Sprucing up: Bathroom Edition

I love sprucing things up. I get a real kick out of reclaiming discarded furniture and revamping it so it can be enjoyed once again. There is something deeply satisfying to me about painting over an offensive wall colour with a shade that changes the mood of a room. Finding ways to recreate a space on a minimal budget is something I have done for many years, and now we are doing it on a larger scale in our ‘new’ 1974 home.  We have been here for 9 months now, and despite being utterly sleep deprived juggling three busy lads, we have managed to make a number of changes which make this 1974 beast feel like a home that fits who we are. I will be sharing the revamping journey of our home over the coming months as we, bit by bit, wall by wall, room by room, begin to transform our home, the frugal way!

To give you an idea of what we are working with, here are a few ‘before’ photos:

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Can you guess why all of the brown was starting to do my head in? I felt like I was living on the set of a bad 1970s Australian sitcom.

But the reasons we purchased this home trump the brown-ness of it. The view, location, space and configuration were the selling points for us.

195 Carella Street, Howrah, Tas 7018

Taking a long shower is supposed to be relaxing. Do you think you could relax in that bathroom? Our original, 1974 bathroom has been quite the talking point for our friends, and incredibly, a number of them were disappointed when we painted over the tiles!

After ripping up the floor tiles, replacing some rotting boards, painting them with paint suitable for wet areas, we started to see that this budget update might really work.

The tiles were primed and painted over using White Knight tile paint, in Stone Jug and Pebble Grey.  The shower base was primed and painted with a laminate paint, and it feels relaxing, clean and fresh.

Matt installed the new vanity which he found on sale at Bunnings, and I picked up the blind from Freedom reduced from $220 to $50.  The grand total for the bathroom revamp was $700.

Reliving my bookworm childhood through my bookworm children

The feeling that comes over me when I catch a glimpse of a book from my childhood is almost embarrassing. I mean, I almost squeal. It’s everything in me to refrain from running around asking the people around me if they remember the book, in case they too might share the ecstasy of my find. I’ve been able to restrain these impulses to date, but one day, I will likely stumble across something that will reveal to my fellow op shoppers that I get a tad too excited over small things.
Here are some of the books I have scored from the thrift shop in recent times – I wonder if you enjoyed these too?

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The thing is, the lads don’t always share my excitement when I come home with these treasures. Some of them, they adore (like ‘Choose your own adventure’), but I am still waiting for them to catch the excitement of Encyclopedia Brown (it will happen, believe me. Watch this space).

Stories from our childhood are special. They remind us of times of imagination that ran wild, secret reading sessions when we were so quiet that perhaps we could almost be invisible. Visits to the library were a tradition for me in childhood, and I am so thrilled when I see my lads in libraries and op shops scouring book shelves for their next adventure. And sometimes my lads are almost invisible too, cloaked by the cover of a great book and an adventure on every page.

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Eden Farmstay Getaway

A farmstay is something we’ve often talked about doing with the lads. When a great winter deal came up for Eden Farmstay we jumped on it. It has far exceeded my expectations, and I’m sad to be leaving in the morning.

Pigs, chickens, roosters, bunnies, alpacas, goats and cows fill the beautiful pastures. Eggs on toast like I’ve never tasted. Frost in the morning, sunshine through the day. Animals living as animals should live. what a way to spend 3 wintery days!

Asher’s hope for this trip was to hug a goat. Not only did he get to do so, on many occasions, he also found a kindred spirit in Ian the kid.

Isaac, who is not an animal lover, has amazed us with his enthusiasm. On the first day, he was ever so cautious and adamant he would not hand feed animals. By day two he was feeding cows apples and allowing goats to nuzzle food from his palms. A goat even jumped up on his chest and he dealt with it beautifully. Now he wants a bunny.

Wearing gumboots everyday felt so good!

There’s something really special about this place. Matt and Jo (our hosts) go far above what you would expect. The feeding routine starts with a gentle tap on the cottage door, prompting us to all jump up to grab our gumboots and head out for the rounds with Matthew. He could have done the feeding much faster alone, but instead spent close to an hour leading us and giving us time to feed the animals and extra time to play with the goats. One thing I’ve realised doing the rounds is alpacas are among my least favourite animals, with spit that makes sewerage smell like daisies. Seriously.

We will be back, and I encourage my local friends to support this great family in their venture, and come for the best local mini break available!

http://www.edenfarmstay.com/

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Around the world on a grocery budget

I’d love to travel the world with my family. I’d love to experience the richness of other cultures with the lads. I’m not a seasoned traveller by any stretch, but the few trips I’ve made to various Asian countries have left wonderful memories, firmly implanted on my taste buds.
I look forward to taking the lads on their first international journey, hopefully in the next year. But until that time, we are going around the world on a grocery budget, and its proving to be quite the journey!

We have decided to be much more adventurous with our taste buds whilst exploring cuisine from around the globe. This is how it’s going to work:
We will take it in turns choosing a country, then look through recipe books and find a dish we want to create.

Isaac was the first cab off the rank, choosing Jamaica. He’s a big Bolt fan, so I’m pretty sure we know the source of his inspiration: Eat like Usain, run like Usain.
Jerk Chicken served with coconut bean rice was our first experiment. I salivate even thinking about it!!

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My choice for this evening was Morocco. To be honest, I had my doubts that the lads would come at Harira. Boy was I wrong!!!

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One thing I really loved about tonight, apart from the fact that I am beginning to realise I’m a damn good cook, is that we embraced the Moroccan custom of sharing a bowl around the table to wash our hands before eating. This added another dimension to our experience. I will be looking for other such customs to include in our international foodie family evenings as we go on.

I’m going to create a recipe book using our photos and memories of our family experiment and if I’m organised enough, give this as a gift to our family at Christmas.

Asher has chosen France for next week. He’s convinced he wants to eat snails. Bon appetit!

Enoughism

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus

The trap of our time and our society is the desire for more. More money, more opportunities, more clothes, more travel, more, more, MORE!

A perfect example of this modern ill is the frequency of the donation of our “stuff” to charity. Of course the donating to charity part is good. But remember when those things that we now want OUT of our lives were things that we desperately felt we needed IN our lives? That top for a wedding, that book we simply had to own rather than borrow from the library, the toy that was going to assist in our quest to create a child genius. Now these things sit in a box waiting to be dropped off to the nearest charity bin because they crowd our lives too much.

I’m determined to continue on my quest for less. Enoughism is a concept that resonates with me.

“Enoughism is the theory that there is a point where consumers possess everything they need, and by buying more it actually makes their life worse off. Enoughism emphasizes less spending and more restraint in buying behaviour of consumers. Unlike Consumerism which Mirriam-Webster defines as “the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable”, Enoughism is an antonym to consumerism.” John Naish.

I know that my own childhood, which was one of poverty, has caused me to have urges to give my children more “stuff” than they need. Mostly these little treasures are found in thrift stores, but even so, my challenge this year is to resist these urge to bring more stuff into our home. Whenever I have that inner compulsion to buy my lads a surprise gift, I will go deeper and ask myself a few questions. What do they really need? More stuff or more of me? I will question my urge to buy them a material gift, and no doubt I will find something within me that I can give; an idea for a creative activity or game, an extra long story time before bed, a special family dinner for no reason at all. These are the real treasures I can gift my children. Material gifts are easy to give. Creative, intentional and loving parenting is the real gift, the one that remains with them, and in them forever.

Take a look around you. What do you see? When I look around I see a beautiful family, a lovely, albeit compact family home and evidence of fun, love and learning (aka mess!) These things I now have were once only in my imagination. These are enough.

Thrifty and Nifty

They say a change is as good as a holiday. I’m not sure about you, but it’d either have to be an insanely cool change or a really crappy holiday to make that statement ring true for many people. We have had some changes around here in the past 24 hours, and I feel like I’m on a holiday. You probably think I need to get out more… I’ve decided that changing rooms is almost as good as a renovation!

My friend Betsy visited yesterday and we were inspired to create a few entirely different spaces in our small home. Matt was outside mowing the lawns and came inside to utter chaos! We did not spend a cent, but it looks like we spent up big. What a wonderful buzz to repurpose and reimagine spaces and pieces. I think I can safely say I’m Queen of Thrift these days:

thrift·y/ˈTHriftē/ Adjective: (of a person or their behavior) Using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.

A rundown of the switcheroo:

We removed a black futon that was sharing our dining space  and put it in the kids play room, which is now referred to as the “kids only lounge”.

Here’s Bets and Isaac enjoying the new space.

We then took the playroom drawers, full of train tracks, dinosaurs and all kinds of imaginative and playful things, and transferred it to the dining area. Sounds crazy? Not when you embrace the fact that kids want to be where Mum and Dad are. It gets tiring trying to motivate children to pack their toys away. This way, they have an area where they can play to their hearts content and they can reduce the laps up and down the hall to pack up.

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Living in a small house means we have to make use of every nook! This area, now a quirky, creative space used to be almost bare and a source of frustration for me. Now it has a purpose! I can’t wait to make use of this new space. This desk used to be in our bedroom, becoming a dumping ground for stuff. Now we have more space in our bedroom, and a new nook in the open plan space. 20120611-213345.jpg

We painted a bookshelf that was a bit useless to the boys (not deep enough!). This sits nicely against the desk and is a neat way to disguise creative mess. 20120611-213452.jpg

I’m happy that my dear grandparents vintage radio now has a place to be admired, and to serve as a physical reminder to me of the many mornings I heard the crackle of radio news while I ate breakfast in their kitchen as a young girl.

Thrifty sure is nifty.

A-Z of Gratitdue: B is for Bargains

I posted C is for Chairs and realised that B is for Bargains was still in my drafts. Oops!

Day two of my A-Z of Gratitude.

B is for BARGAINS. I am grateful for bargains.

I went to the op shops again today looking for the final vintage dress to cover our last dining chair.  I didn’t find the perfect dress but I did find a gorgeous vintage top for myself for just $5. I am always rapt when I find a good bargain.

It’s about 16 months since I started my “No Buy It Diet”.  I decided to have one year off buying new clothes.  I made the rules, and decided I was allowed to buy things from the thrift shop, but after a few months I realised that made it too easy.   I changed the rules meaning no clothes were to be purchased, new or second-hand. It was such great exercise, and one that fascinated many of my friends. Women have this reputation of being chronic shoppers. I am amazed at how many clothes I have that I never wear, and have come to realise how utterly ridiculous it is that we have so many clothes.  Imagine trying to explain our fashion obsession to a family living in abject poverty who have one set of clothes for everything.    I have been officially allowed to buy new clothes since December, but have only purchased one new top from an eco store and a few things from the op shops.  I have no desire to window shop anymore. I don’t go into clothing stores to try things on. Clothes shopping is something  that just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.  I still like to wear nice clothes, and I have no trouble finding fantastic quality items at the op shops. It is much more of an adventure to go to a charity store and rummage through racks of random clothes than going to a shop filled with what the masses are wearing!

Anyway, back to today’s bargains…

I bought two lace doilies…

To attempt something like this…

 

 

A-Z Gratitude: C is for Chairs

I am thankful for chairs.  Think of the times you have had to stand somewhere longing for a chair, with none to be found.  These are the times we realise how wonderful chairs are!  I bet you have been to a wedding or a funeral or a school event that meant you were standing for long enough to start to shift your weight from one leg to another.  You look at the old people and start to wish you were 80 years old and someone would offer you a seat.  Chairs are a wonderful invention.  They enable us to relax. We have many meaningful conversations while sitting on a chair.  We drink coffee in our favourite café, on a chair.They are everywhere, yet we take them for granted.  Not I!  I applaud the humble chair, and as I sit here on my favourite chair in our house, I am grateful.  Grateful for the four legs and the bright yellow cushion that supports my weight (that is none of your business).

I am so excited about chairs today because last night I completed my dining chair makeover.  Using the vintage fabrics I found at op shops – a curtain, a few skirts and dresses and a shirt (this chair has pockets!).

Here they are:

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Now go and make yourself a pot of tea, find a comfy chair and appreciate it. 🙂

Redressed dresser

I know I started this blog a few weeks ago by saying I am not one of those amazing crafty mummas.  It is true.  But for some reason over the past week or so I have had loads of ideas for ways to give things around our home a facelift by reusing things other people have thrown away.

On our way back from our camping trip at the start of this week we called into a tip shop.  We purchased this dresser for Asher’s room for $10.

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I sanded it back yesterday and decided I would use some chalk paint we have for the drawers so Ash and Isaac can be creative.

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Matt went and purchased a $9 sample pot of paint which brought the total cost for the dresser to $19.Image

I painted one side with chalkboard paint also – extra room for drawings or lots of messages like “Boys only” or “Poo”.  Can’t imagine there will be pretty flowers and sunshine drawn on the chalk surfaces…Image

I stenciled a few stars on using a cookie cutter.  The project took me around 5 hours total.  I must admit, I keep looking at it marveling that I did something that looks so funky!! Give me an electric sander and a paint roller over a sewing machine anyday!!Image

Frugal furniture facelift

We foolishly purchased an ivory dining setting before we had children, having no idea how ridiculously messy tiny people could be.  Now we know.  I mean, why use a napkin when you can just wipe your hands all over  the seat?

I have wanted to buy a new setting for a long while now, but decided to put it off until the kids are at an age where they won’t utterly destroy it. I am starting to realise that age never comes for boys.

I pulled a chair apart a few days ago and figured it couldn’t be too hard to reinvent the look. I have never attempted upholstery in my life, in fact I don’t know if I have even said the word out aloud until this week. A staple gun, a screwdriver, some scissors and wine and I’d be set. I went to the op shop to look for vintage dresses or drapes to give the chairs a new look without spending big bucks on new fabric.

This is what I found at the Op Shop.

From this

To this…

Three down, three to go!  Not perfect, but I had loads of fun – no sewing, knitting, crocheting or any of that hard stuff required!!!  Thanks to Matt for the muscles when needed xx