Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pasting the days away

There's been some more wallpapering going on over here at KATcapers.
It seems that if there's a choice between doing another load of laundry and doing a bit of wallpapering I will always choose the latter option.
Slapping up some wallpaper is a great excuse to exercise my creativity.  I'd been eyeing off the back of my shelves for some time....

Instead of sticking with the one pattern I used two papers from my Etsy stash in complimentary tones of green and blue.

Pops of orange are still making me smile.

I'm patiently training the older two KATs to place the plates back in the correct spots on the shelf.  If I have to have open shelving then it darned well needs to look organized (yes scary OCD behavior I know).

Canisters were a find on our recent holiday...probably overpriced but I had to have them:)

The yellow flour canister hides all of Sally's treats! 

The orange wooden box on the top right shelf was picked up at a junk store.  It holds plastic clips from Ikea to keep bags of cereal etc closed....the rest of the pantry in the CLOSED cupboard (which isn't blog worthy at all) isn't quite as tidy.
I've now almost exhausted my supply of vintage wallpaper....going to have to do some perusing of Etsy for some more inspiration!!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Staging an intervention on behalf of the Ladyshed

After a fair bit of dithering the Ladyshed now has a functional floor.
I say functional because it's not the "if money was no object" resolution that we want (that would involve a lovely recycled timber floor laid over the Yellowtongue).
See this face?  This is the face of a man who can dither, procrastinate, obfuscate with the best of the them!  I love him to death but he was truly driving me to distraction with his inability to "resolve" the floor issue.  He simply could not make up his mind.
Weeks ago when the faint sound of warning bells went off in my head I suggested painting the floor as a short term solution.  He gave me the "face".  Any of you with husbands will know the "face".  It's the expression that is meant to be a poker face but fleetingly expresses the mental thought bubble "in your imagination darling!!!!"
A few weeks passed.  The boy contents of the Ladyshed sat under a tarp outside whilst nothing much was happening on the interior.
Finally I decided that it was time for a Come To Jesus moment:)
In a pattern that has been repeated many times in this house I chose to stage this intervention once we'd gone to bed a couple of weeks ago. 
Righto, I said.  What.Are.We.Doing??????
Saint Mike rehashed the sorry saga of his decision-making process regarding the floor.  I listened feigning understanding and patience.
Then I gently (it was an effort trust me) suggested that he allow me to paint the floor and see how it came up.......if he hated it then I would ride roughshod over his financial reserve (not an unusual sequence of events) and organize the recycled timber floor.
Cue the sound effects.  Saint Mike thankfully saw the light.
A trip to Bunnings later and having cleaned the Yellowtongue with some sugar soap I got started.
Two coats of Cabots later and my colour choice of "Mattock" (dodgy name, nice colour...sort of a putty tone which is fitting for a shed) was on.
I followed this with two coats of a Cabots water-based estapolly thingy (see very technical) and we have a somewhat shiny finish that is pleasing to my eye.
The verdict from Saint Mike?  He loves it.  So much so that he got his butt into gear on Sunday morning, whipped off to Bunnings for the fixings to make himself a manly workbench.

The skirting boards are in and painted and now so too is the re-used Elfa Storage System that used to be in the laundry.
 Next on the list is to purchase a lockable cabinet for the chemicals/paint tins etc to ensure that little fingers can't get into them.  I'm also finishing painting the windows and door reveals and then it's time to start working on the curtain to screen off all the boy stuff. 

It's truly a work in progress people!!!! 

What do you think??  Does the floor pass muster as an interum solution?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Folding Shelf Unveiled

Hello readers!
Well I'm nothing if not consistent so as with most DIY projects here at KATcapers I've kept you all in suspense with unveiling the finished product.  Sarah at A Beach Cottage I am not:)
In the case of my innovative use of an old louvre door as extra bench space in the laundry, it was my mum who enquired as to what had come of it.  So, with a minimum of pfoofing (so not a word in the Macquarie Dictionary but should be) here you go....the great unveiling!

A reminder of what it started out as...your basic louvre door, reclaimed from a local second hand building supplies joint
Here she is 'in situ' - note the clean toilet:)
As I outlined in the original post, I decided to just sand her back and give her a coat of clear varnish.  I like how she's come up with the grey undertone.  Think it looks good...don't burst my bubble peeps!

To protect little heads (and big peoples as well) I attached a hook to keep her in a safe upright position when she's not in use.

After umming and aahing about what to hang above her I went with one of my favourite prints courtesy of Janette at My Sweet Prints.
My shelf sits on a batten attached to the side of the laundry cabinets (thank you Saint Mike).  This is still to be painted...

The door was cut in half and then hinged to enable it to fold down.

My little shelf has already more than delivered on her promise.  She's a great place to put the laundry basket when folding is in progress and with five people in the house and therefore plenty of laundry, she's in use more often than she's not!
In case any of you are wondering, so far there's been no clean laundry dropped in the loo:)
So there you have it.  What do you think mum??

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ready for big school


Having been through the preschool phase twice already I knew that Littlest KAT would reach that natural tipping point where she was really ready for big school.

I can confidently say that in her case we haven't had a gentle cresting of the hill and tipped gracefully over the top....no we've been on a headlong sprint to the edge of the cliff and jumped off screaming with delight.

Littlest KAT's brain synapses are firing so brilliantly you could see them from the moon.

When I collected her yesterday she spent most of the drive home recounting the science experiment the "senior" preschoolers had conducted that day involving food dye, water, plastic cups and pieces of celery.

We stopped off on the way home to get some celery from our lovely local green grocer Vince. Once I had provided her with the plastic cups (out of our trusty party box where I keep all party paraphernalia) she got herself setup.

She knew what to do and what the experiment should achieve. She wowed us with her capable and confident articulation. We were in awe of the brain-power of this five year old. School ready she certainly is:)


Monday, October 15, 2012

Truth is stranger than fiction - part III (the Moran's)

Our childhood house - all gussied up and looking nothing remotely like it did when we lived there:)

Well here we are folks, I've come up with the goods on my connection (though tenuous) to the Moran family.

I know it's been a long time coming and I apologise.....blahdy blah blah. Life's busy, blogging takes a back seat most days....no point bayoneting the wounded so let's move on!

To the anonymous commenter who has been leaving requests reminding me that I owe you my Jason Moran story....hope this lives up to the hype.  If not, tough luck, I've started moderating comments so go your hardest critiquing me but you won't get your comment published without putting your name to it!!

If you're new to KATcapers (I can live in hope that I am somehow attracting new readers) my families connection to the Moran family was mentioned in passing in this post about my brush with an idiot and his gun. 

In considering this post I've realised that my story isn't so much about Jason Moran.  In actual fact it's more related to my recollections of the home of the Moran family and how the memory of it and the impact it had on my childhood mind still prevails today.  So I'm sorry to disappoint.  If you feel like reading my recollections of a house read on.  If you're looking for a juicy anecdote about a future crim perhaps click away now.

Ascot Value has had its fair share of crime and ignominy in the course of its existence and the presence of the Moran compound when I was growing up was simply a more visible indication that we were surrounded by faceless types who weren't particularly attentive to the letter of the law.

My dad was an ex-merchant seaman who like many of his colleagues had found his feet immersed in cement as a cargo superintendant for what was then the Australian National Line.  These ships were the vehicle for goods coming into Australia via the ports in our capital cities and my dad was effectively in a managerial role ensuring that the containers were loaded and unloaded from the ships arriving in port.  If a cargo ship capsized after being reloaded in his port, it would be his arse in the sling for not correctly positioning the containers!!

As a manager he was aware but not really a part of the shenanigans that people usually associate with the wharves (strikes, wharfies, things "falling off the back of truck" etc).  Nonetheless he was well aware of that and worked down at Port Melbourne throughout the period when the infamous "Painters and Dockers" were making their presence felt.  If you're not a Melbournian or indeed if you have no sense of the history of your fair city and the genesis of many of the Underbelly players (original series) feel free to skip ahead.

I however have a keen sense of my upbringing in a suburb that was a melting pot of new immigrants (Irish, southern Mediterranean) alongside working class people who had made Ascot Vale their home migrating from closer afield locales.  Most of these people I should stress were hard-working, honest types like my family.  We just happened to have the occasional dodgy neighbor. 

For those unfamiliar with it, Ascot Vale is conveniently located on a rail and a tram line and in those days (1970's) was easy commuting distance to the Port Melbourne docks and what was then the abottoirs of Flemington, Kensington and Footscray.  Hence some of the Painter and Docker criminal underbelly found it a favoured place to sleep off their nefarious activities.

The part of Ascot Vale that I grew up in is the neighborhood nestled in the crook of the arm that is Flemington Racecourse and the Royal Agricultural Society buildings that host the Melbourne Show.  Colloquially known as Whiskey Hill, our neighborhood was bound on one side by the Maribyrnong river across which lies Footscray and on the other side Epsom Road across which we needed to pass to reach the flats of Ascot Vale where our school was and where the main drag (imaginatively named "Union Road") and shops were located.

The area is popular today for its mixed housing stock - terraces, Californian bungalows, Edwardian cottages.  At the bottom of Whiskey Hill is also the low-rise Housing Commission flats.  When I was growing up the housing stock was affordable and many migrants settled in the area.

Our house was a Californian bungalow built in 1924 and it was located one street back from Langs Road which is the western-most boundary of the Showgrounds.  About four houses down our street was a group of vacant lots that bounded our street and backed onto more vacant blocks on Langs Road.

Covered in gravel, this vacant land was owned by the Royal Agricultural Society who ran the Show.  We kids called it "The Poles" in reference to the fact that the fence on both street boundaries was of the steel pole variety.  We were clearly imaginative kids!

We often played in the lots as kids, kicking stones (probably throwing them to) and mucking about. 

Every September that gravel lot would be used for parking whilst "the Show" was in session and it would be chock a block with vehicles.  For the remaining eleven and a half months of the year however it was just vacant land.

There was one section of The Poles that we steered clear of though.  I can't recall us kids every discussing it but we kept our distance from the big brick house that had two of it's boundary fences adjacent to the Poles.

It was a big house for our neighborhood.  Double story, brick and in those days painted white.  It was also notable for the fact that it had a pool.  Even more exotic it was a 'dug-in' pool which was unheard of in our neck of the woods. 

There was a grand portico at the front and there was a LOT of concrete.  These people weren't huge fans of grass, lawn and plants. 

Furthermore, these people clearly liked to park their cars, swim and be surrounded by high fences on all sides!!

We knew 'of' the people who lived there but we didn't associate with them.  Their name was Moran.

The times I recall being close to the fence at the rear and trying to peek through at the pool are unsettling.  That may be me projecting information I now have on an innocent memory but suffice to say the house was not on our list of homes to door knock when out selling our Girl Guide cookies!!!!

In hindsight, the conspiracy-theorist in me thinks that the location of the house with it's gravel-lot neighbors was a clever position when you're worried your enemies might decide to launch an  assault (and by enemies I'm thinking either the Police or other criminals equally).  With it's location on the main road it had easy access in and out....pretty good when you're wanting a quick getaway:)

There was a public/state school at the bottom of our street.  We didn't go there.  We were Catholic and we went to the Catholic school over on the other side of Epsom Road.  Once we were old enough we walked home most days.  My older sister, myself and my brother.  In later years I'm sure my other sister came too but my strongest memories of that trek to school is of just the three of us.

It was on those walks that I recall running into the kids from the state school.  Boys in groups.  One of those boys was Jason Moran.  I do remember him as throwing insults at us and making us feel unwelcome.  He was a loud-mouth.  I was scared of him and I was always glad we didn't run into him anymore than the odd time we did.

He used to ride around the neighborhood on his bike (a dragster I think) along with his mates.  We were certainly intimidated.  He was well aware even then of his power and influence as one of the Moran's.

I don't know if it's a figment of my imagination but I grew up thinking that nefarious business was going on in that house that these days we would refer to as a Compound.  I heard stuff about Abortion clinics and whilst I now know that those took place elsewhere under the watchful eye of the Mrs Moran senior it certainly casts a pall over the house.

In later years the house was painted Salmon Pink.  It wasn't a good look I feel.  The house and it's secrets deserved a more dignified choice of colour.

In even more recent years the house was home to Lewis Moran who was bequethed it by his mother (the practitioner of backyard abortions).  He made his own contribution to Ascot Vale's criminal reputation by his death at gunpoint in a cafe on Union Road.

My parents relocated many years ago up to an area outside Gisborne.  Sadly that area has been made famous of late as the final resting place of Jill Meagher.  Crime and ignominy are all around us it seems.

So there you have it.  My recollections of a house and my glimpse from not so afar of a family that lived a life in the shadows and had darkness in their future that my young mind couldn't even comprehend.  In contrast, our home just up past The Poles was miles apart. 

Our home was filled with it's share of darkness too but thankfully it was the more basic "domestic chaos" variety - moody, occasionally crazy father raising five children with our long-suffering mum.  That darkness was coupled with plenty of sunshine and brightness that is our family.  I'd take our house any day:)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The LadyShed Update

Each time a blog post appears in my reader that has anything remotely to do with improving your blog or managing your blog I cringe.
I'm pretty sure that if there was a prize for the most disorganized, sporadic and unfocused blogger I'd win it hands down!
What I've realized is that I no longer care about new people finding my blog.  Hence I don't link to it on Twitter where I love to lurk, or Facebook where I don't ever mention KATcapers.
KATcapers is currently just the place my family and some friends go to keep abreast of what's happening in my world.  Fortunately there are also some followers who visit:) 
So.....whilst I may be the tardiest blogger this side of the Tropic of Capricorn I don't want to leave you all hanging forever on the topic of the LadyShed!!!!!
As you can see, she's coming along well although I've captured her midway through applying her make-up! Foundation is applied but her eyeliner is yet to be completed in the photo below:)
Screen in front of her will be relocated...still hate the sliding door but hey, it's a small price to pay!
Our lovely lady now has some outdoor lights, interior downlights, ceiling fan and assorted powerpoints.  This involved Saint Mike digging a trench from the house to the shed (approximately seven metres) that needed to be 600mm deep.  Like the trooper he is, he just set to and got it done so the electrician could lay the conduit.

Photo taken before second coat of foundation applied...so ignore the coloring outside the lines!
The exterior lights controlled from the house as well as inside the Lady Shed to add to her user friendliness.
Interior prior to the window reveal being put in place...another learning curve for SM
We have chosen to paint her in the same colours as the house - Dulux Calfskin for the cement sheeting and Dulux Natural White for the trim.  The roofing is Colourbond Woodland Grey.
We recently delivered a thank you present to our neighbor PK who has provided such invaluable support and mentoring for Saint Mike in the construction of the LadyShed.  He's a keen cyclist so a voucher for his bike store seemed appropriate. 
To thank his wife for being tolerant of his repeated absences on the other side of the neighborly divide (as well as the times she made lunch for the boys when I was a bit incapacitated due to kids/arm/taxi driving duties) we also got them a voucher for a lovely cafe/restaurant down at the beach for them to enjoy a well deserved meal together:)
More photos will be coming as we get the floor sorted and start fitting her out...but these should satisfy your curiousity for now.
In case "anonymous" is reading - Jason Moran anecdote is definitely on it's way!!!!
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