Sunday, 31 March 2013

Fully Loaded Man

Bike riding with three smalls is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Friday, 29 March 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013." via Che and Fidel

All: It was the last day of school and they were hot and tired. An icy, cold banana smoothie was their request for afternoon tea. They made it through the first term; they are exhausted, and so am I. We are all looking forward to a two-week break free from homework and deadlines.

We are heading down to Byron Bay to catch up with family and to relax and re-charge. What are your plans for the school holidays?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Last call for Tenders

The Tender/Contract Negotiations Stage is drawing to a close. Most of the builders have already responded with a further two due to submit their quotes in the next couple of weeks.

Western window detail. Original metal window hood with external shutters provide shading and privacy

You may recall we scaled down the project half-way through the design phase. Now that we've got some pricing back it appears that this move has saved us $123K - which is what I expected and means we are back on budget. In fact there is roughly only $70,000 difference between the cheapest and dearest building quote - so the tendering has been very competitive so far.

"Weathered Board" detail
We should be in a position to select a builder/sign a contract soon after the School Holidays - so hopefully work can commence sometime in May.

Stay safe and I hope you all enjoy a relaxing Easter break!

Saturday, 23 March 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013." via Che and Fidel

Jack: He is usually high-energy not able to be still, so it's lovely to see him sitting quietly contemplating.
Harry: Incoming tide at Brunswick Heads. 
Charlie: Sand and water are two of his favourite things.
Oscar: Learning to balance on whatever he can find.

Harry started primary school this year, but the other day I made the agonising decision to pull him out at the end of this term. Five full days of school just seems to be having a negative impact on my four year old boy. School, like an incoming tide, was swallowing him up.

I hope I've made the right decision - my gut says it is. Have you delayed formal schooling for your child - is four too young to start primary school?

Monday, 18 March 2013

Renovator's Dream (Part 2)

The Inside Tour

There's really not much to see inside - just five (mainly) empty rooms with your typical Queenslander fixtures such as VJ walls and ceilings, belt rails that go hand-in-hand with single-skin walls,  picture rails, hoop pine flooring and a bit of fretwork. This is the view down the hallway towards the front door.

We are keeping all the existing doors and windows, but I think we may have to invest in some new hardware:

Front door hardware - pretty shabby
Back door - missing some vital things like keys and a door  knob.  Somehow the property manager didn't pick this up during the recent inspection!
The hardware on the bedroom/bathroom doors are all original too:

Amazingly, the hung sash windows are all in tact and move up and down quite easily. A bit of paint and they'll be good as new.

One interesting thing about this house is that there are no breezeways or fanlights above the doors, which was fairly typical of houses built in that era. Our house was built as a rental property by the people who owned and lived in the house (that used to be) next door.  I guess those little details were deleted due to lack of funds at the time of construction. 

And no, there is nothing wrong with my camera lens - the floor is uneven in spots but this will be rectified when the house is re-stumped.

I'm sure there were light fittings attached when we purchased the house.
The timber ceiling has suffered some minor water damage due to a few leaks in the roof. The old green tin roof (circa 1927) is being replaced with a brand new one, along with some much needed insulation. This house is a little sweat box when it's all closed up. Thank goodness the house is sited so that we get some great north-easterly breezes.

Even the light switches are original, somewhere underneath those layers of paint.

One thing that I haven't yet resolved is how the new light switches and power points will be installed without any ghastly conduit. Any ideas?

Exposed electrical cabling
This is the only cupboard in the house - a linen cupboard which is located in the bathroom, that is only marginally better than the one downstairs:

Mould heaven
The one thing I am really impressed about is the hoop pine flooring. It is in such good condition, considering it was laid approximately 80 years ago - no white ant or even the slightest borer damage at all.

So there it is - the good, the bad and the ugly. Next stage - Construction.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


Jack: What happens to your face when you don't use your hands to break a fall. Ouch!
Harry: He does not leave home without his favourite shoes.
Charlie:  His eyes never fail to captivate me.
Oscar:  Pushing the table out of the way so he can get past - he is getting so strong.

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013." via Che and Fidel. Check out the amazing giveaway on Jodi's blog - you have until 9pm Monday 18 March to enter.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Renovator's Dream (or is it a Nightmare) Part 1

I thought I'd give you a little tour of the old girl before work gets underway.

Let's start at the front. Our front fence/gatehouse is looking a little worse for wear. It's not particularly straight and a most of the palings have either rotted or have completely come away.

The front gate - only just hanging there on its rusty hinges

Slight case of wood rot

I'm not sure if the fence is keeping the Bougainvillea up or perhaps it's the Bougainvillea holding the fence up. Either way the fence is beyond repair, so a new one will replace it at a later date.

A little while back we had to do some remedial work as the place had become unsafe. You can see from this photo that a few of the treads on the front stairs have been replaced and others have been "chocked up" with bits of timber to keep them from moving about.

Same with the front verandah - I'm surprised nobody fell through the boards!

I think most of timber on the front verandah (ie flooring, handrails and posts) will need to be replaced.

Original Timber Stumps
Handrails are peeling away from the posts

Here's our laundry that is located in the undercroft:

Trough to be converted into a herb garden
Our bathroom is definitely due for an overhaul - (WARNING: you may want to look away)

Were they trying to achieve an industrial aesthetic with the corrugated iron walls and concrete flooring?

Exposed bathroom shower taps
This original bathroom is also located underneath the cottage. There is a "newer" bathroom upstairs built into a lean-to addition at the rear of the house - both will be demolished.

And it looks like we have squatters - some brush turkeys have built a nest just outside our back door.

These are just some of a handful of things that require fixing and/or replacing. I think the old pine floorboards are the only things that are in good condition (considering their age.) I'll take you through the interior in Part 2.

Monday, 11 March 2013

What's Cooking?

All is quiet on the renovation front - still waiting for the builders' quotes to come in. I had another look at the inside of the house today. As it's been rented out since we bought it I have only been inside once or twice. It's a lot worse than I remember it, but in saying that, it will still clean up well. I'll post some photos shortly so you can see for yourselves. 

So while I sit and wait in angst hoping that the quotes are going to come in on budget, and added to the fact that it has done nothing but rain over the past few weeks, there hasn't been a lot to do around here except cook (and eat). 

Chocolate Frangipane Plum Tart
And when I was done with chocolate, citrus seemed to fit the bill:

Lemon Tart
These bliss balls have been making a regular appearance in the kids' lunch boxes (no sugar or nuts.)

So too have these lightly spiced Pumpkin Muffins:

Warm desserts (with ice cream) are starting to feature more and more as the weather starts to cool:

Apricot and Almond Crumble
As well as home-made bread:

Cheese and Onion Pull Apart
That is fabulous with a bowl of nourishing soup:

Roast Tomato Soup with Pesto

Luckily I've got a kitchen-hand to help out.

Chasing after four energetic boys is usually enough exercise to burn off all those calories, but when there is any spare time leftover, I like to get out on my bicycle. Yes, my vintage-inspired bike that I spoke of almost 12 months ago finally arrived all the way from Gothenberg, Sweden just a couple of weeks ago.

See you shortly with some pics of our renovator's dream house (which I'm sure will make your toes curl.)