Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Bathroom Make Over

Well the renovating is nearly over and our biggest job has now been finished, the bathroom.
This was a big job and it involved completely gutting the bathroom including stripping the walls back to the stud work.  We spent a couple of weeks showering in the backyard with our camping solar shower and for the few days we were without a toilet we borrowed a camping toilet from friends.
Our bathroom was the ugliest room in the house so we were not sad to see it go.

Here are the before shots.

Our toilet was surrounded by a piece of lino but it was just cut to fit around the base of toilet but it was just sitting there and looked very second rate.

Then there was the fact that our toilet was on a weird angle so you were facing the corner when sitting on the throne.

Our bathroom is a good size but it was just slapped together by a previous owner.

The floor in our bathroom was just unfinished concrete which we covered with a bamboo mat.

The vanity unit was old and all of the basin was scratched.  We had replaced the taps when we moved in and so were able to reuse these in the new bathroom.

The bath surface was all cracked and scratched.

The tiling around the taps had never been done properly instead the tile had just been cracked to allow space for the taps.

The shower head was supported by a piece of garden hose.

The window frame was water damaged and the plaster board was cracked.

The sealant around the bath was messy and grubby.  Because the bath was so uneven the sealant had been used to fill in the gap.

And here is the finished product.  The walls are pale grey, the tiles around the bath and shower are white and the floor tiles are a charcoal colour.

We constructed a partition wall instead of installing a shower screen.

And we now have a nice new straight toilet.  We installed a new toilet suite that uses less than half of our old one and only cost us $59 so it was worth doing.

Hubby did all of the work himself except for the tiling and he did a great job.  The bathroom was more than 10 cm off square on one wall and that had to be squared up so our tiling did not look funny, the whole room had to be re-lined and the window re-framed.
We are so glad to have it all finished and the total cost came in at just under $4000 including the professional tiler.

This is the last big job we had to do and we are now on the home straight.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Home Made Halloumi

Halloumi has been on my list of cheeses to try and make for a while now and with our shortened camping trip I had the time to make it.

I found it to be a really easy cheese to make even with all of the steps involved.  I followed these instructions from Gavin and had no issues at all.
I used 8 litres of full cream pasturised only Maleny Dairies milk and it made 1.2 kgs of halloumi and 100 gm of ricotta.

Stirring the Curds

After the Halloumi was pressed and cut

The final product
This cheese does not need any bacteria so other than unpasturised milk, dried mint and non iodised salt the only specific cheese making ingredient you need is the rennet.

I really recommend giving this one a go and I will be making it again that is for sure.

Have you ever made halloumi?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Not Quite The Easter We Had Planned

It was the weekend before Easter and the house sitters had arrived, the camping gear was packed and we were all set for 10 days of camping right through till Easter Monday.

We were camping at the Bunya Mountains about 2 hours west of our place so it was not a long trip but as we arrived the weather looked like taking a turn for the worse.  So we set about getting the tent up as quick as we could.  But the weather did not hold and pretty soon we were setting up the tent in the rain and getting quite wet in the process.  But by the time we had the tent up the sun was shinning again so we were able to let it all dry out.
Later that afternoon the clouds rolled back in and the temperature dropped from 24 degrees to 15 degrees so we rugged up and in the end had an early night.  However I woke up  in the middle of the night to discover our tent was leaking (it must need a new spray with water proofing spray).  So in the middle of the night we were outside rigging up an additional tarp over the rear of our tent which was not that easy with the wind blowing and the rain bucketing down.

The next day was still wet with cold mist blowing up the side of the mountain and visibility was reduced to about 50 meters.  We decided that we would just rug up and get out and tackle some of the bush walks that we had planned to do.  Hubby has been off work with 3 tears in his knee ligaments since January so we decided to tackle an easyish 4km walk.  Even among the trees it was very misty and we were quite wet by the time we finished.

After a warm shower we again rugged up and I tried to get in some reading but it was too misty and the pages of my book were threatening to curl up so I retreated inside the tent and into bed where I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening.
After dinner our tarps kept collapsing as the pegs holding the ropes were pulling out of the very soggy ground.  Then the wind picked up.  All night we were up and down trying to secure the tarps and not getting much sleep at all.
In the morning we set it all up again and basically repeated the previous days events with another bush walk and an afternoon spent in the tent.
That night the wind picked up again and we had a second sleepless night trying not to get blown off the mountain and trying to keep things upright.  Sometime in the early hours of the morning the entire tarp collapsed over the front of our tent effectively trapping us inside.  Hubby pushed his way out and use our 2 eskies to weight things down and to stop the tarp flapping so much in the wind.

In the morning we got up to discover that the eskies had been flipped over by the wind and our food was scattered across our campsite.  It was at this point Hubby declared he was done and he was not spending any more of his time off with me battling the elements.  I think I could have stuck it out and waited for the weather to clear but with a cyclone off the north Queensland coast we were not really sure if the weather would clear.

Anyway to cut a long story short we packed up and headed home to explain things to our house sitters who thankfully were able to use the time to go and visit friends.

As it turned out the weather cleared a few days later and was glorious for the rest of the time we had off but that is just how things go sometimes.  In the end we had some relaxing days at home, as well as one at the beach, punctuated with jobs that we had not had a chance to do before so it all worked out ok.

How was your Easter - How Did You Celebrate?

Friday, 4 April 2014

Slow Living Monthly Link Up March 2014

Linking up with Christine again this month and this month seems to have been quite busy.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
All of our meals were cooked from scratch this month and I also did some cooking for my brother in law and sister in law who just had their first baby.  While it was nothing fancy it as wholesome and nourishing food and I know they appreciated it.

Self Crusting Quiche

Banana Berry Bread

Prepare - Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.
Dumplings have been a bit of a hit at our place recently and they also freeze really well so it is worth making them in large batches and freezing them so you have a very quick meal to call on.  From frozen they only take 12 minutes in boiling water and when you have had a long day they are ideal.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.

One of our local  churches had a garage sale to raise money for a local charity so we were able to get rid of a heap of things and we later heard some of the items had sold straight away.

Green Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

Just the usual happening on this front.

Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?
The garden is pretty bare at the moment but I have managed to get some seeds planted and garlic in.  The ground was hard like concrete but when I heard there was rain coming I got out there and loosened it as best I could then added lots of compost.  Thankfully the weather forecast was correct and we ended up with over 200 mm.  This made the soil lovely and loose so I dug in the compost and got the seeds in the ground.  I still have another garden bed to waiting to be planted out but I feel good that at least there is something in the ground.

Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
I have picked up the crochet needle again and am finally learning to read a pattern.  My first attempt was to make a set of baby booties for my new nephew by by the time I had finished the first one it was big enough for a four year old.  Oh well practice makes perfect.  Sorry no photos as I am currently away from home without a camera.

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I have been reading lots of fictional books this month.  I sorted out my book shelf the other day and put all of the books that I had not read on one shelf so now I am just working my way through them and then passing them on tho the Op Shop.

Enhance Community
Planning for this years Classic Car Show is well under way again and will be keeping me busy for many months to come. Other than this I have taken a step back this year as I have other things I need to dedicate my time to.

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
My bother in law and sister in law have had their first baby and he is lovely (not that I am biased). It is such a lovely thing to have a new baby in the family.

Hubby and our Nephew

What have you been up to?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Allan Savory: Green deserts and reverse climate change

Allan Savory is one of those people in life who makes me want to see more happening to heal our planet.
He makes me want to tell anyone who will listen about the work he is doing and leaves me wondering why his methods are not more widely used or discussed since they seem to have such profound impacts.
You can learn more about him, the work he is doing and the institute he created here.

Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world's grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes - and his work so far shows - that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

If you would like to see a really interesting TED Talk about the work he is doing then take a look at this.
He received a standing ovation for this talk from the audience.