Our new front door

Welcome to our home.


Rather boring, isn’t it? Ugly, even.

A new front door has been on the list ever since we moved in. We just never got around to doing something about it until this weekend. Went over to Glasscraft in Lakeside.

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Decisions decisions :-) We considered the two on the left, we did not consider the two on the right… although that tree has a certain charm…

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The door on the left was the most expensive door in the place. It was on our shortlist. The door on the right happened to be the second most expensive door in the place. It won by a small margin.

Yup, that’s the way our taste runs…


We had a visitor for Sunday lunch, and I made the ever-popular Upside-Down Chicken which is basically beer can chicken (I use the AGA recipe I got from the American Grassfed Association, looks like the link is dead at the moment) using a pottery megafter some friends made for us.


Pioneer Woman posted a recipe for Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges and she made it sound so nice that I had to try it. Couldn’t find Acorn Squash, used Hubbard Squash instead. ’twas good, but I ended up with quite a bit left over.

Meanwhile, we’re in a USA frame of mind (thinking of visiting) and with Halloween coming up and all, someone mentioned pumpkin pie. So I made pumpkin pie, using the first recipe I Googled across.

And it’s good!

But I suspect Vanilla Basil‘s recipe for A Not-So-Pumpkin Pie might be better.

Meanwhile we’ve been in the house for a year and we still don’t have a door on the master bedroom. Eish. We do have a new front door though.

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Undercounter lighting

I wanted to use low-voltage LED undercounter lights in the kitchen. I liked the strip lights from LED z Shine, so I phoned a rep, who promised to get back to me and then… things went quiet. Contacted them recently, but they don’t deal direct and suggested I go to Eagle. The guy at Eagle was particularly non-helpful, said he’d have to order the stuff in and made it clear that he didn’t really want to do that.


So the other day in Cape Town I walked past an electrical store (RG Jack in Bree Street) on my way from the toy store. Popped in, found this 220V fluorescent strip light. It’s rather expensive, almost R600, except they then give 55% discount so it’s R255 out the door.


It’s also rather bright :-)

Now I still need to add two switches, one for the undercounter light and one for the downlighters that still need to go into the glass cupboard.

Kitchen cupboards.

I started building kitchen cupboards somewhere around August 2008 — well before we moved in. Well, I finally fitted the last cabinet doors — the two on the pot drawers under the prep bowl.


And… our first tomatoes of the season have shown up.


While the cocktail tomatoes are first, I have no idea what other kinds of tomatoes we’re going to get. They all came up from the worm compost that I spread in that part of the garden, so it’s a conglomeration of all the tomatoes I’ve used the past year or so.

Some Christmastime DIY


I added two switches, one for the undercounter light, the other for a downlighter I still need to fit. Not the most professional installation, but it’ll work.


Remember the bathroom we built from scratch back in November 2008? I ripped it all apart again. The bath (a Libra Neptune Euro) was too big for Tanya, so Frank and I fitted a smaller (1700 x 700 as opposed to 1800 x 800) and much cheaper bath.

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Here’s the redone tiling. Look at the clever gyppo [1] in the corner. The grout line would have been on the edge of the bath, so we made a cut-out in the front tile so that the front edge matches the rear wall.


If the front edge looks like it gets narrower towards the right, that’s because… it gets narrower towards the right. The (professional) tiler tiled the rear wall at an angle (I know I built the box square to the rear wall, before the tiling happened) and I opted to square the bath at the back. I’m sure by next week I won’t notice it any longer.

[1] In the sense of “avoiding work”.

3-phase redundancy

So there I was, pottering around home yesterday morning, and suddenly the lights go out. And the bleating of the UPS reaches my ear. Some inspection shows that the fridge is still working, Tamsyn is still happily playing on her computer, and all the trip switches including the big ones in the box outside are happy.

Further inspection shows that we have one phase of the three phase circuit, and even further inspection shows some very dodgy looking wiring on the pole side of the feed.


So Tanya gets instructions to phone council and I bugger off to work.

Long story short, at 1800 it was starting to get dark inside the house, and we still had only the one phase.

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Battleshort!  I disconnected the two dead phases, and shorted all three phases together on “my” side of the mains breaker (which is the bottom of the bottom left switch in the first picture, but I did it at the input side of the breaker that feeds the garage, just because it was more convenient.

So around quarter past eight, just as I’ve put the bread in the oven [1], the crew pitches.


Of course, they had to cut all power to fix the feed, and when they reconnected the power everything now hanging off the one phase was cold, so that tripped the outside breaker, which lead to the quickest removal of a kludge you can think of (figured I had to remove all evidence of my meddling before they came inside to look why the lights were not burning…)

[1] We had friends over, and I make Pioneer Woman‘s Marlboro Man’s Birthday Dinner (well, the pan fried steak with blue cheese sauce, crash hot potatoes, and buttered rosemary rolls part of it). With store-bought dough in my black pot, Porterhouse steaks from Constantia Pick & Pay, and lemme tellya, that blue cheese sauce is something else.

Data cabling

A while ago, I got my Malawians to install a piece of gutter drain pipe from the roof of the main house, down the wall, under the path, and up into the (free standing) garage roof.

I finally got around to putting some cabling into this pipe.


Three lengths of CAT-5, one 4-conductor telephone line, one eight conductor bundle for the alarm system, and a piece of five core trailer wire for one day when I want to put some of the lights in the house on a 12V UPS type system.


I had to cut a hole halfway and pull the wire through in stages — too much friction around the corners. (Don’t mind Tanya’s pet plastic bag blowing in the wind).

Now to wire up the network points on both sides, so we can get rid of the patch cable going out the garage window, across the driveway, and into Tanya’s room.

Computer network

With the cable in place, next up was the main switch, a Gigabit Ethernet switch in Tanya’s room.


I made this panel with, from left to right — the alarm box, power supply for alarm, GE switch + power supply brick, and three RJ-45 boxes (feeding the two kids’ rooms and the man cave).


I had to make a couple of short patch cables to run between the switch and the network boxes.

So now we’re rid of the patch cable that ran across the driveway, but I still have to install a power point and a network point in each of the kids’ rooms. And I have to install the rest of the alarm system, of course.

Bit of a clean up


These are the invoices for most of the stuff I bought for the first year of renovating the house. Of course I don’t have invoices for the labour. I stuck it all in a spreadsheet and *gasp* threw the originals away (I *never* throw anything away).

It represents about R 230 000 I spent between April 2008  and April 2009. Amazing how a hundred here and a thousand there can add up to real money.