catch 22

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Do I want a simple life? Do I want to be self employed? Do I want to be a full time (working, making enough money to eat) artist? Do I want to have a regular job plus a life plus another 3 part time jobs to make ends meet?

sigh.

It seems that even if I try to have a simple life, I just can’t do it. Its not in my DNA.

For instance… There are times when I feel so tired and overwhelmed by all the things I do/want to do that I don’t know where to begin or when to stop.

I thought maybe I should just concentrate on one thing this year, my first year in a new country: A job, a home, a life.

Sounds simple right?

Then I think ‘well, I have to add in a hobby’ so I add ‘make things for myself only‘. Cool. I can do that. Find and fix or make things for my own use and my own home. (Cause, hell, I’ll do that anyway, even if its not on the list!)

Then I think, but what about my art? Ok, so I add ‘make art. For myself’. Set up an easel and work on it.

Done.

Then I think of the craft supplies I accummulate and I have to add ‘make stuff when I get the urge’.

Then of course I end up with tons of stuff I’ve made which I should sell… so the equation begins looking a bit more like:

A job, a home, a life, painting, a bit of craft work, some remodelling, some sewing, selling stuff on etsy, why not re-make a doll or two cause I enjoy it, how about the odd grooming job if it comes along, a life… if I have time for that…

See? I’m impossible. I can’t just BE. I get bored if I don’t make things. So I make things. And in my defence, if I ever want to be an artist, I mean a REAL one, I have to paint. And if I ever want to make a living out of my art and crafts, I must sell. And in order for it to be a full-time job one day it has to start as a part time job now and I must dedicate hours to it now…

Catch 22

But before I go off the deep end any more, I’ll share a quickie project I just finished today, for my own use.

I found this 3 compartment box at an antique store on Paros a week ago. It was bright yellow but a bit of chalk paint fixed that quickly.

I then painted labels on the front with black chalkboard paint, and voila. An organiser.

I don’t have anywhere for it to sit in my grandmother’s old house but in my own home it will theoretically live near the door and serve as an organiser and reminder to take certain things with me when I leave the house. I always thought something like that would be really handy so here is version 1.

Sorry about the terrible photos. When its in the ‘right’ spot I’ll get better ones. For now I just hung it on the bedroom door. The idea is that every time I pick something up that I need to take with me tomorrow or the next day or later in the week I put it in the box in the right partition. Then each night I move them over accordingly.

Last thing each morning before I head out the door I make sure I have the contents of the ‘today’ box with me.

Done.

Easy.

I hope I remember to use it.

z

another charging station

Remember when life was simpler, and not every power point and surface in your house had multiple cables connected to a myriad of devices being charged?

Ah. Those were the days…

I’m getting sick of it to be honest. I keep creating charging spaces and shelves and spots and there’s still too many things being charged on the kitchen bench.

We don’t have a huge kitchen. Our bench space is limited, and we have enough crap on it already… I don’t want phones, hearing aid controls, battery chargers and headlamps on the kitchen counter thankyouverymuch.

Not sure if you remember my upcycled drawer charging station. And here in its newest incarnation. Its still used all the time and is even better now I have one of those multiple USB charger towers inside. We use that for our phones and Kindles mainly. But there are still more things that need charging…

Which is why (given Wayne’s tendency to use the kitchen bench as a charging station) I created this little spot…

The background (without pics as I naturally forgot to take before pics!): I found this little enameled tin box somewhere along the line and had to have it cause its just so cute. Of course, it didn’t look like this when I bought it. See the blue-ish grey colour on the strip in the middle? It was that colour. And there was a bright blue unevenly painted, blurry line around all the edges. Which I discovered wasn’t waterproof as it ran when I washed it. Ugly.

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So it got a Zefi makeover. I washed it well, scrubbed off the offensive blue, then taped off the middle strip cause I wanted to keep the word. Allumettes = matches. In French. What’s not to like? Lastly it got a couple of coats of gloss antique white spray paint. I like the way it makes the blue/grey stripe stand out.

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My idea was that, since Wayne continues to use that power point on the bench to charge various small devices, I’d give him somewhere to put them. Hide the cables inside the box, place small items inside too. Sounds like a good idea, right? Yep. You’d think…

Yet, I come in the other day and see this:

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Sometimes you just can’t win…

I’ve ordered him another multiple USB charger and I’m going to make a shelf for him at his desk… what can possibly go wrong with that?

z

power plug business card holder

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This is one of those little projects that just came together, like, well, something that came together so easily, it was just like, meant to be.

I bought a vintage iron off a lady on Facebook the other day, and unlike most old electrical appliances which come with a cut cord, this one was intact. It had the loveliest bakelite power plug on the end of a very thick cord I almost didn’t cut it off.

But cut it did, cause I’m using the iron as my front door stop (of course!). I looked at the cute plug and thought “hey, I can do something with that!”

iron

Please ignore the dirty floor… who on earth thought black and white tiled lino would be a good idea on a farm with dogs and mud and men who don’t take off their boots?

So I had this plug and I thought, “this would make a great business card holder!”

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Into the casita* I went, to look through my collection of wooden bits. I have a shelf full of all kinds of wooden things waiting to be used to make other wooden things. Among my collection I had a lot of these small mounting plates – used in old houses to hold light switches.

Perfect.

I undid the plug, removed the wiring, used a bolt and butterfly nut underneath to secure the plug to the mounting plate, and voila! The cutest business card holder this side of creation.

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It’s the perfect thing for a junky creator like myself. Why have a simple box for your cards when you can have this?

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I think I’ll enjoy this little guy a while then list him in my Etsy shop for sale. He’s just so darn cute!

z

*casita = the old house on the property, our shed, my workshop

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suncatchers and teapots

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Its been one of those days. You know the kind, where all good plans go astray? It began when I got up especially early to mow the lawn (weeds) and work in the garden. I got to the ride on and found it had a flat tyre. So I started up the compressor, found the attachment and got ready to pump up the tyre. Only to find the battery was flat.

So much for that plan.

I spent a bit of time in the garden weeding, cutting back dead bits on plants, collecting seeds and generally trying to make it look like someone cares. Then the sun came out.

I don’t do sun.

Maybe it’ll hide again soon and I can get more done.

Anyway…. I thought I’d share a few of my teapot suncatchers… or just blinged up teapots… Whatever you want to call them. I’ve always collected pretty old teapots and jugs and usually make them into something you can display. These are my most recent ones.

The one above is sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen. I couldn’t give it up.

This one is in a new home. I love the blue chandelier crystals on fishing swivels!

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I love the coffee pot on this one, again blue chandelier crystals and faux pearls.

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This one didn’t have a lid so I improvised, making a lid from a Fowler preserve jar lid and a vintage cupboard knob. This one is decorated with black beads I salvaged from a broken necklace. The black handle, knob and beads just fit well together and I like the contrast of the gold and silver.

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This one is my favourite. It too was missing a lid so I used a shinier preserve jar lid and one of my crystal knobs. This one actually opens and shuts properly with the little hinge. The heavy chandelier crystals compliment the knob. Very fancy!

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Lastly, a simple little milk jug, or hot water jug, with its salvaged beads and chips of white shell.

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Yep, I do like my teapots.

I’m not sure if I’ll list these in my Etsy shop due to the awkward size for packing and shipping, but they will be for sale on Facebook and at the local market if they last that long. I’m taking a break for the month of January. Too much to do and I really need to rest a bit!

z

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hiding the gas bottles

Does anyone remember this?

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I made this box to hide our gas bottles – the ones that we use for our cooker. The idea was to create something which would hide the ugliness while looking pretty and being useful. The doors are hinged to the sides so you can open them and slide the bottles in, no need to lift them over the top. The top had a hook to hold it up so you could work without having to hold the top up at the same time.

The box hides two gas bottles and a bin where we put our household rubbish till we take it down to the large bin for collection. It was perfect – hid the gas bottles and kept critters out of the rubbish.

You can read about it here.

Well… louvre doors aren’t made to sit outside in all weather. This year the top began to fall apart, till one day I lifted the top and was left with 2 bits of timber as the louvre slats clanked around me.

Luckily the bottom and sides are holding up well but it was time to create a new top.

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This time I decided to skip the slanted hinged top. I just made a flat top with bits of timber I had lying around in my workshop. I added a nice strong handle so you can lift it up, and if you need to keep it up you just lean it against the wall.

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I actually love the new top. Its rustic and the two different coloured timbers is a nice touch.

I also love that I can no longer see the rubbish!

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Another ‘little job’ ticked off the to-do list.

z

fairy lights and a quick wreath

I’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit lately.  Over the last couple of days I’ve put up some fairy lights outside, on the porch. Not enough, but hey… its all I got what I got so I’m using them!

I had bought some fairy lights to use at the Etsy Makers Market last month so I decided it was time to make use of them. Firstly, I put the quick Christmas tree I’d made to hang my felt and lace ornaments from at the market. I put it in the grooming room to give it a bit of festive spirit. Of course, since I’m selling the ornaments, I had to find another way to decorate the tree… Use what you have I say, so I used grooming bows!

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In the house I just lit up the Christmas tree I made out of crib slats a couple of years ago. I mean, when you have perfection why mess with it? I love this tree so I’m sticking with it.

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I had one more sting of lights which I’d earmarked for a wreath.

So I went looking in my shed, to find the right item as the basis for my wreath. What I found was a galvanised tray. A bit rusty in parts cause I’d had pot plants on it.

I like the rusty look.

Obviously.

My middle name is rust. Well, it could be…

All I did was wrap some wire I’ve had for a long time – no idea what you’d call it, but it looks like dried vine. Then I wrapped all 10 metres of the copper wire with lights around it as well.

I printed out a retro Christmas card for the center and its done.

For now its sitting on our sideboard in the living room. Once I figure out how to hang it and hide the battery operated controller I’ll hang it on our front door. Here it is unlit…

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And here it is lit up.

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So pretty.

I love fairy lights. I think we should have them everywhere all year round.

I need more fairy lights…

z

 

 

very distressed turquoise coffee table

I had planned to post every day this week. Well, more often than once a week anyway. But, as most plans, that one went astray. Not cause I didn’t have things to share, just that for one reason or another I got busy. Or forgot. Or was just too plain tired.

So, without further ado, here is my very distressed coffee table.

What’s it distressed about you might ask. Well… it started life as a brown coffee table. Then it was painted white with a little distressing. Then a puppy or two chewed on its corners. It was stuck in the shed for ages. It was used as a step stool while I built my new grooming room. Then it was shunted into a corner of the shed again… Not much of a good life for a coffee table. You’d be very distressed too!

At some stage I decided I really missed having a coffee table in front of the couch. All this time I’d been using a footstool with a timber tray on it when I wanted to put something in front of the couch. But without a coffee table to fill up with crafty stuff I was being lazy every evening.
Surely you understand that!

So, I went shopping my sheds to find a coffee table for the living room. I can’t say for sure this is it, but this was a quick small table that would fit my needs …for now.

First I had to fix the puppy tooth damage. Then I had to choose a colour. I wasn’t sure what I wanted so I went with a colour I had – which I’d used in the guest room. Plus I’d just bought myself a throw from Kmart in that colour…

After painting it turquoise I wasn’t sure I liked it. Too much is sometimes too much… so I hit it with the sander. I took a lot more off on the top than on the sides and I’m loving the look.

Its like a work of art. Or like a work surface. Pity I’ll cover it with work…

I’m still finding my style for this house, so its a bit all over the place. So much to do. Still. But for now, I have a coffee table I can fill with craft odd and ends to work on while I watch TV. 
That’s gotta be good.
z

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electric heater mantle clock?

Some time ago I picked up this old electric heater. I can’t remember where, but I do remember why. It was the shape. I loved the shape of it. I saw it and thought “hey, I can make something out of this”.
I brought it home and snuck it past Wayne so I didn’t have to listen to a lecture about bringing home more junk.
Then I proceeded to bury it under a ton of crap in my shed. Not in order to hide it.

So, when I started my whole ‘clean out the shed, get organised, streamline my life, find the circular saw’ kick, I found this little beauty and briefly considered tossing it out.

Briefly. Very briefly.

I just couldn’t do it. Sometimes a vision is worth pursuing.

I was seeing it as a lamp. Or a clock.

A clock doesn’t need wiring so that won out. I bought a clock mechanism on ebay and proceeded to rip the guts out of the heater. Actually, I didn’t rip it all out. I loved the coiled springs so I kept those, just took out all the wiring.

I had to drill a hole in the front mesh to fit in the clock, then put it all back together.

Then promptly pulled it all apart again… The clock mechanism I got came with simple black hands which just didn’t work. Too dark.

I took it apart and sprayed the hands with Antique White USA gloss. Much better.

I put it all back together. Admired it a while. Then daylight savings ended. Now I avoid looking at it cause I have to take it apart again to change the time.

I really like it. Its a mantle clock with a difference. I mean, how many people have a retro heater which is now a clock?
And its not that hard to open up… I just have to get out the screwdriver and take out 4 small screws. How hard is that? Not hard at all.
…When I find the screwdriver. I know its on the bench. Somewhere…
z
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my new towel cupboard (in my new grooming room)

Yes! I’m in the new grooming room!

Its not finished. Well, not entirely. But then again, is anything ever really finished?

Ok. So the grooming room is usable-finished. I began using it as soon as I got the vinyl down on the floor. Even before I had most of my stuff moved in there. Or the door finished. But I have a new cupboard for my towels!

I’m sorry I don’t have any before photos – cause when the urge to paint hits, well, its all I can do to put on painting clothes!

***** I found the before photos. Well, more like the ‘almost before’ photos. Here it is with legs and masking tape…

And here it is with the painting just finished.

I got this little meatsafe/cupboard from a tip shop a few years ago. It had no top or legs, and was a stained and varnished wood colour. But the metal screen was fine.

I used a piece of pine I had to make a top for it and searched my leg collection for some legs that would work with it. I wanted it tall enough to be out of ‘pee’ reach.

It IS a grooming room after all!

I had some old green paint from a room I painted long ago (it was a hideous colour, no idea what I was thinking!). I poured some of it into a plastic container, added a bit of light blue I’d made up for another project and voila: the perfect antique green!
Being the lazy sod I am, the only prep work I did was mask off the handle, hinges and metal screen.

Since I chose not to sand, I mixed some fine grout into the paint, making it a chalk-like paint and just slapped it on. It took 2 coats. Once dry I gave it a light sand to encourage a chippy look.

The new towel cupboard sits behind the inner door of the grooming room. Its not big enough really, but its pretty. I might one day make a base for it, another cupboard… Who knows? For now it holds clean towels and my cd player.

So here’s a pic of the other side of the new grooming room, in use! Erik lies on the table with the dryer on him. Such a good boy. He didn’t move while I changed cds and took the pic!

There’s a lot to do but I’m taking my time. The old grooming room wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but I got used to it – I worked in there for 7 years! It kind of grew around me. It’ll take a while for this room to grow around me too. I’ll need shelves and hooks for my tools. I’ll need pictures on the wall and hooks for leads…

I’ll need to put the window on the door! And a door handle!

Its a work in progress.

z

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progress in the grooming room

Its been slow. I mean, its been months! A project I thought would take me a couple of weeks… ok, a month or so… has taken ages. Partly cause it was a bigger job than I thought (ain’t it always?) and secondly cause I haven’t actually been working on it as regularly as I’d planned.
Things happen. I get busy. You know how it goes. Sometimes a book just has to be read, or a TV show becomes an addiction you can’t ignore.
Despite that, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
This last week I finished the walls and ceiling. Those were the big things. 

The ceiling was the hardest. I used 3mm MDF sheets to cover the flakey, gappy, holey baltic pine ceilings. I’d have loved to remove the baltic pine to reuse but the job would have been way too big. I opted to just cover it, last thing I wanted was stuff falling down on me every time I groomed a dog. Now I have a smooth surface to paint.

The electrician is coming tomorrow to put my lights in – fluoros so I can see! There are no windows, just the one in the door, so I need plenty of artificial light.

Speaking of windows, I’ve made the window/door frame and have perspex to put in it, it just needs to be painted.

As you may remember, the right hand wall is covered in recycled masonite. It needs a good wash before painting. And everything needs undercoating before I paint the entire space white.

I’m leaving the center panel with its shabby paint look. I love it.

It was really hard to do this room cause nothing is straight. The ceiling and walls don’t have straight edges. Look at the gaps! I did all kinds of dodgey patches to try to minimise gaps. I also ended up lining the back wall which I thought I’d leave as it was (ie old) but I had pine left over. Not enough to go all the way up the ceiling though. I used leftover bits of MDF at the top. Very unevenly. I figure once the entire space is painted white and I put things on and against the walls no one will notice.

I hope.

Don’t look at the mess in the workshop outside the inner door.

This is better. Forget you saw that mess.

The room is clean now, swept, tools and rubbish cleared out. I just have to wash walls and move the compressor back to its spot in the garage and I’m ready to paint.

Outside in the tiny yard I’ve put flashing against the bottom weather boards to stop rain soaking in over the concrete slab. Hopefully that will stop any dampness – not so much in the new grooming room but in the old one.

I’ve sprayed weeds and have cardboard and newspaper to spread over the ground, then I’ll get pine bark to fill the space which will keep it from getting muddy.

Meanwhile, it’s been so windy here that I’ve had to go to extreme measures to save my little silver birch. There was a huge cosmos flowering to the left of it but it was broken by the wind. So sad.

The garden is looking awful right now. Everything that flowered in early spring has died (or gone to seed). I now have to find the time to cut back the dead stuff and pull out weeds. Then all I can do is wait for the summer flowering stuff to start looking good. 
z