Posts Tagged ‘house’

Getting Dirty with DIY

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Over the past few months I have provided you with updates on my DIY adventures with Sir Pubert, his renovator’s delight townhouse and visits to B&Q. I have really enjoyed being involved in the renovation project – staining floors, installing flat pack kitchens, having arguments with customer service managers at IKEA, and painting more ‘white on white’ than you could possibly imagine.

This week I felt like Dale Kerrigan from The Castle. The pride he felt about digging a hole was on par to my personal delight in my attempt to rebuild a door frame.

Here was the problem – the new door was too small to fit the existing door frame, therefore pieces of timber needed to be cut to size and attached the original frame. Sounds simple enough except my lack of confidence in my measuring, cutting, drilling and screwing abilities meant that it seemed like a big deal. I like to say that I’m highly skilled with power tools, but the truth is closer to me being good at watching other people use them.

Anyway, having declared that it wouldn’t be my fault if I messed it up, I brought my Dad to the forefront of my brain and tried to think about what he would do in this situation. Measure twice, cut once. Achievable. Use the appropriate tool for the job. Not so much. However, through some sort of DIY miracle, I managed to measure, cut and install a new frame without requiring any second measurements, additional cuts OR having to buy an entirely new door frame. And that was even while using an inappropriate cutting tool, a blunt pencil and a drill with a dying battery. The two ‘handymen’ were hogging the good drill.

door frame

That’s a sexy frame.

It is the most beautiful door frame in the house and it now has a freshly painted door hanging from it. I’m very pleased with my efforts and feel I have learnt valuable skills. I have also recently learnt how to use calk and window sealant and how to force open a PVC window if the lock is broken. I also know that painting white walls/doors/skirting boards/door frames with more white paint is one of the most mind numbing jobs available. That must be why I always have to do it.

Drawing with Knives

Friday, September 21st, 2012

I had a great afternoon yesterday as I have come to discover that while I find drawing with a pencil somewhat painful, put a knife in my hand and I can create some interesting images. Last week I spent hours working on a design that I had planned and organised and when it finally came time to print, it just looked awful. I had some left over paint so I grabbed a piece of paper, cut out a random organic shape and it resulted in a really interesting print.

Blue spindle fingers print

Spindle Fingers

You can buy this cool blue thing on my Society6 page as a print, a framed print, a card or even an iPhone cover! (It will look great on all new iPhone 5s.)

Yesterday I decided to attempt this laissez faire technique again and the results were good.

House stencil

Free-cutting stencil

Stencil with paint

Adding the paint.

House and tree stencils

Printed.

I’m not very happy with my colour choices but I really love my tree and I am pleased with the over all scene that I managed to create. The fact that I had to make decisive cuts somehow helped me to create images that I was pleased with. I knew that if I cut the wrong shape or line then I would just have to use it anyway. This meant there was an interesting combination of having to consider the lines I was making but it also not mattering so much because each line just added a natural feeling to the image. It somehow resulted in me being less concerned about making ‘mistakes’ than when I attempt to draw with a pencil. Strange but true.

Stencils

An afternoon’s work.

Again I had left over paint so I did a few experiments to see what I can do with a knife. Exciting times ahead. I am now trying to find out the best papers to use to make stencils with as I am currently only able to do one decent print as the stencil curls with the wet paint. Anyone with any knowledge or ideas they are willing to share will instantly be my new best friend.

Déménagement

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Last Saturday I helped my friend Jen and her boyfriend Laurent move from their separate apartments into their new love nest. I have only met Jen twice – she is a friend of my cousin who got married and I met her at the wedding – but when the opportunity to stick my nose into three Parisian apartments came along, I couldn’t resist volunteering to help.

Thankfully Jen appears to be a highly organised and very well prepared person, so all of their things were packed and ready to go when a group of nine or so friends turned up at 9.30am. There was coffee and biscuits with smiley faces on them – everyone was impressed and in good spirits. And so it began.

I have never really been involved in the moving of houses before except for when I was very young and was given tiny things to carry so that I felt special. This time it was serious AND it was in Paris which meant we had to deal with the concept of carrying household items and boxes from the apartment to the truck. Without a lift. And their two apartments were on the fifth and fourth floors. Thankfully, I am a girl, and therefore was not required to lift anything larger than my torso. It was left to the manly men to carry couches, washing machines and cupboards out of the tiny doorways, through impossibly tight hallways and then down the narrow flights of stairs.

Moving truck

Of course a removal truck in Paris has a naked lady on it.

Jen had come up with a great team-work system involving one group of people carrying the boxes from the fifth to the second storey, and then another group carrying the boxes the rest of the way. That way we weren’t going up and down five flights of stairs for each box. It worked well but two or three sets of stairs is just as bad as five.

It was weirdly fun and the time passed quickly. But by the time we came to put all of the stuff into their new apartment we were all exhausted, hungry and thrilled to see a rather large elevator that made the transportation of their things so much easier. Hooray for modern technology!

Jen and Laurent then whipped out baguettes and cheese and ham for us to gorge ourselves on after six hours of heavy lifting. I came away with some scratches on my arms and two impressive bruises on my hips, plus some very sexy leg muscles from climbing all of those stairs. And I made some new friends! It’s amazing how a bit of brutal physical activity can bring people together.

The Future

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Recently I had developed a dream-like world which I was quite certain would exist for me next year. I was going to extend my stay at Les Récollets and simply hop-skip-and-jump between France and non-schengen zone countries to avoid returning to Australia and applying for a new visa. Unfortunately, in the last few days, reality has hit.

It appears the “Schengen Zone” doesn’t want visitors, or people like myself who think they can avoid paper work by country-hopping. They have set a stupid rule that says you can only stay within the Schengen zone (an area of about 15 European countries who have formed a pact to keep the foreigners out) for a total of 90 days within a six month period. This would mean I would have to go to England or Switzerland for three whole months, which a. I can’t afford and b. I don’t want to do. Here lies Problem Number One.

Problem Number Two for my achieving my dreams for next year is that I am not allowed to extend my stay at Les Récollets. Dang. It turns out that a lot of people want to come and stay here (fair enough) and they have already been turned away and put on a waiting list. Basically, if I am allowed to stay here then I would be jumping the queue and really I shouldn’t even be staying here in the first place.

So there we are. My first reaction to all of this news was to break down and declare that my world was over. I then went for a jog, drank some wine, and slept on it and I have since realised there is potential in these new developments.

Potential Number One: It looks like I will have to go back to Australia (I’ll get to use my return ticket after all!) and apply for a new Visa. I am currently trying to find SOMEONE who can tell me if I can apply for a long stay visa in France. No one seems to know or be willing to divulge such information. I wouldn’t mind going back to Australia for February as that would mean I would get to see a REAL SUMMER instead of the rubbish summer Paris put on for me and I could go to a REAL BEACH. Plus I would have to then fly to Sydney to apply for my visa, allowing me to visit my best friend AND I’d be around for another friend’s wedding. So it ain’t all bad. Oh, and I could eat some of my mum’s cooking. Go chicken and asparagus!

Potential Number Two: We would get to live somewhere new. We haven’t entirely decided if we’ll stay in Paris and just try and find an apartment (a scary adventure in itself) or if we will change countries. I am still voting for staying in Paris as I’m not finished with this city and I haven’t written my award winning book yet, but this turn of events has made for a much more interesting spin in my epic tale! Other options include Germany or Holland. I have to say I love the Germans as they are already winning in the “Come and live here!” competition. I can apply for a travel work visa for Germany in France! I could even go to Germany and apply there! That’s amazing. But then I couldn’t go swimming at the beach. And I’d have to learn German. And I’d get fat from eating sausages and drinking beer.

Anyway, that’s how it is at the moment. Lots to think about. I am sad that I am going to be leaving the residency as I have made so many friends through it, however it won’t be far away and I know I’ll be allowed to come to all of the parties. I hope to find an apartment somewhere nearby as I really love living in this area. So much to see and do. But there’s a lot more of Paris to explore. Let the new adventures begin.

Here’s the Latest

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Exciting and fun times have been happening over here. Our French teacher from Perth, Louise, (a wonderful young lady from Versailles) is in France at the moment and has been our tour guide and food provider for the past few days. She was kind enough to invite us to her family home in Versailles for lunch last Thursday. It is so nice to go into family situations in other countries. It gives you a much different perspective on the way of living and how people function.

Louise’s family lives in an apartment on the fourth or fifth floor. The apartment layout is beyond confusing – all rooms seem to be connected with multiple entries and exits, random bedrooms attached to sitting rooms and the corridor to the kitchen is also the dining area. The walls are covered in trinkets and souvenirs from places they have been. It is cosy, warm and inviting and Louise’s family welcomed us with open arms. Wine flowed, we ate delicious saucisson, and Louise’s mum prepared an amazing French lunch of chicken with a mushroom sauce. And we had CHEESE. One of my favourite things about going to French people’s houses for meals is being offered cheese. We were given five different cheeses to try (we sampled them all), three of which they had purchased in the Alps the previous week. It was fantastic and our breath stank as a result.

Friday night we were invited back to Louise’s for a party with Louise’s friends. Everyone was so friendly and spoke English with ease and were excited about meeting Louise’s Australian friends. I’m not a party person and generally hate being social when I don’t know anyone, but I felt really at ease and had a great time. Sadly we had to catch trains back to Paris and left just in time to catch the final train from Versailles to Paris and then the last connection back to our place. I was somewhat relieved to be leaving the smoke-filled rooms of Louise’s house. Every one at the party smoked. We were engulfed in toxic smoke fumes which we are strangely starting to get used to. It amazes me how many people smoke in Paris. My “You know that thing will kill you” threats don’t even seem to work. I couldn’t wait to wash my hair after that party.

Train to Paris

Heading home on the train

Then it was Saturday. We met Louise, her husband Marcelo, and another girl from Perth, Anuska, at the Musee D’Orsay and we wandered around the gallery with hundreds of other people being cultured. The Musee D’Orsay is a brilliant gallery with some amazing works. One of my favourite sections was a collection of photographs revolving around the theme of sleep. The introductory text said that there was a movement of taking photographs of people pretending to be asleep as it was like seeing them at their most innocent. There was also a collection of Van Gogh’s paintings and some amazing paintings by Manet.

After our cultural boost, we headed our for dinner to a lovely little restaurant in Montmartre. I have walked past this place a few times when looking for somewhere to eat but never went there. It is always so hard to know where to go unless you have recommendations. Like most menus in France, the mains consisted of meat dishes. Hard to be vegetarian in France. I had a steak with roquefort sauce. So so good. Everyone’s food was delicious. To start we had an oeuf cocotte which is an egg cracked into a ramekin and cooked slightly. This version then had foie gras on top and you dip pieces of bread into the sloppy egg/foie gras mixture. SO SO SO GOOD. Yes, foie gras is bad. But it is also delicious. Very delicious.

Oeuf cocotte

Oeuf cocotte. Mmmmmmmiam!

Anyway, the past few days have been really great. Today Tom and I went for a walk to a local park called Parc de Buttes Chaumont which has rolling hills a big cliff/hill/thing in the middle with a look out that has views over Montmartre and towards Sacre Coeur. Everyone is out and about on Sundays, going for walks with the family. It’s nice to be part of the ‘normal’ lifestyle instead of just a tourist.

Buttes Chaumont

Parc Buttes Chaumont with the lake and look out

Oh and we have shelves! We had bought them 2 weeks ago from a shop in the city called Conforama but we had to wait for them to be delivered to the store. We collected them on Friday lunchtime and had to carry a 35kg box along streets, down flights of metro stairs and home. My body is so sore. I have bruises on my hip from where I rested the box. I may have given Tom a few evil glares as he didn’t want to pay to have the thing delivered to our door. That said, once we got it home it was fine. We then opened the box to discover it was divided into 20 different parts that had to be stuck together. So we left it in the box until the next day when it was raining and too yucky to go outside and we put it together. Our shelves are so great. We can put things on them. This excites me more than seeing the Eiffel Tower. Seriously.

Shelves

Look at how the shelves hold things! Brilliant.

On saying that, the train ride from Paris to Versailles goes through some outer suburbs of Paris that have an amazing view back towards the Eiffel Tower. The thing sticks out above the city like a sore thumb and at night time is lit up. It looks so cool.

Look for more photos on my flickr site soon (ie. once the internet builds up a bit of speed.)