Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Now that's my idea of a party!

The common wisdom about owner building is that you shouldn't move in until the house is finished. If you do, it's likely that you'll never finish. Being determined, like I am, I thought we'd be immune to this. A year and a bit in, though, we still have quite a bit to do until our little house is completely 'done'. One of those things is the external rendering. After the mad rush of late-night and all-weekend rendering we did to get the inside finished so we could move in, we were pretty keen to have a break from the old render activity. It is, after all, quite hard, and not that fun.

So our outside render remained at various stages of one third to two thirds done - exactly as it was the day we moved in. It's been there, looming on various to-do lists, but always manages to be shafted by something more fun, like planting 800 landcare trees. Now that's what I call a good time!

We knew that getting the render finished was going to call for some drastic measures, and that drastic measure came in the form of a render, pizza and beer party for my birthday, thus combining a few of my favourite things: beer, pizza, friends and productivity. Need I say it? Ace balls.
Luckily, people seemed keen enough to participate, and we knocked over quite a bit of rendering. Thanks y'all!! Couldn't (perhaps wouldn't) have done it without you!
And as if helping render wasn't gift enough, I also got some completely ace presents, including an amazing handmade lampshade (impossible to photograph in all it's light-emitting glory…) Practical Self-Sufficiency, a glorious RedPeg bangle and some handmade pebble buttons, some music, and a peel for the pizza oven, lovingly handcrafted by Brett! Feelin' lucky, I tell you.
The pizza part of the party was the inaugural firing of our earth pizza oven. Ok... it was actually the second firing, the first being an abject failure on account of my paranoia about the oven collapsing. Basically, I built a teensy weensy fire that didn't even go near cooking our pizzas.

For the party, I stayed away from the oven, lest my apprehension once again result in a lukewarm oven, and Peps did a marvellous job of stoking the fire. Pearl rolled, topped and cooked around 25 pizzas for the hungry render hoards (amazing, right!?) and the oven stayed hot all the while, with the help of a little fire left burning round the edges. We even had banana, ricotta, honey and chocolate dessert pizzas. mmmmmmm....
The pizza oven was built using the instructions in the excellent book (it's all you need, really..) Build Your Own Earth Oven. Only difference is, ours is made from a deserted, dismantled (ie. completely trashed with a shovel) termite mound. You see, while humans struggle to get the correct ratio of sand to clay for infallible earth building, termites are expert at it. And as an added bonus, you get termite spit in your mix, which makes for very sticky, malleable, excellent building material. Genius.
The door was supplied by some lovely friends, and the door's frame was built by some other lovely friends. The whole shebang is one big lovely-friend fest!

Just like the party really, which was fun, and productive and pizza-and-beer-filled, and added another coupla layers of love to our little house, while all our merry kiddies ran wild and played in the sandpit and ate pizza and collected snails. Beautiful.


  1. Happy Birthday to you, Annie!! What a lovely way to celebrate. The pizza oven is looking gorgeous and those pebble buttons are so cute:) xx

  2. Wow you guys! I'm so very impressed with how good the place is looking since I saw it last! Well done! I'm very jealous, but yanno, we DID just up and leave our place so that might be why its so incomplete! Happy belated birthday too Annie!

  3. Hi Genevieve and Annie,

    I don't buy newspapers anymore. I don't buy books very often, instead preferring eBooks. And the only magazines I bother with are Owner Builder and Grass Roots. Owner Builder Magazine is somewhat spooky. Whenever I pick up the latest issue it's as though the editors read my mind, publishing stories that play to exactly where my mind is at the time. My mind at the moment is a muddle with straw bale houses. You see, I just purchased a perfect little bush block in the Murray Mallee, SA, and over the next several months shall move towards building a little 6x3 metre straw bale cottage. I only hope it will be as charming as yours.

    It was as though your article was written for me (how selfish of me!). Every word was one that I needed to read. The ups and the downs. The cracks in the earthen floor. The way you repaired it and the finish that resulted. The budget too was very handy. It shows a few gaps in my own.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It's stories like yours that allow me to be inspired and to strive harder and harder to build my desirable world.


    Pav (Paul).