Garden work

In the wind-down to Xmas I have only one teeny paid job to do, plus my tax (I hate doing my tax, even though I always get a little tax bonus). This wind-down has been perfect for my mental health as it allowed me to slow my work down gently, and not crash me into boredom and frustration – is anyone like me, and very goals-focussed? If I don’t have something to work towards I’m a screaming wreck. Meanwhile, before we head south for the summer (I know, who goes south when the heat is in sunny Qld?) there are still plenty of things to do in and around the garden.

Tropiscapes have been and gone, not without some dramas for them regarding our recalcitrant arborists, who caused no end of delay and frustration. Landscaping is not cheap, let me assure you, and I made the hard decision to do the remainder of the work at the front of the house myself. I moved some granite rocks to improve the size of the garden beds at the front of the house. As previously mentioned, this is the area that gets nearly all day sun, so I wanted to put in mostly food plants with a couple of decorative bushes for funsies.

On the most humid and hot day of the year, prior to a rather large rain cell developing in the afternoon, I personally moved three cubic metres of soil off my driveway onto the waiting garden beds. Oh! And I did sweet FA about preparing the beds. The earth was so compacted I just gave up and decided to lay the soil straight over the top. Of course there was rather less fresh soil on the old bed. Y’all, I had to fill that new bed! I survived the day – just.

This was at about midday. I thought I would never finish the job, and because rain was forecast, I had to get that dirt off my driveway before it ran off the driveway into my new garden beds….
Surprising how far 3 cubic metres of soil can go – for a hot minute I thought we’d ordered too much. Amazing what a bit of rain can do to damp down the beds. As it turns out we had too much cypress mulch so we used it to spread over the rest of the front garden on the chookie side. Cypress mulch is amazing as it repels termites and keeps the earth super cool and damp.

Once I had laid the soil I went and bought some plants from our local Bunnings. Turns out they’re low in stock right now, so I ended up buying lots of different thyme, some rosemary, lemon verbena and lemon balm, a perennial basil, some oregano and sage, a chilli plant, some curry plants, even some samphire. These plants act as ground cover and low bushes and make great cover for the beds, and all are great herb plants that love full sun. For small trees I planted a miniature lime, a rosella hibiscus and a warm climate nectarine. I do not believe for one minute we will get any fruit off them before the possums chomp them, but it’s an ecosystem. Gotta live with the little beasties. For decorative plants I bought two different Coleus (love those leaf colours), some Dragon’s Breath, Dichondra, a Persian slipper and a hot pink hibiscus. Hubby was getting a little too eager to spread the remaining mulch and I had to get the plants in the ground before he went psycho with the shovel! So I flung them into the ground at speed. I removed all the Brazilian wandering iris and the grass plants prior to digging up the beds, so I put them all back to grow amongst the food plants, and I can safely say nothing has died yet. The persian slipper plant had to be moved last week – it was in full sun, and its leaves were literally burning, but even that has revived nicely now that it is in the shade. The wonky hedge thing on the right of the image below is a fun white Powder Puff tree. It was already there and makes a super cute flowering hedge, sitting in between two mature golden cane palms.

We need now to do something about the chookie side, but we’ll leave it until next year, once we have done some carpentry work to keep them confined to one section of the garden. The basic plan is to move the rocks out from the left side by about a metre, build out the bed there and plant some basic bitch plants there to support the chookies and give them some fresh plants to eat and shade under. This side as you can tell is rather rudimentary but now that the Waterhousia tree (from the Lillipilli family) has been trimmed, the Murraya hedge is going great guns and even my lemon tree (not shown) is fruiting like crazy. Let’s also of course assume the possums will eat all the little lemon buds. This is not as awful as it sounds as the plant is not yet big enough to support all the lemons it has already budded. We also have an azalea or rhododendron in the corner nearest the house – not my favourite plant – but it thrives and we’re keeping it for now.

So two weeks later and I decided to buy a blueberry bush because 1/ it was available and 2/ it’s not a raspberry bush with prickles and spikes. I planted it where I had left a big clear patch at the front in preparation for a rubbish bin plinth we hope to build next year. We have just had a week of torrential rain and it looks like summer will be cool, wet and super steamy. It was so wet that the rain moved some of the mulch away so this weekend will be about moving the mulch back where it came from and sugaring the nut grass that has decided to spread amongst our Little Dugald side hedge. I tell you what, though, the plants have grown like CRAZY since we planted them – with the the native thyme and lemon verbena more than doubling in size and the rosella hibiscus the same. Amazing.

Still too wet to mow the lawn! We will be replacing some of the lawn with stepping stones but again that’s a job for 2022. The powder puff bushes need some pruning and it’s amazing how messy it all looks after a week of rain, but also how heartwarming it is to see all the growth.

Out the back all the major work has been done, but the hubby and I have decided to expand one of the garden beds as we can’t grow lawn there – which was made very clear when the rains came this week – the area turned into a mud bath. We will be moving the smaller rocks out by about a metre, filling the expanse with new soil and cypress mulch, and moving some of the smaller plants forward. We’ll also add some more of the plants Tropiscapes selected to give that bed more consistency with the other side. We also bought a few metres of grass/ sod that has really taken, so I think we may end up adding more once all the building work has finished and all the water tanks and veggie beds are in, etc.

See the bare patch on the left of the picture above? That’s where we will expand the garden bed. Shade loving tropicals will love it there. The grass in the foreground is lovely thick sod, and the remaining grass you see (same colour, different grass, plus weeds) is probably not actual grass, so we’ll lay some more sod next year once we’ve done the building work.

So here’s the thing I’ve discovered about myself: that I really enjoy working in my garden, creating a beautiful, welcoming tropical vibe there. Here’s an image of the garden at night – we had set it up for a birthday do just a few days after finishing the front garden:

I think once all the main work is done I will buy some festoon lights and have more garden parties like this one. It looked perfect and even though I knew the grass was patchy and the working side of the house was ugly, this still looked just sublime on a perfect summer’s night. And isn’t that exactly the point of a beautiful garden?!

the garden is on its way!

There is some massive plant action on the way! The folk from Tropiscapes are here this week, building steps into the garden, planting beautiful tropical plants and preparing the garden beds. We will have to keep on the watering duties over the next few weeks while the plants establish – something I’m not really very good at, so please Rain Gods, rain every day for at least an hour so that I don’t have to water the newbies!!

Here’s some images of what the garden looked like before demo day: very pretty but full of weeds and rather poor soil. And, typically, the agent hid all the leaf litter on the ground in the photo to pretend that it actually had a lawn. Not true. Too much shade from the very important enormous tree on our boundary, which we have just had trimmed by an accredited arborist. When I say trimmed, they removed most of the satellite branches and all of the lower leafy cover, to satisfy the urges of our neighbour, who wanted it removed entirely. Which we entirely disagree with, because of the important ecological benefit it provides for the wildlife, not to mention that the world is heating up – you don’t remove mature trees from yards unless they are DEAD. There is much more light into our yard now, and certainly more viewing spots for our neighbours into our bedroom πŸ˜‰

Here are some images from when the garden had undergone Demo Day:

These images are a bit fuzzy because I had to reduce their size to get them to upload to my email account. Yes, I could use Google Drive. No, I’m not going to. Tropiscapes removed most of the weeds and nearly all of the non tropical plantings – which weren’t thriving in any case, and we’re in the process of making the garden a truly tropical paradise. I can assure everyone that this is an enormously expensive proposition, but IMHO worth it. We’re not doing the front yard yet, because we have a few things to complete before we tear up the ground, so the house will have this rather odd selection of perfectly planted beds and several scrappy ones!

We had a few scrapes to get to this point – our arborist is the worst communicator ever, and had booked in to do the work just when some massive storms were predicted. Obviously they cancelled, then wanted to come in on the Monday, when our landscapers arrived – after also delaying their start, for the same weather reasons. Some minor argy-bargy chest beating ensued, complaints were made, but in the end, it all worked out, except for the bit where they need to do some stump grinding and haven’t booked that in, even though it could have been done at any time in the last month. SIGH. Here are some shots of the work at the midway point:

I love that the garden beds look so much nicer than the rest of the “lawn”… so, don’t ask me to name ANY of the plants that have just gone in – it was hard enough working out the name of my Waterhousia tree at the front of the house, which has also been trimmed beautifully and now everyone can see into our house.

In other news: have you ever thought that you’re really over social media and that you’d be very happy never looking at Facebook ever again? Well, I’ve had enough, yet again. I enjoy seeing what friends and family are up to, but most often nowadays people don’t post at all and it’s only the pages you follow – such as news and infamous folk – that are the consistent posters. Every now and then I purge myself of FB and have a long hiatus. I can’t remember the last time I deactivated my account, but it’s all there in case I need to access it again. FB and other socials are not always the best vehicle for developing good mental health – or even healthy online habits, so I’m ready to take the step and remove myself from it for a while.

That’s enough for now – we’ve lots more to do and I’ll show you the “finished” sections when they’re fixed.

More to come…

Our little housie is about to get a nice big new plan for an update, and hopefully the bank will give us lots of money to do it!

Since we bought our house in July 2020 (yes I know, in the middle of a pandemic, but no time like the present, hey!), Australian house prices have literally gone bonkers, and our house is now worth 20% more on the real estate market (possibly more because we live on a fantastic street) than a year ago. Not that we want to sell, OH NO.

So last post – was it three months ago? Feels like forever – I was talking about extending our bathroom and kitchen just a soupΓ§on and squeezing in a bit more space for a better bathroom and maybe a better wardrobe. Truth be told, my fave builder of all time Rachael said adding only a few metres’ space was a big cost for minimal benefit. So I said “well let’s go big, then”. What we want to do is update our house with a new lockable garage, she-shed, brand new WIR and ensuite in the main bedroom, new family bathroom and new kitchen, new back deck and new lower deck. Go hard or go home, I say.

This house needs a lockable garage, particularly for when there are hailstone storms – more common than you think, here in SE Qld. Our rather exxie car needs to be protected from the weather; the possum poop; bird poop, and bat poop. I had a subsequent brilliant plan to build a new ensuite and WIR on top of the garage, thus protecting us from our neighbours’ noisy entertainment deck in the summer, and adding vital real estate to the main bedroom. My builder loved it, because she gets to build new and there are minimal changes inside the house that need addressing, new wet zones notwithstanding.

We can then incorporate the toilet into the renovated family bathroom, and crib more space for the kitchen, which will be fully gutted and replaced. YAS KWEEN. We will also tear off the old back deck and add a brand new deck that extends all the way to the end of the main bedroom. It won’t have an external set of stairs as there’s already stairs inside the house, which means it will be a tad more secure. The deck will be super simple, 5 metres by 9 metres with a gable pitched roof and lots of insulation so that we can enjoy it all year round and entertain out there. The main bedroom will have French doors onto the deck. My idea of heaven!

Downstairs the fun continues in a cunning way recommended by my landscape gardener. She suggested constructing a deck over all the higgledy-piggledy concrete (concrete that’s beautifully formed, though – it’s not old, just a series of odd design decisions). Magic. The deck will be about 5 metres deep and the width of the house, with a step-down each side to the new garage and the north-facing garden. In front of the deck there will be an under-deck garden of ferns and plants that need only filtered sunlight, which will also provide an extra layer of privacy for the downstairs area. This means that for minimal invasion into the main house, we get a lot more utility value out of the house and greater liveability overall, and we add square footage without going overboard with the bedroom numbers.

Things we probably CAN’T do right now: update the downstairs bathroom and laundry. That will be a job for another time, maybe in 5 years – they’ll do for now and there’s lots of storage in the ugly-but-serviceable laundry. There are a few other upgrades that may have to wait until the next round of funds (or big tax returns), which may or may not include ducted air upstairs, painting the exterior (we got quotes for this and wept), a built-in book case in my study and some other things. Other additions: lockable storage under the front of the house, which involves extending the batten design down to the ground and adding lockable gates at each end – a pretty simple job. Unfortunately chippies are in high demand and the cost of supplies is also high. The amazing builder who lives over the road could add the storage in a day (you should see how quickly he has constructed his garage!) but he’s way too busy for us as well. In the meantime, though, we ARE doing the back garden (won’t be impacted by the building works) and making the area more beautiful. The job starts hopefully this week. Given the rain and general crap weather though, they may start next week instead. Who knows?

Fingers crossed that by the time we approach our bank, cap in hand, we will be able to borrow lots more money to do the upgrades we need. There are lending caps, mostly to do with the value of the house and the borrowing ratio available to us, so it’s about getting maximum valuation for the home as it stands so that we don’t have to borrow more than 80% of the value of the house, thereby avoiding lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI). It’s NOT about our ability to repay, btw. That’s not an issue. Darn it.

Drumroll….wait for it…KITCHEN AND BATHROOM UPDATE!!!

On the weekend hubby and I took stock of our lovely Queenslander home in SE Qld and decided enough was enough. The never never plan will probably NEVER happen because it will no doubt cost a million bucks of money we don’t have and will literally be 10 years off, by which time we’ll either have moved or died πŸ˜‰ . So we’re renovating our upstairs bathroom and kitchen! My old mate who did our last set of brilliant renovations has said she thinks she might be able to squeeze in this job, so off to the bank we go to see if they’ll chuck us another bit of $$.

I’ve not shown images of these areas online because it is just too traumatic – the kitchen is a mostly useful space but the bathroom is terribly inefficient in the use of space and needs a complete gut job – the last time it was renovated would be easily 25 years ago and while it was probably good at the time, it’s not a happy place for me or the hubby. So I’ve sent a bunch of images and footage to my mate, to see what she can come up with. I know her style and it’s perfect for the house, so I might even leave it up to her to design me something. I know, WHAT AM I THINKING. But I think her knowledge is so much better than mine these days and she has a great way with choosing cheaper cabinets and benches and making them look amazing. The only thing I will really really want to discuss is the stove and oven – I love the space they are in at the moment, but she might have other ideas. Also, I want a Falcon brand stove/oven. One that has both electric and gas hobs, because I’m no longer a great fan of gas, due to its earth-killing properties, and also because the gas stove we own is awful: doesn’t work properly. The oven door doesn’t close all the way and the handle is missing. This free-standing stove from Falcon is GORGEOUS – 110cm wide with a ceramic hob alongside the gas hobs, 2 ovens, a grill and a warming tray. But there are other fab styles too. Of course, this one is the EXPENSIVE model. SIGH.

Here’s a picture of our current crappy bathroom, which even the real estate agent didn’t really want to show, and our kitchen which has issues:

The toilet, located in its own WC next to the bathroom, has no sink, so its separateness is moot. The entryway to this bathroom is appalling – you have to sidle in sideways if you don’t want to bump into the shower door AND you can see right into the bathroom from the street because that is where the door was cunningly placed. The shower door is etched with limescale that cannot be removed – I’ve tried the magical CLR and it did nothing – and the bath, which we just don’t use, takes up all the space. I want to remove the bath, replace the awful vanity and sink with a LONG single-sink vanity (we don’t need 2 sinks – we need 2 prep areas!) and reorganise the space so that the toilet sits within the bathroom. There’s at least 4.5 square metres of wasted space in these 2 teeny rooms. There HAS to be a great solution.

The kitchen, constructed about 25 years ago, doesn’t even have space for a microwave oven – on the bench it goes, along with our kettle, toaster and coffee maker and bang bang and coffee grinder and compost bin and regular bin and letter holder and everything else I squeeze on there. The pantry door opens the wrong way. There are 2 corner cupboards and I can’t access the rear contents. The sink is misaligned with the window (due to the dishwasher position, no doubt), and has no stacking space for dirty dishes. The stove is nearly dead, and the dishwasher only likes the top drawer, not the bottom, so we have to rinse everything, wasting even more water. UGH.

If my mate can come up with a great design that’s reasonably priced I will be beside myself with excitement. I bet you’re asking now – where do we prepare food if the kitchen’s out of action? Well, we have a good sized laundry with a great sink, and a portable electric stove that we can use downstairs, which means we will actually USE downstairs…, and of course there is a working downstairs bathroom for our abluting needs…

Come to think of it, the kitchen and bathroom upstairs sit ever so slightly proud of the house – we might be able to extend this area a bit more if it still sits under the eaves…hmmm.

A bit of a bedroom update

Hubby and I went to Sydney a few weeks ago and enjoyed the most wonderful king sized bed sleeping experience. We decided then and there that we needed a new bed. My old Queen sized bed base was 30 years old and while I loved the 20s vibe it gave, we were overdue for a bedroom update. We decided to gift the bed base and mattress and accompanying bedding (I gave away my old doona, some sheet sets and doona covers) to a local couple who needed it for their son’s place in Toowoomba. I hope they get lots of use out of it! The mattress was a bad buy for us – far too soft and even though it had “pocket coils”, I don’t think there were enough of them. It was a poor experience all round.

We decided to buy a king sized bed. We had to decide between firm and medium – this is a major issue for us as our backs are not getting any younger! I reckon we tried every single brilliant mattress in SE Qld, until we discovered Hypnos brand from Beds ‘n’ Dreams. From there it was a matter of deciding firm or medium. A wise person on our travels told us that one can make a firm bed softer, but one cannot make a soft bed firmer. Well. That decided it. Firm it was. We had four weeks to wait while they constructed the ensemble which is made in Australia. Oh dear, what a shame that I had to immediately go out and buy all new bedding for the unit.

Here is an image of the bed we selected (headboard NOT included!):

It’s freaking enormous. I have to stand on my tiptoes to get in the thing. I laugh every time I do this, btw, because it feels so ridiculous, but I’m happy to say it does not overwhelm the room. I’m utterly thrilled with the ensemble as it comes with drawers for my shoes (huzzah!!) and it’s actually streamlined the look in our bedroom. Here are some shots of the new bed with accompanying bedding from Adairs, Pillowtalk, Bed Bath ‘n’ Table and the Coastal Cushion Company:

I’m still getting used to the firmness of the bed but it’s starting to soften up just a bit, and it has some memory foam too, which I normally don’t love but it’s fine in this instance. Hubby loves the firmness. I’m miles away from hubby in the bed, too, which is quite a blessing after 15 years of marriage!!! πŸ˜‰ I’m just loving our new all natural bedding – wool, feather and down, linen, cotton and bamboo. I feel like the sage green and olive green pillows were an inspired touch – they will work beautifully with our white linen doona cover. Now, of course, I’m eyeing off new lamps…

First glimpse of the new house paint…

Robert-the-Scotsman left today after doing the second coat of our old deck and it has come up rather well. He’ll finish off the internal side of the front fence next week and then he’s off on a Grey Nomad trip of a lifetime with his beloved. I’m very pleased with how our deck has come up – it needs replacing in the next few years but for now the wood is still mostly solid. Robert acknowledges he’s not the neatest painter, but he’s done all right for a fella in his 70s. I’m hiring someone else from next week, who I think will be neater and cleaner, but you know, I don’t mind helping a fellow out from time to time. Robert is fast, at least!

As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, we’re not changing the main house colour just now – super exxie. And it’s still in good condition. But we can change the trim and accent colours. We used Dulux Klavier on the deck floor – it’s a lovely warm black with notes of purple and brown (should be called eggplant IMHO), and Dulux Natural White on all the woodwork. I can’t wait for the rest of the house to be trimmed out in these colours! We’re painting the front door a crazy pinky-lilac for shits and giggles. I think we’ll stop there – the Klavier already looks good against the Celery colour of the house and I cannot WAIT for the beige trim to begone (you can see it on the underside of the deck roof – so very meh). It’s fine on Arts and Crafts houses in, say, England or the US, but this house needs a lighter, brighter touch. We’ll get the silver paint onto the old window hoods too. I’m also rethinking my need to cover the ENTIRE front porch with plants…it looks so nice all bare. Gah! What am I thinking?! My hubby must never know that sometimes I like minimalist moments… πŸ˜‰ In truth, it’s the best spot for herbs right there, with the most glorious afternoon sun.

Cords, cords and more cords…

So I bought a large black and white standing desk and assembled it myself with 2 screwdrivers and a drill (the instructions did NOT recommend this as a thing – I had to find out when there were no pre-drilled holes in the desk top). And I love it. I stand most of the day now, and if I get a little tired I walk away and come back to it in the standing position. It’s fantastic. This desk is very large because I have three screens (2 monitors and a laptop, plus assorted portables when needed), and I needed to ensure the desk wouldn’t sag over time, as they tend to do when made of veneer and chipboard. The Rapid Span 1800mm desk (made in China) came with a modesty panel as standard – this helps to stabilise the desk in the standing position – and a metal u-beam that screws to the underside of the desk. Even better is that I can see outside to my garden now, and I love it!

The worst part about this new desk are all the cords. It’s nearly impossible to hide them, and if people tell you they can hide them they lie. My monitors each require 2 cords (1 power cord, 1 connector cable). My computer requires 1 power cord, 1 mouse cord and a keyboard cord, plus the AV cord that goes from my trusty 10-year-old Harmon Kardon woofer and tweeters. Ask me why I don’t just get wireless everything: go on. Well, until mouses (mice?) and keyboards are fully rechargeable I’m not going buying ones where I have to replace the batteries every week. There is one brand I think that sell USB rechargeable mouses and keyboards but they are super exxie and I’m just not going there yet. And yes, I DO have a wireless Bluetooth speaker in the room, but I prefer to use the Harmon Kardon – it’s not obsolete! Plus there’s the desk-lamp cord, three power boards (for all the power cords!), my USB phone charger, the Bluetooth speaker charger and the air-diffuser. And the printer power cord. And the desk cords. Basically, it’s just really cord-hungry, this room. Some folks have suggested buying a cord tidy, but actually all the cords and cables go in different directions and then hang off the desk – it’s quite hard to manage them overall, so I just don’t.

I’m a musician in a former life and I still have an electric keyboard, microphone stand, mic, music stand plus 2 speakers on one side of the room, and when I’m doing any work here I have to acknowledge that the cables and cords have always been a part of my working life. What should change now that I do research and stand at a desk all day?! I do dream of a cord-free study that looks pretty, but that’s not reality. In reality, there’s not enough storage in here, I’ve had to turn one of my IKEA bookcases awkwardly sideways to make it fit, and when not in use the desk chair basically gets in the way. But it’s my work room and I love it.

It’s the little things you do together (that cost a small fortune)

We’ve been doing a few things together and our bank balance is looking a little worse for wear. We finally had a HUGE timber boundary fence installed and it’s beautiful, but it was NOT cheap. We shared the cost with our neighbours with no dramas but I gave them a discount because their side was left with a portion of the old fence (on their side of the boundary actually) that was riddled with live termites… white ant for those not familiar. Given that both our houses are timber, we each shuddered. The fencing guys wouldn’t remove that portion of the old fence so I slightly reduced the neighbour’s cost of the fence cost to offset the nuisance value of getting the termites taken care of and the fence removed.

The doggoes were so good while the fence was missing – they didn’t try to go over to the neighbour’s yard once, except for the very last night before the fence was finished, when Dougal – who up until this point had resolutely refused to step over the mythical fence line – went INTO their open HOUSE and greeted the neighbour with a grin and a wagging tail. Doh! Mike our (rather grumpy) neighbour was not amused. Luckily his wife could see the humour in it… πŸ˜‰ I’m going to pull out some of the hedging at the top of the block and replace it with rosemary – it’s a softer plant and the car gets scratches every time I open the door onto the rather meh hedging plants there at present. Then right at the top, where the dogs lie in wait for other dogs, I’m going to plant either some lavender, or some woody herbs such as perennial basil, and ground cover plants like thyme or oregano. That spot gets heaps of sun and I’m a bit desperate for some good herbs. We will need to feed and rehabilitate that spot as the dirt is compacted and lacks nutrients, and we may have to pull out a massive concrete footer left from the old fence (apparently rather over engineered according to the fencers who came and DID NOT remove them – too huge to move!)

I know it looks kind of wonky at this angle but it’s not – we have a steep block and we had to move the boundary just a bit to keep a mature, gorgeous palm tree. Worth it!
Imma gonna clear off that leaf litter on the neighbour’s garage roof, I swear!
May have to plant around the old concrete footers if we can’t get them out…

In other news we’ve been investigating the idea of putting in a ducted air-conditioning system upstairs. Again, it’s not cheap but since we now have solar I feel better about using it during the day, and switching it off at night when we need it less – our carbon footprint isn’t as hellish with solar panels, and the ongoing costs aren’t as huge. Of course, we will only need it between October and April, but we’ve discovered this house is hot in summer and rather cold in winter. There are no window gaps or anything, it’s just a timber and tin home. With all the best will in the world, it’s impossible for them not to heat up quickly and cool down fast. I’ve not checked the roof cavity but I’m pretty sure it’s been insulated – we might even double down on the insulation if it’s the cheap, thin stuff. I’m not yet sold on the air-conditioning idea. We might put it off and then I may spend another summer sweating into my eyeballs – my study is the HOT room, but I spend between 4-8 hours in it most days.

That’s not all. Told you we were being spendy! Two or three years ago we bought a new mattress and realised once it had arrived that it was far too soft for our poor ancient backs. Instead of sending it back, we’ve made do. Our backs have not thanked us! So we made the rather huge decision to buy a king sized bed and mattress ensemble, repurposing our old queen sized bed for the guest suite, and selling our newish, rarely-used double bed (or giving it to our daughter who still sleeps in her single). Again, this was not a cheap endeavour. Luckily, beds are ALWAYS on a 50% off sale, and this one was no exception. We could have bought a decent second hand car with what we paid, but sleeping on a bad bed has taught us that given that we spend fully one third of our lives prone, the lying down bit should always feel good. First world problems, for sure. Of course, this now means I have to spend lots of money on new bedding, because it’s a king-sized bed. This means king sized sheets, doonas, mattress protectors, and even a mattress topper if that’s needed. We bought a firm mattress, because as I’ve been told, one can always soften a firm mattress, but one can never firm up a too-soft one. And, for the first time in 30 years, we will not have a bed with a footrest or headrest. This is new to me – where will I hang all the not-quite-dirty-but-not-freshly-clean clothes? How will we cope? I do have a lovely camphor-wood chest we can place at the foot of the bed but I’m tempted to get a narrow padded bench instead and totally make over our room with new furniture.

We bought a Hypnos Balmoral bed ensemble. Not the most exxie bed, but not the cheapest either! We bought a base with 4 drawers in it so we have somewhere to put our pillows at night (yeah, sure) or my shoes. Probably my shoes. Definitely my shoes. The bed head was NOT included. Can you imagine…

In other news, we’re finally painting the front walkway, bannisters and deck! Old mate Robert, who has a thick Scottish accent and says “ooh aye” a lot, has been painting our fence and deck this week. I’m basically paying for his 2-month grey nomad trip around Uluru in June, but I have grown to hate painting with a passion and am ready to let it go to someone else. He’s better than me, and worse than another guy I’m hoping to employ once Robert has scarpered. The new paint looks a treat, and he’s also painted the batwing doors. It’s so fresh! I won’t show you all yet, but I’m pretty thrilled with the result, because the cack green is finally going.

Oh! And I finally bit the bullet and have bought a new electric height-adjustable desk from Office National. Nope, I did NOT purchase it from Officeworks! Just for a change. I wanted a wide desk for my two monitors and laptop, so I’ve gone with a Rapidspan height adjustable 1800mm desk in white and black that should look very smart in my studio and be an improvement on the laminated wood bench top that I’ve had perched atop some bookcases for the last 4 years! I’m very aware of my health as I age and I wanted a desk that I could stand at or sit at as my body demands. I’ve actually sustained a SITTING injury – a sore coccyx – from sitting down too much. I think this will help with my weight and general improved freedom of movement. I’ll let you know how it goes….

This desk comes with a stabilising bar, which no others do, and is recommended for desks of this width.

Green green green is driving me crazy

Talking colour again. The pretty Taubmans Sweet Clover I selected for the exterior trim DOES NOT WORK. Sure, it’s currently sitting next to depressing kill-me-now dark green but it’s just too muted for me and there’s not enough point of difference. Thank goodness I only bought a sample pot! I’m trying the Klavier as trim and it’s working ok, but it’s not popping the way I had hoped (once again, the beige trim is doing us all no favours). I’m waiting until the white on the walkway and guardrail is done and then we’ll see whether it will look good against the Natural White, and then I might just go a bit wild and try teal or something. Because I cannot live with the depressing nothingness of our exterior! Linseed was not the right colour either – I’ve found a couple of very similar colours in both the Taubman and Dulux colour charts and cannot believe that something so pretty could look so dessicated on our house. Natural White is perfect against the horrible base colour – it’s just getting the trim colour to pop a little more. The two colours at the bottom are Taubmans Sachet Pink and Green Cottage. The green is lovely in theory, but in practice dreary. The bottom aqua is called Hummingbird – a bright pop of aqua that is complementary according to Taubman. I may yet go there.

Here’s a new series of colours that we’re trying. See what I mean about the Celery Green? On its own it’s pretty and bright. On our house it looks dull and tired. Dulux have a lot to answer for for their poop colour of the year, Brave Ground. It’s hard enough to get our house to look excited about anything, then add a poop colour and we may as well give up trying to look even semi interested in life.