Thursday, 30 August 2012

Stopping possums from coming inside!

The possums round our place are very friendly creatures and as much as we adore nature and all her creatures, it turns out we aren't so fond of some of the furry ones coming inside and raiding the fruit bowl at 4am!

One of the places they are getting up onto the balcony from is the gate at the side of the house. I had a bit of leftover bamboo from another project and was mucking around with it when I got an idea. I mentioned it to the husband who leapt into full DIY mode and very soon, we had a possum gate deterer made with our very own hands and 45 power tools. *sigh*

Here's what it turned out like!

Each spike is screwed to it own bamboo circle spacer. They were then all slotted into place by the two cross braced bits. The ends have a hole in them and they have a cable tie holding them together at the bottom.
Then the whole thing was cable tied to the gate.

The idea is that as they use the fences for highways, the gate is the easiest place for them to enter our place and to get up onto the balcony. If the door is left open a smidgen, they come right on in!

I am hoping that once they encounter spikes that they cant climb on or around easily, they will give up and go back to the neighbours.

See how easy it is for them to get up onto the back balcony...


In practise, it worked - they didn't continue across the gate. It simply forced them down onto the ground and then they climbed the stairs and came up the way we would! Cheeky sods! Now that we don't have a dog or small children to keep in, we have found that with the gate open, they are less willing to come down from the six foot high fence to the ground and to come across the path. Even though they couldn't get across they still would walk most of the way before coming to the ground.

What also really worked was strong self closers on all the doors and windows that they get in. We have to go around each night and make sure the windows are closed or the possums will come inside - even with the lights on and us all at the table. Its funny and cute until they freak out at the cat and smash your house up trying to get out - as for possum pee, its a scent that will be with you forever...

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for using a waste product and natural non invasive/toxic methods of pest control
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for using a waste product or 0/5 for using 10,000 screws, 45 power tools and a million cable ties...
Time cost: Me by myself - I'd still be there. Him by himself - well he would have built a better mousetrap if I wasn't there to bring him back to the simple task at hand. Together (minus the time taken to argue) about 1/2 an hour.
Skill level: Power tool level really - lots of cutting and screwing and sawing and other blokey stuff
Fun -ness: Not as much fun as... well lets say a poke in the eye with a sharp stick?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A cheap, and reasonably quick, pillow revamp!

I have changed a few bits an pieces in the lounge and the pillows suddenly didn't look quite right. I had a look at getting new ones but the cost of such things is just incredible these days. So, I bought some material with the thought of recovering them and then realised I could just add to what I had as the colours were more or less ok

I decided to do a re-vamp rather than a re-place of my cushion covers.

Here's what I did...


I pulled all of the pillows out of their covers and put them in the sun to air.

I gave the current covers a wash

And then got out the materials to check the colours.

I cut a square about 3cm smaller than the actual cushion cover for each pillow.
I used a different material on each side so that I can have them all stripy or all flowers or any combination as I please when they are on the couches!

Then I ironed a hem on each square,

and pinned it to the pillow being careful to get it pinned to one side only

The I sewed each one as close the centre as possible


And this is what I ended up with,

Pillows with stripes and flowers and changeable to boot!

This is a nice cheap easy way to get a new look for your cushions. By doing a different pattern on each side, I have the opportunity to change them all to the same pattern or to have different patterns on different chairs if I want to. I'm enjoying the flexibility and the punch of colour that they put onto the couch!

Score card:
Green-ness: 4/5 I used new material - probably greener to repurpose something else or to buy some second hand material.
Frugal-ness: 4/5 much cheaper than new cushions or even new covers!
Time cost: Maybe a couple of hours. I had seven pillows, each with a panel on both sides so there were fourteen panels to sew on.
Skill level: Just straight line stitching!
Fun -ness: Great fun to have a new accessory to play with!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Need more room in the bathroom? - Cover the bath!

We have the worlds smallest bathroom - I'm sure of it. Not only do we have the world smallest bathroom, we have the worlds smallest bath. For many years we have not really used that bath. My husband is too long for it  - he 6'4, the teenager doesn't bathe full stop and I'm too fat to lie in it fully covered with hot water!

For our current family configuration - we don't really need a bath.

So I decided to get rid of it....

Here's what I did...

I went over to the neighbours and cut down (with her permission of course) about five big huge bamboo poles from her big huge bamboo clump. (She encourages all her neighbours to come and harvest bamboo at anytime) and I bought it home and cut it into poles the length of the bath.


And then I bought them inside and laid them on the bath like thus!

They don't cover the taps - they just slot under them.


I know that under all the bamboo the dust will gather and it will be full of the usual bathroom guff but at least I can't see it. I hated cleaning a bath that no one used but everyone could see collecting dust and hair.

The last pole was a bit short. Rather than go and cut another one down, I just slotted an off cut of one of the smaller ones into the end to make it the length that I needed!


So now I have a platform that is strong enough to sit on (oops, I meant to pick up that towel...)

Or I can put a chest of drawers (there aren't any others in the bathroom), a plant and a towel rail on there instead!

I have big plans for this bathroom this summer, so for us, this is a temporary fix. The house is sixty years old along with the associated plumbing and some of the fixtures. I hoping to rip it all out and start again - as soon as its warm enough to shower under the hose for a few weeks!

I have some baskets I'm hoping to use instead of those plastic drawers but here in Queensland, the mould is hard to keep under control in places like bathrooms so I'm not sure how well baskets of towels would go in this spot...

At any rate - I don't have to clean the bath anymore so I'm happy!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for not using a bath and wasting all that water! And for helping the neighbour get rid of a noxious weed!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 Cost me a bit of blood sweat and tears but no cash was spent in the making of this project!
Time cost: Probably an hour and a half - cutting bamboo with a handsaw isn't a walk in the park - don't ask me about getting it upstairs and along the hall way and into the bathroom either please!
Skill level: Measuring and sawing!
Fun -ness: Great fun not to have to see the dirt anymore (Yes - I know its there but I can't see it!)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Fixing my metal watering can with a bit of TLC

When you live in the sun-tropics, you need to keep on top of the watering at certain times of the year. Its not always practical to pull out the hose and so for some plants on the balcony or under the pergola, I like to use a watering can.

Like most of us, I have fallen for the $5 plastic ones from giant hardware stores but have found that after a season, or maybe two on the  outside - it simply falls apart or some one drops it from a great height (don't ask) or the dog thinks its a toy and I have to buy another and another and another. One day, not so many moons ago I found an old metal watering can at a garage sale that I managed to buy for a whole $2!

Its fantastic! It doesn't disintegrate in the sun, it takes dropping from a great height and even if the dog was still alive to use it as a toy, he wouldn't be able to do much damage to a metal watering can!

Then last week - my watering can developed a leak!! Its was a small but annoying hole and my can would water my foot as well as the plants. Now I love my $2 investments and love it even more when I can fix them and keep using them so I wasn't about to give up that easily!

Here's what I did...

One of our neighbours has a husband who has a welder thing-a-mo and today I heard him zzzz-ing things together and stuck my head over the fence. I asked him if he could zap my wee watering can and plug the leak for me and he reckoned the can was too soft/small/wrong for that sort of thing - and why didn't I just put a smear of silicon on the hole...

Well why didn't I think of that?? He took my wee can away and soldered it up anyway - mainly because he could and sent me home to put some vege oil on the inside.


He said that it was a bit rusty and if I put the oil on it and left it in there it would help stop the rust get worse. He reckons that olive oil isn't going to hurt my plants when I water them but other rust killing things would.




So, with a bit of help from the neighbour - my watering can is back on duty, in its spot under the tap and waiting for me to get about my watering duties without getting a wet foot!

Thanks Rob!

Score card:
Green-ness: 4/5 for fixing it rather than binning it
Fruganess: 5/5 for waiting till the neighbour had his welder going anyway - cheaper for us both!
Time cost: About 2 seconds for the solder and 10 seconds for the oil!
Skill level: His very high - mine very low. Just splash and tip
Fun -ness: Now I can use it again without getting a wet foot its much more fun!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Some easy to make 50th birthday invitations

I just found the photos of the invitations for the 50th Birthday party we went to recently and thought I would share the process with you.

I love handmade individual invitations and get a bit of a buzz out of making them. These ones I tried not to make to "girly' as they were for a gentleman's big day so I was aiming for simple, winter, slightly Christmas-y with a bit of a sparkle.

These ones are nice and simple and could be adapted to any slightly more formal occasion or brightened up for less formal ones!

Here's what I did...

First - cut your card to the shape of your envelope. You should be able to get three slices out of an A4 card that fit into a standard business envelope. Choosing a size that has a standard envelope saves a lot of tears (and cost at the Post Office) later on.

There are a "Christmas in July" themed invite with a "snow/cold' feel to them - The background I am using is a plastic $2 tablecloth I got from Crazy Clarkes. I have chopped it up and used it for many things...
I glued on a piece that went roughly 2/3 of the way down.

Then I cut paper doilies in half and glued them on as well.

And then added a handmade snowflake  over the top giving layers of white on white on frosted light green for that frosted snowy winter feel.

I cut (ok I got my sick husband to cut) out all these 50's from some wrapping paper. I would have preferred silver but I simply couldn't find any. I thought silver would go better with the white - but this looked fine in the end.

I turn my invitations into a production line to make sure that I have enough bits and pieces to finish as many invites as I need (plus a few more... You always end up needing more)

Then I cut out the parts for the wording on the front. Again, layers on layers...

Giving me this sort of effect.

And once they are all together - this is what I ended up with!

Like snowflakes, they were all individual as they were all handmade with a different snowflake on each one. All the info for the party was simply typed up on the computer and stuck to the back with a border around it to show the colour of the invite. The table was done up in greens and whites and place tags were just a variation on the part that says "celebrate" on the invitation.

If I was going to do a jazzy, more colourful version of these, I would try painting or dying the doilies a bright colour as well as using brighter backgrounds. I know you can get gold and silver doilies which would be fun to use as well.

The link I used to learn to make six sided paper snowflakes is here and the page I used to get ideas for snowflake shapes is here.

Happy Invitation making!

Score card:
Green-ness: 3/5 Making invites is greener than buying them but plastic is defiantly not green. Waste plastic would have been ok but buying plastic for a project is not.
Frugal-ness: Reasonably cheap as the parts were $2 each and I made over 20 of these with bits left over for other projects. (Plastic table cloth $2, Doilies $2 Wrapping paper with 50 on it $2. Each A4 paper .84c)
Time Cost: Around an hour and a half. Once you know what you want to do - its pretty quick.
Skill level: Once again - cutting and pasting (Two of my favourite activities!)
Fun -ness: Great fun to make and even more fun when the birthday boy approved!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Fixing my clothes peg hanger thingy!

We bought a long time ago one of those plastic peg hanger things that you use to hang socks and undies on the line without taking up a million pegs or metres of clothes line space - and we loved it. It cost $2 from one of the cheapy shops and its lasted, we reckon, close on five years! Not many $2 investments go that far usually.



I bought a second one when we went camping a few years ago and it disintegrated last week. The plastic just shattered from its life in the harsh Queensland sun.


I rescued the pegs and the hooky hanger-er bit and decided that I could whip something together that might give us a few more years (months or weeks more likely) out of my $2.

Here's what I did...

Got some prunings - hoping they were hardwood

Played with a basic design

And cut them to length

Using the plastic coated wire my husband saves going into the bin at his work - I tied the prunings together in the basic shape

Like this - I only did the four corners - I have an idea that if I had crossed braced them it would be more stable and stronger. But I'm not an engineer and at this point its probably not going to make much difference to getting my clothes dry - But I mention it for those who do like to take such things into consideration!

Using the salvaged pegs, I cut some wire up,

Threaded it onto the hooks on the pegs,

And tied them into place on each of the sticks.

This version of the peg hanger thingy was much (much) bigger than the original and so I added more pegs to it as the ten I managed to save were looking a bit lonely...
We use wooden pegs so we can just toss 'em into the garden to rot down when they die instead of putting plastic ones into landfill.


Tied the hook to each corner with some more wire


And hung it on the line!

Almost impossible to photograph - but I'm sure you get the idea!

Just like a bought one!


Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 very green to hang washing out on the line in the first place but especially so if its hung on upcycled bits!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 cost me nothing but time!
Time cost: About 1/2 and hour to make and 20 minutes to realise there was no way to photograph it well!
Skill level: Cutting and tieing skills really!
Fun -ness: great fun - cant wait to see hubby face when he see's this creation!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Grass catcher nesting boxes for my chickens

Back in the distant past when we first got chooks, they lived in the kennel that was rejected by the dog as too small or too big or really - just not on our bed (which I think was the real issue!)

That was fantastic for the the chookies and they nested and laid in it for many years. When our flock increased, we built a tempory house out of mulch bales for them and all was well - the chookies roosted in the bale house and laid in the dogs kennel.

Then when the flock increased again - the new smaller chookies were cast out of the bale house in true pecking order style and so after a few nights up on the fence were persuaded to roost in the laying house.

For some reason, the big chookies stopped laying in there and we had to start hunting for the eggs all over the pen. They managed to make a hole in one of the bale house walls and started laying in there. We had to lift the roof off the bale house each time in order to get the eggs and it all started to look like it might fall apart!

So a solution was needed; Here's what I did...

I went to our local recycling dump shop and bought three mower catchers for $10 They are normally $5 each so it was a bargain and as she sold them to me me, the woman commented that lots of people buy them for chicken nesting boxes - which of course is egg-sactly what I wanted them for!

I brought them home and set them up in their normal nesting spot (after buying a new bale and blocking their hole up). I also had to prop them up so they didn't rock or move. The first chookie that examined it got a fright when it moved and hasn't gone back up.


The plank is to stop them rocking and the brick to stop them moving.

Our chookies seem to like laying up high so I put them on the rook of the old nesting box.

The shelter over the top was from when it rained for 18 months straight and they needed a dry patch to preen and sit in and watch the rain!

Voila! Eggs appear!


I think a couple of my chookies still aren't laying in here as egg production has dropped slightly. I have put one on the ground as they are all laying in the same box that the chief chook chose and the second one remained unused. I put the second one down on the side of the bale house where I have found a few eggs and hope tomorrow they start laying in it.

Score card: 
Green-ness: 5/5 for reusing/upcyling an item from the dump (and supporting a recycling initiative!)
Frugal-ness: 4/5 Cant buy a nesting box for much less
Time cost: The travel to the dump and the time it takes to battle with your husband about only buying what we came for - nesting boxes - I did however relent on  the rocking chair if he paid for it!
Skill level: Just chocking them up so they don't rock!
Fun -ness: Great fun when they use it for the first time!
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