Greenhill Beach Queensland

greenhill9 (1 of 1).jpg

I really enjoy taking my children back to places that I frequented during my own childhood.  Growing up, my family had a beach 'shed' at Greenhill Beach in Queensland.  Many of my school holidays were spent here but I haven't been back since the block was sold back in the 90's. So i decided it was time to re-visit the place with my own children in tow.

greenhill8 (1 of 1).jpg

If you google Greenhill Beach, apparently it doesn't exist but if you drive about 45 minutes south of Sarina, past Koumala, past Carmilla and then take a left at a little spot called Ilbilby and keep driving until you hit the coast, you will find it does and it's really worth the drive.  Its a very small beach community mostly made up of either holiday houses or retirees.  It's pretty out of the way and so there still aren't any shops or cafes but the beach itself is quite beautiful and a really fun place for kids to explore. There's heaps of rocks, rock pools, little caves and if you're lucky you can even find living coral in the rock pools far out on low tide.

greenhill1 (1 of 1).jpg

We arrived in the middle of the day so the light was extremely harsh and by the time the sun was easing, my camera battery died so I don't know that my photos really do the place justice. But here are some snaps of our day. The weather was beautiful and we had the entire beach to ourselves.

greenhill3 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill4 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill7 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill11 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill12 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill15 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill14 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill17 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill16 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill22 (1 of 1).jpg

The children, ran, swam, climbed, jumped in puddles and explored the rock pools.  They buried each other and me in sand which was the closest thing to a day spa I've experienced since having all these kids! 

greenhill18 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill20 (1 of 1).jpg
greenhill21 (1 of 1).jpg

If you are interested in checking this part of the world out for yourself, powered camp sites are available at the Cape Palmerston Holiday Park- (07) 4950 3987 - www.capepalmerston.com or permits can be obtained through the department of national parks, sport and racing website - npsr.qld.gov.au - to camp off grid in Cape Palmerston National Park.  

We have babies!

babychick10 (1 of 1).jpg

It's been a pretty exciting week here for the kids.  Not only is it the Easter school holidays, but we also got to watch our first lot of baby chickens hatch! Kind of fitting actually... you know, eggs, easter, transformation, new life...you get my drift ;-)

Anyway, Hei-Hei, our plymouth x wyandotte hen has been clucky on and off since november last year.  So this last time I noticed her sitting on the eggs,  I decided to let her have 3 to incubate and tried to get the other hens to lay in the other nesting boxes. Well she had other ideas and by the time the first egg hatched, there were 16 eggs under her! She'd been stealing other eggs without me noticing.  And all at different times of her sitting on the nest.

babychick11 (1 of 1).jpg

It takes roughly 21 days for an egg to develop into a chicken and hatch.  I knew many of the eggs hadn't been under her that long and I wasn't sure how long she would continue to sit once the first one had hatched. So we just watched and waited.  Each day for 6 days, a new chicken hatched.  By then mama chook had had enough and started taking the babies out of the nest.  

babychick9 (1 of 1).jpg

So we have 6 baby chicks, 4 black and 2 yellow.  They are super cute and growing by the day. Millie our dog has taken guardianship and likes to keep watch of the babies which is also super cute.

babychick8 (1 of 1).jpg

With so many predators around - snakes, hawks, goannas, eagles etc. - I'm trying not to get attached and let nature do what nature does but I must admit, it really is a sweet sight to see mama chook with her babies scratching around in the sunshine.

babychick6 (1 of 1).jpg

As for the remaining 10 eggs, Issy and I tried to save them by putting them in a basket in a small room warmed by a heater but after 3 days with no success we conceded that they must have gone too cold the day Hei-Hei left the nest so we pulled the plug (the heater plug that is).

babychick5 (1 of 1).jpg

So here are our 6 babies...Hoping for hens but past experience has prepared me for the possibility of many roosters - eek! Lucky my neighbours are nice!!

chicksx6 (1 of 1).jpg

 

 

 

Rats nests, cockroach murals and rooster dish pigs...my kitchen update

Image 21-1-18 at 4.34 pm (4).jpg

When we first moved into the house, i spent a considerable amount of time cleaning the kitchen before I unpacked anything. I remember calling Jamie at working telling him that I was really creeped out as I found some bones in one of the bottom cupboards under the sink behind the pipes.  At the time, I was already super freaked out about the huge carpet snake that had been in the house and subsequently ate my pet guinea pigs so finding bones just added to the 'oh my god, what have i done?!' state of mind that I was in. Then my rational mind prevailed and I told myself that the previous occupants must have kept their bin under the sink and they probably missed the bin when they threw some chicken scraps into the bin. Then I just forgot about it.

 In case you missed the post about the snake who was here to welcome us when we moved in, here he is.

In case you missed the post about the snake who was here to welcome us when we moved in, here he is.

Fast forward a few months to when we decided to pull out the old kitchen so that all the walls could be painted.  The first stage was removing the top cabinets and splash back which revealed some impressive cockroach poo markings all over the wall.  

 Heres a recap of what the kitchen was like.  Who would've guessed that behind those unassuming top cabinets dwelled a cockroach named Picasso?

Heres a recap of what the kitchen was like.  Who would've guessed that behind those unassuming top cabinets dwelled a cockroach named Picasso?

Image 21-1-18 at 4.33 pm (3).jpg

The more I looked at it, the more it started to look like art and, just like the clouds, I began to see all sorts of weird shapes and animals amongst the cocky poo.  

 But c'mon, tell me you don't see it?! There's most definitely some sort of antelope up in the right corner sitting on a deer right?

But c'mon, tell me you don't see it?! There's most definitely some sort of antelope up in the right corner sitting on a deer right?

 Anyhoo, then we removed the splash back and in case you spotted it, no I'm not an alcoholic but since moving here, I have learnt that wine helps me to find the good in any situation.  In this situation, it was that I had wine.

Anyhoo, then we removed the splash back and in case you spotted it, no I'm not an alcoholic but since moving here, I have learnt that wine helps me to find the good in any situation.  In this situation, it was that I had wine.

The second stage, a week later, was removing the sink and all the base cabinets. By now I was already expecting to find forty years worth of cockroach poo so when Jamie called out 'Come have a look at this' I thought I knew what I was walking into.  Not so!

Image 21-1-18 at 4.34 pm (1).jpg

There, where my kitchen once stood was a MASSIVE ghost-rats nest complete with rat skeletons spanning the entire length of the wall. The mystery of the bones found in the cabinets was solved at last.

 I must admit, I was impressed by the rat family's commitment to the philosophy of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  Reduce, not so much, but there is definitely a lot of ingenuity to be admired here.

I must admit, I was impressed by the rat family's commitment to the philosophy of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  Reduce, not so much, but there is definitely a lot of ingenuity to be admired here.

I cant even put into words how I felt.  All this time, I had been preparing meals atop of a mass rat grave. I poured myself some wine and walked away until I could cope with the thought of coming back and cleaning it all up. 

 Virgil! How shall we ever know what happened to you?! Although my friends and I have speculated. Despite the plausible love triangle murder-suicide hypothesis, I can't help but wonder if me covering up the hole in the base cabinets when we first moved in contributed to your untimely death?

Virgil! How shall we ever know what happened to you?! Although my friends and I have speculated. Despite the plausible love triangle murder-suicide hypothesis, I can't help but wonder if me covering up the hole in the base cabinets when we first moved in contributed to your untimely death?

Moving on....After the kitchen was removed I had NO kitchen.  Which meant I had to prepare food on the dining table and do the dishes with a bucket of water.  

Image 21-1-18 at 4.34 pm (5).jpg

At first I was like 'I've camped.  I can totally manage'. But as the days turned into weeks (as the painting took way longer than expected) the novelty of alfresco dish washing started to wear off.

At that time, the chooks still had free range of the property and also liked to get involved in the dishwashing process.

 So did the dog. (Don't panic, we've all since been wormed).

So did the dog. (Don't panic, we've all since been wormed).

I'm learning that everything around here takes us WAY longer than most people.  I was expecting a week, maybe two tops but this here was my reality for the better part of a month. In the meantime, the kitchen was painted and we tried to figure out what the heck we were going to put back in to use once the painting was complete.

The long term plan is actually to extend the house out from this room to make way for a new kitchen leaving this room as a seperate dining room. Currently it's just too small to be an eat-in kitchen for a family of our size. I'm not entirely sure how much it's going to cost nor where we are going to get the money for said extension but as I like to live most of my life in an imaginary bubble where unicorns exist and dreams do come true, I have decided that at some point, along with my boob job, it WILL happen.  Therefore, we purchased a second hand kitchen for $300 off gumtree that we have just plonked in the kitchen to use until such time that the extension is built.  

 A glorious Day! Jamie put our old sink back in so as not to have to much around with the plumbing too much as its all going to be moved in the future.

A glorious Day! Jamie put our old sink back in so as not to have to much around with the plumbing too much as its all going to be moved in the future.

So here it is.  Not yet my dream kitchen but there are no rat nests and there is running water. Winning! The $300 gumtree kitchen is super functional with all the drawers and there's still more of it in the shed that we may install at some point so I'm pretty happy.

 We painted the walls and ceiling in Dulux Natural White and the trims are white enamel 'Quarter Ash'.  I'm really happy with the colour as it's got enough warmth without throwing any pink or cream - which I've experienced with other whites in the past. Not too stark, but definitely still white.

We painted the walls and ceiling in Dulux Natural White and the trims are white enamel 'Quarter Ash'.  I'm really happy with the colour as it's got enough warmth without throwing any pink or cream - which I've experienced with other whites in the past. Not too stark, but definitely still white.

 The 'new' second hand kitchen is Tasmanian oak and is very solid.  I'm actually planning on using it when we do the extension but I'll replace the handles and bench tops and possibly even paint the cabinets. Not sure yet.

The 'new' second hand kitchen is Tasmanian oak and is very solid.  I'm actually planning on using it when we do the extension but I'll replace the handles and bench tops and possibly even paint the cabinets. Not sure yet.

 As you can see, we closed in one of the doorways on this wall to allow for a longer kitchen.

As you can see, we closed in one of the doorways on this wall to allow for a longer kitchen.

 I bought this chandelier off eBay for $19.  It did however cost four times that much in postage to get it up from Sydney but for $100 all up, I still consider it a bargain and much nicer than the old fluorescent wall light pictured below. As I said earlier, the plan is to make this the dining room eventually so the chandelier will hang over the dining table.

I bought this chandelier off eBay for $19.  It did however cost four times that much in postage to get it up from Sydney but for $100 all up, I still consider it a bargain and much nicer than the old fluorescent wall light pictured below. As I said earlier, the plan is to make this the dining room eventually so the chandelier will hang over the dining table.

 Old light in kitchen before.

Old light in kitchen before.

 Another eBay score is this old kitchen hutch which i bought for $275 for some extra free standing storage. Surprisingly, it holds more than you would think.

Another eBay score is this old kitchen hutch which i bought for $275 for some extra free standing storage. Surprisingly, it holds more than you would think.

 The cabinets are not actually installed, rather they are just sitting on the floor and the bench top is balanced on top.  Seems to work for now.

The cabinets are not actually installed, rather they are just sitting on the floor and the bench top is balanced on top.  Seems to work for now.

 So there it is.  It's only a temporary solution but it undoubtedly will stay like this for some time while we work on other projects and save for the extension which I am super excited about!

So there it is.  It's only a temporary solution but it undoubtedly will stay like this for some time while we work on other projects and save for the extension which I am super excited about!

 After discovering all the cockroach poo and rat remains, I can honestly say 'Good Riddance!' to this old 70's kitchen!

After discovering all the cockroach poo and rat remains, I can honestly say 'Good Riddance!' to this old 70's kitchen!

Rome wasn't built in a day....and neither was our chook pen

feedchooks7 (1 of 1).jpg

Many (many) moons ago, I got the brilliant idea that 'we' should build a chook pen out of the timber from the falling down house next door.  After a little bit of persuading, Jamie agreed and so began the next adventure of our home farm. One that took slightly longer than expected but was definitely worth the wait.

IMG_7834.jpg

Most people, from what I hear, knock up a chook house in a weekend. Not us. The little cottage next door was actually built from timber that was the existing Queenslander where our house now stands so rather than let it all go to ruin, I loved the idea of preserving some of that history here on our property. The entire cottage is made of hardwood, which seemed awesome to me, I love old hardwood, but as it turns out, is not the easiest material to work with and definitely led to several broken drill bits and many curse words uttered from Jamie's mouth throughout the entire, lengthy process. 

Here are some pictures of 'us' building our chook pen...

 The four posts in the ground are treated pine. Things got more difficult after that.

The four posts in the ground are treated pine. Things got more difficult after that.

 Note Jamie's facial hair which is the true indicator of just how long this process took. Also note my daughters keen fashion sense. 

Note Jamie's facial hair which is the true indicator of just how long this process took. Also note my daughters keen fashion sense. 

 My hunk of burning love pulling old iron off the roof to fulfil my vision...he was mostly swearing at the hardwood by this stage so I took all my photos from a safe distance where I could ignore him and pretend he really enjoyed what 'we' were doing.

My hunk of burning love pulling old iron off the roof to fulfil my vision...he was mostly swearing at the hardwood by this stage so I took all my photos from a safe distance where I could ignore him and pretend he really enjoyed what 'we' were doing.

 Giving the hardwood a break, we went on to building the fence.

Giving the hardwood a break, we went on to building the fence.

 The nesting boxes are on the side of the house and can be accessed without having to go into the chook pen.

The nesting boxes are on the side of the house and can be accessed without having to go into the chook pen.

 I bought an old set of french doors along with heap of old casement windows and a few other bits and bobs from a beautiful old queenslander in Bulimba.  The little square windows and the rectangular one that you can see in the picture before and below this one, were left over from the french doors that we installed in our back entry way.  The rest of these gorgeous casement windows are going to be used to enclose part of the barn sometime in the future.

I bought an old set of french doors along with heap of old casement windows and a few other bits and bobs from a beautiful old queenslander in Bulimba.  The little square windows and the rectangular one that you can see in the picture before and below this one, were left over from the french doors that we installed in our back entry way.  The rest of these gorgeous casement windows are going to be used to enclose part of the barn sometime in the future.

 Chook house hangs...charlie is entertaining his siblings with his new party trick doing the 'tuck'.

Chook house hangs...charlie is entertaining his siblings with his new party trick doing the 'tuck'.

 So close! Jamie is just figuring out how to attach the rooster weather vane.

So close! Jamie is just figuring out how to attach the rooster weather vane.

 Jamie actually made me this rooster as a birthday present about 8 years ago, but we moved house before it made it to the chook pen.  It's been in the shed ever since waiting for this very moment.

Jamie actually made me this rooster as a birthday present about 8 years ago, but we moved house before it made it to the chook pen.  It's been in the shed ever since waiting for this very moment.

 We used old branches for the roosting perches.  Apparantly natural branches are better for the chickens feet than uniform dowel perches and they have the benefit of costing nothing.

We used old branches for the roosting perches.  Apparantly natural branches are better for the chickens feet than uniform dowel perches and they have the benefit of costing nothing.

 Errmagod! Can you believe it? After about six or seven months, the chook pen is finally ready! Jamie survived and we still haven't filed for divorce.

Errmagod! Can you believe it? After about six or seven months, the chook pen is finally ready! Jamie survived and we still haven't filed for divorce.

So here is our chook pen! It's everything I could have asked for and more. It's rustic, charming, practical and built to last.  I love that its almost entirely made of recycled materials and all of it has a story to tell.  

 The 'Palais du Poulet' aka chicken palace

The 'Palais du Poulet' aka chicken palace

 Complete with windows and flower baskets

Complete with windows and flower baskets

 I sanded graffiti off the old door which resulted in this beautiful distressed look due to all the coats of old paint.

I sanded graffiti off the old door which resulted in this beautiful distressed look due to all the coats of old paint.

 The old door before

The old door before

 My little egg collector with his wooden eggs as despite all the effort, the chooks still refuse to lay. Probably has something to do with the fact that half of them have turned out to be roosters. But that's a whole other story!

My little egg collector with his wooden eggs as despite all the effort, the chooks still refuse to lay. Probably has something to do with the fact that half of them have turned out to be roosters. But that's a whole other story!

 Hardwood floors (which we've covered in black plastic and wood shavings for easy cleaning)

Hardwood floors (which we've covered in black plastic and wood shavings for easy cleaning)

 Their grain is kept in a sealed bin to deter rodents (and therefore snakes).

Their grain is kept in a sealed bin to deter rodents (and therefore snakes).

 The casement windows open and we are going to put some mosquito mesh over the opening so that they can be left open for ventilation at night whilst keeping the chooks in and snakes out.

The casement windows open and we are going to put some mosquito mesh over the opening so that they can be left open for ventilation at night whilst keeping the chooks in and snakes out.

 The nesting boxes open from the outside so the eggs can be collected without going in the pen but we are still fine tuning the lid as the hardwood is a bit heavy for the kids.  We also are yet to partition the space into smaller boxes as the chooks like privacy for laying. That will be next weeks job, as i mentioned earlier, the chooks aren't laying yet anyway.

The nesting boxes open from the outside so the eggs can be collected without going in the pen but we are still fine tuning the lid as the hardwood is a bit heavy for the kids.  We also are yet to partition the space into smaller boxes as the chooks like privacy for laying. That will be next weeks job, as i mentioned earlier, the chooks aren't laying yet anyway.

 The home made rooster weather vane sitting proud atop the home made house.

The home made rooster weather vane sitting proud atop the home made house.

 The chook run is huge and is shaded by a big mango tree.

The chook run is huge and is shaded by a big mango tree.

 I'm growing passionfruit along the front and side fences and star jasmine on the back boundary for a bit more shade and privacy.

I'm growing passionfruit along the front and side fences and star jasmine on the back boundary for a bit more shade and privacy.

 I still let the chooks out for a run every afternoon, even though I say I won't as they really enjoy attacking my herb garden and scratching the mulch off my fruit trees every single day.

I still let the chooks out for a run every afternoon, even though I say I won't as they really enjoy attacking my herb garden and scratching the mulch off my fruit trees every single day.

 Millie our maltese x shitzu thinks she is miniature old english sheep dog.  She likes to guard the chooks. She fits through the gate on the chook pen so spends quite a bit of time in there just sleeping under the tree and keeping an eye on the chooks.

Millie our maltese x shitzu thinks she is miniature old english sheep dog.  She likes to guard the chooks. She fits through the gate on the chook pen so spends quite a bit of time in there just sleeping under the tree and keeping an eye on the chooks.

 We have the funniest little kitten Tiger-lilly who has been joining in on most of our adventures. The chicken about to peck her is the nastiest chook I've ever met.  She beats up on all of the other hens and fights all the roosters except her brother pictured above who has taken a liking to her and only her.  Thus we've named her Cersei - if you're a GOT fan, you'll know what I'm talking about, if not, moving on....

We have the funniest little kitten Tiger-lilly who has been joining in on most of our adventures. The chicken about to peck her is the nastiest chook I've ever met.  She beats up on all of the other hens and fights all the roosters except her brother pictured above who has taken a liking to her and only her.  Thus we've named her Cersei - if you're a GOT fan, you'll know what I'm talking about, if not, moving on....

 Strangely despite the enormous labour of love, the ten chooks are still choosing to sleep in the tiny guinea pig hutch at night but they like to hang out in the house during the day.  As you can see, my animals are all a bit different and somewhat confused. I don't know where they get that from.

Strangely despite the enormous labour of love, the ten chooks are still choosing to sleep in the tiny guinea pig hutch at night but they like to hang out in the house during the day.  As you can see, my animals are all a bit different and somewhat confused. I don't know where they get that from.

 Caught the chickens hanging out in the house.  As soon as they hear me they come running out.

Caught the chickens hanging out in the house.  As soon as they hear me they come running out.

feedchooks22 (1 of 1).jpg

And that's it.  I am just in love with my chook pen. It was worth all the cursing, fighting and broken tools. I really appreciate all the hard work that Jamie put in to make it for me. It's the best present ever. We will be finishing  a few things off over the coming week or so, making some signs, running a water pipe and building a herb garden around the outside edge of the fence so the chooks can peck through for supplementation. Then it's on to the next project...the pony stable!

 Happy days!

Happy days!

Making memories out of the mundane

picnic1 (1 of 1).jpg

Lately I've been very conscious of how fast time is flying by.  My eldest boy is now a teenager and I've realised that before I know it, these little people will be all grown up and leaving home.  Unless I make a concerted effort to do so, I won't get around to doing all the things I imagined myself doing as a mum before I had kids.

Motherhood can be really monotonous some weeks and as Jamie travels away for work, it can often feel like one big load of never ending laundry interpersed with dishes and the occasional bit of vomit. With that in mind, i'm trying to make some of our ordinary, everyday tasks just a little more special. Having dinner outside, putting sparklers in dessert, finding a new nook in the garden for a picnic, turning off the television and playing music and dancing with the children are all simple things that not only really bring them joy, they also help break up the monotony of solo-parenting for me. 

duskpicnic (1 of 1).jpg

As John Lennon says 'life is what happens while your busy making other plans' and I'm trying to be more present in the 'busy-ness', aware that we are making memories everyday not just on the special occasions. Jamie is really good at playing with the children.  He genuinely enjoys their company and getting down on their level playing games with them for hours at a time.  I have to work a bit harder at it as my mind is always thinking about what I 'should' be doing next.

I'm setting myself a goal for the next four weeks to consciously make one ordinary occurrence everyday into something just a little bit different.  Tonight we will have a candle lit dinner with the rain as our background music.  I haven't thought as far ahead as tomorrow and like most things, I'm going to wing it but I am hoping it will become more and more second nature to make the most of each and everyday I get to spend with my little loves rather than wishing the week would hurry up and end so Jamie would be home again.

Here's to being present, being creative and making memories our children can tell us about when we've totally lost the plot and can no longer figure out how to use Facebook  ;-)

duskpicnic2 (1 of 1).jpg

Spring in the garden

avoleavesboys (1 of 1).jpg

Whilst the inside of the house is being painted, I thought I'd do some updates on what's been happening outside in the garden. The last couple of months have been kind of crazy as there is just so much to do both inside, outside and with life in general. We've been spending heaps of time outside just tidying up, planting and figuring out the design of the property. We've started building a chicken coup and have also been working out the best place to position the big veggie garden of my dreams. 

Spring is my favourite time of year and it really is just beautiful here at the moment. The place is green from all the rain and brimming with life. From tiny green frogs to finches nesting in the shed to spiders webs glistening at dawn, the garden is alive with activity. 

frog (1 of 1).jpg
leaves (1 of 1).jpg

I'm so excited that we've managed to bring our avocado tree back from the brink of death. It's been suffering badly since the cyclone and we discovered it had borer and other funguses attacking it. I think it may have been put under too much stress when we had the little brick shed next to it treated for termites back in April. Anyway after much deliberation about whether or not to hard prune it as its' branches were all dying and it lost all its' leaves, we decided to just give it a whole lot of love and see what would happen. Jamie pruned the worst affected limbs and I removed a lot of the soil around the shed and replaced it with bags of cow manure. Then I mulched it and continued to water and fertilise with a liquid plant food for a few weeks. Last week we had a few days of rain and it has just bloomed! It's a real sight of beauty when I look out of my kitchen window and its starting to fruit again at last.

avoblooming (1 of 1).jpg
avofruit (1 of 1).jpg
avochooks (1 of 1).jpg

We mulched and fertilised all of our other fruit trees a couple of months ago as well and the mango trees are now loaded with fruit.

mangotree (1 of 1).jpg

The kids really love helping in the garden which is awesome. 

mulch2 (1 of 1).jpg

My dreams of semi self sufficiency aren't exactly going so great but nevertheless I have been planting more fruit trees and have started a little herb garden that I've managed to keep alive. Just.

herbgarden (1 of 1).jpg

Until the mango's ripen, I've come to accept that a handful of cherry tomatoes and an abundance of garlic chives isn't really going to feed the family so I went and bought something I know I'm good at raising - chickens! For eggs, not meat.

kidswithchooks3 (1 of 1).jpg

I initially bought 6 little babies, four of which turned out to be roosters which is not really helpful to the 'home grown eggs' plan, so I went and bought 4 more this week who appear to all be hens. Fingers crossed. Chickens really are so much fun to watch. The chook pen is still under construction so they are currently free ranging about the place and sleeping in the guinea pig cage at night, which is fine as the guinea pigs are also free range (aka wild) and they prefer to sleep in the shed anyway.

avopiggies (1 of 1).jpg
chookslawn3 (1 of 1).jpg

I am so entertained by my chickens. They follow me around the yard and often try and sneak in the house. I realised I have a bit of a problem when i heard myself say 'I have to go to bed early so I can wake up early to let the chickens out'. I'm going to miss them when they are locked up in their chicken coup, though I may change my mind once the boys start crowing.

chooksingarden2 (1 of 1).jpg

The chook pen, like most things around here, is taking an eternity to finish. But its starting to take shape and is going to be quite special when it's finally done. We are using bits of wood and iron from the old house next door which saves money but takes so much time to pull out.

chookpen6 (1 of 1).jpg

We've also had a bobcat in to level out the barn and clear a path to the creek which is currently bone dry!

creekdry3 (1 of 1).jpg

The bobcat was such a time saver.  In less than a day, our barn was levelled, trees were moved, paths were carved and holes were dug for the fences.

chainsaw4 (1 of 1).jpg

My citrus hedge is still alive and I've added a few more fruit trees to the orchard.

hedgegrowing (1 of 1).jpg
mulberry (1 of 1).jpg

I planted two mulberries, a black sapote, a lychee, a rolinia, a persimmon, a blueberry bush and a dragon fruit.

dragonfruit (1 of 1).jpg

We planted a charlie tree too. 

plantcharlie (1 of 1).jpg

Now I'm trying to decide what colour to paint the outside of the house.  The coral is actually growing on me but I think we will end up changing it. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any good ideas as I'm open to suggestions. I need to decide pretty quickly as the painters are going to move outside once they've finished inside.

outsidehousefront (1 of 1).jpg
lawn (1 of 1).jpg

And thats about it. Even though its a lot of work and we are finding many, not so pleasant surprises - rat nest under the kitchen I'm looking at you - I guess you could say we really are living the dream. The kids are happy, healthy and playing wonderfully with one another (mostly) and Jamie and I are so happy to be giving them this childhood. 

olol (1 of 1).jpg
louleaves (1 of 1).jpg
belledirty (1 of 1).jpg

Our New Loo

Well we finally did it.  We renovated our first room.  Admittedly, it is the smallest room in the house and it took us the better part of six weeks to complete, but we eventually got there, without killing one another.  So here it is, the story of our new loo....

The two toilets in the house are... how shall i put it... um...well....beyond saving. When it comes to the unique features of our house, i refer to the toilets as the 'Pièce de Résistance' which in our case translates to 'resistance to piss'. Or to go anywhere near the toilet. 

The toilets are hooked up to bore water which has left them looking like this...

 Hmmmmm.

Hmmmmm.

We decided to start with the outside toilet because a), we really don't know what we are doing and b), we are probably going to be moving the inside bathroom to make way for a bigger kitchen.

So after seeing how cheap toilets are at bunnings, we jumped straight in thinking that if we fail miserably, we'd only lose a couple of hundred dollars.  How hard could it be? I called my handy dad who assured me that replacing a toilet was a piece of cake and could easily be done in less than an hour.  

Well I am here to tell you that in our case (cue Jerry Springer voice) 'That Is A Lie!'.  I can confirm however, that after we spent six weeks installing said toilet, it did take us approximately one hour to agree upon the placement of the $7 bunnings toilet roll holder.

You see, Jamie and I sit at opposite ends of the Plan it/Wing it continuum.

Jamie is what you would call a 'perfectionist', a 'planner', a 'lets have everything just right before we start' kinda guy where as I am what you would call a 'winger', a 'that'll do', a 'lets just see what happens and hope for the best' kinda girl.  And as much as I have come to appreciate the details that he pays attention to that I would otherwise overlook, 'perfection' is a painfully slow process. Like having-teeth-pulled-painfully-slow. Even more so if it's something we haven't done before.

But it is finally finished. And by finished, I mean 95% complete as we still need to hang the new door and move the light switch into the this room as its in another room for some unknown reason. But the toilet is usable and it works! With no leaks which has given us the momentum to move onto the next project. At this rate, we are on track to have the whole house finished just in time to move into a nursing home. Here's some before, during and afters...

So lets take a look at before...

 Other than the toilet situation, the room is very drab.

Other than the toilet situation, the room is very drab.

After pulling out the toilet in disgust, we figured we may as well paint and tile before we installed the new one. We contemplated going all out and lining the walls to cover the besser blocks, but you know, budget, so we just gap filled and painted.

 The children wanted to 'help' paint.

The children wanted to 'help' paint.

We painted the room in Taubmans untinted semi gloss white.  We did one coat of primer and two coats of paint.  Then it was on to the tiling.

 We needed a little bit more height so that the new toilet would line up with the old plumbing, so we tiled over the existing tiles.

We needed a little bit more height so that the new toilet would line up with the old plumbing, so we tiled over the existing tiles.

Not really thinking ahead, I chose tiles that would cause someone with OCD - AKA Jamie - nightmares if not layed correctly. So that in itself was a process. They are encaustic-look tiles (also called cement tiles - but these ones don't need sealing). I think you either love them or hate them.  Personally, i love them.

We discovered the bunnings $30 tile cutter is actually a piece of crap.  The first few cuts were fine, but after that, the aluminium ridge had flattened at one end and turned into a big problem which caused Mr Perfectionist much anxiety.  MUCH anxiety. The project was put on hold another week until a suitable replacement was found (a particular blade for the angle grinder).

I strategically left the glueing down of the tiles to Jamie, not wanting to be held responsible if any of the tiles weren't perfectly aligned and level. I think he did a great job but he was very disappointed in himself as apparently two of the joins are slightly out of whack by a millimetre here and there.  He continued to go on about it while I was grouting and for a couple of days later, venting his extreme remorse for such carelessness. I suggested he seek counselling to move past it so that we could finally install the toilet.

 Me grouting with my trusty side-kick Millie

Me grouting with my trusty side-kick Millie

Once we figured out the right fittings to extend the outlet pipe, fitting the new toilet was actually in fact, pretty easy.  Of course, making sure it was perfectly centred took most of the time.  So much time. Apparently one eighth of a millimetre out is not acceptable. By this stage, I'm starting to wonder how Jamie manages to live with someone like me.  Even deciding exactly where to place the toilet seat was a mini ordeal.

 Jamie debating the pro's and con's of placing the toilet seat 1mm further forward than its current placement.

Jamie debating the pro's and con's of placing the toilet seat 1mm further forward than its current placement.

By this stage, I've started drinking and am rolling my eyes behind his back thinking 'just screw the flipping lid on already'.

 After what seems like an eternity, the toilet is installed and fully functioning.  The children are amazed. Their parents are magicians.

After what seems like an eternity, the toilet is installed and fully functioning.  The children are amazed. Their parents are magicians.

So with the toilet finally in place , it was on to the finishing touches...

 Jamie built a shelf out of pine to cover a pipe that was protruding out of the wall from the inside toilet.

Jamie built a shelf out of pine to cover a pipe that was protruding out of the wall from the inside toilet.

 We hung a picture that was given to me by one of my oldest and greatest friends about 10 years ago when I was living in another run down old house south of Brisbane. I must say, it's been so great finally having a place for all my old vintage style bits and pieces that I've been carting around most of my adult life... #hoardingpaysoff

We hung a picture that was given to me by one of my oldest and greatest friends about 10 years ago when I was living in another run down old house south of Brisbane. I must say, it's been so great finally having a place for all my old vintage style bits and pieces that I've been carting around most of my adult life... #hoardingpaysoff

And last but not least, the $7 bunnings toilet roll holder...

 Ergonomically positioned for easy toilet paper reaching and yet centred 'off centre' within the brick for visual appeal.  This involved sitting on the toilet and re-enacting the process of going to the toilet, taking into consideration different age groups, heights and shoulder widths and even comparing the comfort level of using other toilets and toilet roll holders. I'm. Not. Kidding.

Ergonomically positioned for easy toilet paper reaching and yet centred 'off centre' within the brick for visual appeal.  This involved sitting on the toilet and re-enacting the process of going to the toilet, taking into consideration different age groups, heights and shoulder widths and even comparing the comfort level of using other toilets and toilet roll holders. I'm. Not. Kidding.

So there you have it.  We have made some progress! It took way longer than it should have but we are pretty pleased with how it's turned out and now it's onto the next room.  Here's another picture of how it's looking now...

Voila! We have a new, sparkling, white toilet.

 

Cost Breakdown:

Paint/undercoat:  Approximately $50.00 total

(Undercoat - Taubmans 3 in 1 sealer/primer) (Taubmans Interior easy coat semi gloss white)

Gapfill:  $8.20

Silicon: $9.89 (Selley's wet area)

Tiles: $200  (2.5m @ $80m2 - The Tile Mob)

Tile Adhesive: $15.00 (half a packet of Dunlop superset tile adhesive) 

Grout: $4.50 (used half a packet of Davco grout in Basalt)

Screws: $5.00

Toilet roll holder: $7.98

Pine (for shelf): $20.00

Light fitting:$59.00 (bunnings)

Ceramic toilet: $129.00 (bunnings)

Fittings: $8.00 (bunnings)

Grand total: $516.57

 

Citrus Hedge

This weekend, we planted a hedge of citrus trees. Ever since I was little, the idea of semi self-sufficiency has appealed to me.  Now that I have children, the desire is even stronger.  

The plan is to try to get all the fruit trees in over the next couple of months so that they can get established before summer hits.  So we started with a row of various citrus trees along the Northern boundary.

The soil in this particular spot isn't great.  It's quite compacted as it was a driveway into the neighbouring property when the two were adjoined and it's pretty dense clay. We had some large holes drilled with a bobcat, however, since the ground is such heavy clay, the holes may act like a large pot, trapping water and causing the roots to go around and around rather than spreading out into the ground. 

 This is the ground we are working with.  The hole is actually much deeper but a heap of dirt fell back in.

This is the ground we are working with.  The hole is actually much deeper but a heap of dirt fell back in.

Lynette from 'Have a Dig' Nursery who I bought the trees from, suggested that we use a pick axe around the edges of the holes to loosen the dirt and encourage the roots to spread. To combat the drainage issue, we have built the soil up above the ground in a mound and have begun work to improve the surrounding soil. We are hoping that in time, continual composting, fertilising and mulching will help break down the clay and create a rich growing environment for our trees.

Here's how we did it...

 We used a pick axe to loosen the dirt around the edge of the hole.  We also put in a good handful of gypsum and then mixed some fertiliser and good soil in with the existing dirt.

We used a pick axe to loosen the dirt around the edge of the hole.  We also put in a good handful of gypsum and then mixed some fertiliser and good soil in with the existing dirt.

 I used gypsum to break the clay and Dynamic Lifter for fertiliser.

I used gypsum to break the clay and Dynamic Lifter for fertiliser.

 We mixed the clay soil and good soil from near our creek in together to fill the holes 3/4 of the way.  Then we planted the trees partially above the ground and made a mound around them to allow for better drainage.

We mixed the clay soil and good soil from near our creek in together to fill the holes 3/4 of the way.  Then we planted the trees partially above the ground and made a mound around them to allow for better drainage.

 Millie, my off-sider/horse manure stealer.

Millie, my off-sider/horse manure stealer.

 Once all the trees were planted, we sprinkled gypsum and dynamic lifter on the ground in between the trees and all around them where we hope the roots will eventually grow.

Once all the trees were planted, we sprinkled gypsum and dynamic lifter on the ground in between the trees and all around them where we hope the roots will eventually grow.

 Next we put down cardboard to suppress the grass and covered it in dirt and horse manure to build a mound that will breakdown into the ground below. We plan to continue adding compost and mulch to improve the soil.  (Notice jamie is out of his moustache phase and has now entered into skin head phase)

Next we put down cardboard to suppress the grass and covered it in dirt and horse manure to build a mound that will breakdown into the ground below. We plan to continue adding compost and mulch to improve the soil.

(Notice jamie is out of his moustache phase and has now entered into skin head phase)

 Then we put a thick layer of mulch over it and watered it in.

Then we put a thick layer of mulch over it and watered it in.

The varieties I planted are:

Eureka Lemon, Ruby Grapefruit, Tahitian Lime, Kaffir Lime, Imperial Mandarin, Empire Mandarin, 2 varieties of Valencia Orange (an early and late fruiting variety) and a Navel Orange. We are also going to add a tangerine when we can get our hands on one.

We've been told that we have to pull off all the flowers for the next three years so that the plants can put all their energy into growing rather than producing fruit.  I'm quietly hoping that they live that long. The neighbours pigs have gotten out and come to visit a few times this week so it's motivating me to get serious about our fencing. I've had another neighbours cows come wandering over once before and apparently they love fruit trees! The fence is planned for Jamie's next days off. Fingers crossed we don't get any more hoofed visitors before then. 

Here it is all finished...

 And me feeling pretty happy with myself that all the trees survived the night xx

And me feeling pretty happy with myself that all the trees survived the night xx

Strawberry-coconut-lemonade Smoothies

I'm trying to utilise what we've got growing here at the moment.  We've got coconuts galore and a few lemonade's on the tree so I whipped these up for a morning snack on Labor day...

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 2 cups coconut milk (or thereabouts)
  • juice of 1 lemonade (it's like a sweet lemon)
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 1 heaped Tbs chia seeds

Blend in a high speed blender for 2 minutes or until smooth and serve :-)

 I always taste test mid way through and add more if needed

I always taste test mid way through and add more if needed