Thursday 28 November 2013

Going Once, Going Twice, Going Three Times...

...SOLD !! (or the other title was going to be "Oh I do love to live beside the sea side")

Anyway to cut a long story short, we're moving, shutting up (renovation) shop in the land of sunshine and paint pots, and opening up (renovation) shop on a completely new project!! Yes you might remember us saying this is not our forever house, but the learning house, and what a great learning house it has been. We have learnt new skills, met some great tradies, and made some memories to last a lifetime and all this in just under 10 months. But our forever house needs to be a short stroll to the ocean rather than a 10 minute drive, and as luck would have it (and many months of waiting and a few false starts), we are now the proud new owners of a nice (but tired) new-to-us home just a short 2 minute stroll to the ocean.
Here's the proof, because we are still pinching ourselves to check that it is real and not a dream...out of our front door, walk for 2 minutes, and this is what greets us...

What's even more strange as readers of our blog will understand, is that we are taking a big shift away from what we thought was our ideal style of house, moving away from a 'Queenslander' design to what I'll call 'unloved modern' (there was a time, 1985 - don't pretend you don't remember... *EDIT* - Kate here, I had no idea what he was talking about, apparently it's from The Wedding Singer!) In the house we've bought, we see a home, somewhere to raise our girls for the next 12 years while they undertake their wonderful journey through school. And we also see beyond 'what is', to 'what can be' (which, as it appears, many others couldn't) and it's just as well because before we can even move into it, it will need the entire bathroom renovated.  Giddy up !!
But beyond that short term pain, our plan will be to move into the house and in accordance with Kevin McCloud's guidance and blessing (ok, I've read his book and watched the shows), live in the house for 12 months and get a feel for the area, the house and the seasons, while we plan our renovation and design for the new house. We are thinking it will either be an extension to create a second living area and to increase the size of three of the four bedrooms, or it will be a journey upwards for a second story, housing a parents retreat... who knows, but what exciting times lie ahead?!
The house is not available to move into until early in the New Year, which is just as well as we have those final few tasks ahead of us to get renovation project number 1 finalised and ready for sale by March next year. The new house only has one bathroom, so getting that part of the renovation done first before we move in is essential. But it is exciting (have I said that already) and we can't wait to be in our forever home near the sea. Because "I do love to live beside the sea side, Oh I do love to be beside the seaaaaaa".
Here's cheers folks!
P.S. Today is Thanksgiving for our American friends, so in keeping with our adopted tradition, tonight Kate cooked a lovely family thanksgiving dinner for us all. (Mmmmm the candied sweet potato and apple side dish was  I for one am thankful for my new career and our family's new 'forever home'. I'm also mindful of those soldiers serving overseas away from their families in harms way tonight, and I thank them for their service, because freedom isn't free. Stay safe guys :-)

Monday 25 November 2013

Monday 'one pic' Slideshow (Nov #3)

You may think a one photo slideshow is a bit of a cop out, but this one photo means more to me than 100 shots of almost any other subject matter ever could.

This photo, in the past, meant my boy was packing his bags for another trip overseas to Afghanistan or Iraq.

This photo, in the past, meant I was about to lose my sh*t in an airport lounge, while trying not to let my kids see my tears.

This photo, in the past, meant my children were about to say goodbye to their dad for 6 months...again.
But not today!
Today this photo means none of us will ever be doing any of that again, E.V.E.R!!
His bags are indeed packed, but they have been packed for the very last time.  And this week all this 'kit' will be happily freaking ecstatically dropped off to the military base Q-store and I can tell you, I am quietly jumping for joy!
Have a great week everyone, we sure will!

K xx

Saturday 23 November 2013

Owl's you all doing??

It seems like a lifetime ago that our third bedroom looked like this...

 Then it looked a lot like this,

 and this..

While it went through its transition from spare 'dumping ground' room to new bedroom for a four year old.

So why did it take us so long to get Poppy's room done?  Way back when we moved in we worked day and night to get the main rooms ready for our move-in date and get two of the three bedrooms done. Our bedroom and Sasha's both had air con, the third bedroom didn't, (and still doesn't) remember we moved from a freezing cold Pennsylvanian winter to North Queensland in the midst of summer and although we often capture nice breezes in this raised old Queenslander, we weren't going to put our youngest through her first ever tropical summer in a room with no air con.  So we used that to our advantage and held off on finishing her room so that we could a) concentrate on other more important areas and b) use her room as a holding area for all the 'stuff' we had yet to find homes for. I was convinced I had a photograph of her room packed to the rafters with removal boxes but try as I might I cannot find it.  So for the first 5 months she slept in Sasha's Paris-themed room, you can see what it was like back then, here.  (I will do another post next week on what changes were made to Sasha's room once her house guest had moved out!) 

Once the hot, hot summer had calmed itself and our little Poppy Mae had acclimatised we began sorting all the rubbish in her room and started making it her own.  Much like the rest of the house, we kept it all neutral with the bright white walls and ceiling.  We used the same venetian blinds as the other rooms, and added cute black and white tree print curtains from Ikea.  She shares her built-ins with her sister, so we fitted them out with a modular wire framed shelving system.  As for the theme, while we were still in a hotel back in Feb, my sister had sent Poppy a cute little wooden jigsaw jewelry box in the shape of an owl, she also received 3 owl cards and an owl soft toy.
She loved them all, so it was a no-brainer when we asked her what theme she wanted her bedroom to be...OWLS!!  So without further ado, here is Poppy's bedroom in all its owl and 'where-there-is-space-I-will-put-a-toy-or-book' glory...

Oh and by the way, today as I was taking pictures, Poppy asked 'why are you taking photos of my room?"  I told her it was for the blog, and she said, "but I have already done a blog post on my room and things, they will have seen it all already!"  Of course she was talking about her own blog post back here, when I let her loose with my phone and nexus, so yes sorry you may have seen some similar shots of her room already!

The pink circle on the top left of the curtain rail is a tent light.  Once Poppy started to read, we wanted her to have a light she could turn on and off by herself, both safely and easily.  It is controlled by remote and is perfect for night time reading. It has three settings so she can have it as bright or as dim as she likes...perfect!

She used to have a chair in her reading corner but it has been replaced with the dolls house that Sasha used to own but has since outgrown.

An owl made from Welsh coal that Sasha fell in love with on a trip to the UK when she was a baby, now belongs to Poppy who loves it even more!

The flooring in this house is adorable, I love it!

The built-in robe doors are the only thing that's not finished in here, they are on my list to paint this week

Both girls have this awesome Ikea storage unit, we love them, perfect for all their nick nacks

I photographed the owls on her bed sheets and printed them onto canvas printer paper...

...then tacked them onto her curtains so that it all tied in.  When/if she changes her mind about her rooms theme we can snip off the owls and still use these fabulous neutral Ikea curtains.

She chose her own light fitting, not knowing it would create this glorious pattern on the ceiling

She can display her ridiculous amount wonderfully creative amount of artwork by rotating it weekly on her string hanger.  Simple ric-rac held up by tiny command hooks, then her artwork and photos are attached with paper clips
And there is always space on her bedroom door to display her larger pieces, this one is from her last day at Reef School, 'a leopard shark, sea star and jellyfish dancing amongst the coral'

The little miss insisted on having a photo of her sitting regally on her bed as the last picture on the blog post!! 

Can't believe this little cheeky thing starts school in 2 months time!  She had her prep open day this week and on the way home I asked "Are you sure you want to go to school next year?  Don't you wanna stay home with Mummy?"  "No way" she said "I can't wait to go to big school, it's gonna be so much fun"  "But what will I do all day without you?" I asked. "Well", she said, "you can do anything you want to, but in complete peace".   I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!


Monday 18 November 2013

Monday Slideshow (Nov #2)

A very simple slideshow today with an update of our mini vegie patch. You will have to excuse the leaf matter and general untidiness in and around our garden, our whole plot is surrounded by huge trees.  Beautiful shade giving huge trees, that we would not be happy without, but at the same time create an awful lot of mess too.  From rotten half eaten mangoes to carpets of leaves...and of course the lovely frangipani confetti as the kids call it.  That's not messy we love that.




Plus numerous others that shed their leaves and scatter themselves about our patch, and to be honest I do not spend enough time cleaning up the fallen debris, so as I said please ignore the untidiness!

We have had some successes with our garden and some complete fails.  We began very simply without spending lots of money on making proper garden beds so that we could test out the soil, drainage and location/sun/shade etc to see what would grow (if anything) and what we would have to work a bit harder on.  So we started with snow peas, tomatoes, sage, chives, mint, basil, parsley  and pumpkin and later added round cucumbers, capsicum, potato and lettuce.

After some initial fails with our Basil, it is now coming on wonderfully

Although our tomato plants have now died off, we got loads of fruit from them, and although 'not bad' they were not the best of flavour so we may try a different variety next year.

The parsley and lettuces grew perfectly, again we didn't like the lettuce variety as much as we'd hoped to :(
These two were accidents. Well kind of.  The pumpkin vine started from a seed that had dropped from the compost bin lid, so it was a definite accident and the potato plant is an experiment from the supermarket potatoes that seeded in the pantry before I could use them in the kitchen.  I have no idea if either will produce anything but we figured it doesn't matter either way and would be fun for the kids to see what grows.

The capsicum and rosemary are both doing well
We are hoping the second accidental pumpkin vine and new capsicum plant will do just as well too

As for the other plants mentioned above, cucumbers, peas, sage, chives etc they did not do so well and died out, at first the peas were looking very good and we were hopeful that they would produce a bumper crop but after a few gorgeous little pods formed, they just stopped.  The sage that went in the ground didn't cope and went bad straight away, although I do have a lovely healthy sage plant in a pot.  As for chives, no luck at all.  In fact I have tried to grow chives many times and in many climates and places but never been successful.  I used to love picking and eating chives from our garden when we were kids, seeing the huge 'bushes' of them with those lovely purple round flowers.  Love them!  But I have no idea why I can't grow them here (or anywhere)!  Even our mint wont grow...MINT!? for goodness sake!! Everywhere else we have lived it has positively taken over.  Here?  Nada!  Tried it in pots, tried it in the ground...nothing!  Very odd!
In all honesty we really didn't know what we were doing with any of this garden so we are surprised that even this much has I guess we ought to be grateful for what we do have! 

So that's about all so far from our garden, we are currently in the process of re-grouping so to speak and making some cute little 'neater' garden beds, not like the ones we did as a trial, (no sh*t they look like freshly covered graves...Col chose to dig rectangular mounds (really??!!), so we should have some pictures of those in the next week or so.  As for the rest of the blog I hope to be back later this week with an update on the kids rooms.  It was months and months ago that Poppy moved from her shared room with her sister to her own bedroom and I just realised I never did a post on it, so I must get onto that.

Have a great week folks and any gardening tips would be gratefully received...especially anything pumpkin, potato or chive related, cos I have no idea about any of them!


Wednesday 13 November 2013

The (very loooong), very long-awaited carport post..

..oopsie - my bad! 
Look who forgot about this blog for nearly a week.  I have been soooo busy you would not believe.  We have so many things on the go at the moment that I have just installed an app for reminders on my phone after today realising at 10.35am (after taking a lovely little walk with my trusty side kick Red Dog), that I was supposed to have been at a parent info day for prep at Poppy's new school from 9-10.30...OOPS again!  Luckily they allowed me to go in for the 2pm time slot!  My brain is fried, so I am now relying on technology to keep my appointments up to date, let's hope it works!
So in lieu of the Monday Slideshow and the carport post that I promised last week, I am instead combining the two (where have I written that before?...oh yeah, here, gee I am shite). 
It actually makes sense to do that anyway as it will be a fairly succinct carport it'll kind of be a slideshow anyway.  It was a quick, but intricate re-do, that only really needs a few pictures and the odd paragraph to tell the tale.  *Edit as you will see the above lines are rubbish as once I start I can't keep it short to save myself!
Here's what we started with
The roof and beams were mostly ok, although there were some areas of iron that had rusted and leaked.  The main side structure and roof beams were made of beautiful (heavy) silky oak, (probably off-cuts from the house frame re-purposed some time in the early 60's) that had seen a little bit of termite damage somewhere in its near 50 year history but the side sheeting, well, that there my friends is asbestos
The awful 'A' word that makes people shriek with terror and quake at the very thought of being anywhere near it.  I am not going into a full on post about asbestos, (although I have taken a homeowners course on it, I am no expert) but suffice to say if it is in good condition and not in any way broken, damaged or exposed then - leave it well alone.  If it needs to be removed, like this shed, you need to weigh up your choices and do it properly...either by yourself taking all precautions necessary or pay someone else to do it for you.  Every council is different with their rules and it's imperative to understand everything about asbestos and its removal before you decide what to do.  
So the bottom line was even though the carport was doing its had seen better days and needed to go.  We chose to keep the steel poles as its base and re-build it from that.  Was that wise?  Well if you go to any carport/shed company they will say no!  They have no idea how deep the poles are in the ground or how long they had been there.  So to cover themselves they will always suggest to remove it all and start again.  We chose not to as we were working to a budget.  We went against their advice and again employed tradies to do the build.  Only after all the roof and sides had been removed and we could test the poles to our best judgement, did we fully decide that the poles were ok.  If either of our tradies had at that point said 'no it's not worth it, let's put in new poles we would have.  But this old carport has been through some pretty extreme North Qld weather not to mention the odd cyclone in its lifetime, so we were pretty sure it would continue to do its job and withstand all that's thrown at it, provided it was to be re-built properly of course. Likewise the slab has seen better days and it would be nice if it was all new and shiny to match but in all honesty it wasn't in our budget and at the end of the day it seats our car tyres...that's it.  So that would be a job that could come later when the budget allowed, (by pouring a new 100mm slab over the top).

As Col had already started working again, this was my project and there ain't no way these little arms would be able to do any of this heavy lifting, so I employed a guy who lives around the corner from us called John to help me out do the heavy stuff for me!  He is an all round tradie and has just renovated a Queenslander to an impeccable standard and has so many fantastic ideas to boot.  He was super fast and had all the roofing down in next to no time.

Once the sheets had been removed (I didn't worry about taking photos on asbestos removal day) it was then time to start the re-build.  Again we used Phil our stair guy, and John, between them they got the new carport up and running in no time at all.


Phil trying his hand at pole dancing working hard on welding the purlins.  (Sorry Phil if you are reading, couldn't resist)

By sunset the framework was all up, notice at the back Phil decided to add two steel posts (you can see one of them in this photo) for extra strength as he felt it needed it.

At this stage John suggested that we have him come and spray paint all the steel.  We are so glad we decided to do this as it gives a much neater, polished finish.

We chose a Colorbond roof in Ironstone, a dark charcoal grey colour.  Even though a lighter colour would have been better to help reflect the heat that radiates from our harsh Qld sun, this carport sits under a 30ft + tall Mango tree that produces an abundance of wonderful fruit for our native Fruit Bats (or Flying Foxes) When it's mango season the fruit bats hang gaily from the tree eating to their hearts content...and are not at all worried about where they (a'hem) poop!  Are you getting the gist?

Like John, Phil works super fast but with the utmost of care and gets the job done exactly how you want it.  Before we knew it, it was all finished.  

We chose the same Colorbond sheets to shield off both sides at the back leaving a gap in between.  This serves two purposes, 1) it hides the current messy dead space behind area that will house chickens or an extended vege patch and both hides and gives us easy access to our garbage bins and 2) it braces the back to add much needed strength for any future cyclone conditions.  We also added an opening from the gutter for a down pipe to go into our rain tank. (See bottom picture) 
Likewise on the left side we added a spare piece of Colorbond to brace these sides.  Originally it was actually as a temporary fix as we would eventually look at doing steel cross beams to again strengthen the structure, but we liked the Colorbond look so we kept it.  (I have to admit I have slight issues with the fact that it leaves a gap at the top due to the slant of the roof but the cost of buying another sheet plus having it delivered just to fill the upper gap, stops me from acting on resolving these issues)


And there we have after all it was a long post.  Sorry it's probably very boring in all reality but hey we love to see things evolve here and this carport although it is a boring subject matter, much like the stairs, is a very important part of the property.  With days here, even in winter, rarely going below about 25C and on an average day being upwards of 30C you need that car to be parked in the shade...period.
Thanks as always for reading,
K xx