July 20, 2011

Restoring old doors and windows

We’ve tried as much as possible to use recycled doors and windows in the build, but it’s a good thing we don’t have to pay for our labour! Reusing old joinery is certainly labour intensive.

In our new cabin we wanted five pairs of casement windows in the dining area which looks out to the forest. At a new cost of over $250 a pair, that looked to be rather expensive. Sourcing five identical sets from secondhand yards also proved difficult.

My friend Chris was renovating and had five matching sets which she sold us for $300. They were in fairly good condition, but like a lot of windows from old Queensland houses of that era, they were glazed in green and brown glass, which would have blocked out the entire rainforest view.

I set about reglazing the windows. Each individual window had five panes of glass, so that was 50 panes in total. In addition, I wanted to save as much of the coloured glass as possible, to use in future leadlight projects, so I couldn’t just smash out the old glass. I had to painstakingly chip out all the old putty from each pane and carefully remove the glass. Each window took hours!

Instead of using putty (which I find both messy and difficult to do neatly) I used clear silicon and an 8mm triangular quad to hold the panes. After a while I became quite proficient at cutting the mitred corners of the quad.

The windows required a fair amount of sanding before finishing with three coats of paint. It was also a bit of extra work for the builder to trim and fit the old windows (and I'm sure he wondered why we bothered), but we’re glad we managed to reuse them, and the multiple panes provide an interesting framework for the forest view.

July 13, 2011

Country Cookbook

I’ve just come across a book that encapsulates the lifestyle we are trying to create here.

Belinda Jeffery’s The Country Cookbook is part cookbook, and part journal of the life she and her husband share since moving from Sydney to the NSW Far North Coast town of Mullumbimby. 

She talks about the satisfaction of growing herbs and vegetables, and cooking what is seasonal in the garden, the pleasure of watching the wildlife and the weather, of delighting in both the peace and solitude of the country, and the conviviality of friends and family. Scattered throughout are many of her favourite, very down-to-earth, and simple recipes, together with stunning photos of both the food and the environment. 

Belinda refers to their new life as a ‘kinder’ life. It reminds me that we should all be looking for a better quality of life, rather than a better standard of living.

July 5, 2011

More eco-friendly cleaning

I blogged earlier about our change to Herbon cleaning and personal care products, which are free of nasty chemicals, and are guaranteed hypo-allergenic. I’ve been very happy with their liquid soap (which we use as both hand and body wash), laundry liquid, prewash stain remover, and automatic dishwasher powder.

However I hadn’t been able to find a washing up liquid in their range from the wholesaler I buy through, so, somewhat un-optimistically, I went checking the shelves of the supermarket for an eco-friendly washing up liquid. 

I was pleasantly surprised to come across this one made by Eco Store in New Zealand.  

Their products are free of petroleum products and harmful chemicals, using only natural plant based ingredients, mineral salts and essential oils, thus reducing the possibility of rashes, allergies and eczema. Their products are only available online in NZ , but are stocked by Woolworths in Australia.

After checking out their website I will be looking for more of their cleaning, skin and body care, and hair care  products in Woolworths. It’s encouraging to see the supermarkets are at last responding to consumer demand for environmentally friendly products, and despite my reservations about large corporations, I feel obliged to encourage them!