Monday, 30 June 2014

A good time to show the old bathroom

Now that the new cylinder is in place it's a good time to show the bathroom and hot water cupboard set up.
 This is showing what was the old cupboard from the dining room. The layout of this house is very old-fashioned and one of my needs is to change this. Our way of living has changed greatly so having a bathroom off the dining area is no good, nor is the toilet just down the hallway which is reached by first walking through a large pantry.
 Here, you can see the bathroom to the right and on the left the start of the hall which leads to the mezzanine floor and 2 bedrooms. To the left along this narrow hall is the pantry and from the the toilet. The idea is to place a wall on the right hand side on this picture and to block off access from the dining room. On the other side of the bathroom wall (right-hand side) is my bedroom, so I'll make a door in what is now the wall...
 So, this means the cabinet with the old cylinder will be cut off and removed with the new cylinder now on the right-hand side. A new shower will be built pretty much from where this picture was taken and with removing the left-hand side of the cupboard a new wash stand or vanity will be installed.
 When I first bought this house I had ideas of replacing the old original bath - a bit silly I now think. Almost impossible to buy these now for anything less than a small fortune, so in time I'll have it re-enameled and have the feet gilded - can do that myself as I;ve got gold-leaf somewhere. and it give me the chance of maybe changing the colour of the enamel.
 So here it's easier to see where the new wall will be. The half wall on the left will be taken out and a wall built on the right. In the right-angle between the green wall and the new wall is where the shower cubicle will go - and plenty of space for a large one money permitting.

Time for a catch-up..

So, new hot water cylinder is in place. looks as ugly as any functional equipment does although knowing it is working to provide that very thing i.e function brings it's own attraction and all the components look nice and shiny lol.

The good thing is that whilst I had to replace this cylinder very quickly I was able to bring forward by 1 year my plans to do this very thing as part of creating an en-suite. Where the old cylinder is now was going to be removed (the old bathroom is to the left) to create more space.
 By good fortune and nothing else the new cylinder just fits in the tall space which was a broom cupboard (I think) so all i had to do was clear up the odds and sods of blocks of wood. Sometime in the past someone has 'had a go' and home renovations and pretty much made a mess. There were chunks of wood nailed to other chunks of wood, which served no purpose except to (now) provide firewood! I feel a bit critical of saying such things, but really! So much extra work just to remove 'untidiness' and this applies to most areas in the house; I'm doing so much extra work just to reverse what doesn't make sense and it has the effect of demotivating me if I don't control it.
 Bigger cylinder and now mains pressure - was a bit grumpy about having to do all this as it re-introduced the feeling of a money pit opening up beneath my feet, you know: money just being spent and losing track. Then I had a shower and wow! Instead of shuffling around to get wet I get nailed to the wall. Any minute I expect the mixer to explode from the wall lol.
 Following on from my criticism of an unknown previous owner, the real leak wasn't due to the cylinder but how they had connected the inlet water supply to the base of the tank. Simple plumbing tape is wound around the thread of a pipe so that when screwed it provided a water-tight seal. And they hadn't used the right tape, so it gradually disintegrated. Either way the cylinder had to come out even to gain access to the leak..so..may as well absorb the cost by bringing forward future work

All done really well, thanks to a professional and clever plumber (who happens to be a mate). a special tray is under the new cylinder with a drain to divert any leaks in the future.I was and am lucky; the timbers in this house are old as in solid and high-quality and were used at a time when they were standard. To use such wood now-a-days would be hugely expensive and not necessarily possible to renewable policies. The floors are a local wood called Rimu and the frame timbers are I think Matai - all hard woods. Even though the water has been leaking for some time, none of the wood is damaged. These days MDF is used as even pine here is expensive for what is essentially an ordinary wood

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Today..I discovered the hot water cylinder has been leaking for over a year...

Oh my..well..taking it in my stride. Was about to give the final coat of paint to the washroom and the pantry..and..all the wood is soaked under the cylinder. Hurried 'phone calls working out how I can save some dosh. Called a plumber friend who will cost a new cylinder plus parts..checking to see if all the taps can handle mains pressure. Have a builder coming Saturday to structure a support for the new cylinder. Decided to bring forward by 1 year the building of an en-suite, which would involve moving the existing cylinder and making an existing bathroom far larger. Will have to bite the financial bullet and suck it up together with a glass or two of wine. Will finish the washroom next week...have some friends here for dinner over the weekend and just can't get it all done. I'll be able to put one of the fitted cupboards into the pantry and therefore clear some of the floor space in the meantime.

What a week..

Well, when I took on this place I knew it could be a challenge. As such little can be a surprise. Famous 
last words lol. I started by converting a pantry and adjacent toilet, essentially switching them around.
   So this way the toilet would be a new slimmer pantry and the old pantry a new washroom. I've blocked off the doorway.
Took quite a bit of preparation. The wood is now a different gauge; the walls had been finished with a textured paint, so it meant either sanding or covering with similar paint. Electrician. In this area all are so busy there is a lead-in time of at least 2 weeks so I had to get the elecetrician i to punch all the holes in the respective walls before I could put any of the cabinets in, pluse the plumber had been booked months ago. So, one wall looks almost finished (apart from the lights) and the other side looks rough. But still looks vastly better...

Gradually all coming together and now the wall has gone up to separate I can start to work of the pantry

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Only 10 weeks to purchase and install a woodburner!

Wow!..things move s l o w l y.  Especially peeved as my intent when I purchased in February was to avoid the rush as other buyers did the same in preparation for Winter. Installed 2 days before we had a freak frost - within 2 days the temperature was back up to 18C..now I can focus on the washroom conversion...

About time I caught up with the last month (May)

Apart from fixing parts of the house I indulge myself and wander into my enjoyment of food - well cooking to be more precise. I'm not passionate about cooking at all, more determined to eat nutritious food and not pay through the nose for it. Bread, to be exact bread made with organic strone-ground wholegrain flour : not my favourite food in that short of having a gluten intolerance I don't like how it makes me feel. However, my mind is always full of images..for example toasted herb bread with cheese and wine or as I was trying recently toasted with organic lime marmalade, sharp and tangy. Recently having a large crop of fresh figs, my search for recipes had me finding and Italian one (see previous entry) whereby poached figs spread over bread with Goats cheese or Mozarella is given as a great Winter snack. My imagination has my mouth watering; my experience has me thinking indigestion.

However, I'm now making my own bread and deep-freezing. I so liked the morning treat of this bread with butter and my own marmalade that I had it almost everyday for 2 weeks, with strong delicious coffee. The flavours were wonderful - n ot so much the extra 3 kilos-odd I seemed to gain. So that stopped. Still, here is the bread and I'll still make it from time to time; it really cannot be simpler and it needs no kneading..

 I've put the recipe below as much to remind my self, although it isn't hard to remember yeast flour and water!

The trick is to keep the mixture moist as wholemeal needs more liquid, can't be kneaded the same way as white and needs less cooking time - unless you like eating bricks.

Recipe for one loaf: (see Delia Smith 'Easy Wholemeal Bread')

350-380ml hand hot water
1 teaspoon raw sugar
2 level teaspoons dried yeast
450g wholemeal flour (ideally stone-ground)
2 teaspoons salt
Additional by choice: flax seeds, pumpkin and or sunflower seeds.

Oven 200C for 20 – 30 minutes

In a bowl or jug, mix the water with the sugar and yeast. You can whisk at first to ensure the dried yeast is mixed but then leave with cling film over the top until it forms a ‘head’ – similar to old fashioned beer. This is called ‘proving’ which essentially shows the yeast is ‘alive’.

Whilst the yeast develops (takes about 20 minutes or so) mix all the dry ingredients together. Then prepare the tin you will use by greasing with butter – I use an oblong tin but a round tin works as well.

Make a hole in the centre of the flour and gradually add the liquid; depending upon the type of flour more or less liquid is needed. This recipe does not require kneading, so you mix until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. If it’s too dry and a little bit of liquid.

Once mixed place onto a floured surface then shape and place into the tin to rise. A tip: if you ‘tuck’ the edges under at the base of the mix, as the dough rises it will give a more rounded shape to the top. This is also the time you can design how it looks: if you score the top with diagonal lines they will increase in size as the dough expands. If you scatter oats or seeds on the top they’ll stay there. Leave covered with oiled cling film to rise for about 40-60 minutes depending upon warmth; your guide is the mix should be almost double and almost at the top edge of the tin you’re using. Once cooked, the loaf will ‘set’ at the size when first in the oven. Cook at 200C for 25-35 minutes, but test at say 20 mins by using a skewer; if you over-cook this mix it just gets harder Remove from the tin and if tapped it should sound hollow; you can return the bread to the oven without the tin if you want an extra few minutes and if you do this upside down it will help the crust form if it’s not already crispy. I’ve not had to do this yet however. Once cold, you can freeze what you don’t wish to eat within 2 days.

Useful notes: yeast needs warmth, not heat to grow. High temperatures stop and kill the yeast. Yeast feeds on sugar so honey or some such can be used to replace sugar. Salt can inhibit yeast growth so if you increase the salt component you may have to increase the amount of yeast. Wholemeal flour compared to white flour is quite different in how it behaves. It needs more liquid to make a suitable dough and by my experience takes less time to cook. Because there is more of the grain in the flour it will never reach the same elasticity after kneading as white flour does. The idea of kneading dough to the elastic state is to create gluten and use it to trap the yeast activity and so allow the yeast gases to expand the flour – this is why white flour produces the lightness and size in bread that wholemeal does not. So when converting recipes that use white flour and substituting wholemeal adding extra yeast is a factor as is the amount of liquid you use – and the cooking time. As mentioned I’ve found a reduced cooking time works better. Otherwise you can end up with a brick! If in doubt try the usual skewer in the bread to see if it’s dry and if in doubt go for a shorter time then put it back in for a few minutes extra.

Buttering the tins hardens the dough where it touches the metal and if you add a bowl of water when baking, the steam produced helps make a crispy crust. As a final comment, wholemeal flour is better than white; the best is stone-ground wholemeal. Every part of the grain is used this way. If roller-milled wholemeal is used, not all of the husk bran etc. is included.

A wonderful blog...


I read this as much as my time allows and now Winter is developing it will encourage me to continue planning.

I haven't had the time to sit down and continue my diary, being involved with continued 'fixing' projects - firstly a new woodburner and secondly converting the old pantry to a new washroom. In between I've been trying to keep the garden a bit less than an unruly jungle - and have not succeeded. The new drive gravel now has patches and the edges are becoming overgrown. Never mind on the bright side it is giving me more time to plan what I'd like to achieve in this future garden. One of my hurdles is that I did not start with a 'blank slate' and so tended to alter what is already here. For example having inherited so many fruit trees I sent myself on a pruning course so I could handle these correctly. Having been inundated in late Summer with so much fruit, pretty much all at the same time I know have a more pragmatic perspective: remove a few of the trees. As a default I have huge guilt when removing any type of healthy tree and then I recognise that stone fruit trees for example are not so long lived and as the previous owners planted some slap bang in the middle of a lawn - in a diagonal line no less, then they will have to go if there is to be any type of decent structure. I want to plant more trees, especially on the periphery.The idea of sitting in dappled light, shaded from the heat of the day is a great incentive. I'll miss the fruit blossom to a degree; there are other trees that provide this. As said I've planted some Michelia 'Fairy' (see http://jury.co.nz/tag/michelias/) and 'Inspiration' as a hedge to separate the vegetable area from what will be the garden, so there'll be enough blossom to compensate I think in the interim