This weekend….Salvaging Building Materials and Junk!

Warning – sheer grunge follows!!

There is no gardening going on here this weekend but Roger is busy, busy. Most of our materials for outside have been salvaged from somewhere or another and a couple of weeks ago Roger heard about a new vineyard going in next to the farm where he works. To make way for it they are pulling down old shearing sheds and yards with hundreds of metres of timber fencing. Roger went around to see the contractor and told him he was interested in some timber for both fences and gates (we have to fence off the whole garden which would be no small cost if we were to buy it new) The guy took his number then rung him last night to come and take whatever he wanted because it is going to be demolished on Monday.

We went around last night to see if we wanted anything other than the fencing he had seen,  these fences you see at the side go for miles and some will be coming here. They aren’t as old as some of the timber. this building is between 80 -100 years old.

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Gates galore.IMG_3910

And 3 sets of these cute old indoor swinging gates (I have no idea what we are going to do with those!)

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And really old gates covered in lichen which Roger will make something with, but a mountain of these.IMG_3914

Inside is a long feed trough made from a really heavy old wood. It’s about 8 foot long and will go in front of the house for plants.

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This old hand basin doesn’t look flash all grubby but it’s a fabulous old thing, much bigger than a usual hand basin, there is no damage to it anywhere. We both liked it and are hoping we can use it downstairs.

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Some old cubby shelves.

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And there were treasures that were nothing at all to do with timber or fittings. Roger bought these home – they are interesting! Not good for anything but looking tatty somewhere 🙂

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Tomorrow our carport will be full of what to anyone else (yes, I know what you are thinking! lol) but to us all of it has potential. It needs a damn good clean, but this represents a huge saving on building materials for us. On top of that we get a pile of junk we cetainly don’t need but can do something with. I am not even going to show the old cupboard because everyone will think we are madder than we really are. Maybe one day 🙂 🙂

If you don’t ask you don’t get and Roger will ask if he knows something is going to be thrown out or burned (me, no, I won’t ask) But I am just thinking of a conversation we had with a young guy here about 6 months ago. When they moved here he couldn’t find work and things were pretty grim for him and his family. He saw a farmer getting his sheep in one day while they were out driving. He stopped the car, bolted the fence and bowled up to the farmer asking if he did 2 days work could he have a sheep to eat. The farmer didn’t hesitate and he got the animal butchered by the farmer all ready for the freezer.

During the week the old church down the road was pulled down, it was damaged too much in last years earthquakes. We didn’t know until later but I imagine (I certainly HOPE) that they managed to save the lovely old windows and some of the timber.

Home and Garden….

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The garden: 

The back yard is just a muddy mess and Roger has been clearing out dead plants and started pruning. Something that desperately needed doing is a huge macrocapa (a type of cedar) hedge than runs the length of the property down one side. It’s just got higher and higher over the years and has got to the stage where it truly needed to be reined in, it’s keeping way too much sun of both house and garden. It’s just a big job worthy of a great deal of procrastination but he bit the bullet and started.

At the beginning

At the beginning

Out of the second story bedroom window

Out of the second story bedroom window

  The raised garden out the front, the only garden we can grow in over winterIMG_3678

What most of the property is looking like, straggly and on it’s way to bareIMG_3683

I took this at 7 am yesterday morning off the front porch… a most beautiful sky before a dismal day.IMG_3674

The kitchen: Very little going on here apart from meals but I have been busy elsewhere. We grew out of our small kitchen summer of last year and Roger fitted out an old unused laundry on the middle floor for a larder. That has become too small too, once we put all the shelves for jars and 2 freezers in there was little room for anything else. There were all sorts of things that needed storing somewhere else.large selection of jars, brewing stuff, appliances…. so, I have emptied a small bedroom (actually our junk room) as far as possible and put everything in there. Several trips to thrift shops and the dump later we are organised!

House: Honestly, we seem to do everything the hard waysometimes ! We have hideous carpet. It’s 40 years old, stained, full of holes and getting worse, and regularly needs shampooing. We have mats everywhere. For 2 years we have been trying to find second-hand carpet but our lounge is longer than many and we have a staircase as well. Nothing would fit. We thought of used rimu floorboards but they are expensive and don’t come up often – this would’ve meant years of hoarding it somewhere to eventually get enough.

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It doesn’t look bad in this photo but this is a good area, it’s had it. Before we painted the lounge we considering buying new carpet but then decided to just put up with what we have. So lounge painted, everything put back in and up and NOW we decide we will buy new. A local firm has 18 months interest free and good reduced prices so, in 3 weeks we have to empty out the lounge and dining room and put all downstairs for one day while they lay it.

One of our best buys ever – curtains:

When we moved here our lounge  had stippled ceilings, pink and silver floral wallpaper and chocolate brown worn curtains – they were so worn one fell apart in my hands when I was pulling them one day. Large curtains are terribly expensive and we needed 3 large sets including a full length pair that goes most of the way across the front of our room. It took us almost a year of waiting but some came up on our national internet auction site in the next town. Sometimes people will just have a Buy Now option and if you keep an eye out (and get in quick) you get a bargain.We got a houselot of curtains and steel rails for $50. They wouldn’t have been anywhere near our first choice if buying new but a whole lot better than what we had.

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We had curtains in the other rooms so we just needed the living areas to fit…put them up and we are happy with how they look now, in fact the colours in our curtains lend themselves to the more traditional type of stuff that we like.IMG_3695

We thought we would put all the other curtains and rails on the same auction site to get rid of them. They all ended up selling for nearly $200.

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I bring up the curtains now because I have a really weird thing going on about having to buy new carpet!! I don’t want to spend money each week for 18 months to pay for it. I am not being miserly about it (or am I? lol) about it but hoped for better options, sometimes they just don’t present themselves!

Making new from old….and homemade Mod Podge

A month or so ago I showed a little cupboard I had started repainting, one that my son almost threw out. I wanted to turn it in to something my granddaughter might like but or I would rather have inside (depending on how it turned out!) then I didn’t like my paint job 🙂 I decided to decoupage it. Anyway this is it before:Image

My husband pinched a short length of cane from the back of a cane bookcase to replace the missing one, I painted it, covered it, attacked it with sandpaper to shabby it up a bit and applied a couple of coats of Mod Podge.Image

Mod Podge is a horrific price here in New Zealand – $20 for a wee pot of it. As I have never tried the real stuff I have nothing to compare the results with but from my very unexperienced eye I am happy with the surface.

Mod Podge:

1 cup Elmer’s or PVA Glue

1/2 cup cold water

2 tablespoons clear varnish

Mix all together and store in glass jar.

The price for much more than a jar or Mod Podge was around $3.

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I love the look of rusty barbed wire and old timber. Rustic and shabby are my favourite styles in decorating…which is good because it’s cheap, or sometimes free. Overall though I guess you could say we are eclectic collectors of junk 🙂 Roger works on a farm that has heaps of discarded “materials” everywhere so he brings home bits and pieces sometimes.

6 months ago he made me this kitchen shelf to hold bigger things I had no storage for. It was made from old farm gates and posts.Image

And a few weeks back he made me this 🙂

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And maybe everyone will wonder why on earth I love this but I have no idea….I just DO love it. We went to help someone clean up their section around 5 years ago. They own an old country pub/cafe and this was in a skip. It was much bigger and is solid wood and quite weathered. Much to my husband’s consternation I asked if I could have it for the kitchen wall. He cut it down for me to fit but it’s still very large. It came down in the quakes and we are about to put it back up.

About as eclectic as it gets adding this to the bunch lol

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Home, lavender products and the absolute best of market finds!

After 2 weeks of cold and rain we have a most beautiful autumn day here so I popped out and took some photos of the “hood” 🙂

This photo shows our wee valley, we are in the first row of houses opposite the vineyard and amongst trees.

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New Zealand, home to 4 million people and over 30 million sheep 🙂

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Winter is creeping up.

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We managed to finish our lounge but haven’t finished putting everything back or all the pictures back up. This is it though, it’s actually a pale coffee colour which isn’t showing very well. We are really happy with it. It ended up costing around $290 to de-stipple the ceilings, replaster and finish/paint, put in downlights and paint the walls, windows etc. A big job for Roger but I did help with the painting and the shifting of way too much “stuff”

Before:

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After:

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Last weekend we had to go to Nelson for Roger to attend an apt and got there early to have a look around the markets. It was only 30 minutes before they were due to pack up and I asked one woman how much she was asking for some cake tins and a retro dinner set  – just being nosy really as I thought they would be too expensive. “Fill a bag for $1, I don’t want to take this stuff home” she said handing me a pile of supermarket bags. After a brief discussion with me clarifying she actually DID want people to take this stuff for so little…she then put the cake tins inside each other so we could fit more in a bag, we ended up with all this for $4.

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 And some shameless advertising for my sister 🙂 Jan owns a lavender farm in Carterton and have offered to put an ad here for her for any Kiwis interested in purchasing lavender oils or products from her directly. She sells oils. soaps, hand creams and lavender pillows and can be found at lavenderabbey. Look at her gorgeous dog Rene!

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There is very little going on in the garden right now, but Feijoas and Figs still coming thick and fast. Job today!

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Our Easter Weekend….Redecorating!

Roger has had 5 days off work over the Easter hols and most of it has been spent moving furniture then plastering, sanding, plastering and sanding till he’s happy with the finish….then installing down lights and now we are ready to start cleaning up to start painting. When we bought this place the lounge looked like this……Pink and silver embossed wallpaper, the most horrid stippled ceilings and classic early 80’s brass light fittings. Just awful, but not as bad as the rest of the house lol.Image

We redecorated all the other rooms over the first few years but it was 4 years before we got onto the lounge – actually Roger started it about 2 months before we got married – it never got finished! After he undercoated it I got home from work one night to find this on the wall. It was supposed to be painted over a few days later but we run out of time and had to put everything back for the wedding.

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So – lol, we have had that on our wall for 3 years, it’s the joke of everyone we know. We would have done all this sooner but our lounge is large, the finish on the previously stippled ceiling was awful and Roger is no plasterer but we just never have got the money together to pay for a professional. Since then of course we have had upteen thousand earthquakes which left a whole lot of cracking. It desperately needed doing so we just started (I say we, I moved everything I could out, Roger has done the rest) He’s done a great job, it’s all set to paint…he has gone over it and over it till he’s happy. And he installed the down lights which look really good.Image

The down lights he bought at a garage sale 6 months ago – $10 for 8, still in box. The plaster he bought last year also at a garage sale, a large bucket for nix. The wiring for the lights from his collection of materials he acquires/finds and hoards in the basement, ceiling paint left over from rest of house. Basically all we had to buy was the wall and window paint and a few new brushes, masking tape. I think we have spent about $280 to redo the lounge…. but a whole lot of time.

We also had to get a freezer into it’s rightful place. No small feat given it had to go downstairs and he only had me to “help”. I tell you something, I think I must be married to the most stubborn (he calls it tenacity) person I know. He wouldn’t bother anyone he knew to help move it down a flight of steps…or help him when we got it stuck in the doorway 🙂 We measured it, it would fit if the door came off. So, he removes the door, it would JUST fit. The doorway had a bow in it down the bottom, so….!

Roger giving me the thumps up “It’s ok, we’ll get do it!”

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After 15 minutes of stuckedness, with him on one side, me on the other insisting we get someone to help because we do have a large freezer stuck in a doorway, he came up with an idea because “It SHOULD fit!”. He climbs over, puts olive oil down each side of the doorway, pulls it back up toward him, shoves a trolley under it, wedges himself between it and the wall and pushes like crazy. I walked away because I just had visions of the freezer crashing to the ground.

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No accidents, just a freezer safely through the doorway and a beaming husband telling me I have little faith.

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All filled with food from the garden 🙂

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Anyways, that has been our Easter weekend, I hope you have all enjoyed yours 🙂

Rain, rain and more rain

The past 4 days it has just rained. After months of none at all we have quickly become a quagmire in the garden, it’s been cold and miserable.

Garden:

Roger made a feed tray for the chooks from an old paddling pool frame (from his “collection of useful junk”) The fence is really high and a bit awkward for me to undo so I generally tip food over it, ok when it’s dry but not when muddy.Image

Before any bale of peastraw gets to the garden the chooks get to enjoy it for a while, pecking insects out and whatever out.

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Roger has been repotting boysenberry plants that have rooted. Shoots self root and can be cut from the parent plantImage

He took this photo to show me his wonderful compost under his 2 yr old branches left in a pile down the back of the garden.

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This is a carrot he left to go to seed. He hasn’t done this before but instead of collecting them he prepared some earth then shook the large seedheads everywhere. He is hoping they grow this way….?Image

Kitchen:

Shameful bragging – look at the size of our figs this year!! This is a decent sized avocado next to this one.Image

I have been drying any excess as they come in, there is not enough yet to bottle. Figs really only last a day or two before they spoil, we had our first meal of buckwheat pancakes, bacon and honey grilled figs and it was good!!!!Image

Drying herbs at the same timeImage

Making more chutney and a large jar of onions.Image

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I keep a pail of wild bird seed on the porch and mix it with fat left in the roasting tin for the birds, the chooks also love it. This mix costs $7 for a large bag at the supermarket but a local seed and grain place sells it for only $3.30.  Apparently irresistible to a certain cat.Image

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Home:

A month or so ago I wrote a post about thoughts of leaving here. We have each decided we want to stay put 🙂 We’re too old to start over and we are rooted here when it comes down to it 🙂 We have thoughts of how we can earn some income from here but won’t mention those just now, a “one-day plan”. Next weekend, Easter, we are going to repaint the lounge after leaving it undercoated for rather a long time.

This bird’s nest is too tiny to catch a decent photo but we were amused to find it when Roger cut down the trees at the back. In the earthquakes last year our hot water cyclinder burst. We replaced it and Roger pulled the old one to bits to get a most lovely copper inner out. It was insulated with old wool that he put in a sack, this nest was made with some of it 🙂

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This has been sitting on our front porch for ages, my son was going to throw it out. I grabbed it but never did like the black of it and one piece of cane was missing from the front. Image

I got bored the other day and decided to repaint this. Roger plucked a piece of cane from the back of a cane bookcase to fill the gap. I am not doing a great job but it will be better I hope than before…maybe? maybe not 🙂

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Anyway, I think that’s all this week from Quarteracre. Keep warm those in the Southern Hemisphere and enjoy your Spring those in the Northern 🙂

Garden and Simple Sprays, Preserving Autumn Foods…Pets

Garden:This week has been super busy with all sorts, neither of us has barely stepped into the garden except for feeding chooks, turning hoses on etc. Last weekend Roger cut down many of the boundary trees, left a few others thinned so today he is tidying up all of this, chopping larger wood for firewood, smaller wood for kindling. The rest will be put in a large pile till the leaves fall off for the garden. Then, in the middle of winter he will burn the rest in the middle of the yard and spread the ash. This photo is deceptive, it’ a mess and there is a ton of tree material to dispose of.

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Two simple sprays we use in the garden are milk for moulds on zucchini, cucumbers etc and garlic spray for aphids and other pests.

The milk spray for mould is 1 cup of milk, 2 tsps baking soda and one litre of water, shake and use use as spray. This is very effective

The garlic spray for pests is generally older garlic left over from the previous season. Peel garlic cloves and put in blender with water. Strain well, pour into bottle and add a wee squirt of dish washing liquid. Top with water. There must be enough garlic to be pungent. This is brown in the photo as we added worm tea as other bugs don’t like the smell of worm tea. This also acts as a foliage feed.Image

Today I will be picking blackberries, zucchini, apple cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, broccoli, the remainder of the cranberries and harvesting carrots and beetroot. The figs are nearly ready, yippee, except we get simply hundreds and they will need to be bottled but these are nearly our favourite crop and we eat them all ways.

Kitchen:

A friend gave me a small box of pears so most of them were bottled. I don’t have a canning kit so we use the overflow method as is most common in NZ with fruits. Image

I had to buy tomatoes as well this year. I have enough for sauces etc but not enough to freeze for tomato puree for pasta sauces and cooking. As we don’t know what sprays have been used I also wash in a sink of water with vinegar added to clean off any chemicals. Sauce tomatoes are cheap in summer and I got these for $1 a kilo.

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I have made around 20 of these packets for the freezer with more needed still. The fruit just chopped roughly, boiled in a pan till quite

concentrated then processed briefly in whiz so still a little chunky.

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Preserving pepper / capsicums. We did not grow these 🙂 Our green ones are coming on slowly (summer was not a great one) and I will be freezing them as they come for stuffing later in year. These coloured ones generally sell for around $1.30 each in late summer but I have been on the look out for cheaper. A town vege shop had them for sale for $1.29 for bags of three assorted colours. Also soaked before using .

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The recipe for peppers in olive oil can be found here, thank you Backyard Farmer! They are simple but require a bit of time to slice. Quickly bring to boil in a mixture of boiling water, vinegar and seasoning, drain and pack in jars with olive oil.

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A bonus is lots of seeds to dry and plant next year.IMG_3411

A dessert we have often is Berry Claffouti. Berries placed in a dish, sugar sprinkled over and a light but yummy batter poured over and baked. This is a favourite here and much enjoyed by quests. If making it just for us I will use yogurt but for visitors it is made a little more richer by the use of homemade ricotta using strained yogurt (or bought cream cheese if short on time)Image

Another bottle of berry liqueur was made, this time a mix of blackberries, raspberries and cranberries. No photo taken 🙂

Home:

This week we had to have our old dog put to sleep. Bob was 19 and was sick and had dementia.This photo was taken 6 years ago when we got him. Bob was then called Clyde and his owner was going into a hospice and needed to find other owners for him quickly. Friends of ours mentioned we would probably take him and though I wasn’t too convinced I wanted him he sat on my knee and gave me a big cuddle when we visited them….yep, we were sold 🙂IMG_0870

I had never much cared for Foxy’s but Bob was a character and endeared himself quickly. He was a great companion and is now buried in the garden along with Basil, my 15 year old “baby”.

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 When Basil died we got another dog from the SPCA. “Bree”. She had to be put down 4 months later as she had cancer. She was a beautiful dog, one that had been mistreated but was so lovable it was devastating to lose her. Didn’t even get a photo of her, she was silver and cream and a staffy cross.

So, we still have Syd, a hulking great farm dog who sleeps on the couch and gives huge bear-like cuddles. He is the cuddliest dog you could ever meet, I am sure.IMG_3178

I have virtually always had a dog and always will, there is no greater love and loyalty than that of a dog 🙂

And we now have mittens who is happier to be able to come upstairs now the demented, geriatric who used to chase him away has now gone!IMG_3130