Saturday, April 28, 2012

Plantation blinds?

I have posted before about the window covering situation in our bedroom.
We are still deciding what to do, but the man of the house is getting pretty grumpy about
waking as the sun rises every morning.

I love the look of the white Plantation shutters - but they are so expensive....

Also, I am not sure if there is enough space for them on our French doors at the side:

This is the current state of affairs. The doors open out onto 
the verandah and we are not using it at the moment as it's too
much hassle to keep moving the sheet out of the way :(

I think this old but functioning handle juts out too far so that the shutters
would not be in line with the wall, and would not be able to 
be attached to the inside of the window frame.

If anyone has recommendations for Plantation shutters let me know :)

Rain, rain, rain here. I'm so glad our friends got married last weekend and not today.
The boy of the house has a friend for a sleepover tonight so the usually
quiet house has been full of giggles and loud play. I love it.

Have a good weekend everyone

Monday, April 23, 2012

feeling the love ♥

I will state here at the outset that this post has nothing to do with Queenslanders
or renovation, so don't say you haven't been warned. 

It's been one of those weekends where you feel that everything in the world is as it should be, 
and I feel like sharing the love!

corner of our kitchen with the all important caffeine dispenser

I think all this warm and fuzzy talk has been prompted by the wedding on Saturday of a good friend of ours. He is a dear friend who went to school with the man of the house and they have remained close for all of these years despite us all being now in our (very) early 40's (anything under 45 is early 40's isn't it?). We all wondered over the years if he would ever find the right girl to get married to, and lo and behold about 7 months ago he got engaged to his now brand new and beautiful wife. It turns out they had known each other for over 20 years and romance blossomed all of a sudden last year, taking them both by surprise. Our group of friends has all been beyond excited about this wedding - weddings at our stage of life don't happen that often (or at least people taking the plunge for the first time at our age doesn't happen that often). A fabulous day and night was had by all, most importantly by the bride and groom. It was an evening filled with love, warmth, reminiscing, humour, tears and laughter, and none of us wanted it to end.

April is also the month that the man of the house and I got married in - back in 2003. We had a small
church wedding and then had our reception back in the old girl in the back garden. Time flies... 

the man of the house and I on our wedding day

From now until about October is the best time of year in Brisbane I think. It has been glorious weather these past few days - clear blue skies, without the searing summer heat. It's hard not to be happy walking in the dappled sunlight with a trusty canine companion by your side :)

the highlight of the day for the spotted dog is the her walk

Have a good week :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

keeping it clean - naturally

Before this big renovation, we had the luxury of having someone clean the house 
every week. Such luxury I know, but as a full time working mum I never stopped 
appreciating the fact that I didn't have to spend my time at home 
cleaning the bathroom and kitchen and mopping the floors.

Since we have renovated, I have been reluctant to go back to having a cleaner - 
for many reasons.The first reason is that it will be a lot more expensive 
now given that we have more floor space and toilets/bathrooms.
 I also am still fairly precious about the house and am not yet over the novelty of all 
the sparkly new basins and toilets..... and I have this lofty idea that
 it's good for the boy of the house to see that we keep the house clean ourselves 
and don't just pay or expect someone else to do it. Sounds good though in
 practice I end up cleaning when he is fast asleep - but 
I guess it's the principle that matters.....

I have a whole new range of cleaning dilemmas though - more bench space, tiled
 showers, and glass shower screens. I have written before about wanting to 
find some sort of more "natural" way to clean at home. It's not the
 most exciting or blog worthy of topics of course, but I figure we 
all have to clean.

My quest to find a more natural solution to cleaning started with the shower screens -
after our builder recommended a product that they use on car windscreens to keep them
shiny and water repellant. 

No thanks.

Shannon Lush has the following suggestion for them:

mix 1 part methylated spirits with 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water.
Rub the mixture over the screen with a cloth.

 Shannon Lush is a bit of a domestic goddess where cleaning is concerned. It seems
there is nothing that can't be cleaned with a bit of bicarbonate of soda and 
vinegar. Sometimes I yearn for less of the vinegary odour though....
 I have always thought that Gumption was a great all purpose
cleaner with very little in the way of "nasty" ingredients -
though there isn't much on the tub that tells me what's in there.
Maybe I have been led astray by marketing.
 This UK brand was recommended to me by a friend who had used 
their products while working over there.
The glass cleaner in particular seems to be lovely and works 
a treat on the shower screens - nice minty smell and 
no big nasties

I only discovered this brand - Murchison Hume - by chance
last month. It is like the holy grail of "natural" cleaning products -
smells lovely, safe around food, and you don't have to wear gloves.
$$ though :(

So for the time being I am using a combination of the Shannon Lush approach, with intermittent use of 
either method or Murchison Hume products. 
I'll report back :)

Method products: UK website here and Australian details here
Available at selected IGA stores in Australia 
(I found them in the Ritchie's IGA in Westfield Carindale)

Murchison Hume website here

Friday, April 13, 2012

bathrooms: traditional or modern ?

In the first round of renovations of the old girl, we only had one bathroom with the toilet in the bathroom.
We opted for a fairly traditional bathroom - that seemed to be what everyone was doing back in the 90's - clawfoot bath, with white bath interior and dark heritage green exterior. Brass taps and fittings. And a tiled floor in that heritage pattern of little hexagons. I loved it at the time, but after 15 years (!) it was time for a change.

We were going from our one bathroom/toilet to one ensuite, one main bathroom, one powder room - all upstairs, and one toilet with shower downstairs. Seems ridiculous for three people doesn't it? We had an eye on resale as eventually (though hopefully not any time soon) we will move on from this house and I imagine a bigger family than ours would buy the house.

I decided to have all the bathrooms the same - mainly because I found choosing tiles and fittings for the bathrooms somehow the hardest thing of all to do, and I couldn't bring myself to do it three or four times. We wanted to have more of a clean look, and while I don't think what we chose is "modern" it is a lot more contemporary and hopefully won't date so quickly. A clawfoot bath has remained in the main bathroom upstairs, and we took some care in choosing the taps and fittings in that bathroom - it is the bathroom that the boy of the house uses, so we wanted mixer taps that didn't look too modern.

I made all these choices before I discovered this world of blogging - I wonder if my choices would have been different with all the wonderful inspiration that is on the web....

 ensuite vanity
 ensuite vanity
 we didn't have enough room to put a sink in the 
powder room without it being too cramped, so used a 
stretch of hall for a basin and storage underneath.
 a little bit of mondocherry loveliness
 main bathroom
 basin in main bathroom
basin in main bathroom

Our final choices were:
Dorf Tempus taps for ensuite and powder room vanity
Brodware Neu England mixer taps for main bathroom
Corian benchtops for all bathrooms and laundry in Sagebrush
Doors 2Pac in Resene Tea

Monday, April 9, 2012

the changing face of Queensland houses and the traditional Queenslander

We live in a beautiful riverside suburb just east of the city, and like all inner city suburbs it
has undergone a significant transformation over the past 10 - 15 years. Since I have lived here for
such a long time, I have seen a lot of these changes. Initially when I moved here in the mid 90's, there
were a lot of single dwellings on double blocks. These have progressively been renovated, or more recently the blocks have been split, with two houses being built on the block. As well as the replica "Queenslanders" that are built, there are many different styles that are now being built, though they
are supposed to comply with the character code. Thank goodness the trend for the Tuscan style villa has passed - I always thought they were not suited to the Queensland climate.

We are about to head into my favourite time of year in Brisbane, the heat and humidity of summer will 
soon fade, and I love walking the spotted dog through our local streets and seeing the changes that 
are happening. I think of Queenslanders as being the traditional timber and tin houses, but they are 
reducing in number.

 this is a classic Queenslander near our house, and it has all
the features that I love: low set, on a larger block, set back from the
street, large poinciana in the front garden, and it's white :)
 this house was renovated two years ago and has some 
contemporary touches but maintains the traditional 
 another local favourite
 the house above from the side

 this house is directly across the road from us - it has been repainted last year
and has been transformed - it used to be a peachy/apricot colour
 another renovation - bringing it up to date but
maintaining the traditional features too

Some of the new builds are amazing, you would think the house had always been there:

 this house makes me think of A-M - I love it
 another new house that I love - plenty of verandah space, natural 
light in the house, and a feeling of openness
 this house was built around the corner from us about 8 or 10
years ago. I remember being surprised at the time that it was approved.
Now a few years on it doesn't look so stark as the landscaping has softened it, but
it's still not a favourite of mine
 I'm sure these houses are very practical and low maintenance
(everything that traditional Queenslanders aren't) but it's not a 
style I like
 this recently completed house has polarised my friends in the area -
it's a dark grey and black and is quite arresting. I actually love it. 
How blue is that Queensland sky?
these seemed to have popped up in gardens everywhere
this afternoon when I was on my walk. They still
make me smile when I see them in all their
ridiculous beauty.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happiness this Easter ♥

 some little things making me happy this Easter:

  master of cool

there is nothing better than the sound of laughter from 
the garden - it also drowns out the whining from the 
spotted dog who wants to get in to the trampoline

 delicious home made rocky road - grown up style
dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), pistachios and mini marshmallows.
even gets the stamp of approval from my resident nutritionist....

heading in to work this weekend doesn't seem too bad
when there is plenty of this waiting for me

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Easter with family and friends!

F xx