My Life Abroad: The Adventures of Two Birds
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Apr '13

Selling our first home

After all of our renovations to our first home, we’ve decided to put it on the market, and downsize for a while so that I can stay home with Baby Bird.  We’ve had a lot of fun renovating – moving the kitchen (which was very small) to a different room and making the house “open plan” was a great achievement.  I learned how to tile and plaster, I did a lot of painting and a lot of shopping for new appliances 😉

Our ad comes out on Monday but I thought I’d post all of our pictures here for everyone to see our end result.  The home is a 4 bedroom, 4 bath, carport on 1/2 acre plus office, laundry, butler pantry, spa bath, and 4th bedroom also serves as a self-contained unit with kitchenette and bathroom, double shower, and private outside entry.

Enjoy the pics.  If you want to see pictures from our renovations, you can use the search function on the blog above and search on the category: Renovations, and New House.

Click on each picture to enlarge.

Outside1 outside2

Outside view – side                                        Outside view – front

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Downstairs self-contained Unit                         Downstairs Unit (Teenage Retreat or Guest Room)

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Master Bath/Ensuite – double vanity                Master Bath/Ensuite – spa tub + shower for two

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Master bedroom with the best view                  Ceasar stone island bench in our renovated kitchen

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Kitchen view                                                   Dining/Livingroom – open plan

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Livingroom                                                   Living/Diningroom – open plan

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Kitchen                                                         Bedroom 2 – Nursery

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Driveway, carport and outside entry to Unit       1/2 acre property

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1/2 acre property                                          Creek at border of property

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Bottom of property looking up at the house       Back garden

Butler Pantry dog run

Butler Pantry                                 Enclosed Dog Run

Laundry master closet

Laundry                                       Master walk-in closet

Just a background on when we bought the house.  There were 2 bathrooms complete, and 2 bathrooms with only a toilet and a small sink, the kitchen was a galley kitchen very small against the back wall of the now living room.  Our now kitchen was an enclosed room that we used as a dining room but could have been used as another bedroom.  Making the house open plan was our primary goal and making a kitchen that would sell the house was a priority.  Creating the master bathroom was fun, we did most of the work ourselves with the help of a great plumber – picking out the kitchen appliances and each piece of the kitchen including colours and textures was really fun.

Looking forward to our next adventure, and maybe someday to build our own house from scratch!

May '11

The finishing touches

Deciding not to move out during our renovation has been a good one, we’ve been able to cope with the dust and mess – we ate take out for about a week, but overall the new kitchen was working at the end of the first week.  Now all the internal walls are down and the new brace is in – supporting the load bearing wall that was removed.  It’s all one big space now, exactaly how we envisioned it when we walked in for our initial inspection 2 years ago.  We bought this house the first day we saw it, and I’m so happy with our choice. 

I’m painting this week, the glass backsplash in the kitchen is being installed, the old kitchen area floorboards are being replaced with new, and the final touches on patching plaster, electric, and plumbing are to be finished this week.  Our new dining room table has arrived and we’re looking forward to the floor being completed so that we can push all the furniture into the right places and go back to living normally again.

We’ve been lucky enough to have a great custom kitchen design team, that have project managed all of the tradesmen working on our house, we haven’t had to lift a finger, or make a call.  Perfect as far as I’m concerned.  I’ll be posting pictures of the final look next week, I’m so ready for it all to be over, and even though it only took 3 weeks (which is fantastic), I will be so happy to be living in my dream house finally!

Getting little baby fox terrier Lulu during our renovatinos has been a challenge.  She is just so small, and not toilet trained yet.  I have a bucket ready with the mop at a moment’s notice – it’s been a chore cleaning up after her every wee.  And she’s a complete poop machine.  But with lots of newspaper, and patience, shes coming along.  I’d say about 2 more weeks and she will be potty trained.  Overall it’s been great company for Spot, and that was our main reason for getting a second dog, he needed a playmate, someone to be with.  Lulu has been a small blessing to our family.

May '11

Home Renovations : Week 2

Week 2 of the renovations have just been flying by, mostly plaster, lighting, floor, range hood, electric and plumbing.  And the big, major thing is our stone counter tops (bench tops for you Australians).  It still seems like when all the construction is finished we are going to have a LOT of work of our own to complete.  New walls and living dining room need to be painted.  Most of the walls need to be painted.  When we bought the house we noticed that most of the walls were painted this very light grey colour.  In fact, every wall in this entire house!  We’ve completed the remodel of our master bedroom and bathroom including paint and I am a big fan of colour in the home.  Most of our house is tan and brown… borrrring!  Wood floors and ceilings, cream kitchen, and tan couch, wood furniture… so we’re contemplating colours for our glass backspash and for the major living room walls.

We’re contemplating a burnt red for the glass splashback, and possibly an olive for our living/dining room.  We’re open to any suggestions!

Here’s some of the newest pictures from Week 2, and you can always refer to our photo album below.


Check out the photo album here: Home Renovation Album

After the remodel is done we paint, and the all the hardwood floors will be sanded, and re-stained a darker colour.  I think that means more dust, and a lot of furniture juggling.  Not looking forward to this part but happy to be writing my blog from my little bar stool at the new island bench tonight.

May '11

Home Renovations: Week 1

We’ve been working on our house for the last two years, we renovated the outdoor laundry to an indoor laundry/pantry, retiled the floor, put in a laundry sink and cabinetry all do-it-yourself! Then we renovated our master bedroom and bathroom, adding a large walk-in closet, added carpet and then expanded our bathroom ripping out the old vanity and putting in a double vanity, spa tub and oversized shower… also ripped out a wall and did all the tiling ourselves. After all that do-it-yourself, we figured we’d hire someone to renovate our main living space and kitchen. And thank gawd too, I can’t imagine doing this much work ourselves.

In week one, we have ripped out our old kitchen and the walls to the old kitchen. Ripped out our dining room walls (all these walls down makes the kitchen, dining and living area one big space). Our new custom kitchen cabinets have been installed, and previous doors and exterior walls have been replaced with new windows.

I almost can’t believe that all this has happened in one week. It’s actually starting to look the way we dreamed when we bought this fixer-upper!

Week 2 brings new floor boards for areas that need repairs, new windows in the living room, the new stone countertops, hook up of appliances, and all of our new light fixtures throughout the house. Week 3 and 4 will be the repair of the plaster/walls, and some additional touches. Refinishing our wood floors so all the new and old floorboards look the same, and finally the addition or our new dining room table! I’m soooo looking forward to the completion of this project, it’s been a doozey. Living out of our laundry room with only a microwave is getting a bit old too, can’t wait to cook our first meal!

I’ve got a week one Renovation Video and some pictures here as well. Click on the link to the photo album to see all of our reno pics.

Check out the photo album here: Home Renovation Album

Jul '10

Renovating our Home

Hey guys things are going well on our side of the world!  We’ve just finished some renovations in the house, have been working hard on my recovery, and are making plans for the future.  Hope you enjoy my winter update (yes, it’s winter here!).

The house has been crazy, we decided when we moved in to convert a long unused hallway space near our master bedroom into a walk in closet, change the entry to our bedroom and expand our bathroom into a master ensuite.  We’re almost done now, but so far we’ve made our way to the painting, and soon -to-be carpeting stage of our bedroom/walk-in closet.  When we were on our trip to Asia earlier in the year we picked up some really nice artwork for the bath and bedroom walls.  We can’t wait to finish painting and get everything into place.

The Walk-In Closet: Our first job

closet3.jpgOnce a long and boring hallway, dreams of closet space came to mind.  Rod’s mind.  He’s so good.  Close off the end of the hallway and create a perfect space for our mounds of clothes, shoes, handbags… well those are all mine, and some of Rod’s clothes too. As nice as the hallway was it just didn’t suit us and this house has a major lack of storage and closet space.  This is our remedy! Rod put this together by hand, and we purchased the drawers, 3-each from Ikea.  SO HAPPY with the results. 

To see from beginning to end click on the pics below:

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Next we are on to the other areas of the house that are small but of the most use to us.  Ultimately we want to move our current kitchen to a different place in the house and that is going to be the biggest job, but if all the little job are out of the way first, we can move on to the “biggie”.


The Laundry Room: From outside to inside

finished-laundry.jpgThe laundry room used to be outside the back door, in a little room that was hooked up for water and had a basin sink.  But going inside and outside all the time, especially in the very cold winter here, is really a pain in my ass (arse).  So… We decided to convert one of our four bathrooms into a laundry slash shower/toilet.  It’s in the middle of the house and eventually will be attached to the new kitchen.  We have a pantry that feeds into this dual laundry/bath room. 

First things first, we had some really nasty vinal floor blue and white checkerboard.  Horrible.  Tile is the answer, we picked a white/opal tile for the laundry to match the white shelving and appliances.  Overall I love this room, we do our ironing here, Birdie can use this shower to clean up after working outdoors cutting wood or the grass, everything goes straight into the front loader!  The above cabinets, basin sink, lower cabinet and benchtop we purchased at Bunnings (Home Depot) and Birdie hung them himself. 

 I did all the tiling and grouting myself!  Yay me!

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Master Ensuite (Master Bath): New everything

The bathroom that ajoins our master bedroom had a toilet and a very small sink with one single under sink cabinet.  The bathroom itself is enourmous and it looked quite silly really.  No shower or bath tub, so we had to use the shower in the now laundry room.  We wanted to do a bit of work so we started by ripping out a small hallway wall that led into the bathroom itself to make it larger.  Then we had to rip up that old vinal flooring that was in all the bathrooms and replace with tiles.  We picked a chocolate floor tile with small pebble accents and a tan shower tile with the same pebble accents.  Rod did most of this tiling, including the shower.  We had a plumber come out and redo all the pipes in the bathroom including running new pipes for the double vanity and the new tub and shower.  Click on any picture below to enlarge.

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This bathroom was a lot of work as you can see but man it is beautiful.  We live on an acre property so I had the drapes (which looked old and heavy) taken down and replaced with a one way dark tint so we can see out and nobody can see in.  The house is surrounded by bush and all the neighbours are so far away anyway, I didn’t want to lose the view. 

Closet, check.  Laundry, check.  Master Ensuite, check check check.

Next is carpeting in our bedroom and maybe some new window treatments.  Then back to saving up for our ultimate kitchen and main renovations which includes ripping out walls. 

Oct '07

A relaxing weekend at home…

So far my last couple weeks in Sydney has been busy, mostly with work but with a little fun too.  It was great to have Melinda up for the weekend after my first week, we had a great time.  My second week was work sun up to sundown and I didn’t get much time to really poke around Sydney too much.  Driving to the different Sydney surrounding suburbs has been good though – a lot of good sights and interesting landscape. 

This is my third week in Sydney, and I am in the Western suburbs this week in Penrith and Nepean.  It’s about a :40 minute drive from the city and very pretty.  This area is beautiful and green, lots of rolling hills – and thus the hospital up here is called The Hills Private Hospital. 

I am noticing considerable differences between Sydney and Melbourne the longer I stay here – it is just a completely different atmosphere. I suppose it has to do a lot with the “city” life, but what has effected me most is the road system here.  I know in larger cities there are a lot of one-way streets, but here there are about 6 major highways (motorways) built and owned by different compaines.  Each has their own toll, in both directions and all at different rates. What’s the worst part is that as a visitor to this city it is very confusing.  Most of these toll motorways do not have cash payment booths, instead there are a number of cameras on the road that capture your license number and send out a fine, penalty, or a bill for travelling on the road.  Half the time I don’t know which road I will be taking to get to a facility, and because many of these roads intersect I never seem to know when I was on one of the roads.  I’ve had to set up accounts with all of the motorways here so I can be billed just in case  I drive on one.

Happy Birthday Sally!

I did get a weekend at home. Rod picked me up from the airport on Friday last, and we drove straight to the city for birthday drinks with my friend and ex-co-worker Sally.  It was good to catch up with Sal and Kasey, we all worked together at my first job in Melbourne, at The Alfred Hospital.  We had a few drinks, but I swear I’m getting too old – it was too crowded for me and after a couple hours hanging out we buzzed home.


Happy Birthday Sal (left to right) Sally, Lainey, and Kasey

The Saturday Cricket Game

pete-barrett.jpg Saturday I relaxed while Birdie played Cricket. He is the captain of the “Two’s” the second string team.  He was the high scorer on Saturday with 44 runs.  And our friend, and Melinda’s partner, Brent took 4 wickets!  He was awarded with the most valuable player for the game.  I can’t go into detail to explain again how cricket works, if you are really interested try Google.  Here’s a picture of those left over from game day at the Peter Barrett bar… along with Peter Barrett! He’s pointing up at the sign with his name on it.  This is our summer club – where we go to hang with the Cricket Club members.

Note the beautiful new uniforms, I even got my own jacket this year.  Pictured here is from left to right: Rob (our best man), Birdie, Emma (my bridesmaid), a couple guys I can’t remember (he he), Brent (Melindas boyfriend), and Sammy.  After Cricket and some beers we went to my favourite restaurant with Rob and Emma, Indochine is the best Vietnamese food in town!  I’m gonna be looking forward to December when my friends band Chords plays at the Crickets infamous ‘band night’ and I get featured in a set with a number of songs! WooHoo!


I am only on day one of my third week here in Sydney but from here on I will be going home every weekend.  I’m looking forward more to my trips to Perth in Western Australia, Darwin in the Northern Territory, and Adelaide in South Australia.  I hope to be able to see more of Australia as I travel around.


Mental Status: Stressed from work and training this week, looking forward to the weeknd and getting back home.
Best Thing this Week: Spending time with Birdie.
New Book: The Quickie by James Patterson.

Nov '05

Our New House

We’re Moving!

Well, it’s official, we were accepted for the new rental house we applied for. Also in Melbourne, its located in the eastern suburbs of Nunawading. We are actually moving this weekend – I’m so stoked!

Here’s some pictures:

The beautiful kitchen!

Ajoining living area

So, all that’s left is my job interview…. Wish me luck!  This could be the week everything falls into place.  Only took four months!  AH!


Mental Status: Excellent

Exercise: Plead the fifth

Song/Band of the Day: Bee Gees ‘Emotion’

No. Jobs Applied for: 6

Favourite Thing Today: We got the house, we move Saturday!