Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Oh, poor little neglected blog space. 

I think I've kind of lost my blogging mojo a little bit, temporarily. Oops. The renovation is in slow motion for now and, you know....I could come here every day and write stories about washing dishes and doing laundry, but I can't see it being particularly good reading. 

HOWEVER, I promise as soon as anything exciting starts happening with the house again, I will find that mojo, dust it off, slip it back in and return with a gusto. 

In the interim, I am still using Instagram like a woman possessed. (@theoldpostoffice, and non Instagrammers can go here to see the piccies online if you're so inclined)

Sunflowers on the Darling Downs

I did get out to the Darling Downs today to visit a nursery owned by friends of my mother, and got some excellent advice regarding hedging plants.

I've picked my hedge and can't wait to get a delivery of lots and lots of plants to start planting...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chewing Like Crazy

There is a period of time, after you take on a project like this, where it consumes you and you have little time to focus on much else. It's just a cycle of eat, sleep, sit and wonder what the hell you've done.

It's inevitable, however, that real life claws its way back sooner or later.

When we moved to the Lockyer Valley, it was to make a tree change. We envisioned a quieter, slower existence out here.

 I think we underestimated the reality of moving within an hour of three growing cities (Toowoomba, Ipswich and Brisbane) and the opportunities that would present for meeting new people and for work.

Neither Dan or I have ever been one to resist a good opportunity. We both tend to bite off more than we can chew and then chew like crazy. 

Now, we're both working harder than we've ever worked and not just on the house. Dan's new job is all-consuming - in a good way, he's loving it - and, aside from the usual demands of caring for a toddler, I'm tinkering away on several projects now which hopefully will be at a point where I can reveal them soon.

The house has stopped being such a high priority. Rather, it's a minor side-show. A curiosity. It's functioning just fine as a half-lived in house, a little cottage, with most now closed off for who-knows-how-long. Months? I mentioned having Christmas here this year and Dan looked terrified, like he had no intention of finishing the kitchen and dining room finished by then.

I hope we have it finished by then.

We'll get there, sooner or later, and the occasional realisation that one day I won't have to work from a dark corner of the guest room at night or cook dinner on an electric grill perched on top of a washing machine never fails to fill me with happiness.

We've had a few deliveries this week to add to our growing collection of building supplies. This window arrived on Wednesday and will eventually go into the kitchen. I never knew it was possible to love a window, but I love this one. It will one day have my favourite view on our property through it.

One day.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Bits and Pieces - The Outside Edition

Before I kick off with a heap of photos from outside, taken over the last few days with my actual camera (not my Iphone - I'm trying to get break the habit), I have to issue a correction.

Today, I went with my family to the National Hotel in Laidley for lunch and who should we end up sitting right next to, but Joyce.

Joyce and I have caught up a few times now and today we were talking about this blog and she admitted that she didn't like that I kept describing Little House as a former school house when it was, in fact,  a school once upon a time.

So, I'm setting the record straight for you Joyce, lest the local history records be tainted by my words - Little House was a school, not a school house.

Moving on, we've been outside a lot over the last few days. It's been cooler but still sunny and the perfect weather for getting into jobs that were so unpleasant over summer. 

Dan spent this morning putting up these racks, for categorising and storing VJs he removes from the house and picks up at the salvage yard until he needs them again.


I've been working away on this one patch of weeds and long grass for weeks now. Slowly, I'm forcing it back to a point where I can keep it maintained on the mower from now on. Every little bit helps. 

19 May 3

The little one has strawberries still firmly on her mind and has to be reminded that not everything growing in the garden can be eaten as is... and also, she likes wearing her boots on the wrong feet. 

Whatever works.


She's also been checking on the horses for Louise...

15 May 3

...and keeping an eye on the plants for her Mother...

17 May 1

...and is getting sick of being photographed.

19 May 4

The nights are getting cold and the Westerly is starting to get pretty fierce. Winter, here we come. 

19 May 1

The afternoons are still pretty lovely, though.

19 May 5

Happy Sunday!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Big House From The Front

Tonight, I'm going to do something I've not done here: post a full frontal picture of Big House. In all her glory (or current lack thereof).

Soon, this house is going to look very different and I can't really convey the transformation without showing you what she looks like now too. 

Big House

The tree needs a cut back, the house needs a new roof and her verandahs opened and some timber battons at the bottom....

She needs a lot of things, let's be honest here. 

(Excuse Pepper and her George Jetson get-up there, she was desexed last week)

Meanwhile, here on the interior, Dan is making good progress. 

17 May 5

17 May 4

I'm getting to do all the fun stuff - pick colour schemes and lighting and taps and so on.

This old house of ours - she keeps us busy. We think she'll be worth it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Operation Demolition

Operation: Demolition has begun.

Dan came home from work last night and, after a lengthy interlude cleaning out a very old blockage from a drain over at Little House (yuck), started pulling VJs from the wall between what will be the study and what will be the kitchen.

The first pull of his crowbar on the first board brought down a shower of ancient rats' nests and faeces on his head and I could hear the unique combination of gagging and swearing from the verandah kitchen.

Stupidly, I went in there to offer support. 

The smell. My God, the smell.

Suddenly, I felt very busy with other tasks based at the far end of the house.

He reappeared briefly to bark something at me about how next time I wanted to buy a 100 year old house, I could deal with its hundred year old problems. Then he grabbed the Scotch and a glass and disappeared back to the frontline.

Meanwhile, back in the trenches, verandah kitchen's new benchtop oven hasn't arrived yet so I spent the afternoon chopping veggies and dividing up portions of meat to give the slow cooker a good run over the next week or so.

Untitled Verandah kitchen. Strangely comfortable.

Our old stove is still connected, but given the demolition going on around it, I feel it might be more hygienic to use the slow cooker for now.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Renovator's Kitchen

After five or so months in our shell of a kitchen, this afternoon we packed up and moved onto the back verandah instead.

As I've mentioned before, this is so we can basically seal off half the house and start work in there.

While having a kitchen on a verandah doesn't sound ideal, it's actually a step up for us in many ways. We have brought up some cupboards from the shed to use in here, so it actually has more storage than the kitchen we've used so far, which had exactly no cupboards.

Kitchen, these days.
The kitchen we've used so far. (The actual real, forever kitchen will go here too)

Setting up the back verandah to use as a kitchen was relatively straightforward. Dan put his plumber's hat on this morning, running new pipes from here to there to divert our water to where we need it to be -- and installing a sink mixer on the old laundry trough.

Today, he's a plumber.

This is the beginnings of our makeshift kitchen. 


For cooking, we have a large countertop oven with two hotplates on the top, plus an array of electric frypans and grills, a slowcooker and, of course, we can just use the BBQ.

So, in many ways a step up for us from the last five months. But I'll probably save my rejoicing until the real kitchen is up and running. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Budget Bathroom Floor Revamp

Sometimes, in renovating, you have to just invest a little time and money to make something liveable until you can spend more time and money making it better permanently.

Our bathroom is an example. 

With all our time and energy currently going into the kitchen and dining area, the bathroom is well and truly on the backburner. Realistically, I can't see us getting to it for a couple of years. 

We pulled out the old floor coverings when we moved in and, as I've said before, I painted the verandah boards white to try and make it look fresher.

It didn't work, because we have dogs who like to come and sleep in this room.


When they were clean, the white boards had a certain rustic charm but the gaps are a big problem - as winter approaches and the wind has started whistling up between them in the mornings, we needed a slightly more weather-proof solution. 

Enter a packet of vinyl tiles.

No mud! Yet!

So there you go. A $50 solution to a lot of cold mornings and hopefully one that'll last a couple of years until we do the bathroom permanently.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kitchen Countdown

People, it's nearly time to get some kitchen renovation happening around here.

Here's the thing: Dan has a new job and, while we're both thrilled for him because it's a great opportunity for a great company, his time to work on this build just plummeted. Dramatically. To practically no time.

And here's another thing: we can't put off the kitchen renovation because we're sort of locked into the time frames having already ordered the kitchen...

And here's the final thing: our budget allows almost nothing for labour. Dan is our labourer.

So, there you go. An interesting predicament. The kitchen is being installed for us but we need someone to line walls and replace some flooring and install new windows. Dan is going to try and do what he can in the next few weeks and after that, who knows?

I sincerely hope I am not stuck using the back verandah makeshift kitchen for months though.

Anyway, let's not let this little speed bump deter us from important things like looking at inspirational pictures on Pinterest, shall we?

Here's a look at where we're headed, style-wise. This is the closest thing I've found online to what we're doing: the cabinets are very similar to what we've ordered, and we're going with timber bench tops. We'll be doing what we did in the Little House: buying bamboo benchtops from Bunnings and then putting several coats of two pack finish on to harden them up.

This room, as you may notice, has a large pressed tin ceiling, which we also have. I love the colour they've chosen - I'd only really thought to paint ours in white, but it looks great dark here - it really emphasises the detail.

Here's another example:

We've ordered a sink, a fluted double butler's sink, not unlike this one:

Dan has ordered timber sash windows to put back into the kitchen and bedrooms, replacing the aluminium windows there now. We were going to do the kitchen only (for now), but while he was at the supplier's, he saw four windows in the 'seconds' section for a fraction of the price - apparently they were just a custom order that hadn't been picked up. They're quite tall and narrow, so two will be fitted side by side in the two outside bedrooms.

Exciting times!

Life on Stumps

Dan picked me up a copy of this book while sourcing new sash windows at the Woodworkers in Brisbane yesterday (More on our new windows soon).

Every time I see a copy of this book,I think the same thing: with all the beautiful alternatives, why did they put a picture of wonky lattice on the front?

I think this particular book is widely regarded as the go-to for people renovating Queenslanders, although I don't think it has much competition. Also, as I ranted on Instagram, I can't stand that they put a wonky piece of lattice on the front cover. Could they really not find better source material?

The information on the history of the 'Queenslander' house is fantastic but the book does start to get a bit preachy when discussing paint schemes and what you should and shouldn't do. I don't really agree with recycling heritage paint schemes, to be honest. I love the intricate details of an old home but mission brown and heritage green I can live without.

One of the things I loved ( I read most of the book last night) was the chapter about why Queensland houses started to be built on stumps to begin with.

Now, just in case anyone who is uninitiated with the style of housing comes across this post, a typical 'Queenslander' home is built on stumps - either just a couple of feet off the ground, or in the case of our house (Big House), about two metres off the ground.

Little House is also on stumps, although hers are only a couple of feet.

This book attributes the main reason they started being built this way as termite protection, but then also discusses the side benefits to lofty houses that people discovered once they'd started building them this way - better ventilation, protection from vermin, protection from floods and an ambiguous 'feeling of security'.

I completely agree with all of it. I really like living in a highset house. I love that we can get under the floor of our home and see its foundations and how strong they are. I love that we can store our mower and quad bike under the house so they don't take up room in the shed. I love that when it rains and rains and rains, as it does in Queensland, I know it's just going to pass under our floor.

I like knowing that no deadly snakes can find their way up the two metres of stump we sit on (tree snakes and pythons are another story, of course - they can climb but are not venomous).

But above all, the feeling of security described in the book rings true. I love knowing that no one can ever peer in my bedroom window. There's a certain feeling of loftiness in a highset house, like you could just roll up your drawbridge one day and tell the world to back off and leave you be.

I like that.

What do you love about your house that might be a little unexpected? 

Monday, May 6, 2013


Having just clicked the reply button on an email granting permission to the State Library to archive this blog for perpetuity, I guess you could safely say I've got history on my mind. 

I'm very honoured to have been added to their archive, but slightly terrified that my future grandchildren could be reading this one day. 

Hi, guys! I am your ancestor and I don't much care for snakes. Stay in school!

Anyway, when the email from the library requesting permission to archive came in, I was busy poring over this map, which Joyce sent me after her visit the other day. 

It shows the area as it looked when it was originally settled, right around 1880 I believe. I can see where our place is and a lot of the names around about are still living around here today. 

While I'm a little wary of having my ramblings locked away forever, maps like the one above remind me of the value of preserving records of our way of life for future generations to look over in years to come.

I'll be visiting the Laidley Pioneer Museum soon to see what else I can find. I would SO LOVE to find a photo of our place as it looked in its heyday.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lilly Pilly Screen

Dan's mum came to visit last week and brought us a couple of lilly pillies. We want to eventually plant a long hedge along the front of our property, probably using lilly pillies, but I want to buy all the plants for that at the same time so they're the same height. I decided to plant these two near Little House, to eventually act as a privacy screen.


And soon, I have to duck down into Laidley to (hopefully) pick up...drumroll... our new chicken coop! I talked recently about Dan having to build the structures to be snake-proof but we saw some from Mitre 10 come up for sale and decided to buy one to save Dan's time.

We will be building a snake-proof fence around it, however. I am still not ready to meet a taipan when I go down to collect the eggs, thanks all the same (that happened to my neighbour. I think I already mentioned this story and said the snake was a death adder. It was not. Taipans are the most venomous snakes in the world, in case you haven't spend hours on Google researching snakes like I have lately and don't know this.)

Anyone doing anything exciting this weekend? Planting a hedge? Cuddling a taipan?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


This morning, Lucinda and I had a visit from Joyce - a lady who grew up in this little pocket of green we call home and remembers very well our house as it looked back in its earlier days.

It was fantastic to hear her recollections of the area, the families who used to live here and what our home looked like once upon a time.

One of the biggest mysteries she was able to solve for us is that of the breezeway, this open corridor between the two halves of our house.


When we pulled up the lino from the dining room, we were surprised to see the pine floorboards didn't run the room's entire length. Rather, the decking boards mysteriously encroached into the room. 


There were other hints something a little strange was going on. This super-thin VJ board, which is mirrored on the other side of the room.


Joyce confirmed that the breezeway was a lot wider when she was a child. The original occupants had  a day bed on it where the man of the house would snooze in the afternoons. It would have served as a sort of shady, central room and was also a safety buffer to keep wood-burning stoves away from the bedrooms. 

We think now that the dining room may have been extended into the breezeway when the house was closed in, or possibly earlier.

Joyce was also able to give us some insight into how the stairs and verandah used to look, before it was all closed in.

Thanks for your help Joyce, can't wait to have you back out again when we're further along!