Thursday, May 31, 2012

Then and Now

I found an old CD of photos of this house from the real estate listing, when Dan bought it nearly seven years ago. 

I thought it would be interesting to do a series of 'then and now' photos showing the transition of the house over the years.

My house will not grace the pages of Real Living anytime soon. Real living does, however, take place here.

So, here's the first up. This is a granny flat area we have downstairs. 


Downstairs Room2

I remember pulling that carpet out (Dan and I had just started dating when he was in the process of buying this place). We painted the concrete underneath white, and it lasted like that until the house started flooding every time it rained a few years ago.


Downstairs Room

We gutted the downstairs of the house a year or so ago and rebuilt it (after fixing the landscaping issues causing it to flood). Dan and I split this room now. On this side of the room dividers is my sewing room and storage. On the other side, only accessible through external doors (to avoid dirty boots trampling carpet), is Dan's hardware storage area.

Here's the front entrance.


Out the front then

This is not actually from the listing but was taken after we started gutting some of the interior.


Out the front

The garden is absolutely thriving out here. I'll post some more photos of it soon.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Deals Brokered In The Early Morning

The mood of the last few days has almost passed, but unfortunately my groove for life has not yet completely returned. The fact is it's been a hard week here. One of the hardest in recent memory, actually. And we have had some particularly challenging ones over the last year or so.

Life, you big arsehole. I've had enough of your games.

I won't dwell on the whole situation too much. I think it just serves to say that if you took a lot of my life over the last year (anything Lucinda-related discounted) and threw it in a pile, I'd be there with kerosene, matches and marshmallows before you could even get the wine open.


One night, late last year, when I was sitting after dinner, my stomach suddenly seized up. The pain came on quickly and the only way to describe it is someone reaching into my stomach, grabbing my intestines and wringing them out like a dishcloth.


Within minutes I was rocking back and forward on the carpet groaning. Minutes after that, Dan had called an ambulance. Before it arrived, I vomited on the carpet and the pain subsided. Dan called Triple 0 again and cancelled.

The next day, I went to the GP, who decided I probably had a bad case of indigestion. Even though I knew that wasn't it, I wasn't sure what else to do or say to her. I let it be.

A month or so passed before it happened again, only the next time it was far worse. Luckily, this time, my mother was staying. When the pain still hadn't passed after an hour, Dan and I left Lu at home with Mum and drove into the hospital.

They admitted me to a bed, dosed me up with painkillers. It was 3am, I was exhausted, in agony and desperately fearful of what was happening to me.

Somehow, it seemed to make a sick sense. I have a tiny, new child and everything is wonderful in my life. Now, the universe has come to take something back.

That reasoning went around and around in my head as I lay there, rocking and waiting for a doctor.

As time wore on, I did what many who suddenly fear for their safety do - I begged.

I'd like to say now that I made a pledge with the universe to travel to Africa to treat the blind if it granted me my health, but my pledges seemed to become increasingly humble as the hours wore on.

Let me go home and I'll never ask more of you.

Let me go home to my baby now and I won't make a fuss ever again.

I don't want much. I won't rock the boat. Just let me be. All I want is my baby.

I'm not sure if the universe listened. When the diagnosis arrived, it was gallstones. Devastatingly painful, but not overly serious. The doctors sent me home with a restricted diet to follow until I could have surgery.

Sadly, it didn't work. Within months my condition had escalated and I had developed acute pancreatitis. A few months ago, I was admitted to hospital for five days to have my gallbladder removed as a matter of urgency.

I didn't eat for four days. I didn't see my baby for three of them. My milk almost entirely dried up and I stopped breastfeeding shortly after.

But it was worth it. I got to come home at the end of it and know I was well again. I got to go home to my husband and baby. I got more than a lot of sick people in hospital get.

There's a guilt now. All those deals brokered in the small hours of the morning. Who did I make my deals with? What would they say about my daydreams of a different life?

What will happen now I've dropped my end of the bargain and made a fuss?

Monday, May 28, 2012

This again

Occasionally, typically about once a month, I wake up feeling profoundly dissatisfied with life. I feel agitated and frustrated and restrained by living in the city and working in an office.

Traffic. Neighbours. Noise.

I crave a country existence. Wide open spaces where we could keep a few animals. A big verandah and a creek and a nearby town hall.

Generally, after a day or two, the longing again fades to more of a distant pang. I get on with life, focus on the wonderful things about living where we do. Friends and family nearby.


It's a luxury, I suppose, this longing. In a time when the global economy continues to convulse and jitter and billions of people around the world would, literally, give a limb to have what we have, it seems selfish and ungrateful to want something different.

To consider something beyond options for employment and a lovely home when you have a young child. It's just silly, surely.

And yet, here it is again. Back to taunt me.

I went to a garage sale on Sunday at a small house near ours. The middle aged man I spoke to said his elderly parents had just gone into a nursing home and he was selling off all their possessions.

It got me to thinking. If that's me one day, shuffling off into a nursing home after a life lived raising kids in the 'burbs, will I be happy with what I've done? Will it be enough?

Or will I be profoundly and irreversibly disappointed with myself for not listening to this voice playing in the background, telling me that wanting a different life is not a crime and that maybe, just maybe, now is the time to go after it?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Steiner Baby

Today, I dragged my sickly baby out to the local Steiner school open day. Her father and his friends were home preparing to attack shrubs with a chainsaw, so a warm car trip and wander around the campus sounded like a mercy for her.

Within the first five minutes of arriving at the campus I'd made my mind up to enrol Lucinda there when the time came. It was after that five minutes that I became a little less sure.

The school, about 10 minutes north of our place, is undoubtedly impressive.

The campus is lush with gardens and veggie patches and chicken coops and little classrooms that look like hobbit holes. 

I've read about the Steiner philosophy and I agree with a lot if it. I love the focus  on learning skills like gardening and self-sufficiency, cooking, building and knitting. 

The idea that young children should be kept away from technology? I just bought an iPad and Lu is showing early signs of an amazing Tap Tap Ant talent.

View HDR

Sunrise in our very un-Steiner suburban hobbit hole

The thing is, on paper I agree with so much of what you might describe as a 'hippy' mindset. But being at that school today suddenly took me back to dozens of meetings with people at fairy-lit parties on bush blocks over the years.

The setting is phenomenal and I've met someone interesting. We're getting along just fine and all of a sudden they start talking about my aura or asking me about what my spirit animal is and I just feel like rolling my eyes.

You're ruining this for me. 

It's the same with Steiner. I would genuinely love for her to be educated in a place with hobbit hole classrooms and amazing gardens. I would love for her to go off to school and to break up her maths and science lessons with tending a veggie patch and looking after chickens. 

Then I overhear a teacher talking about something 'cosmic' and there's that feeling again. 

You're ruining this for me. 

I came home feeling slightly dejected and sat down, still being clung to by a tired and sick baby. We watched Dan and his friends chainsaw up the last of the tree and then all sat down and ate a BBQ steak dinner.

Maybe we're just not Steiner people.

Does anyone have any experience with Steiner they'd care to share? I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


It's such a dreary day in Brisbane today. We were stuck inside, so making cupcakes was the order of the day...



We had visitors, so Lucinda got to wear her best cardigan.

Lucinda on the bed

Here's a few instagrams from through the week.




We've been inspired by the removal of those palm trees to take out another couple of problematic trees on our block, which should be happening tomorrow if the weather clears up. 

Plus, we've got to start sanding back balustrading in preparation for another coat of oil. Fun fun (!!)

Have you got anything exciting planned?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Op Shopped Life

I was watching Lu play on the deck this morning and suddenly started wondering whether the poor child owned ANYTHING new. 

I love op shopping, as does my mother in law. This car was her latest find, for $2. It's ugly as sin but it plays all sorts of little tunes and Lu thinks it is the bees knees.

Lucinda's Playroom5

My MIL cleaned it up and put felt runners on the wheels and Lu spends great amounts of time riding it up and down the deck now. 

This is her outdoor 'playroom' at the end of the deck. It now features the dollhouse I found at an op shop a while back, still waiting for its renovation. Ahem. 

Other features here include an op shopped table, rocking duck, walker and a rocking reindeer a friend of ours found put out for council clean up. 

The gum boots? Op shop. Lucinda's outfit? Op shop. 

Lucinda's PLayroom3

Lucinda's Playroom2

Honestly, I just can't see the point in buying expensive toys brand new just to see them get trashed, or never used.

I do buy mostly new clothes for her, but her grandmother turns up every week with a bag full of washed and pressed size one clothes she's found on her op shop rounds and they come in handy.

It's all the same after it's been washed and disinfected anyway.

Lucinda's PLayroom

In other news, I found this little guy this morning.


Another shot of the veggie garden labelling solution. Iceberg dead ahead!


I also planted some snow peas, but I mixed blood and bone into the potting mix and the dog has already been pulled out of the pot twice, so I'm not sure how they'll go.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Household Staff

In a development that has left me digging through my drawers for a cashmere twin-set and a string of pearls, it's looking increasingly possible that I may soon have a household staff.

Well, not a staff, so much. More like an unpaid au pair.

Dan and I looked into a few different childcare options earlier this year before deciding on the family day care set-up we love so much.

Growing up

During that process, we registered with an au pair agency which has recently come back to us and asked if we'd like to be considered for their part-time program.

Basically, in return for room and board, the au pair undertakes 10-15 hours of child minding and light housework a week.

At this point, we're interested. We have a bedroom and bathroom downstairs that lend themselves rather nicely to guest quarters and we like the details of the potential candidates they've sent us.

We've had plenty of people live with us over the years, both short and long-term, so that's not such an issue for us.

We don't need home help, or childminding help. But it might bring a little something extra to our life for the three months an au pair would be with us and it definitely fits in with my 'village to raise a child' philosophy.

What do you think? Would you like an au pair to live with you for three months?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Say Cheese

A shameful amount of time has passed since I first announced the arrival of my cheesemaking kit and plans to use it to branch beyond the simple panir I've made in the past.

But then I got pregnant and couldn't eat soft cheeses and then I had a baby and didn't have the energy, and it was only a few weeks ago that I finally dug it out and had a go at making a farmhouse cheddar.

As the post I've linked to above details, I used a kit from Green Living Australia.  I also discovered Mad Millie stocked in our local homebrew shop and you can buy kits online there too.

Anyway, onto the cheese. Ok, issue number one. The recipe calls for eight litres of full cream milk (not a cheap way to get a block of cheese!).

You then put that in a pot which has to go into a bigger pot to act as a double boiler.

Eight litres is a lot of milk and our largest pot was nowhere near big enough, let alone finding another one even bigger for water.

So, I settled for about six litres and then had to divide all the other amounts accordingly.

Issue number two... a press. We don't have one. The recipe calls for pressing the cheese with 10kgs of weight for 12 hours. The mould, however, is quite small so it was hard to find anything heavy enough that would fit into it. We settled for a complex rig of a mortar and pot of water.

Cheese Pressed

When I came out the next morning, the rig had pressed the cheese too far down in the mould and the weight was no longer reaching it, so I'm not sure how long it had weight on it for.

Anyway, the cheese that eventually came out looked like this:

Cheese Finished

I dried it at room temperature for three days and then covered it in wax and popped it in the bar fridge, where it now has to age for a month. 

I did a bit of a messy job with the waxing, but I hope it will serve its purpose and keep the air out.

I can't wait to try the finished product and I'll be sure to update this review with the verdict then.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lu's Weekend Adventures


Quiet contemplation

This is how Mummy and Daddy look...





and... brushing the curtains. As you do.

Escape route

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Friday Photo Dump

Having always been a chronic over-sleeper, having a baby came as a rude shock to my system. We count ourselves very lucky that our baby usually sleeps from 7pm and only wakes us at 6am.

But there's something lovely about waking up early, when you're forced to do so. This was at about 6:30 this morning (obviously, as it involves the outlook we only acquired yesterday)

Hot Air Balloon2

Fridays are pretty much my favourite day now. Mondays to Wednesdays, I work. Thursdays I wake up to a bomb site of a house, an empty fridge and a mountain of laundry.


Fridays? It's just me and Lu and most of the housework is done.

We went for a browse and a coffee at the church-run op shop and free coffee shop up the road. They let a heathen like me eat free pikelets and didn't even try to save my soul once!





A clear sign about what I should do some of this weekend:


Hope everyone has a good weekend!

View This

This morning, just after I'd plopped Lucinda out on the back deck to laze in a sunbeam (Ha! As if) while I made my coffee, a chainsaw started. 

Our neighbours had called a tree lopper in to take out a couple of palms on the border of their property. Result? Instant new view of the city. 



On the other side of our place, the non-view side, the neighbours have a super overgrown garden with eleventy billion palm trees and a poinsiana. 

View to the left

It feels like you're about to be drowned in a green tsunami. I love it.

 It's the kind of things you just can't convey in a real estate listing that inevitably become the things you like most about your own home. While the new view is the thing you'd advertise, the green wall is by far my favourite outlook.

It's funny, the little things you come to love about your own place. A corner where the sun hits your favourite chair at just the right angle, the way the light falls on your dining table in the early evening, or a tsunami of vegetation that looks ready to swallow you whole.

I'd love to hear from anyone else about what they loved most about their own place. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On Day Care

I really enjoyed my maternity leave, so going back to work after Lucinda's birth was not something I was looking forward to.

I loved having time to work on projects around the house and I loved being able to spend a day curled up under a doona cuddling my tiny baby and watching trashy TV when that was all I felt capable of.

So, now that it has officially ended and I have gone back to work three days a week, I'm surprised about how positive it's all feeling.

The main reason? Lucinda is loving her family day care. She's cared for by a woman, at home, in a place just around the corner from our house. She's one of four young girls cared for on the days she's there and seems to be having a great ol' time learning dance moves and having cuddles with her mates. They're all older, around two, and treat 'Baby Cinda' like a doll they can't get enough of.

That seems to suit my little extrovert down to the ground.

Some days I pick her up in the car, other days her father parks his ute at home and walks down to collect her, bringing her home up the street on his shoulders. The sight of them toddling up the road - stopping to look at trees and flowers and chat to (Dan) or cuddle (Lucinda) the neighbours - is positively heart-warming.

I always imagined I'd be riddled with guilt about leaving my 10-month old baby in someone else's care three days a week while I went off to work.

I'm just not. Not even close. She loves it. She's thriving. She's making friends. She's learning that not only do her mother, father and grandparents love and adore her, but a whole bunch of other people in her community do too.

As her mother, watching her forming her very first friendships outside her family just melts me and somehow I know that for us - for our little family in our situation with our child - this is absolutely the right decision.

Mrs Boyd's odds and ends

Following on from my post yesterday, here's a few photos of some of Mrs Boyd's collection. The things I picked up from her husband came to four large boxes, much of which I gave away.

Here's a bit of what was left:

Bias Tape-2

Mrs Boyd's Bias Tape


Mrs Boyd's thread

Mrs Boyd 4

Sewing machine needles

Odds and Ends-2

One of several boxes of odds and ends

Mrs Boyd3

I wonder if these would still be useful?

Mrs Boyd2

A few pins...

I feel incredibly lucky to have been the recipient of this collection. It might be time to start some new projects to put it to better use.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mrs Boyd's Thread

Last year, I started a sewing group in Sandgate, where we lived temporarily. One day, shortly after a story appeared about our group in the local paper, I got a call from a man who said he had boxes of dressmaking supplies to give to me that he no longer needed.

All I had to do was go and pick them up.

I bundled Lucinda into the car and drove to a small, well-loved house in an unpretentious suburb. After a knock on the door, a frail old man showed me to his wife’s old sewing room. 

She’d passed away very recently, after working from home as a dressmaker all her life. She had boxes upon boxes of supplies and equipment and he wanted it all gone. 

I have no use for it now, he explained.

He went on to tell me about his wife and the life she’d lived. He showed me pictures of the couple on their wedding day -- her wearing a dress she’d created. They looked young and happy. 

He told me about the things she liked to make and the clients she’d had over the years.Then, we carried the boxes to the car and he sent me on my way with a wave.

Back at home, I started unpacking and really started to see the treasures I’d uncovered. Boxes of threads, bindings, lace trimmings, buttons and beads. Thimbles and fasteners and zips and elastics.

A lifetime's worth of tools, carefully labelled Mrs Boyd

In a box of patterns, there were envelopes addressed to Mrs Boyd at the same address I’d visited. They dated back to the days –many decades ago — when the local paper had operated a pattern service. 

This woman had lived nearly her whole life in that home, sewing and stitching and creating and mending. Purely by chance, I’d been the lucky beneficiary of the pieces she’d collected along the way.

I still wonder about her. Was she fulfilled in her life? Did she want more? Less? Something different? They're questions that I will never know the answers to.

I gave away everything I didn’t plan to use to someone I knew who would. Now, after moving house again, I'm again discovering the lifetime’s accumulation of one woman’s work and thinking how best I can put it to use.

I didn’t know her, but I suspect she would have wanted that.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I am not a regular blogger any more. 

That is very apparent from the fact it's been...nearly seven months since I posted? And here's where I could inject an excuse and try and convince myself I'll try harder and there is something to be gained from being here, daily, typing about my humdrum existence but, really, this is clearly just how I am. 

So, the last seven months. We moved back into our old house. We sold the house on Karra. I started reading A Song Of Ice and Fire. Lucinda grew. I went back to work. Lucinda grew some more. I kept reading A Song Of Ice and Fire

Look, I took some photos on my phone:

Bubbles! At our old house! Our old house that is now our regular house again!



We started working on a garden!

So, you know. There's been other things achieved. I'm sure of it. I just can't remember what they are. Now, I'm off to read A Song Of Ice and Fire. See you in another seven months. Maybe sooner.