Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Work in the garden has been continuing in its gentle way. It's a never ending process, luckily I have good helpers.

Chores. You'll be shocked at the footwear @gibbergunyah\

Sunday afternoon. ❤

I was laid up yesterday with a headache, which gave me ample time to admire the breezeways. I'll admit, I'd noticed the two weren't the same but hadn't observed them closely enough to notice that they would once have been the same, had someone not snapped two pieces out of the right one. Another thing to fix.

Death by headache #couchbound #theviewfromhere

On Friday, we had an early morning start at the Marburg Show, where I watched my neighbour's boy while she competed in the equestrian events.


And on Thursday, we had breakfast at the Forest Hill Store. I love this place. It has lots of great clothes, great food and coffee and Forest Hill is the loveliest little town to have explore.

It makes me so happy to know that we may have moved out of the city, but we can still find good cafes and little shops nearby.

Forest Hill Store

Mimmis in Forest Hill. Such a cute shop.
Mimmi's, also in Forest Hill. Gorgeous gifts and homewares.

Another example is Potato Studio in Laidley. It was one of the first places I landed during our first week in the Lockyer Valley when I poured my heart out to the owner, Nicole, over the counter in a gush of fatigue and stress. Lu and I have been regular visitors ever since, although I usually manage not to get quite so emotional now. Unless I am particularly moved by the gorgeous things for sale, of course.

Potato Studio in Laidley. Love.

Now it's Monday, and there's something exciting happening this week: a woman who grew up in our area and remembers our house as it once looked will be coming out for coffee on Thursday to tell me about its original appearance and the history of the neighbourhood. She's been hunting for some photos for us but no luck yet.

Still, I can't wait to get some of her stories down on paper. Exciting times!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Plans for the Big House

Were we, perhaps, less masochistic people, Dan and I would probably have worked towards renovating the little house then lived in it while we did the big one.


As it is, though, we did not take that course of action, and we are now at a point where we have a massive amount of very dirty work to do in our house and nowhere to live while we do it.

We have come up with a solution, and I've drawn some highly technical floor plans to help explain it.

This is our floor plan as it is now. It is not at all to scale.


Basically, what we're going to do is convert our back verandah into a kitchen for the process of the restoration of the main kitchen and dining areas, as it already has a sink which we can use - plus plenty of open space for our temporary benches and cupboards (which is all we have in our actual kitchen currently, so moving it is relatively simple).


We're going to block access to half the house by putting up temporary fencing on the front verandah and keeping the door at the top of the hall closed.

And, we're going to have to  remove some VJs from wall that separates the bathroom and the back verandah. In the bottom right of the bathroom (on this drawing, anyway) is an airing cupboard. Access to the bathroom and boot room will be through the airing cupboard.

Quirky, no?

Everything else - kitchen, pantry, dining, hallway, post office room and most of the front verandah - will be out of bounds until the messy work on the left hand side of the house is done.

Here's another quick scribble showing the floor plan we've decided on for the house - but this is very much the long-term plan. The main changes are the opening of the kitchen into the rooms either side of it, the conversion of the bathroom and bootroom into a laundry, the conversion of the back verandah and third bedroom into a master suite, and the installation of a family bathroom around the existing loo.


Where possible, we've tried to keep plumbed-in rooms where there is already plumbing to keep costs down.

So, now I've got a few minor things to do to try and get the back verandah feeling clean and functional enough to be a space we are happy to cook and eat in for the next few months.

And Dan has a lot of major things to do to start working on the left-hand side of our house. He's come home from the local salvage yard with a ute-load of VJs today, so I think he's getting geared up.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Study

One of the things I'm most looking forward to with the renovation of the Big House is having an office/study to work from.

This is the room as it looks now. It's a junk room/pantry/ironing room.  It's where the post office was, originally. It's also a complete mess.



It's at the end of the verandah and can only be accessed from there. The locals used to queue on the verandah to get in, apparently.

You have no idea how much I wish this verandah was open today.

This wall between the study and the kitchen will be mostly removed, so the two spaces are connected. 


I'm really keeping things real with the photos today. I probably could have cleaned up a little. 

If men have their sheds, what space do women have? I think it depends on the woman. For me, a study with my computers and books and gadgets is the ultimate indulgent space. I'll also have a little corner for my sewing stuff. 

Do you have a room or space of your own? What kind of room?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


The other day, I realised I was a bit stressed out. There's a lot going on in our little world right now - new jobs, new commitments, new things-that-shan't-be-discussed-on-the-internet-but-are-a-big-deal-to-us.

{No, I'm not pregnant}

I thought of my camera - my actual, proper, not-an-iPhone-camera - sitting in a dusty pile in the corner of our bedroom and decided to have a go, because it's undoubtedly something that forces me to take on a stillness and be calm for a while - more so than snapping a photo with my phone and uploading it to Instagram, anyway.

I realised I was shooting things in the theme of pairs. Ladybugs ( I caught them at an intimate moment, as you can see), birds, flowers. 

Every time you step outside here, there's something gorgeous to look at. Nearly every day we meet a new creature - a turtle on the road, an echidna, a little lost goat, a Rosella, a kookaburra, horses, one of a procession of the beautiful butterflies that hovers here daily.

This one, for example, spent a while sitting on the stair landing the other day. It was so tame I almost wanted to reach out and pat it.

A visitor.

We have snakes, oh yes we do, but they're part of a much bigger and ever-so-fascinating eco-system.

For every snake we've seen (and, bizarrely, the snakes are increasingly earning our compassion too - our very, very wary and cautious compassion), we've seen a thousand more welcome animals.

We feel so very lucky to live here.

Inspire me - what do you do to relax?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sunday Bits and Pieces

I've decided to start doing a regular Sunday round up of little bits and pieces from through the week that aren't really part of any bigger story.

On Friday afternoon, we received a shipment of goodies my mother packed up and sent from Hobart. Among them was this chest of drawers, which was mine as a girl. Actually, now I see this photo - do you see the tail end of a grey toy horse in Lucinda's cot? That was mine too. 

You can move across the country but hand-me-downs always find you... which is a good thing, when they're as nice as these drawers. 

Drawers fresh off the boat from Tassie. They were mine as a little girl.

One of our routines now is to make scrambled eggs with herbs and cheese every morning. It's something Lu can help with, and she loves the results afterwards. As the mornings are getting incredibly chilly already in this old, drafty house, watching the steam rise off a plate of hot eggs is a nice start to the day.

Egg on her face.

Misty morning.

And here's a few shots from the garden. This rose was left here by the previous owner. I've never been mad about roses, but maybe I could change my mind.

I love this #rose

This photo featured in that slideshow I put up last week, but I like it. So here it is again. 


And the beginnings of a plant I am hoping to put in the ground soon... a loofah/luffa vine. Fresh loofahs for the shower, coming right up (one day...)!


Anyone else grown/growing loofahs? Any pointers?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Four Months In

Today marks the four month anniversary of taking possession of this house. I really can't believe it's only been four months. 

We're pretty proud of what we've achieved so far, but know the tough work is still around the corner. 

Anyway, we're all sick with colds at the moment and I was feeling tired and sentimental, so I put together a photo slideshow to commemorate this notable anniversary and recap our journey so far....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Before and After - Little House Renovation

I am so very happy to announce the renovation of Little House is just about done. Our tenant, Louise, moves in today and I think she'll be happy that she's getting the 'after' not the 'before'.

These photos were taken the day we arrived here. GULP.

Before - Little House

Before - Little House

Before - LIttle House

And the afters:





The total spend was $18,000. The cost was pushed up by the short time frame. Dan did most of it in six weeks, around his job - so we had about a week's worth of paying extra labour to help him get it done.

Other trades jobs that have been done include plumbing and electrics (both about $2,500 each) and the floor sanding (about $1,600).

Also, we had planned to use a second-hand, freebie kitchen but it didn't end up fitting - so we bought this one.

Still, price-wise, we're pretty happy.

The kitchen is a Bunnings kitchen with their 'country' style of doors. The benchtops are bamboo and Dan used a two-pack product to seal them so they're hard wearing.

The wall cladding is a MDF VJ knock-off. Dan loves using it because it means he doesn't have to do any plastering, which makes it much quicker to install.

The paint is leftovers from our last house - I think it's actually an exterior paint, but it was just sitting in the shed so we figured we may as well use it.

Pretty much everything we've used is from Bunnings, except the two-pack product for the benches (the only option I could find there cost $50 a square metre - no thanks)

There's a few little jobs to do. I'm waiting on blinds which are being cut and there is some repairs to be done to the roof and gutters.

But, mostly, for now - it's done. And we can take a few weeks off before we get ramped up on Big House.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lounge Room Reshuffle

It's shaping up to be a manic weekend here, hopefully the last for a while. I've been running around buying irrigation pipe and bore fittings and other bits and pieces to get water to Little House's paddock. 

The cottage is nearly finished inside. Just a few last little jobs and then I'll go and take a lot of photos. We're super happy with how it's come up. 

Over at our place, I did a bit of a pre-renovation lounge room reshuffle because I got the strangest phone call yesterday. 

I have been looking for a recliner for Dan. I hate the look of recliners, but Dan likes to be as horizontal as possible while watching TV and is too tall to stretch out on our couch if I'm on it too. 

Pre renovation lounge room revamp.
I know, that painting is wonky and way too high. I will get right on to fixing it.

He'd taken to lying on the floor on Lucinda's little pink foam chair every night. If there's anything more tragic than watching a 6 foot man come home from working an insanely long day to curl up in his daughter's tiny foam chair and go to sleep, I can't imagine what it is. 

I needed to suck it up. I found this pair going on Gumtree and emailed an enquiry a week ago. Then I decided they were too big, we didn't need two and didn't follow it up further. 

Yesterday morning, the owner called me and pleaded with me to buy them as he was moving house this weekend and didn't have room. Conveniently, Dan's folks were driving out from Brisbane that morning and had plenty of room in their bus, so I made an offer.

$200 later, we have two leather Moran recliners. As far as recliners go, they're not the worst I've ever seen.  Dan looked ever so content snoozing in one last night. 


Meanwhile, our new tenant/lodger is moving in over this weekend and a couple of her beautiful horses are here already. Lucinda is over the moon. There's more horses to come - hence the mad dash to get water across to the paddock.

New horses. Ok, they're lou's ( new tenant), but I can pretend.

Finally, here's a pretty sunset, just because. Aaaah.

The sunsets here are just bloody outstanding.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

That Leaf Looks Like A...Oh.

It occurred to me recently that we've been receiving many of the downsides of living outside of town without fully taking advantage of the benefits yet.

Our petrol bill is astronomical, our expenses for maintaining equipment are not much better. If I told you what I'd spent so far on getting our various mowers, whipper snippers and quad bike serviced and maintained, you would weep for me.

Or laugh, depending on whether you were a nice person or not.

We've had snakes inside our house and whopping big huntsmans and snakes outside our house and maggots.


The reason we decided to move out here was to live a different life from what we were living in town. Our vision included veggie gardens and chooks and a few larger animals and quiet afternoons on the verandah.

We don't have veggie gardens or chooks or larger animals yet. Partly that's because we haven't had time and partly it's because it's been so hot and partly it's because every time I venture over into that section of our property to do any groundwork, I seem to run into a snake which puts me off no end, as you could probably imagine.

In fact, not two days ago, I finally psyched myself up after the last brown snake run-in to go back into the paddocks and spray that damn parthenium weed. One step in and I saw a leaf that looked suspiciously like a snake...? Oh, wait. It was a snake. Dead, just a skin, but very definitely the head of a snake.

Ha! You thought I was a leaf! But I was a snake! Fooled you.

It's just seems an accepted part of life around here, finding the occasional death adder or brown snake in your henhouse.

I just can't sign on for that. We had another red belly black at the back of the house yesterday (erm, shouldn't they be buggering off to hibernate somewhere now?) and I feel, honestly, that there is enough snakes in our life right now without inviting more in with poorly-constructed animal houses. And if we rush into it, that's what we'll have.

So, I have to wait for Dan to build our animal shelters, because he builds things well and he's already bought a tonne of snake-proof wire to enclose everything with, but - obviously - he has a few other jobs on his list right now.

Soon we will have our tenant's horses and we do have our neighbour's cattle, and for the time being, that's enough animals for us.

But there's a little paddock with my name on it, when I get the weeds under control (which won't happen until Winter because SNAKES), I want to put a few animals in there to keep the lawn down and to be pets.

At first I though goats but everyone who has ever so much as met a goat instantly tried to talk me out of it. Then I thought sheep, but we have a bit of an issue around here with wild dogs and I am not sure I could deal with the trauma of finding my pet sheep massacred. Now I'm thinking maybe alpacas. They eat grass, they are big enough to take care of themselves and - apparently - they scare snakes off.

Acreage and farm dwellers - give me your insights. Did you ever meet a goat you didn't hate? Are alpacas all they're cracked up to be? Should I be a sheep and go with sheep?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Postmaster's Maggots

This morning, we came into the kitchen to find the floor crawling with maggots.



I mean, really. Maggots? Have you ever heard of anything so disgusting? Where did they come from? Why were they there? Who has maggots in their kitchen?! We've certainly had a few flies to contend with lately, but nothing I would think would cause such an outbreak.

They didn't seem to be coming from any one direction and we couldn't find their source. They weren't particularly concentrated in any zone or in the bin or behind the fridge. They were all just wafting aimlessly around in different directions.

I vacuumed them up and vacuumed them up and still more kept appearing. I would vacuum one patch of floor, turn to do another and then turn back again and more were there. It was like they were popping out of thin air.

Maggots. Ew.

Aside from the excitement of our unwelcome house guests, I think we may have decided on names for both places. We're going with The Headmaster's House (Little House) and The Postmaster's House (Big House). The idea actually came from Dan after I read him the comments from the last post and I love it - it's not too twee, it's a nice play on words and it references the origins of both buildings.

I imagine the Headmaster would be feeling pretty peeved that his house is a fraction the size of the Postmaster's residence, but at least he doesn't have a kitchen full of maggots to contend with.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Naming Little House

We are coming down to the wire on the renovation of Little House now, with the new tenancy due to start next Wednesday. There is still loads to do and I've been running around the last two mornings trying to find curtains and light fittings and an oven and various other bits and pieces.

In retrospect, I should have just driven into Ipswich but I had to pick something up from Gatton and decided to try and get everything there.

Yeah, no. Didn't happen. I just wanted four plain, flat, one-bulb light fittings but the light store only had one in stock. I couldn't find ready-made curtains that weren't patterned, bright and shiny... not quite what I had in mind.

Ipswich, here I come. Or maybe I'll just go to Ikea...

Here's a few photos anyway. This is the kitchen, looking out of the bathroom.


A closer look at the tiled splashback. Dan chose to do the tiles throughout the house in this straight up and down pattern rather than the traditional brick because he'd seen them on a building site done this way and loved it. Personally, I'd have gone with the brick as it all becomes a bit liney with the (fake) VJs in this room, but apparently it's quicker to use this pattern when tiling and who am I to argue with that? I'm not the one doing the tiling or feeling the pressure to be done by next week.


We went with bamboo bench tops. I love them and have decided to get the same for Big House.


So, there you go. An up-to-the-minute look at where we're at here. I've also been thinking about giving the house a name. It seems like the kind of little cottage that should have a little name plaque out the front. SO, I thought I'd throw it open for discussion: what would you call the little place?

To recap its history, it used to be a school house but there's another former school house just down the road that has a prominent school-related name displayed out front, so that might get confusing. We live in an area with a name that lends itself nicely to house names and puns, but many places around us have already snapped up the good locality-related names. 

Beyond that, I'm scratching my head. About the only thing in the garden worth noting is a few nice Birds of Paradise plants. 

Any ideas? Or should I just make a little plaque declaring its official name is Little House?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Video Tour - Big House

I filmed a quick video tour of the big house today. I did one when we first moved in in December, but thought it might be nice to update it slightly now that the house is actually liveable. 

So, here's big house, in all her rundown glory.

And, in case you want to go back, this is what we arrived to in December.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pressed Metal Mecca

After a few days soldiering away solo with a sore shoulder on the Little House, Dan called in reinforcements - a couple of handy friends from Toowoomba came down today to help him out. 

Between them, they've re-sheeted most of the kitchen and started to move on to fitting in the cabinets. 


The bathroom/laundry is being tiled.


Meanwhile, April 10 and the finish line for this renovation draws ever closer. No rest for the wicked though, it's straight into work on the big house then. That will be a slower, more delicate process. The kitchen is ordered, and I've finally decided on timber bench tops. 

I'm also considering this tile as a splashback, although we haven't got a quote yet so I have no idea if it's feasible. 

Also, it's a floor tile. It's name is the Amity, because - yes - it was used as a bathroom floor tile on The Block. But I love it. I think the colours and detail would be so perfect. 

Lighting is the next stop. This is the pressed metal ceilings in the dining room, leading into the kitchen at the end. We've got to find three light fittings that complement the space nicely. On a practical level, ceiling fans would be fantastic - but it's a question of finding some that actually sit well in here.

There's a lot of restoration work to do in here. #pressedmetalceilings

Of course, before new light fittings can go in, the ceilings have to be re-painted. Dan is really dreading that job, as - I'm sure - is his shoulder. 

This is what they look like out in the hallway, where there's no water damage. 

And the 'after'. The hallway, where they're not water damaged. #pressedmetalceilings

I think, in retrospect, it was these ceilings that sold this house to us to begin with. Everything else here seemed so daunting in magnitude, from the crappy aluminium siding to the leaking roof. We really wondered whether it was worth the time and energy restore it. 

But then, you walk into the big old dining room and see these ceilings and just have to believe it'll all be worthwhile in the end. If you're a fan of traditional Queenslander-style pressed metal ceilings, our house is Mecca. If you're a fan of massive spiders and getting rained on while you're sitting on the couch, our house is also Mecca.

What made you pick the house you live in now?