Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the move from hell (and hellish before pictures)

 We now live opposite this. A row of houses is inbetween us and this beauty, but access is three doors down.

Well. We are in our new house. School holidays are over, Steve has gone back to work today (he had almost 3 weeks off so I took that time to "holiday" as well. And by holiday I mean recover from the move). Because the move certainly wasn't without its fair share of dramas. I swear it's just like childbirth - it's ABSOLUTE HELL when you're going through it and then afterwards you kind of laugh about it and then it's all kind of forgotten by the time you go to do it again. I just don't understand why the whole process is so bloody difficult and stressful. Why can't you have a little more time to get things organised? Why is it that even after SIX WEEKS of waiting for settlement, it's back to stress and chaos the day before you settle? It's all so stupid and annoying. Also stupid and annoying is the fact I didn't get any images of any rooms empty. There was no time - I don't think I even looked at the rooms properly once we finally got in - it was go-go-go getting all the stuff inside out of the rain before the sun went down. So instead, you got even worse "before" pics - of the house the day after we moved in, when boxes were rummaged through looking for various items that had been randomly thrown in the day before. There is crap everywhere  - not sure about you, but moving house the Graham way takes a long time to recover...

The view from our home. Not quite the same as picture 1, but the calming effect of the water is exactly the same.

The whole move this time was particularly tricky. We were renting a house that sold. Three days later, we bought a house around the corner that was being rented. We were given our 30 days notice to move out. A week later (we had a weekend and solicitor probs), the tennants in our house were given their 30 days notice. In a perfect world, the tennants in our house would have found a new place to move into early and we could have moved settlement forward and moved straight into our house. But this is my world, so the complete opposite happened. The tennants couldn't find anything - they kept getting rejected from the scarce few rentals on the market because they had dogs. Our "get out" date got closer and thanks to some absolutely lovely people in the real estate agent who handled the sale and our rental agreement, both parties agreed to delay their settlement until the day of our settlement - the catch: we had to be out the day before. The "get out" date of our tennants came and went - they still hadn't found anything and were granted an extension of a few days to the Monday. I tried to will them out - we were moving in Wednesday. It was the only day we could do and if it turned out we couldn't for whatever reason (basically, if they don't leave, there is nothing you can do - the vendor who is selling us the property would have to take them to court and that could take months), then we had no plan B. Well, I guess it would have involved a storage container and a homeless family of 5. At the last minute, they were granted approval somewhere and moved out on the Monday. I did our inspection on the Tuesday and it was pretty filthy but there was no time to get them back to clean again, so I just sucked it up and said I'd do it (I was going to clean it anyway). Tuesday came and went with no official permission to move in a day early - the lady selling us the house had agreed to let us move in a few days before settlement but the solicitors hadn't done their legal thing. Wednesday came - our movers (Steve's brother and colleague) arrived with the moving truck (it was actually a horse float. Who needs a truck or trailer when you have a horse float and a boat. That's what we used - if I had been in a less freaked-out mood, I'd have taken a photo at the strangeness of that. Anyway. We had the trailer and the help until 1.30 - they had can't-get-out-of-meetings and horse-riding lessons to host. A gazillion phone calls later - still no permission. So we moved anyway. We took it all around and dropped it off in the carport and around the back, crossing fingers that the approval would come through (otherwise we'd have a seriously sucky afternoon re-moving it somewhere). At 2pm, it finally did. I picked up the keys and we moved it all inside. And did I get to clean and place things away properly and be organised? No. Everything was thrown in the master bedroom, the cabin and the living room. Steve and I slept on the mattress in the living room. We lived out of boxes for days and I'm STILL moving boxes around and trying to find places to put things. 

A tiny portion of our living room a couple of weeks ago. For those who didn't see my excited announcement on Instagram - Bunnings now sell Fiddle Leaf Figs for just $23.

And just for fun, fate also threw in a major oil leak in my car (I was kilometres away from the engine blowing up my mechanic said - the oil filter he put on a few weeks earlier was faulty) and no power on a Friday afternoon after Ausgrid shut it off (we hadn't got around to changing it over yet). We also had to clean and hand over the keys to our old place the morning after we moved. And of course it took THREE WEEKS to get internet connected. It is super-lucky we don't plan to move for a l-o-n-g time because I don't think this family could handle the annoyances of another one. And all this in the heaviest rain in a long, long time - our cabin flooded as the water rose so high in the backyard and came under the door. 

The living room immediately after the big move and before furniture was placed. Those absolutely hideous curtains have been happily thrown away but the blinds remain until we rip out the whole front and replace with doors/glass windows to make the most of our water view. The plan is two full-light French doors in the centre, a fixed full-light door (to act as a window) on either side of it. Our front door is going to be through the French doors, but I don't care too much. We didn't have a proper front door at our old place either. We considered bifolds but the rail thing didn't do it for us. Plus, I do like a French door or two. Windows will be added to the wall the couch is on for air flow when the doors are closed, for light and also cause we discovered we have another bit of a waterview from that side of the house. 

And so now our journey begins again. The boxes are slowly vanishing (yay to a brother and sister-in-law moving to take them all off our hands!) but there is nowhere to really put the contents of many of them. Steve and I are sleeping in Zak's room while we work on our room and all three kids are in together. It's not the most ideal set-up - the kids keep each other up and my bed is against the wall like I'm back in my old teenager bedroom. There are no wardrobes so most clothes are still boxed or in suitcases and just the minimal clothes are on high rotation. But I honestly don't care - we love it here. And we have grand plans. We were hoping to have already started the first stage - replacing the living room window and front door with French doors and fixing up the porch, but we're still waiting for our builder to be available. Then it will be a bathroom reno, a bay window addition, some wall removals, new kitchen and one day plans in to council for an extension at the back. And all those little things in-between - paint, electricals, lights, floors, window furnishings, gutters and weatherboards and more. 

The kitchen and dining room and all its weird any alcove and pantry that means there is no real room for a table. Stupid. The wall the fridge/pantry/glass door is on will be knocked out to make way for a bigger kitchen/dining space and small family/second living room. Eventually, that living/family room will be increased by an extension (these are our current plans - they might change again once we get someone else through to have a look and make suggestions).

So far we've worked a lot on the garden and I started stripping the wallpaper in our bedroom. One wall was papered many moons ago and then painted over. It is super-thick and super-effectively glued to the wall. I've got some tools I'm trialling and so far they've helped, but my godfather it's not the most enjoyable job I've done! I'll post more about it later. 

Looking from our bedroom (that is actually empty except for a few boxes and a floor full of torn-off wallpaper) up to the kids room. The door on the right will be Zak's room, but is currently our bedroom. To the left is the kitchen/dining.

So we're busy, I'm pretty much living in tracksuit pants because I'm always grotty from being in the garden or dewallpapering or just putting crap away, but we're thrilled to be here and I CANNOT WAIT to get started on ripping out things and knocking down other things. I love living in rubble....

The bathroom - it faces north so has lovely light all day. I like the floor tiles though not enough to keep them. We will be changing the layout and adding a loo (it is currently in the laundry). At this stage the bath and shower will be combined (not ideal but no space) along the window wall, the loo where the shower is and the vanity where Steve's lovely socks are residing on the floor right now. The tiles on the right of the  shower are actually the wall to a tiny pantry in the hallway, so that will become a tall skinny open shelf for towles/toiletries. 

In the meantime, here are some incredibly unattractive pictures of our new home the day after we moved in. Or maybe two days afterwards, I honestly don't know, but I am not afraid to say it looked this way for at least a week. Real life people....

We have squished all the kids in this room. It's quite a good size - fits two single beds and a cot nicely plus there is room for two lots of shelves and a bedside table. There were no window furnishings on some of the windows so rather than FREEZE at nighttime, I've been hanging that absolutely delightful black, orange and multicoloured sleeping bag (on Zak's bed) over the curtain rails at night. It's SUCH a good look, but does the job until I get my butt into gear and decide on some blinds. Most likely the white wood venetians (Home Shutter Blinds from Freedom - we had them in our last home and I really liked them).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

giveaway: win fast & fruity cooking packs

It can be the coldest day of the year and my kids will want ice blocks. They're slightly obsessed. So were they the ideal candidates to taste test homemade ice blocks with the new Fast & Fruity sealable pouches? Why of course they were. Their verdicts? Zak: "Delicious"; Layla: "Yum!"; Immy: "I like it!" And all of them: "Can we have more?" Considering it was the first nice day that didn't have a drop of rain since we moved in our new house (more of the new house when I get some internet - thanks local pub for your free wi-fi - yes I drove around the neighbourhood looking for a freebie after McDonald's failed to deliver), I didn't have a problem with them having seconds. And of course we had to make some more for tomorrow - it's going to be a daily thing these holidays I know it! Which makes it a perfect time to give away some packs so you can do the same - get cooking or ice-block making with your kiddos during the holidays. It's a win-win-win: you win a prize, plus the prize keeps the kids amused and allows you to do something fun together, plus you end up with scrumptious, healthy treats at the end.

So what is it? Fast & Fruity are all-natural, resealable fruit pouches - they're pourable, 100% pure chunky fruit and have no added sugar or preservatives. Available in three yummy flavours (Be-Licious Berry and Apple; Golden Peaches with a Hint of Vanilla; and Sunshine Sweet Tropical Fruits), they make great quick additions to all areas of cooking: add to cereal or yoghurt, pour over ice cream, use in baking, combine with jelly or freeze for a fab fruity ice treat. 

I have three packs to give away valued at $39.05 each. Each pack contains: 
6 Fast & Fruity pouches (2 x 500g pouches of each flavour) 
1 icy pole maker
1 sundae glass
Jelly crystals
Recipe cards for Tropical Jelly Fruit Stacks, Hummingbird Cake (am trying this one this week) and Yummy Frozen Fruit Blocks.

Use the recipe cards or make up your own treats - we simply mixed the peaches fruit with lime jelly (above) and let it set and made striped ice blocks with coconut milk in-between the flavours (very top). 

Coco fruity ice blocks (top image)
We mixed some of the berry fruit with coconut milk then poured into some of the moulds. In the other moulds we poured the tropical fruit straight in and let freeze for a couple of hours. Then we poured a little coconut milk into all moulds and froze for another hour. Ending up with the tropical on top of the berry base and berry on the tropical. They look and taste great!

To enter (Australian residents only please), simply leave me a comment on this post and I'll choose three winners. Entries close 12pm AEST on Friday, July 5 2013. And if you've already tried Fresh & Fruity or once you do, check out the brand new Fresh & Fruity Facebook page to leave your comments, recipes or read other tips and tricks for putting the pouches to good use.