A New Deck

When we bought this neglected old house of ours, we made a list of all the things we needed to fix. Somewhere down the list was the item “replace old deck” but despite being older than the pyramids, the pile of weathered wood outside our front door that we called a “deck” somehow managed to hold our weight, so replacing it never made it to the top of the list. That was until Friday morning, when little Clover decided to pull a large piece of the old deck up and eat it (as you can see by the missing piece in the picture). And so this weekend became dedicated to deck replacement! Here is our sad (and dangerous) deck before:

Deck Before

I naively thought the job would be fairly easy. I made a trip to the hardware shop and bought some replacement decking boards, nails and a circular saw, planning just to rip up and replace the old, brittle boards. But once I started pulling the deck up and saw the joists underneath, my heart sank. Below our weathered deck was a tangled mess of rusty nails wriggling their way out of old rotten beams. In one spot there was even evidence of a small fire! Scarily, the joist beneath an uncharacteristically new section of deck was actually half charcoal. So it was back to the hardware shop to buy new joists!

Burnt Joist

Dogs Watching Reuben

Once the new joists were in place, the it all came together rather quickly and by this afternoon the job was complete! We still have to oil the boards for weather protection but we now have a nice safe deck, and one more thing ticked off our never ending to-do list.

Reubs and Dogs on Finished Deck

Reuben and Clover

Daisy and Clover seem pretty chuffed with their new sunbaking spot too!

Reuben

PS. You may have noticed that the bottom panel of our front door is cracked and has been taped up. It turns our my dad was right, that is what happens when you run around inside the house. Another thing for the to-do list – “replace front door”.

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Summer Abundance

Garden Haul

Zucchinis

Semi Dried Tomatoes

Tomatoes and Basil

Pumpkin

Over the last few weeks our tiny garden has been going crazy! We’ve been eating cherry tomatoes around the clock and have had enough larger tomatoes to semi dry and make a big batch of pasta sauce (both of which we devoured in record time!) I’ve made lots of pesto and have managed to put a few bottles aside in the freezer for the approaching cold months. We’ve eaten a bunch of zucchinis and there are plenty more to come, including a couple that have grown to gigantic proportions. The rainbow chard is still doing well and we’ve had a few lovely cucumbers. Tonight we made veggie enchiladas using our first homegrown capsicums, and we’ve just picked the first of our little pumpkins. Silly Clover pup actually helped with that. This morning I discovered a small half chewed pumpkin in her bed! It was too cute and funny to be cranky with her about it.

All in all, our first summer season has been quite successful! Especially considering we’ve only had two little beds and we’ve taken a rather lazy approach to the whole thing.

I’ve never been much of a summer girl (I don’t like the heat and I’m very partial to cardigans, fireplaces and bowls of soup) but this season, perhaps for the first time, I have been able to really appreciate the garden goodness the warmer months hold. The 40°C days are awful but the homegrown produce is so wonderful!

Over the last week we’ve felt a gentle shift in the weather. It’s still very warm but the early mornings are crisp and some nights there is a real chill in the air. Soon autumn will be here, and though I will embrace the cold weather with open arms, I really will miss the abundance of summer.

Wishing you all a lovely, lovely week ahead!

Katie x

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Lessons from our First Year as Home Owners

It’s been a little over a year since we bought our first home. As is always the case, in some ways it seems like we’ve been here forever and in other ways it feels like we’ve only just moved in. We had grand plans for this sad old house when we first moved in and, though we’ve made some progress, there is still so much to do.

Hall Before

Our hall in January 2013.

Hall

Our hall now!

Living Room Before

The fluoro lights in our lounge room in January 2013.

Living Room Lights

The lights in our lounge room now.

Oven Before

Our old, dead oven.

Oven

Our new oven (and the hole we had to bang in the wall to squeeze it in!)

Bedroom Before

Our bedroom in January 2013.

Bedroom After

Our bedroom now.

Though we haven’t achieved as much as we’d have liked, we have learnt many, many lessons in our first year of home ownership. If we could go back in time and give Katie and Reuben a year ago some advice, we would tell ourselves…

There is so much more to do than you ever imagined.

Even when you DIY, doing any kind of work on a house costs money. More money than you think.

Similarly, everything will take much longer to do than you thought it would. Sometimes twice as long. Sometimes five times as long!

Scraping the paint off skirting boards, windows and doorframes, and stripping floors is not fun. Not even a tiny bit fun.

There is no smell in the world more horrible than you will experience if you rip up 50 year old carpets that have been soaked in cat’s pee.

Sometimes you will wish you could just call a real estate agent or landlord and let them take care of things.

Houses seem a lot bigger when you are painting them than they do when you are living in them.

Old things in old houses (like ovens, gas heaters, hot water systems and air conditioners) need replacing. This is very expensive.

There will be times when you look around you and feel utterly overwhelmed. You will wonder why you ever thought buying such a mess of a house was a good idea and you will fantasise about giving in and running away to a nice, comfortable rental…

But! Despite all the difficulties, every single day you will be grateful for your home.

You will feel so glad that you are building your own future, rather than paying off a landlord’s mortgage.

You will be so happy to have the freedom to do whatever you like to your space.

You will feel so much pride and ownership over every little task completed and every small renovating victory.

And though you’ll probably never really “finish” working on your house and at times it will drive you crazy, you will love it more than any place you could ever rent.

Because it is yours.

Katie and Reuben x

PS Sorry for the lack of post last week! We were having internet connection issues.

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Lately…

Poppy and Lemons

Semi Dried Tomatoes and Sebby

Dogs and Tomatoes and Basil

Tea and Clover

Daisy and Home

Iced Coffee and Poppy

Clover and Dear Delilah Necklace

We have been hot. Very hot. We’ve had a string of days well over 40°C and it’s been pretty horrible in our old, uninsulated house, so we have spent a lot of time hibernating in our lounge room (which is the only room in our house with an airconditioner) and dreaming of autumn.

We have been eating homegrown cherry tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We have been thinking we need to plant a lemon tree.

We have been grateful that our little family has adjusted so well to our latest addition and have been so pleased to see Daisy and Clover quickly become great friends.

We have been watching Indiana Jones movies and series one and two of Call the Midwife. (Is there anything better than a BBC period drama?!)

We have been living on homemade pesto, feta, semi dried tomatoes and lemon cordial.

We have gotten a few little jobs done around the house. We finally got the old fluorescent lights in the lounge room replaced with nice pendants and we finished painting the hall. Now we are just wishing for some cooler weather so we can start painting the loungeroom!

We have been talking a lot about our big trip later this year. (So exciting!)

We have been hoping for rain…

What’s been happening in your world lately?

Katie and Reuben x

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On Taking the Leap

Ford Territory

Lovebirds

Two very exciting things happened at our house in the last week. First of all, we picked up the lovely brand new Ford Territory that we won for a year in Voices of 2013! We still can’t quite believe we have been awarded such amazing things, just for doing what we love and sharing it here. It is such an incredible honour. We are so very, very privileged.

The second exciting thing was the love birds diorama I blogged about back in 2012 was featured in a magazine. Reubs and I have been lucky enough to pop up in a few publications since we began blogging, but this time feels particularly special. You see, my first job out of uni was working as an editorial assistant on three craft magazines and the main magazine I worked on was Homespun. The editor has changed since then and a couple of months ago the lovely people at Homespun got in touch with me about featuring my love birds, completely unaware that I used to work there! When I was working in publishing I never would have imagined that one day something I made would be featured in one of the magazines I worked on.

All of this got me thinking about the journey Reubs and I have taken over the last few years and the choices and events that have lead us to the happy position we are in today…

I used to think that I was incredibly unlucky. When I was younger, whenever things went wrong for me, I would throw my arms up into the air and swear I was cursed. And I honestly believed that I was. I now realise that I wasn’t particularly unlucky, I was just young and silly and making the wrong decisions. I was doing what others told me I should do instead of trusting my instincts, and I was making choices based on others’ expectations or what I imagined others would think of me, rather than listening to my own heart.

It was only when we began taking risks and doing the things we dreamt of, rather than things we thought we “should” do, that things started to change for Reubs and I. When we started this blog I was sure people would wonder what it was all about and why we would bother. When we packed in our stable jobs in Sydney with no idea what lay ahead of us in Victoria I knew people would think we were crazy. When I launched my little shop instead of looking for a “real job” I was certain people would think I needed to get my head out of the clouds and be realistic. When we decided to buy a rundown old house in a tiny, sleepy rural village I was convinced people would think we were mad. And some people probably did! But goodness, am I glad we did all those things anyway! Had we not started blogging, had we stayed in Sydney, had I not launched Dear Delilah and had we not bought our old house, we’d have missed out on so much happiness. I’m naturally a fairly cautious person so in the moment making all those decisions and changes was very scary, but in hindsight I can see that each time we listened to our hearts, great things followed. It is only since we began taking risks that we have started creeping closer and closer to living our dreams.

Of course, not every moment of the last couple of years has been sunshiney and happy. There have been times when I have questioned every decision we’ve ever made. There have been hard weeks, sad days, struggles and temper tantrums, and there will be more of those to come yet, but I know in my heart of hearts we have done the right thing in taking each and every risk. Even if all the chances we had taken had ended in disaster, I would rather know I’d given my dreams a go and failed, than spend the rest of my life wondering “what if?”

I always think it is interesting to hear what advice people would give their former selves if they could go back in time. If I could give Katie five years ago just one piece of advice, it would be to listen to her instincts, face her fears and chase her bliss. To stop worrying what everyone else thinks, let go of expectations and do what makes her happy.

You only live once. Take the leap!

If you could go back in time and give your former self just one piece of advice, what would it be? I’d so love it if you’d share!

Katie x

PS The winner of the mushroom kit giveaway, chosen by the random number generator, is Leanne. Leanne, we’ll be in touch shortly. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!!
PPS Sorry I didn’t get this up on Sunday! We were enjoying our Australia Day with friends.

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