Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chapter 11: Old man pants to ants-pants and other rants

Since we last blogged many of you would have lit your fires for the first time, worn those tragically daggy yet oh so cosey thermals under your pilly tracky dacks and slipped on a your favourite old crosbys or uggs. Up here in the mountains the colder nights are just starting to set in and Noah experienced his first open fire in our outdoor fire place. We all sat around for the bedtime stories; he and Georgia were thrilled.

What to plant for Autumn
With the onset of  the cooler weather and shorter days things in the garden are slowing down. That's not to say that you can't still plant a few things here or there. There is still time for a final dash to the garden bed to plant a few lazy broad beans, beans, carrots, garlic, Winter Triumph lettuce, onions, Pak Choy, spinach, strawberries, swedes and rocket. Last week we planted lots of beans including 'Purple King' climbing beans which have brilliant purple pods, lots and lots of broad beans, red kidney beans and chick peas. The winner so far is the 'lazy house wife' beans, which is an heirloom variety of climbing bean. If they have plenty of room to climb you will get an excellent yeild. Our aim is to grow and dry lots of beans to store for our F.F.F.C in January.

On the weekend we also started building a small green house. It is half finished and we will post some pics when it is up and running. Our cunning plan is to out-wit winter and see if we can grow our beloved basil, tomatoes and other warm weather pleasures through the harsh and baron mountainous extremes. We have absolutely no idea if the green house we are making will work. Stay tuned.

Painting a feature wall
Anyway time to head inside. We mentioned in the last blog that we were going to show you some of our home renos and council pick-up treasures. When we were renting Joe and I would often redesign our entire apartment whilst huddled on our Ikea couch. But reluctantly we were never able to do more than blue-tac a poster on to the wall in a show of rental defiance. Now that we finally own our own home, we don't have enough money to 'renovate', but sometimes a little paint, a borrowed sander and a few creative ideas can be enough to satisfy your initial renovation urges.

The dear man who built our home did a bloody fine job. But perhaps he had watched too many episodes of 'The Love Boat', and didn't realise that 'retro marina' wooden panelling would date - he went overboard.
The floorboards are wood, the 'feature wall' was ribbed wood, the architraves were wood, the in-built shelving all around the room was wood and even the front door was wood. Wood is nice, but not when it is the same colour as old man pants and reminds you distinctly of the smell you only find in the old man pant isle at Vinnies. As a result we felt like we were living in a giant pair of old man's pants and it was simply time for a 'change'. Joe and I decided we really liked the styles of French Provincial as well as Art Deco, then there were those 1950s retro chic we decided to experiment with them all.

Seeing as neither of us have ever won a trophy in our lives (yet), the glass trophy cabinet was the first to go. Next we set our sites on the wooden interior wall that separated the living and kitchen area. We went with a 'charcoal' and 'clotted cream' stripe mostly because it sounds better than 'black and white' but also because for us it conjures nostalgic notions of the 1920s.

Next we painted all of the cobalt blue kitchen benches and tiles in a crisp white laminate paint. We took down the cat-hair infested vertical blinds and replaced them with sheer, cotton, full-length curtains. Much better!

Our last two most recent reno ventures included painting the in-built wall-length book shelf with a white undercoat and then we painted our kitchen cupboards in the softest, retro pastel pink...and loving it!

To top it off we purchased some vintage porcelain door knobs from the Victory Theatre antique bazaar in Blackheath, it is one of our favourite haunts for a lazy weekend.  The kitchen cabinets are only half done, as is the book shelf, we still have plenty of ideas to put into practice but we were amazed at how much we could change the look of our place for a few hundred dollars.

Council throw-out day!
As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. In every Sydney Suburb, at least once a year, there is a wonderful phenomenan that takes place. It's called council pick-up. The thought of swerving to the side of the road, hopping out in broad day light and trying to stuff 2nd hand furniture into your two-door hatchback may cause you to hyperventilate with embarressment. The fear of being recognised by passing traffic and labelled ever more as a trash grabbing scab is natural enough, but deep down,  you can't deny the primitive hunter-gatherer rush that council pick up stirs deep within every one of us.... or is it just us?

Well, we got over the shame factor long ago, and have since furnished at least four previous apartments and half a house with other peoples things. Here are some finds that we have been working on restoring lately.

the art deco style chair was snatched from Normanhurst, and the piano stool was pilfered in nearby Hornsby.

This beautiful rocking chair was swindled from a curb in lazy Patonga Beach... at least, we think it was council pick up... anyway... there was noone sitting on it at the time, rest assured. Its amazing what you can find without paying a cent, and the thrill of a good find is hard to beat!

Mind you, some suburbs are better than others. Surprisingly, the most affluent suburbs are the most stingey, and usually only throw out actual rubbish (the hide). If you are a Mosman resident, come on... get with the council pick-up program, and put out something worthwhile.

The best burbs for pick up include Inner-west, Epping, and the Hornsby district. Don't be tempted to to venture into areas like Campsie... its just downright unsafe without garden gloves and a big dog.

The hardest part about council pick up is knowing when and where its on... you simply must remain vigilant.

there we go! another money saving tip before it reaches the tip!

Next week, we head into our retro pink kitchen to cook up ideas for our FFFC challenge week menu! Your responses from last weeks plea were underwhelming! You should be ashamed! If you still want to save yourself a seat at our grand garden party, there may be time to redeem your shameful lack of support and whip up a virtual dish before next week. You know you should.

some tantilising starters may just include Macadamia and blackberry tarts with a side of homemade passionfruit icecream, or potato gnocci with roast beetroot and basil pesto. oooooooooooooooh, so good. otherwise you may end up being the taste tester for Joe's garden escargo sauteed in hibiscus champagne, garlic and parsley. He's not joking... it could be you.

cheerio all.


  1. So impressed with the reno Jo - it looks awesome! I am very much interested in your eras of inspiration and you have certainly done them justice.

    I also love the effort and fun you guys are putting into your home and family. What a great pair you make!

    Good luck & Gb :)

  2. You two are simply hillarious! I can never tell who is writing, unless you make mention of one another... must be that couple 'sameness' about you!

    I am hooked on this blog... and absorbing all your tips, for my first effort at a veggie patch. Since reading your blog, we have built four small veggie patches, added blueberry trees, an avocado tree, a double-grafted apple, and a double-grafted pear tree. My husband's a little nervous that I'm going berserk. ;)

  3. thanks gals for your comments, lovely to hear from you Christina, x. Hayley that is totally awesome, well done, you are going to love it more and more. Your husband will love it too... in time...especially after you serve him that first bowl of home-made, totally home-grown vege soup. Tell us how it all goes and if you need any advice on what to plant now.
    :) j & j