Thursday, November 8, 2012

Here's How It Went

We got into the house yesterday and I must say, I was surprised at the lack of chemical odours.

The carpets in the locked off rooms did smell faintly of urine, of course. What's with that in old houses?

Anyway, I've decided to move all the stuff related to this house and its renovation to a new blog. This here blog is reaching the end of its life-span. There's not much related to islands happening in my life these days.

I hope I'm not jumping the gun, starting a blog about renovating a house that's not even ours yet.

Either way, if you're interested, please head over here to have a look at the photos. The follow button up the top, under the 'Follow Along' tab (hint hint).

I'm still finalising the layout and design, so excuse it's mild un-finishedness.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Green Acres pt II

Well, I'm delighted to say we have a signed contract on our new fixer upper! I hope I'm not jinxing this one...

Here it is on Google Street View. It's both houses, as I've said previously, and 11 acres.

The white house was the post office. We've received an email from an elderly lady in the area who grew up just down the road, telling us about her recollections of visiting the place with her father to collect mail.

She said the building did originally have open verandas, with a split half staircase (starts as two, joining in a landing halfway up the house). That's exactly what Dan and I planned to restore it to, which is a good start. She has confirmed the layout of the house was essentially what we thought - split in two halves, one half serving as the home of the postmaster and one half as the post office.

She has confirmed the little yellow building was the first school in the area, although she went to the second school which was just down the road and was also restored recently.

She also says she has family who once called the property home and is now approaching them asking for any photos of it from the past.

All in all, it's VERY exciting. I'm going back out there tomorrow to try and grab some more photos. I've also asked to be let into the locked rooms.

Demanding, aren't I? Wanting to see the rooms in the house we've just bought? So pushy.

I sure hope the meth lab is gone by then.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Green Acres

We went and looked at the hoarder's house yesterday, which I've now renamed Green Acres because it's infinitely more romantic sounding, while still summing up the state of the place.

It was... cool. Seriously, cool. Rundown, but cool.


It didn't get off to a good start. We met the agent, knocked on the door of the main house and got no answer. It was open, so we assumed the owner had made herself scarce and in we went.

Scarce did not turn out to be her thing. She came running in a minute or so later and started shouting at the agent. Turns out she lives in the smaller house, hadn't heard us arrive, and thought we were in there thieving.

After further warning us that had her son been home, we would have been shot, the agent managed to calm her down and she escorted us around the property, occasionally mumbling under her breath and tempting us with her own sales pitch.

This part of the house to be the local post office. We threw out all the old wood pigeon holes and things though, so you can just use it to store things.


The main house, which did indeed used to serve as the local post office once, is HUGE and featured several rooms that were padlocked and couldn't be entered.

My son lives there. He doesn't like people in his space.

How people expect to sell a house they're not willing to let buyers explore is a rant for another day, but Dan and I had already established this house was not your run of the mill purchase, so it didn't completely surprise us. A quick scuttle under the house revealed solid floorboards, we knew the walls were VJ and that was good enough. Whatever's going on behind those doors (meth lab), we don't really care right now.

The second little house on the property used to be the local school house. Again, it had been unsympathetically renovated but the potential was there to live in it temporarily while renovating the big house, and then use it as a guest house.

So, to cut a long story a bit shorter, we're making an offer. If we're successful, we'll be moving into the little house straight away and working to get the place back under control while restoring the big house to eventually move in there.

The place needs a hell of a lot of work, YEARS worth of work, to restore to its former glory, but could one day be an amazing and very large country home.

The real estate rollercoaster continues!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Hoarder's Hovel

Last weekend, when Dan and I were driving past the beautiful colonial we fell in love with (and have now decided is just too overpriced to be excusable), we went further down the road and saw another property for sale. Same land size of 10 acres, in a nice little spot, on a nice little bend, in a nice little gully.

It had not one but two houses. Oh, and it was also clearly home to a hoarder. We wrinkled up our noses and drove on.

But, something caught Dan's curiosity around the place.  He thought the main house looked remarkably solid, despite the filth surrounding it. 'Solid' is about the biggest compliment Dan can pay a house, so I could tell he was interested in seeing more.

After we decided the other one was too much money, we booked an inspection on this one for this Saturday.The online listing only has a few photos of the outside of the homes, so we are really flying blind.

We asked the agent to send us some photos of the inside of the two houses on the property.

She was reluctant, but today did so. And, if you can look past the filth here (really, try) you might notice a few things if you are a lover of old Queenslanders (or just old houses in general).

Here, in the main house, we have pressed metal ceilings, VJs and an original veranda that has been hidden behind an ugly facade.

The price is 200k cheaper than the one we'd wanted further down the road. Same land size, same era house, MUCH more legwork. But, let me just say that again for effect:


So, we're keeping open minds, packing protective clothing, bringing Grandma along to hold the baby outside and we're venturing in on Saturday.

Disinfectant ready, fingers crossed. Again.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


What a rollercoaster moving house is. Not that we're even at the actual 'moving' part yet, just the buying and selling part. That's enough, though. 

'Our farm' has completely fallen through, removed from market, gone. 

Plan B was beautiful, but ultimately had too many problems to be a contender. The house was tiny (the photo is deceptive), the block was very steep and the dams were bone dry. Oh, and it faced right into the Western sun. Not a great move in an area where the summer temperature regular climbs towards 40 degrees.

Yesterday, we drove around and around looking at listings we'd picked out, and almost without fail they were awful. Real estate agents have an uncanny ability to photograph houses without showing the rundown hovel right next door, or the fact that great portions of the home are falling down. 

We actually walked out of one place with flea bites.

Today, again, we drove out west of Brisbane and looked at still more areas. Beautiful, but no cigar.

Maybe not this one. #househunting

Then we drove back to the area we'd originally looked, and met an agent here. And fell in love:

Maybe this one.

It ticks all our boxes. The listing price is a bit too expensive, but it's overpriced for the market and after two months for sale and no offers, we hope the agent can talk them down to where we need them to be.

In the meantime, we just signed off on an offer on our place. One open home and we're done. We're pretty happy with that. I would crack a champagne but frankly, after three days of driving around looking at potential homes and all the emotion that goes with that, I'm exhausted and going to bed.

Happy Sunday, people.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Plan B?

So, we still don't know where we're at with 'our farm'. The owner is expected to give a yes or no by 5pm tonight.

Meanwhile, we've unearthed more information about the property - the granny flat is not council approved, meaning it's difficult to insure it sufficiently. As that would have been my in-laws home (eventually) and the whole area is very fire-prone, this is a pretty big issue.

We could try and go through the process of getting it approved but who knows how long that will take?

Anyway, I'm almost over it. (Almost). We're driving out this afternoon to look at this place (photo pinched from real estate agent):

I can think of worse plan Bs - I do love myself an old Queenslander home and it's fully renovated, set in 10 acres of fruit and nut trees and surrounded by established gardens.  It's also the closest home to Brisbane we've seen so far, has various outbuildings and sheds and seems to have a view. I really like how it's nestled into the hill there, too.

So that's where we're at. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode in 'Edwina and family go through mass trauma trying to relocate to country'...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Infinite Process

Thanks everyone for your little pearls of wisdom over the last week or so, they are much appreciated. You are such a wise bunch.

It is an uncertain time, but we're pretty confident we'll get there in the end. (I'm trying to think positive) The owner is still mulling over his options and is expected to tell the agent what's what tomorrow.

Or maybe, never. This just seems like the most infinite process in my life. Perhaps I'll still be here when I'm 68, going back and forth and back and forth in these negotiations, dragging myself into the office with increasing resentment and dreaming of a life outside the city limits.

We've been talking so much about what we'll do once we get there. Pulling dinner from the dam that's stocked with barramundi and red claw to cook on the fire. Getting the veggie patch happening, fixing up the old hut to make it my home office.

Meanwhile, the first open home at our place in Brisbane is this Saturday and we've been in overdrive preparing. The photographer was here today taking photos for the listing. If there's anything more ridiculously futile than  trying to clean a house occupied by a toddler, then I'd like to hear about it.

Actually - I really, really wouldn't.

At home

That said, our place looks good now and we're confident we've done enough work and priced it well to to secure a quick sale.

Fingers crossed we hear some good news tomorrow about this whole proposition. Even if it means a few months of homelessness over Christmas ( the owner wants a three month settlement now, if he even wants to sell at all), it'll mean we're on our way.

My fingers are more crossed than they've ever been.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I jinxed it

I wavered, briefly, before hitting 'publish' on yesterday's post.

You don't want to jinx it, I told myself.

Then, I had a stern word with myself about being silly and hit publish anyway.

And then the phone rang. The owners have decided to take the place off the market, said the agent. They're frustrated with the length of time it's taken, it's approaching their busy season and they don't have time to be stuffing around with some of the conditions on the contract right now. 

It's not over yet. The agent is hoping she can still talk them around. They didn't know we were planning to sign the contract Saturday. They may agree to a three-month settlement as it doesn't pressure them to pack up and clean up right when they're busy with their work commitments.

I can't say I blame the owners. At all. It's been a huge process. There have been some very time-consuming issues that Dan's stepfather has brought up that Dan has been working through on his behalf (this is a 50/50 joint purchase between us and Dan's parents). And it takes time and patience. I can only write so much on here, for obvious reasons, and that's frustrating because I'M frustrated.

I've quit my job. I think I've found Lucinda a day a week in a local daycare. Our house is about to have a for sale sign on the front and we're hoping to sell before Christmas.

Where are we going to live if this whole thing falls over?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's All Happening

We are signing a contract THIS WEEKEND on our farm. 

Yes, it's finally, finally happening. The price is agreed, the issues have been worked through and pending some huge unforeseen shift in the cosmos, I think it's safe to say that place is ours. We should settle the week before Christmas.

In other massively exciting developments, I resigned my job yesterday and got hired back as a contractor working from home next year handling a new and exciting project, which is such a win I can hardly stand it. 

I will still have to commute into Brisbane every Thursday, but that's fine. It'll be my city day. I'll dust off my work clothes and comb the dirt out of my hair and go and play with the big kids again. I think I've even found a spot for Lucinda on Thursdays at a family day care near 'our farm'. 

Everything's going our way.

We've been 'staging' our house as the real estate photos are being taken on Monday. In among my many trips to Bunnings, I made a spur of the moment decision to start a succulent garden. They seem to be very big right now, which isn't really surprising when you look at the cute varieties available. 


Adopt us! Adopt us! Look at how cute we are!

Planted #succulents


I'm sort of torn about what to do with this blog. I will have more time and, I suspect, more motivation to photograph and write about life soon. I'm not sure whether to keep this name and URL or move to a new one that better reflects where our life is at now. 

Starting again sounds kind of like a pain, but there's not really much relevance to 'weekend island' anymore. Any ideas, anyone?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Happy Memory Girl

I just want to say thanks to everyone who left a comment on my last post -- your kind words were much appreciated.

A few of us gathered on Friday night for dinner and drinks in our friend's backyard, where we've gathered so many times before for happier reasons.

We talked a little about what had happened, but we didn't really want to linger there. So, we talked a lot about our many happy memories of Elissa.

She was a happy memory kind of girl.

  Happy hour, you've changed.

There is more mourning to be done. A funeral this week and a party to be planned. She loved parties, so it seems only right to try and throw a big one in her honour.

But, as is always the way in life, with the bad stuff comes the good (and vice versa).

Tomorrow we're finally making our offer on 'our farm'. It's great that we've made it to this point and while it all feels surreal still, I am looking forward to packing up our belongings, loading up a truck and driving our lives out of the bright lights of Brisbane. 


But right now, I can't help thinking of the big housewarming party we will no doubt hold there and of a girl who would have been first on the dance floor, but won't be able to make it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

People You Know

On Wednesday night, this happened. A friend of ours, a friend for many years, was shot dead by a man she had broken up with. He then shot his dog and himself.

I've been walking around in shock since we were called with the news yesterday morning.

This kind of thing -- this tragic, unexplainable act -- does not happen to people you know. It happens to people from different worlds, who move in different circles, who live far away.

Never people you know.

Elissa was truly one of happiest, fun-loving people I've known. She was uncomplicated, genuine and kind. She loved a good party, she loved to dance and she loved to make amazing cakes to help all her friends celebrate the big occasions in their lives.

She made the most beautiful cake for Dan and my engagement party, another for our wedding, another when Lucinda was born.

I've spent so many happy, laughter-filled evenings over the years chatting with Elissa about everything. The ups and downs. Relationships.

Her concerns about the man who this week shot her dead.

She did not deserve this. No one deserves this. Elissa, particularly, did not deserve this.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Yesterday was Dan's birthday and part of his gift was this furniture polish. My cousin has started making it from a recipe that was our grandmother's, and sent us some to try out.

The packaging is almost as good as the heavenly smell.

My cousin has been dabbling with my grandma's recipes. Loving the result!

In other news, we have harvested our first crop of potatoes on Sunday. We took all the teeny tiny ones out last night and fried them up and they were SO GOOD. I've never been so excited to eat a potato before.

Potato Harvest

It was the perfect end to a lazy long weekend at home.

Let's spend some quality time.



Today, I'm on holidays and Dan is starting a new job. We're still in negotiations re 'our farm'. Such machinations and we haven't even got to the 'making an offer' stage yet. We're still not sure whether we'll be going into it as a joint venture or alone. We're expecting a final answer this week, and from there we will know the next step for us. I have everything crossed. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Project Sell

Project Sell is full steam ahead. Dan is working hard getting the house painted and some final landscaping done.

Dan sanding the house

Meanwhile, I've been busily packing stuff up into boxes for storage and trying to create some order from the chaos. 

We've had furniture trucks coming and going fairly regularly lately. Funny the way you only take the time to get your house looking how you really wanted when it's time to leave. 

At home


Like almost everyone else starting out, our furniture was always hand-me-down furniture, or op shop or Ebay finds. It's only been recently that we've started actually going out to shops, picking and paying for pieces we like and hope to have forever. 

Around the time I started 30, I also decided it was time to bite the bullet and buy some art. My mum has been active in the Tasmanian art scene for decades, so she was only too happy to help me start to narrow down artists and styles I liked.

I started with this piece, by a NSW-based artist. I'm hoping to add to it soon and have my eye on a couple of Tasmanian artists. Tasmania has an interest-free art purchasing scheme run by the Government to encourage investment in the local art scene.

I think it's a fantastic idea and intend to take full advantage of it.

Lucinda admires the art, dahling.

So here we are, finally living in a house that's starting to look 'done', while sneakily boxing up and storing away anything that doesn't fit into the new aesthetic. It's exciting times ahead.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I'm a little excited today. It's my last day of work for nearly a fortnight and I'm really looking forward to some extra quality time at home.

Weeknight vignette.
Weeknight vignette

We're moving full-steam ahead now to get our home on the market. It's exciting and a little overwhelming. With the exception of the 10 months we rented up at Sandgate, we've lived in this house for seven years -- since I was 23 years old.
In that time, it's transitioned from a shabby party house with rooms we rented out to friends to a comfortable, familiar family home.

We could stay here longer and be perfectly comfortable, and there's a part of me that thinks maybe we should just do that. It's always easier to maintain the status quo, after all. To just keep doing what we've been doing for years as more years run past us at an ever-quickening pace.

And yet... somehow, the time feels right to make a change of lifestyle. If we can possibly, humanly pull it off.

We've got a little storage unit rented up the road to move all our excess stuff into now. Dan is working days and nights under spotlight to get the exterior painted before he starts his new job on Monday.

 A quick tidy up, a For Sale sign and ideally, a quick offer.

A few more steps up the mountain.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom Soundtrack

This arrived today from Amazon, and's just a little bit fantastic - a gorgeous blend of classical and electronic and banjos and magic.


You Tube will not let me embed any video in here, but follow this link if you want a taste of something a little special.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Farm Photos

I mentioned that we took yet another trip out to 'our farm' on Friday. This time, it was to show my Mother, who is up visiting from Tasmania through the place. She snapped a few sneaky photos.

Here's a not-very-flattering photo of me on the veranda of the main house.

Farm House 2-2

This is a shot of some of the gardens and sneaky glimpses of the two homes (one behind the trees, one to the right) plus the run-down old slab hut in the back right.

Farm House 3-2

After looking around Laidley and the property, we went and visited Forest Hill, a little town nearby. It has several cute little shops, one newly renovated hotel and this one, which was a bit more traditional but much more photogenic.

Farm House 6-2

Finally, Lucinda was being her adorable self when this was taken. Kid LOVES a camera.

Lucinda and boots-2

Hope everyone else is having a nice weekend full of their own daydreams.

Ikea No Idea

Another trip out to 'our farm', another hurdle this week. It now looks like Dan and I may have to go it alone in the venture, which would fine, except that Dan's only just about to start a new job and I work part-time.


So, if we want to make this happen, we need to sell our house first. We're a few weeks off putting it on the market and Dan still has to paint the exterior.

Meanwhile, I decided to start work on staging it for sale and took off to Ikea to buy a new bed frame, paid to have it delivered, put Dan to work assembling it and then discovered that Ikea bed frames do not fit Australian standard sized mattresses. I had no idea. You'd think they might tell you that somewhere on the information sheet for their beds. Do not buy this bed if you expect to be able to use a mattress on it. Something like that.

So, we had to pull it all down again, Dan will have to drive it back and we now have no bed frame at all because I gave the old one away on Freecycle in a wave of efficiency.

One step forward, two steps back.

Anyway, it's a glorious night tonight, perfect for enjoying some time out on the deck.

Real Estate Listing 1-2

I gotta admit, I will miss that view. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Well, we were going to make an offer on 'our farm' today, but other things have gotten in the way. Have I mentioned before what a massive undertaking this whole process is?

Going halves with other family members appeals to us on so many levels, but it also adds several layers to an already complex process. There is paperwork galore, plus the challenges of  Dan's parents now being away for a couple of weeks on a pre-booked holiday.

I hope no one swoops down and buys it in the interim, but there's not much that can be done if they do.

I feel a bit burned out at the moment. I am exhausted with work and my days at home with Lucinda are no less tiring. I feel completely overwhelmed by everything and inspired and motivated to do nothing. It's not a good place to be, to be honest. I used to get this way occasionally about work, but it was nothing a few days off or a big night out with friends wouldn't fix.

Lucinda looks tired too.

I feel like the problem is running a little deeper now.

I wonder if I need a holiday. Would a holiday with a baby even classify as a holiday? I'm not sure.

For now, I will console myself with clicking through photos of the property online and dreaming of a different lifestyle, one that's hopefully still just around the corner.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Farm?

Another trip out to what we've started calling 'our farm' over the weekend. We haven't made an offer yet on the place.

But, you know what? I think we just might. She's really quite the charmer. 

On the farm.

More farm.





The place has two liveable houses and an original slab-hut homestead, shown in the third picture above.

The house that would be ours is a three-bedroom Queenslander with wrap-around verandas and a lot of potential, although plenty of work needs to be done. 

The second home is a brick and tile converted shed which would become the home of the in-laws, who are thinking of making the move with us. 

A country commune. It's all quite exciting. And daunting. And exciting. 

That mountain climb I mentioned last week? We're another couple of steps up it.

We're on our way.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Honing the search

Another weekend, another drive west of Brisbane.

There is a definite end goal now. Our search has honed in on one property that is within our chosen area, price range and meets all our needs.

It's an absolutely beautiful place near a lovely town and I'm very excited about what could be.

But, there are still so many boxes to tick before we can even get to the point of making an offer on it. So many things that could change and make the whole enterprise unviable. I feel like I'm standing at the bottom of a mountain, knowing I'm in for the climb of my life and feeling slightly exhausted before I take even the first step.

Don't look at the top of the mountain, it'll scare you from starting.

Just put one foot in front of the other.

In the meantime, here we are.

Tending to the parsley.


#macrogardener #australiannative #nofilter

The world's smallest geranium produced a flower.


Water baby


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Location Scouting

Happy Monday! That's another weekend passed. The great thing about being a part-time worker is my weekends are four days long, every week, which is so nice.
We did more location scouting out west for property over the weekend. We're looking at maybe making our country life dream a reality, but it's proving very tricky to find anything that's in our price range, in the area we need to be in to access work, and also appealing.
Scratch that. It's actually very easy to find cheap properties around but they were, almost without exception, underwater in January last year with the floods. Just when we think we've found something interesting, one of us loads up the trusty flood maps and BANG! Our dream home was under six metres of water last year.
Thanks but no.
Anyway, we're nowhere near ready to make the move yet (if we do at all) but it's fun researching it and narrowing down areas to 'take me there now' and 'over my dead body'.
Dan went to the tip Saturday and found this old munitions box, which he scrubbed up and waxed. I think it's pretty cool.


Lucinda kept a close eye on the veggie garden...
The strawberries are getting THIS BIG.

... and we ate a few of our strawberries. Lovely!
Strawberry Love.

Hope everyone else had a good weekend too.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Way Out West

We took off for a road-trip out west of Ipswich last weekend to have a look at land and daydream about living in the country.

It's amazing that within an hour's drive of the Brisbane CBD, you can find places that seem a lifetime away.

Like Marburg, where the antique dealer leaves his stock on the footpath all night. (This photo was taken about 8am Sunday and the shop was locked tight). Crime obviously isn't much of a problem in Marburg.

We're out west again. Antique dealer just leaves the stock on the pavement all night #marburg



And then, on the way home again- having decided that a farm west of Ipswich perhaps wasn't quite our place in the world-  we drove via Lake Manchester and Kholo and eventually found our way to Upper Brookfield. This little mountainous suburb is part old farm and part goat track up into a mountain range, with a liberal smattering of overgrown jungle, wildlife reserve, and derelict farmhouse thrown in for good measure.

There's even a gorgeous little primary school.

Of course, I really want to live there now.


Someone called this home once.

More photos? Why didn't I take more photos? I will go back and take more photos.

Upper Brookfield, you are my latest obsession. I hope I can find a way to make it work between us.