smarter not harder

I look strong. I was taller than most boys my age till high school. All those years when PE was compulsory at school I found myself on all kinds of teams. I looked like I could play baseball, football, basketball, volleyball… In fact, the only sports I was good at were reading and drawing.

I also have weak wrists, a fact I discovered when I decided to try tennis. When hitting a tennis ball coming at me at speeds of anything over 0.5klm p/h would meet my racket and flip my wrist no matter how hard I tried to hold it steady. Turned out badminton was a much better fit. I can actually hit a shuttlecock!

When you’re blessed with no upper body strength and weak wrists you learn to do all kinds of things on your own using your brain instead of your (non-existent) muscles.

What am I talking about? Well, I lived alone for most of my life. And I always moved furniture, ripped up carpet, redid floors and ‘adjusted’ things on my own. Sometimes I was lucky enough to have a helping hand around. Sometimes I could coerce someone into helping – bribing sometimes worked too – and the ‘I’m just a poor little girl’ act worked at other times, but most of the time there wasn’t another hand or two to help when needed.

Like at 10.30pm at night cause that’s when I decided that the bookcase had to move to another room and the built in wardrobe needed to go.

As such, I learned to tackle problems by thinking about them creatively…

You have to. Unless you have a helpful partner, friend, neighbour or big manly grooming customer who’s just come to pick up his dog… (Yes, I’ve done that… I’m not ashamed of myself.)

Among the things I learned are the obvious:

  • bend low by bending your legs not your waist
  • lift using the strength of your legs not your back
  • hold heavy items close to your chest
  • use cupped hands, not open hands
  • always ask someone else to do it if they’re around

I also learned that there are ways to do things which might not be so obvious:

  • when moving a large heavy piece of furniture, pushing from waist or shoulder height doesn’t work. It just tips over. You need to move it from a lower point. Get down on your butt and push it with your legs. Way easier.
  • If you need to move it for any distance, walk it, don’t just push it. Walking is way easier than pushing. To quote Bill Murray in What About Bob? ‘baby steps’.
  • Don’t be lazy. Take all the drawers out, empty cabinets. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Put the drawers down in the order you plan to put them back on. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.
  • Use rugs under heavy items when pushing on floorboards. You can thank me later.
  • Use something slippery, like a tarp, under a heavy item when pushing on carpet.
  • When taking down a tall heavy cupboard from above head height, its a good idea to have a soft couch behind you that you can land on when you fall and the cabinet comes down on top of you.
  • Keep the phone handy in case you get crushed beneath something heavy.
  • Get a decent moving trolley but be realistic about what you can move with it. Some things just won’t fit through doors.

Along that line, I’m sharing with you how I get stock feed from my car to the feed room. It used to be a job I left to Wayne, but when he’s been away (or recovering from surgery) I’ve had to do it myself. And now I work from home its fallen to me to do it all the time. I can barely lift an 18kg bag of dog food, let alone a 25kg bag of horse and pony pellets. And bags of chaff are BIG. And heavy.

So I had to figure out how to do it without killing myself.

One thing I worked out early on in the game is that if you have a canopy on the back of your ute (truck), you can’t reach things in the depth without climbing in. Which isn’t pretty. For this reason I keep a hoe in the back of the ute at all times. Reaching things is much easier with a hoe.

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I also keep a small tarp in there. That way, when I buy stock feed all I need to do is spread it out and get the shop person to help me roll the chaff bags off the trolley into the back of the ute.

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When I get home all I have to do is pull the tarp to bring the bags out to me, then roll them into my wheelbarrow one at a time.

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See what I mean? There are always ways to use your brain when you don’t have muscles.

Of course, sometimes you just need muscles. In those situations I’m stuffed.

z

coconut oil and face creams

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Katie’s image from View From The Fridge.

You know how you get lost on Pinterest now and then, madly pinning everything that appeals to you, planning to make this, try that, or just collect pins cause they look cute?

Well, I saw this image on Pinterest one day and it grabbed my attention. Homemade face cream using only three ingredients? All natural and cheaper than store bought? What’s not to like?

I read on – I already had the essential oils and the supermarket had the coconut oil, so I decided to try it.

I’m not going to share the actual recipe – you can find it here along with the original post with all the details.

I have to say, I love it. I made the recipe according to Katie’s instructions and the only thing I’d change is that next time I’ll warm the coconut oil a bit first to make it easier to mix. Other than that, its fabulous! Just as the image says!

I’ve been using it on my face, neck, chest and shoulders every day, sometimes twice a day. I’ve used it on my hands, arms and body as well. Wayne uses it too and we’re only half way through the jar.

It is very oily when you put it on, but Katie’s right – you do absorb it really well and there’s no left over greasiness. Being winter its hard in the jar but melts on your hand instantly, making it easy to apply. My skin feels amazing and I think its even helped my neck lose that dry old look I was developing.

This is one Pinterest project that gets a huge tick from me.

Success.

Unlike the Greek fish soup with egg and lemon I made last night. That was not a success. It was edible, but not like mom makes it. sigh.

The dogs liked it ok. At least someone appreciates my cooking.

z

chunky pine chairs makeover

I love our kitchen. Its my best makeover ever. Its everything I wanted it to be.

But the kitchen chairs have been an ongoing thing… I started with 4 mismatched vintage chairs, all painted white. I loved them. Till Wayne broke one of them. Oops. Vintage chairs aren’t the sturdiest things.

So I bought these chairs off Gumtree. Matching, newer chairs. They’re sturdy and nice. I planned to paint them. That was about a year ago and they’re still unpainted.

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While sorting and cleaning out our sheds I rediscovered these solid, chunky pine chairs which Wayne brought with him when we moved here. I didn’t get before photos. Sorry. I think I didn’t want to cause I really disliked those chairs. They’re too chunky. Too country colonial. But they were strong and well made.

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The painted chairs and a gratuitous poodle.

I hate painting chairs. All those spindles and legs! ugh. I decided to try out the new Rust-Oleum spray chalk paint. I gave them a spray of undercoat first, then used Linen White on one chair and Serenity Blue on the other. Love the look and love the colours. And I’m not being paid to say that (though I’m not opposed to the idea… hint hint).

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The kitchen chairs aren’t perfect, YET, but I’m liking these two in their new colours. I’m now thinking of the two shades of grey in the chalked Rust-Oleum paint: Aged Grey and Country Grey. Or maybe Blush Pink…

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OR I could use the same colours, then we’ll have two chairs in each colour.

Eh. We’ll see when I feel like painting more chairs. Took me a year to do the first two… wonder how long it’ll take me to do the other two?

I spent some time in the garden today, massacring some plants. Not sure if I did it right, but I figured its winter, I should cut things back so they grow well in spring. Time will tell if I did right or killed everything.

z

my new grooming sign

When we moved to the farm I made a sign out of  MDF cut in the shape of a poodle and put it up on the stockyards down by our front gate. It was a pretty cool sign, I’d tell everyone to look for the poodle sign when coming to our place. But this year it broke in the wind. It was only thin MDF and even a couple of coats of paint could only protect it from the weather for so long.
It was time for a new sign.
This time I decided to go a bit more professional. I ordered vinyl lettering online. I recycled a piece of laminate I had in the shed, putting strong timber behind the sign to keep the wind from breaking it. I hand painted dog silhouettes in case I needed visual aids.
Then I decided it was too small and too far away to go on the stockyards. It needed to be closer to the road. (See the stockyards behind just above the sign? The old sign was on the ramp bit.)
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Now all I have to say is “we have a sign at the gate”.
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Mind you… it wasn’t all easy going. Not much is, come to think of it…
First I put it near the letter box. Nope, not easy to see till you were right on top of it. So I moved it out a bit. Nope. Still not good. Then I tried in front of the gate on the left … good. But it sat on the ground… not a good idea when the grass grows in summer.
Finally I fixed it to our gatepost.
It works.
I’m happy.
Enough messing around with signs.
z

my new butter dish

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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!

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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!!

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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

 

barbie display box (almost finished)

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Remember when I began working on this display box for one of my vintage Barbie dolls? We (I) decided the TV would be the way to go for the background… The above is a Photoshop-ed version which is a good way to envision something.

I decided to put ‘wallpaper’ on the sides of the box, plus a floor, ceiling, skirting boards and cornices of course…

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Putting in a floor, dark timber, and wallpaper on the sides.

I decided I wanted to use a different barbie in this box so I chose another. These are my girls. The headless one in the back is the green-eared barbie I mentioned before. Her head is on a pen on my desk right now. Without hair. Kinda creepy really. Her hair is on the way so I can start re-rooting her soon.

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I went with the blonde ponytail barbie in her original outfit. In order to create the background I printed out the TV and mounted it on board to give it a 3D look. I also printed out a large vase and put in some plastic flowers.

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I’d printed out the TV smaller than I’d planned to, so the wall looks really bare above it. I could live with the smaller TV but I needed something more. I made bunny ears (antenna) for the TV using Fimo and wire but that wasn’t enough.

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A 60’s style starburst clock was the obvious solution. Its the ultimate 60’s decor!

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Yes… The clock needs hands, I did forget about that, but I see it now looking at the photos… Plus I’m thinking I may need to put some ‘floorboards’ on the stand so its not so glaringly obvious.

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I also need to decide how I’m going to mount this first box on the wall and put a perspex front on it to keep it from getting dusty. THEN it’ll be finished.

And then I can start on the next boxes. For my barbies, and for dolls I’m listing on Etsy!

Coming soon!

z

a lightbulb moment

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I found this brilliant old Phillips bulb at a swap meet about a year ago. I’ve never tried it to see if it works (too scared I’ll blow up the house) but I thought it’d look fantastic in the office, just LOOKING like it works.

Don’t know if you can tell, but its a bayonet fitting bulb and the strings to turn it on and off are in the actual bulb fitting itself. How cool is that?

(I only had this antique look bayonet light fitting to attach to my cloth cord and somehow I dropped the end bit so I’m sharing this with a nekkid bit over the screw on part. Please forgive me. I apologise profusely, but if you saw my office floor I think you’d excuse me just this once.)

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I have a small collection of old pulleys, this rusty little one is one of my favourites. I already had a hook in the ceiling in that spot cause when the office was the guest room that’s where I hung my upcycled xray chandelier.

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Right now, that means the bulb hangs above my shelf… but since I’m not actually using it as a light, that’s fine. Its purely decorative and looks great just hanging there over my finished and work in progress dolls.

Its cold here this morning. Probably not so cold for some people, but cold enough for us in southern Tasmania. It was -2.8C this morning – that’s 26F for my american friends. Everything is frosty and icy. Outside water bowls are solid ice, the lawn is crunchy and I found that if I pooperscoop early in the morning when poops are still frozen its much easier.

Poopsicles don’t smell!

On the down side, we have no water to the casita so on frozen days like this I’ll have to start grooming later in the morning – give the pipes time to thaw.

Ah the joys of farm living!

z

DIY grooming bench (the ugly bench finished)

I shared the ugly bench I made for drying dogs the other day. Its a bit rough and ready, made from leftover bits of timber and offcuts I had lying around, but its strong and sturdy and fits perfectly where I wanted it.

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The bench stands in a corner opposite my hydrobath and its my drying area. It holds a small dog crate for cage drying small dogs, and fits over my show trolley for drying larger dogs. I stash my stand dryer in front, with two of its legs under the trolley, and my blaster sits on the floor in front of the wall my poodles destroyed going after some critter.

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That’s what it looked like when I finished it. The top was thick MDF, not water proof and thus not ideal as a drying bench.

This is what it looks like now:

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I visited the hardware store and bought some ribbed rubber matting. I bought enough in length to turn over the ends on either side, and had planned to cut the width off to simply turn over the sides as well.

However, when I laid it on top of the bench I thought “Hey… this is perfect!” By not cutting it and simply rolling it up the wall and fixing it onto the plasterboard with screws, I’ve successfully waterproofed the wall as well! Whoo-hoo!

My plan is to eventually reline all the walls in my washing/drying room using anything I can find that’s cheap (or preferably FREE) so it won’t look as tacky. Till then I’ve got myself a totally non-slip, waterproof, sturdy drying bench I don’t get a sore back drying dogs on!

I’m on a roll!

z

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the ugly bench

I did warn you. It ain’t pretty.

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I’m not a builder. I’m not a furniture maker. I’m a furniture recycler, re-maker, re-configurer. I take things someone else made and change them. I don’t often make things from scratch.

And here’s the reason why:

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I’m not very good at it. Sure, I can make things, but they’re never quite… right.

They might not be stable enough. Or quite the right size. Or not quite straight.

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A little dog tries out the drying cage. I think he approves of my handiwork though he wishes he was somewhere else.

At least I get good marks for trying, right? Not to mention, I actually measured right and the trolley fits underneath it perfectly!

The drying bench is made out of 2 different size hardwood posts ‘borrowed’ from Wayne’s stash as legs, thick MDF from our kitchen makeover as the top, small size treated pine timber bought by me in the wrong size for something a few months ago, and leftover bits of pine lining from the grooming room reno as side braces.

Its 100% recycled.

Today I bought some rubber non-slip ribbed matting which will sit on top to make it waterproof and safe for dogs. I’ve already used it a few times and its a great height and size.

I’m happy.

P.S. If you noticed the ‘wall’ behind it, don’t worry. I groom in a shed (aka the ‘casita’) which houses my grooming room, my workshop, our feed room, tack room and what passes as a laundry. It needs work. And that’s an understatement.

 

z

doing stuff

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Today was another gorgeous day in the Derwent Valley.

Ok, it was a bit cloudy. And a bit windy. But it was gorgeous. It  hasn’t rained for quite a few days, maybe a whole week, and with the wind, the grass was dry enough to mow. And it needed mowing!

I’d been putting that job off for a while now. It was always too wet. I was always too busy. But today was the day. It was a write-off as far as being creative as I had errands to do in the morning and Montana had a vet appointment.

Update on Montana: she’s now on oestrogen pills. Fingers crossed that sorts it out cause Wayne looks ridiculous putting her undies on. All her tests are good (boring as the vet said) thankfully so hopefully she’ll respond well to these pills.

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Anyway, I decided that it was a day to work outside for once cause I tend to neglect it at this time of year. I needed to check the fence lines as the other night Romeo managed to kill a pademelon (that’s a tiny wallaby) that got into the yard. I don’t like that happening so I went around and put things all across the bottom of the fence where there were gaps. Hopefully no more wallaby deaths in our yard…

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I also hung a small bell by the gate for my grooming customers. 🙂

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By the end of all that I was on a roll. I wasn’t ready to stop. I thought I’d clean up my workshop – I stood there and stared at it for a while before deciding that the best thing I could do to begin sorting it out, was to remove the huge sheet of MDF I had baring the entrance. I mean, it seemed the right place to start.

I measured out the length I needed to make the drying bench I planned to make and cut it using my circular saw. Then I thought, well, I started… may as well make the bench!

I looked around and found bits of this and that timber and basically made a bench for my dog drying area. It ain’t pretty. I’ll get photos tomorrow. Its rough and rustic and it needs a coat of paint and rubber matting on top to keep the MDF dry and the dogs from slipping. But it does the job. It fits in the corner, my show trolley sits underneath it for cage drying large dogs, it fits a smaller crate on top for cage drying small dogs and it has enough space to dry dogs on even without removing the smaller crate.

And its not even really wobbly!

Wow. I surprise myself with my talents.

(Its really badly made!)

z