12 December 2006

Beam in

Our neighbour Erwin happens to be a builder from Germany. He helped us put the steel beam in. This 5 metre I beam from Zeal Steal cost around $500 but weighed a fare bit more. We had no idea how we were going to get the thing in but Erwin knew, and we had it in within a day, and it wasn't so hard.

First we hired about 10 agro props. Using small lengths of timber to distribute the load we propped up the ceiling either side of the beam - making sure that the beam was inside the props, ready to be lifted into position.

Once we were happy that the roof was supported by the props, we knocked out the last remaining studs. I ground off the nails and put up 50x175 Oregon packer for the beam to be lifted to.

We then lifted one end of the beam up onto a ladder, then the other onto a prop, then the other end a bit more and so on, using lengths of timber to hold the beam at its new height. When it was high enough we put the remaining agro props under it to hold it in its exact position.

We then fastened the beam into the rafters with gal bolts, and put in 90x90 studs at each end, bolted at the top, and making sure to notch out a slight angle at the ends to allow for the curve in the T section of the I beam.

Finally the agro props went back to the hire place and we gibbed up the hole from the chimney.

It was surprisingly easy - thanks to Erwin's experience and has made a huge difference to the openness!

12 November 2006

Open Plan

Lounge Room

Leather lounges

French doors into the study

dining and lounge

It has made such a difference now that the chimney and wall have been knocked out. Even though the posts are still supporting the roof, we still get the general feel for what its going to be like. Once the kitchen is complete the living area will be fantastic :) The french doors into the office/study, comes off the lounge room. Leigh made a fantastic office table (very art deco :) I think he's enjoying being a handy man.

Spring Gardening

retaining wall

Retaining wall

Jasmine laddice

Vegie patch

Leanne and Jamie

The sun isn't setting now until 9pm so we're enjoying gardening and spending time outdoors on the house after work. We have planted a vegie patch (which you can see the strawberries), some native grasses, trees and also beautiful smelly jasmine to crawl up the side of the house. They are all babies at the moment, but hopefully by this time next year our gardens will be looking and smelling beautiful. The two girls, Leanne and Jamie pictured with Mira, live next door and often come over to play with Mira and help us with the gardening. The retaining wall was recycled from our chimney bricks. Its quite a rough job, but we liked the 'organic' look and hope for vines to crawl all over it. There will also be a wooden deck/path, which will be nice for barbecues and on warm sunny days.

The wall and chimney now gone!


chucking bricks


wall or chimney

under house

retaining wall

Well the wall between our kitchen and lounge room just seemed to have vanished into thin air... well almost, after all of the gyp-rock dust disappeared and after endless vacuuming and mopping. We now only have 6 vertical posts holding up our 5 tonne tile roof... so we're kinda hoping some builders will hurry up and get their quotes to us for a beam before the roof collapses! (Leigh seems to think its okay, so i trust that). The building services in Dunedin are very busy and because of this they seem to have extreme prices for their services.

We also spent a weekend knocking out our fireplace and chimney that was between the lounge room and kitchen. Doing this has made a big difference on the space in our main room. It has also given us a massive pile of bricks to use on a retaining wall for gardens.

20 July 2006

Fox Peak

We've been skiing at last. Fox Peak. $3 day lift passes and $20 bed in a lodge right on the snow! Got the lift tickets at the Dunedin SKi Sale, held once a year at the start of the season. Sunshine's hooked and we're both shopping for ski gear. Sunshine wants downhill ski boots, I'm thinking to go telemarking.

More pictures

Sunshine learns to ski at Fox Peak, with help from Shelagh. Yes, the music IS called Brad Attraction...

21 June 2006

Mira in our lives

The pain of losing Mistisa and Black One was massive. We cried and cried for days. And still cry if we stop and think about it for too long. We found ourselves another companion though. Took the edge off the pain a little. I found it hard to connect with her initially, but named her Mira and now we are whole again. She is a beautiful dog with a perfect temperament for our life style, and is not even the slightest bit interested in sheep.

More photos of Mira

28 May 2006

Peep hole though kitchen and Loungeroom

The loungeroom gets great sun through the 3 large windows and north facing aspect. The kitchen, being behind the loungeroom, is quite dark and cold. We have decided to knock out a hole though the wall to create a service bar area capturing sun, and to create easier flow between the rooms. We will also be knocking out the wall between the loungeroom and kitchen further down, toward the dining table area as we are putting a deck off the side and it will give access onto the deck straight from the loungeroom as well as the kitchen. We have left the posts in for now, getting a good look and feel for the idea, as we wait for a builder to put a beam in to support the weight.

26 May 2006

The Fence

Leigh and our neighbour James are building a fence with occasional help from our friend Mike. Thats Mike with 3 bloody posts on his shoulder which he did 3 times and then 3 times again with 3 25kg bags of cement! The fence is in total 46m and 1800mm high We are using 100 by 100mm by 240mm high posts, all spaced 2 metres apart and set 600m in the ground with that miracle stuff quickcrete. We also used normal concrete on steeper ground. Hired an orga although, Leigh tends to think a spade is easier, luckily the ground was very soft clay. The fence will be going around half of the backyard leaving space at the back to grow fruit trees... one side of the fence will be starting at the front of the house with a gate, and the other side starting at the back of the house. There will be a deck on the side of the house where the fence starts at the back. Leighs' ordered the rails and pailings, all up the job has cost $2500 materials, not including the 4 days labour.

24 May 2006

Missy and Black One

I'm looking for 2 dogs. They are named Missy, short for Mistisa and Blacky, short for Black one. They have been gone for over a month now. They have never been away from me for this long. I remember them like it was yesterday.

I first saw Missy at the Glendale Super Centre with my brother and sister, Chris and Sarah. She was a cute tan dog with big black eyes and a bubbly personality. She was trying to get out of her cage and excitedly watched as we approached her. We played a while with her, I wanted her straight away. Leigh and i were renting an apartment in Newcastle at the time and i knew we couldn't keep her in there, especially because she was a large breed - half Alaskan Malamute/German Shephard. Sarah and Chris said she can stay with them at my parents house... they had a safe and big yard.

When i went home to our apartment, i talked to Leigh about this dog and i begged him to get her. He had never had a dog before and rightly so said we don't have a secure place for a dog. The next day i got her with Sarah and Chris and then took her to the apartment. Leigh suggested we name her Mistisa. That night she fell fast asleep and slept on my neck.

We kept her in the apartment and tried to train her to stay in her cage we made next to our bed. She would cry and whine and squeeze in between the milk crates that were holding our bed together. She would poke her head up and try with all of her might to get up on the bed with us. It wasn't long until we realised We couldn't go anywhere without her, She was showing signs of seperation axiety. Having her in the apartment had obviously had a negative effect on her. Nevertheless, she was such a beautiful dog and we had fallen in love with her very quickly. I decided we should move to the Blue Mountains, so that we could rent a place with a decent yard, and i could study in Sydney. We found a little cottage in fifth avenue.

Moving to the mountains was a great move. I started studying at Nepean Arts & Design Centre and Leigh worked with his business and also found work at the TAFE. We managed to get by quite well, well sort of. We realised how hard it was to actually keep Missy in. Leigh went to great lengths to keep Mistisa in the yard and built a wire fence around the backyard. However, She would just bite, jump and dig her way out of her enclosure. She hated being left alone. This was a huge stress on us, as we lives by the national park and the pound fees were expensive! I came up with getting a second dog to keep her company... and i had always wanted an Alaskan Malamute. I insisted it was a great idea and off we drove with Missy in the back to South Sydney to look at some Mallys advertised in the paper.

When we got there there were 2 malamutes left, a black and white one and a grey and white one... both females. The black one was quite small and scrawny and never left the kitchen. She would patiently sit in the middle of the kitchen looking up at the food. The grey one was very handsome and much bigger, she was lying on the lounge. We introduced Missy to the grey one, but she growled at her. We intoduced her to the black one, who licked Missy and had a very easy going temperment. We drove a while and thought about it. Leigh said... i like the black one. We went back to get her and she howled a bit on the way home, but apart from that, she was a perfect puppy.

Missy would tackle her with her every movement. She would attack Blacky while eating, weeing and sleeping. I was devestated and thought we had to get rid of her. Worst of all, missy would still escape, and take blacky with her while we were at work. It was at this time our next door neighbour was telling me about her house that she needed to find tenants for. We were quite friendly with our neighbour, and thought we should have a look. The rent wasn't much more than what we were already paying, and she told us it had a very secure fenced yard. We had a look and it was absolutely perfect! Large decks around the whole thing, four bedrooms with two bathrooms, two living rooms and a massive kitchen. It was there our loving memories were made and it was there where everything felt just right.

The dogs grew up and grew their own personalities. They were the best of friends and were always together. We took them everywhere we possibly could, it was like a family. Blacky would follow Missy everywhere, she would never leave her side and Missy just loved being the lead dog. We took them camping with us, biking with us, rockclimbing with us, waterskiing with us, on the canoe with us and even later, on a bus and even on the plane with us. It was just us, the four of us. It felt so natural and no matter how much of a headache things were, it would just seem worth while with them around.

Mistisa was a dominant dog but very loving dog. She would always be right there, right in front of you, alert, ready, and always up for it. She was extreemly smart, i felt as though she knew every word i said. She would jump on the bed and lie right by your side and give big licks. She would look up at me with her big black eyes and just be happy being with me. She used to love chewing up balls and playing piggy in the middle in which she always got the ball. She would lie on the decks of first avenue and soak up the sun all day long. She would sit in the drivers seat of leighs car and waitthere all day long. There was no middle with missy, she was all or nothing... but she was mostly all.

Blacky was a soft natured dog. She was quite and didn't mind being in the distance of missy.She was just happy being apart of it all. She would sit in the kitchen and wait for an off cut. She would roll on her back and love scratches on her belly. She would howl us goodmorning when we woke up, and howl and join leigh and i when we hugged, with her giant gentle paws. She would just love following missy everywhere, and even gave her the ball when playing piggy in the middle. She would love the water and follow leigh out into the deep blue sea. She was a very happy dog with a big heart and loving eyes.

I remember touching their fur. Stroking their backs and feeling their warmth. I remember holding blacky's soft big paws and kissing missy on her nose. I only wish i could do this again and i only wish that these memories never leave me. It has been a month now that they have gone. Put down becuase of killing many sheep. It had been their final straw, i only wish i fought for them but something inside me knew it had to happen.I know that slowly their memories will weaken as it has already. I stop and think about them and it starts to feel surreal now. Just like a dream. But as i watched them die, just as they lived, i know that something inside me died with them. They were me. They were Leigh. And they were us. One thing is for sure, even though they were very young, they had done as much as an old dog could've done. And they will have a safe place in my heart forever. Until the day we meet again... and i hope when that time comes it will be like we never parted.

10 May 2006

Floor Sanding

We ripped up the carpet in the loungeroom and hallway and exposed the floor boards. It was an epic to pull the rusted nails and staples out of them before sanding them back. We hired a floor sander with 60 grit paper that whipped through it occasionally sparking up on a nail we'd missed. We then used a hand sander on the corners. Its very important to go with the grain of the boards because going across the boards really stands out. Still not sure what to do with the carpet and foam underlay... it would be a waste to throw it out.

27 April 2006

Lounge room walls

Finished stripping back the wall paper in the lounge room and hallway. Very patchy Gib walls, cracks, holes, and hundreds of pin holes! Thought the pin holes might have been borer, but have been assured that borer don't go through gib. Used ready mixed putty for the standard holes where there was not likely to be any wall movement or flexing. Used the No More Gaps where the gib did not have a lot of support and so there was flexing causing cracks, and holes where there was movement.

Once as much of the holes and crack were filled, we sanded it all smooth with a gauze sander. Dusted of and vacuumed the walls and carpet, the stuck down this 2 in one tape and drop sheet roll along skirting boards etc. We used an oil based sealing paint to seal the gib. After applying one coat, we could see more clearly the holes and uneven surface, so we'll putty up again and do another coat after that. We're doing the hall at the same time.

We also bought some furniture yesterday. After spending almost the entire day despairing at the prices and quality, we found a 2nd hand restoration place near New World with very good prices, quality and style. I think we'll likely buy all our furniture from there.

23 April 2006

Goodbye my dogs

Please, spare some time with Sunshine and I and visit our page of photos in loving memory of our beautiful dogs Mistisa and Black-One. We had to put them down yesterday on request of a sheep owner and the local council. The first few photos are our last moments together before Sunshine and I took them to their end. They died as they lived, friendly, good natured, unafraid.

As those who met Mistisa and Black-One would probably agree, while they were in trouble more times than once, they were very loving dogs, friendly and fun, good natured, and cherished companions to Sunshine and I.

There's no use discussing the details, the hows, and the whys.. what's done is done, nothing needed to be said, just many tears to be shed.

Thanks for looking at their pictures.

22 April 2006

Went out and bought...

We needed a steamer to finish the wall paper stripping. Hiring one was $50 for 24 hours, buying one was $150. So I bought one. Took me 6 hours to finish stripping the lounge room and putty up the cracks. While I was buying the steamer I also picked up a 2.6 metre and a 3.8 metre multi purpose ladders. After I made up some planks for them using 150x20.5 box wood on slats, they really are a handy thing.

The ladders cost $90 and $150
Steamer $150
Wall filler $9
475mL No More Gaps $7
(Wall filler is good for holes in the wall, while No More Gaps is better for cracks, especially cracks that are likely to still move - such as near doors and windows, or in corners, as NMG is flexible when dry)
Caulking gun $7
Paint scraper $7
2 x rubber sanding block $6
50 sheets of medium sandpaper $10

TOTAL: $436

16 April 2006

Day 1, strip lounge room wall paper

We moved all our stuff in today, stroing it all in the 2nd bedroom on the ground floor. Sunshine couldn't stand the wall paper 1 more second, so she tore it all down. We're thinking to knock out the wall section just to the left of the fire place and to the right of the window. This will open the lounge room through to the kitchen. Eventually there will be doors from the kitchen side of this wall out onto a deck.

our place

Well this is our online journal for our new place. In this journal leigh and i plan to keep track of what we're doing, new ideas, thoughts and progress pictures of our place. In doing this, friends and family can see what we're up to and also make comments and give their opinions and thoughts on our plans. Hopefully, this will help us feel a little closer to you all back there in Aus.

the backyard

The backyard is quite big and has 2 levels with wooden log retaining walls. We plan to put up a fence asap for the dogs. We noticed in the topographic map that there are a flock of sheep nearby. Being our own place, we can afford to put up a really good fence for the dogs and privacy.

the loungeroom

The loungeroom is the warmest room, getting the most sunlight from the two big windows. We plan to strip the wallpaper to give it a fresh coat of off white paint, rip up the carpet and polish the floorboards and also knock out the wall around the fireplace to make the loungeroom and kitchen open. The kitchen is directly behind the loungeroom.

ripping up the carpet

After a while of looking around our new house, we discussed what we wanted to do and it hit us that this is a place is all ours and we can do whatever we wanted! We ripped up the carpet on the bottom floor to reveal nice dark hardwood floorboards... very exciting