Tuesday, December 15, 2009


As promised....the Christmas tree:

Yes, it's a bit of a tinsel overload, but that's because I don't have enough baubles for such a giant tree and I'm not going out spending the $$ just now.

At least it helps fill up the furnitureless empty space in the lounge. :D

How does your garden grow?

With sunshine, rain, some Seasol ....and about nine months since planting:

The Little Gems I planted as a border were a bit straggly and skinny after spending way too long in their pots. So I hacked at them mercilessly and they were sprouting new leaves all over ....which the freak hailstorm a couple of weeks ago shredded. :(

But they're bouncing back. They should make a nice bushy hedge given a little time.

I get impatient at times and think there hasn't been much growth. So it's good to take photos and do a comparison now and then and see that things really are taking off nicely.

Now I can't wait to turn this into a tranquil oasis:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One year on....

We had handover on the 28th November last year, so even though we didn't move in till the 13th December, we've officially been in possession of the place for a year now. Sometimes I look around and think we've done hardly anything and feel all blah about how much there still is to do. Then I remember all the stuff we have done so far, and tell myself to get over it.

Really, apart from the landscaping, we have one feature light fitting that we haven't yet installed, the wardrobes need to be properly fitted out, we still need blinds on the bifolds, and that's about it. Everything else is optional - extra cabinets in the laundry, maybe a roof ladder installed in the garage, furniture, decorator stuff.... I'm sure I'll think of lots more things we "need" though. ;o)

Since it's that time, we had one of the builder's maintenance guys out a couple of weeks ago to do our 12-month inspection of all the "structural" defects that have appeared since the three-month inspection. They're mostly sticking doors, nail pops in ceilings (and one spectacular one in the hallway!) and so on. But there's also some sub-standard work that was done as part of the three-month maintenance that we're unhappy with, and a leak in the roof that developed about three weeks ago. Luckily the leak is in our ensuite, so only tiles were getting wet....

There was no problem about fixing any of it, and I even got them to agree to sort out the study downlights that take a good 10-15 seconds to come on when you press the switch. Various other people told us that that was normal. Hmmph.

Now I'm expecting a plumber to contact me about the leak and an electrician about the lights and a dodgy exhaust fan in the bathroom soonish. The rest is unlikely to be started till the New Year, but there's nothing pressing amongst it, so no biggie.

I'm keen to get this stuff out of the way and get the landscaping done, and then I think I'll start to feel like the house is complete.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More Christmas decorations

I borrowed this idea from someone else, after deciding that Buddha needed to join in the Christmas spirit:

Bike Boy thinks he looks a bit disgusted.

Hey, it was either the Santa hat or a tinsel necklace and a pair of bauble earrings.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quick update

We got the landscaping quotes back and didn't QUITE faint at the price. It's more than we want to spend, but not by a huge amount, thank goodness.

Since we took the "let's include everything we want" approach, we now have some room to pare a few things back and hopefully still end up with a design we like with all necessary inclusions at a price we're happy with. Then we'll be content to spend the next twelve months or so gradually adding the extras.


I finally got my flyscreen on the sliding door in the studio too. I'm keen to see if the air con works better in here with a door open. Last summer was unbearable in this west-facing room, even with the evap cooling on full and the blockout blinds closed. Let's hope it's just an airflow issue; the rest of the house is great.

We'll no doubt find out soon. I'm sure there's more heat in store.


eBay is my current obsession. I'm madly selling stuff we no longer need and also picking up some bargain secondhand textbooks for the kids. I refuse to buy another $70 book that can't be passed on to a younger brother because the school changes the required text. Grr!!

I'm trawling through the house looking for anything that might be sellable.... the kids better not stand still for too long.


I bought a new Christmas tree this year (one that doesn't look ridiculous with our high ceilings), and it's up - yay! I'll post a photo when I have more presents under it.... it looks kind of bare at the moment.

I picked these up at Target today though, very blingy!

Friday, November 13, 2009


I've been haunting ebay, trying to find the perfect hall table for our entry and I thought I had it.... but I was outbid. I sulked about it for a bit, but now I've decided that it was a blessing in disguise, because I found this locally at a bargain price:

You can stash a surprising amount of crap in those drawers...

I need to find just the right arrangement of decorative bits and pieces, but for now, I've pinched things from other rooms, bought a lamp on special at Target, and parked Buddha (who's destined for our al fresco room) in the middle.

The print used to hang in the dining room at our old place. It's not quite what I want, but I don't mind it for the time being. Now I can take my time to look around for something that's just right.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sun lover

I planted a bowl of cacti a few months back, using some plants I got for free, some I got as part of a bargain lot, and one that I actually bought specially.

Anyway....on Saturday night, I noticed four little buds on one of the more prickly cacti, about 2cm high. This morning, I went out to water my pot plants and discovered this:

And....it's had babies!

The ugly old plastic bowl doesn't do a thing for it though. I must look around for something nice to re-pot them into.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Don't chuck it out!

How often do we get glossy brochures in the mail with beautiful new, fashionable furniture and homewares, and we look at our shabby old furniture and immediately start planning to replace it?

New stuff is nice, sure, but who has a bottomless bucket of money to pay for replacement stuff every time fashion changes? I'm saving my money for the important stuff, like lovely new paving. OK, and some couches. :o) Meanwhile, there are savings to be made with just a bit of time and effort.

We had a couple of pine four-drawer bedside tables, that we bought over 25 years ago, and not only were they looking a bit sad, but the style was just all wrong for the new house. So rather than buying new ones, I once again dragged out the sander, bought a can of stain/varnish and a set of new brushed steel handles and transformed this:

....into this:

No, the colour doesn't match the bed, but that's going anyway (eventually). I'll sell it on ebay and buy a new king size ensemble - after all, we have the room. And the new colour does almost match the coffee and side tables we have in the retreat, which was way more important.

Cost was about $50 for the two bedside tables. The new lamps were from Target, picked up in a 30% off sale. I love a bargain!

My next plan is for the entry ...I'm watching something on ebay that'll be just the thing with some stain and a couple of new handles. ;o)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Leave it to the experts

We've found it impossible to get anywhere with our landscaping. Either we don't have time on the weekends, or the weather is against us.... So we decided to call in some expert help and get some quotes from landscapers. We're thinking at a minimum, we'll ask for our paving to be done, plus a landscape design for the whole area, which we can carry out in stages. But depending on how the cost fits with our budget, we may get the whole thing done.

Today we're expecting the first guy to come and have a look at what we need done. With that in mind, I thought I'd better put my file of magazine pictures to good use and sort through them to come up with a vague design brief. After all, how do you design something for someone, when they have no idea what they want?

This lot (plus a rough plan of what we want to go where) should give him something to start with:

Seems I had enough pictures to cover the dining table...and I left a lot out.

Some ideas for our Balinese "bus shelter" (we don't have room for a proper-sized hut):

Built-in seating would be nice. Dreaming, maybe...

The kind of planting effects I'm going for:

We need a path along the side of the house. I'm thinking lush plantings and pavers in gravel:

Also some paving under the clothesline, but I want to break it up with mondo grass:

And we both agree that a feature wall is a must-have. Stackstone? Decking timber? Rendered? Water feature? Garden art? So many choices...

I feel as though we have something useful to present now - and I got to have some fun with scissors and glue. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


After getting the outdoor furniture all ship-shape, I remembered that my old garden bench was down the back, all forlorn and neglected. So I decided that today was the day to tackle that job.

I dragged it around to outside the al fresco room, where I had a bit of space (and a power point) and .....uh-oh:

Hmm, not looking too flash.

Not to worry, we have the technology! A quick rummage in the garage and I was armed with a hammer, some glue, the cordless drill and some screws that looked like they'd do the job. They're probably completely wrong for this project, and no doubt Bike Boy will have to re-do my repairs, but when I make up my mind to do something, small details don't stop me.

Next was a quick sand, then I hit it with the outdoor furniture oil. A second coat a couple of hours later, and voila:

The colour is much darker than the photo shows. Stupid sun decided to disappear just as I took it...

Anyway, some new cushions and it'll be ready for a test run on the weekend.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New shiny stuff:

To keep your drinks cold (with style)....

And to keep your body warm....

I've been bargain-hunting! :)

And yes, we still have the redi-shades on the al fresco room windows. Shush!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rainy day project

There's been no progress on the landscaping front, thanks to the appalling weather, so I had to think of something else to occupy myself. Since BBQ season is on its way (not that you'd know it today with the wind, rain, hail and freezing temperatures!), our outdoor furniture needed some attention before it was usable.

The table needed a sand and oil - no big deal really, just some time and effort. The chairs were another thing. I thought we might have to chuck them, they were looking so bad, but some thought, a tiny bit of skill and some hard work converted this:

to this:

The table looks as good as new. Now I just need the wind to stop blowing so I can sweep all the dust from the sander out of the al fresco room and tidy things up a bit.

They'll do us for a few more years now, I think. :o)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Relaxing? Not quite....

How did I spend my weekend? Let's see.....

I removed FOUR wheelbarrow loads of weeds from the back yard. We may not have finalised our landscaping plans, but knee-high weeds is not quite the look we're aiming for. This is the final two barrow-loads:

The charcoal pavers down the end? Those had to be moved from the nature strip to the back yard. Heavy buggers. The other stuff is leftover materials from the front yard landscaping - that'll be put to good use:

I weeded and reorganised my various pot plants - some are awaiting a new home, others (like the herbs) just need a sunny spot to sit:

I also threw out a few dead relics and emptied potting mix from the other billion pots I've accumulated. These are going back to the nursery for recycling:

And the blue pots are being donated to my mother (the colour doesn't go with the new house...). The terra cotta pots are surplus to requirement too, so they're up for grabs if anyone wants them:

I also washed every window we have, apart from the five removable sliding panes (flyscreens were in the way, that's a job for another day). I swept out the garage and the al fresco room, the front porch and pulled a few small weeds out of the front garden.

And I had nothing whatsoever to do with this, but Bike Boy is very happy with his new sink in the garage. Plans are afoot for a new, more compact home brewery setup than he used to have; one that'll fit along the back wall of the garage. We have some tiling to do yet, but at least it's usable in the meantime:

It's good to get some stuff done! Shame about the inside of the house. No time for cleaning in there....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our newest addition

The front garden is now almost finished. Just a few border plants along one bed and it's done.

I knew when I designed the front for our free landscaping deal, that the plants being provided wouldn't be enough. If you have a big traditional lawn with narrow garden beds around it, 30 plants probably goes a long way. When you have NO lawn, even a small front yard takes some filling.

So today I did a head count. We got two trees and thirty other plants as part of our package. We've added four more trees - the mulberry and three Little Gems that (luckily) I happened to have received as a birthday gift before we moved in. We've also added thirty-nine more plants.

So if I deduct the four plants lost in the heat wave last summer, there are seventy-one plants in total in our front yard. No wonder it looks fairly well established. There are numerous houses nearby who've gone for the no-lawn option, but have still followed a design that pretends they do have a lawn: a big rectangle of mulch or pebbles, surrounded by narrow beds with the bare minimum plants and maybe a tree in the middle. Most of them look awful.

The ones that do look good are where the owners have put some real thought into the design and spent some time adding extra plants and maybe a feature of some kind.

You can't just chuck in half a dozen plants and expect to get an instantly "finished" look. You also don't have to spend a fortune - if you're prepared to hunt down some bargains, do a section at a time, and get your hands dirty digging and planting and fertilising, the result is pretty satisfying.


Thinking ahead, I have a small collection of plants for the back already - another Litte Gem, a few good-sized Agave Attenuata, some small Yuccas, ten Blue Fescue, a palm (forget what kind) and a lovely potted Cumquat that I've had for 20 years.

There's also a collection of shade-lovers that I'm not sure what to do with until we actually have some shade - a huge bird's nest fern, a staghorn, a large ginger and a couple of others. And my mother has been babysitting some gardenias and camellias for me since we moved from our old house two years ago.

By hook or by crook, next weekend I'm making a start on that back yard! My babies need a home, and my impatience is getting the better of me...

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Check out the comparison between March (or was it late Feb?) and September 2009:

It's great to see a bit of progress somewhere ....hopefully, some Spring growth will push things along a bit faster, but I'm pleased with the progress in just over six months. The only disappointments are the Strelizias (Bird of Paradise). I think the ones planted against the house don't get enough rain, and the one near the letterbox is a bit peeved at the frost and wind. I'll let them go over Summer and if they don't perform, they're gone.

I actually did a bit more planting in the front garden today. Moved a Magnolia "Little Gem" and added it to the row along the side boundary, planted a group of small groundcovers (forget the name and can't be bothered going out to check) in a blank spot and added some liriopes to another vacant spot.

Tomorrow we have a six-foot weeping mulberry tree to plant.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Slackety McSlackster

This poor old blog is feeling sad and neglected. Oops.

Yes, the three month maintenance stuff finally got done. Only....some of it isn't really up to an acceptable standard. The biggish crack in the family room cornice/ceiling has been so badly repaired that it actually looked less of an eyesore before it was done. Some patched-up mortar along the brick sill under the French doors is a bit of a dog's breakfast. The tiny damage that the plumbers did to the wall in the ensuite hasn't been repaired at all, in spite of being on the list and being specifically pointed out to the maintenance guys. And the plaster that they did fix in there still looks a bit ordinary, plus they only did a paint touch-up, after we had a discussion about how Wattyl ID can't be touched up and the whole wall has to be repainted.

*sigh* So guess what's going on the top of the list for the 12 month maintenance inspection? No doubt we'll go through a similar farce in November...

We've also had it confirmed that there are no insulation batts under the steel deck roofing at the front of the house. Hmm. I'm sure our contract says "batts to ceilings" and not "batts to ceilings except where we can't be arsed". Something to discuss with Porter Davis.

On a more positive note, the front garden is growing well, and once my tax refund arrives, I plan to hurry down to the garden supply place and order materials to do that strip of landscaping along the back fence that I was going to do at Easter. Oh well, you don't want to rush these things. ;o) Then I can have some more fun with plants.

I may even use my PD Rewards card and get down to Plantmark to take advantage of trade prices.

I've also finally made a decision on blinds for the bifolds. Type, anyway, but still no idea about colour, fabric or plain/patterned. I used to be indecisive, but now I'm just not sure....

I'll try to update again soon(ish). If anyone's still reading.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Three month maintenance. At the seven-month mark

We've had long delays in getting our maintenance stuff sorted. There was an initial flurry of activity shortly after the three-month inspection was done, waaay back in March, but then, nothing.

About half the items on our list were fixed in March or April. Two cracks and numerous nail pops in the ceiling were supposed to be fixed, but when the guys went to paint over the patch-ups, they discovered that you can't do touch-ups to our upgraded non-white ceiling....the whole thing needs to be repainted, otherwise the patched areas stand out. They weren't authorised to do a full repaint of two rooms, so they proposed that they'd request a new work order from PD and they'd have to come back on another day. Fine. Except that almost four months later, our ceilings still look like they have the measles.

Several phone calls and emails elicited promises to follow up, but nothing eventuated. We were given the excuse that there was a problem matching the render colour - Rockcote was taken over by another company, and Dulux colours are now used, rather than the custom colours previously offered. We were a bit stumped about how that was holding up the interior painting, a tile that needs replacing, some mortar that needs tidying up and the other odds and ends on our list. And anyway, so there's a problem - how about coming up with a solution? Or offering us some options?

FINALLY, we have things moving again. We hope. I've had the maintenance guy back again today to re-inspect, and we've been promised a phone call by end of week to book in times for the work to be done.

As for the render, they have an almost-match. I'm told that the colour is very close, just a bit darker than the original. So, since it's only the column that needs redoing, we've agreed to give that a try. I figure that since it's separate from the other rendered areas, the difference won't be noticeable. If it IS, we'll have to come up with a plan B. I have some ideas there, but we'll wait and see how plan A turns out first.

Hopefully, we'll have everything completed within the next four weeks. Fingers crossed.

Before we know it, we'll be booking in our 12-month maintenance inspection. Boy, this year is flying past!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A post about nothing

Not much happening on the blog at the moment, because there's not much happening around the house. It's been a busy time for one reason or another, so we haven't actually made any progress at all for a while. I did get my trees planted along the side boundary of the front yard, but still have to get a few more plants to finish off out there.

I really need to sit down and write myself a list of jobs to be done and then aim to do at least one each weekend. The thing is, weekends fly by so quickly.

Our maintenance work from the three-month inspection is STILL not finished. It's more than a little frustrating, given that in two week's time we'll hit the seven-month mark since handover. Time for another email or phone call....

I think I'll make it my goal to finish the front plantings by end of June, and do the strip of landscaping at the back by end of July. That's hardly asking a lot.

Friday, May 22, 2009

From the "What were they THINKING?" files

I know that taste is an individual thing, and that when it comes to choosing house colours, we all have our own ideas of what looks good. I'm all for variety - the world would be boring if we were all the same. And around our way, many streets definitely ARE boring, as you go past house after house after house that look a bit like they came off some sort of factory production line.

BUT. I've been watching a house going up behind us, and was keen to see what colour render the owners had chosen. The bricks are a brown/tan colour, window frames black and the roof dark grey (no choice with that one, dark grey roofs are an estate requirement). The spouting and fascia went up and I thought ...er... oh-KAY... Looks to me like Classic Cream fascia and Woodland Grey spouting and downpipes. Not what I'd have chosen, but whatever....

This house has infills over the windows, so I thought that perhaps those might be matched to one of the other colours. Maybe the classic cream? Nuh-uh, looks like Jasper to me, or something similar anyway.

This morning I opened the blinds in The Baby's room, glanced out the window and OH MY GOD!! This is what I saw:

My eyes! Aargh! It burns.......


Yes, I know that nobody elected me the Queen of Good Taste, and there are no doubt plenty of people who think our house is repulsive. But at least we made an effort to make sure our colours actually coordinated.

The owners of this place might have done better to stop some random guy with a guide dog on the street and ask him to stick a pin in a colour sample sheet.... Oh wait. That may be what they actually DID.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Finally! Something got done.

Progress on the landscaping and decorating and the thousand-and-one bits and pieces we need to do is moving along at the pace of a snail on Mogadon. *sigh*

We have been achieving things, but it really doesn't show. Time is a major issue, and some things have turned out to be quite difficult. Even seemingly simple tasks like finding an integrated rubbish bin for the kitchen is far more complicated than you'd think. We have a skinny cupboard at the very end of our breakfast bar that we want to use, but finding the right bin and sliding mechanism to fit has so far stumped us. I'm completely fed up with looking at the kitchen tidy and assorted bottles and recyclables as you walk into the kitchen/family room! Not exactly the decorator statement I'm going for.

I have a few decorating ideas in my head, but as is always the case, when you set your heart on something, you can never find it. That vase, mirror, plant pot, wall hanging or cushion that you know will be just perfect and that you saw a couple of months ago is nowhere to be found. Whatever you can find is the wrong colour, wrong size, wrong style...or a ridiculous price.

Part of my problem is, I have so many ideas in my head, and try to do them all at once. The result, of course, is that I end up with nothing completed.

So this weekend I decided to concentrate on just a few small things. Number one was to get a few photos and artworks up on the walls. They've been sitting around on the floor for weeks now. This is an abstract triptych I painted for our bedroom (the colours have washed out with the flash though, I really should have taken this in daylight. They're not grey, the main colour is lovely greens):

Number two was to finish off the retreat. I bought a coffee table and side table at IKEA the other week, and managed to find a few decorative bits and pieces, and it's actually turned out well. Relaxing and comfortable and - well, somewhere to retreat to:

I hung a few more pictures and am still going with the office organisation - that's mainly involved shredding tonnes of old paperwork this weekend. Next on the project list is to get the remaining shelves I need and finish that area off.

After that, I think that bit of landscaping at the back of the house ....although I have been drooling over wardrobe fit-outs. This is nice:

Or perhaps this:

Hmm, maybe a bit grand. I'd settle for something like this:

One thing at a time. Must remember that.