Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Painting: the Opposite of Fun

By SHELL SHERREE

Painting a few rooms seemed such a good idea at the time but I've decided painting is the opposite of fun.

I'm sure it just requires some patience and Zen. To be utterly absorbed with the task at hand. To become one with it. To stop thinking about how long it's taking and allow oneself to be lost in the moment. To be totally besotted with the grain of the wood. To not judge it for soaking up undercoat like a sponge on coke, thereby causing the one litre can that should have covered 14 square metres to be snorted up by less than three square metres. I will not judge. I will not judge.

I should be able to peacefully accept the way the natty little implement I forked out for to save me masking-taping up all of the (very many) trims works beautifully in some places and like the aforementioned sponge on coke in others. (Hubby is out buying a large roll of masking tape now. Even worse, I know he will have given a mental Tick and gold star to that task as his proud and solitary contribution to the job.)

As those who have unwillingly gone before me will know all too well, I now have a 10 L drum of environmentally friendly, tinted-and-non-returnable paint sitting in the carport as the ultimate "buddy system" to make sure I keep going. That, plus the generous test patches on the walls. (I'm sure I read somewhere to do that, but the look of horror on the kindly man at the hardware store hinted otherwise - either that or he had the usual male 'non comprende' of the smock-and-leggings look I had going on.)

To further seal the deal on my commitment to the job, Hubby has just returned, proudly brandishing the best, you-beaute special 'painters' masking tape' that the kindly man at the hardware store sold him. It seems that my instructions to please "just buy normal masking tape, not that expensive stuff" bypassed his circuitry after being filtered as the usual 'blah blah blah'. To be fair, the fancy-schmancy tape may be better. As you can tell, I'm no expert, and it may glide on more easily and pull off more smoothly than the silkiest home waxing strips. But unless it unrolls itself and throws itself with Swiss precision over the (very many) trims and peels itself off afterwards, I'll be very disappointed in it indeed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weather Forecast: Barmy then Balmy

By SHELL SHERREE

I feel that I need to apologise for causing the unseasonal cold-ish snap we're having. There's a modicum of a chance it could be my fault.

No sooner had I packed away the winter clothes than the winds started to blow from Antarctica. (Rather vigorously.) I refuse point blank, however, to undo my Seasonal Wardrobe Exchange . To do so would cause me to have to redo it again shortly thereafter, as the weather would somehow know I'd done it and would snap back up the thermometer again, until I swapped over yet again, at which time temperatures would drop again, thus creating a chicken-and-the-egg scenario and causing everyone in both hemispheres to be permanently ill-clad and calendar manufacturers to be horribly confused.

So to prevent the earth wobbling off its axis, I am prepared to sacrifice my own comfort. By leaving my winter clothes safely slumbering in their cedarwood hibernation, I will cause the weather to naturally restore itself to its appropriate place in the order of things, and all that is verging on balmy will be upon us again any day now. Then you can thank me. (Please send chocolates - before it gets too hot. KoKo Black would be nice.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's All-White, Weally

By SHELL SHERREE

I'm back onto the painting mission. The weather is mostly fine so that excuse hopped on a bus. Now, I'm on the quest for the perfect shade of white. That's right. White. As if life isn't complicated enough, paint manufacturers have been progressively getting in touch with their feminine sides, providing more choices of white than you can shake an increasingly crabby paint brush at. If I don't find the right colour soon, I'm worried that the lyrics to A Whiter Shade of Pale just might start making sense to me.

Hm, how to choose. I found myself gravitating towards the edible or clever names. Having used this scientific method to select Melbourne Cup winners, it seemed only natural to employ it here.

Tell me I'm not alone. Surely no woman could easily pass up White Truffle, Meringue Cloud or Candied Almond without indulging in a sample pot at the very least? I gave Princess Bling a try but alas, the way the light bounced off it in our foyer, the result was more Chandler Bling. (Funny and nowhere near as sexy.)

After much testing, I had to turn to the ho-hum sounding ones. Spanish White? Too earthy for me. Barrister White? Not pure as the driven snow. (An unfortunate coincidence, I'm sure.) Imagine my disappointment to discover that Peplum Quarter could be just right. Wheeeeee. Something named after a bit of fabric sewn onto a jacket. Remind me not to tell my walls what colour they are wearing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Knit Two, Drink Two

By SHELL SHERREE

Knit two, purl two, knit two, purl two, drink two, knit two, purl two, knit two, drink two, purl two, purl two ... does this look strange or is it just me?

I fell in love with the idea of knitting. I blame it on Grand Purl-Baa, Loani Prior, whose tea cosies are the most whimsical flights of fancy you could imagine.

On spying her pom-pommed Party Girl cosy at a book store to promote her Wild Tea Cosies book, I went home with visions of sitting at home every night, knitting needles click-clacking as I churned out a tea cosy of my very own, candles lit, kitty cat and hubby curled up at my feet.

It first went wrong when I remembered that cats love playing with wool. This trait is so basic, it doesn't even get a mention in Cats 2.0. After one too many instances of chasing Ella all over the house, knitting desperately clasped in one hand to prevent it unravelling while trying to prise the woolball of saliva from her jaws with the other, I started to see a hole in my plans.

Firstly, soggy wool is not so easy to knit. For those as skilled as Loani or the tireless women of the CWA, perhaps. But for moi, no. Secondly, my hubby's far too tall to curl up at my feet. (And surprisingly unwilling.) Thirdly, as you'd guess from my use of the word 'churned' with reference to producing this fluffy work of art, I had an expectation that I'd be able to produce my tea cosy in less time than it would take to brew, pour and drink three pots of tea. It turns out I was wrong. (Perhaps my speed was hampered somewhat by the bandages, but even so ...)

Now, I've amended my expectations and consider knitting instead to be God's soft and fuzzy way of teaching me patience. If I can just figure out how to do it while wearing protective gloves, I'll really make some progress.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sugar Soaped and Dack-Free

By SHELL SHERREE

We decided to freshen up a few rooms with a couple of licks of paint.

I have a sneaking feeling that the name Sugar Soap was invented to make the job of paint preparation sound far more appealing than it actually is, thereby tricking a heck of a lot of women into tackling a job best left to someone else. Anyone else.

After getting over my disappointment that Sugar Soap is actually just a degreasing agent and not a form of sustenance to help make wiping down the walls vaguely enjoyable, I engaged in some healthy transference to dark chocolate and resumed the task at hand. Being 5'2" in stature and lacking in patience, I found a little stool to give me Access All Areas rather than trot out the back to get the ladder. (I can see the Workplace Health and Safety types shaking their heads so I'll caution not to try this at home and to use a most sensible and thoroughly inspected ladder instead.)

This pint-sized piece of furniture proved a wise choice when I came to prep the walls in our toilet. It was a perfect fit between the actual toilet and each adjacent wall. Things were proceeding nicely until I stepped off the stool and straight into the bucket of sugar-soaped water, causing me to remove my trackie pants and complete the remaining scrub down in my floral undies. (After uttering a few cuss words and wondering if it was a sign from God that I should down tools, I looked on the bright side and became grateful that I stood in the bucket, not the toilet bowl.)

The job miraculously became far more comfortable after that. I could move without worrying that I'd catch the leg of my trackies and come a cropper. I think I'm onto something that they don't tell you in the home handyman tips. When the weather fines up and I tackle the painting, I'll be doing it dack-free. My hubby has already offered to help.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Halfway Home for the Great Preloved

I love clearing out things quite frequently that are no longer useful, fixable or beautiful. And yes, I have made some overly hasty mistakes. Nowadays, I tend to use my car boot as the Halfway Home for the Great Preloved so that I have a window of opportunity in which to exercise my female perogative to change my mind.

And this proved very handy not long ago. I had a pair of tealight holders - the kind that look like little lamps, with metal stems, glass tealight holders and pretty pink shades that go over the top. After only a few uses, the glass cracked on both of them (obviously Monday or Friday glasses and the Quality Assurance department had been hitting the hip flask by the time they passed through) and I couldn't find anything the right size to replace them. With a tinge of reluctance, as they really were quite glamorous, I booked them into the Halfway Home.

The next day, I was having my mum and sister over for morning tea Chez Shelley and had clipped some sprigs of bougainvillea to put on the table. Hmmmm, what to put them in??? Suddenly, I thought of the pink shades and signed them out of the Halfway Home. I turned one of them upside down and put in a glass of water with the flowers and was reminded that sometimes things deserve a second chance ... and it is always useful to look at things with fresh eyes. (Just like people.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Know when to hold them and when to fold them ...

OK, the heat has driven me to the Seasonal Wardrobe Exchange.

If you're an Enthusiastic Closet Organiser, you'll know what I'm talking about. Your diehard summer clothes are folded or rolled in some kind of storage facilitators ('boxes' are so last century). You put them there a few months ago after laundering them and line drying them on a bright, sunny day while you whistled a happy tune. Perhaps you even nestled in some fragrant sachets as you lovingly tucked them in for a little hibernation. And a few months later, when you realise that everything you go to wear makes you perspire just thinking about it, you know it's time for the Seasonal Wardrobe Exchange again.

(If you're a Reluctant Closet Organiser, maybe you just grabbed anything without sleeves that was in plain sight, including the great unwashed, shoved it all into a garbage bag and jumped up and down on it until it was compacted enough for you to tie the bag shut.)

But whichever kind you are, a word of caution. Do not cull before you put clothes into storage. (And Reluctant Closet Organisers: fight that urge to take the entire garbage bag of clothes and drop it in the local thrift shop bin to save the effort of climbing up into the crawl space.)

Things that you can't bear the sight of by the end of summer may be like comfortable old friends (or grown-up children) to you by the time you've had a little holiday from them for a few months. And if not - then it really is time for them to move out of home.

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