my new butter dish

butterdish2

I had this longing for a butter dish. Well… when I did the Easter sideboard display I wanted a butter dish. Badly. I thought it’d look really nice with the fresh hot cross buns.

I didn’t have one. Obviously. Otherwise I’d have used it. So I looked around for a bit. Didn’t find any I liked. Not in my price range anyway. My price range is narrow…

Anyway, a post on Facebook reminded me that I desperately needed a butter dish in order for my life to make sense, so I started looking again. On ebay of course… I wanted vintage. And found this!

butterdish1

This is the butter dish of my dreams! I saw it and knew I wanted to hold it and love it and call it my very own!

When I saw it I thought the bottom was bakelite and I love bakelite. But its not. Its glass, and somehow that’s even better!

And I’m using way too many exclamation marks!!

butterdish3

How do you like my new butter dish? I love it. As you may have noticed. It’s the perfect colour for my kitchen too. It was made for me. It was fate. That’s why I couldn’t find the right one at Easter… cause I was meant to have this one.

To quote Garrison Keillor – “isn’t it nice when things just work?”

z

 

new kitchen shelves

Last weekend, Saturday evening to be exact, I got a surge of energy and decided it was time to put up the IKEA shelves I bought months ago. They’re from the Varde series (with those dots over the ‘a’.)
Since I was doing this on my own, and these shelves are incredibly heavy, I had to find ingenious ways to do get them up and level. I don’t advise doing it this way, but needs must…

I’m nothing if not inventive. And stubborn. I got the shelves up.

I had planned to put 2 of these units up (I bought two, making it 4 shelves) but I changed my mind. I decided one set was enough. Not so ‘cluttered’ feeling…. The space above the shelves gives you room to breathe.

For another thing there was no way I could get the other shelf up there by myself, so the decision was easy.

I had always planned to have my mugs and glasses on shelves, on display and easy to access. I love the look and I’ve been the right ones to suit the kitchen. I did have some pale blue mugs but they’re going. I found mint green ones at Kmart that are the perfect colour!

The green glasses are from Freedom. I’ve had those in my wardrobe since we finished the kitchen.

These shelves have a rail with 5 hooks underneath. Since I’d planned to have another shelf unit above this one, the wire cups I made were meant to hang higher, more at eye level. But now there is no top unit they have to hang lower. 

I love open shelves in kitchens. I know things get dusty but I’m perfectly willing to get stuff down and wash it once every now and then.
So, my shelves are up. Its only been about two years since we started the kitchen renovation!
z

our new old kitchen trolley

Today I thought I’d share the fun makeover of a sidewalk find.
Last year I picked up this pitiful serving trolley from the side of the road. The top was broken off, it had no lower shelf and it had at least 3 layers of bad painting… one of which was peach.

Well, that had to go!

I’d always planned to have a movable kitchen trolley in our kitchen but there’s really no room for it. Here you can see the original little side table I planned to make into a trolley for the kitchen.

I brought it in cause Wayne had bought a couple of appliances that were taking up space on our kitchen bench. I needed more space. But this little green side thingy wasn’t the right size… it was nice and narrow and had a drawer (missing in the photos for some odd reason) but it was too long, forcing the table over too far.

See that big blank wall? Watch this space…

Anyway, the little trolley is a bit better in proportions. Its not as long so the table doesn’t have to get shoved over too far, and its not too wide, allowing the dishwasher door to open when its in place! AND its taller and already has wheels!
It was meant to be! Thank you hard rubbish collection day!

This is a project I got the bug to do one afternoon and I almost finished it the same day. Basically it took me one afternoon and 4 weeks to finish.
Thanks to a broken finger.
I used the off cut of the pine slab I had left over from making the kitchen shelves. I cut it to fit on the top. Since it was a lot thicker than the previous top, it sits up above the trolley sides.

I cut the bottom shelf out of a piece of leftover plywood from the TV cabinet/room divider. (I’ll need to buy more plywood to finish that now as I keep using the bits I planned to use.)

The reason it took so long to finish was the whole circumcised finger thing. That put a damper on my creativity for a while. The main work was done though, all it needed to be finished was a couple more coats of polyurethane.

I could do those with one hand.

Once those were done I only had to lug it up to the house using one hand, one arm and one hip.
In pieces.
Then I put it in place and started using it.
Done.
Not bad for a piece of rubbish.
z

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the kitchen sink

When renovating the kitchen, I chose a double sink (1 and 3/4 actually) with a single drainboard. I mean, I had a dishwasher, right? I no longer needed all the drainboard space to drip dry all the dishes I wash.
Well, what was happening was that piles of dirty dishes, cups, cutlery and other items would pile on the benchtop and sit there waiting for me to put them in the dishwasher, which meant I had to first empty the dishwasher… 
Wayne hates things stacked IN the sink cause he can’t fill the kettle or whatever, so they ended up on the one drainboard, then overflowed onto the other side on the bench.
The mess wasn’t the issue. I mean I can turn a blind eye if it means not having to do a chore, but the items sitting on the benchtop have caused the varnish in that area to flake.
I should have used oil based varnish. Live and learn.
Now, the sensible thing would be to NOT pile up dishes, to put everything in the dishwasher soon as it was finished with, empty the dishwasher soon as its finished, etc.
But who am I kidding?
I’m not that person. I try, but I can only sustain an immitation of  “Perfect Housewife” for a few days, then I lapse straight back into “Slovenly Housekeeper”.
So… I found this cute little enamel tray in my stuff. 

I’d forgotten I had it.

See, cleaning up occasionally is a good idea!

Anyway, I put some rubber stoppers under it which do two things: they stop it from sliding and they keep it off the bench so water won’t sit under it and do further damage to the bench.

Its the spot we can now rest dirty things till its time to put them in the dishwasher, allowing the sinks to remain free so we can actually use them.

Funny thing… since I put the tray there there’s been no mess in the kitchen. I put things in the dishwasher and empty it straight away.

Relax.

It won’t last.

z

small things big impact – the kitchen shelves. finally.

Day 10 – kitchen shelves at last

Do you remember when we finished the kitchen makeover?

In fact, do you remember what it looked like originally?

You’ve come a long way baby!

Anyway, despite how great the kitchen looked after the makeover, it wasn’t really finished cause I wanted open shelves. The plan had always been for open shelves. I have an entire pinterest board dedicated to open kitchen shelves.

We finally have shelves!

Whoo-hoo!

Why the delay you may ask?

Well… I had to figure out what brackets I wanted. I knew what I wanted… the IKEA plain timber triangular brackets. But of course IKEA never has them in stock. Not that we even have IKEA in Tasmania…

Then I started to think I could make my own brackets. After all, I own two jigsaws and am not afraid to use them! But I couldn’t get past the technicality of how to fix them to the wall and my general fear of stuffing up*.

In the end I got the fancier country style IKEA brackets. They work. Though I’m not sure how strong they’ll be. They’re made of MDF (the website said ‘timber’… I guess MDF is a type of timber, but its not very strong). I managed to break one while putting the shelves up – once you pull a screw out of MDF its pretty stuffed. I’m not overly happy with that.

That’s why there are three brackets on the lower shelves – to be sure they’ll hold the weight of dishes. The top shelf doesn’t need three brackets as it won’t be holding any real weight.

Wayne jumps every time there’s a loud noise in the kitchen… he’s sure they’ll come down cause I’ll put too much weight on them!

The timber I used is laminated pine – a big slab of joined pine pieces, 30mm thick for things like table tops or counters. I bought the whole slab and had a nice buy at the hardware store cut 3 shelves at the right size for me.

Problem was pine is nowhere near the same colour as the benchtops, which is tasmanian oak, so I had to stain it. I experimented a bit and ended up using maple stain and three coats of polyurethane. I think the colour is pretty close.

I had a friend help me put them up. No way could I have done these without help, the lifting alone would have undone me. But its the maths I’m not good at. I measure, check, measure again and still stuff up.

*eg. The top shelf… It was meant to be at the same height as the top of the window frame. I calculated that the shelves were 35cm apart. I thought I was so clever when I subtracted 3cm from that for the thickness of the shelf and marked where the shelf should sit before I marked where to pre-drill for the brackets. I measured, marked, checked.. Then I got up lined the shelf up below the marks, not above, so I ended up putting the top shelf in 3cm lower than planned.

Well, I still love my shelves.

As you can imagine, I was eager to start using the shelves. I couldn’t wait to get out my kitchen scales collection! That end one on the right is one I bought a year ago and have had under the bed, just waiting for the shelves to display it.

The darker green baking dish is one I got at an op shop yesterday for the princely sum of $3.

And my crazed and chipped bird plate is on display again!

There’ll be changes to the shelf contents over the next few days for sure, but I’m loving it. And Romeo is loving it!

The idea is to keep everything we use on a daily basis (dinner plates, bowls) on the shelves within easy reach. Also, the my pretty bowls which are both useful and decorative.
Time to begin getting rid of all the not so pretty things we own…

This is the before and after of that corner of the kitchen. Pretty big difference, wouldn’t you say? We moved the window, sink and stove, got new appliances, timber lined the walls, removed the lino, refinished the timber floor and put in all new cabinets with a solid timber benchtop.

A big job but totally worth it!

z

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sag drag and fall

(as opposed to flip flop and fly)

I have no idea what’s wrong with me.

I can’t seem to find the energy to do anything. Or the desire to try to find the energy.

Yesterday I did get one paint of topcoat on the woodwork in the tiny hallway (4 door frames) and the window in the bathroom. But I was seriously dragging my feet as I did it and then I forgot to wash the brushes cause I got sidetracked feeding dogs and feeding and rugging horses…

I did 4 loads of washing, groomed two dogs, cleaning the living room and tried an alternate furniture arrangement (it sucked) and sprayed all the weeds I could using one full load of the backpack sprayer. Then it rained and all my good work went down the drain.

I didn’t even bother trying to get the clothes in off the line.

Ok, when I list the things I did yesterday it doesn’t sound like I was lazy, but trust me… I was. This is not normal behaviour for me. I get up in the morning and I start doing stuff, starting with feeding animals, then moving on to whatever I have in my mind for the day… usually changing them as I go cause I get distracted and sidelined. Like weeding. I see a huge weed and grab the weeder, then, before I know it, half an hour has gone by.

Normally, I’d be painting in the hallway, cleaning or organising things in the house, then I’d find a project I want to do and get onto that. Somewhere along the line I still manage to finish the cleaning and organising jobs I start and do a second coat of paint.

Right now I’m finding I really have to push myself to get off my butt.

Then, instead of getting online and posting on the blog or catching up with all the emails in my inbox, I watch tv like a couch potato.

Wayne says its cause I need to rest.

I say its cause I’m feeling a bit down when things don’t work out. Like the living room re-arrangement. Or the waste of weed spraying.

This morning I gave myself permission to be lazy. I got up, fed animals, pooperscooped the yard, did some weeding (see? all it takes is a walk across what passes as a lawn and I can’t help myself), put up some wire trellis for the sweet peas which didn’t hear that they were supposed to die in winter and are trying to crawl up the porch rails. I also put a trellis up for the jasmine which I want to encourage to grow up the side of the casita.

Its blowing a gale out there and I am trying to convince myself to do another coat on the woodwork (do I really need to? Its just a tiny hallway. Will anyone notice?) or something else productive. Like sew a liner into the large laundry basket I got. Or clean up the wire shelf thingy I got for the office. Oh and tidy the office. Again. And clean the kitchen. And bathroom. And bedroom.

Or maybe just pick one of those and do that.

Right now I just don’t really care to do anything.

However, just so this isn’t an entirely boring whining post, here’s a little something I did to the kitchen wall last week during one of those short bursts of inspiration and energy. I put my two antique food covers and a grain sieve I bought in Greece (you’ll recognise this one Zef) on the wall above the cupboard in the kitchen.
I’ve had these for a few years now but never had anywhere to put them. Now they have a spot and when I need them I can just use the new stepladder to get them down.
Yes, a new stepladder. I realised that the 60s stool/stepladder I have is probably not as strong as it should be for me to climb up to reach high places… I bought a folding stepladder which is slim enough to fit in the gap between the pantry and the wall in our tiny entry way. Its already come in really handy. I’ve used it to organise the pantry last weekend and while painting in the hallway.
Here are some photos of the hallway with the newly painted walls (which should really have had a third coat but I ran out of paint and its only a tiny hallway anyway, who will notice?
I decided to hang some of my fruit labels above the doorways to cheer the place up a bit. This is above the office door.

Above the bathroom and kitchen doors where I need to put a nice light fitting. Love my Tasmanian fruit label with a poodle on it! Ironically I bought it on ebay from the USA many years ago.

Last, the living room door and the spare room door (on the right).

I know have a blank wall on the left where I’m considering putting some hooks for our bags so they don’t sit on the floor or any available surface in the kitchen.

Here’s a look at the ugly, but now organised, pantry in our squishy entry.

When I was doing this last week I made a small shelf out of some leftover bamboo flooring to double the space for the small containers.

I think I know what my problem is… power tool withdrawal. I need to make something. I felt energised when I made the stupid little shelf last week. But I can’t make anything till I clean out the casita so I can actually get to the power tools. And find anything else I need.

Maybe I’ll have more energy tomorrow.

z

repurposed playpen pot holder

You never expected that the kitchen makeover would be done, finito, finished, so easily – right?

No!

Last weekend I put up my new pot holder. Its not really a pot rack since it sits against the wall.

In fact its not even a pot rack… more like a frying pan and wok rack…

Basically, the layout and size of the kitchen doesn’t really allow for a pot rack hanging from the ceiling. It would feel like a cave in there, Wayne would always bang his head against the pots… a total disaster.

So I considered the playpen side I picked up from a tip shop once and I’ve kept it in my shed (that magical place of mystery and treasures), gathering dust like everything else, forever.

I’ve left it original. That means I didn’t do anything to it. All I did was give it a clean and a light sand (mostly to get off some unidentifiable muck). Its got hinges on either end which I used to attach it to the wall, and a hinge in the middle so it could fold in half back in its playpen sides. Its pretty cool.

I think it works pretty well as a frying pan and wok rack actually. Though not big enough… How many frying pans can one home have? Six apparently. That’s how many we have. Or, technically, five frying pans and one wok.

z

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a new chalkboard for the new kitchen

One of my friends said this corner of the kitchen looked wierd, with the little shelf and the mixers. Well, this corner is still the same as its always been since we bought the house. Only difference is its now a different colour.

And this narrow strip of wall always held a calendar.

Not even a really nice calendar most of the time.

When planning the new kitchen in my mind, I always thought a new chalkboard would look nice there… for our shopping list.

We already have a long narrow shopping list chalkboard near the fridge, but I have something else planned for that spot. Plus, I wanted a much more elaborate frame for the kitchen and this one fit the bill.

It had been painted a bright red before I got it and I thought that would make a nice contrast to the greeny/aqua colour I painted it. I used milk paint for the first coat and acrylic for the second. No idea why. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. It gave it a roughed up look which is fine by me. I added a little ‘age’ (or grime) with some burnt umber artist acrylic to make the details stand out a bit more.

Compared to our long shopping list chalkboard, this is pretty small. Maybe we’ll save money with smaller shopping lists… More likely we’ll just write smaller.

I used a drawer pull as a chalk holder. Old trick, yeah. But I had 10 of these pulls. I bought them for the kitchen drawers and when they arrived they were too small. Alright for my delicate girlie fingers, but not for Wayne’s manly ones.

In other words, I had spare drawer pulls, I may as well use them, right?

This is the only creative, house-related thing I managed to do all this weekend.

Though I did bake again! I made a pasta flora. Its a greek jam tart.

I also made another spanakopita cause I’m addicted. Sorry, no photos of that, but here’s a photo of the baclava I made last weekend.

Yum.

z

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then and now – the kitchen

While its still fresh in all our memories, here are some then and now photos of the kitchen.
This is what the kitchen looked like when we viewed the house for the first time – with the old owner’s stuff in it:
And here it is now:
This the side with the window/pass/whatever you call it into the living room on the day we moved in:
Here’s the same wall now:
Here’s the basic layout the day we moved in: 2 windows in awkward places due to the upper cabinets, stove in the middle of the front wall, sink to the left.
This is the layout now: big window in the middle of the room, sink under window, stove the left, no upper cabinets. 
I took a set of photos showing walls so I can sketch on and work out where to put my shelves. I’m thinking 3-4 on either side wall, all same length on the left and staggered from shortest to longest on the right. I’m thinking the top shelf will run across over the window as well…
I’m thinking tassie oak shelves, matching the benchtop in colour and finish.
The entrance to the house is through the mudroom, the pantry and the kitchen. (Don’t ask!) The door to the kitchen and another door leading to the rest of the house create a funny corner with two doors. This is how it looked the day we moved in:
This is how it looks now:
Naturally, I made small changes to the kitchen along the way to make it more me… which basically means cramming it full of collectible old bits and pieces… I hated the top heavy upper cabinets so I removed the doors on one set to create open shelves.
Here is the same area with the open shelves:
Here is the same corner now.
The plan is to put some kind of pot rack on the wall next to the door…
We had a large built in pantry in the back corner of the kitchen. Very handy admittedly, but when I moved the pantry to the old entry, I decided I wanted something prettier there… Here it is with the ill-considered and badly executed, huge fail chalkboard pantry doors:
Now my antique kitchen dresser pretties up that corner. With its extra support legs which need staining to match! Its old and was sagging in the middle so it needed some strengthening. 
When designing the new kitchen I looked over all the gadgets I owned and decided I didn’t need half of them. I’m streamlining. I still need to sort where to put some of them, but I’ll get there. I haven’t even started on the pantry yet…
The kitchen bench then – always full of stuff:

The bench now:
I love it being clean and uncluttered. We used to drop everything on the corner as we came in the door. I’ve outlawed that now. We have a phone station for phones, I’m making a key rack, and I’m thinking about how and where to create a drop zone for other stuff. 
For Wayne mainly.
I’m over his constant search for his wallet, glasses, keys, etc.
So, here’s what we did to achieve this transformation:
Removed 2 inconvenient windows.
Put in a new window in the middle of the front wall.
Bought a new stove, rangehood, dishwasher and sink.
Had new cabinets custom made.
Had a solid timber benchtop made (which I finished)
Moved the hot water cylinder to another spot.
Moved the electric power meter to another spot.
Put in new wiring for the new stove and rangehood.
Lifted lino and masonite and I refinished the original timber floor.
Fixed the uneven original timber floor.
Moved the sink/plumbing to another spot.
Lined 3 of the walls with pine.
Painted all the woodwork Dulux Antique White USA.
Painted the whole kitchen a Dulux China White 3/4 strength.
Mounted an old tempered glass door behind the stove as splashback.
Painted the doors a minty greeny aqua colour I made up.
Did I miss anything? The months of mess. The months of having nothing to cook on… waiting for tradesmen… the frustration when things didn’t work out or we discovered unpleasant surprises when doing something we considered a ‘quick job’…
So there you have it.
Then:
Now:
To celebrate, today I’ve spent HOURS cooking up a storm to try out the new fan forced large oven which promises to cook 3 dishes at once evenly. I made lasagne, spanakopita (greek spinach pie) and baclava.
I’ll let you know how they go.
z

roadside salvage drawer to phone station

One of the problems in our kitchen is that the telephone jack and a power point (where we plug in the phone and one phone charger) were kind of ‘in your face’ in that they were to the right of the ‘servery’ into the living room, but not lined up vertically or horizontally. Hard to hide in other words.

Here’s a photo of the ‘pre’ kitchen and you can see how I dealt with it before. An old drawer, with a hole cut out to expose the phone jack, held the phone, a framed print of a rabbit (cause why not?) and some of my 50’s collectibles.

Of course the powerpoint was lower and to the left, so that remained exposed along with the accompanying ugly cords.

When we were doing the kitchen and Handyman was lining walls with pine, I asked him to move the power point and phone jack so that they were closer and neater.

I wanted to create a ‘charging station’. A place to keep and charge our mobile phones and landline. And hide the mess of cords and plugs.

I have a ton of stuff in my workshop and the shed, including a stack of drawers I picked up off the roadside one day. I evaluated them and thought one of the drawers would be perfect. It had an unusual shape – it was long, one section had 4 holes, and a dip in the sides. No idea what a drawer like that would be for.

Here it is after a coat of milk paint.

I took off the handle on top, filled the holes. then did a few coats Lichen milk paint to stop the paint flaking off too much in some spots.

I had to somehow hide the holes in the back… We buy our timber from a local guy who mills his own wood and cuts his own boards. Last time I was at his place I picked up a few of the trimmings he’d cut off the ends of his boards when dressing them. They were the same width but irregular thicknesses so I sorted through and picked the bits which were more of less closest in thickness.

I cut them to size, sanded the weathered layer off and glued them to the back of the drawer.

I really need to go back and get more of them. They’re great!

This was the plan: the top shelf would hold the landline phone station. The bottom section would have a shelf added up the top to hold our mobiles. Below would be a door to hide the power points, cables and chargers.

I made the shelf out of an offcut of pine since I planned to paint it and it didn’t have to match. I put a ‘lip’ on the shelf in tassie oak, matching it to lining and so mobiles won’t fall off. I drilled 3 holes in the bottom shelf (one for the landline cables, one for each of our mobiles) and one hole in the original shelf for the landline cables.

Now I needed a powerboard, giving us enough power points for 2 mobiles and a cordless phone.

Since the idea was to hide the mess behind a door, I cut a hole in the drawer… badly. Necessitating the addition of trim to neaten it up. eh. That part will be hidden most of the time. 

The worse problem was that when it was finished, I screwed it to wal, plugged everything in, then discovered that the mobile chargers were too fat for the door to close properly!

Sigh…

I had to cut out the entire bottom back of the drawer to give them a bit more room.

Goodbye trim.

I’m such a professional!

Anyway… next came the exciting part. The door.

A barn door with Zs at the back.

I always wanted to make a door with Zs at the back.

I bought the smallest T hinges I could find and a silver handle I kinda liked. But I didn’t want them looking new, so I painted them. Tons. So they’d look like they’d been used for years on many different cabinets.

I also got a magnetic catch as a closer since I planned to swing the door downwards, like an oven door.

Here’s what it looked like when it was finished.

And here it is in the kitchen, ugly cords hidden, Mickey, Mini, Wilma and Barney back in their spots. Plus a rusty wire flower Wayne made me.

Here are some details…

(Btw, I used bread bag clips to keep the charger cables from falling down behind the door.)

Lastly, inside I decided to try one of the cord organising tips from Pinterest… I got a hand paper towel roll, decorated it and discovered the plug wouldn’t go through the middle. I had to slice it open to slot the cord into it, hence the jute string holding it together.

The only things I had to buy were the hinges and power board. Overall its a success I think!

z

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