getting there

It seems I have a house! Well, a unit to be exact. A one bedroom unit with a nice livingroom/ kitchen area, a decent sized bathroom and a tiny back courtyard I need to partition off if I want privacy. Plus a shared porch out front with a sea view (not the one pictured), providing you’re happy to ignore the traffic on the road below.

All in all, its a nice little place and its MINE. That in itself goes a long way to making up for its shortfalls: the fact that its not a detached house with a yard on a quiet hillside with views for miles and the sound of cicadas instead of cars…

I’m signing the paperwork this Monday but the bank cheques have already been drawn up. Yay for me.

This where the long wait and wading through red tape to buy a place end, and the adventures of setting up a place begin.

Fun things like getting internet – a 5 week wait apparently. If the legal crap hadn’t taken months, this and getting tradies to do work on the place would have been easy. Now, as peak season breathes down our necks, there’s buckleys to none chance of getting a tradie to do a job at a reasonable price… and I want air conditioning!

Plus getting power switched on in my name… theoretically that should be easy, but I’m in Greece… Water… do I need that turned on and in my name also or is the mains just turned off? I have no idea.

This and many new and exciting things await me as I learn all about being a home owner on one of the most popular islands in Greece.

z

Time flies…

Or drags. It really depends on where you are and what you’re doing.

Lately it just feels like there isnt enough time in the day to get anything done. Partly its cause I’ve been working the 1-7-but-more-like-7.30pm+-shift at work.

It sucks. I always have things to do in the mornings and even though Lainee makes sure I’m up by 8am every day, I never seem to have time to just relax… let alone do the stuff on my to do list.

I really have no idea where time goes, but it just goes.

There are pills to take (for both us girls), then errands to run, not to mention walks to take. If I can squeeze in a quick swim I do it. I’m on greek island for petes sake! I’ve taken to wearing my swim suit when I leave home cause you never know… there’s nothing worse than finding yourself near a great beach on a gorgeous day without swimmers. In fact being on Paros and not being able to swim is my worst nightmare…

After work its rush home to walk the girlie, grab something to eat before its too late according to my stomach’s schedule, then its socialize and chat and drinks till at least 11pm… cause I’m on a greek island for petes sake!

So what keeps me so busy you ask? Well, there are always things that need doing, you know, normal living things like washing, grocery shopping, chasing up lawyers regarding buying my own place, stopping to chat with every person I meet, pat every dog I see… and dog grooming.

The middle of the day work thing is kinda annoying. But its only for this month apparently… then I go to morning shift.

I’m eager to get to the 9am start so I can have an uninterrupted afternoon to myself.

And as if that wasn’t enough I found a sick little kitten on the road and picked him up. No one could take him on for 3 days. The animal welfare societies on the island are volunteer run and everyone is already up to their armpits in kittens. Its that time of year when kittens are born to stray cats or are dumped in dumpsters by uncaring cat owners.

So I had this tiny little man who needs antibiotics once a day and eye drops twice a day for a while. And he’s so cute… and he and Lainee were ok together… but I DO NOT WANT A CAT.

I love all animals but I don’t necessarily want to live with or care for them all. And cats are too sheddy. And they jump on surfaces I’d rather not have decorated with cat hair. And I don’t need another pet to feed or vet. Right now its still a toss up as to whether I can afford to support myself, let alone a pet or two.

When a dinner out costs as much or more than you earn in a day… well… it doesn’t look promising.

z

finding myself through art

One of the things I really want to do with this big move is to find the artist in me again. I’m an artist but I’ve never really worked at it. I feel its time I spent more time creating art at this stage of my life than all the other things I put my energies into.

Don’t get me wrong. I will continue to make stuff cause I love doing it. I’ll still repaint dolls and sew and revamp old furniture and make things out of found objects…

But I really want to paint more.

I realised a while ago that when I paint (in any medium) I feel good about myself. Sure, I often start something, hate it, stop, then go back later, rework it and finish it and love it. And then I get the most incredible feeling inside – achievement, pride, amazement that something I admire came out of my own hands.

So here I am, in Athens for almost 2 weeks now… without my art supplies. So I went out to find pastels (always my first choice of mediums to work with) and I couldn’t find what I wanted. I bought acrylic paints instead and gave them a try.

This is my first attempt with straight acrylics in years.

Its Phaedra, a toy poodle that used to belong to our neighour. I never met her but naturally I’d start with a poodle! I tried to loosed up and make it more painterly than is my normal style. Its something I love when I look at other works of art and always wish I could paint like that. But I’m not totally happy with it, its not really me. I’m not a loaded brush type of person. I tend to work best with washes and less paint than with more…

This is my second attempt.

This is a friend’s cat. For her I used a mix of dry brush and watered down acrylics. She’s not finished yet but I like it much better. I think I found the way I like to work best.

More than that, I realised that what I really want is to mix my media. I want to go and buy myself the soft pastels I didn’t find last time I looked for them (I found a shop which sells them!) and to get some pastel pencils as well. Then I can finish this little cat with charcoal and pastels. That way I can get both the texture and the detail and depth I’m used to getting in my work.

I’m pleased.

A painting a day keeps the depression at bay!

Now I want to go find mom’s old Singer and see if it still works! Cause I feel the urge to make some of my little critters…

Other than that, I’m slowly learning to live in Greece though it not easy. I have friends and family and that helps. I’m still very eager to get to Paros and start sorting out my life there. Till then, I’ll do what I need to do here.

z

katy perry doll

katy4

Yep. I tackled the cupcake dress!!

This is another of the dolls winging their way to the UK and she was the one that took the longest to make.

Obviously.

katy2

Most of the hair rooted – faceless doll heads on pens is a common sight around here…

Firstly I had to order blue hair from my favourite local seller (Custom Doll Hair AU), then I had to re-root my barbie head with said blue hair. And paint on her face, of course.

katy3 (2)

I bought a dress which was suitable as the base for my cupcake skirt. And some cupcakes from ebay. There was no way I could make that many cupcakes in this lifetime…

katy5

The only way I could figure out to make the skirt was papier mache. My old standby. I love papier mache and can make anything with it. I’m pretty good at it, even if I do say so myself. ūüôā

So I built myself a ‘scaffold’ from cardboard (ok, its more like a layered cake) and tissue paper. It only took 3 goes to get it right. I gave it 3 coats of white acrylic paint and made 2 different layers of ruffles which I hot glued to the bottom.

I made a matching ruffle for the top of the dress, which I stitched onto the straps and neckline. I then cut the dress to the right length and attached it to the skirt using hot glue. Not while it was on the doll.

Obviously.

katy4 (2)

Headless doll. Another common sight around here.

Once I picked the shoes I preferred and had her all dressed up she was ready!

katy3

She needs one of those stands that holds her up by the legs cause there’s no way that skirt is going to allow her to have a regular ‘around the waist’ stand. What can you do? Its the price you pay for looking so fabulous!

z

 

falling down places

I don’t know about you, but I love falling down, abandoned houses and sheds. There’s something so sad yet beautiful about them. I love the faded colours and the weathered timber. I mourn the waste of these places, left to disintegrate ’cause for whatever reason, no one wanted to live in them and love them any more.

A few years ago I spent time photographing old sheds with greyed timber and rusty roofs. This trip I couldn’t resist some of the abandoned buildings we saw. There are too many of them…

This old church was one building we were able to walk around and even inside.

church6

church3

church1

Inside it had a lovely curved roof and a small stage. Vandals had broken windows and most light fixtures. Rain and critters had done their share of damage as well.

church4

Nature starting to assert itself, bushes starting to grow in through broken windows.

church5

church7

Around the back two outhouses, one still standing, the other on a serious lean. Would you visit this outhouse? I’m sure the redbacks living in there wouldn’t mind…

church2

Next, a simple old farmhouse, one which already had plants growing over the porches and inside the front room. You can believe me when I say I stomped around really loudly as I explored. I wanted to let the snakes know I was there.

cottage7

cottage1

Around the back things were sadder. I know there are lots of reasons old homes might be abandoned, but it still makes me sad to see.

cottage6

cottage5

What was left of the sheds was a mess, but offered some great textures for photos.

cottage2cottage3

This is one of my favourite photos, an old door and a bit of old metalwork…

cottage4

This old house stole my heart. It would have been such a beauty when it was loved.

house6

As it stands now, sagging verandah and rotten timbers, I wondered if it would be possible to restore it or if it was too far gone. Too far gone I think. But what a lovely old home… A part of me wants to know if its for sale…

house4house3

There were sheep grazing in the yard so I’m guessing the old farm was bought by a much larger property, the old farmhouse not needed and left to eventually become part of the landscape.

house5

house1

Sigh…

This little cottage is definitely beyond any hope. From the outside it looks a bit of a wreck…

nile4

With the leaning chimneys…

nile5

And inside is more of a wreck. The place has perhaps been gutted as well.

nile3

Look at the colours of the ceiling timbers! If I was salvaging bits of this house I’d be taking those ceilings, rotten timbers or not!

nile1nile2

And look at the old bits of newspaper and wallpaper still clinging to the walls.

nile6

If I can’t restore and love these places, can I at least salvage from them?

Apparently no. It’d be considered stealing.

No fun!

z

Shared at:

rodeo! (and more)

rodeo

We’re back from some weekend fun. And I’m so tired. It seems like I’ve been driving all day today (in fact I was driving most of the last two days), but it was worth it.

I took Wayne away for a weekend up north of the state, to the Carrick Bull Riding Rodeo.

I don’t have any photos of the rodeo. It was too windy and too hard to take photos, but hey, everyone knows what a rodeo is like. Horses, bulls, whips, cowboys, hats, barrel racing, roping, steers and dust. Not in that order necessarily.

It was an evening event and by the end of the night we were both frozen and could pass for a red indians thanks to the red dust. It was fun though. I do love a rodeo.

Here are some pics of our trip. I decided it’d be a trip through the central highlands and past the great lakes of Tasmania so we went through Bothwell where we stopped for coffee at a cute little coffee shop.

sealys1

I loved the sign, but I loved the door even more!

sealys3

Not to mention this table was so rustic, I could have it here, no worries.

sealys2

The only photo I took of one of the lakes at Breona, dark clouds and amazing colours.¬† I began to think I’d love a shack up there… to spent time up near the lake.

lake

I love going up north through the middle of Tasmania, the way the countryside changes as you leave the lush Derwent Valley, through the dry highlands, trees being replaced by scrub as you get up higher, down the mountains with their dense forests and ferns, all opening up to the lush pastures as you go down the other side.

map

This time we stopped in Deloraine. I’ve only ever driven through (on the way to dog shows up north), never stopped to look around and appreciate the town. It’s beautiful. I love it. I want to live there.

deloraine

We had lunch at the 50s Diner and it was great! The best malted milkshake I’ve had in years!

diner2

And all the collectibles! I was in heaven. If I lived in Deloraine I’d live in the Diner…

diner1diner3

I’d found a cute little Air B&B unit to stay in at Evandale. It was a bit further on from Carrick so we drove there to check in, then backtracked to go to the rodeo.

Our hosts were great and the self contained unit was gorgeous, thoughtfully decorated and very comfy. This was only my second Air B&B stay and way better than the first!

evandale1evandale2

Wayne made himself at home straight away…

evandale3

I’d been to Evandale before, (for a dog show – obviously!) so bascially I hadn’t really been there. For years I traveled around the Victoria and Tasmania, only ever seeing the showgrounds…

Evandale is gorgeous. I love it. I want to live there.

Wayne says I want to live everywhere I visit. Maybe so, but Evandale was beautiful…

And it has a famous Sunday market. I didn’t take many photos, I was too busy darting around from stall to stall, but loved the colours (and items) at this stall.

market1market2

Before you ask, yes, I did buy a few things. Like this little rusty corrugated iron pig made by a local Evandale artist. Isn’t he gorgeous?

pig

I also got a jar full of wooden buttons, some bone handled knives, a poodle with her pups and a minty green clock!

stash

I’m happy.

Tired and happy.

I have a ton of wonderful photos of falling down houses I’ll share in another post, so stay tuned!

z

okay, this is for you

I just got this email from a friend and I have to share. I’m seriously sore from laughing so hard. Its not often you get something that makes your day like that. So this is my gift to you – Hope it makes your day!

panel-2096067_640

Complaints from Council House Owners.
These are genuine clips from council Complaint letters:

1. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has
fungus growing in it.

2. He’s got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just
can’t take it anymore.

3. It’s the dogs’ mess that I find hard to swallow.

4. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt
my knob off.

5. And their 18-year-old son is continually banging his balls against
my fence.

6. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet
roof. I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off.

7. My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

8. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the
wall.

9. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path? My wife tripped
and fell on it, yesterday, and now she is pregnant

10. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

11. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and 50% are
plain filthy.

12. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is
cleared.

13. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

14. This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can’t
get BBC 2.
A Spot of British Humor

As reported in the newpaper…

Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas
bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, “We agree it was rather high for the
time of year. It’s possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the gas used up
during the explosion that destroyed his house.”
(The Daily Telegraph)

_____

Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because
they cannot issue a description. It’s a Special Branch vehicle and they
don’t want the public to know what it looks like.
(The Guardian)

_____

At the height of the gale, the harbourmaster radioed a coastguard and
asked him to estimate the wind speed. He replied he was sorry, but he didn’t
have a gauge. However, if it was any help, the wind had just blown his Land
Rover off the cliff.
( Aberdeen Evening Express)

_____

Mrs. Irene Graham of Thorpe Avenue , Boscombe, delighted the audience
with her reminiscence of the German prisoner of war who was sent each week to
do her garden. He was repatriated at the end of 1945, she recalled. “He’d
always seemed a nice friendly chap, but when the crocuses came up in the
middle of our lawn in February 1946, they spelt out ‘Heil Hitler.'”
( Bournemouth Evening Echo)

____

A list of actual announcements that London Tube drivers have made to
their passengers…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your service. I
know you’re all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be
married to my ex-wife, in which case you’ll want to cross over to the Westbound and
go in the opposite direction.”
____

“Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from
E & B syndrome: not knowing his elbow from his backside. I’ll let you know
any further information as soon as I’m given any.”
_____

“Let the passengers off the train FIRST!” (Pause.) “Oh go on then, stuff
yourselves in like sardines, see if I care — I’m going home….”
_____

“We can’t move off because some idiot has their hand stuck in the door.”

_____

“Please move all baggage away from the doors.” (Pause..) “Please move
ALL belongings away from the doors.” (Pause…) “This is a personal message
to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train: Put
the pie down, Four-eyes, and move your bloody golf clubs away from the door
before I come down there and shove them up your bum sideways!”

Are you laughing yet?

z

the couch – finally

A long long time ago I talked about how much I wanted a new couch. I had my heart set on leather, brown leather. I really really wanted a brown leather couch. I was sick and tired of fabric couches which ended up being covered in dog hair and smelling of dog. Thanks Barney. Poodles don’t shed! Or smell doggy.
My first preference was a chesterfield. An old chesterfield. Brown. Worn. Soft.

But do you have idea how expensive those things are? As expensive as a new leather couch. Plus almost impossible to find. Sure, I found a few I drooled over… in Sydney. The price of the couch plus shipping would have killed me.

Then I began to think of club lounges. The solid, chunky blocky type.

Not as shiny as that… softer, cosier…

Couldn’t find one I liked that I could afford.

So I began looking at stores in Hobart and found this one at Freedom. The Hermitage.

Not exactly the thickest of chunky club lounges, but very comfy, in a lovely dark brown, studs at the bottom… I was ready to buy.

If I could have afforded it.

So I started saving.

Then, somewhere along the line I began to think of tan leather… lighter colours, not so heavy looking… I think it was the mid-century looking TV divider I built which changed my mind on style of couch. So I began to look for a couch like this one…

Better yet this, Freedom’s Copenhagen 3 seater.

I was totally convinced I wanted this one. I dreamed of it. It was even more expensive than the Hermitage, but I wanted it.

Till I went in and sat on it… and slumped back and almost slid off it.

It was too deep, I couldn’t sit in it properly. I’d have preferred that when I was younger and could get up off a couch without having to roll off, but not so great now I’m older, fatter and I almost need help hauling myself off deep low furniture.

Bean bags are a nightmare these days!

Anyway, I spend a lot of time in Freedom testing their couches. In the end I picked this one. The Bonnie 3 seater.

Not as long as the Hermitage, not as deep as the Copenhagen, not as soft as most of their couches. A firmer, higher couch. Easier to sit up properly in and get up out of.

I can get off this one without looking like a floundering whale.

Here it is in the living room.


I need to make new cushion covers. I want a bigger rug. I need to get rid of the awful carpet. I want to get rid of wires everywhere. I want a full wall of books behind the couch but till then I wonder if I should paint the timber bookcases white so they’re all the same colour.

But at least I have my leather couch!

And bonus: the dogs don’t like it! They only get on it if I’m on it and have a throw over me. Fantastic. I was worried they’d damage the leather with their nails.

Another bonus is that Wayne won’t sit on it either – he’s terrified he might ruin it and I’ll kill him.

z

apple bread – a pinterest recipe test run

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve been AWOL for ages, then I finally come back and share a recipe! Not a craft project, not a home improvement project, not artwork, no furniture makeovers…

I have the nerve to come back after a long absence with a recipe!

Geez.

I feel your frustration.

But I have an excuse. I’ve been busy! I ran out of gas! I had a flat tyre! I didn’t have enough money for cab fare! My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! It wasn’t my fault! I swear!

(must be channeling John Belushi)

But we all have to eat, right? So I made cake.

This is the cake I decided to try (click image for original recipe).

Holly from Spend with Pennies calls it Apple Bread with Cinnamon.

This is what mine looked like the day after. I was too busy eating it the day I made it.

You’ll notice two things: mine is darker brown (I took the photo under artificial light without flash) and its drier. I probably cooked it a bit longer than I should have…

But its still yummy!

This is her recipe with comments, I didn’t change it:

Apple Bread with Cinnamon
 
¬Ĺ tablespoon ground cinnamon (me, I like cinnamon, I’d use more… its not enough!)
‚Öď cup white sugar
‚ÖĒ cup brown sugar, divided
¬ľ cup butter, softened
¬ľ cup applesauce (Holly said you can skip this if you double the butter… I used applesauce. Too much apple is not possible.)
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or, like me, just pour it into the bowl and guess what a teaspoon is)
1¬Ĺ cups all-purpose flour (or plain flour if you prefer, or live in Australia)
2 teaspoons baking powder
‚Öď cup milk
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and chopped obviously¬†(I used 2 smaller apples but I think I’ll go for broke and use 3 next time, just cause I can.)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
 
Instructions – the way I did it
Preheat¬†oven to 350 degrees F or approx 200 degrees C.¬†Grease¬†and flour a loaf pan. I skipped that and just lined the loaf pan with baking paper. Why scrub if you don’t have to?¬†
Combine¬†‚Öď cup of the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and¬†set¬†aside. Next time I’m going to put in a bit more cinnamon. Or maybe I have defective cinnamon.
With mixer on medium,¬†beat¬†white sugar, remaining brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Mix¬†in applesauce.¬†Add¬†well beaten eggs and vanilla. Yeah. I did that, in that order. My sugar and butter refused to go fluffy cause there wasn’t enough moisture. So added eggs and it went fluffy. And vanilla and applesauce and it was a bit curdled looking… Eh. What the heck… I was going to cook anyway, right?
Stir¬†together flour and baking powder. I sifted them together and then mixed. Can’t hurt to be careful they mix well.¬†Add flour to egg mixture and stir just until combined. Do not overmix!!¬†Add¬†milk. Ok… now this bit I didn’t understand. Add milk after you’ve mixed the flour into the batter… after?

Ok. I mixed the flour in and didn’t overmix. I didn’t want the world to end. Even though I was worried I’d have some floury unmixed bits of batter in my cake… And I might have added the milk before I’d totally combined, not overmixed, the mixture….
Pour¬†half of the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.¬†Sprinkle¬†with ¬Ĺ of the apples and ¬Ĺ of the brown sugar mix.¬†

Stir the remaining apples into the remaining batter and pour into the pan. Top with remaining brown sugar mixture.

I see the theory of this. However, in my endeavour to improve every recipe I come across, I think that next time I’ll do it this way: Pour half the mixture into the baking paper¬†lined¬†pan¬†you don’t have to scrub later, top with half the apples and less than half of the brown sugar mix. Do as she says for the top, but put more of the sugar and cinnamon mix on top cause its what gives you the caramelised crunchy bits you’ll want more of!
Bake¬†approx. 40 minutes.¬†Remove¬†from oven,¬†brush¬†topping with melted butter. Brush? The crumbly sugar mix? I think not… I poured the melted butter over. I think it got the idea.¬†
Continue baking¬†an additional 5-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t know about you, but I use a slightly longer skewer when testing a cake. About 10 inches longer. I already burned my finger when melting the butter!

Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Agreed. But about that baking time. I did the 45min thing, the butter thing, then put it back in… but every time I tested it, my skewer came out coated in batter. I’d give it another 5 min, then another 5. In the end I think I overcooked it a bit.¬†

All in all, I think this was a success. A great cake and I’m definitely making it again. I like it even better than banana cake or carrot cake!
And one day I might even work out how to use an oven properly.
z

quick and easy fingerless gloves

…Or what to do with knitted squares…

Long story, but I got ahold of some knitted squares. The obvious things to do with them are to: make a blanket, a scarf, cushion covers…

Or fingerless gloves!

These were so easy to make and look so cute that I decided to share in case you have knitted squares, or if you can knit and can only make squares…
So here goes:
I opted for blanket stitching the side in a contrast colour and to decorate with some buttons. I think you could make them out of scraps of polar fleece fabric just as easily. 
They’re so cute everyone wants a pair. ¬†Can’t wait till winter so I can wear them for real.
z

Shared at: