Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Caring for Grandad's Orchids

My grandad had a very beautiful collection of orchids. He lived with us when I was little and my dad built Grandad an orchid house at the bottom of the garden. Grandad spent a lot of time in it, tending to his beloved plants,reading and doing the crossword and probably hiding from us kids for some peace and quiet.  When Mum died, I inherited many of his plants but unfortunately not his skills in caring for them. Don't you just wish you learnt more from your grandparents and parents before they died?

There are so many questions I want to ask him. 

These fronds above are from Grandad's plants that are now around 50 years old (or perhaps much older). It amazes me that they are still alive and thriving. Most of the plants I inherited are of yellow tones and I wanted to add some darker pinks to my collection so I bought a couple of plants from Nick at the Orange Grove farmers markets a few weeks ago.


I had a long chat to Nick about my grandad's orchids and how I wished I'd learnt more about how to care for them. I basically leave them be. Nick gave me some great advice and said that next year when the orchids are ready to divide, he will invite me to his orchid farm and teach me. 

Nick's advice on caring for orchids

Water them deeply twice a week
Divide only at certain times of the year (late August in Sydney)
Fertilise monthly
Use sticks to support the fronds

I also found this great website that I'll be trawling for information. 

Last year Phil and I divided some of the orchids at the wrong time of year and as a result we have some dead roots which is disappointing. So much to learn. I hope to get these orchids thriving even more.

In the mean time I'm enjoying some prettiness in the corner of my garden. Especially as much of the garden is a building site!

If you have some more tips for me on caring for orchids I'd love to hear them.

Fiona xx

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday morning bliss

Wishing you all a weekend of love and sunshine. 

We've escaped the house renovation chaos and left the city behind. We are enjoying a sweet weekend away with our beautiful kids and my dad and stepmother. Dad's just about to teach the kids how to light the best BBQ fire and pass on some of his Boy Scout skills. Pyromaniacs in the making ��.

Creating childhood memories. 


Have a good weekend. 
Fiona xx

Friday, September 26, 2014

House Renovation: Week One

I'm at a point where I don't even know where to start and what to tell you first. So much has happened this last week and I've missed keeping you updated. Each time I sit down to write I either remember something else I need to do or I'm just so exhausted that the couch or bed seems a better option. This morning though, my kids are at my sister's for a couple of hours, I have dinner in the oven cooking to drop over to a sick friend and I so am making time for an update here.

Firstly...I am unbelievably happy about the progress with our house renovations and how the house is unfolding.  Our builder Sam and his assistant, Murray, started on Monday and have spent the week demolishing the back rooms of the house. They built a ply wall between where we are living during the renovations and the building site. Not a fleck of dust is coming through the wall. We are barely affected by the building site at all...not like last time when we renovated and had no bathroom or kitchen for months.  Our laundry has been temporarily relocated to one of the sheds in the garden but at least it's fully functioning. We don't have a dining table in our current set up but we'll cope eating off the coffee table and kitchen bench for the duration.

This living space is usually our dining room off the kitchen but we decided it's better to have a good lounge room than a dining table for the 7-8 months of the renovation so we've set it up like this. It's lovely and coy. Phil has set my computer up on the console table in the corner and it's where I'm blogging now from and tracking the house costs with all my spreadsheets!

I thought you might like to see some photos of the back of the house when we first moved in. The house was a deceased estate and both owners had died of emphysema and the house had lots of smoke stains including two patches on the ceiling above the bed. Ewww....

Here is the back yard after we'd been here for a few years. We always knew one day we'd do a big renovation and go upstairs so we never spent much money on it in the interim. The hills hoist was pulled down about a year after the photo was taken and all the plants have grown massively.

(we are selling the spa if anyone is interested!)

The garden has grown so much (and so have the kids. That's Jonty in the highchair)

Here's the house this week.

What I think is interesting is that the original house paint colour on these bricks below is almost the exact colour we painted the house. it was pink when we bought it and we painted it Dulux Seed Pearl and when we pulled the fibro add on room off there is the same colour! 

Day 4

The room with the bookcase built in the side is Jonty's old bedroom and that will be our laundry/utility room. Enormous! The little door to the side hidden behind the timber was an old toilet that a few years ago we made into our laundry. This room is getting made smaller as the staircase is going where my desk used to be and the 800mm of the bottom floor behind the stair case will be a ling narrow wine cellar.  You can see in this photo above the ply wood wall that is separating the building site and our living quarters.

Before the building started but after we'd cleared out the rooms I let the kids go made with spray paint. They loved it!

When we pulled down the study ceiling we found a beautiful old horsehair plaster ceiling underneath. So sad to think this had been covered up while we were here. It's not able to be saved . I'm not sure if you can make out the detail but it was so ornate and lovely.

When the asbestos was being removed we cleared out and Jonty had a playdate so Sasha and I had some well earned pampering. She's been on the crowbar while I've been lifting the very heavy pavers. She is such a hard worker and a joy to be with.

I'll keep you updated with the renovation progress if you are interested.

Fiona xx

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Winner is (Wagner Australia Giveaway)

Thank you to everyone who entered this generous giveaway brought to you by Wagner Australia. I loved reading all your beautiful comments and seeing how many of you shared the post and liked the photo. It was definitely one of my highest ever reaching posts on Facebook.

I was going to get one of my kids to do the draw for the giveaway but they REALLY needed to go to bed early tonight. It's the end of school term and they are both waaaayy over tired! So I shut my eyes and drew out the winner myself. The lucky new owner of the beautiful turquoise cabinet I sprayed with the Wagner Flexio 585 sprayer is...

Miles, can you please contact me on 0405 766 445 to arrange pickup of your prize. I hope you love it.

If you missed out on winning this then why not spray a cabinet yourself with some Wagner gear. I have used my gun for several other pieces since getting it. It's fabulous for priming pieces quickly also.

For this cabinet I used the Flexio 585. Initially I used the Brilliant attachment (which has a very fine spray) until I got more confident and then I finished it off with the standard spray nozzle.  The paint I used was Dulux Porpoise Place. It's a lovely teal colour. It is meant to be mixed in an Ultra Deep Base but the hardware guy made a mistake and only used a deep base but as I wasn't colour matching anything I didn't mind. 

For the handles I used antique gold Rub N Buff. I love this stuff! What a great product to spruce up old hardware. You must wipe it on with your fingers and let it dry.

Thank you once again for everyone who entered.
Sorry I don't have a cabinet for each of you!

Fiona xx

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dining table, French Kitchen and a Tiled Floor

Back in April I received an email from Marianne asking me to paint her dining table and kitchen hutch white. At the time I was busy with a lot of jobs and the items were too big for me to paint here at home so I turned the work down. One of Marianne's friends had recommended me to her so she nicely asked again. I finally agreed but said to save moving the items and me having to paint a massive hutch in my bedroom that I would paint them onsite. This week I finally started the job. Little did I realise just what a gorgeous site I would be painting them in.

I put a drop sheet down on the floor to protect the beautiful tiles. I shared a couple of photos on facebook and had lots of people ask about the tiles. They are from Belmondo Tiles, Parramatta Road, Camperdown. 

Marianne didn't want to spend a lot of money on her dining table. She just wanted to make match better with her kitchen. As the top was in very good condition (Tasmanian Oak) we decided to just paint the apron and legs of the table. 

Marianne's kitchen is a poly pac in Dulux Natural White and she wanted the other furniture to match it. So I used my home made chalk paint recipe and painted the apron and legs. I just used two coats of Zinsser primer and then 4 coats of paint.  I turned the table upside down and taped off the underside of the table. For the final coat I flipped the table up the right way to ensure there wasn't any little bits I'd missed.

Because I was painting onsite, I had some time in between coats with nothing else to do.  My sister-in-law lives in the same suburbs so she came over and we went for a lovely walk in a nearby park. Spring is definitely here!

Marianne is so happy with her dining table and is planning on buying some new chairs. Once school holidays are over I'll go back and paint her hutch.

I think it's going to be fabulous painted. (excuse my box of tools in the background!)

I'm off to someone else's house today to paint onsite. I think it may be the way to go while we are renovating!

and don't you love Marianne's kitchen?

have a good day

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lovely Feedback - thank you!

I have lovely customers!! Thank you all for being so kind. I got some lovely feedback today from Geraldine about this cabinet I recently painted for her.

"Hi Fiona
Here is a photo of the hutch (finally). My apologies for taking so long. I just couldn’t get a good picture to do the cabinet justice (and I still can’t). 
We are very happy with this piece – it may not be as lush as other pieces but I am always happy to see things reused, repurposed and reloved. I can imagine that this was difficult to paint – but you did a great job. You are very talented!
I love reading your blog, and wish you all the best with your renovations.

Here's the cabinet before on the left (very reddish brown) and finished but not assembled on the right. It was too big for me to reassembled and take staging photos so it's lovely to see it all together and filled back at Geraldine's house.

Thanks Geraldine for the lovely feedback, you made my day.

Fiona xx

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Win with Wagner: a gorgeous turquoise cabinet

Hi everyone, well this is the opportunity you've all been waiting for. I'm so excited to be able to offer this giveaway!

Wagner Australia are giving you the change to win this fabulous vintage cabinet that I painted using the Wagner Flexio 585 spray gun.

To enter please go to my Lilyfield Life facebook page and follow the instructions.

This vintage cabinet offers very practical storage with two cupboards and three drawers. The dimensions are: 102cm wide by 137cm tall and 51cm deep.

The winner must be able to pick up the cupboard from Lilyfield, (Sydney's inner west) within 2 weeks of the draw or to pay for removal/courier at their own cost.

Good luck!!

and a big thanks to Wagner Australia for making this giveaway possible.

All the legal junk - Terms and conditions for the giveaway are below for those that need these things.

Fiona xx

1. The promoter is: Fiona Gaven

2. Employees of Wagner Australia or their family members shall not be permitted to enter the competition.

3. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.

4. Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are via

5. Closing date for entry will be 8pm 18th Spetember 2014. After this date no further entries to the competition will be permitted.

6. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.

7. The rules of the competition and the prize for each winner are as follows: Follow both Lilyfieldlife and Wagner Australia on Facebook and Like the competition photo on Lilyfield Life's facebook page.

8. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.

9. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.

10. No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prize is not transferable.

11. The Winner will be chosen at random by software from all entries received and verified by Promoter.12. The winner will be announced on on Friday 19th of September. If the winner does not make contact or claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.

12. The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected.

13. The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

14. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

15. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by Australian law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Australia.

16. The winner agrees to the use of his/her name in any publicity material. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current Australian data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.

17. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

18. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.