Friday, December 21, 2012

Some Christmas odds and ends

This little bell has been in my family for as long as I can remember. When I say 'in my family', I mean it was my grandmother's and used to hang on her tree along with lots other other shiny, pretty bells. My cousins and I would sneakily appropriate them on Sundays when we would visit her and reassign them to our trees at home. You know, steal them. Charming children we must have been. I'm not sure why, but the allure of these bells was too much to resist. I distinctly remember the great lengths we went to to sneak into the lounge and nab them. 

So for many years it would hang on our tree at home (I'm sure my parents were delighted with a yearly reminder of my childhood thieving) and when I moved Mum handed it on to me (read: I took it with me along with quite a few other decorations).

I hope it lasts long until Puddleduck is ready to move out and take it with her.

I mentioned in my pendant light post I was making paper chandeliers for Christmas decorations - this is one of them hanging in the front window.

Puddleduck, Mum and I also got a little bit crafty and made some decorations out of borax crystals and pipe cleaners. As it turns out, when you mix hot water and borax and suspend pipe cleaners in the solution overnight, it will crystalise around the pipe cleaners and create 'crystal' decorations. Very cool.

They don't withstand a lot of touching and the ones we used food dye with tend to 'bleed' a little, but all in all a very fun activity and something I think we will do again next year.

Experimenting ...

My apologies for another post with no real purpose. I'm experimenting with the Blogger app ...

So, here's a photo of my recently pimped fridge. I'm actually on the hunt for removable wallpaper in just the right pattern to cover it with, but in the mean time these postcards will do!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Project - pendant light

I should know better, but I was randomly googling recently in the hope of finding some hints on how to make a paper lantern chandelier to hang as a Christmas decoration and I came across coffee filter pendants. Instead of sensibly 'pinning' the images and going back to the task at hand, I thought "Oohh, what a great idea. I should try that. Now."

I became a teensy bit possessed with the idea so I set off looking for coffee filters. Not as simple as it sounds in this brave new world where coffee machines use pods instead of filters. I did track some down online though (thank you Officeworks) and ordered two thousand. Yes, two thousand. At the time I thought I was over-ordering.

Full of crafty enthusiasm and armed with my trusty glue gun (actually, the glue gun was a new purchase but it sounds more poetic to call it my trusty glue gun - and by the end of the project it had certainly earned the moniker) I started. 

At this point I was still enthusiastic - as opposed to the dogged determination that took over about a thousand filters later. It's that middle bit of the lantern that breaks you. You can glue and glue and glue and you'd swear you hadn't covered any more of the lantern than you already had.



I got there in the end.

And I'm pretty happy with the result. Of course, having done one, I had to do the other one too. Sigh.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Before and after - kitchen

We finally, finally found our stash of before shots - taken before any demolition or removal of old desks and shelves happened. They have eluded us for ages - filed away safely - so I'm a bit excited to finally have them back. Expect the before and after posts to come thick and fast now. Consider yourselves warned.

This is a picture of the bedroom that became the kitchen. There was no internal access to the room - only this door that was accessed via and grated gangplank over the internal courtyard.

The view out from the bedroom to the courtyard.

On top of this contraption custom built set of drawers was the previous owners mattress. Behind that back wall was the only bathroom in the house (now our upstairs powder room). 

There was one long, thin rectangular window letting light into the room. I think it is fair to say he would never have had a problem being woken up by the early morning sun.

This is the view back out to the courtyard now. The wall where the bench and louvers are is the wall he had his bed against.

(You know how I've said I am always rearranging? Well, I've since turned the outdoor table so it runs the other way. I think it gives us a little bit more space outside.)

The louvers let an enormous amount of light - as well as breeze - into the kitchen. Even without the glass doors to the courtyard the kitchen would be full of natural light all during the day. It's beautiful to be in.

I used to keep my cookbooks on the benchtops, but because we don't have huge amounts of bench space I decided they would be better off out of the way on a shelf. Until we put in our permanent kitchen, this wall was just wasted space so it was the perfect spot.

This shot gives an idea of the 'temporariness' of the kitchen. Nothing is built in and the oven and dishwasher just sit side by side. The wooden board on top of the dishwasher is a handy bit of extra bench space for when I'm cooking. It's surprisingly functional for all its temporariness, so we're no longer in a rush to get something built in.

The wall above the oven has seen several incarnations and this is the current one. Puddleduck quite likes to get the blackboards down when I am cooking and doing some drawing. Which suits us both. Actually, I suspect part of the reason I quite enjoy our kitchen not being 'final' is that I get to change this wall whenever the mood takes me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gratuitous flower photos

I don't think it is any secret that I love flowers. They hold such happy memories for me. I remember visiting my grandparent's house and Grandad was always growing something. Every time I see gladioli or old fashioned single gerberas I think of him.

Similarly, my Dad has always grown roses, pansies, sweet peas, gladdies, chrysanthemums, carnations and a myriad of other plants and flowers. Even in the NQ heat and humidity he perseveres and our house was rarely without his beautiful blooms.

I think the first time I realised how beautiful hydrangeas were was when we visited my Uncle and Aunt in Melbourne when I was about 12. They had massive bushes out the front with huge heads of flowers. Gorgeous. I'm trying to grow my own now ... I've not killed them yet.

Peonies are another favourite. I love them at every stage of their unfurling. From tight buds to flopping petals revealing the bright yellow stamens. Our peony plant remains - shockingly - alive, although hasn't flowered since we've moved to Sydney. Poor thing.

Roses are so classic and David Austin roses are simply magical. They are both beautiful to look at and beautiful to smell. My local flower man always has some in stock and I can't resist them. The heady scent of rose in the mornings after the house has been closed up for the night is one of my favourite things. It's amazing how it wafts around the entire house - even outdoors.

Here is my own meagre rose offering. Our first crop of Pierre de Ronsard. They mightn't grow quite like weeds as they did in Canberra, but I hold out high hopes for my little roses this year.

Halloween ... and Christmas

Halloween doesn't seem as big in our new suburb as it did our old one, but we still managed to celebrate ourselves - and even carve our first pumpkin. Now that Halloween is over, however, it's definitely the countdown to Christmas.

I'm a huge Christmas tragic at the best of times, but the thought of our first Christmas in our new house is inordinately exciting. I'm struggling not to whip the decorations out right now and decorate the house.

It's our third Christmas in Sydney and the first we can actually use our big tree. Gosh I hope it hasn't gone all mouldy! Mr Puddleduck is - I suspect - heartily sick of me 'workshopping' ideas for where we should set it up. By workshopping I mean yammering at him about possible spots while pretending to take on board his thoughts. I mean I really am interested in his thoughts, but I just know he's not quite as fussed as I am.

There's no actual point to this post, just, you know, random excitement about Christmas!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Before and after - Bathroom

It's been a little while since I have done a before and after and as we finally discovered the photos we took before the strip out and demolition, I thought it was a good time for a bathroom before and after.

The agent described the room that became our main bathroom and ensuite as the house's kitchen. The basis for claiming it as a kitchen seems to be a strategically placed microwave and access to a sink just outside the room. It brings to mind contract law classes at uni when we learnt about 'mere puffery' in relation to the subject matter of a contract.

A more accurate description of the space is 'the panic room'. You'll see why in a minute.

This was the shelving that was dressed as the kitchen. To give the stylist who dressed the property for sale credit, the shelves were enticingly stacked with Le Creuset  pots as if to say "of course this is a real kitchen. It's full of fancy french cookware." Never mind that there was nowhere to actually cook.

This is the microwave that made the room a kitchen. Kind of them to leave it behind.

This is the ceiling in the room. It's padded. Yes, padded. Can you see the wiring in the top right hand corner? Now to be fair, I suspect it was used as a sound recording room, but you can see why I call it the panic room, can't you? Especially as the door couldn't easily have been knocked down to get into it from the outside.

This is the room now. Our main bathroom. No more padding on the ceiling and it's actually a functioning bathroom. As opposed to a non-functioning kitchen.

The vanity has replaced the shelves.

Instead of wiring as thick as your arm we have a shower.

And the bath now lives where the microwave used to.

Just a little bit different.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Belated anniversary

It's so far past the first anniversary of my 'mummy break' that it almost seems ridiculous to write a post about it, but I'm going to anyway. It's been too amazing a year not to mark it in some way.

Amidst cries of "you'll be bored to death in 6 weeks" I launched myself into stay-at-home-motherhood (I nearly wrote 'full-time motherhood' and then the old me smacked the new me over the head and reminded me that all mothers are full-time mothers). And I've loved it. Really loved it. I'm not sure if it was because I was finally ready for it, or because I've found Puddleduck's company to be even more amazing than I already thought it was or because I have found my inner domestic goddess (HA!) but I can honestly say I've never looked back. Well, unless you count the times I have told Puddleduck Mummy will go back to work if she doesn't stop carrying on (hey - I never said I was any good at this, just that I'm loving it).

What of Mr Puddleduck, I hear you ask. Well he's pretty content with the whole arrangement (my recent fixation with cooking the perfect steak may have something to do with this?). Despite snide remarks from some (you know who you are), he's benefited significantly as well. Without competing careers and hours in the office he has been able to do so much more this year than we could ever have expected. With a happy wife and happy daughter at home he gets to enjoy his time away from work without it being a whirl of bedtime battles, housework and organisation.

As for Puddleduck - and I don't claim to be responsible for much of this - she has grown into a sweet, delightful and utterly enchanting little girl. She's a magical combination of bright, whimsical and determined. It's been such a blessing to be able to spend the days with her - from the moment she wakes up until the moment she finally (FINALLY) loses her battle with the sandman at night. She's thriving at pre-school and has friends at every park. She is our joy.

While we have all been settling into our new roles, we've also been settling into our new house. It was a crazily huge project that wasn't without it's dramas but it's been absolutely worth it. Even with a master bedroom that is essentially a garage, a kitchen that is a few benches from IKEA and a deck that is finished with a coat of waterproof sealant and nothing more, we love being here. It suits us and perfectly reflects how we live. During the months we were in our rented house and not here it felt like we were in a weird sort of limbo. Now we're here it's like we've been here for years, and not just a few months. It just fits. We fit together. Mr Puddleduck and I, Puddleduck and our three crazy puppies.

We're all where we belong. Together.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Project: Mirror

A few Christmases ago Mr Puddleduck bought me a gorgeous mirror and eight weeks after moving in we finally decided on where to hang it - the downstairs living room. You wouldn't necessarily expect it to be a decision to warrant eight weeks of deliberation, but the mirror weighs a ton and there's no going back once you've drilled those industrial bolts into the wall.


Important measuring task.

More measuring. And marking.


This is boring.

Hanging - take one.

Uh-oh this isn't going well. I'm outta here.

Bringing in specialist equipment.

Holding breath ...

Project complete.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Look what I found

Peonies - in May! I might be an inner west convert, but I'm so pleased I made a pilgrimage to the east today. 'Twas a lovely surprise.

Of course I knew deep down they had to be imported - it's too deep into autumn even for late season peonies - so I ducked down to my local flower man to assuage my conscience (no really, it was totally to assuage my guilt. Nothing at all to do with flower greed).

And emerged with this lovely armful of hydrangeas, freesias and jonquils. Our house is now a veritable bower of floral gorgeousness. I'm going to be quite devastated when the hydrangeas eventually come to the end of their season. They've been simply beautiful this year.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A change

Now that our renovation is drawing to a close I thought it might be time for a few subtle changes to Puddleduck's Nest. I first started it as a journal of our renovations and to separate it a little from my other musings over on Puddleduck in the Big Smoke. As it turned out, the renovation left little time for musing so Big Smoke fell a bit by the wayside - rather like Puddleduck's Basket did when she started to grow up.


I've decided Puddleduck's Nest will become the new home of my random musings about our home, our life and our shopping. Well, my shopping.

I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Before, during and nearly done: downstairs living

Our downstairs living space (should we call it a rumpus room? I'm not sure) has changed fairly dramatically, although like the upstairs living space, we haven't fiddled too much with the basic shell.

This was the internal courtyard when we bought it. Off to the right is a planter box with some rather sorry looking plants and off to the left was a toilet and a "kitchen" that bore more resemblance to a panic room than a kitchen. Straight ahead is the bedroom that has become the main bedroom.

This is just before the wall under the airconditioner got knocked through to create the new hallway to run between the living space and the master bedroom. Originally you walked through the courtyard to get to the toilet, panic room kitchen and bedroom. Even with the weird grated walkway over the top it was hardly an all-weather thoroughfare.

I quite like this show because it shows the raw space and all the levels. There's a step up from the living room to the hallway and then another step up before you get into the master bedroom area. The steps help delineate the spaces somehow, even though they all flow.

Off to the left of the hallway is where the main bathroom and ensuite have gone in. Oh, and a teeny tiny laundry.

The space outside the entrance to the main bedroom is Mr Puddleduck's study - it looks quite small in this shot but has turned out to be quite a functional space. He enjoys that he can be a little bit removed from other goings on in the house, but can still be a little bit involved. He can see straight through to the downstairs living area, but can also see upstairs into the dining room and kitchen.

I took this shot on our first night in the house - you can see that the lights still haven't been popped back into the ceiling and the smoke alarm still has it's pretty plastic coat on. But, for the most part it is finished.

This is the view back into the living area from the top of the hallway. I love walking out of the bedroom in the morning with the bifold doors wide open and the morning-ness streaming in. Although as it has been getting cooler at night we've been keeping them closed and that makes it feel far cosier than you'd expect given all the concrete and glass.

Now if only my new rug from Etsy would arrive I could post some slightly more current shots :)