Saturday, August 11, 2012

Birthdays and DIY landscaping and re-using more old stuff

Olive and I are fully feeling the love this birthday season. A few months ago, I said that all I really wanted was to be living in our little house in time for Olive's and my birthdays. I'm not sure how many (if any) people believed this was going to happen, but I'm sure glad it did, because it's been pretty lovely. Olive's birthday started with a family viewing of sunrise from our cosy loft, followed by a visit from 11 kangaroos drenched in just-dawned sunshine, followed by presents, then pancakes cooked on our shiny new barbecue. As usual, one of the highlights of Olive's birthday morn was the unveiling of the Little Rosie Book - the birthday scrapbook I make for her each year.
This year's book was an extra-special collaborative edition, and boy is it lovely to see the things that all of Olive's most special people love most about her, and what they've observed in the past year. A whole lotta love, that's for sure.
Hot on the heels of this glorious day came my own birthday, which was also a most lovely day, not least of all because it was a Very Productive  Day (my favourite!) filled with various handmade delicious morsels and treats and an outrageous selection of very exciting books.
Top left is The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy (somewhat photo shy). All other will appear in our reading list soon!
After a spot of breakfast and some lovely birthday cuddles, the work began!
Due to the very small nature of our little home, we've always planned to have a nice, covered outside area where we can eat and cook and sit and enjoy the sunshine and general loveliness of our land. Thanks to Peps, the former slope-y quagmire/dustbowl that was immediately outside or front door has been transformed into a (relatively) expansive level bit, held up by our tyre retaining wall. As in all Peps-related activities, he did a really good job, and it's made a world of difference to the way we can get around and work on our little house.

Now that we're living here though, we were really feeling like we needed to do something about the dirt. The time had come to cover it up and make the space more beautiful and liveable.

Options for flooring an outside living space are many, but unlike some of the other decisions involved in this house-building shenanigans (insulation??!!) this decision was pretty easy. 
We had decided quite some time ago that we wanted to use recycled crushed brick instead of gravel for our outside living space. It's pretty good-looking, and ticks our re-use boxes, and it's also locally processed (apparently some dude does it using an attachment on his excavator). It's not the cheapest thing in the world, but, in addition to the aforementioned pluses, it's also pretty nice underfoot, and it's still cheaper than pavers or timber. And crikeys did it transform t he space. It now seems heaps bigger (what is with that?) and it means that we're not walking dirt and/or clay dust inside all the time. Yay and yay.
Our original plan was to gravel the whole front area in preparation for our new dining table. But then something made me think of a picture I'd gotten out of Country Style a couple of years ago and stuck into our house scrap book, of old sleepers laid directly on the ground like pavers. I really loved the look (and recycled-ness) of this, but Pearlie wasn't so keen so it went onto the backburner.
Luckily for us, there is a place in Bega that sells heaps of old timber, railway sleepers, telegraph poles and the like, so the sleeper option was again revisited and was this time met with enthusiastic approval from Pearl, who sometimes just needs a little while to get used to things.
With the combined power of me, one of my buddies from work, his ute, and our lunchbreaks, we picked up and delivered 10 ex-railway sleepers for a neat hundred bucks. Can't go wrong with that, I reckon, especially given our apparently unstoppable penchant for various recycled hardwood items.
So much character!
We laid them exactly like pavers: a bed of mostly-raked-level sand, then sleepers laid on top, with some minor adjustments to make sure they're level and even. There are a few little gaps, which we're going to fill with soil and plant out with creeping thyme, but for now we've got what kind of looks and feels like a deck, but for heaps less money and effort. Yay for saving money and effort, I say.
And what a way to spend my birthday! Nothing I like more than making stuff (aforementioned can't-believe-it's-not-a-deck, combined dunny + tool/generator storage shed) and enjoying beautiful foods and hand-crafted gifts and words of love from loved-ones near and far.

Ogga in the tool shed bit of his "toilet train" (in Oscar's world, pretty much anything is either a train or a cubby)

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday to you, Annie and to Olive too. What a gorgeous present Olive gets each year - a hand made scrap book. She will treasure it forever. I've always written Lew a birthday letter and stuck it in a book that I bring out each year for people who are celebrating with us to write something in. It's got cake smudges here and dip and bikkies there and I love having those memories in a book. Happy birthdays and love your railway sleeper deck! x