It’s Beginning to Look a bit Like Christmas…

With the heat soaring to high 30’s this week, the frangipanis blooming and the little baby mangos starting to appear on the Mango tree, it is clearly looking at bit like Christmas here in South East Queensland.  So with the impending first of December just around the corner (the day we put up our Christmas Tree), I thought I should get started on making some “green” Christmas decorations in the shed.

We all know that the planet is suffering from a plastic environmental disaster, but did you consider that the microscopic pieces of plastic that you use in cleaning products and facial scrubs are contributing to this in an unprecedented way?  Let’s find out why there is a movement in many countries to Ban the Bead (micro-beads that is).

Christmas time is not always a happy time for everyone.  If you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed by the whole occasion find out why getting down and dirty in your garden could be just the tonic for your Summertime blues.

Welcome to Episode Seven of Farewell My Manicure TV.  Don’t forget to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE if you enjoy the program.

Until next week



Episode 7




Web TV Show starts Saturday night at 6pm!

Grab a glass of bubbly and join me as I launch my new WebTV Show this Saturday night at 6pm on

If you are wondering what is going to be on the show, we have three segments to share with you this week. So there is something for everyone!
DOWN & DIRTYAs you know I love my garden and growing fresh fruit and veggies for my family gives me so much joy.  I want to share the joy with you, through the segment “Get Down & Dirty in the Garden” where I will talk about everything from what to plant and how to harvest, to container gardens, urban gardens and permaculture.  Perhaps there is something you would like to know more about.  Please drop me a line at with you suggestions.
PTFP SLIDEThere are already a lot of great DIY shows on TV, but not every girl knows how to use a power tool and is game enough to give it a go.  In the segment “Power Tools for Princesses” I look at showing you how to do some great DIY, renovating, recycling and up cycling using some tools that yo needn’t be frightened of.
SIMPLESUBURBANSUSTAINABILITYTIPS SLIDEOne of my goals is to see more people living a sustainable lifestyle and thereby leaving a lighter footprint.  Some times the enormity of what we have done to the environment leaves us paralysed.  Not knowing what to do to fix the problem can be daunting.  In the segment “Simple Suburban Sustainability Tips” I take you through the little things you can implement in your home to walk lighter on the planet one baby step at a time.
I hope you can join me this Saturday, but if you can’t you can always view the show at another time because of the power of the internet!

Where There's Smoke.

Chapter 22
Where there’s Smoke…
I really love the onset of Winter here in Queensland.  We have nothing much to complain about because the days are still so beautiful, temperate and sunny, and the nights though colder are just cold enough to be an excuse for ugg boots, fleecy jackets and an open fire.    Just outside the overhang of the roof line of the performance stage/deck, we have a patch of dead grass, which over Summer months greens over just in time for Winter to hit again and then become singed with the heat of the open fire pit. The part of winter that no one looks forward to more than my husband is making an open fire. A boy scout at heart if not in reality he loves nothing more than to scrunch up the newspaper into tennis ball sized clumps and neatly, nay symmetrically construct a kindling tower that any Jenga player would be most proud of.  It’s a point of consternation with Brent when I out of necessity am given the opportunity to construct the fire.  In my typical haphazard fashion the kindling is placed indelicately in a kind of teepee construction into the drum, in no way akin to the symmetry of its usual design.  Still works though doesnt it!    
But there is a bit of a problem this Winter.  After being here for almost three years now, if you look around our two acres you would be hard pressed to find another dead tree.  Benny has systematically chainsawed every last one of them into manageable sized logs and further chopped many into rough hewn kindling.   There is one tree that still stands proud if presumably hollow, but its very size is daunting and he hasn’t yet summoned the courage or planned an adequate escape path, should the whole thing not go the right way when the first cut is made.  Who knows, maybe this will be the Winter that the tree comes down.  In the meantime he has hopped the fence (only a metre or so) and taken down a couple of trees in the back acre of our neighbours rental property.  Lets just call it mitigating our fire risk.  
Then, as if on cue a second problem arose, because one problem is never enough, the trailer trash half forty-four gallon drum on study welded legs, collapsed and folded right in half.  So another fire pit had to be sourced post haste as the cold winter nights were coming on thick and fast.
In our household whenever there is a purchase to be made of any significance for the home we tend to email each other, not really to ask permission but rather a “two heads are better than one” scenario.  This day Benny who had obviously been hard at work (not) sent me a picture of a fire pit he had found on the net that he thought would do the trick, for my approval and whats more it could be here in just a couple of days!  You know how we have grown up with the saying “You get what you pay for”, well for $125 plus delivery I looked at this little decorative fire pit and commented that I really didnt think it would be big enough for the size and intensity of fire Benny loved to build.  But of course if he thought it would be adequate then go right ahead and order it in.
Before that weekend it arrived at Australia Post and I went to collect it.  I was able to pick up all 18kgs of it and pack it into the back of our little four cylinder sedan, giving me some kind of clue as the the sturdiness and strength (or lack thereof) of the pit, therefore justifying in my mind that perhaps I may well have been correct.  That evening (being a Friday) Benny put the erector set together and stood back looking admiringly at the somewhat attractive stand and tray.  He stacked it gently adding his usual ten to twenty kilos of fire wood and although it overhung the tray a bit it seemed that the pit might just do the trick.  We called Lawson to come outside and admire the new fire pit and after much coaxing he inevitably pried himself away from the internet and opened the back door.  Just then an almighty crash and a shower of sparks went up as the bottom tray and fire fell straight onto the ground to a chorus of uproarious laughter all round. “Great Fire Pit Dad!” said Lawson jokingly as he turned on his heel and walked back into the house.
Well, two weeks later we are still using the frame to contain the wood akin to a brazier, and the tray remains on the ground to collect the ashes.  A new fourty-four gallon drum is yet to be procured but we think that this is quite possibly the best way to go.  After all, the since deceased one lasted us for two whole years and the weight of countless dead trees.  It was one that our mate who was restoring his boat had used to hold up the hull while he worked underneath it.  A drum that had once contained thinners, when Benny went to cut it in half with the grinder he told everyone to stand well back.  Just another occasion when I have been glad we have him covered by adequate life insurance!  Now bring on the dead tree I say!

Recycling at its Finest

Chapter 7
Recycling at its Finest
One of the features of our new home that we were very excited about was the expansive workshop.  Over the years we have dreamt of having a space for all our tools and a place to work on all the projects we have imagined we would make.  Somewhere that you could leave a project half done and walk away from it without having to pack it away.  So now we have a massive shed with a nine meter workbench running the entire length of one wall.  One weekend Benny got to one of my old cutting tables and dismantled it to make a second wall length bench with bottom storage shelf on the opposite wall.  To give you some idea of the size of this space, with both benches in place we can still drive a vehicle down the centre of the shed!  At the end we store the ride on mower and an assortment of bits and pieces that wont fit under the bench.  On shelving and in boxes are all the tools and fittings and fixtures from a variety of household projects and refurbishments.  
We have a bench vice and a place for the drop saw to be permanently located.  A section allocated to painting has mountains or rollers and paint brushes that when we unpacked all our boxes just seemed to multiply.  How many paint rollers and trays does one family need, and caulking guns?  The shed has sections for camping equipment barely used, old fish tanks have a home until they are needed to house reptiles or guppies once again.  Bits and pieces are all neatly laid out so that when you want something you can actually find it and not have to take yet another trip to Bunnings to buy something that you are sure you have, somewhere!  Best of all, there are racks to house timber, old shelving, a dismantled bunk bed, some off cuts from an old kitchen, some used cupboard doors.  All the bits that are so useful when you want to “make something”.  
So now to the projects…
We have this space by the back door that gets cluttered with shoes and I envisaged a bench seat with boxes under it to house the discarded footwear.  So off I went to the shed armed with just an idea, and hours later the old bunk bed was recycled, into a distressed retro painted park bench (the boxes are yet to be made) and installed by the door.  It has been so useful for parking your butt to pull your boots on and to put boxes for the courier to pick up so that they dont get dusty, or chicken pooped.
The next project was a team effort.  The chickens had up until this point been housed in a “blue box” inside their run, made long ago by a previous owner and slowly being eaten away by white ants.  I noticed the back leg deteriorating just in time and put bricks under the back edge to prop it up in case the inevitable happened and it collapsed.  Which is just what it did!  So it was time to build the Taj Mah Chook House.  I had surfed the net for various designs but finally agreed that it needed to be a bit free form to fit in the weird shaped space at the end of the run.  So I drew a sketch and showed it to Benny, who did the measuring and came with me to Bunnings for the blue board and framing timber to make sure I got the right stuff.
He decided that because we were making it up as we went along that it would be best if we put it together in the shed first to make sure it worked and then undid it and transported it to the chook run and put it back together again!  Only a man would think of doing this I swear!  So that’s how we tackled it. 
On the first weekend we put most of it together except the doors.  A couple of weeks later we put the windows in and then several weeks later (after loads of unseasonably cold nights which I worried was going to freeze the chooks to death) while I was cooking breakfast one morning Benny dismantled the frame and brought it up in pieces.  
We put it back together reasonably quickly and it worked!  Some roofing clip lock aluminum that we were given by our neighbours was used to make the angled roof.  I used some acrylic panels to make the windows.  We wrapped a wooden ramp in some marine carpet courtesy of our friend Glen who was busy doing up his yacht in our back yard.  This stopped the rather steep wooden slope being too slippery.  I put in a couple of perch options, reused the old nesting boxes but put a store bought plastic egg in to show them that this is the new place for laying.  I left the old laying box on the ground until they got used to it but on the first morning one girl had laid where she was supposed to and everyone else followed over the space of the next week.  
The chooks were very impressed and after the first night (when I had to go and physically put them in it) they knew what it was for and where they needed to be.  The following morning Lawson and his friend Cory (who had a sleep over) painting the house bright red and when we ran out of red they used up some old spray cans of blue paint on the back to make it colourful and help protect the boards from the weather.
I put in fresh sugar cane mulch and raked the area and then stood back and admired what we had done.  A true family project!
Benny manages a resort, if I hadn’t mentioned that before.  This means that every couple of months there is a Board Meeting that takes up family time on Saturday but in lieu he takes Monday off to do some projects around the house or have a day of rest (HA HA!).  I keep to my regular work week and try and stay out of his way during his day off so that I dont get dragged into his projects instead of concentrating on my own work.  This particular Monday not so long ago, I heard many noises coming from the shed, at least one trip to Bunnings was had and Benny didnt come up to the house to ask for a cuppa or even lunch!  
By the time it was almost time to get Lawson from school, I thought I had better go down to the shed to investigate what was going on.  It turns out I ruined his surprise as he was almost finished a pressie he had been making all day, just for me.  There is no particular name that he has given to this tool but I call it a mobile potting bench and wheel barrow. He has made it the exact height for cleaning out the chook house and the barrow space is just the right dimension to house the bag of sugar cane mulch I buy fortnightly from Bunnings.   The bench section is great for potting plants or transporting tools, storing gardening gloves, or housing a curious chicken.  He jokes that it looks like it has been made in a sheltered workshop and I think it is useful, practical and best of all made with love! Oh and it is recycled too, all except the wheel.
Scroll Up