Monday, April 09, 2012

Things I'd rather like

Image from Empirical Style.

These pendant lights from Empirical Style. They have a few cage colours to choose from (or you can get any colour custom done for like, $12 extra), and about a million cord colours. I love how flexible they are - no need to call in an electrician, just plug them into a wall socket and run them to where you want them, and stick a cuphook in the wall (or even a 3M sticky hook, if you're renting). And because they have no base, like a standard lamp does, they can fit in spots too tight for a floorlamp. I'm seriously saving my pennies for a pair to use as bedside lamps (red cages, gold cords, custom). But I'd also like a clump of three to put in the corner of the living room where I've always wanted some mood lighting, but there's no room for a lamp (I have my eye on the galah colourway, but I suspect BCB would put his foot down over the pink). I also want another set to brighten up my study (which has only a south-facing window under a verandah, and thus has been crying for extra lighting ever since we moved in).

Image from, where you can buy these.

These recycled wool/ polyester blankets from Waverley Woolen Mills. I love how they look like army blankets, but with some colour. And the price is fantastic. I really wish we had a spare bed for one of these - given my collection of doona covers, quilted cotton blankets and crocheted wool rugs, there is just no room at all on our bed.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Frugal February

A little before Christmas I went on a real spending bender. It probably wasn't terribly dire in the scheme of spending benders, but I was buying a lot of stuff, and our savings were suffering. Around the same time the compulsive late-spring cleaning urge hit me (it happens most years - after spring, but in early summer). The constant acquisition wasn't lining up with my attempts to clear out my wardrobe.

And it occurred to me, as I sorted out my desk drawer and unearthed some stationery I didn't even know that I had, that there's something kind of incredible and awful about owning so many Things that I could actually own Things I didn't even know about.

This spawned a very vague sounding resolution. That 2012 would be the Year of Less Stuff. Part of the reason is that I find it quite confronting to say people that I don't want to consume so much. But that's what it is. We've rejigged the budget so that my play money (disposable income) that is still luxurious by student standards, but is a mere 2/5ths of my old play money allowance.

I've tried sticking to a similar budget before and really struggled. So I'm joining in Frugal February (though this whole year is intended to be frugal) with enthusiasm. This time, so far, I've not had a problem. The difference has been that this time round every time I've had the "I want!" feeling, I've countered it with a real, genuine consideration of whether I "need" it, and whether I could just buy it another day. Pretty much always the answer is "no" and "yes."But it's always nice to know what other people are doing something similar. A community always makes things easier.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

TomTom Letterbox

I have a massive crush on the TomTom letterbox by DesignByThem. How I wish our fence accommodated a horizontal letterbox. Because it's stupid vertical railings like a Ye Olde Fashionedy Wrought Iron Pool Fence we need to have a vertical box clipped to the railings.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Window film

Frosted lower panels, clear upper panels.

Our old house is a little peculiar in that the boundaries of our property on two sides are the external walls of our house, but we aren't butted up against any other houses. On one side is the driveway we share with the matching house next door. On the other side, unfortunately, is the car park to the unit block that was built in the 1980s following the bulldozing of two more old houses like ours.

So our kitchen unit looks out onto a giant expanse of bitumen. To the right was quite a pretty herb garden tended by one of the unit block tenants, but that brought with it its own problems. Namely people tending to or hanging out in the garden, less than a foot away from where I was scrubbing dishes or preparing breakfast. It was weird. Plus sometimes if one of the neighbours wanted to have a chat with BCB they'd knock on the kitchen window if they saw either of us in the kitchen. Friendly, but... a touch intrusive. As a result we kept an ugly vinyl rollerblind down nearly all the time.

Window film is not very common in Australia, where most people have houses with fences, rather than apartment windows onto a solid brick wall, so it took me ages to think of it. But it's the perfect fix. I looked around online, and found most of the options were custom designs that were quite expensive. We ended up at Bunnings, where $30 bought us the only roll of privacy film left on the shelf.

Little rectangley-flowery shapes show up at night when the carpark lights are one. Pretty!

I wanted plain frosted, but had no choice but this kind of geometric floral. Luckily, I think I like it even better than plain. It was relatively easy to apply. I definitely recommend going heavy on the water/ dishwashing liquid spray. It made it a lot easier to move the film around to start with. Also I'd recommend checking on it a couple of hours after application. We found a couple of new air bubbles had developed, but the glue was still just tacky enough that we could squeeze them out still.

We caught a couple of bits of grit under the film, and have one crease in panel, but given that the windows are four square feet each, I think that's not bad. Took only an hour or so from measuring the windows to finish. Hopefully it will hold up okay, but so far I'm a massive fan. The sun can peek in our kitchen again, but not the neighbours.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

food from the garden

so many peas! We picked the same amount again two days later.

It's harvest time around here! The sugar snap peas are going crazy, the asparagus thinks it's Spring, and the lettuce and silverbeet is doing well. We picked all of this to take to a dinner party on Saturday. Wilted silverbeet with asparagus and peas (and homegrown lemon juice and purchased butter); and a salad of homegrown lettuce, grapefruit from dad's tree, pomegranate seeds and chestnuts.

I let the asparagus go for a bit long, I think.

Homegrown asparagus is definitely worth it, and ours are doing very well growing in pots!

A bowl of colourful lettuce.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Coffe table shopping in Melbourne

The Coffee Table of Blah, circa Christmas 2009. See the annoying raised edges?

I've been keeping half an eye out for a coffee table for, like ever. Ever since I moved in with BCB our coffee table is a hand-me-down with a broken leg that we superglued back together. It's not the ugliest thing in the world, but it's kind of cheap-looking and squat. More irritatingly, there are little ridges around the edges of the table top, which makes wiping it clean of dust and grit a nightmare. All the grot of an old house and two shedding dogs accumulates in the corners.

I have some specific needs. I want something made of quality materials, that will last in our hands or someone else's (this rules out Ikea. Soz, Ikea). That said, I want something that I'm not too afraid to get a little bit used. See references to table-grot above. It needs to be quite small, to fit on our small living room (this rules out almost every new coffee table - where are all the castles and palaces that must be Domayne's target market?), and for the same reason something that has a light and airy feeling would be good. The legs must not prevent free passage under the table. We have two dogs that play chasey round the room, and one of them will just plough into objects irrespective of whether he fits under or past them. Also for this reason, despite looking airy, the table must have a little bit of weight to it. A little bit of storage (shelf, drawers, whatever) would be awesome. Oh, and I'd like it a touch taller than the usual coffee table. At 40cm tall the current one is just at our-dogs'-nose-height, which makes it dangerous to leave tea and biscuits unguarded.

I am crazy for this rosewood coffee table from Twenty21, but it's already sold.

I'm think a mid-century-ish coffee table likely fits my long and exacting bill, but have not yet seen The One. In October I'm headed to Melbourne (in fact, I will be forth and back from That Rainy City quite a few times over the next couple of years), and it's occurred to me to spend the free weekend I have there searching for a coffee table.

I think I have Grandfather's Axe and Twenty21 on the list. Is there anywhere else I should be heading? And is it wrong to put a dark wood furniture on a jarrah floor?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

rose prunings


The last of the roses. These are actually the buds and flowers that were pruned off by my mama this afternoon when she cut the bushes back for their dormant time. I still get her to prune my roses, because I have no idea what I'm doing. The prunings look so wild and wintery on the kitchen table. And they smell good too. Camp David variety. Drought tolerant, generous with flowering, strongly perfumed, and the new growth comes through burgundy-coloured. Highly recommended.

Friday, August 05, 2011

crimson flowering broad beans

They're behind chookwire because SmallDog(TM) finds the raised bed manure irresistible.

When we were living at our old place, and we had no money to improve the sand that passed for soil, the only thing I successfully grew was broad beans. Down the path at the side of the house. Don't know what I did to make them work out (not much else did), but ever since then they've been a favourite.

When I saw that Diggers Club offered crimson flowering broad beans, I had to have a go. I bought a packet for our neighbours, for my mum, and for me. They're expensive - only 12 beans in a packet. And sadly, I didn't let my raised bed rest properly before I got all gung ho about my beans, and I burned the first nine in some undiluted chicken manure. Damn.

But I carefully planted out the remaining three beans, and have been rewarded with these amazing magenta coloured flowers. The plants are nowhere near as tall as the aquadulce variety I've previously grown. Mine are taller than mum's and the neighbour's (I obviously have a magic beanstalk touch. Just call me Jack). Unfortunately, they're a bit hidden behind some sugar snap peas that got a little bit out of control. Lucky I took this photo, to prove that they exist. Definitely pretty little things. And the number of flowers is amazing! If they all pod up we'll have a bumper crop.

Which is just as well, because given the price, I want to save some of this season's seed!

I've only just seen all the other beautiful coloured-flowering beans that Digger's Club have... I might have to find some space in the new bed for a painted lady, a sunset, or something scarlet.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

More Trove updates

Because I can't get enough of researching the history of my place. I found, via our local Council website that the land in our area was released as part of an estate in the mid-1890s. So I tried searching Trove for the estate name. With some great results! In order to release the land, the joint venture had to go to court to have some Chinese market gardeners who had been squatting in the area evicted. The joint venture won. Shortly after the estate was released, a white man was charged with assaulting an Aboriginal woman who lived in a camp near the estate. He chose to go to jail rather than pay a £3 fine. She was fined a few shillings for public drunkeness. And according to a letter to the editor, there was quite a problem with the local pub (long since gone) letting its rubbish pile fester!

When we first got our house, it seemed like countless numbers of people could have lived in it. Being able to trawl the papers and see the actual names, and you start to realise how few families have h

Friday, July 29, 2011

First asparagus

Last winter I bought two asparagus crowns. Because we didn't have any garden beds ready, I put them in a pot (in a 50/50 blend of potting mix and straight manure) and hoped for the best. Every time I was doing something else in the garden, they got a handful of compost or manure or a bit of seasol. Asparagus are apparently heavy feeders. They did extremely well in their pots! You aren't supposed to eat the spears the first year, so I let them all grow into tall, ferny fronds. More and more shoots kept popping up - even well into early Autumn!

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I decided that the fronds looked dead enough to cut back - as you're supposed to do with asparagus in winter. Only a couple of days later, one of the crowns had some little shoots peeping up through the dirt. It's supposed to be dormant! Well, a couple of days of heavy rain and those little shoots were over a foot long! So I decided enough was enough, and cut two for eating.

We've nibbled on the woody stem end in that photo. Couldn't help it. They taste amazing - like the best bought asparagus I've had, only sweeter. We'll be eating these on pizza, along with the homegrown silverbeet and some brie. Yum.

Conclusion: Perth is quite the place for asparagus to grow.