Monday, February 28, 2011

Sweet Dreams

How was your weekend? Did you find some relief from the heat (here in Perth)? Or were you engaged in crossing things off your to-do list? On Friday I gave you a little sneak peek at what we at Muriel had planned for our weekend:
Did you have any ideas as to what it might be? If you guessed it was a new bed frame, you deserve a HIGH FIVE! :) Previously in the master bedroom, PK and I (and Oreo!) had been chilling out on an ensemble bed, (that is, one with a mattress and base) that you can see in this pic of old:
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the base (well, except for one broken caster wheel but that's easily fixed), we were in the market for something with a little more presence. In fact, I had been interested in improving our bedroom situation for quite a while- it's what led me to reading housey blogs in the first place!

PK and I looked at so many bed frame options in so many stores, without agreeing on anything. We were beginning to lose hope of ever finding something that we both liked! Then, one day when we weren't intending to buy anything, we walked into the same store that we had originally bought our bed from and found the perfect one!
This bed from their catalogue is very similar
The beauty of this range is that it is entirely customisable- you choose the finish, the leg type, the headboard type and even additional storage to suit your tastes! They also provide a website where you can switch all of the options around to make sure you have the right choice. We chose the angled headboard (called Mia), with grooves and a square leg base in a Walnut finish. The example above is the curved, plain headboard (called Chloe), also with the square legs. PK and I decided against under-bed storage so that the bed keeps the airy look- and for easy cleaning!
They gave us 4 Allen keys- we used one each :)
Being a modular frame, Mia involved a little do-it-yourself assembly, so with the help of a Phillips head screwdriver and a few Allen keys, we turned this:
Into this:
And here is the 'before' again to save you having to scroll:
Soooooh much better! Our bedroom is far from what I would call 'finished' but the bed frame has definitely enhanced our sleeping experience! We love Mia's simple design, with its subtle groove feature adding interest and the angled headboard providing a great leaning support (ready for breakfast in bed!). The walnut finish we chose also goes well with our existing bedside tables (from a different store) without being too matchy-matchy. It is a little higher off the ground too, so getting out of bed in the morning is that little bit easier (less effort in standing!) and it kind of makes me feel like we are sleeping in a hotel bed (always that little bit fancy)!

Have you added anything in your bedroom recently to create a better night's sleep?

P.S. FromMuriel received no payment for mentioning this product. It just works for us!

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's Getting Hot in Here

NellyImage via Wikipedia
Whoa Nelly is it ever! If you live in WA or have had the misfortune to be holidaying here this week, you know what I'm talking about! It's hot. And sticky. And I am over it. The clouds have rolled through but not dropped any precious rain, only adding to the humidity. I like hot weather- don't get me wrong- but continuous heat like this makes me cranky. All I want is some rain or at least the sea breeze to come in! And with Perth temperatures forecast to stay above 30°C for the next week and not a spot of rain on the horizon, our water tank is likely to stay well and truly empty :(

Apart from whining to PK about the heat, I've been a pretty busy in the last couple of days, both at work and at home! The kitchen reno is taking a lot of time to plan out, plus we have a few other projects waiting in the wings! Here's a sneak peek of what PK and I picked up yesterday:
That should keep us busy enough over the weekend- I might even find time to photograph the finished product :) I can't wait to share all the textural beauty! Have you anything planned for your weekend or will you be joining me in worshipping the air-con?

PS. Please spare a thought for the people of Christchurch who are this weekend still looking for roughly 200 people still missing, mourning those confirmed dead and attempting to begin the clean up following Tuesday's earthquake.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WOW: Small Mercies

Christchurch City (New Zealand) from the Port ...Image via Wikipedia

Today's WOW comes again from nature's wrath. You may have seen the news reports about the earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand yesterday afternoon (CHCH time)?

Now, on first look, the devastation that this 6.3-on-the-richter-scale earthquake has wreaked on the city may seem an unusual choice for a WOW feature. After all, there has been loss of life and many iconic buildings that were already damaged by the last earthquake (September last year) have collapsed. Not to mention the fires, liquefaction, loss of electricity and water...
By Laura Campbell on Now Public
But the thing that makes me sit back and think WOW- more than the sheer power of the quake and the shock that it has caused via the media- is that I have family that lives and works in and around the city. And they are all okay. One of my cousins had to jump from a burning building and many of their homes have been damaged but none of my family is injured or worse...

We lost my mum's parents within six months of each other to illness last year, so another loss so soon would have been truly devastating for us. Now all of our thoughts are today with those families that were not so lucky.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jump in My Car- Pt2

Yesterday I showed you how I brought function back to our garage with a simple solution of a few old cardboard boxes, masking tape and a Sharpie. I knew that it wasn't a long term solution, but I was pretty happy with my efforts. That is, until PK one-upped me! The show off went and designed a storage system that is not only a lot better looking than my industrial-shabby-chic attempt, but it is super strong, made to last and also has a wider scope in terms of what it corrals. Let me show you a few pics:
North wall
South wall
The wall system has various hooks and buckets and shelves that attach to the product (which you bolt into the wall) and you can arrange (and rearrange) them in any combination you like. This particular product is called Flexiwall but there are a few on the market with similar properties. You could cover entire walls with the stuff, like wallpaper- they even make a product for your floor and floating shelves to utilise the ceiling space! I'm sure PK wants our garage to end up looking something like the promo pic:
Mmmm organisation
I must admit, it's pretty good to be able to put the brooms and shovels up out of the way, knowing that they aren't going to fall onto our cars in the night! And it gave us a storage option for things that we had no idea what we were going to with- like the newly acquired ladder! Now, keep in mind that this is still just a work in progress and that PK doesn't actually know I'm posting it yet. He told me I wasn't to post pictures of "his" walls until it was "finished", but heavens knows when that might be! Also, he doesn't read this lil blog of mine all too often, so I think I might just get away with it! :)
Plenty of space for more tools!
As PK adds more hooks and storage buckets, you can be sure I'll bring you more pictures! 
Psst! Did you spot the large bolty looking thing in the corner of the North wall picture? PK used to work at a bolt factory and brought this home as a present for me! And in the South wall photo, that is indeed my much neglected bicycle- I really need to get back into riding!
P.S. FromMuriel received no payment for mentioning this product. It just works for us! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Jump in My Car

What a classic. If you're up for a laugh, watch this version by the Hoff. CRACKER!

We're not going anywhere in my car today though, I'm merely using it as a (bad) segue into a post about our garage cleanup! First, though, a little background info on the holy ground that is our garage. We are blessed with a double car garage here at Muriel. When we first moved in with our house mate, I had to fight for the single car space that was available as the second car space was taken up by gym equipment- even though that was hardly ever used! I won't lie- I put the feminism movement back a few decades and pulled out the old "I'm a girl" argument! I also made the point that I was the only one without remote locking (at the time) and also I work night shifts so needed a secure car park. I won!
Not quite this impressive, but still highly coveted!
Then, when our housemate moved out and it was just me and PK, the gym equipment stayed and I kept my car spot. Happy day! Eventually though, PK saw that it was silly to have a '2 car' garage only being used as a '1 car' garage and wanted to move his car in with mine. It might have had a little to do with him buying a new car and not wanting it sitting out on the verge too! So, then we had a problem. Two cars do not fit into one space. Well, at least, not unless they look like this:
Smartcar from here
So we did a little tidy up, got rid of the gym equipment that wasn't being used and moved what was onto the edges. And that what the extent of the clean-up for quite a while. Until I got annoyed enough at PK leaving his tools everywhere and then not knowing where they were! So I attempted to tidy his junk, using some re-purposed cardboard boxes, some masking tape and my ever faithful Sharpie. Hi-tech, I know!
I also went into PK's toolbox and sorted that out too- he had so much junk in there that wasn't actually tool related! My method of sorting looked a little like John & Sherry's rug o' tools in their guest post for A Brooklyn Limestone In Progress. But probably less bright and cheery than their version, because all of our tools were dirty and I did it on the floor of the garage with the door down.
Twas a dirty job, I can tell you! But one I was hugely proud of because finally whenever I needed a screwdriver, I could find the one I wanted. And if PK asked me "Honey where is such and such random tool?" I could reply that it was in the tool box- as opposed to the bottom drawer in the kitchen, the bathroom, study, bedroom or other such random places! It also meant that the next time we saw our former house-mate, we could offload some of the extra tools that he had left behind, simply because they were all jumbled together! Great success!

Have you had any similarly satisfying quick fixes at your place?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Afternoon Delight

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase
I have a confession: I am addicted to reading my blogs! I am now more addicted to the blogs in my reader than I was when I went through a particularly voracious Facebook period. Thankfully, writing my own blog seems to have cured me (to a certain extent) of Facebook, but there is so much newness in my reader that I just have to finish!
Monster, 6 november 2005Image via Wikipedia
Needless to say, I don't get much done around the house when I succumb to the blog addiction monster! As a distraction, I thought I'd linky my most entertaining non-housey blog of the moment though, just to brighten your Friday afternoon. If you're ever feeling blue, head over to Sleep Talkin' Man. It has some of the funniest TRUE things I have ever read! PK tends to talk in his sleep a little every now and then, but nothing like this! I have been wearing a huge smile on my face all week (despite the -now improved- sleep deprivation) mostly due to the daily feed from this one site.
Go on! Indulge yourself! Do you have a sure-fire pick me up like STM?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wishing on a Kitchen Star

Wishing StarImage by the star trader via Flickr
So you've seen the ugly and survived to tell the tale huh? Let's recap the dislikes for those playing along at home (plus a few extras that I neglected to whinge about before):
  • Inadequate fannage (is that a word?) by the exhaust fan
  • Exhaust fan in stupid position (thus contributing to bad fannage)
  • Uneven cooking by the stove top
  • Potential burns from adjusting the burners on said stove
  • Too short splashback/backsplash
  • Low "overhead" cupboard
  • Oreo in the kitchen spreading dirt around 
  • Phantom cupboards
  • Lack of storage
  • Segregation by the ledge
  • PK in the kitchen getting in my way
  • Dirty dishes 
  • Oven not flush with the rest of the cabinetry
  • Dirty grout lines and some cracked ceramic tiles
  • Halogen tube lighting 
Now comes the fun part! The dreaming up of a wish-list! First the necessities:
  • Dishwasher- big enough to fit dishes from a dinner for six (for when we entertain or alternatively, three days worth of dinners if it's just the two of us)
  • Rangehood- no more stinky house! Added benefit of extra lighting too
  • Knock out the ledge- no more separation from the party for me!
  • Increase bench space (by dropping oven to below bench)- definite requirement in such a small space
  • Increase storage with cabinetry above fridge and also over the bench on the eastern (stove) wall
  • More drawers- also to increase functional storage

Now, the 'would be nice to have but negotiable if too expensive' list:
  • Soft closing drawers and doors- Mmmmm no more banging (noise that is!)
  • Undermount sink- we think these look stylish and no more grit sitting underneath the rim
  • Large new tap to allow easier cleaning of pots and other large items 
  • Hidey hole for the microwave (it really is an ugly but necessary invention isn't it?)
  • Glass, full height splashback- super stylish, but too exxy? 
  • Utilise dead space made by the dishwasher (? extra cupboard/shelves)
  • New lighting
  • Unified flooring throughout the great room
I've moved a few things surreptitiously from the 'negotiable' list to the 'necessity' list since we originally thought it up, but a few good deals that have made them a possibility- all of which will be following shortly.

I find making a list always helps me refine my thoughts- and prevents me from forgetting the objective! What about you- have you made any daydream lists lately?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WOW: Cup of Joe

Image from Bunbury Coffee
Not to be confused with the blog, A Cup Of Jo, today's WOW comes to you virtue of my sleep-deprived state of the last fortnight. I do not yet have a full-blown addiction to coffee, but the smell of it being brewed or the raw beans on display at many a fine establishment throughout the city makes my mouth water.
coffee Waves
Image by Omar_MK via Flickr
I have had an on-off love affair with coffee over the years. I was first offered a mugful when I was barely into my adolescence- but turned it down in favour of the sweeter hot chocolate! In my late teens I took a month long holiday in Europe and discovered how wonderful coffee really could be and I have had the unfortunate challenge of trying to match that superiority since!

Through my early twenties I made do with the many, cheap, caffeinated soft drinks on offer and the thought of the perfect cup drifted into the background. Until just recently! Small steps at first- I finally worked out how to use the coffee machine at work, giving me free coffee any time I wanted it. Then I was gifted a 'French Press' at Christmas (I called it a coffee plunger until PK's mum corrected me!) and once again I am drinking smooth, liquid gold in copious quantities. Nothing better for a Sunday morning with the paper... or a Wednesday wakeup!
 Are you a cup-a-day type of person? Or do you prefer tea? What gets you going in the mornings?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tea and Bikkie Time

I'm pretty pleased with myself because, despite a heavy workload over the last few days, I managed to find the time to bake the delicious Citrus Pinkies biscuits I told you about!
I took a batch in for my colleagues and boy, was everyone happy about that! Due to high turnover of staff of late, there were some new people who had no idea I had done them before and enjoyed them as a novelty. Those that had the pleasure of them last year made comments like "I wondered if you were going to make these again- so glad you did!". It amazes me how a little time and effort (they take about 30 minutes to make and ice, not including cooling time) can produce so much good will.
Here's one I made just for you too! I hope you had a similarly fun filled Valentines!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Air Kisses Darlink

5/52 Happy Valentine Week :)Image by BurgTender via Flickr
It's Valentine's Day! I'm sure you were already aware of that actually, not sure why I felt it was necessary to announce it -but what the hey! Unfortunately for me, I am on the late shift this week, so PK and I won't be having 'date night' until the weekend. :( But that doesn't mean I can't day dream! I'd obviously like to have the night off from cooking, so dinner at a local restaurant is definitely on the cards! Then maybe the newish Natalie Portman movie? That way we can share popcorn and maybe simultaneously reach for the popcorn...
Hopefully I'll find the time this week to bake these 'Citrus Pinkies' biscuits. I have the recipe from a free calender that came with Australian House & Garden magazine last year but the author has been kind enough to post it online for you to try too! I made them last Valentine's for my work mates and they went down a treat!
Citrus Pinkies
If you do commemorate Valentine's (and are not of the mind that it is just dreamt up by Hallmark), how do you and your significant other mark the day? And don't forget your other significant people- family, friends, your pets... Valentine's is all about celebrating love right? So share a little!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kitchen U.G.L.Y.

Holy moly! I will be singing that all weekend now! :) As promised, the following are what peeves me about the kitchen that we inherited with the purchase of Muriel. Be prepared though, some images may shock and awe...
Firstly, one of my main annoyances in this kitchen and my initial reason for wanting an upgrade: the pidly little exhaust fan that resides in the NE corner of the main room.See how the exhaust fan is nowhere near the stove????? I can tell you from many a curry night and bacon fry-up mornings that regardless of how long the fan runs, it just doesn't have the oomph to suck at an angle. So then the whole house smells of whatever is being prepared. Which is nice while you're eating it- not so nice a few hours later. And definitely not nice the morning after- especially when it was your housemate cooking blood pudding! Yeuck! We usually end up opening the window and doors to get a cross breeze and clear out the house.
Then there is the stove itself, which I nearly burn my hands on trying to adjust the level of flame because of the position of the *ahem* knobs. Also, nearly all of the burners seem to have only two settings- off and ON! If I want to simmer something, I have to move it to a smaller element, which if I'm using more than one pot means a bit of juggling! Also, it is not level, which means when I'm cooking eggs I have to hold the frying pan at an angle so that the egg stays 'toast sized' and doesn't slide all over the place. Also as you can see in the first picture, the backsplash (splashback? help me out here folks!) isn't very high, so when I forget something is cooking away and it starts to spit, I end up having to wipe down the wall. Not cool, though at least we haven't bothered to paint yet!
Moving along that same wall as the stove, I very much dislike how low the single overhead cupboard is. I am not tall in anyone's book, so really, it is nearly the perfect height for me. But Oreo jumps up on top of it. I'm not kidding- I've not seen him up there in a while but he leaves little dirty paw prints all up the side of that cupboard marking where he's been. A result of how much grossness hides up there I'm sure! And that is grossness that I don't want to have to think about so if we could have higher cupboards- or cupboards that go all the way to the ceiling would definitely make me happy!
As you can see, we are also the aggravated owners of phantom cupboard doors, the ones without door handles on them. They are in both corners of the kitchen- so double the annoyance, but both actually do open! I have tried to make the best of these cupboards by only storing things behind those doors that don't need to be accessed frequently, but with such little storage space it is inevitable that I need to open those doors. And to do that, I have to open their neighbouring door. And then get the thing I want. And then close both doors -the handless one first and then the one with the handle otherwise they won't close properly. *Sigh* It probably would have been easy enough to just attach a door handle to both doors, so I wonder why they weren't originally designed with them? Perhaps so they wouldn't bang into the other doors?
Ok, I know some people like ledges. I myself am a great fan of Heath Ledger's (may he rest in peace)! (Bad pun? Too early? Too late? Moving on...) But I am NOT a fan of this ledge. I know it has a function- to hide the mess of the kitchen when one is entertaining. But when one is entertaining at Muriel, one gets stuck on the kitchen side of the ledge as one puts the finishing touches on the meal, while one's guests stand on the other side of the ledge. So it can feel kind of claustrophobic in there- especially if PK is rummaging around in the fridge with the door open, because that effectively cuts off the kitchen altogether!
This final peeve is PK's main reason for wanting a kitchen reno: dishes. He hates doing them! I'm not the biggest fan either, but as I do the majority of the cooking (and other cleaning) I try to get (make) PK to do them. And he is REALLY over doing the dishes by hand! Also, when we first moved in, having dirty dishes out on the bench exacerbated an ant problem which we have been fighting every summer since! So we agreed we should get a dishwasher. But I argued that we couldn't fit a dishwasher in our current set up without needing to redo the cabinetry- so we should just bite the bullet and do the whole thing right.

So now you have seen the ugly. I hope you aren't scarred for life! I know that there is a lot worse that we could be dealing with but we are determined to make this into something of beauty, form and function. Go team Muriel!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

If You Can't Handle the Heat

PaellaImage by olivetti via Flickr
...get rid of the kitchen! (I wish I hadn't found that picture- now I want Paella for dinner!)

I mentioned in passing that there was a big renovation in the works here at Muriel. In actual fact, it has been in the works for a lot longer than this blog! Like many of the other rooms in our house, the kitchen is in working order- its just not an inspirational space in any way! Here it is in all its boring, bland, builder basic glory:
Oooooh so much room for improvement! I happen to do the majority of cooking -and I do enjoy it- but I would definitely enjoy it a lot more if the space was more functional! Over the next few posts you can expect:
  • Exactly what I dislike about the current arrangement
  • What is on our wishlist for the new kitchen
  • How we went about designing our dream kitchen
  • Who we have chosen to make our dream a reality
  • The many choices involved and what went into each final agonising decision
  • And of course, the much loved Before & Afters!
The actual renovation part hasn't begun just yet- PK and I have just made the choices you will soon be party to- but we are very, very excited! I hope you will enjoy all of the posts to come, but if kitchen renos aren't you're thing, don't worry! I've got other ideas up my sleeve with nothing- or at least, very little- to do with kitchens! :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WOW: What Big Ears You Have

It's that time of week again! Not quite the weekend but not too far from it that you can't remember how fun it was -and wish it was closer! That's right, its time for:
It seems like only yesterday but it was actually a few years ago now that Oreo looked like this:
All together now: Awwwwwwww! He was soooo little! But with such large ears and a super long tail that he is still growing into. Those are PK's hands wrapped around him there- we didn't realise until a little later, but he was in the first stages of the cat flu when we brought him home and could easily have died if I hadn't taken him to the vet. We just thought he was being extra cute by snuggling up to us but really he was just trying to get a little warmth. I'm so glad I realised in time, Muriel really wouldn't be the same without him!

He might be a lot bigger now, but he still acts like a kitten. In fact, right now I can see him about to pounce on the shadow of my toes as I tap them in time to music... so full of energy and always ready to play!

Do you have a furry friend that makes you go WOW?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Eensy Weensy Spider

You know how the rhyme is supposed to go- but at the end of the rhyme at Muriel, the spider can't climb up our extra 'water spout' any more. Because it's gone!! Here it is as you last saw it:
Paving nearing completion
And after some work by PK with the angle grinder (and by me as supervisor of course), this is what the alfresco area looks like now:
No more downpipe!
You can see Oreo needed to get in the 'after' photo! The downpipe in the before photo was part of the new patio and previously had just drained into the garden bed (which made a pretty big gouge whenever it rained heavily). PK cut up a bit of the removed downpipe and with a little bit of wiggling and adjusting and sealant glue stuff, created a conduit from the patio guttering to the house guttering. That boy is clever!
Ugly but functional!
It's not especially pretty looking, but how often will guests be looking up? And while supervising the process (involving me saying "No, a little to the left" and "Can you move it down a little?") I noticed that the guttering needs some TLC. *sigh* Just another thing for the list! But for now, we are happy with the thought that there isn't a hole in the guttering and we have more space in our outdoor entertaining area. :)


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