Thursday, 14 January 2016

Mini sewing project - ironing board cover

My ironing board cover had worn through and was in need of replacing. When a friend mentioned hers had worn out too, we figured we may as well have a go at making our own

A rumage around in my small fabric stash turned up some heavy weight cotton I'd bought ages ago. There was enough to make 2 ironing board covers so we were set to go.

First step was to trace the shape of the ironing board onto the fabric. There was a bit of foam under the old cover so we used that as a guide. We added an additional few inches around the edge to allow for the cover to fold under the board and to make a casing for the elastic.

Once the cover had been cut out the next step was to overlock the edges.

Then it was time to make the casing for the elastic, leaving a gap at the end to insert the elastic and thread it through.

After the elastic was in place, the cover was fitted over the board and the ends of the elastic were tied in a knot. We then pulled the elastic tight, to fit the cover snugly on the board and used another knot to secure it in place. The elastic was then tucked out of sight into the edge of the cover under the board.  

Et voila! The ironing board was ready for use again:

As you can see the whole process was pretty simple and it didn't take long.  

It felt good to be able to make something we both needed out of resources we already had, rather than go out and buy it.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Bird life in Canberra

I recently spent a couple of days visiting family in Canberra.  One thing Canberra isn't short of is bird life.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are everywhere. These large parrots were good at waking me up in the morning with their raucous squawking.

The pecking order at the bird feeders is definitely Sulphur-crested Cockatoos first. Feeding these birds can have its problems - they can become very destructive if their food supply becomes unavailable. Ripping the woodwork on houses to bits can quite often happen.

This King Parrot had to wait for the cockatoos to finish before he could have his turn.


The Galahs are also pretty good at keeping the smaller birds, such as the Eastern Rosella,

I also spotted these cuties which I think are Superb Parrots - the female is on the right and I think that's a juvenile on the left:

The male Superb Parrot is very handsome - green with a yellow face with a red throat.  I saw one but wasn't quick enough to get a picture. 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Crochet project finished....finally

With a bit of free time on my hands last summer holidays I decided to teach myself to crochet. I got as far as making the 2 sides of a circular cushion:

Things ground to a bit of a halt as I searched around for a cushion insert to finish the project. I wasn't able to find one so the project got sidelined.

Summer holidays have rolled around again and I figured I'd better get this project finished.  I had some quilt batting and some calico ready to make my own cushion insert.  Two circles of calico were cut to the same size as the crochet circles. These were then sewn together leaving an opening in order to fill the cushion.

Circles of batting were cut and put inside the calico cover.

 The leftover bits of batting went in too.

 Then it was time to close it all up with a bit of hand sewing.

 Next step was to crochet the edges of the cushion cover together. The 2 crochet circles were laid on top of each other, right sides facing out. The crochet hook was inserted through the edges of both of the crocheted circles to make a loop:

The tip of the hook was placed in front of the yarn, then under and around it. The yarn was then caught in the lip of the hook and drawn through the loop.

This joined the 2 sides of the cushion, leaving 2 loops on the hook as shown above. The same process was repeated with these 2 loops.

The yarn was pulled through the 2 loops, leaving 1 loop on the hook:

A single chain stitch was then made and then the whole process was repeated until the cushion was sewn up. When I was 3/4 of the way around I placed the calico insert inside and then kept going. 

For a first-ever crochet project, it turned out pretty well.  Looks just like a cushion!

 And it was nice to be able to tick one thing off the to-do list :)

Thursday, 31 December 2015

It's too darn hot

Another 39 C day - yuk.  Summer in Melbourne can be just too darn hot.  While we and the pets spend time inside in front of the fan, the beehive gets at least some of the hot afternoon sun.

Here's what we do to spare the girls some of the heat.

A polystyrene box full of water and foam floats is placed on top of the hive. 

Not only does the box of water insulate the hive by stopping direct sun hitting the lid, it also means the girls don't have to travel far in search of water to cool the hive.

We also lean a sheet of masonite (foraged from a hard waste collection) against the side of the hive to shield it from direct sun. The masonite board is heavy enough to stay put in mild winds, and the hive location itself is sheltered from the wind, so the system works well.

In addition to observing the hive, we weigh it on a regular basis to get an idea of what's going on inside.  It has been interesting to note this year how quickly the weight dropped over the hot days. Some weight loss is not surprising - instead of bringing in nectar, the foragers are out gathering water to use to cool the hive, and they are consuming their stores in order to have the energy to make the flights. What surprises us is why we didn't note a similar weight drop over the extended hot period we had in Melbourne during the summer of 2014.

How do you manage your hives in summer?

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Beautiful garden pests

Our fruit trees are being ravaged, by garden pests of the most attractive kind:

Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus), are very common in our area, and particularly so at our place. Males and females look alike with a mauve head and belly, green wings, tail and back, and an orange/yellow breast. 

Our yard must be like a smorgasbord - apricots, plums, pears, apples, nectarines, peaches, they devour them all, well before they have a chance to ripen.

They are not discouraged easily.  Stern words and shaking of the tree branch are just met with at "yeah, whatever" look.  Secure netting will give them pause, unfortunately we were a bit slow in that department this year and our trees got too big for us to net.

Just as well they are so cute....

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Grow your own chair

A friend sent us this link to some amazing furniture grown from live willow by furniture designer Gavin Munro in England. Using this technique it can take anywhere between 4 to 8 years to grow a tree into a chair.

Some photos of the process are shown below:

The chairs growing in the field:


A close up of the growing chairs:


And here is the finished product:



Amazing huh?  Eco-friendly and no assembly required.  Check out the full story and all the images here

Friday, 18 December 2015