Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 283: Leave the light on

Another day, another 8 hours of housework. 

In the joy of coming home, I had forgotten how awful unpacking is.  And combined with cleaning, it is even worse.  I am a firm believer of outsourcing housework (other than ironing; I don't mind doing that) and can live with doing it occasionally, but the current situation is like Groundhog Day for cleaners.  I am sweeping down and about to wash the floor that was swept down and cleaned three days ago because as we make our way through the house, we are stirring up dust and dirt in the uncleaned sections so by the time we get through once, it's time to start all over again.  However to cheer myself up, I put together my beautiful "Orchid" light made by local artist Marc Pascal.  Stos doesn't really like it and Bob will hate it (along with the beautiful "Lace" light) but I think it is gorgeous.

The other bright spot in coming home is our fabulous internet connection.  We are now back in the modern age of technology and the wireless access is here is great.  We have changed telcos and so far, so good.  The iPad is really coming into its own as a secondary device in the kitchen with the laptop in the study for serious stuff.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 281: Glad all over

Well, we are home. It was chaos and still is but it's great to be back. Moving in day started with the removalists turning up an hour before they were supposed to but they were fine about it and filled in their time until we arrived by having a snooze. Then it was collectively decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to use the front entrance as the wooden floors had only been finished the previous day, so everything was put into the garage, lower level and kitchen. The very large and heavy kitchen table had to be left on the drive and moved later by me, Stos, Bob and Sparkie Dave; up stairs and over balustrades, all the while trying not to hit the walls or glass roof. Also, there was no time to clean, so we are trying simultaneously to unpack, clean and put furniture in the right places. Exhausting! The best news all week has been that the house guests don't arrive until 31/12 and not today as expected so there's a bit more time to get the place into some semblance of order.

It's still a bit messy around here so I won't put any photos of the house up today but here's a very cute pic of the girls who are still getting used to the new surrounds.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 272: The Final Countdown


Just because there haven't been any blog updates in the last week and a half does not mean that things have come to a standstill.  Oh, no.  Unfortunately STLT temporary HQ had to move to yet another temporary location pending moving home on 23/12.  One of the directors also took a short trip north, so between moving, travelling, general disruption and dodgy internet connections, there hasn't been much time to update the faithful.  There is actually a lot to report.

The condensed version of progress to date is:
- The kitchen is in and the benchtops have been put on;
- Painters are working furiously (and as we speak);
- The front fence is up, but unfortunately none of the gates;
- The plumbing side of things is finished and Pete the Plumber has taken off for a well deserved break;
- Electricals are partly done (more on that later);
- The kitchen/living area floor has been sanded and sealed.

The place has been a total hive of activity:  on Thursday, I went to pick up the decorative screen made for us by Ro Baby and dropped it of at the house.  There were 6 painters, Bob, Pete and Sparkie Dave present plus some bloke who had come in to have a look at the house, as he is currently deciding whether to rennovate or detonate.  Dave was very excited about the trapeze lights, pop-up powerpoints and the fancy lightswitch/powerpoint covers in the kitchen.  It's great that I'm not the only one who thinks they look fantastic - I don't expect this from tradies given that they see this all the time.  Dave was supposed to be finishing things off at the house yesterday but to Stos's surprise, none of the pendant lights had been hung and nothing else that we had expected to be done had been touched. Very strange as Dave is very reliable and meticulous.  But a phone call from Bob later in the day explained this - poor Dave was in hospital with some sort of infection.  It looks like he will be back at work on Monday but we will have to wait and see.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

Still quite a bit to do this week including showerscreens and various bits and pieces, however there is quite a long list of things that will not be done and have to be slated for after Christmas. At the moment, focus is on getting the things done for issue of the Certificate of Occupancy.  Other things listed for this week are showerscreens, floors at the front of the house to be sanded, carpet to be laid and now completion of electricals.  The brightest note of all is that we have our girls back.  They are dirty and unhappy about having to stay outside but it is wonderful to have them back after nine months.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 261: Underneath the colours

I love these tiles - the colour combination could be so wrong but works beautifully.  And it will look even better once the white tiles are laid above.  While this is the wall of the second bathroom, it's definitely not second best.  I think I'll have to come down and have a shower in here every so often to admire the effect of this border and the same tiles in the recessed shelf.  W is doing a great job.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 259: The green, green grass of home

Well, there's no grass; it was all chewed up during the demolition.  But I have beautiful green feature tiles in the ensuite: 
They look a lot better tonight as all the white tiles are now up, but by the time we got there it was too dark to take an updated photo.  And I know that the New York correspondent eagerly awaits his Monday morning update.  The blue waterproof membrane isn't the best background but they still look great.  So much has happened in the last week; the kitchen cabinetry had gone in, the study desk and shelves have been installed, the floor tiles are all laid and grouted, the downlights are in under the eaves and in the kitchen/living area.  The kitchen is a bit hard to photograph because it is big and the light isn't good because of the room size, but here's a look at the study:

I am looking forward to going back to working one day a week from home again with such a beautiful area to use.  Now I just need to commit to keeping it tidy.  The kitchen guy has given us lots of shelf space and built in a filing cabinet (shown) and a regular set of drawers at the unseen other end.  So together with the nifty bookshelves attached to the back of the pantry in the kitchen:
I think that 's a licence to go out and buy more books.  Stos will be thrilled!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 253: I see red

It's got to the stage now where all the things previously existed only im my imagination are coming to life.  The combinations that looked good in a magazine or a sample book - will they work or are there going to be some expensive disasters?  When Stos told me that the laundry cabinetry had been installed late last week, I was  a bit surprised that Bob hadn't mentioned it.  Only that day he had asked me to make sure that the laundry and kitchen sinks would be available this week; no mention of laundry cupboards.  So the first thing that came to mind was the red bench that I had picked out - how would it look installed? Fortunately, it looks great and contrasts beautifully with the white cupboards and grey floor.  I am so happy that I didn't go with my first choice - teal benchtops and aqua cupboards.  That would have taken my love of turquoise a bit too far.  We are also happy with the floor tiles - the lighter shade was definitely the right choice.  The next surprise was on Monday night when we dropped by expecting to see grouted tiles, the kitchen floor sanded and the limewash on the kitchen ceiling finished.  Big fat zero on those fronts, but the sails over the deck were up.  The red and blue sheets span the deck and will keep the western sun out - it gets very, very hot out there, even at temperatures in the mid twenties.  We are thrilled with the way they look and have rung the Sailmaker to tell him so.

I happened to be chatting to Bob today and mentioned that I was very happy with the laundry fit out and the sails. The response was that colour is very much personal taste - Bob speak for telling me that he hates the choices.  And this is coming from a bloke who thinks beige watertanks go with a grey house.  No wonder he doesn't get any arguments when he says that picking colours is not his "thing"!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 247: Fade to grey

The garage door is finally on and the place looks sooooo much better.  Together with the charcoal paint on the fascias, there's finally some contrast to the pale grey of the walls and the silver of the roof and guttering.  I was hoping that the front door would have been painted in this round, but that will be done later, so we have to put up with the aqua protective coating for a bit longer.   I'm sure all the neighbours think we are colourblind. Today's job was to meet W, the tiler, to do a run through of the plan for the tiles and, importantly, to make sure that the tiles we ordered were the ones that turned up.  And they are - just as well, with Wes ready to start.  The jobs to be done today by Bob, Pete and W were to put in the waterproof membranes in the bathrooms, hang the vanities, and start on the tiling the floor in the small living area downstairs.  Very good for W as it is much cooler on the lower level.  When we dropped by tonight, all of these jobs had been done.  Even though they are still protected by bubblewrap, we can see that the vanites and the mixer taps look really good and will look even better once the white wall tiles are laid.  Bob has also made a start on the shelves in the linen press which looks like it will be a great storage area.  Bliss after years of inadequate cupboards .

I'm waiting for Bob to tell me that the garage door looks good, however as with the glass doors, I'm not holding my breath.  I'm sure he still thinks that the timber finish door was the go, but to his credit, this has not been mentioned since the door was ordered and eyebrows were raised when I said very firmly that the finish was to be Monument.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 246 Colour my world

Some random loveliness seen at the house on Saturday:
Then there's manmade loveliness and the pleasure of seeing your ideas come together:
I think that Bob agrees, but I'll be waiting a long time before he admits it!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 244: Don't fence me in

Following the landscaping efforts of the previous week, STLT permanent HQ has been a hive of activity.  The rain didn't cause any more delays and the concreters set to work on Tuesday, pouring first the footpath and the driveway cross over, followed by the drive and the front path on Wednesday.  We got to see them at work as we had to be at the house earl;y on Wednesday to meet with the painter and the fence guy to discuss colours for the house and options for the fence and gates,  While we were waiting around, we had a glimpse of the little community that operates in our absence.  First, someone walked down the street who Bob greeted, then a lady pulled up to speak to the concreters - both are people who live in the street or the immediate area that we have never met. Then there's the lady across the road who provides Bob with coffees and snacks.  We obviously need to be get out more and meet people beyond our immediate neighbours.  Anyway, we told the painters what we wanted and were then asked about ceilings and doors, with paint to be ordered that day.  Bob threw a a bit of a spanner in the works by suggesting that we might want to paint the interior doors a different shade of white to the walls, triggering an emergency call to P, an interior designer friend who has given us some assistance with colours before.  She quickly set us on the right track, confirming our initial thoughts and came up with a better suggestion for the ceilings.  The fence guy was great and had some really good suggestions for achieving what we want i.e. keeping unwanted people out and dogs in, automatic driveway gates and a lockable pedestrian gate.  So no problems there and we look forward to seeing his concepts put into action.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 238: Solid Rock


Some time ago, Bob had mentioned his vision for the front yard.  I have heard a few times how he thought some landscaping, a  few rocks and some grasses would look good.  Once he was giving me his vision while putting on the roof which was like getting the Sermon on the Mount - I had to tell him that I'd prefer it if he focussed on staying on the roof and remaing in one piece.  Anyway, last week we had to get a machine in to dig up the footpath and old cross over to put in a new one and lay the new driveway and front path.  As the guy with the machine is also a landscape gardener, Bob put him to work carving out the front yard and putting in some rocks.  This was discussed with Stos, who gave some general guidelines that included some license for artistic interpretation.  I was chatting to Bob on the Thursday when it was finished and he was very keen for me to go around with my camera (mentioned both on Thursday and Friday) with the promise that our front yard would be different to any other in the street.  I wasn't sure whether to be alarmed or not by that statement.  I couldn't get there until Saturday morning, after the deluge of Friday night and was confronted by what looked like a lake in front of the garage and stones arranged in such a way that wasn't in line with what I'd imagined.  Not that it's bad, but different.  Anyway, Bob is very pleased with himself.  And we are getting used to it.

Today's good news is that the concrete is still going to be laid this week as planned.  After all the rain on Friday and Saturday, we were very concerned but all is well and it's full steam ahead.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 230: Knights in White Satin

Bob's sister was visiting from Sydney last week so I suggested that she and any other interested family members might like to come over for a champagne tour of the house; the third in a week.  This was followed by dinner at a local Thai restaurant.  All were suitably impressed with Bob's handiwork and are looking forward to coming back on New Year's Eve to see the finished result.  I don't remember eating locally that frequently in all the times we have lived in the area.  The following day I had decided to have off thanks to a completely clear schedule for the Day Job.  Stos suggested that I meet the telco guy at the house who was to call and connect the telephone and internet in the afternoon.  However it wasn't that simple.  Telco guy asked me a number of questions in what I considered to be Martian so the solution was to call Sparkie Dave up, hand over the phone and let the two talk tech speak.  It appears that it is too early for the connection to be put in and telco guy needs a black (coaxial) cable to be pushed through through to the front of the house and full power must be available.  So the visit was not a good use of anyone's time.  Still, I checked out the nearly complete plaster, the completed ceiling in the kitchen/living area and the bath cradle. I also took a picture from across the kitchen looking out the windows to the city.  I can't wait to get back in there and have that view every day.

To finish off, I thought I'd convey a Bob story, as conveyed by his mother.  A neighbour, who we have never met, has been bringing Bob coffees and snacks while he has been working at the house over the last seven months and they have struck up a bit of a friendship.  She recently met a man through an internet dating website and was to met him at his home in a rural area for their second date.  As a precaution, Bob took the guy's car registration details and we believe also met him when he came to the lady's house.  What a sweetie!  I'm sure he would be embarrassed if he read this but it really reflects the kind of person he is - a great big caring softie.  I hope he finds a deserving lady of his own soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 228: My Creative Space

I decided that on Melbourne Cup Day, I would do nothing.  We had no invitations, I had volunteered to be on call at the Day Job, and decided that, in the absence of going in to work, I would do nothing in particular.  Stos went to the hardware shop to get some stuff to fill holes in the second hand doors and to attack (prune) one of the roses in the backyard.  I was assured my presence wasn't required so finished the last book in the Millenium series, The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest (I think I am the last person in the universe to read this).  I felt a bit flat after this - what am I going to do now after finishing this series that has kept me riveted for weeks?  Well, keeping up with some commitments might be a good idea.  I started on a secret project, then as the light deteriorated, I've started on my Softie for Mirabel. I'm making Zing the Polite Cat from the first Meet Me at Mike's craft book

As usual, the Quick Unpick tool has had a bit of a work out but overall I'm happy with the results so far.  The only thing that struck me is that his face looks more owl like at the moment - hopefully sewing on his whiskers and mouth will help!  For more creative inspiration, head over here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 225: Hanging on the Telephone

I've mentioned the amount of work invovled in building a house, even when you builder is managing the project for you.  Once we got past the basic stages of frame and roof, I've found that the number of phone calls relating to the project increase.  I jotted down the calls from the week before last; that week was relatively quiet but here's what the pattern was:

-Call from Stos to tell me that plumbing supply place had called to ask for payment for items that Pete had ordered.
- Me to plumbing supply place to make payment.
- Me to Pete to tell him items had been paid for.
- Me to interior designer friend of friend to find out closest match for Dulux Natural While in the powder coating range.
- Intererior designer friend of friend to me to confirm colour match
- Me to Bob to advise powder coating colour for hydronic heating panels.
- Bob back to me on something else and to ask for some money to pay bills.
- Kitchen guy to me to tell me that he's back from holidays and wanting to take measurements at the house to start of kitchen and laundry cabinets.
- Pete to me to let me know that he has taken home plumbing supplies not yet installed .

Often I get a call from Bob at 7.45am, which works out well as I am normally walking out of the gym and into the Day Job premises.  I certainly can't say that I'm not kept up to date.

On the update front, these photos are from last week.  Plumbing is roughed in, plaster is progressing, Bob has been working on the lining for the ceiling in the kitchen and after all this rain, the connected water tank is full.  It's consolation for the awful weather.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 220: My Creative Space

This is a bit of a cheat's entry - it's actually last week's work but I haven't had time to put together a post.  After procrastinating and worrying about mucking up my "Oh Beehave" quilt block for Esther, I finally dusted off Grandma's jolly Janome, pulled the supplies out of various boxes and got to work.  The instructions were reasonably simple (for someone who knows what they are doing);  the block was to be 10 and 1/2 inches comprising a 6 inch centre block of geometric shapes to be made up of supplied fabric (or added fabric in the autumnal colour palette), including a scrap of plain brown fabric, no more than 1 inch wide, then a border of brown fabric, with a final border made up of supplied scraps and another small piece of brown in corporated.  Whew!  Then there is also the added challenge of working out sizes and seam allowances. Having looked at the blogs of a few people who are involved in quilt block swaps, I thought it might be a good idea to make a practice block.  It actually took me longer to work out what to use in the practice block than it did to make the real thing.  Anyway, the practice block is on the left and the real thing is on the right.  I forgot about the scrap of solid in the practice block, I sewed over a seam the wrong way and had to unpick a couple of seams but it looks OK.  The latitude to rearrange the scrappy border on the real thing got me out of jail on a cutting mistake, but it came together quite well and I hope Esther likes it.  Now for Gina's block and the Mirabel softie!  For more creative spaces, head over here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 217: Stairway to Heaven

What a lot can happen in a week!  We now have stairs, a fair bit of plaster, one plumbed-in water tank and they make such a difference.  The plaster transforms the rooms (Stos thinks they look bigger, I think smaller) and the using the stairs sure beats scampering up and down precariously positioned planks.  And finally the flashing and sealing of the the glass roof over the stairs is finished so we can look at the sky while climbing the stairs (maybe not advisable, given my track record for tripping over).  But aside from the developments at the block it was a miserable week; after several days of a rotten head cold, all the germs went south and I ended up with bronchitits.  Which I then managed to give to Stos.  The last of the cough is still lingering much to the concern of colleagues at the Day Job, but I'm nearly there.  We have gone from winter to summer and back again over the course of the week, which makes me think of the Melbourne of old, when you truly could get four seasons in one day.  Or one week.  However, we soldiered on and spent another busy Saturday running around; first to talk soft furnishings at a company recommended by L.  L is very impressed by this business and her recommendations are usually pretty sound.  So at 8.45am we walked in and at 9.30 we walked out, with most of the decisions made.  A very efficient use of time.  Then down to look at some more carpet where we had to do most of the work ourselves, but that was OK as you don't get the dizzying array of choices that you have with curtain and upholstery fabrics.  Next stop was to L & P's to borrow a trailer so that we could pick up the glass doors that have been stripped ready for installation.  Getting them loaded and transported back to the house was a bit nerve wracking but everything arrived in one piece.  On arrival, we noticed a ute out the front and the gate was open and deduced that someone was working there.  It turned out the be the plaster hangers, who despite unpromising appearances, turned out the be very nice and helpful, insisting that they help Stos unload the doors, then moving them downstairs for us.  But our arrival was timely as they needed a hand moving two long pieces of plaster through a doorway and into place on the lounge room wall.  So Stos has another string to his bow in terms of experience with the house. I'm not sure what they would have done if we hadn't arrived - tried the neighbours?

To finish - a culture tip for the week.  If you didn't see Rufus Wainwright last night at the Palais, I hope you were going tonight.  It was a fabulous show.  The tribute to his late mother was touching and I'm now keen to seek out some Kate and Anna McGarringle music.  What a gifted and talented family.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 208: Winter

Did someone say it was spring?   Not judging by the weather yesterday or today.  The last time I saw a picture like this (snapped battling up the hill to the station on the way home from the Day Job yesterday) was in Wellington, New Zealand.  It's cold, wet, windy and, most importantly of all, it's stopping the glazier coming to seal our glass roof and finishing our windows.  The one bright spot was the water tanks were to be connected and we would benefit from the heavy rain.  But no; Pete turned up, announced that it was too wet and left.  So much for that. idea

However, despite the hideous weather, we've had a productive day:
- I picked up the feature tiles for the second bathroom;
- We found some carpet that we like. But this is our first real venture out so we will have more of a look next weekend.
- We found a light fitting for the "retreat" at Artemide in Carlton.  It's hand blown glass and will give out a rippling  pattern onto the walls.  We both loved it on sight.  Lights are now all ordered; another box ticked.
Artemide, Carlton

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 206: You light up my life

Two posts in one.  This must be some sort of record. But now that daylight savings has kicked in, it's not quite as hard to get photos and updates on progress at STLT permanent HQ.  Stos decided to have today off and arranged to meet the Sailmaker to get things going.  We've discovered that it is very hot on the rear deck, even in spring, so getting the sails up before we move back next month is a bit more important than we thought.  I mentioned to Bob the other day that this meeting was to take place and he thought was a good idea. When I mentioned that the brackets for the sails needed to be attached in advance of the meeting, he thought it was an even better idea to have Stos help him put them up.  So a day off turned into a full one of being builder's assistant, picking up the glass doors, taking them to be stripped, ordering chrome rods for the art deco shades that will go in the downstairs bedrooms
then collecting me from the station to go an look at yet another shop (lights this time) that is only open Monday to Friday.  This particular exercise has been a bit of a trial.  I saw a light fitting in the showroom some time ago and had been thinking of using it in a group of three.  Then I was looking on the relevant website last week and noticed that the light was no longer there.  There's nothing like something disappearing to make you decide that you MUST have it.  It's a bit like an ex-boyfriend, who becomes of interest again when another girl hooks up with him.  Anyway, the last week or so, I've been trying to establish if these lights are still around.  But the company is re-locating, it has packed up its current showroom and everything is in boxes so you can't see by looking through the window.  I called and found out that the light is available, but all the display items have been packed up and the box would have to be found.  Box was found and I made an appointment to call this afternoon.  After all of this effort, I found out that the wattage is too low to be useful, even in a group of three.  So back to the drawing board on lighting for the retreat.

But on a brighter note, the culmination of the search for the perfect doorhandle was this, which I think looks fabulous.

Day 206: My Creative Space

I haven't joined in for a while; while the spirit is willing, a combination of long days at the Day Job, any other spare time spent on house related issues and a lack of space to be creative in are conspiring against me.  However, I have to do a quilt block for Esther as part of the MMQG inaugural block swap by the end of October, maybe sooner.  This is quite interesting because:
- I am a very average sewer
- I have only ever made two quilt blocks and these were very basic.  They were for charity projects and I suspect that no one would have had the heart to tell me that they weren't much good.

I think what is really paralysing me is the worry that I will muck this up.  But at least this afternoon I sketched out something that I think is simple, acheivable, yet meets Esther's guidelines.  I'll then (i.e. this weekend) make a block from scrap fabric (when I get the box it is in out from under the other boxes) and make the real one from these lovely fabrics.  If I don't have to put in an appearance at the Day Job.
For more creative spaces, head over here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 202: Spring

It has been a busy weekend and it's getting late but I know the New York STLT fan likes an update on Monday morning, so here it is. 

Firstly, it's nice to be able to say that spring is really here.  I get a warm, fuzzy feeling looking out of Catwoman's front door, seeing this:

Not that we really should complain given that it has been snowing across the ditch in Christchurch. 

There's been plenty happening at the house this week; all the plumbing type pipes have been put in and our  spotted gum floor is almost completely laid.  Even without sanding and polishing, you can see the beautiful colour and variagation in tones.
 The water tanks have also arrived.  I'm a bit bemused that we have beige water tanks, sitting against a grey house.  I assume that there must be a reason for this but can't figure it out for the life of me.  I'll ask Bob, but somehow I don't see them being exchangeable.  Hopefully we will actually be at lock up this week - all that needs to be done is handles and locks fitted to the exterior doors and installation of the remainder of the fixed glass and the garage door.  I'll feel a lot happier once I know that the plasterer has started.  I also feel relieved that the plumbing fittings have been ordered and the only thing to finalise are the lights.  But to my dismay, the lights I was considering for the lower level sitting room have disappeared from the retailers website.  There's nothing like the threat of something being discontined to make it more desirable!

I'll finish with a P.S to the New York correspondent:  there will be New Year drinks on the Lido Deck at STLT HQ, given that there will be a contingent of interstate visitors staying.  Don't even think about the house not being finished by Christmas.  This cannot happen.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 195: We are the champions

The siren has just gone on the replayed AFL grand final and today's match ended with the right result; the mightly Pies won convincingly.  There was none of the tension of the last weeks final quarter; Collingwood lead by a comfortable margin at three quarter time and kept piling on the goals.  It's been a long twenty years since the last Grand Final win, and the Magpie Army are going to celebrate accordingly.  Grandpa was always sure that he would never live to see another premiership, so we were glad that he saw the 1990 win and I'm sure he's up there with Grandma,  pouring himself a beer from a long neck and making Grandma a shandy to toast his beloved team.

Again, I didn't see all of the game.  We had to make the most of Grand Final day being a good time to shop.  But I listened to the game on the radio again and got home to see most of the third and the final quarters.   First up was ordering the feature tiles for the second bathroom, below left:

Then we headed off to a second hand building supplier to buy the second hand doors on the right to use for the entrance to the lounge room.  Bob disapproves of this - he would prefer that we used new doors with contemporary translucent glass, but we are very keen to have something a bit different.  It's a bit risky introducing period elements into a contemporary house, but the pattern is very simple and we think it will work.  If not, we will hear about it!  Then on to buy the lock for the front door, then home to watch the footy.  Well, I did;  Chris sat and shelled peas.  Each to their own.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 189: Jungle boogie

Bob and the boys were busy last week.  Most of the windows are in as well as all of the doors.  The cladding has been finished, we can see the pipes for the hydronic heating and the ducted vacuum pipes have been installed.  The garage door has been ordered and the plasterer will be in this week or the next.  Hopefully the glass roof will be installed this week; it was booked in for last week but the glass was not ready.   The glass roof will go over this space here:

I should point out that we have not painted our front door aqua - this must be a protective coating that remains on until it is painted. The big pile of green in the picture of the back of the house (top left) are the weeds that we have been attacking.    There are still quite a lot to go!I cannot believe how they have completely taken over the back yard, although interestingly, some of the plants have fought back with a vengeance.  The winter rose looks better than it ever has and we found a spray in a pot of orchards that have never flowered since we bought them.  Obviously it liked being neglected and being buried under weeds.  We filled up our garden waste bin and that of a neighbour with some of last week's efforts but there is still a lot to get rid of, and we added to the pile this afternoon.  It was a good day's work in balmy conditions; spring has finally come to our neck of the woods and it was great to be out in the sun after a cold September to date  While we were at the house, we looked at the bench and cupboard samples for the kitchen and decided on our colours - cupboards in gloss white, with completely plain profiles, with a benchtop of white flecked with grey.  This will look cool and stylish when combined with a watery green glass splash back and contrast nicely with the centre support pole, which will merge into the island bench.  So there's another tick on the long list of decisions to be made - we should have also picked out laundry colours, but I think we've done enought for this weekend. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 188: Black and white

Collingwood Football Club logo
Once upon a time there was a little girl who grew up in the southern states of Australia.  The religion of that state was Australian Rules Football.  The chapter of this religion was called the VFL which was made up of 12 tribes.  The tribes competed against each other for 6 months of the year, culminating in the two best teams competing in a mighty competion called the Grand Final.  All believers selected one of the twelve tribs to follow.  The mightiest of all the tribes and the one that polarised the people of the state the most is Collingwood - the warriors of the black and white robes, whose emblem is a magpie.  This was the tribe of the little girl.  But these mighty warriors had fallen on hard times by the time the little girl was born and they had not won a Grand Final for many years.  This continued on for a long time, although they did continue to get to finals.  One of the most painful losses was in the year the tribe lost to St Kilda by one point.  Another sore point for Magpie fans was an incident some years later when a favourite son, John Greening was hit and severely injured during a game against St Kilda.  The followers of the black and white have long memories.  The little girl grew used to her tribe getting to the end and losing, but swore never to watch a Grand Final match again after watching them draw in 1977 against North Melbourne.  The match was replayed the following week and the tribe of the Black and Whilte were comprehensively beaten.  She could not even bear to watch the match when the tribe finally won 13 years later, and only came out of her room to see the last ten minutes of that game.  Since then, the trophy cupboard has been empty.

Today was the first grand final match against St Kilda since 1966.  In a way, it was a handy day for the us; we had to look for things for the houseand I  didn't think I could stand the stress of watching the whole game, so I thought we might as well be out shopping   We also knew that from midday, the shops would quieten down as people would be heading home or elsewhere to watch the match, because a great game was expected.  It was a productive morning and early afternoon; we managed to sort out some light fittings, order the tiles, look at some doors and bathroom fittings before the game started.  While heading to our final destination we tuned in to the game and Collingwood took an early lead.  Fortunately at the last stop, I managed to watch a fair bit of the game in the shop in between selecting toilet holders and shower heads, then we headed on back to Catwoman's to hopefully see the mighty Pies take the flag.  Catwoman thought they were a cert to win.  But as we long suffering Collingwood supporters know, it's not over until the siren, and in the last ten minutes, the Saints took the lead.  I'd hoped for a good game but this was all a bit too much.  Then Collingwood goaled to lead by one point, which was looking like sweet revenge in the dying part of the final quarter until St Kilda kicked a point to equalise in the last minute.  Memories of the 1977 Grand Final came back.  The look on the faces of the players and the crowd was of total and utter disbelief.  The captains were asked to speak, but they were hollow words.  The champagne will have to stay on ice for another week, when they all go back and do it again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 182: It don't come easy

This is probably stating the bleeding obvious, but building a house is not easy.  Even when there are no problems, your builder is genius, all the tradies turn up on time and you are tracking to budget, there are loads of things to think about and do.  Monday morning was the walk through with Bob the Builder and Sparkie Dave to discuss the plan for electricals, including powerpoints, lighting and data cabling.  We seem to be in agreement on most things.  It was funny to watch Dave and Bob talk about things that they have done on other jobs when thinking about resolving issues with ours.  Most discussions ended up with them telling us that they would sort it out.  So far, so good.  It looks like all we have to do here is select the finish on the light switches and powerpoints and find the pendant lights.  I had to head off the to Day Job, so Stos stayed on the talk about plumbing issues with Pete the Plumber.  The result of this discussion was that we need to revisit the list of supplies that we compiled during our afternoon at a local bathroom showroom.  Walk in showers are out, we don't have the room in the second toilet for a small wall basin, the ceiling in the second bathroom is too high for a flush mounted ceiling fitting and Pete and Bob don't need the shower sub bases recommended.  So a lot of red lines will be ruled through the list and we'll have to go back and pick out another shower rose and include the shower channel.  Not the most exciting thing in the world.  On Tuesday I had a half hour call with Bob which ended up in a long list of things for us to do; find out thickness of preferred floor tiles so that the stair man can calculate the rises, start thinking about the finishes for the kitchen and getting this underway, talk to Stos about having refrigerated airconditioning instead of evaporative because the unit for the latter can be seen out of the world's most expensive skylight and agree on some door handles.  The change to the airconditioning unit is disappointing as we had hoped to save money by re-using the unit from the old house, and we prefer evaporative to refrigerated.  But the sealer on the discussion was that the evaoporative unit won't effectively cool the kitchen/living room which is the room most exposed to the west.  It will also ruin the beautiful roofline as the system box will stick out like a sore thumb.  Stos proposed that we go without but I don't want to do this - I know how hot the kitchen in the old house could be and I don't want  to have to retro fit air conditioning  So refrigerated it is.  Yesterday was the day for buying the ducted vacuum cleaning system, picking up tile samples, looking at door furniture and starting to think about carpet. Today we have been cleaning up at the site; sweeping up wood shavings before tackling the humungous weeds in the garden.  Honestly, there are lions and tigers and bears out there.  But the earth is quite damp so once you get the shoulder under the pitchfork, they are coming out relatively easily.  Another couple of solid afternoons work and we will have it under control.

While it doesn't appear that a lot has been happening at the house over the last few weeks, Bob and the crew have been busy.  One thing that we noticed today is the finish on the pole supporting the roof of the rear structure.  This old ironbark telegraph pole has been sanded to a silky finish and sealed so that the natural colour of the wood stands out.  The photo on the left does not do it justice - this section of the pole visible in the kitchen is a beautiful pinky-red colour.  The lower section in the hall underneath has tiger stripes at the top, then fades to grey where the pole had been submerged.  This will really be a striking feature.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 181: New kid in town

Here at STLT temporary HQ, we have quite a menagerie.  Three humans, two Burmese cats, one moggie called Moses (but should be named Satan) and as of yesterday, Ella:

Catwoman had a day off yesterday; ostensibly just to have a day of peace and quiet before year end madness hits at the Day Job.  But the real reason was that she was picking up the new addition.  Stos was in on the secret but told me yesterday after we had decided to go to the cinema straight from work.  Catwoman has been looking for a corgi for some time but hadn't told me about this.  I now understand why she was so interested in discussing what we feed K & P.  Ella is from New Zealand, so had a long day having been dropped off at Auckland Airport at 4.30am ( 2.30am Australian East Coast time).  We met her around 9.30pm so she was understandably a bit tired and aloof.  But after some initial trepidation, she was making friends with the resident humans.  The cats are a different issue.  The Burmese go into hiding when Ella comes into the room and Moses gives her evil looks at her from a safe distance.  She reacts by barking at him, and we just had a nasty incident where she has chased him, resulting in her being banished to the "time out" room.

I have been missing having dogs around - the Landlady's corgis made up somewhat for our girls being off with the breeders, so it is wonderful to have Ella join the household.  Still, it's only 2 months until we can bring K & P home.  As Catwoman has loads of Brownie points for having us stay with her, I suspect that Ella might be spending the Christmas holidays with us.

On another note, anyone looking for a funny and touching film to see this weekend should head off to see "Boy",  This is a quirky, funny and dark film (odd combination, I know) from New Zealand whose junior star has a 1,000 watt smile.  Have a look at David and Margaret's reveiw over here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 171: Brother in arms

Today when I got to the Day Job, I had an e-mail from the STLT New York fan telling me that he misses the blog.  Well, he is family but has told me that he waits with baited breath for the weekend updates.  And the blog is a good way to keep people far away up to date.  The lack of blog posts has been the result of a few different things - the move to limited mobile broadband and a lack of time.  The mobile broadband has been taken out over 3 months but it seems to measured on a weekly basis so the program was telling me last week that we had used our capacity.    I actually had a post ready but seem to have a few problems with photos and placement, so had given up in disgust.  And the day job has been busy plus we had a weekend away, so time has been short.

Anyway, there has been a lot of progress over the last few weeks.  We now have exterior walls:

To this

From this

A lot more will be happening over the next week - windows and doors should be going in, the glass roof will be installed and electricals will start soon.  Bob has us thinking about a lot of things - concrete, driveway cross overs, door furniture, and locks to start with.  We meet with Sparkie Dave on Monday to talk through the electical plan which involves lots of power points, and following this, we'll make an appointment with a classy local light shop to do a lighting plan.  I've already seen a couple of pendant lights that I like:
Bernabei Freeman"Lace" light via
"Orchid" by Marc Pascal via

I think Stos isn't all that wild about the Orchid light but I love both of them and want them for the lounge room and master bedroom respectively.

We have also chosen a front door and seem to have won the battle on painting it as opposed to having a timber finish.  We may also get our way on the charcoal garage door - Bob seems to understand that we hate the idea of a timber/faux timber garage door .  But Bob has really gone into battle over the finish of the void over the stairwell - we want rails that allow you to see into the kitchen from the street level part of the house, but Bob wants to put up a half wall, capped with timber which will wrap down onto the stair balustrade.  He tells me that a look through rail will "confuse the eye" and he's not the only one who thinks so- both The Draftsman and a guy who dropped in the other day agree.  Now I don't know how much weight I put on the opinion of some random bloke, but The Draftsman's view is really bringing out the big guns! On this basis, we have told Bob to go ahead with implementing his vision - and we are hoping for the best!

G - I hope you enjoyed this; I promise to keep up the posts.  Love A & S xxx.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 154: You're moving out today

Well, it wasn't a long time, but it was a good time.  Today we are leaving The Landlady's place to move in with Catwoman.  If you had told me a year ago that we would live with someone that we hardly knew for 6 months, I would have said you were mad.  When I told friends that a neighbour had invited us to move in with her, out of the blue, and that we were going to take up the offer, they thought we were mad.  But our view was that just because the arrangement sounded weird didn't mean we shouldn't try it  (sorry about the double negative!).  Having made the big decision to demolish and rebuild the house made us feel that all following decisions were relatively simple by comparision.  And as it has turned out, the last 6 months has been pleasant, comfortable, mutually beneficial to all parties and we feel that we have developed a friendship that will survive the parting of the ways.  It's just a shame for us that the arrangement couldn't last until our house was finished, however it is good for the Landlady that she has found a new house that she loves.  Now on to the next, and final phase in our career as professional house guests. 

There's a lot that I will miss about living here, but not the stairs.  Apart from having to scamper up and down for visits to the bathroom at night, moving stuff is just that much harder with stairs like these.  But the exercise has been good for leg condition, particularly when we moved in and over the last two days.. 

What we will really miss are these very cute residents.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 147 : Working class man

Storm front coming in; view from deck
The "no skills required" job

One of the interesting things about this project is the client/builder relationship.  I think it was always going to be a bit different due to the personal relationship that we have with Bob - after all, I have known him since I was 13 and Stos has been acquainted with him for a number of years.  I've been chatting to Bob about meeting the Tiler to sanity check some of the ideas we have, i.e. will 600 x 600 tiles look silly;  how will the feature tiles work with having recessed shelving in the shower and whether Pete's idea of a 100mm border around the shower grate will cause problems.  On Friday I called him to find out whether he had been able to tee up a meeting for Wednesday and was assured that this is in progress,  The next question was "Are you and Stos looking to do anything over the weekend?", which I interpreted as being a social activity on offer; maybe meeting the new girlfriend.   I said that of course we were.  The reply was a bit different to what I had anticipated; "Good, you can paint the window and doorframes".  Not quite what I had in mind.  To add insult to injury, I was told that "no skill is required".  The next point of discussion was how the placement of the airconditioning unit will interrupt the beautiful lines of the roof.  Bob then said that the solar hot water unit will be on the other side to balance things out.  Thinking that I hadn't been paying attention to some earlier discussion, I asked Stos if he knew we were having a solar hot water system, and somewhat to my relief, this was the first that we had heard of it. So the lesson of the day is that Bob knows best!  Fortunately we are quite happy with this, and I think this is an indication of how well the budget is tracking.

Anyway, today in the wind and the rain, we headed down to the block to paint 19 door and window frames.  As Bob said, it really was just slapping preservative on to the frames, not worrying about the underside of the lower sills.  So we listened to daggy music and primed the frames, feeling very much part of the project.  A couple of visitors dropped by the break up the day; a neighbour of M & N's who takes a great interest in our project and was passing by, and one of Bob's mates who wanted to borrow some equipment (all was OK, Bob just forgot to mention that he'd be calling in).  It was a good day's work; any unskilled work that we can contribute that helps us get back into the house even one day earlier has got to be good.  Hopefully Bob will be putting the frames in tomorrow, with the cladding staring Wednesday or Thursday.  We should be at close to lock up stage in 4 weeks, which makes us very happy.

Progress has also been made on floor tile and with ducted vacuum cleaning selection.  We've also sketched out a plan for wiring, lighting and power points for Sparkie Dave, as electricals is another important step in the next few weeks.  There should be a lot of progress to report for next weekend's update.