Still making herself felt

Cyclone Debbie, that is.

Those brown marks are residue from where we taped the windows to try and keep the water out. The heat has baked it on…

Last year, nearly a year ago, she hit our coast and did damage all up and down it. We were lucky and got off pretty lightly, but the front windows didn’t withstand the force of the wind and rain at all well, and water poured in around the edges, down the wall and puddled on the floor. Well, eventually things dried out, but by then rot had set in, and in some areas and it was clear the old wooden windows would never be the same again. Not that they were so very brilliant to start with; in this hot climate, and east-facing in our very hot sunshine and high humidity it was a constant cycle of shrink in the heat and expand in the wet. But after the cyclone they dried warped. With a strong onshore wind and heavy rain they might as well not be there. And the wood has given up. It’s cracked and gaping, rotting, blackened and peeling. Enough was enough.

Would you look at the difference the tinted sunblock glass makes? On the right, glass, on the left, still just the flyscreen, waiting for the sliding panel to go in.

The insurance didn’t want to know, since the windows hadn’t been in great shape before the weather event. So we bit the bullet and got quotes, and gasped and went pale when those quotes came in. Then we got other quotes, until finally there was an option which we could manage. And today’s the day. The weather forecast, although windy, is moderately hopeful. The Husband is off work for the next 4 days. Two men are on the job, and boy are they speedy. I reckon we’ll be putting the blinds and curtains back up tonight.

It’s wonderful not to have the full glare of the sun coming into the room. From the outside, the windows look very dark, from inside, you hardly notice.

It’s not too noisy, but it is a bit messy and disruptive, with doors banging and framed glass panels being trooped through the house. But when the work is done, we’ll be watertight once again, and our new windows will be sleek, narrow aluminium, not nearly as susceptible to cyclone damage. Best of all, the glass is toughened, tinted, UV and heat resistant, so our bedroom and spare room will be cooler – and safer – than before.

I won’t tempt fate by saying ‘bring on the next cyclone’. But next time (God forbid!) we’ll be in better shape to face it.


Do fence me in…

It’s been a bit quiet round here, hasn’t it?

Sorry, I haven’t had much chance to post, but not for any sinister reason.

A while ago, when we had a significant proportion of our back yard converted from grass to a hard surface, we got the guy with the bobcat to knock down the villainous old back fence we’d inherited. It was a drape of baggy old chicken wire, barbed wire, plain wire and horribly wonky and ant-eaten posts, and it was an eyesore. It was festooned with dead creeper, lethal rusty fence clips and whatever trash blew into it from the road on the other side. Delightful… The original intent was that we’d put up a new fence ourselves; after all, it’s not rocket science. But as time went on it became apparent that we just didn’t have the time to put up the kind of fence we wanted. It’s not really that hard, but you do need to know what you’re doing and have all the right tools or it takes forever. And we didn’t have forever. So we took the plunge, got quotes, and while we were at it, got a front fence too, where a fence had never been. It looks so smart now!

Fully enclosing the place has several advantages: 1) The neighbours who let their dogs roam the street freely will have to find another place for their dogs to relieve themselves. 2) When we come to sell the house in the future, a fully enclosed yard will appeal to those with pets and children. And finally, 3) Having a fully fenced yard with gates that can be padlocked offers better security when we go away for a while.

Now, of course, it needs to be painted. 19 metres (62 ft) at the front and 19 metres at the back, both sides. A total of 76 metres or nearly 250 ft. Guess whose job that is?  Uh huh. Actually, I don’t mind too much, so long as I have the right tools. A quick sand before I start to get rid of the worst ‘hangnails’ of wood from the palings, and then I’ll be straight into it with the self-priming, low sheen, non-VOC paint and an angled brush on an extension pole for reduced bending 🙂

And the colour?  Blue. Not the most obvious choice, but the trim, shutters and guttering on the house are all blue and it’s a colour that won’t look dirty as quickly as white in this climate of high rainfall, mud splashes, heavy humidity and instant mildew. I’ll show you another photo when it’s done.

Oh, and I have been sewing, just nothing I can show you yet 🙂

Chunky denim

I was scuffling about in Miz Lizzie yesterday. As you do…

It struck me that her pale vinyl flooring  was easy to keep clean but a bit hard under foot. A rug was needed. Having handed over large quantities of the Husband’s hard-earned cash to buy her, I didn’t want to go and spend yet more money on a non-essential rug, so obviously, I’d have to make one. What did I have that would be the right colour, and how was I going to make it?

Something I have in large quantities is the Husband’s worn out work clothes, especially the blue denim jeans. They go down at the heels and wear away on the seat and inseam. But there’s nothing much wrong with the legs, or the pockets. Light began to dawn…

One big pair of scissors and one worn out pair of jeans later, I’m here:

denim-crochetI can’t crochet properly. But I can make a chain and then simply hook backwards and forwards along it. I’m using the largest hook I could find, an N or 10mm. The strips are roughly 10-12mm wide – very roughly! I just started cutting at the bottom of the leg and spiraled my way up by eye, no measuring or fancy ruler work. What you see here is one leg crocheted and the other cut into a continuous strip. It’s hard work; the denim is very tough and the seams resist being hooked through, but it does make a gorgeously chunky texture, and my arms are getting a workout.

It’ll make a nice, textural, washable bedside rug in the perfect colour. And that’s another pair of jeans I don’t have to throw away. Recycling in action 🙂

I’ll show you what I’m doing with the pockets another time.

Miz Lizzie 2: a pile of goodies

It turns out I won’t get to play with her over the weekend, boo!

They’ve tested the aircon, which is working fine, but the brackets the unit’s mounted on inside its cupboard are worn and the thing makes a huge din when it’s working. New brackets will take till Monday to arrive, so while we’ll get the handover and electric braking fitted to the car on Friday, Miz Lizzie herself will not be available till Monday afternoon. It’s good the problem’s getting fixed, but not so good that I have to wait, as patience is not my strong suit…

Meanwhile, I went to Spotlight to buy fabric for seat covers and curtains, based on what I could remember of the sizes. Their 20% off sale finished yesterday, so I had to do it quickly to get the reduction. I’ve got the fabrics I wanted, ticking for the seat covers and a lovely seaside themed print for the curtains. Luckily I remembered the sizes quite well, as when I went back the next day to measure the actual seats and windows, it turns out I’ve got just about enough. I can always get a metre or so more at full price if I run short.

curtain-cushion-fabricscurtain-fabric-scaleWhile we were standing in the queue for the cutting desk, clutching the two huge rolls of fabric, the Husband said “Have you seen those tiny little cheap sewing machines over there?  Do you think you could use one for the caravan?” Er, silly question, my darling… you really need to ask? Only $99, too.

lilibetSo here’s my baby Singer, Lilibet. Isn’t she little and cute? She weighs only 4.4kg (9.5 pounds). She’s got straight, zigzag, invisible hemming, edge-finishing and decorative scallop stitches as well as buttonhole stitching. There’s stitch width and length adjustment, and a reverse lever. She has regular, zipper and buttonhole feet, and a cover for the feed dogs for quilting. That’s plenty. She doesn’t have lock stitch or needle down buttons or speed control, but I can work around that. So while we’re gallivanting around the countryside, I can carry on with whatever project I’m currently sewing 🙂 The Husband’s a treasure, isn’t he?

Meanwhile, bloke-type presents are also being bought for our new baby: power cords, amperage converters, that sort of stuff. We have 10 days before we go away, and just about enough time to get everything sorted. I won’t have time to do the curtains and covers, either, but it’ll give me a chance to see whether I’ll need blackout lining, and if the bed cushions need more padding, that sort of thing.

Time to do some proper sewing, I think, instead of petting my fabrics….

Miz Lizzie

The more observant among you may have noticed I’ve been off the radar a bit…

Aside from the secret sewing, which is progressing well, I’ve had a new Project, involving lots of internet research, comparisons and in the end, a spreadsheet. Believe me, it deserves its capital P. Are you ready? We bought a second-hand caravan/trailer. Allow me to introduce Miz Lizzie.


img_20170210_170402959_hdrI was brought up to believe that caravan owners were road hogs of the worst kind, dawdlers and blockers of the highways of the world, curtailing the rights of regular people to unfettered zooming along the open road. However, we have sadly acknowledged that while we love trips and camping, the day is fast approaching when Miss Scarlett Thunderbolt and her follower Rolling Thunder will be too tiring and too uncomfortable for the longer distance adventures. We are not getting any  younger…

img_20170210_170920131Add to that the regular appearance of cyclone activity up and down the tropical coast, necessitating a bolt for safety of some sort if you have the means, and the fact that the Husband’s Long Service Leave is coming up in 3 years and we’ll be wanting to have an adventure, and you can see that the lure of cheap independent travelling accommodation becomes more understandable.

img_20170210_170850908_hdrFinally, she was inexpensive for what she offers compared with equivalent ‘vans on the internet, being neat and tidy, and strangely roomy for something only 4m/13ft long. And with aircon…

We take delivery on Friday. The intervening period will be taken up with servicing, checking for defects and testing the gas, the fridge and the aircon to make sure they’re running OK.

I’m looking forward to happy hours in my new play-house. There will of course be lots of decorating, arranging, re-upholstering and furnishing fun to be had…. I’m not going to go all Cath Kidston floral about it, nor the other vintage vibe, ’50s diner, but I do need to get rid of the horrible curtains and the naff bed/seat upholstery. I can live with the blue/grey and white cabinetry and the neutral vinyl flooring so it’s not going to be a full-on rip’n’strip.

Quilts? Well, of course there will be quilts!


The 102nd thing to do with duct tape…

Did you know, there are dozens of books out there filled with duct-tape-related activities and crafts? Frightening, isn’t it?

I don’t own any of them, in case you were concerned. They all have titles like ‘101 Things To Create With Duct Tape’ or ‘Duct Tape Magic: Fun For All The Family’

Don’t worry. I’m not radically re-thinking the focus of this blog, I promise. But I am quite proud of my duct-taped transformation of something broken into some really useful.

base-empty base-storage-pockets-and-loops packed-base utensil-panel lid-storageIngredients:

  1. Husband’s very old and very broken tool case. It was about to go into the bin because it had cracked on the corner and would no longer stay closed, allowing all his tools, logbooks, etc, to make a sneaky break for freedom.

A pile of camping stuff. Plates, cups, cutlery, mess kit (fold up pan and dish set, to those without military family), napkins, condiments, utensils, etc, which needed organising and taming.

An old picnic hamper/insulated bag, ripped, bulky and badly designed inside, also destined for the bin.

A roll of duct tape.


First I cleaned out the tool case (it’s still a bit dingy, but what do you expect after 7 years of hard life?). Then I duct-taped the cracked corner multiple times. It’ll hold just fine with just picnic stuff inside, as opposed to tools, wrenches, logbooks and manuals. After that, I took a craft knife to the old picnic bag and neatly sliced out all the heavy duty nylon panels that had the dinky Velcro® straps, elastic loops and pockets for plates, cutlery, etc.

Finally, it was time for Duct Tape Fun. One panel was taped into the lid, the other into the base. There’s a dinky sort of lift-out board/panel which clips into the lid, and it has pockets for wrenches, screwdrivers, etc kitchen utensils and teaspoons, etc. So far, so awesome.

Turns out everything I want to take by way of eating and cooking equipment fits neatly and perfectly into this old case. I am, as they say Down Under, rapt!

Best of all?  It takes up less room in the trailer than our previous storage solutions, it’s durable, and I saved something still useful from landfill. Thanks to duct tape….


Rolling Thunder part 6: Get the motor running…

Head out on the highway / Lookin’ for adventure / And whatever comes our way…

I don’t think I was exactly Born to be Wild, but I couldn’t resist the lyrics in this instance. And yes, I admit it, I may be slightly reliving my lost youth…

thunder-and-lightningSo, we’re packed, and ready to go. I think Miss Scarlett looks rather handsome with her follower, don’t you? I still need to do some touch up work when we get back, but the job is good enough for this trip.

I’ll be checking in while we’re away, and there are bound to be some nice photos I can share with you. First stop Townsville for a day and a half, then on to Atherton in FNQ.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a bit more Steppenwolf:

I like smoke and lightning / Heavy metal thunder / Racin’ with the wind. But observing the speed limit at all times, of course!