November 1, 2012

Minted Christmas 2012

I know it's only the 1st of November. But if you're a Christmas fanatic like me, you probably ordered your Christmas cards early last month. If not, I'd recommend heading over to Minted. Here's a sneak peak at their 2012 collection...


October 30, 2012

Halloween on Chambers


Okay, so I completely forgot to take photos of the Halloween party. Between the 220 cocktails and 10 kgs of hot food, I was a little busy in the kitchen. So I'm making do with a few blurry iPhone shots and a couple I snapped on Sunday after the clean-up (sorry!). The party was a hit, my candy jars survived an enthusiastic onslaught by the local kids, and we managed to make many a middle-aged farmer dress in Halloween costume.

Now, I'll just take a little breather before Christmas planning starts...

October 22, 2012

A demolition from Farmer Joe's iPhone...

I do some ridiculous things in the lead-up to hosting a big event (remember my pre-Christmas posts?). Most recently, I decided that the old pergola on the west wall of the house needed to be demolished and the area revamped before our Halloween party this weekend. As I was already committed to a girl's weekend in Sydney (such a hard life), Farmer Joe was left as Site Manager and captured the demolition on his iPhone...









So that's the demolition done. I'll post in the coming week to show you how the revamp comes together!

October 15, 2012

Halloween Party Planning

invitation by Minted
I live in a very small town and we need to make our own fun. So Halloween this year seemed like a good excuse to thrown a costume party. After (too) many hours on Pinterest, here's a sneak peak at some of what I've planned...


Clockwise from top left: Outdoor decorations will be simple; I've used this dancing skeleton stamp from Etsy on the invitation envelopes and also on the lolly bags; Carved jack-o-lanterns (using templates from Martha Stewart) will decorate the drinks tables; I've chosen this Putrid Prom Queen costume {here}; Nibbles and drinks will be Halloween themed (think Vampire's Kiss and Slime Fizz cocktails); Farmer Joe will be appearing as the Grim Reaper (and no Farmer Joe, you cannot use a real scythe - I've bought you a plastic one); the dining table will be turned into a Trick or Treat Candy Buffet for kids of all sizes.

Photos to follow!

October 9, 2012

If you haven't seen...


...Dering Hall's new feature on libraries, take a look {here}. I've said many times that the room I am most excited about creating in the House on Chambers will be the study/library. Frustratingly, it also looks set to be the last room we'll get to. For now, I'll just have to settle for appreciating these wood-panelled wonders...



October 4, 2012

Topiary for the shade (or, what not to do with English Box)

I've had some lovely emails and comments wondering why the blog has been so quite lately. I can assure you the renovation hasn't stopped! Farmer Joe and I have been slogging it out in the garden, and while the work is important, it isn't terribly bloggable. However, I've put together a couple of posts to show you some of the projects we've been working on.



Some of you may remember my dismay when the large and expensive English Box topiaries flanking our front door took a turn a few weeks before Christmas. Recently, a kind nursery staffer gave me some advice that I wish I had heard $400 ago: English Box won't grow in complete shade. To recreate the large topiary ball 'look' with a plant that would actually survive, she suggested Chinese Star Jasmine grown over a round chicken-wire frame. While I'm sure the finished product would look lovely, I don't fancy having chicken wire greeting me at the front door each day. So, I've up-scaled the idea and replaced the chicken-wire with rusted wire sculptures by Manning Sculptures.  



By securing the sculptures inside the pot and planting the Jasmine at the base, the vine will eventually grow to cover the ball completely. Meanwhile, we have a lovely and constantly changing piece of art to enjoy.

In other garden news, the first flowering trees we planted two and a half years ago are finally rewarding us with a spectacular display of blossoms...



It's a great time to be in the garden!

August 6, 2012

The wrong paint colour?


I am a little horrified to admit that two years into our renovation Farmer Joe and I are back agonising over paint colour. During our initial paint selection, Joe requested no white walls, preferring a warm neutral shade to create a homely feel. I conceded (a rare event, generally) and we painted the living areas and main bedroom with Dulux Hog Bristle Half. To be honest, the colour has always slightly bothered me. But I'd never considered changing it until out of the blue last week Farmer Joe suggested that maybe I'd been right about white walls all along (Yes Farmer Joe, consider this my very public I told you so!).


In our house, the Hog Bristle Half looks very dark in the south-facing living room and entrance where light is lacking. It throws yellow under the warm overhead lights at night, and there is a further yellow reflection from our oak floating floors. So, before we go ahead and paint the remaining half of the house, we'd like to get the first half right, and we're prepared to repaint to do it.


I've included some shots of the painted walls (taken in natural day light, so definitely at it's best), and I'd love to hear your opinions. Should we repaint? Are we mad? Am I being too heavily influenced by all the lovely white houses in the interiors mags? And most importantly, can you suggest a light, bright, but warm white or neutral that definitely won't throw yellow?


July 20, 2012

A (long awaited) kitchen chandelier...


After almost a year of blogging my search for a kitchen feature light, we finally have something in place that we're actually happy with! A quick recap - first I couldn't source what I wanted in Australia, then I bought a pendant and hated it when it was hung, then I found an orb chandelier that I loved, but it arrived with a very strange brown splotchy finish (like this...)


But when the retailer offered it to me at cost price, I decided to take a risk and try respraying it myself. Farmer Joe hung the light in the hay shed for spraying...


Apparently anything involving spray cans is farmer's work, because I wasn't allowed anywhere near the light while it was being undercoated...

If you look very closely, Farmer Joe's top is inside out. He just isn't a morning person...
...or when it was being top-coated (with Dulux Whisper White). This was our first time using a spray unit, and I would highly recommend buying one. Just a few tips - buy a good quality unit, be sure to dilute the paint correctly, and always do a few quick sprays before aiming at your target to clear blockages. We 'borrowed' a young apprentice electrician who was doing some work on the farm power lines, and we finally had a light!





Notice how I've avoided showing the entire right side of the kitchen? That's because we STILL haven't replaced the old brown aluminium window! Just waiting for the weather to warm up a little...

July 19, 2012

The lost children of Hazel Dell...


Several months ago, a neighbour discovered an old local newspaper clipping detailing the disappearance of a five-year-old boy from a paddock on his father's property, and outlining other child disappearances earlier in the history of the area. Realising that the area described in the article included part of our cropping block Hazel Dell, our neighbour gave a copy of the article to us. Here is a summary of the history described...

The hill described in the article, called 'Muckeroo-Kertoo' by the aboriginal population before white settlement
On September 2 1888, five-year-old Thomas Carson disappeared while playing in an open paddock about a quarter of a mile from his home. His father, Robert Carson, was rabbiting nearby in direct line of sight with the area where Thomas was playing. The paddock was described as "open park-like land, well grassed [and with] no scrub". Initially assuming that the boy had returned home, it was one hour before Robert Carson became concerned and sought the assistance of nearby neighbours, who then spent "about nine hours searching and coo-ee-ing in all directions, and only gave in after being thoroughly worn out after midnight"The next morning the search party was joined by nearby landowners, local police, aboriginal trackers and about 25 horsemen from a local station. Twelve days of searching failed to find any sign of Thomas Carson.


The hill as seen from the Hazel Dell property. The Hazel Dell ruin can be seen in the foreground.
The article goes on to state... "There is a round hill about 150 feet high, close to where the boy was missed, called by the natives 'Muckeroo-Kertoo'". The hill is identified as the scene of an earlier child disappearance. In 1872, a young boy, identified only as the son of a boundary rider named Mason, was lost without a trace despite extensive searching by local settlers.


Further, the local aboriginal population at the time reported a history of their children disappearing from the site. At the time of early settlement, the hill was the focus of an aboriginal legend -"The natives say their picaninnies {children} also disappeared from there, and have a superstition that a bird about six feet high, with legs as thick as a black-fellow's, used to make periodical visits [to] 'Muckeroo-Kertoo'... and that its presence in the neighbourhood had something to do with the disappearance of the young aboriginals"

A second settler's cottage immediately south of the hill, also abandoned
Several years after Thomas Carson's disappearance, his cousins Jack and William found his hat in the scrub about three miles from the spot where he was last seen. No trace of Thomas himself, or the other missing children, was ever found.

July 18, 2012

Here's to Mums who sew!

Sorry Mum, I should have ironed the covers before I blogged!
A big thanks to my Mum for making these new dining chair slipcovers to replace the old cat-scratched beige linen ones. The strong cotton canvas seems to be enough to deflect Belly the Ragdoll's claws, and the crisp white helps to brighten the space. The room isn't finished yet - the art is only temporary while I plan a large and vibrant Stephen Trebilcock inspired still life for the rear wall. But at least it's respectable for now, and just in time for my birthday dinner this weekend...



Thanks Mum!

July 16, 2012

The ruin on Hazel Dell...


Just a few kilometres down the road from the House on Chambers is our third farm, Hazel Dell, and a ruined settlers cottage tucked away in a tangle of old fruit trees. Every time Farmer Joe and I visit this spot, we find ourselves daydreaming about restoring this little stone house. Perhaps it's because we hate to see old homes left to ruin, or maybe we just can't take off our 'renovator goggles', but we can imagine this place as a fully restored guest house. Come and take a look around...


Remnants of the original garden still remain. These bulbs sprout every year, with no attention or encouragement from anyone.


The stone work is terribly damaged, with extensive salt-damp, but simple decorative features around the doors and windows are still visible.


The wraparound veranda is wide and generous (though very close to falling in completely - I was a little nervous standing under it for this shot).


The fruit trees around the house fruit prolifically every year. Farmer Joe's parents and our neighbours come down to pick fruit every Summer. (We startled a very fat fox while taking this shot, so I suppose the property isn't entirely uninhabited).


I wasn't brave enough to venture inside (there is an enormous beehive inside the roof, and the buzzing is enough to scare off most sensible people), and this was the best interior shot I could take while leaning in the front door. The house still has dirt floors and many of the original doors (and some very old furniture) are discarded inside. However, the ceilings are wonderfully high, and every room has an open fire with a stout chimney. I can imagine this room with the walls sandblasted back to stone, pale oak floors, recessed down-lighting and a fire roaring in the restored fireplace.


Farmer Joe's favourite feature of the house is this tiny old 50 sheep shearing shed...


The shearing shed is filled with lovely strong rustic features like these double doors (below), and I would love to find a way to recycle them so they don't go to waste...


And the floor is littered with little treasures like these old packing crates (although when I spotted these yesterday, I wondered why I'd paid $20 each for something similar from a vintage store)...


We know nothing about the history of the house, and I do wonder when and why it was abandoned. However, we do know a little about the history of the property and surrounding area. It has a mysterious and slightly creepy history that a neighbour recently discovered in a newspaper report from the late 1800's, but that will have to wait for another post...

P.S. I am thrilled to have my little blog featured on the Decorating Forum this week (thanks JA!). If you haven't visited the Decorating Forum before, the site is a wonderful resource for discussing all things building, home decorating, renovating and interior design - head on over for a look!


July 9, 2012

From larder to walk-in-robe...


This little before and after may be modest, but it does deserve points for practicality. When we first moved onto Chambers, the main bedroom (then an office) had an en-suite but no clothes storage. Conveniently, a built-in larder came off the laundry and abutted the bedroom wall, making for an easy conversion into a walk-in-robe.


Before
After gutting the space, we flipped the door from the north to the south wall (so that it now opened into the bedroom) and installed a simple flat-pack fit-out.

After
The hardest part of the process was finding reasonably priced wicker baskets for the top shelf (if you're looking, they're on sale now at Howard's Storage). And after eighteen months of getting dressed in the guest bedroom every morning, a walk-in-robe suddenly feels like a lovely piece of luxury...