And shut that tempting drawer.

 

 

little and ordinary

We all know that very few days come with a lovely “Ta-da!” moment, don’t we. Sometimes I feel a distinct sense of disappointment if my day has not delivered the pleasure of a satisfying finish – be it cloth, wood or wool – a sparkle to the bathroom, a line full of washing flapping in the sun, or a gleaming kitchen where everything is in its place and there’s a lovely meal cooking.

On a rational level I know that happiness cannot come from such external things, that I must seek that sense of contentment from within. And accept that some days will be very ordinary and that’s okay too.  Goodness, the notion of constant happiness is so ridiculous, so greedy, so selfish anyway.

Instead most of my days – like yours I’m sure –  are just full of little things.  And that sun – well it comes and goes.  So today, all I have is the ordinary – the unfinished – some little tasks finally done – some not …

frame

:: such a pretty thrifted frame that I’ve been planning a Mother’s Day applique for – and done absolutely nothing about it and now it’s Mother’s Day this Sunday – sigh – we’ll just have to admire it’s prettiness and know that someday it will hold something lovely.

gluing hands

:: finally, finally, finally gluing some little Erzgebirge men back together – a wee visor for the postman’s cap and getting that drummer’s bloody arm to stick in the right spot.

pencil sharpener

:: instead of reading for next week’s essay – putting together a little still life on my desk – sweet bookmarks, an old pencil sharpener, anodised travelling cups, a vase of pine needles – all with their own little stories that make me smile

rearranging the shelves

:: rearranging the shelves on my desk – well I had to put the shelves from the bathroom somewhere – the little folk and their animals are beginning to create their own tales on each of the shelves – the king with his pet elephant, the racoon seeking help from the wise woman, animals by the shoreline, Heidi’s grandfather …

it fit

:: fitting the old, vigorously washed and scrubbed meat safe (that had been not quite squished under the eaves in the back garden) into the bathroom corner – the tape measure said it would, even if at first it seemed completely impossible and I needed 4 squares of chocolate to soothe my peevishness  give me a moment to reassess – all it required was some aerial manoeuvring  - I KNEW it would fit – the tape measure doesn’t lie!  As for a fresh coat of paint – well, that will come.  Julian’s going to Dublin next week …

knitting

:: realising I had just the right colour blue to go with my mustard scarf – but not the right shade of soft grey-cocoa – oh well, that just means a trip to the wool store.

My kitchen’s a mess.  The quilt I started quilting on Saturday still isn’t finished.  I haven’t cleaned my teeth.  Or dropped the shoes off to the boot repair shop.  Or taken the rubbish out.  Or folded the washing.  Or found the tax return.  And it’s almost time for school pickup.

Ta-da moments – big fat zero.  But there’s been lots of little and ordinary bits and bobs.  That’ll do.

edited to add:  I got my teeth cleaned, scrubbed the kitchen, took the rubbish out and found the tax return.  And then, just as I was about to go out, for the briefest of moments, the sun made a dazzling appearance – always such a lift to my spirits – so I stuck some weeds into a vase and took another photo.  ’Cause that’s how best to celebrate the little and ordinary:-)

weeds in jar

sun came in

 

wintery scenes

beach flying birds

Oh it has been so cold here in Melbourne.  The mornings have been exceedingly frosty.  The grass is dusted with white.  My breath fogs my glasses – whilst inside.  The windscreen is hard with ice, demanding that we dawdle in the driveway for a good five minutes, waiting for the heater to turn it to slush.

too cold for the shed

Such has been the cold that one of us insists on tinkering with his outdoor toys at the kitchen table!

honeybunny

The young one is making the most of her lovely squishy, warm, snuggly honey-bunny – newly arrived companion for Miss Hinchcliffe who has been a bit lonesome since the deaths of our sweet little guinea pigs.

scrubbing the dresser

dresser doors

Whilst the crazy one has been more intrepid, determined to get that dresser scrubbed down, sanded till it gleams, oiled and inside before the next spell of rain.  Complete with newly built and collaged doors.  Who’d have thought a mitre box and tenon saw could be such fun.

the sun

chopping wood solstice bonfire

And then the Solstice came.  On a day glowing with sun (albeit, super cold) with a rich blue sky that sang of the summer to come.  Julian chopped wood.  The Solstice bonfire was lit.  We sat as close as we could, plates of slow roasted pork and pumpkin upon our laps, marshmallows waiting to be toasted, strawberries (from Queensland) waiting to be dunked into the chocolate fondue.  As the flames danced and crackled, we looked up into the frosty, moonlit sky and cheered that our earth was tilting back towards the sun.

Who cares that we are only 22 days into the first month of winter.  From this point on, each day reclaims just a minute more light, pushing us gently on to spring.

tea little squares pieced border blanket label

Whilst we wait, we remind each other how much we LOVE the cold!  Make more tea.  Fight over who gets to wash up in that lovely hot water.  Linger by the stove.  Fill and refill the hot water bottles.  Beg Fu to stay still on our laps and just cuddle!

And I dig around in boxes and cupboards, pulling out half finished blocks, long forgotten fabrics, and almost done quilts.  Piling them onto the table, the must-finish-this-winter list growing longer and longer.  And promise Julian that tonight! tonight!  I’ll start the argyle pattern on the front of his vest.  And sneakily knit another two repeats on the much less daunting baby cardigan.

And look out at that dresser …

the most dogged hard rubbishers ever!

That would be me and my mum!  And boy oh boy!  Did we earn this title today!

the drawer

It all started with this very unprepossessing drawer.  We brought it home last night.  It came from a dresser that was lying on its back, in the dark, on the side of the road.  We had to bring the drawer home.  We couldn’t tell what era the dresser was, how well it had been made, nor what sort of wood it was.  Now the drawer mightn’t look much to you, dear reader, but to me and my mum it looked more than promising. Lovely solid wood, a good old fashioned construction, and as sturdy as, with the sort of reinforcing that speaks of a craftsperson who wanted that to which this drawer belongs to last a long while.

So, first thing this morning, we went back.  Of course we went back.

The first time we went back with a bag of tools, prepared to pull the dresser apart and shove it into the back of the car piece by piece.  See, we’d forgotten about the drawer’s sturdiness with it’s reinforcing.  This dresser was not coming apart at all.  Nor would it fit into the car.

So we had to go back again … with the trolley.

the find getting it onThat’s right.  We took the fridge trolley (I knew it was a good investment Jules!) and despite moments of doubt, regular collapses into hysterical laughter, and cheered on by the helpful interventions of many lovely folk along the way, we wheeled this lovely old kitchen dresser all the way home.  Almost two kilometres.  Along a path that included a RAILWAY CROSSING, several traffic lights and two sets of tram tracks.

This is why we are THE MOST DOGGED HARD RUBBISHERS EVER!

A lovely young man with long curly locks and a skateboard stopped to help us wedge the dresser onto the trolley, and I swear, if he hadn’t been on his way to classes at a nearby university, he would have wheeled the dresser home for us, so impressed was he with our hard rubbishing spirit.

Whilst he was wriggling the dresser into position, a beautifully dressed woman, walking to the station, stopped for a chat, told us how she’d admired the dresser the day before, agreed with us that it was too nice and sturdy to leave on the side of the road, expressed how marvellous it was someone was giving it a new home, and wished us the best of luck on our trek.

Then, before we reach the afore mentioned railway crossing, a young man, tending to a very posh garden, dropped his tools and dashed out to us to “fix” the positioning of the dresser on the trolley.  ”No! No! No!” he cried cheerfully,  ”Let me make this easier for you!”  and proceeded to flip the whole thing upside down.

So funny lovely.  I do find that when you let go of the ordinary and expected, when you’re not afraid to look a bit peculiar, oh the lovely people you meet :-)

This is what it looked like arriving at the railway crossing – lots of steep and narrow gutters to navigate with an exceptionally heavy trolley and its dresser.  Eeeek!

crossing of dread

The other way … completely inhospitable.  We stood there a good long while contemplating our next move.  Oh how we giggled and shrieked and plotted, whilst many a driver-by stared at the two weird women with the dresser on the trolley.

However, we gathered our nerves and decided that it was best to walk/push briskly across the road whilst the boom gates were down.  There’s no pedestrian crossing on that section, but with the boom gates down, there ain’t no cars going in any direction.   It took us three trains to feel prepared enough.  The fourth time those gates came down, we hot footed it across, jelly legs and all, Mum pushing, me steering, both of us hoping for the longest train crossing ever.

the railway crossing

And it worked!  Only then we discovered the narrowest bit of footpath in the whole suburb and had to shove the dresser through it sideways/lengthways.  Much to the bemusement and worry of a fellow who actually stopped his car and got out to help – telling us we would never get it home sideways like that.  So, once through the squeeze, he helped us shuffle the dresser back into the gardner’s more sensible position and we demonstrated our previous pushing prowess – he was suitably impressed.  Well sort of :-)

jelly legs

Ah look!  Here we are at the last set of lights.  Feeling as if we were on the homeward run.  I stepped back to take a photo … and the dresser blew over.  Yep – that was another moment of hysteria and leg crossing.  And another lovely young passerby stopped to ask if she could help :-)  I tell you, wobbling home a huge antique kitchen dresser on wheels is a good way to gauge community spirit.

the last set of traffic lights

Finally, it was through the gate and down the drive.  Not before another sweet young fellow – dreadlocks, cigarette, headphones and all – stopped and asked if we needed a hand.  When we explained this was actually the end of our trek, he was so tricked, wanting to know all about it.  I tell you – hard rubbish brings folk together.

home at last

So here it is!  Sitting neatly up against the house, the eaves protecting it from any rain that may come this way – this is Melbourne, the rain never falls heavy enough to wet under the eaves.

finally

And what are we going to do with it, you may ask?  Well … it’s not quite decided yet.  Mum would like to take it home and put it in her downstairs room as a bookcase and fabric storage dresser.  But there’s the s*l*i*g*h*t problem of getting it there.  Wheeling it to Merimbula is obviously out of the question.

So I reckon it will probably stay here for now and become part of MY fabric storage.  And then, when we Boots make that move to the coast in a few years time, it will come with us, all nicely restore and polished, and maybe it will finally reach Mum’s downstairs room.  Or it may move into our Merimbula kitchen as a pantry – now I think that role would truly make this dresser happy.

against the wall

As for this here chair?  We left it there.  There’s a limit to how many armchairs one needs.  Even I can see that :-)  But we did test it.  You can never be too sure … and if you would like it, drop me an email and I’ll let you know where it is!

we left the chair

a little bit of a rearrange

A little bit of a rearrange is always a good thing.  At least I think so :-)  Julian sometimes disagrees.  He says it’s a girl thing.  But with cold, wintery temperatures here to stay for the next few months at least and us soldiering on with our no-heating winter, a few small changes were in order.

And just like that the french doors between the front room and living room were closed.  Personally, they’ve always annoyed me slightly.  They are picturesque and all but do take up a lot of space.  Space that we can readily use given all our indoor pursuits  … and my delight in bringing home hard rubbish.  From a warmth perspective – it means both rooms warm up much more easily – all that body warmth making a smaller enclosed space positively cosy.

So, in the living room, the sofa was pushed back against the closed doors, instantly making the living room so roomy and light, and adding plenty of floor space for Abby to stretch out.  And in the front room, the record player occupies the other side of the glass, low enough not to be overwhelming or block the light that pours in from our front windows.

record plater gentleman's wardrobe

The craft and games cupboard has come in from the hallway and now sits cosy in the corner, her beautiful wood glowing richly.  The bookshelf has changed walls, giving us a fresh chance to peruse its shelves and rediscover old favourites – amazing how a simple move does that.  The singer sewing cabinet has moved into the hallway where it is so much lighter and prettier by the front door.  I even found a lamp to sit atop it – now I just need a nice long extension cord.  Our old home is very short on powerpoints.

bookshelf by the window

The white armchairs have moved into the centre – sitting squarely opposite the sofa.  I like the geometric look – and the move away from the window stops Fu from leaping onto one where she stands up on her back legs and spies on the neighbours and passerbys.

littl folk sofa

And in between emptying and moving and refilling – moving the games and craft cupboard and bookshelf is certainly a time consuming task – there was a little time for this …

bit of this

… as well as time for giving everything a much needed dust with a beautiful juniper scented furniture polish, the baking of shortbread (to match the new novel Abby and I are reading together each evening), the slow cooking of goulash for a post babysitting supper, and the sharing of piping hot cups of tea with my girl who was home early from school today.

Such contentment.

 

the tarting up of a cheap lampshade & a hard rubbish lampbase

There were scraps left over from the 4 inches of floral quilt.  Mostly just the ends from each strip we cut.  Varying widths.  I kept them … you never know.  But late this afternoon, between a lovely, lovely long chat with tea & Abby at the kitchen table and leftovers for supper … in that autumn time when you’re waiting for the sun to sink ever faster each day, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.

ends

Not quite Dresden Plate wedges.  Actually no wedginess at all.  But the tops mitred off like you do when making Dresden Plate wedges.  Without fail, chain piecing them is always such a delight – they look so pretty – they could almost be a wonderful necklace!

sewing the ends

Then I sewed them together, side by side, ’til they were a long picket fence marvellously thick with trailing flowers.

putting them together

Added a binding – both a smooth border and an edge to glue.

on with the binding don

And popped this pickety florally crown around a $14 lampshade from Bunnings (the giant hardware store), that is sitting atop a pottery lampbase I picked up from hard rubbish the other day.  There it was, sitting in the almost rain,  just waiting for me.  I’m beginning to wonder whether the neighbours pop these things onto the footpath just to see if they take my fancy before they plonk them into their bins.  Believe me, I turn my nose up at an awful lot.  Mind you, there were three beautiful old cedar doors today.  If only my car was a few inches longer …

very close

Back to the lampshade! The thin lawn creates such a pretty stained glass effect – will certainly keep away the winter darkness.

slower

other side

Only now, looking at it here, perhaps they’ve not made a picket fence, but a row of gorgeous houses, rich with a cacophony of colour – houses that the Araboolies of Liberty Street would like to move into :-)  (one of my favourite, favourite children’s books – up there with Farmer Duck … who says you can’t create politically astute four year olds ;-)

looking up

Abby thinks these wee houses need clouds floating across that bare white sky above them.  Maybe, maybe a bird or two.

But just as it is now … a lovely way to welcome the quickly falling dark.

 

wobbly thursday

… sorry the blog hasn’t been working properly the last few days … wordpress had changed things … & I hadn’t upgraded … Abby worked it out … Julian fixed it … & hopefully all is fine now :-) …

I know … it is supposed to be my quiet, much anticipated day.  And nothing awful happened. Nothing awful has happened all week.  I just feel a bit wobbly.  Bit prone to self pity.  A few tears.  That terrible introspection where I sit and dissect everything I’ve done for a week and found myself wanting.  Thankfully, the weather was tremendously cooler today , so I curled up on the sofa.  I watched several episodes of Great Ormond Street Hospital (so inspiring) and Midsomer Murders ( I want to live in one of those villages).  And knitted … knitted …. knitted … and just about finished Abby’s owls.  Only have to graft the armholes (that’s what that wee bit of thread is you can see hanging under Abby’s arm!), weave in the few ends and then give it a little wash and blocking.

she doesn't want the yes

This is quite awesome.  Tomorrow it will be two weeks since I bought the yarn and cast on.  That’s a record for me.  Started and finished in two weeks.  And I cabled.  Now, I have cabled before – many years ago, on a pair of arm warmers for Abby – but I was a bit nervous about it.  No probs.  Does cabling make you nervous?  It’s not at all bad – I didn’t even have a cable needle – I just used one of the circular needle ends – you know, the needly bit that screws on to the cable – and it worked just fine. Getting the sleeves lined up with the body of the jumper – now that had me fumbling for almost an hour.  Nothing wrong with any of the knitted pieces or the instructions – I was just fumbly and awkward.  Must be the wobbliness.

with macine

And the girlie loves it.  Julian is in awe (and wondering why his cardigan hasn’t been finished with the same enthusiasm).  But Abby won’t let me put the buttons/beads on for the eyes.  Hmph!  Now folks won’t know that’s what those pretty cables are – owls.  But I guess what other folks think about Abby’s new jumper is neither here nor there, is it.  What other folks SHOULD know is that Kate Davies is an awesome knitwear designer – she’s my favouritest of favourites ever.  This is my fourth Kate knit – her patterns are brilliant, they are wonderful to follow, and her knitted goodies are a complete pleasure to knit and wear.  If you haven’t yet tried one of her patterns out, rush over to here and choose one.  Abby’s already chosen her next – the Warriston sweater – and I’m mad keen to get started.  All I need Kate to do now is knit her Tom a sweater and then all three of us Boots can go out in our “Kate Davies”!!  Oh I am such a geek!

abbys owls

Oh, and the sideboard’s in.  Looking spiffy and very useful.  Here’s a wee glimpse of what it’s up to.  When the handles are on (j-u-l-i-a-n!) I’ll take some more photos.  We’re now thinking that when we have our own home, we shall have a free standing kitchen full of gently restored old sideboards instead of newly bought pieces.  Just one modern piece for the sink.  Mmmmmm … there are more sideboards out there for me yet :-)

sideboard is in

Now, I shall finish my water and hop along to bed.  Tomorrow begins a new adventure for me … volunteering/learning to garden at Ceres, the wonderful community market garden in north Melbourne.  I’m so looking forward to it.  Another step towards our little place in the country.

Wobbliness be gone! Oh – and I’ll take much nicer photos of the Owls Jumper tomorrow – outdoors with light – ’cause it really is a MUCH nicer colour in real life than it looks here :-)

 

loveliness found 10/52

make sure you get to the bottom of this week’s ~loveliness found~ post
to check the winner of the May Gibbs giveaway!

again, thank you all so much for entering and leaving such lovely comments
- I only wish I could send all of you a pillowslip!

p.s. & if you would like to share your ~loveliness found~ moments from this week
- & I would so love it if you did,
please leave them in the comments (links always enjoyed :-)

~ the acorns are making promises they can’t keep, the carrot seedlings are exploding, thank god for indian summer cocktails ~
(freshly squeezed beetroot juice, a twist of lemon, traditional bitters,
a splash of Cinzano, soda, & a whole lot of ice)

~ big girl reading whilst little girl playing,
silly-sweet dog can’t decide who to squash up to
so boings from one to the other with a huge delighted grin  ~

~ picnicking delights – hand squashed strawberry jam
& gorgeous new to me magazine ~

~ finally getting the hang of things …
making the little green machine zig & zag,
& whizzing along with that magic loop ~

~ one day closer to filling these drawers,
oh how I love before & after photos! ~

~ the season of birthdays is over … the new one will arrive before I blink
… oh my she’s growing up so fast ~

~ & the winner is ….. number 27, Elizabeth Boswell!
send me an email, Ms. Elizabeth, to arrange delivery :-) ~


oh no!

oh yes!  Shhh!  Julian hasn’t seen it yet.  Well, he might have.  He did walk past it this morning – it was in the boot, he was on his way to work.  But I think he was too preoccupied waving goodbye to me whilst bemoaning the muggy heat.   He didn’t mention it.  Of course he may well have seen it and just decided to block it from his consciousness.

I spied this little number last night.  It’s all the fault of the weather.  If it hadn’t been ridiculously hot, I would have cooked a lovely supper (well, hopefully lovely – might have been ordinary :-).  Instead, I was flaked out on the sofa telling people that breakfast cereal with cold milk was a perfectly good option.  They disagreed.  So what was I forced to do?  Go to the fish and chip shop.  There I was meandering down Alfada street – relishing every moment of the car’s airconditioning – when I spied a gathering of furniture on the footpath.  Hmmmm ……..

… looked like a sideboard to me.  Its back was to me – but in the darkness I could spy an arched backrest and horizontal planks nailed across the back.  Odd – the backrest said art deco, the planks suggested much earlier.  Definitely worth a closer look on the way home.  Which I did … and almost gave up on it.  Even in the gloom I could see that this poor art deco sideboard had been doused in a red cordial coloured stain.  Ugh!  And it was shiny.  Ugh! Ugh!

However, come this morning, the sideboard was still dancing around my mind – I knew exactly where I would put it and what I would use it for – so I took Abby and Rina for a quick squiz on our way to school.  Rina looked appalled that her Australian “mum” liked other folks’ junk.  Abby was a bit sceptical.  See, she’d totted up the number of sideboards that currently reside in Bootville – that would be four – and she reckoned five was too many.

I must confess, I still needed convincing – all that red cordial was unlikely to come off easily which meant painting the sideboard.  And I couldn’t imagine it painted.  So I drove by again after dropping the girls, and this time inspected it in the daylight.  Yes, that stain/varnish was just as hideous in the daylight.  But oh my, it did have the loveliest curvy shape and lines.  Deep cupboards, deep drawers.  Oh the potential!  The owner was in his front garden with the builders who were measuring up his renovation.  I said my good mornings and inquired as to the status of the sideboard (Yeah … like I didn’t know it was heading for the council’s hard rubbish muncher).

“Oh that!” he replied “You’re welcome to it!”  ”Marvellous,” I said with a smile – already having lowered the back seats and positioned the pink rug I keep in the back just for this purpose – protects the tailgate when I’m loading furniture.

“I’ll help you lift it in!” he added, strolling down the drive, “Actually – mate!”, to his builder friend, “You can help me.”

“Yeah right!” said the builder with a grin, “I saw that one coming.”  They picked it up and slid it in.

“You’d never have managed that, love”, the owner said to me.  Oh really!  They don’t know Lily Boot!

An hour later, after Julian left, I tried to concentrate on my pintucking.  I truly did.  But that sideboard was calling from the car – and besides, I couldn’t fit both the girls in at pickup time if I left there.  So out it came – lily style – and I decided to just give it a wee scrub with the metho to see what the red cordial did.  Lo and behold!  It came off.  Woot!  Which meant that I then spent the next four hours wearing my fingerprints off my fingers.

Oooooooh!  Look at that – nice.  There’s still a hint of pink in some parts of the grain, but I kinda like it.  It’s like the sideboard is holding on to a little bit of its story.  It will give it a rather unusual warmth. And I simply could not have painted over that lovely wood – I’m a complete sucker for art deco veneer.  This sideboard is perfectly matched to Lotte’s sideboard and the Gentleman’s Wardrobe.  It was made for us.  I can’t WAIT to get stuck into over our long weekend (Labor Day here in Victoria on Monday) – I reckon I’ll have it finished by Monday and in situ.

“Where?!?!?!?”  you may well ask dubiously.  You’ll just have to wait and see – I have a cunning plan.