Tag Archives: makeover

Transplanting the plum tree

So, for better or for worse, we’ve done it. A quick reread of some online advice on transplanting fruit trees and I realised we’d better get onto moving our beloved plum tree. Apparently it’s something that should be done in early winter when the tree is at it’s most dormant. The next best time is late autumn, and I wasn’t planning on waiting 11 months for the next one of those to come around! Plus, it was a dull but warm day on Saturday, with no rain coming, and at this time of year you need to take those and make them count!

You can just see the tree we’re talking about on the far right of this picture (taken before we put up the screen and pergola on the deck), and that giant planter (temporarily filled with daisies) in the middle is where we’ve shifted it to.

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This plum tree is pretty small really, and unassuming, and I even used to call it ugly before I truly came to appreciate it’s inner beauty. It produces the loveliest plums in abundance, and I will have my fingers crossed until I see it looking once again like it did last summer!

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To get in the mood I started by weeding every other garden and doing my best to tidy up the vegie patch.

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First I removed some weedmat that had been stapled around the inside edge of this planter box, and did my best to loosen things a little, wishing the whole box would just disintegrate. It sits under this odd little triangle of deck in the back corner, and has always been an eyesore. We are still trying to figure out what to do here to replace it or at least cover it all up.
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When neither the tree or the box were budging, I gave up for a bit and turned to the planter. There were some wintering daisy clumps in there that I hauled out and replanted in various other spots in the garden as fillers. And there was dirt to remove.
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A certain small guy was keen to help. You can see here how huge the planter really is – you can lose two or three small children at once!
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Then it was time to enlist Andre’s help in the form of ingenuity and brute strength. He rigged up this levering system, then with a bit of spade work, and some good old-fashioned hauling…0610_1850 0610_1851 0610_1853 0610_1856 … it was out!0610_1857 Here’s the planter ready and waiting. We painted on some waterproofing stuff in the inside of these to help keep the moisture in.0610_1863 Then I had to down camera to help lift the tree up and up and into the planter.0610_1864 It’s a sweetly lopsided ol’ tree so it took a little spinning to get the right positioning in order for us not to fight with it every time we walk around the front side of the deck.

Although it’s not intended to stay here – at this point we’d like to fill in that old planter box with concrete and roll the whole tree plus concrete planter right back over top of where it began. That way it will allow the neighbours to come and go without us keeping tabs on them!

Eventually I’d like to have planters right across that back fence, both for privacy, and to hide the fence and it’s awkward change in height. Plus we desperately need to add as much green as possible back into this concrete filled space!0610_1867 0610_3747

So, grow little container orchard, grow! (And enjoy all this rain you are getting today…!)

Master bedroom makeover: Wall prep

We are in the middle of a week of plastering and sanding, and I’m too scared to open the door to the bedroom for fear of a dust explosion happening through the rest of the house. I put up with a mess of dust through the living room once, and I don’t want to do it again!

Last time we talked about this room reno we had demolished the wardrobe and were starting on removing the wallpaper. But it wasn’t going well remember?

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And then we remembered there was this great invention called a wallpaper steamer! For less than $25 for a days hire I convinced Andre we should at least try it.

I’m not sure what was going through his head but he was all for carrying on with our spray and chip method for the next three months.

Buuuuuttt… look who took over. Power tool – it’s only natural. And a few hours later I had to forcibly remove the steamer head from his hand because it was way past bedtime.0605_1167 0605_1168

Once again, I was on clean up duties. But I was content to lean on my broom and watch that wallpaper coming off in strips, not chips!

And the next day we were done with a couple of hours still to spare before we had to return the steamer soooo… the bathroom got dealt with too. This wallpaper is of the nineties trying to be twenties era. It had to go.0605_1173

This was possibly/probably a paper especially for use in a bathroom as it seemed to have quite a “plasticky” top layer, which I ended up pulling off before Andre used the steamer to remove the backing. It all came off really easily, and of course it helped that we only had the top half of a small room to do.0605_1178 0605_1181 0605_1182

But apart from cleaning up that mess, the bathroom has had no more attention for now.

So back to the bedroom. I mentioned last time there was icky stuff to be found under the paper in certain areas. This is the dampest and darkest of all the rooms in the house, and with drafty timber windows and no insulation until recently I wasn’t surprised, but I was still well and truly disgusted.

So after a bit of research and pulling on some latex gloves with a satisfying snap I held my breath and got rid of it as best I could. I started by spraying it with a water/vinegar/tea tree oil solution. I did this two or three times over a couple of days. Apparently that’s all you usually need to do to treat it (slash kill it, although how do you tell when it’s dead?!) and wiping it is maybe not good because it can cause the spores to spread. But of course we need to paint these walls and I’m not painting over dead mould, no matter how dead it is.

So I compromised and did my best to kill it before I then cleaned it up with rags doused in the same solution. Those rags got binned immediately – nasty things.

For luck I went back for a third step and sprayed again to ensure any leftovers were well dead.
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In the meantime we spent an evening doing some wardrobe visualising with the doors and shelves of the old wardrobe. We are trying to decide whether to use woodgrain on the sides of the wardrobe, or on the doors. Or not at all.0605_1204

All other spare time in the last couple of weeks has been put into sugar soaping. I started out with this job thinking sugar soap was some miracle cleaner that would disappear all gluey mess as soon as I touched my cloth to the wall. Not so my friends, not so.

I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed until my arms ached and my fingers were raw.

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You can see below the difference it makes though – the left side is sugar soaped, the right is still waiting…0605_1207But I’m done, and now it’s Andre’s job to plaster and patch up and then finally sand smooth these four dodgy walls!
0605_1269And I don’t envy him one bit. I’ll take sugar soaping every time!

 

Interim measures

I’ve been at it again… making ugly furniture into something a lot less ugly.

And this time it was easy! No dramas like that time with the kids table

But first, a little back story:

A few weeks ago I couldn’t help myself – I started picking at the wallpaper in our bedroom. I just wanted to know, y’know, how easily it was going to come off? Or not. So it’s uglier than ever and I hate it. But thinking ahead to the time when I’ll love it, I did that “Buy Now without consulting the husband” on Trade Me, and got us our first EVER piece of real furniture (that we haven’t built ourselves or amateurly upcycled from something awful) and it kinda set the ball rolling on a couple of other teensy updates that alllllmost make me forget the wallpaper for a second.

Here’s a little sneaky peek of our grown up furniture:

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I can’t show you any more than that because it gets ugly again if I zoom out!

And we hung a mirror! This is a big deal. We’re those people that hate putting holes in walls, because what if we change our minds?! But mirrors and 3M command hooks don’t do so well together. So… out comes the drill. And then, the strangest thing happened. Andre drilled straight into that wall – not once, not twice… but something like ten times! Hah! And still no stud/nog to hang that mirror on. I guess knowing you need to replaster a room sooner rather than later is a little liberating. So off to Bunnings to buy a wall anchor. Another big deal. Andre doesn’t do wall anchors.

But it appears that now he does and I’m very thankful. Because now I can see more than a reflection of my chin in this mirror.

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So now for the amateur upcycle of a watermarked and ugly old petticoat table project (because one piece of grown up furniture is enough for a few months). I shared this one on Instagram and got a little debate going about whether or not I should add some metallic bling. So… did I?

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No I did not!

I’ll tell you why in just a minute, but first here’s the pretty after photos (again, zooooomed in because you really don’t want to see any more).

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Since we sacrificed my bedside table to become the kids play kitchen I’ve been living with this nasty mdf and pine petticoat table, complete with lumpy and water-stained top.

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A quick sand, prime and painting of the top in high gloss white and it was looking a million miles better. But the question remained – what to do with the legs? Paint them white and dip them in coppery bling-a-ling? I wanted to. Oh I really did, but I also didn’t want to ruin the simple freshness of the white top and timber legs. A smart young Instagramming gal by the name of Katrina suggested painting just the edge of the table with copper.

So I did. At least I started to. But you can see in this quick repeat for a photo after I wiped the first attempt off in a panic that it just didn’t look good. Maybe it would have looked better with a couple of coats? My paint was just artists paint after all, not really designed for the job, but I just wasn’t liking the colour. It really clashed with the bare timber legs.

0415_3253 I tried another colour – bronze I think this one was called. And it was marginally better (less red) but still not enough that I let it dry!0415_3254So I’m sticking with white and like it rather more than I thought. This temporary fix up might end up hanging around longer than planned? Although I would prefer a drawer rather than the baskets for those little books and bits that collect around a bedside. We shall see…

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For now, I’m enjoying these small snippets of our bedroom, because we’ll be moving out soon and really getting stuck into that wallpaper stripping and wardrobe demo. If it rains on our pergola building plans over the next couple of (long!) weekends we’ll be right in here!

I call that a lawn

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As Master W would say (he gets this one from his mama), “Pretty much!”. Pretty much a lawn. If it needs mowing it’s a lawn right?!

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Oh I just love our front yard. It’s far from magazine-worthy but it doesn’t scare me anymore. And I’m even a bit proud of it! And the lawn… well it’s not perfect (at all) but I’m proud of that too – we did it all by ourselves! Dirt, grass seed, tlc

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There are bare patches, but it’s filling in slowly, and I have high hopes it will get there in the end. My dreams of a weedfree lawn are lying shattered but I’m not crying about it. I’m fine, and to prove it I’ll even show you a picture of the worst patch:

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The shady bit under the tree. Perfect for a diy nail box swing, not so perfect for growing grass.

Definitely looks better if we spin around the other way:

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More spinning…

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Oops big bare patch.

One last request – take a step just outside the gate for a view of the afternoon sun in all it’s warmliness (definitely a word).

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That winter sunshine is begging for attention a lot louder than the gate pillars that need plaster and paint, the patio that needs another go with moss, the baseboard that needs painting, the hedge that needs trimming, or the invisible border planting that can’t wait to tidy along the base of the fence and hedge. As for the mud on the drive… that does get pretty loud. Might have to add it to this weekends list.

Let’s hope sunshine is also on the list – it does make winter hibernating so much more pleasant! Enjoy your weekend.

I see potential

At the end of Tuesdays mammoth front lawn post I mentioned that we’d started attacking the back yard. Here’s a summertime before photo for you, back when our house was apricot, and we hadn’t yet dug out the sorry excuse for a back lawn.0416_0343

A freshly laid ready lawn at the time we purchased our sweet little home soon let us know there was nothing but solid concrete just a few cms down. Summer = dead lawn, winter = mud pit. So we dug it out, and have been living with the conrete jungle since then.

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Last weekend, with nothing to do out front except wait and see what damage all the rain has done to our new grass, we tackled what was left of the greenery out the back here.

This was my view from the french doors while Andre got started. There’s quite a big difference from house level to ground level, which makes things a little challenging (more on that tomorrow).0509_7056

This was my last progress shot before I downed the camera and got my gloves on. Rain was on its way…0509_7061

Thankfully we got it pretty well cleared out before this happened:

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Little kids + rain + trying to get stuff done = way too much frustration. So we left the last bit of mess until after lunch when we could take little kids out of the equation and have them safely tucked in bed.

It doesn’t look pretty right now, but it’s progress and I’m so excited!

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We’re saving the big succulent… might put him in a pot. And the yucca kind of thing sitting in the planter box is just waiting out its time until it shrivels enough to squish into the bin (our garden waste centre doesn’t take yucca’s as I think the leaves don’t break down??). The planter boxes will also make their way to the rubbish/firewood pile.

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The last man tree standing got a last minute reprieve while we put some more thought into what we’re going to do back here, wondering if we should keep it. But at this point his days are numbered…

Weather permitting, all that dirt is outta here this weekend. And we’ll pick a time when the neighbours are away and get that grotty fence waterblasted!

Exciting times from there… can’t wait to share some plans with you tomorrow and see what you think!

 

 

Father’s weekend in the man cave

Father’s Day rolled around this year with a few hints that tools were required (aren’t they always?!). Actually I should rephrase because he doesn’t do hints. When pressed I got “I think I need a spanner set.”

What he got instead was a sweet handmade card that is the spitting image of our newly painted (yes, yes, more on that later I promise) garage and a promise from Mama and the kids that we would dedicate two whole days to help find a spanner set.

Some…. where….. in…… here:

A spanner? In there? Hardly likely… and he wants a whole set?! Before I go any further I need to say two things: No attempt has been made to sort this garage since things were thrown in on moving day, and with all going on inside the house the garage has born the brunt of hurried returning of tools and bits and pieces. Secondly, my poor husband can’t stand up in this garage… being 6’4″ has it’s advantages – a low roof is not one of them.

Now, arrow 1 points to the chest freezer where I have a few meals stored for “one of those days”. For some time I have not been able to get to any meals on “one of those days” which is just the last straw and makes it “ONE OF THOSE DAYS!!!” Arrow 2 points to the “tool drawer” which hung out in the house for quite some time and quickly became the dumping ground for anything that I or Andre couldn’t immediately find a place for ie. everything! Arrow 3 marks the spot where one or two motorbikes are usually parked but weren’t for this photo – I just have to point that out so you know I really, really couldn’t get to the freezer and there was a very valid reason for sending Andre back out for takeaways as soon as he got home.

Anyway, there are loads of photos so I’ll let them speak for themselves for a bit:

Ugh! Because this was a serious operation, Andre took a couple of days off work so we had ourselves a four day weekend to get this chaos into order. Being Auckland, rain was guaranteed at least four times in those four days so we put the tent up to store everything in the meantime. This is how it looked by coffee time on the first morning:

Some time after lunch everything was out (including Miss E) and in various piles designated for the rubbish truck or Trade Me or for keeps (this is where we put Miss E).

And we got to cleaning in preparation for a repaint (looks like someone had tried to clean their paintbrush on the walls previously…??).

I have no progress shots of the painting because it was all hands on paint brush to get it done before dinner. I was pretty delighted to get so far in one day – never thought we’d be painting until day two!

Day two was another big one which involved splitting all the scrap timber into kindling for next winter:

And starting the slow process of moving everything back into it’s rightful place. Because this is my kind of job I was so engrossed I also missed pictures of this process, but am delighted to be able to present some “finished” pictures after a solid three days of getting well acquainted with our man cave and all that is in it (and no longer in it).

Sooo much better don’t you agree? Thanks to removing an old blind off the window, freshening up the walls and painting the lower beams white (hmm… varying shades of leftover white or not so white) and putting everything “away” the garage looks bigger, lighter and there is space to work at the work bench at the back, or even work on bigger projects without having to hang from the ceiling beams. The bench just to the left of the motorbike holds all the “for sale” things, so if you squint and picture that free from clutter it just gets better! I didn’t wait for that to be gone before I took after pictures because… well, I just couldn’t wait.

I’m pretty proud of this corner:

It’s my gardening station. I no longer have to fight with the ladder for possession of the rake. Dare I give you a close up look for my tool rack? Oops, you can see where I took a wee shortcut and didn’t paint the underside, but I can assure you only small children or squatting photographers see this view.

Down below are these old nail boxes which have faithfully followed our every move since Andre claimed them from his Dad’s (or Opa’s?) garage when he moved out. They look so smart lined up together and they’re doing a great job storing the smaller gardening tools and gloves, seeds etc.

Further back in the garage are these shelves (repurposed from the kids room, which now has a new manrobe) which hold the only new purchase for this makeover: 8 storage crates from Mitre 10 at around $9 each. We’ll call them the Father’s Day present (I think we found the spanners!).

They hold painting supplies, plumbing bits and electrical things, as well as some other odds and ends. Based on the above view I have imposed a “no more paint” rule. Surely there is enough paint, sealer and filler to allow for whatever project we dream up next?

Once I had “my” gardening corner and these shelves set up I pretty much left Andre to get to know his man cave on his own. I am absolutely delighted at the transformation and am no longer afraid to venture in for a piece of sandpaper, but it’s Andre’s place to hang out, not mine. Besides, my usefulness had expired by then anyway – I was just getting in the way and putting things in the wrong place, which was definitely not the idea. I snuck back in one morning last week to get some more photos.

Long may it last!