Its a pretty awful day today, gale force winds blowing pots off my front porch and all. Not fun.
Given I spent the day doing as little as possible I have nothing new to share. So I’m sharing my grooming room. I loved that room so much. I spent months creating it and then years working in it. I miss it. I miss having my own grooming room, working from home, having a workshop to make stuff…
Some things are just impossible to match here on Paros. Rents are unaffordable, places to rent are impossible to find, space is a luxury. Sigh.
I’m sharing two transformations today… Firstly there are the little bedside tables my cousin Zefi had in her son’s room. Gorgeous little things, with detailed legs and some pretty old and discoloured varnish. Zefi decided it was time to update them so she borrowed my detail sander and got to work.
This is what they looked like before:
This is how they looked after sanding:
And this is how they looked after waxing. Amazing difference. They still look original, but so much cleaner and smoother. In this pic we were trialing different knobs.
The most amazing transformation however, isn’t a piece of furniture. Its the transformation of my little cousin Zefi from precious little princess:
She’s already working on another cabinet as we speak.
Of course I take full credit. Or blame. Whichever way you want to see it. Up till now Zefi’s done a few hand sanding projects, but now I’ve introduced her to the joys of power tools there’s no looking back. She said she fell in love with my sander. I say wait and see how much you’ll fall in love with your own sanders and saws and drills and angle grinders!
Welcome to the dark side cuz! Glad to have your company!
Ok, I realise I skipped a couple of days, so I’m catching up retroactively.
The cat house is finally finished. I’d run into a snag with the door… basically it didn’t close properly so I had to go buy a different type of closer. But it works now and I’m really happy with it.
I brought it home yesterday and I love it. Eric got in and explored it already but I’m not sure which cat will choose to make it her home. I say ‘her’ of course, since all the cats out the front here are girls.
I put in one of the pet beds I’ve been making for Eric and Lainee. I buy cheap fleecy throws from the supermarket (it works out cheaper than buying the fabric) and can make 4 medium sized beds from one throw. I use stuffing from the excess cushions on my couch and from pillows. Animals aren’t fussed about the stuffing being new!
All ready to go! I’m happy, one cat will be happy, and all is good in the world.
I also donated a crate I had outside to the cat colony. I wrapped it in plastic to make it waterproof, put a ledge on the front at the top and bottom to make it cosier, and sat it on bricks. Another cat shelter. Our cat colony is getting spoilt.
I have offered to help make cat shelters for other parts of the island, but I can’t volunteer my time, my tools and my effort without some help (I have tons of stuff on my plate though I LOVE helping) – I have asked for people to donate wood, screws, nails, time and muscle to the project. The couple that runs the Buy Nothing Paros group on FB have offered to help so we’re working on collecting a few more pallets to start working on a few more boxes. This is great news!
Yesterday was a washout in creative terms. I was out all day, playing taxi driver to mom and aunts, then had mom and one aunt come over to my place for a catch up.
Today, however, I had a plan. I’d go to my aunt’s unit (and my temporary workspace), I’d build a table for the stray cat food* then do a last coat of paint on one bedside table and the kitchen cabinet I’m working on. Get them finished finally. Ditto the cat house I’ve been making.
*There are a ton of stray cats living around the bins near the beach just down the road from the family place on Paros. People put food out for the cats daily but the 2 guts dogs my aunts own rush down there every morning to eat as much cat food as they can. People have tried to stop the dogs, unsuccessfully, a few times so I decided to have a shot at it myself..
Well, I made the cat food table. With a shelter inside. But no painting. It was freezing outside – snow weather. 3 degrees C. There was snow on the mountains this morning and a killer wind. Yikes. By the time I’d finished the cat table I was frozen solid.
Not a great day to work outside but I had a bee in my bonnet. Someone had put together a really poor shelter for the stray cats and I was insulted. It has no back, no front, just sides and top and a bit of foam mattress in the bottom. Pitiful for this weather. I had to act.
I saw my uncle George and told him my plan, he said I could help myself to as much wood as I wanted to from the scrap heap in the garage. (His dog is the worst culprit). So I took a load of wood down to the unit and starting making it up as I went along.
Not a bad result considering I used scrap wood of various types and had no real plan to follow. I measured, cut, screwed together bits, added bits, got more wood when I ran out… and this is the result. It looks like a work bench. Makes me think I should build myself a work bench! (Once I have a regular workspace of course!)
Its got a wide top to hold the metal tray the volunteers use as a food tray. Three full sides to keep the inside protected from the weather. Partly opened front so cats can get in. A shelf inside and a cut up piece of foam for a bed inside. Its not really big but it will house 3 or 4 cats if they don’t mind sharing. Not nearly enough, I know, but its something.
I got one of my aunts to help me carry it down and put it behind the bins, a sort of protected area between the bins and the wall, with trees overhead. Its like I’d measured the tray as its the perfect size. (I didn’t measure, I’m not that organised!)
I put the opening at the back, facing the wall for better protection from wind and rain. You can see the pathetic shelter behind mine. I added that crate to the back of it to close up at least part of the open back.
I’m pleased with it. One cat was already having a snack as I was leaving. I really hope the dogs will leave the food alone now.
Lainee and I were sure glad to get home and get warm! Sheesh. Who’s brilliant idea was it to work outside in this weather?
Today, after buying some water based paint for the kitchen cabinet, I gave it the first coat inside and out. With only minor paint on my hands. Hopefully one more coat on this should do it. I’ll just need to buy some knobs and it will be finished.
Then it will be on to the chest of drawers which is currently laminated wood in blue and timber colours.
I chose Benjamin Moore Oyster for both these items for the unit. It looks white till you see it against bright white. Its a nice, soft white.
I decided to go with the mistint pale blue paint I had in my stash for the cat house. Its had one coat of white inside and two of the blue outside. Hopefully one more coat inside and out should do it for this too.
Then I can put the doors on. Here are the doors with the cat door cut into one, now gap-less.
I’ve got the hinges but haven’t decided on the best way to keep the door closed yet. I have a couple of options so I’ll see on that. I’ll put it together and see how I feel.
Of course both the cabinet and the cat house will need a little sand before the last coat. Especially since the cabinet doors and the top of the cat house feel rough to the touch. The cat house cause it was pretty weather damaged and I sanded it back a lot. The doors on the cabinet cause they were raw plywood. I did sand of course, but seems I didn’t do it well enough…. Hm.
I also began spray painting the hardware for the bedroom furniture flat white.
The weather is meant to go from 20-21 degree days down to 12-13 days on Wednesday, so I hope I can get these finished tomorrow. Then Wednesday I either work inside or give it a break for a couple of days and work on my poor neglected dog figures…
This was my outdoor work area this morning. Its been a rather busy weekend. You can see the cat house in the background, on its side. Its all undercoated now, including the back, in enamel paint as its going to be an outdoor piece.
In front is a pine cabinet for the unit which I had to sand back a bit, also with one enamel undercoat.
I finally worked out how to fix the hollow door ‘gap’ in the cat door. My cousin helped. He suggested I use the insulating styrofoam which was leftover from a reno. There were smaller pieces in the rubbish heap so I got a bit this morning and used a stanley knife to cut and shape it, put it in place and gap filled to smooth it. Perfect. Just like a bought one!
This work is all a matter of steps. Remove hardware and doors where you can,) I couldn’t remove them on the cabinet*) sand, gap fill where necessary, sand again, undercoat where necessary, then 1-3 layers of topcoat depending on the piece. All with drying periods and sometimes a light sand between coats, depending on the type of paint and piece.
*It seems every single screw in Greece is a pozi drive screw. I can’t find plain phillips screws anywhere. All I can find is these pozi screws, and I hate them. In my opinion they camout way easier than phillips. Then again, I’m probably using the wrong drivers.
Camout (or cam-out) is a process by which a screwdriver slips out of the head of a screw being driven once the torque required to turn the screw exceeds a certain amount.
They’re meant to be better than plain phillips screws. less camout apparently and that may be so… but all my screwdrivers and drill bits are phillips… I need a whole new set of screwdrivers and drill bits. Anyway, the screws on the pine caninet hinges are all pozi screws which totally lost their thread and are impossible to remove. So I painted it as it is, with the doors on. Not ideal but I work with what I have.
You can read more about the scintillating topic of screws here.
Here are some cute photos of Eric who continues to amuse. They are fuzzy cause he was moving fast. Constantly. Hard to catch the little bugger.
(Struggling to type with a kitten on my chest, forcing me to lean back on my chair so he won’t use his claws to hold on… The trade off is purring at my neck.)
I was thinking that I needed something to hang a leash, coat, scarf, keys, flashlight, whatever on behind the front door. You know, a handy spot for those things you grab on the way out.
About 2 weeks ago I began thinking of what I could use to make this and picked among the driftwood I’ve collected. I chose this piece cause Iove the worn shape on the end.
I sanded it back to reveal the fresh wood colour, removed nails but left the holes, and then just let it sit cause the next step involved a mandala stencil I couldn’t find.
I bought a set of mandala stencils on ebay a few months ago and put them ‘somewhere safe’… out of the way. Permanently it seems. I’ve searched everywhere I might have put them, all the likely spots in the house and even the most unlikely. Nothing. Maybe I threw them out by mistake? I sure hope not.
After searching and then not searching but hoping they would pop up as I went about life (as things usually do when you stop looking for them) I decided to leave the mandala idea and just get on with it.
Instead I used one of my industrial stencils from Australia. I’ve used these to make various other projects over the years, you can see one here, and here. And here are a couple more I never posted about:
Anyhow… back to the current coat rack…
The hooks were some I bought here on Paros from a second hand dealer a few years ago. Rusty and just gorgeous.
The nails are copper nails I found somewhere along the way… they came over from Australia along with a whole lot of other handy things I brought. Cause unlike most normal people, I brought my clothes and personal items, my tools, my art supplies, a ton of fabric and a whole heap of odds and ends for things I plan to make. Like the coffee table legs for the table I made for my living room.
I haven’t really been totally lazy, I’ve just been distracted. For one thing, I finished my first full length podcast Rockabilly Rebel show – click on the image below to listen.
I’m told there are some streaming issues. Gaps between music and speaking… On my end it sounds fine, no long gaps so I have no idea how to fix that. Maybe its the platform. Who knows. If I stick with this music thing I’ll probably have to move to a different/better app and buy a microphone… For now this will have to do. I’m too poor to go spending money on new stuff right now.
Though I did order a doggie backpack for Lainee so I can take her on longer walks.
What else did I do? I went shopping. Thats a big deal these days since its like the only time we go out and see people. And no, I don’t get dressed up for it. I go shopping looking as ratty as I look when I’m at home. Who can be bothered?
I cooked rogan josh for dinner for something different. You get tired of the same things. I did some art, cleaned the kitchen and I decided I really hated seeing the roll of hand towel sitting on the bench and had to do something about it.
I used to keep it in a cupboard but that was a pain – even though I didn’t use it all the time. I tend to use one of the millions of tea towels I have to wipe my hands (washable, reusable, less waste) But I use hand towel rolls for things like wiping up spills on the floor, sopping up excess oil on things like papadams which needed to be fried, not microwaved etc.
So, after thinking about it for 5 seconds I came up with this little driftwood and string holder.
I didn’t have any hooks so I used a couple of those little electric cord nail thingies which I had a pack of. Use what you have I say.
I had the string, Its a paper 2-toned twine, a bit stiff for most things but works great for this.
And of course I had a few bits of driftwood lying around so I just picked one the right size.
Its easy to change rolls, just slip the string off, load a new roll and hang it back up. Its off the benchtop, and voila. Job done.
In the top pic you can also see the little caddy I made to hold my hand and dishwashing liquids. I never put them under the sink like some organised people, so I needed them to look ‘pretty’. Eventually I’ll find nice glass bottles to put them in like I did in Australia, but for now this will do.
Other than that what exciting stuff have I got to share?
I’m now watching Homeland on Netflix. Love it. That has quite a few seasons so it should keep me busy for a while. I caught up with the latest Outlander episode. Not much else to report…
Stay tuned for many more exciting episodes in the daily life of me.
Yes, before you say anything… I’m a day late again. But I have a great excuse. Yesterday was a stunning day. The sun was shining, it was warm and beautiful… I took Lainee down to town to pick up some marble scraps and walked her along the sea front and through the deserted streets of town. On the way back we stopped at my uncle’s place so I could make a planter box. And it literally wiped me out. I got home too exhausted to do much of anything but shower, eat and go to bed early.
I wanted something big so I could plant my new hydrangea. The one that seems to be dying already. I don’t have the money to spend on a huge pot so I figured I’d make one out of what I could scrounge. I had some bits and pieces of old timber at my uncle’s place I knew I could make work. The box is about 45cm x 45cm. It’ll be really heavy to move once its full.
Wayne always used to say I should buy dead plants, sort of cut out the middle man… Since I was going to kill them anyway.
It doesn’t stop me from trying though. I’m no quitter.
Anyhow… I went to the nursery the other day to pick up some seedlings for my uncle’s vegetable patch and fell in love with this hydrangea. Its BLUE. And yeah, I know its the soil that dictates pink or blue, but its BLUE, alright!
I’ve had white before but never pink or blue. And I’ve never had much luck with really healthy hydrangeas but I always longed for them. Given I have a big pine tree shading my front porch for most of the day I hope it will like it here. In the heat of summer it should be protected most of the day as the sun is high in the sky. I do know they prefer morning sun to afternoon sun, but I don’t get morning sun. At the back I get late morning and early afternoon sun, in front I get afternoon sun. Where the box is now it gets a bit of late afternoon sun, but hey, if it looks like its getting hot I’ll put an umbrella over it. I’ve done that before and I’m not afraid to look stupid!
I’ve never made a big box/crate before. I made this one up as I went along cause, ha, who needs to follow instructions? I had an idea of how it would fit together and just went ahead and made it. Hardly any mistakes either! I did have to do a little patchwork cause I didn’t have enough of the blue coloured timber, but hey, I made it work.
I’m more a ‘don’t do what I do’ type of woodworker than a ‘follow my instructions’ one.
It took me way longer than I thought it would. I worked on it all afternoon. Then I brought it home and thought putting a sheet of plastic down the bottom with holes in it would serve well to hold in the soil.
I discovered two things:
One is not so much discovered but later thought better of – a sheet of plastic, even with holes in it might make it too wet when it rains, even though hydrangeas like to be kept moist… I’m going to have to line it with weed matting (I dont have any) or burlap (which I have) to be safer.
Two – I’m gonna need a s@#$ load of soil to fill this sucker.
Cost of box: 0 Cost to till it: 12,343,235.00. Or thereabouts.
This morning I’m off to the nursery to buy soil.
Meanwhile, I found this latern at the rubbish the other day and picked it up. After a little wash it came up pretty good. I’ve put rocks in the bottom to stop the wind from blowing it away and found an ice cream container that fit into the top. While on our walk yesterday I picked up some cuttings of a pretty pink and orange pigface I’ve never seen before. The idea is for it to grow out and over and down. If its not too averse to the shade. If it is I’ll have to move it elsewhere.
Come to think of it, it might do well on the buttress-like retaining wall bits. They dont go all the way to the top of the big wall behind my place so they create a ledge… hm… maybe it will end up there, allowing the pigface to grow downwards over the wall. That would be pretty…
But that’s for another day. Right now I need to get on with this one!
You know how ugly those electric power panels are… In Greece they’re usually in their own little cupboard with a textured glass door. I don’t have any before pics of mine but you can see a bit in the top left corner of the pic below. I often forget to do before pics till I’m at least halfway through a project.
I found that little panel unattractive. And since its right opposite my bedroom door, I also didn’t enjoy the red lights looking at me all night either.
To start with I just hung a vintage lace pillow case over the panel and that helped, but I wanted something better. In fact, what I wanted was to mount one of my chalkboards there on hinges… but then I couldn’t remove the door and I found some thin timber offcuts and decided to simply make a panel I could glue to the existing door. Much quicker and easier since hardware stores are closed and I haven’t got access to hinges.
I did the cutting up at my uncle’s house but then brought the little door home to work on it outside since the weather was so great. This is my outdoor area out the front. Its a lovely spot.
Of course Lainee was there to keep me company and oversee the project. She does like to make sure I don’t stuff things up.
So, as I said, no before pics, but this is the back of the door. My timber offcuts weren’t actually the right size so I had to do a little patchwork to make it work. I also didn’t have any tiny nails so I had to make do with what I had… hammering them through and out the other side, bending them, then grinding them down so they lay flat with the timber.
I cut out a small section where the handle of the existing door is. The handle was only a shallow thing in the metal door frame and I planned to add something on top of the door to hide it. This is how the front looked after one coat of white paint. Notice that the timber offcuts aren’t all exactly the same thickness or width… I liked that.
I mixed up some minty green using my artist acrylics and some white paint. Its really funny how often I make up this colour and always get the same shade even when I don’t have a reference!
I cut a heart shape out of a scrap bit of MDF to act as the new handle and glued it in place before painting the door front mint green. The back remains white so it looks neat through the glass when you open the door.
The minty green paint was great but was too clean and new looking… so I gave it a bit of a glaze using some burnt umber acrylic paint to give it that grimy look I so like.
I glued and clamped my new door panel to the front of the existing door till it dried.
And here’s the finished project. Not too bad I think. Once I make the linen cupboard I plan to make to sit underneath the panel this will be a cute little corner. No more red lights staring me in the face when I’m in bed, and now when I turn the boiler on I simply leave the door open to remind me to turn it off again!
Other than that, today was a pretty good day. In the morning I went to the nursery to buy some plants. A couple of spring days and I’m itching to garden! I got some lavender, a couple of gauras, a basil and some coriander seeds. And a blue hydrangea. I adore hydrangeas and never had a blue one. I really want this one to do well and given I have a huge pine tree creating more shade out the front than most plants can handle, I hope the hydrangea is happy there. I spent a bit of time outside playing with dirt. I love it.
Of course then the weather turned… we’d had a southerly wind all morning which was windy but warm. Then it turned southerly and cold and looks like its going to rain. I hope those plants survive the wind.