Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Planning Character

Spending a little time 'apres ski' scheming my next adventure.

Nothing inspires me more than 'chalet architecture'...traditional more than modern....the gabled, pitched roofs, wide eaves, exposed beams and visible brackets, balconies, large picture windows, decorative mouldings and of course the weatherboards. I think this is why I am also drawn to the traditional architecture of Norway, Sweden and Northern America. It stops my heart. Always has.

I am constantly pondering the 'character' of my next home. It always starts with the front elevation, got to get that right street appeal is of key importance to me... then consistency of style and form throughout.

Essentials for next time? - gables, exposed beams, mouldings, French doors and windows, a porch, timber and stone - all with a 'classic Queenslander' twist to tie in with our character code. It's most likely I will find a block or a removal house in an area in which I do have to abide by the 'Character Code'/'Demolition Code' of this city (as I did before with 'The House')... as I am not drawn to modern streetscapes.

Our 'Character Code' is an interesting document to read but is also extremely frustrating to use when at the house planning stage. It is designed to ensure that the precincts of pre-1946 houses in Brisbane are retained and, when used in conjunction with the 'Demolition Code', to ensure redevelopment in those precincts complements the pre-1946 houses already present. (I tell you, based on the fact that in the working class areas, pre-1946, materials were scarce and so was money... some of these pre-1946 creations leave a lot to be desired and have zero character... this is where it gets frustrating... let me knock it down, I promise I will build something so much prettier... and yes with your required timber and tin, battens and eaves, shadows and gables!)

 Pre 1946 - has to be kept and preserved... I spy a lot of asbestos. Sad.

Assessment is based on the original form of the pre-1946 Brisbane house, which was predominantly a single level solid core with verandahs raised above the ground on timber stumps.....with the area under the house enclosed with lightweight battens. Roof forms were gables, hips or medium pitched pyramids. The character part of the code draws on elements such as eaves, window sunhoods, verandahs and lattice screens and battens, that cast shadows and provide three dimensional effects. This is where the code gets frustrating, "character is also derived from the relatively limited range of materials available at the time of construction" ..... what???? .....this is extremely limiting and yet confusing as some creations that pop up in these areas are a very loose interpretation of the code... must have friends in office.

Typical character - solid core, lightweight verandah. Originally would have had vertical timber battens under verandah.
A modern interpretation of the 'Character Code' - hmm.... don't know about the gate or the front door... or the garage?

2 doors down from 'The House' there's a pre-1946 box that can't be removed. It's a box. No eaves, no verandahs, low pyramid roof, big aluminium slider windows... zero character.... can't be touched. How is preservation of this poor little house complementing the character of the suburb? This is where it really gets frustrating. The block is beautiful. Slopes up from the road, beautiful suburb views and city glimpses.  How sad that nothing can really be done to it. A new character home would suit that block so perfectly.

This one?... snapped up in a millisecond... as it can be demolished - 1951 - 708 sqm - wide frontage - set back from the street - perfection!

 This one can go too - pre war..... bit worried with the description though ... 'flood free'... why mention it if it is not a problem.

This is where I start on my next journey... searching for land in these precincts, researching what I can and can't do to what I find ......and planning around it. I can't stop myself, I'm on holiday and I'm still stalking! Tragic!
A-M xx

All images courtesy of

Monday, June 28, 2010

Today In Pictures

Snow Guns

Snow Gums

 First on the chairlift

First run - those 3 dots? - my lads


Monday Musings

Well, I've taken down my blog header. My little one suggested it. He looked over my shoulder, at my blog (after having a giggle at 'Blighty's latest racoon/possum picture') and referring to my header, said, "you'll have to take that down now Mum 'cause it's all over". Well I can't argue with that. Stay tuned for some magnificent future blog header creation. I think I might talk Katrina into designing me one for the next stage in my journey.

Well, our Peter Garrett style snow dance worked! It rained all night and then magically yesterday, as soon as it became light.... beautiful soft snow flakes. As my little one said, "look what they left outside our house this morning Mum - snow!". We are pretty much the first on the slopes in the morning... making the most of the hung over snow boarders sleeping in! These photos pretty much sum it all up.

My boys are positively joyous. I think one of the secrets to keeping them close to us through the encroaching teenage years will be to plan, active, exciting holidays that they love doing with us. I'm a strict parent, I'm not afraid to confess, but I think there is room to also be a 'cool parent' as well.... doing things with your children, that they love to do, says "I love you, you matter to me". Time with them and sometimes totally undivided attention is all that they really need to feel safe and loved. Speaking of strict, it's funny... the boys have turned to me with smiles on their faces when people have commented on their nice manners as if to say "yeah Mum, it's working"... as when I do my 'manners nagging' (firm handshake, maintain eye contact, be engaging), I always say to them "people notice, you'll see". I think they're finally 'getting it'. Manners are not the norm these days.... makes it hard going in the parenting stakes.

... and speaking of manners.... those snow boarders!.... no offense to courteous snow boarders..... they have no manners. I'm like a lioness if they get too close to my boys. The speeds they go... my little one wouldn't stand a chance if they ploughed into him. Thank goodness for helmets!

Well, it's a fine day up here today and hopefully a lot of those speeding weekend snowboarders have gone. Rumour has it that there are very few snowboarders in Europe. Is that true? it dying out? .. and they mainly hang out 'off piste' I hear? It will never die out here due to our serious surf and skate culture. I think we might need to save our pennies and head to Europe next year!
A-M xx

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some Holiday Memories

 I can't really remember little one being that miniature

Found some photos in my files, from some of our previous ski trips to the Snowy Mountains! We had lots of laughs going through these this afternoon while warming our freezing toes after a day of serious skiing. Best feeling in the world?.... taking off ski boots after 6 hours of skiing....I'm sure the neighbours could hear us all groaning in relief!

Super mini

We started taking a picture in the same spot each time we visit

2 years ago

Taken this evening on our walk into town for some pizza - growing up fast - my heart was soaring today, skiing with my beautiful boys.
A-M xx

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Latest

 Holiday smiles

Ok, so we moved. Phew! Oh it was big... but as hubby kept saying, "it's only one day out of your life". He could see me 'wilting' at about midday and knew that we still had 6 or so hours to go. Did the double thing... a move into the apartment and then a move into storage. The apartment, even with very few things, was a challenge. We parked in a spare lot next door and had to weave our way through gardens and down corridors. At least we have a ground floor entrance. The piano came a few days later.. I have special guys to move that thing.. it has been moved about 7 times (and only tuned once I might add... needs a tune now!). I'm going through a 'simplify your life/anti-possession' stage I think. Seeing the removal truck full to the brim with all our stuff just disgusted me... and I am not a hoarder.... nor a shopper (I hate shopping)... and I seriously, seriously culled.... blog sale, Salvos 4 times, unpacked, culled, repacked, culled more at the apartment, another Salvos trip. To think 20 years ago, all I owned was what was in my backpack overseas (bar a few uni notes in a box stored somewhere back in Oz). Oh how a family accumulates!

The boys were great about everything... moving, simplifying, putting everything into storage. "If the house burned down today boys, what 5 things would you be most upset about losing? They're what you get to bring with you". Lizards, guitars, nerf guns, bionicles, nintendos. Easy. All they have done since we have settled in our apartment is play in the park anyway. There are wonderful scooter tracks everywhere and our daily soccer sessions are seriously exhausting (well for me anyway... but I have mastered the 'step over' and the 'roll move'... I might even finally budge those passionfruit cupcake kilos).

There were no moving tears. I went back to the empty house (once we had moved out and cleaned it to within an inch of it's life) to put out the terrace cushions and move the plants from the pool house out into the rain to get some water..... and to make sure all was perfect for the final inspection. It was very quiet and so beautiful... even when empty. I had a lump in my throat .....but it was a poignant (not sad) moment...and I thought to myself.... 'what a great journey'. I left a little bit of 'me' there, I can feel it missing already. I seriously loved that place. Hope they do too.

Right, so now we're camped out in the Snowy Mountains. It was such a relief to finally get here after the last few hectic months. Hubby and I cracked open the complimentary bottle of wine and downed it there and then... as soon as we had dropped our luggage....and seeing politics is rather topical at the moment, we cranked up the 'Environment Minister' (Midnight Oil) and gave our sons a lesson in how to dance Peter Garrett style. "He didn't really dance like that did he Mum?" Oh son, we have so much to teach you. The DVD and music collection in this little chalet takes up a whole wall.... the size of our old Great Room. The boys are currently watching 'Flying High' for the first time... I can hear chuckles coming from the other room.

I am going to make the most of the Broadband connection here at the snow (we're still on dial up back in the apartment - how hard is it to get a service connected these days!) so I will fill you in on all that we get up to and probably ponder as to what I am going to do next. I always get great ideas while on holiday. I can already see the 'I have a great business idea' glazed look in my hubby's eyes. Time to relax, refresh the mind and body. Ouch.. exercise... what a shock to the system. I have been skiing for 26 years and my boys are better than me....lucky little things. I tell them every day how lucky they are..... but so are we. Hubby looked at them, all joyous (and freezing!) in the snow today and then looked at me and said, "welcome to the best years of our lives".
Back soon!
A-M xx

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Thank goodness for emergency departments. Apparently I have had pneumonia for the past 4 months. Explains the permanent 39 degree fever I have had since my birthday in February and the fact that I could not all really. No wonder the inhalers were not working... I have tried every one on the market. I think I need to change my GP. A week of severe drugs and I am feeling like a new woman. I feel like I have been in a long dark tunnel the past few months.... I will never take a nice deep breath for granted ever again.

I'm off now... to move house and enjoy the long school break with my boys. Will be back early July.
Miss you already.
A-M xx

Monday, June 7, 2010


'Ralph' is so coming with me. I don't know where yet but there is no way he's going to be eaten by moths in a storage facility - main bedroom perhaps - it's quite big, surprisingly.

Bear with me. I am probably going to just 'waffle' a while before we move house. I'm changing my mindest - out loud - and this is great therapy - as you all send in the most wonderfully helpful and comforting comments and emails.

I feel much better, about the size of our 'postage stamp' apartment, after watching 4 episodes of the UK show 'Open House'. A little house in Bath in the UK (2up, 2down) had such a tiny 2nd bedroom that it would only fit one single bed! Thank goodness Aussie rooms are bigger in general. We have 4 bedrooms... so we'll cope. It's just the living area that is small. See the process? - change mindset change.
(NB. 'postage stamp' terminology credit - Faux Fuchsia - her terminology is purely 'visionary' and 11/10)

I am popping in there this afternoon, to pay our bond and measure every room.. so that I can plan what I am going to send off to storage. I think some floor plans with cut out furniture shapes will be required tonight. I have had some fantastic 'think outside the square' storage brainwaves that I will share with you once we have moved. Where does one store the treasured rice cooker and slow cooker in a 'holiday unit sized' kitchen?... ah-ha... I have answers/solutions. Every single piece of furniture and household item has to be schemed. Plenty of blog fodder - not really house build fodder  .... but that will come again.... sooner than later. Can't wait to move in so I can have a 'brain holiday'. I need a 'scheming break'.... it's mentally exhausting. I wonder if I can use any of this scheming in a course subject further down the track... please let there be a 'Design An Apartment That Will Comfortably Fit A Family Of Four, That Currently Lives In a Super Largish Home' subject. "Draw a floorplan to scale, choose essential furniture (remembering that you only have a 3 x 5m space in which to store the remaining), place furniture representations on plan". I'll find somewhere where I can use all this scheming.

I gave the boys one 'book box' for them both to fill with all their absolute essential treasures. You should have heard the negotiating! Little one wanted every insect/reptile book they own included. It was great to hear them bargaining the space and compromising. Hubby and I hid outside the door and just giggled. They are now referring to the storage shed as the 'toy library' as we are going to rotate their toys. We have stored their toys in see-through containers which will be stored at the entrance to the storage shed for easy access. The storage facility is just down the road, on the way to school. They have loved going through all their belongings and choosing their necessities.... and finding long lost treasures. "This is the best Mum"... they're happy..... so I'm happy. Mind you, I had to compromise too....the Bionicle lego box is coming with us... maybe I can use it as a coffee table.

They're all I care about.... their happiness... feeling safe and loved.  I was just thinking as I was packing up their little belongings.. what would I care most about if the storage shed went up in smoke (more 'process of changing the mindest' and living away from ones belongings).. their baby and school photo albums... that's it... oh and of course them... but they won't be in the shed, they'll be with me... no their photos... so the photos are comin' with us.

Oh, and 'Blighty' darling, Nigel and Brian are Australian Bearded Dragons (the boy's little pet lizard type thingys)... we will be keeping them 'on the rock, in the sun'... not the children. Oh you make me belly laugh, you do! Head over to Blighty for a good laugh and my friend Faux Fuchsia. Those girl's blogs are my daily 'smiles'.

Have a great day. I'm hanging around for customer deliveries today..... lights. Oh I might have 2 spare... I'll talk about them over HERE.
A-M xx

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Abode

Well, we got our place. Phew! A little 4 bedroom, ground floor, 2 story apartment in a wonderfully vibrant community, right by the river, not far from the school. It has 3 bedrooms upstairs - the boys desperately want to bunk in with each other so the third will be their study/chill out room - and the fourth downstairs will be hubby's study. My study will be the kitchen bench or the couch! Requires a total change in mindset (yes you are right Jane, that's all it is).

Our only living space is 4 x 4m. It opens out onto a decent sized covered courtyard, which conveniently has the most perfect spot for Nigel and Brian to sun themselves in real UV rays and not those from a lamp (we've already worked out the angle of the sun). There is even a powerpoint for us to plug their heat rock into.... the real important things. The courtyard opens out onto the pool area and resident's herb garden but as we are the end apartment, we are tucked away..... so the apartment is nice and private.

Straight through the pool area and you're at the river and the one continuous park and bike track that takes you right into the CBD. There's also a soccer field at the end of our street... scooter distance... which the boys are hyperventilating over. Yes, despite our current decent sized back yard, we are always losing balls to neighbours... often 2-3 doors up!

So everything goes into storage (thankfully the new owners have relieved us of about 50% of our furniture), except what we need... oh and a few essential vignettes (life doesn't stop, even with storage)... and yes, I am already thinking vertically (as suggested by 'other Jayne' reader - thank you Jayne!). Oh...and don't laugh... but the baby grand comes with us. We have a piano exam coming up in 2 months time! I'll make it work.... you'll see. My tape measure has had a good work out and my construction maths has come in very handy... especially 'area of odd shapes'.

So to me, this will be like a holiday..... but with all our stuff around us. No housework! The complex is totally brand new and very modern....lots of new residents, moving in when we are. The property managers have already given us a run down on the kids in the complex, including the very lonely little 12 year old girl who goes to the sister school of my boys... big one's eyes lit up as soon as she was mentioned. There are farmers markets every Saturday, on the river bank in front of us, and coffee shops around every corner. I think we'll cope for a while.

Once I received the good news of our application, I had to reassess all my 'essential vs non-essential' packing efforts. I had to seriously unpack and repack the kitchen boxes. I had packed for a 'kitchen in a house' and not an 'apartment kitchen'... my 'kitchen essentials' box is now a box and not 'boxes'. While I was repacking, I was asking myself, "when I open this box, in 18 mths to 2 years time, am I really going to still want this stuff?" Yes, I will need decorative pieces to fill up shelves and bookcases.... but nothing like a move into storage to make you really assess what belongings are really essential in life. William Morris, you were right - "beautiful or useful".... 'or the salvos' (well he didn't say 'or the salvos'... but they're coming around again this week, for another visit and cup of tea, as I have culled further... very liberating).

Right, so 'house is in order'... literally.. every item accounted for and packed (or turfed). Time for us to regroup. We're all very excited about living in our little space. Just as well we love each other to death... we're going to be seeing a lot of each other!
A-M xx
PS. My new laundry is in a cupboard... literally.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Habitat Update

Might have somewhere to live. Ready for the paradigm shift? My new favourite blog will be THIS ONE. It was you guys who suggested it.

It was the resident's herb garden that got me...... and the gorgeous pool (that someone else will clean) and the river...and the parks.. and the local restaurants... and the brand new smell. Just have to change the mindset a bit. But it will be a great long 'holiday' for a while. Will know more tomorrow. The best part? - "Mum, how many more sleeps until I get to sleep in the same room as Brynley?"... they're excited. Gotta try everything once hey!  7.12pm - it's bed time for me... just had to fill you in. Oh and the steroids have well and truly kicked in.... my lungs are getting a rest and I don't sound too much like a 0055 number any more.
Thanks for your support and kind words. You've helped me more than you know.
A-M xx

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's Online!!!!!

 We are now officially completely homeless and here I sit doing a blog post, NOT looking for somewhere for my family to live... ahhh priorities... bloggy first.

Hey, overseas friends...I'm 'House Of The Month' over at Home Beautiful, HERE (thank you for spotting it Vanessa!) and you can see some of the Home Beautiful article online. Yay! Thank you once again Home Beautiful. Total icing on the cake. I really needed this pep up this morning.... just rescued hubby from his broken down car, homeless and desperately unwell. Nice to have a lovely start to the next part of the day!

We are in total panic mode now. We managed to get out of the lease we signed, due to the discrepancies between the real estate agent's condition report and ours... which is a great relief, considering the non disclosed 'cat habitant' and 'whatever lives in the carpet thing'...... and my son's streaming eyes and gasping breaths... but that now makes us completely homeless ...unless I find something absolutely pronto. We did have a beautiful brand new rental lined up, months back, that we had to let go as the new owners extended the sales contract... so we have gone from pillar to post over the past few months. Coming? Going? I don't know. My big boy keeps saying, "things are never as bad they seem Mum"... ooh where did your wisdom come from son? Added to the fact, I spent a day in the local emergency dep't this week, due to my lungs.... wanted to keep me in overnight.... but I had to pick the boys up from school (hubby away)... that would have been nice.. a night at the Mater Hilton, meals included.

I must admit I am struggling with everything.... health, exhaustion, one car broken down (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT... like a bad movie) but I have my lads to help so we'll get there. You've gotta laugh... life does change on a dime... doesn't it.
Will let you know how I go with the debacle that is our life at present!
A-M xx
PS. Thanks again Home Beautiful - you've made my day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This is where I find him every morning. A comforting constant in the chaos that is moving.

... is going to stop me from doing my piano practice. Not even the packing boxes. No piano stool? ... just do it standing up of course. Just packed up the entire play room, on the weekend, and I hear the almighty noise of the 'Bionicle Lego Box' being up-ended, all over the floor. A kid's still gotta play..... even when you're moving.

Oh, how I love him. You play sweetheart.
A-M xx