Switching from weekly to fortnightly grocery shopping

Ever since we moved to the ‘country’ we’ve gotten better and better at grocery shopping. When we lived close to the supermarket we would do a weekly shop plus grab extra bits and pieces throughout the week. We now live more than half an hour from the grocery store, so we had to smarten up. We do have a local general store for emergencies, but it is expensive. Grabbing bits and pieces here and there no longer works for us.

In the last year or to two we got a lot better at planning our weekly grocery shop. We would go together, once per week, usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and we’d get takeaway for dinner before or after. We started doing meal planning about a year or two ago and it has been so helpful. It means we know our dinner options, we know that we have all of the correct ingredients and we no longer have to run to the shops to get a missing ingredient. Since we live in an area that gets flooded and cut off, we also keep a well stocked pantry and freezer which is also helpful in limiting how often we have to go to the store.

Well recently we decided that even shopping once per week was just too much effort. It takes up our whole night by the time we drive there, shop, get some dinner and drive home. So we decided to try fortnightly shopping.

It has been………EXCELLENT!!! I cannot see us going back to weekly shopping. We started doing the fortnightly shops in about August last year and we have managed to keep it up. You would think it would take more effort but it’s actually easier.

On shopping day, we get home from work and write a list of meals. We come up with 10 to 12 meals to last us a fortnight. We find this is a good number as we might go out for dinner sometimes, have leftovers or have a ‘whatever’ night. We don’t assign the meals to a particular night, we switch them based on what we want. Anything with meat we freeze the meat into bags in the right portion for each dish. Defrosting frozen meat is actually quite fast if you freeze it in as flat of a shape as possible, rather than a rolled up ball. You can then put the bag of meat into a bowl of water. Chicken breasts are usually defrosted within half an hour maximum, mince is even less. Easy.

We’ve also started trying to team up as many meals as possible. So if we buy mince, we then use it for tacos, bolognese and rissoles during the fortnight. If we buy sausages for example, we then use it for a sausage casserole as well as sausages and salad later on. Daniel makes a fabulous steak and Guinness pie and we’ve found this is a great one to get a few meals out of. On the first night we’ll have the beef stew along with rice or potato. The next night we’ll put the filling into pies with some mushy pees. Then a few nights later we will use some spare filling for jaffles.

We’ve found shopping fortnightly also works out cheaper. We were spending about $120 to $140 on our weekly shops, yet we are now spending $180 to $200 for our fortnightly shop. We’re aiming to get our grocery bill even lower, if we could down to $160 would be great. We seem to be buying less junk, less impulse purchases and we’re being smarter about the types of meals we’re having, which I think is leading to our cheaper bill.

A lot of people have asked how the produce last for a fortnight. We manage this by buying some things throughout the fortnight. Milk lasts ages these days, so we generally buy about 3×2 litre bottles on the initial shop, and then usually I’ll have to grab a bottle of milk once or twice on the way home from work. I do find our fruit doesn’t last a whole fortnight and I usually buy a few pieces of stone fruit once during the fortnight. I’d say we would buy about $15 worth of extras apart from the original shop. But this is still far less than it had been in the past.

Overall I would say this is best change we’ve made to our way of living in years. It is well worth the effort and planning to ensure that we only have to go grocery shopping once per fortnight instead of every week. Sometimes we even find that we can push it out to three weeks if we have enough leftovers and meals stored in the freezer.

Here is an example meal list:

Sausages and salad
Chicken salad
Tacos
Sausage casserole
Chicken with avocado and tomato salsa
Rissoles
Big breakfast including bacon, tomato, beans, sausage and eggs
Omelette with ham and tomato
Homemade pizza or calzone
Tuna bake
Barbecued jerk chicken legs
Nachos
Vegetable fritters

If you’re considering giving fortnightly shopping a try, I’d say go for it, you can’t really get it that wrong!

The true cost of a home wedding

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This post covers the costs of our DIY at home wedding which we had in 2014. Daniel mentioned in our last post that he has lost motivation for doing a post on the cost of our wedding because he felt it turned out to be more expensive than we’d initially thought. To be honest, it did cost more than our original goal, however, a lot of the things he included in the tally (such as landscaping) and what pushed the total cost higher are not things that the average person would include in their wedding budget. To me, those are things that we were going to need to do for our home regardless of the wedding, so it should be a separate cost.

One thing I should be very clear on though is that an at home/backyard wedding is not the cheap way out. People may assume you are having your wedding at home to save money. I am sure this is a possibility, but for most people, this would not be the case. The majority of the major costs were things that were still required even for a home wedding. If you want the clothes, the food, the drinks, the photographer and so on, you are still going to have a lot of costs that any other wedding has. What it does give you is the ability to feel comfortable in your own home, to have control over a lot of thing you wouldn’t usually, and to have the memories of marrying the one you love in your own home.

Our original goal was for a $9000 wedding in our own home. The motivation for having it at home came from looking into venues and finding that they all had a very high minimum spend, which was likely to be unachievable with the small guest list we were wanting. We were only wanting a 30-40 person wedding, and the minimum spend for most venues was over $4000, and there very few venues suited to such a small group.

The goal of $9000 was based on how much we could save in a period of only 10 months. We knew that if we went over on our budget we had enough existing savings to take the hit, so we weren’t too concerned by that issue.

Here’s a break down of costs starting with the things you can’t really go without first.

Officiant
These are the costs of what it takes to officially be married, the celebrant, the marriage licence etc. This is the bare guts of what it costs to be married.

Marriage licence: $48
Celebrant: $595
Officiant total: $643

Food and Drinks
Keeping our guests well fed and liquored was very important to us. Especially as we chose a midday time slot which meant our guests would be hungry for lunch time. We met with a chef from a local restaurant, he recommended that with our small oven it would be best to serve large amounts of finger foods rather than go for a sit down lunch which we originally wanted. The food included about 8 different types of food which a waitress brought around, and then a dessert (which was supposed to be served alongside a piece of our wedding cake, but the caterer refused because he said it ‘didn’t go’ with his desserts…). All reports were that our guests loved the food and had plenty to eat. Daniel and I were running on so much adrenaline we could barely eat, but from what we did have it was okay, not the greatest but okay. The food cost was $35 per head, so not too bad really. We actually bought a lot more drinks than is mentioned here, but this is all that was used, which was more than enough to keep our guests feeling happy and merry, some more than others haha.

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Catering: $1152
Waitress (4 hours): $151.25
Cake: $267 (Paid for by my colleagues as a gift, so this won’t be included in the overall total)
Cake deposit: $20
Cake toppers: $26.20
Lolly buffet: $249.22 (which includes a large selection of lollies, a 3 tiered stand of Mrs Fields cookies, jars and customised lolly bags which we printed ourselves)
Nuts and pretzels served in bowls: $18 including 3 glass bowls
Misc. serviettes and cutlery: $80.76
Food total: $1697

Softdrinks and water: $137.60
Wine: $162.86
Beer: $192.65
Teacups and saucers for coffee: 23.60 and 9.95 postage
6 Drink tins to hold drinks and ice:  $80.94
Ice: $30
Shot glasses: $19.99
Misc: $29.94
Glasses: $19.99
Drinks total: $825.75

Attire and beauty
How we looked was very important to both of us. Just because we were having an at home wedding didn’t mean we wanted to go casual or go without the hair and makeup etc. I still wanted to have a proper wedding dress. A lot of people assumed I would wear a more casual dress. My Mum and Dad were also married at home, my Mum wore a beautiful simple knee length blue dress. She really encouraged me to get a ‘real dress’ as it’s something she didn’t want me to regret. I am so glad she encouraged this.

I got my dress from Sugar and Spice and then had some alterations to add more boning, bring in the sides and hem it. Daniel got me my jewellery as a birthday present, I got my shoes at Zu, garter at Spotlight and I borrowed a bag from a friend. I got my veil on etsy very cheaply and it was perfect. I had my hair and makeup done by a lovely woman who came to the house and was very affordable. In the days before I also had my brows tinted at Brow Bar (they are expensive but they know what they’re doing) and my nails done in shellac.

Daniel got his suit from Ben Sherman. We had already looked at them and he was really into the light blue suits, but on the day we went they didn’t have a complete set in the blue. This turned out really nicely as it encouraged him to mismatch the colours, he ended up with the blue trouser and waistcoat and paired it with a grey coat. He looked amazing and the outfit suited the overall look of our rustic wedding perfectly. He got his shoes from Zu, and belt from Connor. His tie was from Myer, he was totally channeling Andy from The Office with the candy stripe colours. He got his tie pin on Asos. His socks were purchased online, he really wanted ‘fun socks’, they’re perfect and he still wears them.

Wedding Dress: $695
Alterations: $290
Hair and makeup: $160
Hair and makeup trial: $100
Hair broach: $110
Garter: $15.99
Veil: $35
Shoes: $130
Nails: $59
Eyebrows: $70
Total for Bridal outfit: $1294.99

Suit from Ben Sherman: $416 on sale including shirt, waistcoat, jacket, trouser
Belt: $34.99
Shoes from Zu: $65
Socks: $37.99
Tie: $49 on clearance
Total for Groom’s outfit: $602.72

Rings and jewellery
For our wedding rings we just wanted something simple. All I wanted was a plain 18k white gold flat edged ring, this was apparently very difficult for most local jewellers who wanted to charge massive amounts for a ‘custom ring’ because I was wanting something quite narrow. I ended up finding a jeweller on Etsy who handmakes rings in her garage. It was perfect, and the quality was amazing, and about a third of the price of going to a local jeweller. Daniel’s ring was much the same situation, all of the stores we went to wanted to charge insane amounts for something very simple. He ended up with a 10k white gold ring off Etsy from a different seller to mine. The strength of his ring has been a bit of an issue, but for such a cheap price we would not be phased by having to buy a replacement if necessary.

Metal mock bridal ring: $35
Bridal ring: $167
Second bridal ring (I wear both and switch them): $264
Grooms ring: $133.90
Earrings: $23.12
Bracelet: $14.99
Double ring box: $24.40
Jewellery total: $662.72

Invitations and Stationary
We’re so lucky that between Daniel’s design skills and my DIYing abilities we were able to DIY all of our wedding invitations, save the dates, programs etc.
We made our own invitations which turned out to be adorable, I got the inspiration from Pinterest. Our save the dates were printed on photo paper and we added a magnet to the back. Our programs were also super easy to do. With thank you cards we were so over DIY at that point that we just grabbed some off the shelf. It’s hard to get a true cost of all of this, I feel it is a lot lower than the total shows, as we used some of the paper for several projects and continue to use the items that are left even now. The ink for example lasted us well beyond the wedding prep.

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Love heart cutouts for invitations $11.00
Stamps $54.50
Half size HB Pencils $2.42
Paper $3.44
Invitation Paper $6.64
Kraft Envelopes $6.85
Linen Ivory Paper $8.45
Quill A4 white paper $9.98
Photo Paper $10.28
20 Small white envelopes $11.40
White card stock $17.51
Kraft Envelopes $19.85
Thank you cards $19.96
Invitation Stationery $23.84
Printer Ink $91.96
Stationary total: $298.08

Decorations
Decorations, oh boy, this is where we went well over our intended spending. So many incidentals that you would never realise add up to so much. Daniel has always had this fantasy of getting married in front of a sheet of tulle with fairy lights. Naturally, since we were doing things our own way we decided to make this happen. Who would have known that tulle/voile would be so damn expensive! We got most of it in a half price sale and it was still ridiculous. I’ve managed to re-sell some of that, but people just do not understand the true value of this fabric. The lights were no issue, you can pick them up cheap on ebay. Hot tip though, if you’re going to put lights behind transparent fabric make sure you get the clear or white wires, not the green Christmas leftovers. Hanging voile is not the most fun job, but it was made easier by sewing them into curtains and threading them that way, and then swagging some spare material over the top. We also made window coverings, decorations for the tables, Daniel made us a lot of beautiful pieces such as a large window frame style picture and some Mary Poppins themed paintings. The DIY absolutely came at a cost more than just financial. Daniel managed to injure his finger quite badly on a drop saw and his fingernail has never quite been the same. We were also trying to DIY our own painting and Daniel was about halfway finished when the paint bled and ruined the entire thing……needless to say we went to a professional printer and got them to do it. There were definitely times where it felt like we were going crazy with all of the craft.

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I’m just going to put the full total, because it’s so hard to decipher what was used for what. But pretty much, anything at our wedding other than simple tablecloths, was DIYed by us. You need to take this with a grain of salt though. We absolutely got carried away, but we also underestimated the cost of DIYing with quality materials, and this is even with cheapskating our way through by getting a lot of items off ebay! The fabric alone for the fairy lights was about a thousand. Several of our projects we have kept and now decorate our house too, so I consider a lot of this an investment.

Decorations total $2752.17 

Furniture hire
We hired chairs, tables and bar tables from our local hire place. The price was about average for that sort of thing. The biggest let down was how filthy all of the chairs were on arrival. Daniel and I spent a total of 6 hours cleaning these chairs with Jif about 3 nights before the wedding. It was a nightmare, but they were so dirty that we were worried our guests were actually going to get dirty from sitting on them. They came up nicely, but it was the last thing you want to be doing a few days before your wedding. We also hired a signing table and some small decorations from another place on the South side which was another let down. The signing table was filthy again and the cover had biro marks all over it. The little topiary balls were also mostly broken. We ended up going on an expedition to find something else to use as a signing table and ended up with a little table from Big W and a tablecloth. That turned out fine, but we were so upset about having to race around looking for something at the last minute (this was 2 days before the wedding). I think it’s the closest I came to breaking point on that day.

Local hire chairs and tables: $700
Specialty wedding store hire of singing table and topiary balls: $67
Hire total: $767

Furniture
We ended up buying a few bits and pieces of furniture for the wedding. This included a hall table to hold gifts and cards and to serve as a welcoming area, as well as a bench seat from Ikea which was used on the patio. Both of these items we have kept and use regularly. We also bought two tall lack tables which were used in the ceremony area to hold the cameras, lights and laptop for the music.

Furniture total: $449.31

Photography
We were very fortunate to have a a recommendation from a friend whose brother in law does photography on the side. He gave us an amazing deal of only $900!!! Honestly, he was amazing, he was the most professional vendor we dealt with throughout the entirety of the wedding. He was also the nicest guy and we got along so well with him which helped us to feel comfortable for the photos. The photos turned out just wonderfully! We then did our own photo albums through an online vendor, Daniel photoshopped each page together so that it was flawless. We can highly recommend going with someone who may not be employed solely as a photographer.

Videography
Daniel always used to joke that he would not trust anyone else to film his own wedding. Having been to film school and having a keen interest in film and editing, we (he) decided the best option for us was to film our own wedding. Having a videographer just didn’t make sense in such a small space, especially when we wanted our photographer to have room to move as well. Daniel purchased various video cameras off ebay and strategically mounted and set them up to capture the ceremony and reception. This didn’t necessarily turn out that cheap, but he was able to re-sell the cameras for a very good price so we made some of the money back, but ultimately this was the only option anyway in terms of space. It also gave us full control over the final edit. On the day, it meant Daniel had a few extra tasks on his to do list, but it all went fairly well.

Videography total $3,523.92

Flowers
For flowers we had a combination of options. For my bouquet and Daniel’s boutonniere we went to our local florist at Giraween Flowers in Samford. They were beautiful and very reasonably priced. We got boutonnieres for the parents from Etsy. Honestly this was something I think we could have skipped, it’s just not very necessary, but hopefully the parents have at least kept them since they were not disposable. For table decoration we went to the flower market in Stafford the day before and just grabbed a few bunches of flowers and we arranged them ourselves into little milk bottle vases.

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milk bottle vases (12): $30
Bunches from the flower market: $51.50
Parents boutonnieres: $36.80
Bouquet and boutonniere: $178
Flowers total: $296.30

Entertainment for the kids
We made some little fun bags for the children attending our wedding. It was only for 4 kids, but each bag just included a little toy, a colouring book and a disposable camera. Other than that they kept themselves entertained by running around the yard and playing with the games we provided for our guests on the lawn.

Entertainment total: $54.21

Miscellaneous
There a few little incidentals along the way which don’t really fit with anything else. This included extra toilet paper (you don’t really wanna run out with so many people around) and also some bins to put around.

Miscellaneous total: $29.94

Honeymoon
Our honeymoon is something that I will mention here but is not included in the budget. From most budgets I have seen, people do not include this in their budgets as a wedding cost. However, it was still something we had to save for. We went to Hamilton Island for 5 nights and it was wonderful. It’s a very expensive island, but we knew to expect this. A lot of people thought we were crazy for not just going to Bali or somewhere like that, but we had always wanted to go to Hamilton Island so it was a good option for us. Please note below the airport parking price, for us as we live so far from the airport a taxi would cost us close to $300 there and back, so airport parking is a really good option for a set price. We also didn’t keep track of spending money as we took some of the cash we were given as gifts.

Airport parking: $90
Honeymoon activities (parasailing etc): $370
Flights: $470.40
Accommodation: $1450
Honeymoon total: $2380

Landscaping
When we decided to have our wedding at home, we seriously had a house surrounded by red dirt. We had not made any headway on landscaping at that point. We were in our house for a year with dirt being tracked through the place constantly. I am so glad we didn’t let this scare us, because this wedding gave us the most motivation we could ever have hoped for. We worked hard on a daily basis to do a lot of our landscaping by hand, apart from getting an excavator in at the beginning to shape the land. It was a serious undertaking, but we did it. I also don’t include these costs in the wedding budget, but for us it was also a necessary cost enabling us to even have the wedding at all.

Landscaping total: $6779

Items we were able to sell

We were able to make some money back by selling cameras, one half of the wedding fabric and lights, the lack tables from Ikea and a lot of other wedding paraphernalia.
Sold total: $1872

The full total
So the full total for our wedding came to $13422. This does not include the cost of our honeymoon or landscaping. Definitely over our original budget of $9000 but with no regrets. We look back on our wedding day with such fond memories, and it’s pretty amazing to sit on your couch at night knowing that you got married just metres away. With an at home wedding it’s a little different, there are so many things that we have kept and have become part of our usual household that I no longer even consider them to have been wedding costs. The biggest thing I underestimated was the cost involved for videography. When we made the original budget Daniel had not yet told me he even intended for us to film our own wedding, so it wasn’t part of the budget. Decorations were the other major blowout. We just severely underestimated how many incidentals there would be like tools and paint and little bits and pieces that all add up.

There it is, no regrets.

Mr & Mrs

We’re married!! We’re currently over 6 months into wedded bliss and celebrated 9 years together a little while ago.

On Saturday the 6th of September 2014 Daniel and I were married at our home in Samford with our family and friends as witnesses.

It was absolutely amazing, and it was the most fun day of my life! What they say is true, it went by so fast. We’re so happy that almost everything went off without a hitch thanks to some very thorough planning on our part.

We had a fairly short engagement of almost 11 months to the day, so the past year has been extremely busy for us as we transformed our house into a home and prepared for the wedding.

Our home has always been a sacred place for us, we feel so lucky to now have such beautiful memories of getting married in our home which will stay with us forever.

Landscaping at last

After a year long delay, we finally got an excavator in to shape the land around our house in early January. For us, step one was excavating, there wasn’t much point doing anything until that was done. We had a local guy come, we’d had some work done by him in the past too. He shaped our land really well and ended up making large mounds/levies beside our gully, which means we don’t even have to build retaining walls like we expected. Originally we were expecting we would have a sharp cut which would definitely need reinforcing. It was well worth the wait, even the work (and money) he has saved us in not having to build 25 metres (or more) of retaining walls is so unbelievably worth it. Just ask our backs! So if anyone is looking for a recommendation for a good excavator or machine operator around Samford, let us know!

Here’s a comparison of before and after excavating:

Before excavation, note the very
close cut down the right
side of the house
After excavation, note the large
area down the right side, we can even
fit several parked cars in.

Seriously, it doesn’t come off well in the photos, but we have so much more space! When I came home and saw it the first time, I honestly felt like they had moved the gully further away somehow. Insane! We started imagining all of the areas we have where we could have swing sets and trampolines in the future. Flat space is hard to come by around here, so this is really exciting. Our excavating guy found tons of HUGE (I’m talking 1-2 metres) rocks which we slowly gave away on Gumtree to a few different people.

This is what it looked like, mid excavation, it had to get ugly before it got pretty. 

Here’s what it looked like when the excavating was getting closer to the finish line.

Since the excavating, we’ve had a lot on our plate. I’ve never been so busy in all my life. We’ve been simultaneously wedding planing and gardening on an almost daily basis since December last year. It’s amazing how you can feel so incredibly busy when you are just at home every day. Other than going to Bunnings, we barely get to go anywhere these days. Although we have fit in a few fun things lately like a trip to the Dayboro Day fair, and a night away at the Gold Coast. Our days mostly consist of going to work, racing to get some yard work done each afternoon before it gets dark (we were able to stay out until about 7pm right in the middle of summer, now it’s starting to get dark by 5:00pm). Then nights are spent doing wedding craft and planning. Every weekend we spend about 10 to 12 hours outside gardening. I would say we are at a point now though where we’re starting to slow down a bit.

Just this weekend we hired a Kanga mini loader, which Daniel operated so that we could move mulch more easily. Carting mulch up our steep driveway in a wheelbarrow is backbreaking and incredibly slow going. We managed to move 20 metres of mulch in just a few hours. Unfortunately, the Kanga absolutely ripped up our grass which we had just finally got growing well from seed. Oh well, we’ve laid more seed yesterday and today, and it will hopefully grow back quickly.

Daniel on the Kanga mini loader.

So what have we been doing outside?
We laid 60 square metres of turf in the front yard in 3 sections. We did this ourselves, we spent a week preparing the area with top soil after work. The actual turfing we did in about 4 hours all up. We were pretty impressed with how easy it was. We purchased a lawn roller on gumtree for $30, which is only $10 more than the cost of hiring one for 24 hours. We’ve used the lawn roller heaps since then. We started off watering the turf twice daily, then once daily, and then every second afternoon. We treated it like our precious little baby, and it’s really paying off now. We chose Empire Zoysia turf, we are so impressed with it. We chose it because it’s extremely drought tolerant (it will grow roots up to 4 metres down in search of water), it stays green in the winter, it’s very soft to walk on, and it looks lovely.

Top soil prep and pavers which we changed our mind on.

Voila, instant grass! Plus an additional stepping stone project which I fill you in on a few paragraphs down
We did our best to cordon off an area, as you can see there are some skid marks riiiiight on the edge, grr.

We even ended up going back for a second round of turf to extend an area we didn’t finish. So we have about 85sqm of turf in total now. Since the turfing we’ve tilled and prepared the area all around our house for seed. Daniel got the seed down one afternoon just before it was due to rain. It grew in fairly well, so it’s shame that the Kanga ripped it up so much with it’s ‘skid steer’ ‘technology’. One day we plan to turf that area too, but for now seed will have to do.

We also planted New Zealand Cabbage Trees alongside our gully, the idea being that when they grow their stalk they will act as a barricade so that people don’t drive into our gully. I live in fear that this could happen one day! People seem to become absolute idiots when it comes to parking/driving in our yard, and the amount of times people have driven on our turf already, even with orange tape around it! OMG!

New Zealand Cabbage Trees planted alongside the gully to act as a barricade.
There are 12 in total, and they’re going strong. They’re short now, but eventually they will grow a large stalk.

We’ve made several new garden beds. We’ve got some Agapanthus planted in our bay window garden, They’ve been in for at least a month or so now. We also have a small skinny garden leading up to the front door, we haven’t figured out what to plant there yet- something small that doesn’t spread would be good. We’ve also built a little garden bed outside of the guest bedroom. We’ve planted some Liriope’s and a Blechnum Camfieldi (fern) there, I think it will be great having a garden there, as the window in the guest room is floor to ceiling, so it should grow in and look lovely.

We purchased a few different types of ferns, they continually looked like they were going to die, but when winter came along that seemed to give them a bit of a boost. Here are 2 ferns which popped up on their own. Amazing! We have them everywhere, to the point where they often get mowed over.

We have several other areas we’ve planted up too. On our big mound along the gully, we’ve planted about 25 plants including Coppertops, Alcantarea brasiliana and Alcantarea Vinicolour (Bromeliades), several Alocasia, more than enough Lomandra, several Evovulus, several Gardenia, a few Philodendron and some bunches of Tradescantia. I mulched a lot of the mound by hand using the wheelbarrow. We’ve just finished it off with the dingo thank goodness! We’ve been getting our mulch from local tree loppers, which is a much cheaper way to buy mulch. I’ve had a number of people at work say they wouldn’t be happy with the quality of the mulch buying it this way, but seriously, it’s fine, and it’s just mulch, it all dries out and looks the same eventually anyway. At least this looks natural.

Alocasia Brisbanesis
Lomandra
Evolvulus (Blue Eyes)
Tradescantia Discolor (Moses in the Cradle). We have SUCH a hard time keeping these alive, for a plant which is apparently non fuss, they just keep up and dying on us. This our last bunch alive, and they aren’t looking great. 
Alacantarea Vinicolor
Alacantarea Brasiliana
Lavendar, we’ve got two lots of this, both planted at the same time,
but this one is double the size of the other already. 
This little gem is another Alocasia, which popped up on its own!
It’s already so much stronger and bigger than the ones we purchased.

My Mum just brought down a heap of cuttings which she took from my Aunt’s garden, so in the next few weeks I will get around to planting them too.

There are 18 plants here, and we only know about 5 of them, the rest are mystery plants.
Additionally, we’ve got a few more manicured looking areas. At the front of the house we’ve added some lovely concrete sleepers as stepping stones leading up to the front door. They’re surrounded by gravel. We’re also using the gravel around the entire house. Anywhere that has garden beds up against the house, we’ve put about 30cm of gravel between the garden and the edge of our termite barrier. This should help to prevent any issues with termites, as you are not supposed to put gardens/garden mulch up against a house.
Concrete sleepers with gravel and a small garden. Doesn’t that grass look green!

Last week we brought in a load of road base and spread this across an area of our driveway which was previously just dirt. It makes a clearer road for people, it goes across to the bridge for the gully, and also bends around the house.

Roadbase driveway extension. Previously this was just dirt.

Aside from the pretty landscaped areas we’ve been able to create. We’ve also had to do some things which don’t necessarily leave visible results, but still took a lot of time and energy. Daniel had to make a french drain (or an agriculture drain) as there was an area which continually held water in the yard.

It’s hard to explain to people how much work we’ve done. Across such a big area, it can seem as if we haven’t done much. But trust me, this is months and months of hard effort to get it to this point. Daniel and I think it is a massive improvement from where things were only 6 months ago. Especially considering we lived with absolutely no landscaping for more than a year when we moved in.
Here’s some general progress pictures to give you an idea:

Daniel designed this area, it has a little escape stairway at the back, doesn’t it look like a fun spot to explore!

This is near our back patio, this cute path leads you up to the top of the gully.
This gives you a good idea of what it looks like driving up. Gully is in the right of the picture.

This is what you see when you first drive in our entrance. The area near the watertanks will hopefully one day have a massive garden around it (with access for water trucks etc)

Taken from up on the hill. Really all we need now is for the grass that got ripped up down the side of the house to grow in again and we’ll be going pretty well. 

On the long term to do list, we have a lot to do around our water tanks to get the area looking more presentable. We also have an embankment down the side of the house, which is one of the first things people see when they drive in, we need to extend the retaining wall at the bottom of it, we need to backfill with more dirt, we need to mulch it, and get it looking like a garden eventually. We’d really like to get more gardens happening along our driveway so that it feels very inviting when people drive in. We of course need to keep planting up our gardens. We also want to level an area of our hill in the next few years so that we can build a shed. In the meantime we hope to build a little tool shed. We also need to invest in gutter guard- I’m excited about that one. We also wouldn’t mind turfing the backyard too. Long, long term, maybe a fantasy even, includes building boardwalks over the top of our gully. Adding a hot tub up in the bush. Building a hidden outdoor area up in the bush. Adding wooden steps from up where the house is down to the bottom level. If you ask Daniel there’ll be an aquatic centre somewhere too. There’s sooooo much potential to work with the beautiful bushland and rainforest here in our very own backyard. We are well on our way, and we’ve done a huge amount in a very short time. We just have to pace ourselves, as you could really keep going forever.

Is it the look in your eyes? No it’s just my happy tears!

We have some exciting news to share. On Saturday, we went for a drive to our favourite creek, for a swim. Well, at least, I thought that’s what we were doing. I was excited to be going to the creek, it was such a hot morning, and we’d been keen to go for a swim ever since winter went away.

This particular creek leads to an amazing water hole if you trek far enough. Many people don’t know this and stop to swim in the much smaller, often murkier holes. We walked up the creek for quite a while, clambering over rocks. It was heaps of fun. Daniel took me there in our first year of dating, and I was blown away that a place like it could exist so close to Brisbane. We stopped a few times for breaks along the way, and to take a few selfies on Daniel’s phone.

We were almost at the best part when we had to climb a huge rock which is taller than both of us, it’s pretty much vertical, so you have to find little spots to pull yourself up on. In my haste, I accidentally scraped my back on another rock when I went to stand up at the top. Ouch!

Not to worry though, once we were both up and over the rock, we’d made it to the water hole. It looked absolutely pristine. Nobody else was there. I’ve never seen it unadulterated by people before. It was quite exciting to see it like that. This also gave us the opportunity to pick a good spot to setup. We claimed the spot right beside the waterfall which is up on it’s own little rock platform.

My back was stinging so I asked Daniel to take a look for me, luckily it was just a little scrape. I turned back around to find the most amazing sight I have ever seen!!

There was Daniel, down on one knee as I turned around, with a little white box in his hands. I am sketchy on the details of exactly what happened during this time. I just remember saying yes and nodding as Daniel said my full name and asked ‘will you marry me’? I was crying the happiest tears I’ve ever cried! It’s such an excitable hazy blur. There was a lot of hugging. It was an amazing feeling, Daniel even told me later that it was a similar feeling to having a first kiss. In one moment I even thought my brain had played an elaborate prank on me and that it was just a dream. Daniel assured me it was real.

There was lots of hugging and kissing before the ring ended up on my finger. Daniel had brought along his phone and after I said yes he turned on the Bruno Mars song, ‘Marry You’. It was all just absolutely perfect. The whole thing was so ‘us’, the spot was beautiful and was already very special to us. For there to have been no other people there was an absolute miracle. There was not one cloud in the sky. Just perfect. We took a few pictures together, a few of them are of me crying while also smiling. This boy knows me well, he really planned everything perfectly, and it suited who we are so well.

I was so surprised. I knew it was going to happen at some stage in the future, but did not suspect a single thing in the weeks, days and hours leading up to this. Daniel says he was feeling very nervous that morning and was very quiet. I wasn’t suspicious in the slightest. I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to have this man propose to me on what seemed like a very casual and normal visit to the creek. Simply amazing!!

A few other people turned up at the water hole a little while later, we stayed for a little longer just enjoying the moment together, taking more pictures and talking. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to focus on swimming after that, so we made our way back to the car to return home.

We spent some time at home just ringing family and being generally excited (this takes way longer than I would have expected). We went out for lunch in Samford Village. It was nice being out in public as a newly engaged couple. I felt as if everyone in the world probably must have known what was going on just by the permanent smile on my face.

Later that night we went to the Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour by Cirque Du Soleil. It was absolutely fantastic and just followed on from the amazing tone that had been set earlier in the day. I spent most of the day beaming, and occasionally tearing up as I remembered seeing Daniel down on one knee and realising what was happening.

Daniel is the most thoughtful, caring, loving, clever, gorgeous, creative man I have ever known. I feel so lucky to have him. We’ve been through both good and challenging times during our 7 years together and we’re so excited to start the next chapter in our lives!!

Might have to give it another attempt to go for an actual swim soon…

Is it the look in your eyes?
Or is it this dancing juice?
Who cares, baby
I think I wanna marry you!

Life since we moved into our new house

I was inspired by Ash at Mick and Ash’s Build to give an update on what life has been like since we got the keys to our house. Things have turned out a little differently to what we expected.

We moved into the house in early October 2012. It was a bit of a frenzy getting ourselves in and sorted with only 1 week of leave from work (That included cleaning up the old place). Slowly but surely we got ourselves more furniture. This included an awesome couch for the media room, which we freaking LOVE! We excitedly bought a rug for the media room too. We ordered some couches for the lounge room. We didn’t really go all that crazy with purchases though, as we still knew we needed to put a lot of cash toward landscaping.

In November Daniel was the first to have his birthday in the new house, which was fantastic. Shortly after this we got some crushing news that Daniel would have to take a 20% pay cut. This absolutely changed the excitable flow of progress we were on. Luckily we had savings, and the only debt we have is the mortgage, so we were able to budget and work out that we could continue to survive. But basically, everything came to a massive, grinding halt…

We had already planned with Daniel’s Brother to get him over to concrete our driveway and patio, it was too late to cancel at this point, plus we really needed a driveway so we could get our cars in the garage before storm season!

So we got our concreting done in November. We then got our new couch set delivered in December for the lounge room (we had already paid for them in full in October, pre-budgeting). It was around this time that Daniel’s brother also donated his old dining table to us. We also got our blinds installed in December (which we had also booked and paid the deposit for prior to our budgeting hurdle). So we went ahead with a few big expenses, but didn’t feel there was a lot of choice.

Despite all of the unexpected stress we had our first Christmas in the house. It was lovely, and it was really nice to put up the Christmas tree out in the lounge room, and I decorated all of our little nooks and niches with Christmas decor.

Throughout the build, Daniel was under the impression that he would actually be getting a pay rise in the new year. The company obviously didn’t foresee such huge issues as a result of the global financial crisis, they probably should have, but that’s another story. So this was really a huge shock to the both of us, it came out of nowhere. As someone who works in the public sector, we thought it was my job at risk, not his. It’s really hard to see Daniel go though this, he works hard at his job as it is, and none of this is his fault. It’s hard to feel valued in your work when you aren’t being compensated appropriately.

In some ways this has made us realise we can live on a lot less than we were. We are still able to save, but at a snail’s pace. A lot of plans were put on hold, not just landscaping, but a lot of life changing plans that we were beginning to seriously consider. We also look back and think thank goodness this didn’t happen sooner, as chances are we would not have gone ahead with building our house at all if we had known.

So for now, we are just doing the things that we can manage. We do a lot of things by hand that we would have preferred to just get a bobcat in to do. We use a push mower while our neighbours have ride on’s. Despite these worries, there are certain things that need to be done in the yard that just can’t wait. To the side of the house we need to build a retaining wall, as we are losing good soil each time it rains, this will also greatly improve the look of the house when you first enter the property. We also need to get an excavator in to level the soil around the house and dig out one side of the yard a bit further so we can build a retaining wall there too.  As it is now, it’s just dirt all around the house, with a bit more grass than there was during building. Since the ground isn’t flat, it makes mowing a bit of a bitch. We also would like gardens, decks, pathways, a shed, and the list goes on. This would really be the bare minimum that needs to be done.

8 months in, this is really not where we saw ourselves at this point. So we are here, just the two of us, with this beautiful house surrounded by an unruly yard. It’s hard to be content when life has taken a bit of a turn down a different path to what you expected. But ultimately, we are happy, we have each other, we have this house which we have worked so hard for. Massive lessons have been learned. So for now, we must focus on what we have, and not what we are missing out on. I’m not religious at all, but I remind myself as often as I can to be grateful for what we do have, and to be more content with what we have now.

The wall of colour!

We are almost finished our gallery wall finally. It’s surpisingly hard to choose things to put in them. I also hit a bit of a motivation issue along the way, so it had been half finished for at least a month or more. 
It started out with me trawling gumtree and finding someone was selling a heap of secondhand Ikea Ribba frames. A whole bunch for about half the price!
I bought them on the way home from work one afternoon. And wouldn’t you know it, the one day I’m driving a long with a whole heap of fragile glass front frames, a weird neighbourhood dog decided to bolt toward my car. I had to slam on my brakes really suddenly and ended up breaking a few of the frames in the process. Stupid dog was acting psycho and proceeded to act like it was going to attack the car even after I stopped. As I drove away it actually chased the car and it wasn’t until I was going at quite a speed that it finally stopped chasing me. Bizarre!!!!!
Anyway… We were initially thinking of a more random arrangement. I like the look of that type of arrangement. Daniel and I played around for ages and came to this:
I don’t know if it’s that I was too chicken, or just not very daring, but I changed my mind about the random arrangement after a few days. I just felt like it was too much for a living room area. I wanted it to be fun, but still a bit more formal. It just wasn’t me. Plus I feel like a more traditional arrangement might last longer in terms of style. 

The following are what we ended up with:

For the last month or so we have only had that one lonely print in them. It’s a print I found on Etsy from Homely Creatures. I love buying local products, Homely Creatures is based in Brisbane! I am utterly convinced that the print looks like a cartoon version of me…well apart from the moustache I guess. 

Well yesterday I suddenly had a burst of motivation and decided it was time we put something in the frames. I ended up pulling out all of my old art supplies. I did a few with paints but they weren’t very good. Then I pulled out my pastels and did a few bright numbers. For a simple idea, I think it turned out pretty well. Really, I think anything can look good once it’s mounted and framed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they turned out pretty darn well, lots of texture and colour.

Totally accidental, but turns out a lot of the colours go with our Charlie piece. Daniel thought I had planned it, but no haha.

So now we just need to find 2 more pieces to go in the bigger frames. I would love to find the boy equivalent of the mo-girl one for Daniel to go on the other side. One day we will look for some nicer decorations for the table, but the Babushka dolls are special to us. 
Hopefully we will have some new updates soon, with wait for it……retaining walls….excitement plus haha. Hopefully some excavation work coming up soon once the rain goes away too. 

Day trip

After a bazillion days of rain and a million times being flooded in at home (only a tiny exaggeration), we finally got to go out for a day trip today!

We used to go for day trips to Dayboro and Mt Mee when we lived in Mitchelton and Enoggera. Since moving here we have really only had time to go on one mini day trip, and as it turns out, we are now only a 20 minute drive from Dayboro…not much of a day trip.

So we decided to go beyond the mountains and see what’s on the other side!

We wound up at Lake Wivenhoe. It was beautiful! Lots of lovely little spots to stop along the way too.

Daniel prepared an amazing picnic consisting of chicken wings, french sticks, tapenade, his favourite amazing Polish potato salad (which takes a billion hours to make, and you have to cut all of the vegetables the exact same size, too tedious for me) and various other assorted goodies. We were finally able to use the picnic set that Coral Homes gave to us. Unfortunately I was feeling really unwell and only managed to eat a few chicken wings and that was it. But Daniel was absolutely loving his potato salad, so it was an excellent picnic by the water!

Hopefully we can fit in some more mini weekend trips soon. We are really hoping the weather is starting to turn around in time for Winter now. There’s still plenty more to explore ‘beyond the mountains’, we’re hoping to also check out Somerset and Lake Manchester soon.

Oh and sneak peek, we’re also working on this little area of the house at the moment:

Still waiting…

Ever since we moved in we have been waiting for a guy to come and take away this temporary water tank. It’s now been about 5 months. We hired the tank from him so that there would be water for the site build. If you have read any of our previous posts from during the build, you will have seen that this guy was nothing but trouble, constantly promising to fill the tank up and then not coming through. The phone conversations we had with him were nothing short of weird. Any time we would try to find out what the delay was about he would make reference to his recent marriage breakdown, very odd and unprofessional. 
The weirdest part of this is that we are also waiting for him to give us the bill for the hiring of his tank. So it’s not like there’s nothing in it for him, you would think he would be motivated to come and get it so he can give us the bill. It’s not even a small bill either! We called him when we were finished with it about 5 months ago, he came and took the other tank and said he would be back for this one and would finalise our bill, and we haven’t seen or heard from him since. So weird!!!

So for now we get to drive past this pile of metal every single day. I truly wonder if he will ever come to pick it up at all. At this point we aren’t going to bother ringing to badger him about it, he knows where it is, he knows we have moved in and no longer need it. Really the weirdest part is knowing that we owe him a substantial amount of money for the hiring and servicing of it, yet he hasn’t bothered to drop off the bill. Surely he wants his money, if anything.

Our advice to anyone who has to hire a tank to provide temporary water is to just go to Bunnings and get the biggest tank you can fit on a ute and call it a day. You won’t have to deal with weirdos like this, and it will cost a hell of a lot less than hiring one. We were pushed to get something sorted very quickly, if we’d had more time we wouldn’t have ended up in this bizarre situation.

Flooded in again!

Today we have been flooded in for the second time this year. My understanding is that this usually only happens 2 or 3 times per year, so it doesn’t seem like we are going too well so far for this year!

I went off to work this morning at about 6:30am, the creek was looking high, but it wasn’t raining much at the time, so I thought it would be okay. It’s a good 40 minute drive minimum to work. By the time I got to work and checked the conditions on BOM, it looked like it was already under. A local blog and facebook page also confirmed the same. I made some hasty decisions and decided to go home (20 minutes after getting to work). 
It was a scary drive home not knowing whether I would be able to get through to Daniel. To top it off it’s our 7th anniversary today, so I was devastated thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to get home. 
I got to the bridge and of course, it had already flooded over well and truly. People were still going through in big 4wd’s but not smaller cars. I ended up driving the car back up the road and parking on top of a hill and got through with another local.

Luckily I didn’t have to stay with family after all!
Plot of the creek. It usually sits at about .89m, currently it’s at 1.89m and rising. This was at 11.15am
12.20pm and it’s now at 2.14m and rising. 8 roads now closed in our suburb,
including at least 2/3 of the bridges we have to cross.

So now we are stuck at home. It’s not even that rainy, but there must be a lot of rain coming down from Mt Glorious into the creek. Little bit sad that we won’t get to go out for dinner. I had a backup plan of going to get takeaway Thai food at Samford if it was too rainy to go out for dinner, but now we won’t even be able to do that. Anniversary chicken nuggets for dinner it is!

Update: Still flooded in today (Tuesday) and missing work once again. Very over it at this point. My car is also playing up, so I am counting on being able to get it to the mechanic tomorrow. Stop raining sky!

Wild

Yep, this morning we found this guy wandering around just near our patio. What a surprise! I saw a glimpse of his leg walking past the window while I was in the media room, and sure enough, it was a big Goanna! 

It’s exciting to see the wildlife around here. I hope the Monitors around here aren’t too tame, as the ones we’ve encountered before in picnic areas have been a bit too willing to come up close to people. At Mt Tamborine we once had about 4 circling us while we cooked our barbecue lunch, it was kind of scary.

We also seem to have a lot of bats hanging out in the forest behind our place, they’ve been getting very noisy during the night lately and sound like they are trying to kill each other. Fun!

Delivery!

We recently started getting Coles home deliveries. I think it’s one of those ‘this will change our lives forever’ kinda things.

Since we moved, grocery shopping has been a real grind. Either I go on my home from work on my own…and end up not having the motivation to do it properly, ending up with the wrong stuff, and we run out of food really quickly. Or otherwise we had been getting home from work and then driving back into town together at about 6:30pm. It’s usually 8:30 or later by the time we get back, it takes us nearly half an hour just to get to the nearest Woolworths. There’s a local IGA but prices are not too appealing. Plus if we shop at night we end up wanting takeaway on the way home. Its also rather depressing getting home and realising you only have about half an hour to relax before it will be time to go to bed.

We worked out quite a while ago that Woolworths won’t deliver out here, and we just assumed Coles would be the same. We went to a neighbourhood party a few weeks ago and discovered that quite a few of the locals get theirs delivered by Coles.

So last week we got our first home delivery, and again tonight. The delivery fee ranges from 7-9 dollars depending on the day. You can choose a time slot. We choose the 5:30 to 7:30pm time slot to allow us both enough time to get home from work. They bring the food right into your kitchen and put it on the bench.

Our favourite part is that the food is still super cold unlike when we bring it home ourselves. Even the toothpaste was cold! Plus it feels really fun when you unpack it all and remember what you ordered. The ordering process is also much better, you don’t get as distracted or splurge on un-necessary items as much. Plus it helps us to plan our meals out a lot more.

Now if only one of us could do our job from home, we’d barely even have to leave.

Pop!

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. We did our best to get our Christmas spirit on this year, despite all of the stress we’ve had lately. Daniel and I volunteered to make the desserts to go with my Sister in Law’s yummy Christmas lunch. 
I ended up making Gingerbread Men and Nutella Cheesecake. Daniel spent many grueling hours becoming the cake pops master!
The cake pops take a long time, there’s the baking of the cake balls, carefully cutting the edges off, melting the chocolate to attach the sticks, then melting more to coat them. I think Daniel did an amazing job! He even stayed up until midnight Christmas Eve to get them finished! 

I ended up making my Gingerbread dough the night before Christmas Eve and rolling and cutting them ready to bake the next day. I got up at 5:30 in the morning to bake them. I went off to work hoping it might be a slow day (haha stupid). I finally got home and started decorating the gingerbread men while Daniel worked on our air conditioning project (we’ll share once it’s complete and installed). In the midst of all of that I also drove to Bunnings to buy screws for Daniel as we knew it would be a while before we could get there again which would slow things down with our other project.

The Nutella Cheesecake was super easy to make. It ended up being a hit for dessert. Personally I felt it was a bit too cream cheesey for  my liking. But no one else seemed to mind.
Let’s be honest, I think I would have preferred to just eat an entire jar of Nutella by myself, unadulterated by cream cheese…

Blinds finally!

We finally have some privacy with the installation of our new blinds from Franklyn. The waiting time was pretty ridiculous, but I guess being the lead up to Christmas that was to be expected.

They were due to be installed on the 8th of December, but unfortunately the poor installation guy was sent to the Gold Coast equivalent of our address rather than the Brisbane one. So about a week later he came and installed them.

Here they are:

We chose blockout roller blinds for the media room in charcoal. At some point we’ll be painting the media room a darker colour, and the charcoal will fit in a lot better then.

In the spare bedrooms we’ve got translucent roller blinds in ‘Cloud’ colour. Eventually we’ll put curtains over them as well. For now they just provide privacy, but no blockout.

We’ve also got Cloud roller blinds in the laundry, as well as the rest of the long windows in the living area.

We chose panel gliders for the patio door and activity room. I really love those.

Now all we need to work on is something for the bay window in our bedroom, and the cutout in the living room. We would really like shutters for both. But we are starting to think a bit more about curtains for the bay window. When we have some money again, we’ll allow ourselves to think about that a bit more seriously.

Blogger photo/space size limits

Recently I was writing a post on ‘Before’ pictures. When it came time to actually upload the photos I discovered that I had reached our Blogger storage limit. The obvious suggestion from Blogger/Google was to purchase more storage (haha). I’m all for having online storage, but I was dead set against this. We buy enough different storage devices and online storage as it is without being sucked into yet another ‘easy direct debit’.

After searching the internets for a little while, we discovered that this is a common issue, and that a lot of people unfortunately just give up on blogging.

What we did discover (and hopefully I have interpreted this correctly), is that photos under a certain size don’t count toward the storage quota. There’s a Google support page which appears to support this and talks about Picasa limits. Since I’ve started resizing the photos it seems to be letting me upload them and so far it seems to be working. Fingers crossed that this is correct and not just a short term solution, as we just cannot afford to be paying for yet another thing.

The way I do it is to just right click the photo I want, select ‘open with’ and choose ‘paint’. I then go to resize and reduce the percentage to 25% and then re-save it to the desktop as a jpeg. I then later just delete the smaller photo from the desktop after I’ve uploaded it with Blogger.

Let me know if anyone else has any tips or tricks or knows if this is a true solution.

Christmas has come early!

We’ve waited about 3 months and our couches FINALLY arrived today! We are absolutely in love with them, and it’s given me a whole new appreciation for the rest of the house too. Everything looks a lot more complete now. We played around with them for a while, we definitely need a few little pieces of furniture to go with them, but that can wait. 
Here they are! Our guests will finally have somewhere to actually sit!

This is what the area looked like before:

We were also supposed to get our blinds installed today. However the poor installation guy got given the wrong address and ended up going to the Gold Coast instead of Samford Valley. Really annoying as we’ve already been waiting about 8 weeks for them to be made and installed. So they might be installed one night this week, or possible Thursday during the day. It will be really great to finally feel like we have some privacy, let’s hope it gets sorted out this week!
Update: The blinds are going to be installed on Thursday. YAY!

Before:

If a photographer came to our house, I think all they would get is a huge bunch of ‘before’ pictures. One day, when we have money and time (haha) we might work towards an ‘after’ picture. I don’t mind putting it out there. We’re young, we don’t have a lot of cash to splash around, and the things in our home do not look like what you would find in a display village. But it’s home.

Well here are some more before’s:

This is creamy coloured coffee table given to us by Daniel’s Brother. it’s not in the best condition, but I am confident I can do something cute with it. I’m planning something pinterest inspired, it will probably  involve mod podge, scrapbook paper and paint. We’ll see. We cant afford to buy anymore furniture, so as soon as the final set of couches arrive, it will be all diy and hand me downs from here on out.

This very sweet and charming chair was an offering from Daniel’s Mum. It’s no in amazing condition but there’s something very sweet about it and I just love it. I think it will look right at home once we have the couches for the living room.

Daniel’s Brother also brought over their old dining set in his ute. Again, it’s not in great condition, but it’s so damn cute. I love the burnt look it has. I’m not sure what we’ll do with it, but I again I’m envisaging some kind of pinterest inspired re-do. For now we are just glad to have some kind of dining table, mainly because it will off set my urge to go out and buy a dining table. So the final decision was to have a hand me down until we are ready to buy what we really want. One day I would really love a big farmhouse style table and pair it with some ultra modern chairs. 

Patio party!

Today was patio day at our house folks!!! We were up and ready for action bright and early today. We have Daniel’s awesome Brother Tom who runs Gold Coast based City-Link here for a few days doing some concreting. Daniel’s Nephew Adam also came to help which was fantastic! Today was the patio as well as some prep work for the driveway tomorrow. 
We had only had one minor hiccup when the bobcat crushed part of a down pipe  But it was easily fixed and we were on our way again. Everything kicked off at 7:30am and we were prepped and ready for the concrete for the patio by 11am. We had a very quick break and then before we knew it the concrete truck arrived.Daniel was well and truly involved in the process, going back and forth with a wheelbarrow full of concrete. The bobcat guy didn’t end up doing much extra for us. At some point we’ll get a guy we’ve had before who has some good heavy equipment and is an excellent operator. 
My job was running back and forth with water, coffees, food, keeping the music pumping and taking pictures. In the midst I also had a guy from Franklyn Blinds here doing a final measure for our blinds. It will apparently be about 2 or 3 weeks before they ‘might’ be ready. 
Anyway, see pics below of the progress throughout the day.
Before- when our patio was mostly used to hold the mower and other junk

Fixed pipe after the bobcat crushed it

Ready for pouring

Daniel schlepping concrete in our amazing and lovely neighbour’s wheelbarrow

Ta da!

Tomorrow will be an even earlier start with the concrete truck scheduled to arrive at 6:00am. Luckily it’s all prepped and ready to go. Tom tells us it won’t involve wheelbarrows which is AWESOME!

In short, we have a patio now and Daniel has the blisters on his hands to prove it. Yay!

Prep work

We’ve been in the house for a month now. It feels normal now. The other day Eaton’s Crossing was completely closed due to an unfortunate accident, however it meant I had to drive home via Clear Mountain. I honestly had no idea that Brisbane had so many stunningly beautiful places. I came across the most amazing views, it was hard to focus on the road!

Closer to home, we’ve been working on getting everything ready for our driveway, porch and patio to be poured. We are lucky enough to have Daniel’s Brother coming to town from Thursday-Sunday to work on this for us. We will have a bobcat here on Thursday to prep the area, so while he is here we will get him to do some other earth moving around the place. We need to widen the area down the side of the house where they cut, and then at some point we’ll build a retaining wall there. We’re also wanting to scatter bark over our front embankment to start turning it into a vertical garden. I’ve been out weeding it every day since Saturday in preparation- I make it sound like there was a huge amount of weeds, but I just do an hour at a time.

Inside the house we are still working on organising all of our belongings. At some point we’ll be ready to setup the guest room, but for now it’s truly not a priority. We’ve got a guy coming on Thursday to measure our windows and doors so they can order our blinds. It will be great to not have to careful in front of the front windows! I don’t think people can see much, but it still is a bit uncomfortable. We’ve also got our new couches coming early December. They can’t come soon enough to be honest! All of our poor guests just have to stand around awkwardly in the kitchen. We don’t even bar stools for people to use since we got rid of ours. The second we put our old ones down in the kitchen we noticed they were rubbing rust on the tiles. So out they went! I’ve got my heart set on some of those silver industrial ones like this, but I’m still looking for the best price. I’ve still got my eye on Gumtree for a traditional dining table to redo too.

We’ll have some pictures of the driveway and patio by the end of the week hopefully. I can barely hold in my excitement about the possibility of actually being able to park in the garage!

Pictures extravaganza

I’m currently sitting in our media room listening to some lovely afternoon rain, the smell of rain and dirt is coming through the window. Amazing! What a day! We had Franklyn Blinds out this morning to to do a quote for blinds and shutters (Yeah…we’ll just be getting blinds for now, the shutters were pricey!$!$!) We then had the lovely M from the Decorating Emporium around for a tour and she came with some cushion covers I won recently in one of her awesome giveaways. She has built the same type of house as us, so it was really exciting to have her over. Later in the afternoon we had my brother and his family over, it’s safe to say that this is the right type of house for kids to run around and find plenty of hiding spots in. It’s been a great day, and it’s now been topped off by an afternoon storm. Daniel and I just spent 20 minutes running around with brooms clearing the down pipes of leaves so that we can collect as much rain as possible. The rain smells divine!

While the house was fairly tidy for all of our weekend visitors we thought we’d take the opportunity to get some photos.

Out of towners

We’ve officially been in the house for 2 weeks now. It feels even more like home now that we have the internet 🙂

I’m really enjoying the longer drive to work. I love being able to drive on roads that have more than 60km speed limits. It’s actually only added ten to fifteen minutes to my drive since there is less traffic. Daniel’s still adjusting and trying to work out the best route, it seems like avoiding Hale street at all costs is the best bet at this stage.

We’ve been trying to get used to coming home and staying home. We’ve always been spoiled in that we lived very close to shopping centres, takeaway and all forms of services. We are trying to keep our trips ‘into town’ to a minimum and grouping tasks together a lot more. It was not uncommon for me to pop into Woolies 3 or 4 times a week when we lived at Mitchelton or Enoggera. We’ve also started keeping a petrol canister filled as backup since we run out of petrol faster than we used to.

We had a bigger fridge delivered last week, so it’s going to make the task of doing a weekly (or less hopefully) grocery shop much simpler. We’ve been living out of a 3/4 sized fridge for the last few years, it’s teeny tiny but it’s served us well. We are absolutely loving the fridge. It has everything so much colder than we are used to, and it’s shiny silverness fits in so well in the kitchen.

Here’s the before and after:

We finally built our bed on the weekend after sleeping on the mattress for 2 weeks. It was kind of nice sleeping on the floor, but it was time to become civilised again.

We’ve got a list about a mile long of things to do. We’ve started looking at different aggregate colour options for our driveway. Most people out here seem to have bitumen driveways, but we just aren’t most people. Hopefully in the next month or two Daniel’s brother will come to stay with us and he will concrete our driveway, porch and patio. The driveway and porch will be exposed aggregate  The patio will be plain concrete because we might eventually either tile it or add decking.

We also need to get the bobcat guy back to do some leveling and spread some top soil around. It’s probably going to be the best option for us to do a retaining wall down one side of the house because the cut for the house was just so deep. Once we do all of this we can at least get started on creating some sort of lawn. Ultimately we would like to lay some turf around the immediate area, but it might be a while before we can do that.

As well as the outside of the house we have a lot of plans inside too. We are starting to get a few companies out to do quotes for blinds, curtains and shutters. We’ll be looking into getting shutters put into the cut out between the activity room and living room as well as the bay window in our room. It would be really good to get a quote for the folding doors between the media and study too, but for now it’s just going to stay as one big room.

One thing’s for sure, nothing makes you feel more like rushing out and buying massive amounts of furniture than moving into a big house. The living and dining room is feeling very empty at the moment, and it will be for quite a while. I keep having to remind myself that the plan is to live here for a long time, so it doesn’t matter if it takes us a while to find our feet and do everything the way we want to. Until then, we are absolutely loving hanging out in the media room on the new couch. We are super glad we got data cabling put in everywhere. We are loving the heat of the kitchen. We love actually having spare spots in the kitchen cupboards. We love the giant bathtub. We love the colour we chose for the walls, it’s exactly what we wanted. We love that we finally did it. We finally have a house!

Everyone’s been asking for more pictures, but to be honest things aren’t very well setup yet. So here’s some pictures of the chaos.

Living room, it’s now empty and awaiting a new set of couches. 

Mid unpacking, let’s not lie or pretend that it really looks
any cleaner or more organised right now. 

3 boxes filled to the brim with couch

I don’t have a picture of ours yet, but we have the black version of this in the
media room, we’ve got it all pushed together like a giant bed. Love!

We’re back from the wilderness!

We’ve officially been in the house for one week now (as of yesterday). I think we can well and truly say we feel at home. We still don’t have internet thanks to Telstra (it was meant to be put on yesterday, but it will now apparently be another week). I can’t believe we are both back at work already.

Last week was exhausting. We had the movers come early Monday Morning and then there were various car trips back and forth from the rental to the house.

We then spent all of Tuesday and Wednesday cleaning up the rental getting ready to give the keys back on Thursday.

We have unpacked a lot, especially in the kitchen, bathroom and main bedroom. However, there is still a hell of a lot to go!

The highlights so far have been cooking in such an amazing kitchen. We have been cooking in a terrible kitchen that took 15 minutes just to boil already hot water for the past year and a half. So it’s amazing to be able to boil things and actually hear that sizzle sound when you put something in the pan! The giant bathtub is also awesome. The size of the shower has been great too. We also had a new couch delivered for the media room. Oh my god, I love it! We’ll post pictures soon. Basically whatever way you lay on it, you can still stretch your legs out, it’s the perfect solution for someone who doesn’t want to get the typical ‘media chairs’ with the cup holders and everything. We’ve also got a new fridge coming on Thursday, it’s going to really come in handy being so far out of town. We are already finding it hard to keep enough food on hand so that we don’t have to trek in to the shops constantly.

Anyway, we’ll provide more of an update soon, with pictures!

The deets

Handover was on Tuesday, we didn’t really go through any of the details on here. It was such a huge build up to Tuesday for us, especially with the long weekend. On Tuesday morning Daniel got a call from our SS saying that they hadn’t received the money from our bank. I don’t know exactly why they thought that, considering it had been paid by our bank on the previous Thursday, but 20 minutes later the SS called back to say it was all fine.

Daniel met with our SS at the house at 3pm. It was apparently fairly straight forward, the SS changed the locks, installed the new microwave and went through all of the manuals.

We’ve had a lot to organise throughout the week. Surprise, surprise, the temporary water tank guy saved the best for last. We asked him to come and get the tanks on the Friday before handover and he said he would get them the next day, Tuesday came and they were still sitting there! Wednesday…still there. It was starting to get a bit stressful as we were wanting to organise some truckloads of dirt so that we could get the driveway sorted out more. I called him Wednesday night and explained to him that we were starting to worry as they were going to be in the way to do any excavation of the area. He finally removed them Thursday afternoon and we then had loads of dirt and road base delivered on Friday.

We went out for a visit a few times yesterday, and the dirt has been spread nicely, the road base looks great. The road base is still quite loose though, a little bit of rain would be a very good thing right now!

We also had Daniel’s brother come over in the afternoon for a look, and he also gave us a quote to concrete our driveway, porch and patio. So hopefully that will happen soonish.

One of our cars which we’ve been taking loads of stuff in,
it fits in a surprisingly large amount of stuff!

New road base for the driveway

It’s set to be fairly busy over the next week. We have Mini Movers coming at 7am on Monday morning. Before then we still need to do a bit more packing and we have some furniture to pull apart. I’m also trying to get all of our washing done so that it won’t be something to stress about.

We then have the plumber coming at 12 on Monday. We also have an antenna company coming around the same time. That night we have a Telstra technician coming and hopefully the phone will be swtiched on. We then have the next few days to get the rental cleaned up and presentable by midnight Thursday night. The part I’m most excited about is our couch being delivered on Thursday. Friday afternoon we are booked in for a massage at a local retreat to try and fix our broken muscles from moving.

Handover!

Today (exactly 16 weeks to the day since start date) we got the keys to our brand new house nestled in the glorious Samford Valley!


We had some celebratory Moet this afternoon. I guess Daniel and I aren’t cut out for the finer things in life, because we imagined our celebration would be something like this:

But really the Moet made us do this:

Happy Tuesday everybody! 

The long weekend wait

We kind of figure not much will be happening at the house until handover. We visited the house last night and found that the electrician had been back, which also meant he had hooked up the pumps for the water. Yay for running water finally!!! So realistically they left it until the absolute last day possible to get the water up and running. Daniel was excited to find that the electrician had recessed the data and TV points as requested. We can’t speak highly enough of the quality and workmanship of that guy, he has done a fantastic job. I was excited to find that our bedside pendants were finally lowered into the right place. Woohoo!!
The only thing we are waiting on is the final clean of the house, and for the doors to our walk in robe to be put back on. Can’t wait to see the house all clean again, it’s gotten filthy in the last week. 
This afternoon there was an inspection for prospective tenants at our current rental. We went to a lot of effort to make the place presentable despite all of the boxes laying around. We figure it’s in our best interest, hopefully they will find a successful applicant and they won’t have to do any more inspections. 
This morning we went to Far Pavilions to sign off on the couches we want. They won’t be available until December which is a pretty long wait. 
We’ll be spending the rest of our long weekend packing. We hope you are all enjoying your time off. For now, here’s a few more little piccies. 

Magic

It’s been rather eventful at the house this week. 
The painter has been back. It’s still not as perfect as it should be, but it’s probably as good as it’s going to get. Daniel was there earlier in the week and the painter had a bit of a whinge to him about the fact that they don’t get paid to come back to do touch ups, and that being a painter is pretty much the worst job you can have with poor conditions and low pay. 
Monday morning Daniel was supposed to meet the valuer from the bank at 8am. Daniel got there at about 8:02am, stood around for an hour waiting and nobody showed up. It wasn’t until much later in the day that the valuer called to say he did the valuation in the morning by looking through the windows. Poor Daniel had just missed the guy by minutes! 
We also had our gas tanks delivered and hooked up Monday by a local company. 
Tuesday morning Daniel was up early again, this time to meet our independent building inspector at 7am. It was a fairly detailed report but didn’t find too many real issues. We’ve raised a few more queries with our SS as a result, just things like two sliding doors that are a bit stiff, a window that is a bit stiff and things like that. 

Probably the most exciting and long awaited event was seeing all three of our water tanks finally installed and plumbed properly. The electrician still needs to come back to get the pump working though. Today we ordered 3 truck loads of water for them so that the plumber can finish everything off. While we were at the house tonight the water truck came, so it was interesting to see how they do it, and how noisy it is! 
Plumbed water tanks
Delivery!
We also had our wheely bins delivered today. We were a bit stunned to find that it costs $250 per year to have bins. I guess we’ve never come across this because we’ve always lived in apartments. It makes you wonder what our rates are even covering when we are paying that for bins, we are providing our own water and waste system too. Meanwhile Moreton Bay Council rates are some of the highest around. 
Spiffy wheely bins
We spent about an hour on Sunday afternoon moving piles of bricks at the house. We went back this afternoon after work to finish the rest off. It’s nice to have them all moved out of the way finally. Now there will be nothing stopping the local temporary water tank guy from coming to collect his leaky tanks. Bonus is that the house looks lovely and unobstructed by bricks and piles of rubbish. 
The bricks we moved today
(this is only half of what we moved all up)
The most wonderful thing to happen this week was seeing fireflies in our new front yard last night! Neither Daniel or I have ever seen fireflies, so it was a fairly unexpected and magical experience. My first reaction was to grab Daniel’s arm and freak out, it all made me feel a bit like we were seeing aliens at first haha. We very quickly realised what they were. It was incredible. I wish we could have got a picture, we’ll keep trying. But who knows if we will see them very often. 

At this stage handover is still expected to be next Tuesday. It will probably just be Daniel going to handover as I already have a 3 day week next week as it is. Stay tuned folks!

PCI

We had PCI today. It was meant to be at 2pm but our SS arrived at around 1:30pm so we got off to an early start.

Daniel and I got there a little early and spent some time putting in more light bulbs. We now just need 2 more bulbs for our bedside pendants, we had some cheapies but they just wouldn’t fit, for no logical reason other than they are cheap junk. So we will buy some that cost more than a dollar and see how we go.

Things got moving pretty quickly once our SS arrived. We all started scouring for any problems room by room. To be honest, 99% of the problems were paint work related, and boy were there a lot!! Every room has quite a lot of red dots drawing attention to things the painter will need to fix. Unfortunately a lot of little tiny insects have died in the paint work.

We did the inside of the house first, signed off, then checked the outside of the house. There were very few areas needing attention on the outside of the house. While we were there it started storming, which was perfect timing as two of our three water tanks were plumbed earlier today. Yay for free water from the sky! We will still need to buy a few truck loads of water to start us off, but it was great to see that we are already capturing some rain.

Only two of the tanks have been installed so far. The third fire tank is aluminium and they will need about 4 guys to lift it into place. They won’t have the man power ready until next Friday. Initially our SS was talking about having handover next Friday instead of the following Monday, but then he remembered that the plumber won’t even be back until then, so we should keep handover as the 2nd of October after all. Fine with us! This will also give us a chance to get a few loads of water brought in before then.

While we were at the house the gas fitter came by. He connected up the gas hot water system and left a letter for us to give to the gas company. We’ve chosen a local gas bottle supplier from Samford who apparently get them from Elgas anyway. They will be hooking up the bottles on Monday.

Our carpet has also been installed! It’s Andrew Karaoke carpet. It’s a very dark grey. There wasn’t really a huge amount of choice since we went with the C grade carpet, but it will serve us well as it won’t show up too many marks. It looks a lot nicer than I thought it would, it shows up very dark in photos though. 

We also discovered all of our screens have been fitted. Yay!!! Hopefully this will help with all of the bugs we have come across lately. I’ll still be booking in a pest control spray asap though.

Earlier today we went to the bank to sign off on the final invoice. They explained that we might have to chase the builder for our Occupancy Certificate, as that was apparently an issue with another Coral build earlier in the week. Our SS expects that it should be available next Wednesday, so fingers crossed. The one exciting thing at the bank was that we didn’t realise our original bank loan officer had put an extra few thousand on our loan to cover any unforeseen extras. So it turns out we won’t have to pay cash for our variations (although I guess that means the bank wins there). Anyway, yay, more savings available to us! 
Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly over the next week and a bit. Over the weekend we will be out at the house moving 800 bricks to a better area. Muscle building!! 

Almost a home

We are still scheduled to have our walk through on Friday at 2pm. We have definitely noticed a few issues we want to make sure go on the list to be fixed, mostly painting issues (and a million little bugs that have died on the pantry door while the paint was drying) and a few plastering fix ups.

It seems like we go from stressed, to more stressed these days. But that all went away tonight when we went for a visit. The tiles have been finished and they look great. Our tiler really did a wonderful, high quality job. Our electrician still needs to come back to finish the fit off. HEQ came today and started their fit off for the data and TV points, looks like they will need to come back again too as they aren’t finished. Today the cleaners were there and they’ve left the house looking beautiful. The water tanks are still sitting on their side, the plumber will be back on Friday to install the hot water system and to plumb the water tanks. After the hot water system is installed the gas fitter will be back and then we will need to order our gas tanks. We haven’t heard when carpet and fly screens are going to be installed, but I imagine it will be really soon!
Daniel’s baby: Patch panel installed in the store room.

Mirror and shower screen

Kitchen, well lit with only the pendants. 

Shower screen and mirror

Creepy crawlies have started moving in before us, who gave them a key?

The biggest stress this week has been a ridiculous issue with the potable water tank. Somebody on site decided to be really smart and put a brick under the side of the tank to get more water out of it…which resulted in a crack. As we have mentioned before, the guy who owns the water tank is difficult enough to deal with as it is. The guy was not impressed, and now says we owe him $1000 to replace this shitty old tank (and of course SS claims it’s not their fault, well it isn’t ours either but yet again we cop it). The most annoying part is that we really only need to provide water for another few days. So we have a replacement water tank for the next few days. The only funny thing to come out of all of this is that the tank guy told Daniel this is the 6th time this has happened to one of  his tanks on a building site. And yet the guy still doesn’t bother to develop a proper business model, no insurance, no deposit for the tank, still hasn’t bothered to even invoice us for the time we’ve had the tank, no signage on the tank saying not to touch it, nothing. I can think of more than a few strategies for him to avoid this happening again.

Someone’s smart idea

New shitty tank for potable water

Hopefully from here things will be a bit more smooth. Seriously, how many more issues can come up within the next two weeks? All going well, we will still hopefully have handover on the 2nd of October. We’ll take more photos to share on Friday! Until then, wish us luck, and let’s hope the tradies don’t find something else to wreck.

Zdjęcia dla mamy

We were able to get a better look at the progress with the electrical and plumbing fit offs this afternoon. The poor electrician and his apprentice were still there at 5:30 and had hours of work left to go still. We could see a lot of work still needed to be done. I felt pretty bad for them, especially as we were driving away and it was getting really dark. 
It’s still been pretty stressful for us, we’ve been told that we have to keep all of the lights and things that weren’t meant to be ordered by Coral. It’s pretty disappointing as it’s about $800 worth of stuff that we don’t need or want. We’ll see what we can do about it, but we don’t really want to push the point. 
Anyway, here are some pictures:

PCI…or TMI?

So first things first… PCI is booked for next Friday at 2pm. At this stage handover is likely to be the 1st or 2nd of October (though obviously the 1st is a public holiday). This has been exciting news today, but also very frantic! The amount of information that Daniel has had to retain today is beyond ridiculous, hence the ‘TMI’ as this has all suddenly become too much for one day.

Today our electrical fit off commenced. We took all of our light fittings out to the house last night (in the dark). This part of the process has always been a bit of a worry for us, because we had some pretty specific wishes on our list. Before we even got there this afternoon to check it out we had already had several calls saying that we needed to purchase some light bulbs, and that one of our kitchen pendants was broken.

We got to the house, saw the front lights, everything seems good with those. I went straight to the bedroom and was immediately horrified to find that our bedside pendant lights were WAY too short. After that I could barely focus on anything else because I was so upset that the one thing that I was particularly excited about was all wrong. We also realised the wrong fan had been installed, which was puzzling at first, since we had actually delivered the fan ourselves. Turns out Coral had ordered the things that were in the contract-which we had been told many times not to worry about. So the electrician got confused and just put in the fan that Coral provided, which is exactly the same as ours but with a light in it, and hideous.

Front lights installed
Pendant lights, way too short, and fan with a light, ughhh..
One sad little broken pendant

Toward the end of our visit we looked in the pantry and found a whole heap of stuff that Coral had ordered, which they had already said would not be ordered and we would be credited for. So no idea what will happen with that, hopefully they can just return them.

On the way home we got in touch with the electrician and we were able to explain the issues we had found. He was pretty good about it and will be working on fixing it tomorrow. Luckily the pendant lights in the bedroom just have the chord looped up in the ceiling, so he can lower them (Happy Lauren). We just have to go to Beacon and get them to replace the broken glass in our kitchen pendant lights, and we should then be able to sort this out ourselves because it won’t require an electrician to change the actual glass. He will also switch the fans for us and fix a few other issues.

The oven, cook top and dishwasher have also been installed.

Oven, cook top and range hood

In addition to the electrical stuff, the plumbing fit off has also commenced. The basins, toilets and taps have all been installed.

The water tanks will hopefully be delivered this week and they have setup the sand pad for them to go on. That’s all a bit of a worry for us, but hopefully it will all come together in the end. It’s been extra hard because Coral are providing two of the tanks, and we have to coordinate a third coming from a different supplier.

Pad for the Water tanks

Our potable water tank also ran out again, which was a surprise. This time we have gone with someone else to refill it, and honestly, it has been so much more straightforward. They are going to do it by tomorrow morning, and we have already paid. One sigh of relief right there!

Tiling is due to commence this Thursday, so we will be staying away from the house on those days. I guess that means carpet will go in very soon too.

It feels like there were so many things to finish, and now all of a sudden I can’t even think of what else needs to be done.

This will mean we will be out of our rental in time without having to ask for an extra week. I have already booked mini movers, we both have the day off for PCI and have the second week of October off work to move.

We will add some more photos in the next few days. It was so late when we went today that we really didn’t get many good pictures.

White

Today was our first glimpse of the paint job on our house. The internal colours are Lexicon by Dulux, and Vivid White for the ceiling. We haven’t really been that phased by the painting stage, we didn’t even go out to check on the progress during the week. As we expected, it’s a normal white like we had hoped. Lexicon is supposed to be the basic ‘cool white’ by Dulux-this is the impression I get anyway from reading various blogs and forums. As long as it didn’t look yellow, it was going to tick all of the right boxes anyway. Yay, box ticking! It looks like it still has a coat or two to go, the eaves have been started. The weatherboard is yet to be started-this is probably the one area we are interested to see, as it is supposed to match the surfmist colour of the garage door. The front door will be timeless grey, at the moment there’s just a base coat. I miss the beautiful natural look of the door, but before long we won’t even remember what it looked like. It also looks like a pipe on the side of the house has been fixed up, as it was sticking out too far for the guys to do the weatherboard. We’ve taken a fairly laid back approach with these types of issues, it’s not really our problem…it’s theirs. So whenever they wanna fix things like that it’s up to them. 
Front door base paint, and painted eaves

Living room

Dining room

Media and study

Kitchen

Fixed pipe/ wacked into place with a hammer…

Locked up

We finally got to see our garage door today, it looks like a complete house now, just needs some paint here and there and some down pipes (and a huge amount of landscaping). We had a leisurely look through the entire house. Lately every time we go there are tradies there, even on weekends, so it was nice to have a proper look. 

The water tank area has also been cleared, it’s looking like it’s maybe not as far into the corner as we want, but it’s probably the best they could do. There is a MASSIVE amount of rocks that were moved out of the way which now line the driveway. I know we will want to keep some of these, but we will also need to have a think about getting rid of someone-we aren’t sure if this is something people would either like to buy or whether any landscaping companies might like to have them for free. All I know is it would cost a bucket load to get them removed completely. Hopefully we can suss out some options. 

Bathrooms & tiles & weatherboards, oh my!

Daniel and I have been out to the block this afternoon and found lots of exciting developments! It’s fairly picture heavy for all of the people who don’t have facebook and don’t get to see the progress in person (Hi Mum and Dad). 
15 tonne excavator all ready for tomorrow’s
water tank preparation
The cladding has finally been added.
We were so excited to finally see it!

Master bathroom. Looking spectacular!
The tiler’s work seems to be pretty exceptional!

Very happy with how our feature wall in the shower looks

Pantry shelves complete
Kitchen splashback

Spare bathroom. Very happy that we moved the column of
tiles to a more visible shower wall

Laundry. These are a smaller version of our main floor tiles,
very happy with the colour!

Cladding on the side of the house, not quite complete yet

Picture show

This afternoon I got home pretty late this afternoon, nevertheless Daniel and our friend Andrew were waiting for me so that we could go out to the house for a look. It was fairly dark by the time we got there, we managed to get a few outside pictures. They have done the brick sill which goes along the entire front of our our bedroom, we were pretty happy with how it looks. We also wondered how it would turn out as it wasn’t our idea, the Coral draftsman added it in without us asking for it, and we actually liked the idea and stuck with it. 

We were excited to find that the waterproofing had been done in the bathrooms. The bathroom cabinets haven’t been installed yet. However we were told about a week ago that the tilers are meant to be starting tomorrow, so we are assuming we will see some more progress in the bathrooms fairly soon.

Now for the real surprise. Our kitchen cabinets have been installed!! That was very exciting as we really hadn’t expected to see quite so much progress int he kitchen. When we visit I’m the one who is two steps ahead running from to room screaming out to Daniel to ‘hurry up and come see’. It was almost pitch black inside, so we are lucky we didn’t fall over anything. We brought our good old Dolphin torch, and luckily the camera can still capture everything, although the pics have a lot of schmutz on them.

We also discovered that the shelves have been added to our hallway and linen cupboard, as well as the bedroom cupboards. Doors, door frames and window frames have also been added.

A fine week nine!

This week I’m taking over from Daniel to do the end of week nine summary. We’ve had lots of ups and a few stressful moments here and there as per usual.

This week we saw a lot more progress with the bricks, it looks like they are almost at the point of doing the window sills and the areas have been left where the weatherboard will go. We are so happy with our brick choice, it looks exactly how we planned, and there is the perfect level of contrast between the bricks and mortar. I’m really glad we sprung for the off white mortar.

We also saw the majority of the plasterboard finished off, as well as the architraves. We have a proper house ‘shell’ now and have a real feel for everything. Though we have noticed that all of the cables in the storeroom have been cut through in the wrong spot. They are meant to be up high and out of reach, but have been pulled through at waist height. We’ve already alerted the SS and that will get sorted out at some point.

We have been a bit stressed over the past week or so while we waited to hear about the area our tanks are going. There was a chance that they were going to have to move the tanks over, which would effectively mean they would be smack bang in the middle of our our front yard area. As it is, they will be to the side of the front, there is no way around it, but they were supposed to be as far to the side as possible. The SS seemed convinced that it wasn’t going to be possible to dig up the rocks in the area. Our experience with this block is always ‘the bigger the better’ when it comes to all things digging and earth moving related. Our SS didn’t seem too convinced and continued trying to discuss the issue with bobcat operators. Finally on Friday we got word that he had met with various operators, and that he has actually organised the guy who recently did our driveway for us to come and do it. We are very happy with this, as this guy has access to an 18 tonne excavator, and it will give us the best chance to get them put in the area we want. We were also very happy with the work he did on our driveway. We’ve been given the go ahead from our SS to get him to do some extra work while he is there, so hopefully we can get some rocks and tree stumps removed while he is at it. During the site cut and clean up they just threw all of the rocks into the front yard, so we have a very messy area of massive rocks needing to be cleaned up.

As you all would have read we have been pretty stressed out about needing to get our temporary water tank filled. We had to just hope that it would get done and everything would be fine for the brickies to continue on Monday morning. We never heard about any issues yesterday or today, and we checked this afternoon and it was full. A lot of stressing over something we shouldn’t have to stress about. We really wouldn’t mind if we were just given an honest time frame of when it can be done, rather than continual promises. It was getting a bit monotonous toward the end there!

Anyway, onto more exciting things which we found today when we had our afternoon visit:

Special thanks to Daniel for waiting for me to get home from work so we could go to the block together today. Throughout winter I have had to just accept the fact that if he waited until I get home from work then it would be too dark by the time we get there. It’s finally at a point in the year where there is still enough light if we wait and go together. Loving it!

DIY

During my week off (feels like forever ago) I did a few little diy projects. 

I painted some bottles by swirling enamel paint on the inside. It takes ages to let the excess drip out! I was a bit disappointed with the yellow, but there weren’t many other options at Bunnings. It takes a few coats to get them opaque, but I’m pretty happy with the result. They made a good little spot to put some flowers recently for my Birthday.  
Before
After

I also worked on a few cushions with my favourite fabrics. I’m a big fan of grey and yellow together, so I can’t wait to put these in the new house.

After

Any other ideas will have to wait until we move. I’ve been eyeing off a few wooden pallets from the bricks, one of them even has the plastic covering still on it and the  planks are all a different colour, perfect for what I’m looking for! I’m also starting to keep my eye on Gumtree for a a good quality 9 piece dining setting, I have a few ideas up my sleeve if I can find the right one (at the right price).

Yet again

Once again the guy who provided our temporary water tank has let us down.

This is the same fellow who took a week to actually deliver our temporary tank when we started building. Every day we would check to see if it was there, and every day we would have to ring him again to see when he was going to do it-each time he’d say ‘yeah, I’ll definitely do it tomorrow’.

Now it’s come time to refill the tank because the brickies have used it all up and it’s the same story all over again. We found out Monday that it was getting low, so we called him right away. He said he would do it that night. We assumed it would get done. It’s now Friday and we just got a text from our SS saying there’s no water left.

Daniel just gave the guy a call and he said ‘yeah I’ll do it tomorrow’. The thing is, if he could just give an honest and fairly accurate response of when it will be done, we wouldn’t get so annoyed.

We’ll be going out the block on Sunday, fingers crossed it will be done or we are going to have some peed off brickies and an unhappy SS.

Fixed

We’ve been back to the house today, my Brother and his Wife and the kidlets came out for another tour. We went back again later in the day to do some mowing as well. Here’s a few photos from today’s trip.

The cutout has been fixed

Brick delivery

Temporary pipes hooked up

Plasterboard delivery

Rough in and wrapping

This week we had our electrical and plumbing rough ins. We (Daniel) had some very specific requests for the electrician, so it was important that we go through all of that with him. Luckily the electrician was brilliant in that he completely understood where we were coming from. Anytime an issue came up where he couldn’t do exactly what we asked for, he worked with us to come up with a reasonable alternative. I really got the sense that he understood that this is going to be our home, and everything needs to be user friendly and make sense.  We were also relieved that the electrician was happy to sort out our double meter box issue without much fuss. We have finally got the message through to the right person that we already have a meter box and therefore only need a switchboard inside the garage. So glad that is sorted out! We also had a separate company come out at the same time to do our Ethernet cabling. 
You can just barely see the brackets to hold our light switches there. 
We were also excited to find that the house had been wrapped. It feels like there is a lot of progress going on at the moment. 

Front door installed
There was a lot going on while we were there. We had the electrician and his apprentice, the plumbers sorting out drainage around the house and another company doing the data points all at once. I’m sure it’s like this most days, but we’ve never been there to see it. 
Plumbers doing drainage

Plumbing

We also met with the SS on site. He let us know he is trying to sort out some issues with the area where our water tanks are going, there’s a chance they will have to move them over more. We aren’t too happy about that, but understand he is doing his best to sort things out. We’ve offered to get in a larger excavator if that will help, especially since we’ve had good experiences with one of the local excavator operators and he has access to a 14 tonner.

The SS also ran through the schedule with us. I can’t remember everything he said but it sounds like bricks should be started this Monday, plasterers sometime after that. The tiler is booked for the 17th of August. We explained to him that our rental lease ends in the second week of October and he felt that we should be able to move in before then at this stage. Phew.

We had another ‘oops’

So, we made another mistake, all of our own doing again, shall we blame it on stress?

In between our activity room and living room, we requested a window sized cut out where we would later add plantation shutters. This was added as a variation, and was not originally in the plan. The idea was to let a little breeze and light through, and also keep an eye on any future kidlets that may be hanging out on that side of the house.

This is our shutters idea photoshopped into a photo of a Marcoola display home.
We sent this to Coral when we requested the variation.

It wasn’t until the framers were finished that we realised the measurements were way off. It was meant to be a window sized cut out, but what’s actually there is a 2100 x 2100 opening, only 30 cm off the ground which goes fully to the ceiling. We saw this last weekend, but just thought they hadn’t finished with that part yet. Then somehow it clicked while we were going for our nightly walk on Tuesday night. We rushed back to check the measurements on the final plans and the variation, and sure enough, we had signed off on a 2100 x 2100 window. Farrrrk!!

“A walkway with a tripping hazard in it? Oh those crazy clients…”

We fired off an email to our SS and hoped for the best. Daniel spent the next day trying to get in touch with him- on a Wednesday, which we already know is the day that our SS is out of reach. Thankfully by about 3:30pm Daniel heard from our SS and we were promised that it would be sorted asap, and all it will cost us is a couple of cartons of beer! Never felt so relieved! Plus it lead to this little gem of a quote from Daniel: ‘I’m so damn happy it’s like there are fairies sprinkling fairy dust in my head’.

Neither of us have any idea how we managed to let this happen. The only thing we can attribute it to was that all of the requests were verbal, and the people involved knew exactly what we wanted and why we wanted it, so we didn’t really think to check the final plan. Stupid! Plus every time we did a variation it usually had a fair few things on it which were a tad more stress inducing, so we somehow managed to miss this.

Ah, relief.

Woops

We just got back from seeing our brand new Colorbond Shale Grey roof. We love it….but there’s a but.
We kind of thought it would be darker! To the point where when we got there our first reaction was ‘umm, did they accidentally give us the wrong roof colour?’ It was so bright we thought they had accidentally given us a roof in Surfmist. Luckily, we love it anyway, and we are super happy that there will be a good level of contrast between the roof and bricks. We’ve realised we were probably more looking to get the next darkest one called Windspray to get the look we were going for. When you look at samples indoors they look darker, we never actually thought to take the sample outside and see how bright and reflective it is.

Tip for people who haven’t chosen their roof colour yet: take the samples outside in the sunlight! 🙂

Here’s a pic of our beautiful new roof:

Winning!

Today I was lucky enough to be home to receive a whole heap of painting related goods from Shurline which I won through a Country Home Ideas magazine competition. I’m so excited about it. It’s such a relevant prize for us, we are really excited to try out some of this stuff when we eventually get started on our feature walls. The reality is, we wouldn’t have even bought half of this useful stuff and probably would have only got the basic rollers and a few paint brushes to try and do the job. Now we’re all decked out to feel like we can do a good job. The Bunnings vouchers will go to good use too! We never seem to win anything, so this was awesome!

What a difference a week makes!

We’ll be making lots of visits to the block over the next few days. We just got back from a visit to the block with Daniel’s parents. Tomorrow we are taking my Brother, Sister in law and their Son out for a look. Then Monday Daniel is going out in the afternoon to meet with a guy who will be helping to fix up the driveway.
We haven’t really had many updates about the schedule lately, so we were surprised to see how much had changed since we saw it Thursday afternoon. 

Where’s Wally (Daniel), try to spot him, haha!

It looks like a proper house now, or at least the shape of one!

Temporary blinds

I’ve kind of been freaking out over what type of window coverings we will need, but especially how much it is going to cost. I came to the realisation recently that even if we ‘tack sheets on the windows’, I don’t actually own enough sheets to do that, plus I would want to buy 3M hooks to put them up without ruining the newly painted walls.

So I went on a bit of a hunt for some other options and came across something called Redi Shade, produced by an American company. They can be purchased through Ezyblind Window Solutions in Australia. Unfortunately there are aren’t many colour choices or types through Ezyblind, they only stock the black blockout blinds and the white privacy shades, they also only come in one size. Nevertheless, it seemed like the best option, and the longest lasting ‘temporary’ solution.

I used my leave loading pay from my week off to get them and they had free delivery. They were about $60 for 6 shades. I ended up buying two packs, one of the blockout shades, and one of the white privacy shades. They arrived on Monday, so it basically only took about 5 days.

Here’s a picture of the white ones from the Redi Shade website

On close inspection, they are essentially just cardboard folded concertina style. Basically they just stick on to the top of the window frame. Despite the fact that I just paid what is likely a whopping amount for 12 pieces of cardboard, I’m actually fairly happy with them. The idea of either finding a way to tack up sheets or rush to find the money to get some proper window coverings was actually stressing me out. I feel good that we can put them up within a few seconds and be ready to go with no fussing around until we are ready to start looking into window covering options.

The amount I have is probably going to be enough to cover our bedroom bay window, the study and media room windows, and our long windows in the living room.

Now if only I could buy a lounge chair and dining table made of cardboard boxes and I’d be right.

Sunday Funday

Well, not much has really been happening house wise.

On Thursday the carpenter went out to do our frames and gave up because it was just raining too much. So, I guess they will be able to go out this week, though the builder never really said what the new plan would be.

We’ve also been asked to work out a solution to our steep driveway. For me this is kind of frustrating, as this is the type of thing that could have been brought up and addressed months ago. Instead, we will be rushing to try and sort out some earth moving people as well as some clean fill and road base. The builder figured we would be doing this eventually anyway, and has requested that we do it now to make it easier for when the bricks are delivered. Yay for last minute, rushed, not thoroughly researched expenses! Joy! I guess it’s obvious how I feel about this, haha!

We also stepped in to the bank yesterday to authorise payment of the base stage to the builder. Not exciting so much,  seems like an important step.

Despite the lack of movement at the block, we are still pretty excited that we now have a slab. This morning we went to the block with my Brother, Sister in Law, Nephew and Niece. It was fun to do a tour of the ‘house’ and show them where everything will be. The kids had a ball running all over the slab, I thought they’d be bored!

It’s my Birthday tomorrow, and I will be working all day, so we tried to make this weekend a bit of a faux birthday. I’d say it has turned out pretty nicely. It has included a fun little shopping trip where we didn’t buy anything (yay for saving), Sizzler for Saturday night dinner and our family block trip this morning. I’m also currently typing on a brand spankin new laptop from my lovely boy Daniel, proving yet again that he is amazing and the best gift giver ever! I’ve desperately needed a new laptop since the beginning of the year, but we have tried to make the old one last as long as possible, even by gluing it back together. The old one is literally falling apart beyond repair, so this couldn’t have come at a better time. It was an excellent surprise!

Cute kidlets running around, they loved it!

Plumbing and Electrical Prep

We have just come back from a late afternoon trip to the block to check on progress. We were excited to see some new additions! 
Plumbing

The mystery meter box, that we weren’t
expecting since we already have one

Waffle Pods!!

Our slab is scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday, and frames to start next Thursday. Hoping the weather has a quick turn around from the current forecasts!

Piers and mud

Oh my god Brisbane, why is it so cold right now! I really feel for the poor tradies who are working on our block, it’s always even colder out there.

We had been told that they would be ‘starting’ to prepare for our slab yesterday. However, every time we have driven out there in the past week we had been a bit disappointed to find there was absolutely no change. There’s been a delay of about 2 weeks since we got our site scrape on the 12th of June.

So yesterday as we were driving out to the block we were getting really excited and hoping for the best. We followed a concrete truck for part of the way and I became convinced it was going to our block…it wasn’t.

Then as we were a street away we saw a ute heading back in toward the city, and I got excited again, as it was hopefully proof that someone had actually been working on the block. Woo!

Here’s the evidence we found when we got there!

The first piece of evidence that work had been happening at the block.
The Coral Homes sign had been added! Yay!

The next piece of evidence. Most likely, no-one has ever been as
excited to see wet concrete dregs on their driveway as us!

We have piers, yo!

Look at those beautiful piers.

All that was left to do was drive home.
Look how beautiful the moon was at dusk!
This photo just doesn’t do it justice.

Santa has been!

We picked up our order from Beacon Lighting at Windsor this morning. We are very happy with our selections. We didn’t realise until we got there how much space it would take up in the car!

Real life Tetris, our little car packed full to the brim

All of our goodies, after thoroughly checking they were the right ones with no damage

It was pretty exciting going through all of the lights and fans. I really love our pendants for the kitchen and beside the bed, they are going to look so sweet!

As far as we know, we are meant to be getting our slab in the next few days. Will keep you all posted!

Let there be light!

Last night we were watching our nightly dose of The Block when the ad for Beacon Lighting came on saying that they were having an end of financial year sale. We’d had a few issues with neighbours that day, so it was really nice to focus on something more uplifting instead. 

We leapt onto their site straight away and discovered that the majority of things we have already chosen had anywhere from $2 to $40 off!!!

We present to you:

Tahitian fan for our outdoor area
3x Amadora pendant light for the kitchen island
2x Mara II Drum Pendant for each side of the bed
Plus about 50 billion Neptune Round Downlights

I think they are all going to look spectacular!

Lists

We’ve had a few things to cross off the list to help with the progress, but it’s been a tad stressful.

We had to get our electricity hooked up to a temporary metre, that ended up going well. Daniel and his Dad (who is a licenced Electrician) spent about 5 hours at the block on Saturday setting it up. One thing ticked off the list!

Building pad with newly setup temporary power in the background, and a lot more dirt
and ripped up grass than we expected. 

We also have our wonderful neighbours (who happen to be tree loppers) chopping some trees down for us. They haven’t been done yet, but we really appreciate their help at such short notice. We just have to clear the area for the water tanks to go in.

Finally, we had to organise potable water for the builders. This forms part of our contract, but all along we have been told not to worry about it, and that we would be told where to get it and that it would only be a few hundred dollars. When we met with our site supervisor he was very surprised that we hadn’t already organised it, and not very impressed that we had been told that he would be the one directing us on that. So we hopped to it as quickly as possible. We did manage to find a guy within a day who agreed to do it, for a much higher price than had been suggested all along. Well what a nightmare that has turned out to be. Every single day since last Wednesday the guy has said ‘Yep, I’ll do it tomorrow’. Then tomorrow rolls around and it doesn’t get done. Daniel has called this guy every single day since last Wednesday, and every single time he has said he will do it ‘tomorrow’. Six days later, it’s finally done. 

Aside from that, we’ve noticed a lot of other progress at the block too. The house has been marked out. It was really nice to walk around and look at where everything will be. It was also a relief to realise we have enough space around the house for a bobcat to fit for when we start landscaping. Our HSTP has also been installed and the sprinkler area seems to be all setup.

I’m very much looking forward to getting these last few things sorted and handing over as much of the responsibility as possible to the builder.

And just for your viewing pleasure:

A local bull ( I think?)

Preparation

Just one of our little friends who likes to visit our piece of paradise in the bush. 

We’ve been out to the block this morning to do some last minute preparation before everything starts on Tuesday. Daniel and his Dad both did some whipper snipping. I did what I do best… supervise 🙂

When we went today we found evidence that someone from Coral had been out there, there were some stakes marking the cut and fill area. It felt a bit like Santa had been! Fingers crossed that everything gets off to a good start on Tuesday.

Patience

We are still patiently awaiting a start date for our build. It took about a week for our council approval to ‘officially’ arrive by mail both to our home and to our builder, so I guess we should only really be counting from then, not from when we found out online. In the meantime we have signed off on a few last issues including moving a downpipe and getting a bigger manhole. The biggest issue was finding out that we need a third 22,500 litre water tank for our property. So we will be having 45,000L just for the house, and 22,500L just for fire fighting purposes. That’s a lot of water! Not to mention extra costs which were not budgeted for and not included in the mortgage. We’ve also finalised everything with our bank, and our mortgage has been refinanced as a building loan. Anyway, we signed off on all of the variations (including the wall, YAY) today and as far as I know all that’s left to do is wait. About a week ago we received a letter stating we would be given a commencement date within 20 days.

So….hopefully soon right?

Thursday

Thursday was a fairly normal day. Daniel was supposed to be hearing from the builder for an update. When I got home there wasn’t much to tell, just that the builder hadn’t found out much about the council progress…

That was until we went to Cold Rock for some ice cream. Sitting down with our yummy sundae, Daniel casually pulled out some scrunched up paper, and it was our council approval!!!! That little turd, it was a VERY good surprise.

We had not actually been expecting our approval to come through so soon (even though we we were already in the 7th or 8th week of waiting). Getting approval was the one last hurdle that we have been worried about for various reasons. Our block isn’t exactly the most normal block, it’s a funny shape, there’s only really one spot on it that is suitable for building (trust me, we’ve checked if there were any other options), it’s had some massive water course issues and it has a butt load of trees around the building envelope. For these reasons, we’ve always been hesitant about whether council would have an issue with something, or just that we wanted to build in general.

About 3 weeks ago we got a letter from the council stating that in order for them to proceed with the application, we needed to provide information about our bushfire management strategy. Needless to say, we freaked the hell out! We spent 2 days compiling a plan for them based on our existing independent bushfire management report. We didn’t have to freak out so much, but we wanted to make it clear that unless instructed by council, we would not be taking out any more trees. We have already removed the trees which our builder felt were risky (burnt out etc) and posed a threat to the build, and those that were far too close to the building pad. The plan we provided seemed to go through okay, but it definitely left us stressed about what they would think. No negative feedback or anything at that point, so we just kept hoping.

Then, Wednesday came and we had another epic freakout (we are good at those, hehe). With Moreton Bay Council, you can check the status of development applications online. Daniel checked ours while he was at work and found that it had changed from ‘information and referral stage’ to ‘applicant appeal period’. We immediately freaked out as we weren’t sure what applicant appeal period meant, and to be honest, it sounds bad! We already knew the 4 status changes to expect, and that was not one of them. We called our builder, they didn’t find anything out for us, but assured us they hadn’t heard anything bad.

Then Thursday came, Daniel apparently got feedback that everything was still going okay. He looked online again to check that scary status, it hadn’t changed, but down the bottom of the same page they had uploaded a bunch of documents. One of them said ‘DA Decision Notice (Approval), and sure enough, it was our approval!!!!!

We haven’t heard anything from Coral yet, but hopefully we should have a start date soon and things will go smoothly from here. This really felt like the last big hurdle, and I hope that turns out to be true.

Bits and pieces

I’ve been thinking a lot about the look and feel I want our new house to have. We will finally have the space to actually decorate how we want. Additionally, we will actually be able to decorate the walls (our apartment had concrete walls which made it very hard to drill into). There will be a lot of nooks and areas to fill with beautiful furniture and special pieces. At the moment we have enough belongings to fill a small apartment. So when we move into the house there are going to be a lot of empty areas for quite a while. A few people have been trying to convince us that we should start buying cheap furniture and second hand items. To be honest, we don’t want to do that. We will get what we need as we want it, and we will slowly find items that we absolutely love and think will fit well with the look we are going for. It seems pointless to fill the house with dodgy chipboard furniture just for the sake of filling it.

For now, I’ve got a lot of ideas for projects and things I want to do once we have the house. Being on Pinterest has certainly given me a few ideas too!

Here are just a few of the things which will feature in our house, as well as a few craft ideas I’m working on:

This desk and seat was Daniel’s gift to me for our
5th Anniversary (The traditional theme for the 5th year is wood).

These two little silver beauties are new, I love them,
we will need to find a spot for them to show off their cuteness.
My birdcage.

The birdcage was a gift from my social work lovelies. I love it (and them) to bits and I really want to find the perfect spot for it in the house where it can be the star.

 Daniel recently got me this green bottle from Mary Ryan’s, he’s cottoned on to my bottle obsession. The plan for the clear bottles is to strip them of their stickers, and then swirl paint on the inside. One day when I finally get around to doing something with them I will add some after shots.

 I’m working on some cushions with these pretties. The stripey one is being used to make a ‘bow’ pillow. I absolutely love the grey and yellow one. I love them all!

Little update

Well we had our final selections meeting at Robina yesterday afternoon. We were at Robina Town Centre picking up some lunch just prior to our meeting. So we were very shocked to hear about the shooting that occurred there. Very glad we had left before that happened!

The final selections meeting consisted mostly of filling out paperwork since we had already made the majority of decisions at the previous meeting. We made a few minor changes including changing the colour of the down pipes to match the brick. We are also getting frosted glass in the front door, and double mirrors on all of the wardrobes in the spare bedrooms. Very happy with those changes, and so glad we asked about the mirrors in the bedrooms. It should be around $25 per mirrored door, at that price it’s much better than buying individual free standing mirrors later.

We are also signing up to a new service offered by Clipsal, where we will sit down and do our electrical plan and get a fairly accurate quote. We have been trying to get a quote from the electrician for the past month, so this will be very helpful!

We are still waiting on Council. We’ve had to provide additional information about our bushfire management plan and our external colours. We are still extremely nervous about this part of the process. Fingers crossed everything goes through smoothly.

Also, Daniel has been updating the land page with a few things that have happened with the block, for those who are interested.

(PS: Hi Shamus!)

The wall.

So, we are getting the wall!

Turns out that it is rather affordable and is being drawn up straight away. The measurements have worked out well and we think it will fit perfectly into our bedroom. It seems like it was meant to be. Especially that it will still sit well with our bay window. It definitely fixes the worries I had about the length of the bedroom. Can’t wait to start turning it into a feature wall. We also need to pick out some pendant lights which will hang down on both sides of the bed instead of having lamps.

Meanwhile, we are still waiting on council approval. We’ve been working on maintaining the block a lot more than usual. Over the Summer/Christmas period we were so busy every weekend with house planning that it got a little bit out of control. We ended up getting a guy to come and mow/brush cut. Now that we have more time on our hands, we are getting back into it. We’ve been mowing, brush-cutting, weeding along the fence line and killing as many weeds as we can. It will be SO much easier when we actually live out there and can just pop outside to do some gardening rather than having to drive out there and take everything with us.

Really looking forward to our tree change, fingers crossed.

Paint, paint, paint.

Today we are off to check out paint colours now that the world has started turning again and Bunnings is open. We’ve had a lovely few days hiking with family, going to the movies, and obsessing over the house like usual. It will be nice one day when more of our conversations revolve around something other than the house again.

We are all set to look at the Lexicon colours, but I’m not sold on any in particular just yet. We shall see. We’ll also wait to hear back about this bedroom wall idea to see if it’s viable. That Daniel, he’s an ideas man. As long as it’s affordable and we can make it work, then I’m in. It’s definitely a huge bedroom, particularly in length-which I have been a bit uncomfortable about. So this might be a good solution.

Meanwhile my friend Fiona is about 2 months ahead on their build and I’m loving the pictures on Facebook of their frame going up. Very exciting to think that if all goes to plan that will be us soon!

Selections

Here are our selections so far! They look a little drab in photo form, but we are very happy that we have stuck with our instincts. It’s very much a grey and white theme, which I love. My favourite combinations are grey, white and yellow, or grey, white and red. So I guess you can tell what colour scheme all of our accessories, appliances and decor might be!

Exterior

Slate (Boral) brick with off-white mortar
Surf Mist (Colorbond) fascia, down pipes, garage door and weatherboard (Dulux paint to match)
Shale Grey (Colorbond) roof and gutter
Timeless Grey (Dulux) front door
White Pearl (Dowel) windows (not pictured)


Kitchen

Ice Grey (Beaumont) main floor tile
Sector Gloss White (Beaumont) splash-back tile
Antarctic Stone (Laminex) bench tops
Deep Anthracite (Formica) kitchen cabinetry

Bathroom

Charcoal Textured (Beaumont) floor tile and skirting
Ribbon Charcoal (Beaumont) bath hub and shower feature decor
Still Grey (Beaumont) wall tile 
Deep Anthracite (Formica) bench top
Polar White (Laminex) cabinet

Laundry

Ice Grey (Beaumont) laundry floor tile (Smaller version of main floor tile)
Ribbon Charcoal (Beaumont) splash-back behind laundry tub

Watertanks

Slate Grey (Colorbond) water tanks
We’ve chosen Slate Grey (AKA Colorbond Woodland Grey) for our tanks. The main reason is that due to the shape of our block, the tanks will be very visible. Any light or bright colours will draw a lot of attention as they reflect light. So we’ve chosen a dark colour in the hope that we can put a garden around them and blend them in a bit more than if they were bright green for example. We considered matching them to the house, but they won’t actually be right up against the house, so there’s not much point in trying to match. 

Colour Selection and Finishes

Daniel and I have had a fun filled few days. We both had a 3 day week which was lovely, but also stressful trying to get everything done at work in time.

On Thursday afternoon we went to our selections meeting at Robina with Coral Homes. We schlepped all of our tiles, bricks and paperwork in with us to help make the process easier. We weren’t sure what to expect and personally I felt under prepared. We had a few ideas, mostly relating to the garage door and weatherboard colours, and our kitchen colours. Once we got there, things were underway fairly quickly. We met with our consultant Rachel who was very helpful and made the process quite straightforward and informative.

The venue is just like a giant showroom full of samples. Pretty much, we went through everything marking it off in order on our paperwork as we went. We started with the outside of the house and worked our way to the inside. Not too many issues which was good. We were initially disappointed to find that our plan for having a dark charcoal front door was not meant to be. Our consultant informed us that dark based colours are known to warp the door within 2 years due to it drawing heat. However, we found a white based grey so that it wasn’t too far off what we were looking for. We still need to decide on an internal paint colour and kitchen cupboard handles. The only thing we are paying extra for so far is frosted glass in the front door for privacy (very important for pretending you aren’t home).

Everything went fairly well and I realised we were fairly well prepared after all. We are booked in for our final meeting in a few weeks. Hopefully things will continue to go smoothly. The main concern at the moment is about Council approval, then we might finally be able to breathe easy.

Here is a video showcasing what Coral Homes customers can expect from a colour selections and finishes meeting.

Floor Plans

Daniel and I seem to be able to stare at our floor plan for hours. I am absolutely in love with it. I love trying to imagine what it will look like in person. I’m constantly on Pinterest looking for ideas on how to decorate and planning different areas of the house. (Pinterest is one of my other obsessions in addition to the house).

©  Coral Homes Pty Ltd – All Rights Reserved

We have added a bay window to the master bedroom, something I’ve always wanted! Growing up, my parents had a bay window in their room and I loved it. Our puppy loved sleeping on the bay window seat and being able to look out and growl at the birds in the garden. Theirs had an amazing little garden underneath the windowsill. I really hope my Mum will help us to make gardens as beautiful as hers were! My parents now live on a boat, so hopefully Mum might enjoy directing some gardening escapades.

I’m also excited about the fact that our bathroom window is situated very close to our gully. When it rains heavily, you can hear the water rushing through the gully for days/weeks afterward. I can just imagine having a bath and being able to listen to those sounds. It should be amazing!

The original plans had the office at the front which didn’t suit us. We instead converted that to a small store room. I envisage the store room as a place with hooks and shelves where we can put bags, shoes and coats. However, Daniel is planning a Comms Cabinet, where there will be an Ethernet patch panel. I don’t even know what that means! Anyway…

We really love the open feel of the kitchen, dining and family area. I’m currently obsessing over kitchen colours. We have already picked out three pendant lights that will hang over the island in the kitchen. Just what I have always wanted! It’s hard to see on the plans, but there is also a cut out between the family and activity room where we will install plantation shutters at some point.

The study and media is pretty much the main thing that we needed in any house we chose. Eventually we will have some type of folding door installed, turning the space into two separate areas when the door is closed. I’m imagining some kind of amazing print on the back of the folding door which only becomes apparent when it is closed. Initially we won’t have the door and it will just be one open space. Coral didn’t offer the exact type of doors we were looking for. It seemed easier to just get them to put a square set in the spot where we want a door and get it installed later.

Pretty big house for two people! I guess we are just preparing for the house we will need in the future.

Special Delivery!

We chose our bricks several months ago, but didn’t get any samples to take home. With our first colour selections meeting coming up next Thursday, we thought we should hurry up and get ourselves a sample brick to match the weatherboard with. I was struggling to work out how I was going to get there during business hours to pick one up. I also have a busy day booked for tomorrow and knew I wouldn’t be able to make it. I called the Lawnton Boral Bricks office and they were very helpful. They were nice enough to courier a sample to us free of charge!

‘Slate’ bricks from Boral

I’m really pleased with how they look in the flesh. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them and I had started to have a completely different image in my head. Can’t wait to build a house out of these babies!

Going back with our tails between our legs, but grins on our faces…

With the relaxed feeling of a holiday under our belts and another week away from work, we went back to Coral Homes armed with plenty of research and ideas about what we would like to do. 

We spent days doing nothing but scouring over the single story designs that Coral had on offer. Something had us coming back to the Marcoola every time. Even Julia our sales consultant suggested the Marcoola without us mentioning our interest. It was the right house for the block, and still had everything we had originally liked about the two story design. 

Having already gone through the process of getting soil tests and assessments done, we were further ahead in the process this time around. So Coral were able to use a lot of the same details to take us through to the next step with the Marcoola. 

What we have ended up with is a slightly modified Marcoola 30. It’s going to be a beautiful 4 bedroom home. There will be a bay window to the main bedroom at the front, something we have always wanted! Our media room will have a divider so that it becomes an office and media room in one. The idea being that Daniel will be able to use the computer (for work and other such purposes) while still feeling like he is part of the action in the media room. Then we can close the door if it needs to be separated. This has always been our setup in the places we have lived, so it’s been very important for us to be able to have the office able to open up into the media room. 

I think the main thing we love about the design is how open it feels. It has all of the little nooks and specific rooms that we want, while the rest feels very open. Although it’s a modern house, we have managed to get some of the feel we would have wanted in a colonial home. We still have some weatherboard features, a bay window, a tin roof (Colorbond), nice bricks and a simple design. 

Here’s a mock up Daniel made. Cute huh? Let’s hope our real house is just as cute as this cartoon one!

The last few months have been very busy. It feels like we have spent the majority of our weekends either at the Coral Display at Northlakes signing paperwork, at the block, or off looking at things for the house.

Here’s a bit of a timeline:
May 2010 Signed contract on block
July 2010 Bought the block
September 2010 Put apartment up for sale
May 2011 Sold Apartment and moved into a rental
August 2011 Requested tender from Coral for Barbados (Two story)
November 2011 Requested a new tender for the Marcoola (Single story)
January 2012 Received our new tender for the Marcoola
February 25 2012 Signed the contract for our new house
March 2012 Council application lodged

We have selected our bricks and tiles and we are all set to go to our two colour section meetings in April. 

Hopefully everything will go to plan from here onward! We have been hoping for that all along, but seem to have still stumbled across a lot of issues, so fingers crossed. It now feels so close! It’s been suggested by our Sales Consultant that we could be in our new home by August this year. I’m thinking more like September though considering how long it has taken to get the contract sorted. 

I don’t really mind if anyone reads this blog. For the most part, I’m hoping this will be a good way to record the progress of our house being built, but I also hope it will be interesting for those who are, well, interested. 

Kookaburras and Snakes

Welcome to our blog Kookaburras and Snakes. Alluding to the fact that this is exactly what you will find when you visit us once our new house is built!

In July 2010 my partner Daniel and I (Lauren) became the proud new owners of a block of land in a rural area near Brisbane. We may be young, but this is our dream, and we fell in love with this beautiful piece of land the moment we found it. Daniel is a city boy and knew the area fairly well already. Having grown up in a rural part of Queensland, it felt right for me to move somewhere which would allow us to have that relaxed feel when we come home, while still being close enough to work in the city. 

Our building envelope

Being young, inexperienced and eager, we assumed the building process would be difficult. However, we never imagined it would take us quite so long to get things organised and ‘get this show on the road’. 

It feels as if there have been many hurdles. During the 2011 Brisbane floods, all 100 metres of the shared driveway to our piece of paradise was completely destroyed. Many, many, many thousands of dollars later we were further behind than ever and a little bit shaken up. It then took us much longer than we thought it would to sell our apartment. In April 2011 we finally sold our apartment and moved into a cute little townhouse we had rented to see us out until we are able to move into a completed house. 

It wasn’t until about August 2011 when we were finally able to feel like things had fallen into place enough to get serious about the building process. Prior to that we had gone back and forth between several builders. Initially we were hoping to have a colonial style home. For a while we thought we were set on having a two story home on stumps. The plan was to live in the upstairs part and not build in the bottom part until later. The longer we took to look at builders, the more torn we became. At that stage we were still wanting a two story home as we felt this would make the best use of the small area we had to build on. Although our property is acreage, the majority of the land is mountainous and there is really only one small area where the ground is level and suitable for building on. 

Eventually my brother Dale suggested Coral Homes. I was skeptical at first and felt we had been disappointed so many times before with the reality of how much our dream would cost. But we haven’t looked back since!

Initially, even when we went to Coral, we were still wanting a two story home. We had our hearts set on the Barbados. To be honest, it was huge, and entirely beyond what we could ever need between two of us and any potential future kidlets. We went through the whole process and received our tender back. When we got the price back (even though the price wasn’t too much of a surprise), panic set in. Somehow, seeing it on paper put everything into perspective. What the hell were we doing? Apart from the fact that it was HUGE, we had somehow let our budget expand as our desires changed rather than just sticking to what we could afford. Realising the expense of the monthly mortgage payments would mean there would not be much left for saving, holidays, and really, ANYTHING, put it all into perspective. Although we could have managed, we would not have been able to live the relaxed lifestyle that this land is supposed to offer. 

Within an hour we had made the decision to pull out on the two story home. One phone call later to Julia, our sales consultant at Coral, we had cancelled and informed her that we had decided we needed to go with a one story home. Julia was amazing! Her response was fantastic. We went from feeling so awful, and that we had wasted their time, to feeling an overwhelming sense of relief and excitement. It felt as if we had dodged a bullet. The very next day we went on a holiday to Stradbroke Island. It was just the perfect timing to give us the space to breathe away from our jobs to realise that we had made the best decision possible for our future. Realising that we would have barely been able to afford a simple holiday to Stradbroke definitely made us see sense too! 

We have so much we want to do in the next few years, and with life in general, now this means we will actually be able to do those things without feeling completely tied down.