Saturday, December 14, 2013

Amateur carpentry

It's been a while since my last post. I've been really busy with uni since my PhD candidature is coming to a close, what with all the writing I have to do and pre-submission seminar to prepare. To take my mind off work, I like to make things. Whether it be a new terrarium, sketch, or small plants landscaping.

In lieu of the good weather (and extended daylight hours) I've been spending more and more time in the backyard. I first built a narrow garden bench for our housewarming last year for guests to sit on outside. We've also got a few plastic chairs to go around. No one touched the garden bench (fail). It's now doing a good job elevating my plants off the ground but I still really wanted a bench out the back. So I started looking up ideas and plans for making my own. That Anna-White website is amazing for these things.

I didn't follow an exact plan from any of the sources but they gave me ideas on how to properly make joints that look good. I had left over treated pine from my first garden bench project and the potting bench project so decided to use those to form a basic frame. I went to Bunnings to buy the rest of the material for the top (treated pine decking), and some treated pine screws. The normal screws might react with the chemicals used to treat the pine.

Here is the finished product! It's 1800 long x 540 deep x 490 high.

 Completed bench! Top view

Side view

So proud of myself *hehe* Even my rabbits approve. All that's left to do is a good clean and then seal with either varnish or furniture oil. Since completing it, it has been used as a saw horse, rabbit shelter, and tools table. So useful!

About 3 weeks ago, I made include a framed succulent garden. Like all vertical gardens, it has to sit for a while for the roots to take hold. Since it's spring/late summer, plants grow like they are on steroids so it shouldn't take too long for them to settle in.

 Frame made of merbau decking off-cuts, wire mesh to hold everything in

 2 weeks after the cuttings were planted, growing well!

 I also made a crate of sorts from pine off-cuts. The wood is untreated so it can't stay outside. It's useful for carrying lemon harvests though. For now, it's got a bath towel lining it and has become a day bed for the bunnies!
Fruit crate? (Ignore the long grass in the background)

Other projects involve sewing (gasp!). I don't know how to function sewing machines very well but I'm slowly getting there. I like cushions =) But I don't like the big square ones we often get from shops. They are also often pricey, with designs and colours I don't really fancy. So I decided to make my own (I DIY almost everything nowadays). First off was to get pillows. From IKEA. I got the GOSA V√ĄDD stomach sleeper for AUD5. It's a sleeping pillow, yes. But cut it in half, and pushing the stuffing to one side more, I get two huggable rectangular cushions.

 Two pillows cushions for the price of one!

As for the covers, I saw an idea from a blog (can't remember which) where they reused old button-up shirts. I found two for AUD3 each at Camberwell market and got to work. I cut out the bottom half from the shirts so the pocket doesn't come into view. They were cut to size, sewed up and ready to go. No extra zippers, fasteners required.

Shirt-cushion covers straight out of the wash

Completed cushions with their covers

I'm currently working on some planter stands and a barrier to stop the rabbits from entering the living room and chewing up all our wires. Glad that holidays are coming up so I don't feel guilty about not going into uni. Until next time, enjoy the festivities.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bunny sketches

Having the buns around is a joy. But there are also times when they would misbehave and chew on a random electric cord or scratch and bite our sofa. When I approach them, I usually have the intention to give them a good pat but they are not always in the mood. So picky these two...

 They haven't grunted at me yet so that's a good sign!

 Occasionally I will just sit and watch them go about doing their thing. There was once when Fawn got a strand of hay stuck just at the top of her nose. I just sat there and laughed at her as she struggled to get it off. I did eventually lend a helping hand!

 Some more random sketches to end the post =)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rabbit cuddling

Some friends came to visit the buns a while back. Since Taja was being a bit of snob and refused to be picked up, I offered Fawn for cuddling instead.

Serena was new to holding rabbits, since she didn't have any hands free for patting, well, she used her cheeks :D

Monday, October 7, 2013

My new potting bench and other furniture making adventures

My adventures with refurbishing/building furniture from the ground up has come a long way. And I don't mean assembling IKEA furniture! My first has got to be that little bedside chest of drawers my sister picked up from the side of the road which I later painted and replaced the handles.

And then there was this monstrosity which took way longer than expected to put together and weighs a ton.

Over the past few years I've gotten a bit bolder and more adventurous. Built a simple garden bench, put together an in-built shelving system for my sister's wardrobe as well as my own.

When I saw two pallets lying on the curbside late last year I knew what I wanted to do with them! One I made into a vertical pallet garden:

The other I dismantled to make a potting bench. I made sure the pallet wood would hold outdoors i.e. left it out in the sun and rain for a few months with no sign of rot =) I could tell it was treated pine cause it was soft and it smelled like paling fence wood when I was sawing it.

The dismantling tools: hammer, chisel, pry bar

Lovely aged wood ready for use!

I wanted a top shelf for the potting bench so I had to buy extra lengths of treated pine for the back. None of the wood from the pallet were long enough. I based this frame on tutorials from different websites like Thrifty Decor Chick and Ana White. Everything was pre-drilled and screwed together with treated pine screws. After a few checks for squareness and height adjustments, the frame was complete!

 Basic frame done

For the horizontal surfaces I decided to get cypress-pine pickets. I've read that cypress-pine lasts very well outdoors, but more than that, they look fantastic.

 Cypress-pine for the work surface


All I had left to do was to screw them down neatly and make a top shelf with the remaining pieces of cypress-pine. Viola!
 Finished product

 Large working surface for potting and drying nice curly branches for other projects

Top shelf for smaller and lighter pots

I've also added castors at the bottom but they are a bit flimsy at the moment. If I have the time I might fix that but for now, I'm very happy with the end product.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's getting warmer

The last month had been very hectic. I've been trying to write up my thesis, building an indoor hutch for the bunnies, and was training hard every Sunday for the wushu competition. I finally have my Sundays back and the seasons have turned for the better: warmer days and longer daylight hours, bliss! Except for the hay fever, I hate the hay fever...

I visited Camberwell market again last weekend because I just love browsng through all the unique stuff the market has to offer. I was on the look out for cheap glass containers for terrrariums and succulents. I have my eye on an old school brass compass but is a bit pricey for me. I'll be trying to save up for that. I came back with a few goodies to show:

 Two very old sheets of newspaper with special dates (for 2 very special people *wink*) on them for $2 each!
Shame they are the wrong year

Found an old map of Melbourne for $2 (the scale was in Miles so it predates decimals?), an old book on machining techniques for $2, and old brass hooks which I will be using for my next project for $5

A piece of coral for $5

I intended to post some photos I took when I went to the beach before the winter winds began to bite but didn't find the time. These ones were taken on a particularly sunny (but cold) morning at Edithvale beach sometime in July.

 Huge jellyfish that was washed up

This next object was something I have only seen in the iloveshelling blog, a moonsnail egg collar! See the tiny marble-like eggs inside? I found at least 2 more washed up on the beach. I guess the sea snails should be ready to hatch right about now. I hope these guys survived, I tossed this one back into the water after taking the photo. They die if they are left out to dry on the beach.

Moon snail egg collar
 A lovely beachside succulent garden

Next post will have more sketches and the reveal of another carpentry project I've been working on for the past few months

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bunny love

Introducing Taja and Fawn! A pair of sisters adopted from RSPCA

 Fawn and Taja lounging around after a meal of hay

 Fawn begging for food xD Too cute!!!

Grooming each other

 Checking out the camera lens
 Konked out Fawn

Taja having a nap

I finally got myself some buns. My family and I used to look after 2 rabbits and I've wanted to get them since I'm no longer renting. I decided to adopt buns from RSPCA instead of buying them from a pet shop. Sure the younger rabbits are cuter and would have received training from only myself and Hann, but the rabbits at RSPCA could use some help. Plus the RSPCA de-sex, vaccinate, and micro-chip the rabbits. They are toilet trained too :P I have built them an extension for an outdoor hutch but I've kept them in the bathroom for the time being due to the wet and cold winter weather. We are also planning to build an indoor enclosure for the =) Taja and Fawn are ADORABLE! They are starting to warm up to us now but Taja is very weary of being picked up. Fawn is less picky about that issue but both of them love a good patting!

On another note, more beautiful mosses and more terrariums. Hann and I went up to a trail near Warburton dam and collected some mosses and lichen.

 I love the light green fluffy moss

 Managed to find more dicracum moss

This next one is my favourite terrarium so far. I've had trouble keeping the yellowish moss alive so I hope I have better luck this time by keeping it well ventilated and not too wet.
With a healthy dose of haircap moss

A closer look

Side view

Another view

I also gave a lichen terrarium a go! I've read that they don't need as much water and might be less likely to go mouldy since I can water it less. The pixie cup lichen is pretty cool!
 A flat bottomed flask terrarium

 A detailed look

 Last but not least, some WIP sketches I've been working on:

 Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock

Prince Noctis from Final Fantasy versus XIII XV. It's exciting news that they've started working on it again. Especially the new trailer showing a good relationship between him and his dad (Finally! A good father and son relationship in the series!)

Until next time

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lemon harvest + more terrariums

We have a lemon tree in the backyard (came with the house when we bought it) and it's been fruiting for a while but have only started to ripen recently. And boy there were a lot of lemons! I started clipping off the ones which looked ready. The harvest gave me 60 lemons! I was able to give a lot of them to family, friends, neighbours and still had a lot left over for myself. The second harvest 2 weeks later gave me another 50 lemons. Decided to try out some baking recipes with them.

 Basket full of lemons *yum*

They don't look too pretty, but they taste great!

Lemon cupcakes!

The cupcakes turned out better than expected. I didn't have time to frost them but they managed to stay moist and fluffy after 2 days. I think I'll make them again. Also tried a hand at baking biscuits. It was my first time making a pastry/dough so I didn't know the kind of consistency I should be getting. I also realised mid way through that a rolling pin might come in handy for rolling out the dough...

Lemon butter biscuits

I ended up using my palms to flatten the dough before cutting and baking them with lemon icing drizzled over them :P Yummy

Among other things, the sunny weekend gave me some time to do some gardening and make another terrarium. I was lucky to come by a huge pot of Zebra Hawarthia succulents at a local nursery for cheap as it was slightly overgrown with weeds. The plants looked like they were suffocating cause the pot was too mall for them! I had to lift them off the pot and separate the plants one by one. There were about 14 healthy plants in that 5" pot! I planted a lot of them in the garden beds but kept a few small ones for other projects.

Filled to the brim!

 Tear drop glass globe for a small terrarium

 Finished product with some mosses, lichen and pebbles


What my dream succulent garden would look like:

 Fantastic landscaping at Melbourne's Royal Botanic Garden

 Mass planting of red jelly beans

More mass planting of a sort of sedum

 Bright red Echeveria

More sketches and works in progress in the next post :)