Thursday, 31 January 2013


We decided to plant camellias in the front garden. They have nice enough flowers, and have big, glossy leaves year round. It will take awhile, but eventually we want to kind of hedge them, and give our front verandah a bit more privacy. 

After clearing out all of the ferns and grasses the garden bed was still covered in white rocks. They aren't great if you are planting, as they (apparently) absorb lots of heat, and can cook the soil and plants inside. So we raked and raked, and took 3 ute loads to the tip. There are still some in the garden bed, but they are away from the roots, and we brought most to the front, so at a later date we can rake them off the edge to move them if we want. 

All planted and mulched in. The back of the rock wall looks a bit yuck,with lots of old fishbone fern roots stuck in, but in a few years the camellias will grow and cover the wall and you won't even see them. 
They were so little when we first planted at the start of September. 

Here are some I prepared earlier for you...


I'm so glad we decided to start on the garden bed. They have already grown so much. We were originally going to leave it a year or so, but I am a big fan of getting the garden sorted early, as it can grow while you are getting the house sorted. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

the worst part of renovating

In the last few weeks we have had a number of tradies in a out of the house. Electricians, floor sanders, painters, plasterers, plumbers. Although every visit has improved or fixed something that needed to be done, each one has left something behind.
Painters sanded the roof downstairs. The door straight ahead, leading to the stairs, was closed. 

Dust. Fine dust. That travels to the far reaches of the house, no matter how many closed doors are in the way. Dust that requires vacuuming, micro-fiber sweeping, and mopping at least twice to get rid of.

I just clean it all up, and someone new comes in to do a job, and it starts again!!

Maybe it's a good thing we couldn't sand the decks this weekend!!!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Best laid plans...

Happy Australia Day long weekend!! I hope beaches, beers and seafood were part of your day!

We had big plans for the weekend. They didn't include any of the above. 

We have 100 square meters of verandah on our place. 1 at the front, 2 on the back side. Our place had been a rental for the last 7-8 years, and when th owners sold it, they sold it 'as is'. There were lots of maintenance things that needed doing. Including sanding the wooden decks. 

Some of them were ok, but some were pretty exposed, and had no, or flaking varnish, and quite faded greying boards. The wood wasn't damaged, but needed coating and protection so that it didn't start cracking and need replacing. 

Bottom verandah-west facing, no protection. 

Bottom back verandah
 So that was our plan for the weekend. We were hiring a sander to sand back at least the bottom back verandah, and part of the front verandah that is uncovered, and actually looks worse than the one pictured above. Sand, clean (to get rid of the grey), and then oil. L had already done the edges with a little disk sander. 

Didn't happen. 

As an aside-we've been in drought up here. It hasn't rained in months-it is so dry. We had even started watering part of our front lawn so it didn't die. This is what the part of our lawn we hadn't been watering looked like.

Dead lawn... 

So, it hasn't rained in months, we plan to sand this weekend. 

We have had almost 200 mm of rain over the last few days, with Ex Tropical Cyclone Oswald hitting us. Huge rain, and howling winds have battered us the last few days. And it's meant to get worse. I told L we should have planned to do the verandahs months ago so it rained earlier!!

We've been lucky-it's been much worse further north, with tornados and flooding. Hope everyone is safe and dry!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

the big clear out

When we bought our house it had lots of garden beds-mainly built into the retaining walls built into our block. Unfortunately, there is nothing planted that we want to keep. 

We have already had a HUGE fig tree cut down (which happened in about the first week we lived here, so I don't have any photos of it). It was planted FAR too close to both our house, and the neighbour's house, and was sending out some of it's huge roots under foundations. Although it provided some privacy, and some shade to the north west side of the house, it just wasn't worth it. 

Our first job in the garden was the front garden beds. 15 meters long, by 1.5 meters wide of THICK fishbone ferns, with a few huge native grasses scattered throughout. They grow like weeds in SE Qld, really hadn't been taken care of, or clipped back, and just looked awful. 

We also wanted some privacy to the front of the house, so decided to grow a camellia hedge. 

But first we had to tackle the ferns. 
There doesn't look to be too many from this angle...
This is one of the garden beds
This is the other side
Big job... They don't look too bad from this angle, but up close you can see how much dead rubbish was in there. They looked messy and awful 

Partially cleared 
The first side all cleared out
It took the two of us a few massive days to clear it all out, using a shovel, a garden fork, metal rake and a lot of hard work. We even managed to snap the garden fork digging out the roots of one particularly stubborn plant. 

It took us 6 ute loads piled high, and strapped down, to take it all to the tip. 

hottest 100

I love Triple J. I NEVER listen to anything else. I don't always love every song, and sometimes the presenters annoy me, but on the whole it's fantastic. I am often shocked by friends who listen to commercial radio. The ads kill me.

I love how Triple J support Australian music, particularly unsigned acts. They don't wait for something to be popular before they play it. They just play it because it's good.

Here are my votes for the year
My votes

A bit of a random mix. A few songs that have meaning behind them, some that I just can't help dancing to, some that are just beautiful songs. I'm not a music snob, and am probably the most musically challenged person out there, but I know what I like. It was a pretty quick and dirty vote this year-I have voted almost every year since I was a teenager-some years I spend a lot of time working it out, making a shortlist and cutting it from 30 to 10. This year I just thought of a few of my favourite songs. I am sure over the next week I will hear songs that I mean to vote for, but what can you do. I like the songs I voted for, and am happy with them.

our first year list

We've been living here for about 9 months now. 

We had no renovating experience. We also bought a house that was a bit over our budget, so we didn't have extra money around to do too much to the house. After about 5 months of living in our house I thought we should make a list of things that we wanted done by the end of the year. It is mostly cosmetic, maintenance stuff, OR things that make our day to day life better. 

Here is that original list. I'll write more about all of these things as time goes on. 

-Blinds for 2 upstairs bedrooms
-Blinds for sunroom
-Ceiling fan and downlights in 2 upstairs bedrooms
-Ceiling fan and downlight in lounge room
-Blinds on back deck
-Finish bottom casement windows
-Kitchen island
-Fix stain in lounge room ceiling
-Fix leak on front deck
-Paint facia board
-Refinish french doors
-Install oven
-Install new cooktop
-Install gas (for cooktop)
-Replace outside lights
-Replace kitchen plugs
-Kill weeds (done, but ongoing)
-Remove fig tree
-Dig out ferns from front garden
-Remove rocks from front garden
-Replant front garden
-Install solar
-Fix drainage

Not too bad really....


L and I both grew up in a small rural town in northern NSW. We were in the same year, but went to different schools. Despite knowing a lot of the same people, and being at the same places, we never really crossed paths, but knew vaguely who each other was.

We both finished school, and went away to uni. We both went to uni in different regional towns, and both ended up back working in our home town. It was November. I'd decided I was moving away at the start of the next year, to be closer to friends, L was planning on working for another 6-12 months and then go to London. We met up, went on a few dates. We really liked each other-but I was moving away. I decided that I might put off moving away a bit longer and give the relationship a go. Worst case scenario I would move later. I didn't move. In fact L moved in to my unit at Easter, and we have lived together for the 5 years since then.

We moved to London after a year, and lived and traveled there. After a year I had to return for a friend's wedding, and a job came up for L in a dream location. He decided to apply, not thinking he would get it. He did. We decided to move back to Australia. We have lived back here for 3 years now, in one of the most beautiful places. It's warm almost all year round, has stunning beaches and national parks, cute hinterland villages, and is only an hour from Brisbane.

We got engaged at the end of last year, and are getting married at the end of August this year. We are both quite introverted, and really value our own time, we love our friends and family, despite not seeing them as much as we would like, I love tea, reading, going to the beach and being outside.

Actually I am a bit obsessed and addicted to tea.

our house

From the moment we saw our house on the website, and when we first walked in, we loved our house. It had everything we had dreamed of in a house, it had street appeal, a big block, and character inside.

It reminded both of us the older houses in the rural NSW town we grew up in, despite now looking much more like a Queenslander. It has beautiful hardwood floors throughout (not a scrap of carpet), big high skirting boards, wide, detailed cornices in every room, vjs in part of the house, and the biggest selling point for us-3 big verandahs.
The lounge room, looking from the kitchen 

A blurry photo looking back toward the kitchen, and through to dining room
The dining room, looking out to top back verandah
Our house began it's life as a workers cottage in Cooparoo, Brisbane, built in 1941. It was a 2 bedroom cottage, with an enclosed verandah, kitchen, living room and a dining room.
Master bedroom, with french doors to the sunroom

The sunroom, looking through the hall and front door
Second, upstairs bedroom
Second living area, downstairs
In 2002 it was moved to it's current position. We are on quite a steep block, and the owners built in a big underneath part of the house-big garage, laundry and storage area, another bedroom, bathroom and living area, with a second, lower level back verandah. The top, front of our house is basically level with the street, over a small walkway, while the back two levels  sit on top of a retaining wall, our block is so steep. We have at least 4 one meter,big, rock retaining walls.
Our front walkway-obviously a while ago... I miss rain! :)

Top back deck (entered through the french doors in the dining room)

Our back yard from the top back deck-look at the weeds!

It had been a rental property for most of the 10 years since it was moved, so while it was a fantastic house, it required, and still does (!!!) quite a lot of maintenence and love to bring it back to how it should be. We've slowly been chipping away at small and large jobs to improve the appearence. We both knew it needed things done, but I'm not sure either of us realised just how much work it would be-for 2 people with zero renovating or gardening experience-or even any real skills-we took on a massive job. We haven't done anything too major yet, but even the small jobs we have done have made a massive difference to our house!

(All photos taken just prior to moving in)

accidentally buying a house

Tuesday: we drove past a house for sale that was in our price range, looked good on the website, pretty good position. We had a chat and decided we would leave it for another 6-12 months, just keep renting, save our money to get a bigger deposit. 

Real estate photo of living room

Friday: A house showed up on We both loved the look of it, but it was a bit out of our price range. Plus, we had decided just days earlier that we were going to wait a bit. So we closed the page, and planned to get on with our life, including driving to Brisbane the next day to buy a suit. 

Real estate photo of bedroom

Saturday: It rained, and rained all night long. L had to work at 4, and we were afraid we might get stuck on the motorway if it kept raining, or if there was a crash, so we went to breakfast overlooking the beach. And started talking about the house we saw. We decided it could't hurt to have a look (famous last words), and rang the real estate agent. There was an open house in half an hour... 

Real estate photo of outside

We went along. We loved it-yeah, it was an older house, and had been a rental for years, so needed work, but it felt like home. We went back to our unit, talked it over, and decided to put in an offer. 

Real estate photo of top back deck

It was accepted. We started signing contracts on Monday, and 30 days later it was ours. 

On a side note-a 30 day settlement is ridiculous! But it all worked out in the end, moving matched up with my holidays and we were in by Easter. 

welcome to tea and beaches

It was love. 

From the moment we first saw it on the website, we loved it-rainbow walls and overgrown garden and all. 

We put in an offer, moved in, and have been spending the last 8 months decorating, renovating and learning along the way. 

This will be a blog recording our renovations. 

The front deck, before settlement. 



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