This Week: Stradbroke Island & Brisbane

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: 2 days escape on Stradbroke Island. Whales, dolphins, turtles and palm trees, plus prawn rolls for lunch. Melbourne winter can get stuffed.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: Joey & Rob shows us the ropes on the pottery wheel, beneath their gorgeous Queenslander.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: A particularly spotty sausage, Jock blends in with the leaf litter.
Below: Sitting around a fire takes us back to our NT camping days, where friends were made between cans of XXXX and ukulele tunes.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

One Month & A Dream Pantry

Yesterday marked one month until Settlement on our new home so I’m putting on my Organised Adult Face. Certain behaviours come with the Face, like emailing mortgage people and signing Stat Decs and getting quotes on new carpet. The first 30 days since we purchased have flown and Organised Adult Face only made a brief appearance on two occasions – when I booked the removalists and when we decided which wall to knock down first.

Simon and I have moved house 3 times together (not including the day he moved in with me) and probably 30+ times collectively – we should have this system down by now, right?

Dream Pantry // via This Is My Family

Image: EmersonMade Home Tour on Design*Sponge

One thing we have learned along the way is that it’s easier to get rid of things than move them. When I opened the pantry at breakfast time today all I saw were jars and packets and sachets of stuff that I will have to put in a box and unpack at the other end. I decided then and there on No More Buying and a lot more Using Up. First to go were 3 half-packets of lentils and barley, hiding halfway to Narnia at the back of the pantry.

That’s the thing about pantries – our current one is narrow and deep, perfect for stuffing full of things and then forgetting about most of them. In our new home, we get to design a new kitchen from scratch and I tell you what – it makes me happier than a spoonful of peanut butter in the middle of the night.

pantries

Images: Light Locations | Oh Happy Day

My dream pantry would be either walk-thru or walk-in, have wide, shallow shelves and a step-stool for accessing the upper storage areas. I’d be able to keep semi-useful appliances and big pots in there so they didn’t take up bench or drawer space. And judging by my Kitchen Pinterest board, it would need white subway tiles on the walls. I’d have to buy shares in a glass jar company but I’d be ok with that.

What are your pantry essentials?

A House, A Home

waratah-street
When I was in primary school, and my parents spoke about things like Mortgages and Insurance and Superannuation, it made me wonder when I would start learning how to do grown-up things like buying a house. Was it part of high school? Or university? How did they work it all out before Google?

We’ve been looking at houses for three or four months now – we’ve even bid on a few at auction. There was one we really wanted but someone else really wanted it more than us, thwarting every effort we made to make it ours. I think you should probably really want any house you bid for, but there were some Simon just practised on (apologies to the people who actually wanted to buy those places). You can read about auction techniques on countless websites, but we found the best way of learning about them was to go to them.

We didn’t hire a luxury vehicle and park it out the front to intimidate other bidders, as one site suggested. We didn’t even “dress like we could afford the place”. We just watched people as they inspected a house, muttered to each other in the laundry, and chewed their lip when the bidding got too high. And they always got too high – one place we had our eye on sold for more than $200k over the advertised range. It gives you little faith in the numbers and even less in the agents, but the more you attend, the more you learn about the process and the better you can predict the outcomes.

When we walked into this property on Waratah Street, we could immediately see ourselves living there. Sure, there was work to be done but the location was ideal and the price seemed reasonable. We wanted to avoid an auction so we decided to submit an offer at the upper end of the price range, thinking it was a fair price and assuming with all our local market knowledge that it would go around $30-50k higher in a bidding frenzy. The vendors received a second offer, both above the reserve, and the agent called a ‘boardroom auction’. Yet another learning experience.

Unlike the emotional rollercoaster of a crowded footpath on a Saturday morning, a boardroom auction involves just those parties with an acceptable offer, in a room at the agent’s office, duelling for victory. There’s no guessing who’s serious and who isn’t, and no dramatic time-wasting techniques on behalf of the auctioneer. Ours was the highest offer, so the other party bid first.

$500.

In a move I think should be illegal, they raised us by $500. So we matched it. $500.

$500, again.

And again, and again. For $11,000 we played ping pong like Forrest Gump, until they gave up and we won. We had survived the game and avoided a circus and in 60 days we’ll be holding the keys. In the meantime, we’ll be learning how to Apply for a Mortgage by being thrown into the deep end. So far the bank is doing a good job of being patient while we compare Standard Variable Rates with No Fee Loans and Special Economisers.

I think this journey is worth recording, and this blog is where I’ll do that. There’s a lot of work between the Before and After but between an architect and a colour-crazed photographer I think we’ve got things covered. We’re starting from the ground up, and this is ground we’ve got to work with.
A House, A Home
Have you bought a house at auction before, and lived to tell the tale?

Images: Nelson Alexander Real Estate

Tesselaar Tulip Fesitval

Did you know that only 2% of floral species have their own dedicated festival? And that 48% of all statistics are made up?

What isn’t made up is the Tesselaar Tulip Festival – it’s for real and it’s lovely. Not quite as many tulips as the website illustration would have you believe, but enough to satisfy any self-respecting tulip-lover and her mother visiting from interstate.

Over for the weekend, I suggested a drive through the Dandenong Ranges to Mum, and together we enjoyed a few hours of Irish Weekend, complete with wandering Irish bagpipers. We pondered how successful a tulip angel would be (like a snow angel), dodged the lovers crouching down among the blooms and taking serious selfies with a tripod and remote, skipped the dutch pancakes and snipped our own bunch from the dedicated area.

Here’s a few of the varieties on display, plus some bonus non-tulip varieties.

Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival

A Lakehouse Weekend

After months of blog silence, I wrote a huge post about something I really dislike doing. I had gotten out of bed at 1am to take Simon to the airport and when I climbed back in I couldn’t sleep. I was up until 5am, writing about running.

Today I’m sharing the far more enjoyable portions of the weekend. It was just what the doctor ordered – so much so that Simon and I are going back to the mountains in two weeks for a very exciting adventure… more on that later!

The Mansfield Lakehouse
Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?

The Mansfield Lakehouse
The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse
Potential new obsession – slacklining.

The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse
A weekend of fresh air at the Mansfield Lakehouse.

[Joining Emily at The Beetleshack for Stills]

Fitness for the Unfit

running

When I first received an email about a weekend away at the Mansfield Lakehouse with a particular bunch of ladies, I admit I was slightly nervous. Not nervous for the meeting of new people, for I only knew one of them and she was bound to have great friends, but for the idea of what they were and what I wasn’t – athletic.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my strengths. I’m fairly coordinated and bendy thanks to an affair with karate and a more on-again-off-again relationship with yoga. I like adventure and risk and distraction with life-threatening situations. The original plan involved white water rafting which I was keen for, but  plans changed and the group got to talking about possibly the most terrifying activity I could imagine…

Running.

There are two reasons why this was a particularly frightening prospect on this particular weekend. The first being my company and their running experience. My friend Sam is good at running. And by good I mean last year she crossed all 400km of the Simpson Desert with about 20 minutes sleep. The others have hugely significant achievements of their own, including but not limited to iron people and ultra marathoners.

The second reason is my lack of both experience and cardio-vascular function. The furthest I have ever run in my life is 6km, in an oxy-moronic “fun run” in 2006. After years of working behind a computer and after Sam crossed the desert, I tried crossing my local oval and my heart rate passed 200bmp within 10 minutes. You can imagine my delight when a morning run was suggested on Saturday. “Just a little one,” they said. “We’ll take it easy.”

For whatever reason, possibly fear of shame and embarrassment, I put my shoes on and joined them. I could always just roll over on the side of road if need be, I thought.  Just rest in a pile of cow manure until the evacuation chopper could be called to pick me up from the end of the driveway. But I got to the end of the driveway.

It was jogging, really. I don’t know how fast you have to go to be technically running, but I wasn’t going fast. I jogged along and breathed in the cool mountain air, forcing it all the way down in an effort to maximise the efficiency of my asthma-free lungs. Pretty soon I felt that burn, the one that I usually just give up at the first sign of. The difference on this Saturday morning was that I kept going.

I slowed to a walk in some spots and alternated between jogging and walking. I stuck my tongue out in the rain and thought about the fact that once upon a time, these girls weren’t runners either, and I kept moving forwards. A couple of the girls had taken the car up the road towards town and were running back to meet us, and I kept moving until we met them at the largest group of letterboxes I’d ever come across, stopping briefly to take a photo.

We carried on, jog/walking with the encouragement of my support crew until we reached the car, 6.1km from where we’d started. A new PB for me and the most continual exercise I’ve done in years. With legs the consistency of well-cooked spaghetti, I allowed myself to be driven to the nearest Farmer’s Market for some medicinal sourdough and cheese.

That afternoon, after largely ignoring the AFL Grand Final in favour eating the recently purchased cheese, we set up a slack-line and tortured our cores. I regained a little dignity with the balancing and have all but hit PURCHASE on my own slack-line for future summer park fun. The late afternoon brought a few spectators out of the bushes and when it got dark and cold we went inside to light the fire. There was a lot of talk about running and training and runners who train with asthma and someone asked what our personal goals for the end of the year were. I burst into tears. Girls weekends are good for that.

I finally hit the breaking point I’d avoided for so long. With no burning reason to get into shape, no life-threatening heart troubles or lung malfunctions to overcome, I’d just never committed. I never had enough motivation to keep going, but I felt like I’d just found it. I decided I would run the 3km from our house to our office by Christmas, non-stop.

On Sunday morning a mountain run was suggested. I didn’t squeal with excitement, but I didn’t look for my usual excuses either. Instead I found myself, nauseous and nearly crying, 1.5km later at 700m above sea level, looking out over the mountains and deciding I might actually be able to do it. I was still alive, after all. I know some people have bigger mountains to conquer, but this was mine and I couldn’t have reached that decision without the girls on top of that mountain with me.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. That just happens to be my lucky number and with 2 down already I guess I’m on my way. What’s your goal for the end of the year?