Monthly Archives: August 2013

hmmmmmm…. a concrete house?

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I was talking to one of the guys at work about the new house I want to build once I find my bit of land and up until now I’ve been thinking strawbale house but he suggested ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) blocks such as these:

http://www.thermacell.com.au/

It’s funny because originally when I first started dreaming about all of this I wanted to build a concrete house. There was a company in QLD called Chameleon Concrete who were doing prefab homes and claimed that they could put them up in a couple of days. After that there was just the fitting out of internals etc to do and hey presto – Instahouse. But since I was looking at it last year their website has gone poof so I’m not sure if they’re still in business or not. So I started looking at straw bale houses as it’s another great alternative. I hadn’t heard of ICF before and I like the idea too. I think it would come down to price as to which one I choose as they both offer similar insulation and fireproof qualities that I’m after in the new house.  I’m going to have to start contacting builders to see what the average cost is but it’s definitely in the running now.  Have a look at their Media and Portfolio section for pics of houses. I’m gonna have to start posting my ideas up here so you can see what I have in mind.

Also came across another neat idea I hadn’t thought about (from a lunchtime blog read) – Solar tube lights. Another great zero energy way to get light into the house (I plan to be off grid). I think it’s something that I’ll consider after the house has been constructed as it may adequately lit during the day. Something like this:   http://solatube.com.au/

Have a great weekend!

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Food ethics – killing stuff

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I’ve been percolating on this post for a while and really it’s a multi-part rant of sorts so you may want to just click on by but I’m just gonna come out with it. I read a lot of blogs during my lunchtime trawl of the new real estate listings (still slim pickins I’m afraid) and I’m adding a new one to my blogroll as she writes really well and not only that, I agree with everything she writes about and basically is what I aspire my little place to become one day. If you only read a couple of her posts please make it the 2013 posts as they echo my mind at the moment.

http://provenancegrowers.blogspot.com.au

From her July 2013 post:

“Our worlds are becoming so monotone. We have taken away the need to feel icy winds on a cold day, to eat the bitter leaves of a plant, to feel the resistance to our teeth from an unprocessed grain, to have the scratch of wool clothing against our skin, the ache of a worked muscle, the pang of hunger in our bellies waiting to be sated, or the need to relate intimately to death.”

“Our lives are so sterile that we have taken away all of the bitter things that make the sweet parts taste better, the cold that makes the fireside delicious. I think, to some degree, we need to have scratchy, bitter, chewy and painful things to be able to properly feel comfort and joy. I have had the luxury of choosing to connect with the life and death of these animals. I made the choice to pat them, to care if they had dry straw in their beds and a cool wallow on a hot day, and tomorrow I’ll cook them a warm pot of scraps for their last breakfast, scratch their fur one last time, look away as they are shot and hold a bowl under their necks to catch the blood when they are stuck, probably with tears streaming down my cheeks.”

“So many people tell you not to name an animal you are planning to eat. I would argue otherwise. The more distance we put between ourselves and the animals who provide us with meat, eggs or milk, the more we lose sight of the fact that they are sentient beings deserving of respect and compassion. It is this distance that allows us to perpetrate cruelty in the name of economics.”

Couldn’t agree with her more. I want to keep my own chooks, pigs and maybe cows and I’ve thought about their dispatch because I cringe at killing anything even bugs (I’m the type that will catch spiders and put them outside). I thought about maybe sending them off to an abattoir but after reading this post I think I would be happy to participate as she did but the actual killing part I would have to look away while I’m giving thanks to the animal for its life and sustenance. And strangely, I think I could kill a chicken but pigs and cows would be more difficult for me and I’d have to get someone else to do it. Not entirely sure why I feel that way because they all have their own lil personalities but it’s something I think I could cope with where as with pigs and cows I can’t. Maybe because they’re larger… no idea.

I have this odd habit of naming things, I name everything (my car, my ipod, my laptop included) so I would name the animals on my farm and I like her take on this subject and she makes a good point – slaughtering at home means no stressful transport and no strange holding pens, no stress to the animal which I think would be reflected in the quality of the meat. It’s the hippyness in me that likes the idea of them just going about their daily business in the sunshine not realising what is about to happen and then peacefully being dispatched. Well as peacefully as possible when it comes to slaughter, you know what I mean.

It’s the giant disconnect between producer and supermarket that makes me angry. (Not to mention the ethics of food growing both plant and animal but I’ll get to that in rant part 2 I think)  Jamie Oliver did a series on school lunches and I remember a segment where he brought in a box of veggies into class and the majority of the class had NO IDEA what most of the veggies were. And it’s not as if he’d brought in a bunch of exotic veggies either. That sort of scenario scares the shit out of me, where a kid can easily identify a burger or chicken nugget but has no idea what a carrot is.

I’m going to pick up on this topic in my next post as it’s getting rather long (and I’ve gotta get back to work dammit). Food ethics rant to be continued….

The Hobbit House

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Just thought I’d share this link with you:

http://www.beingsomewhere.net/index.htm

Click on the Shelter menu and go to The Hobbit House. (and browse the rest of the site too!)

hobbit house

(photo from their website)

I LOVE this idea, to build a little hobbit house tucked away in a hill. Although for me I’d build one kinda as a “summer house” to play in not as a full time dwelling because I want to build my straw bale “modern” home and I’m not sure if I could build a hobbit house big enough for the ideas I have in my head. But I’d really like to try and build one of these as well. Maybe as a guest cottage or office or something. LOVE the reciprocal roof, so beautiful.

SOLD!!!

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The house is sold!! 9 days after listing and I’ve received an offer of my magic number! I’m in a bit of shock to be quite honest as I didn’t quite expect it to be so quick but I’m happy. Gotta keep pinching myself to make sure it’s real.

And now the real hard work starts – packing! I spoke to the storage company that I’ve used before to see if they have any units available and not only do they have some available but they’ll give me a $35 per month discount so I’m pretty chuffed with that! I think I should buy a lottery ticket ot something the way I’m going today. I spose it is full moon today and I really thought it was going to be a bad one as its been pretty intense so far. But nope, it’s turned out pretty darn well! Hope your day has been as great!

I got an offer!

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Got my first offer on the house yesterday! But… too low 🙂 I’m pretty impressed considering it was exactly one week from being listed so I’m pretty confident that I’ll get my magic number. And hell if the place hasn’t sold in 2 months I’m happy to revisit if the offer is still there. But was just a lil chuffed that I actually got an offer in the first week. The last property I sold took 3 months to get an offer but circumstances are different this time and I think that the “I can’t wait to sell this place” energy helps. While I was painting last week I nearly went insane with the neighbours dog barking ALL DAY. And I don’t just mean on and off but ALL DAMN DAY!  By 3pm I had to put my headphones in because I was gonna go positively bonkers.

Just reinforces why I’m doing this really. Was doing some more lunchtime reading on straw bale houses because I was thinking of doing a building workshop and came across these people who suggest hosting a workshop on your property to help build your place:    http://glassford.com.au/main/click-for-workshop-menu/custom-workshops-examples/  what a great idea! That would certainly help with the labour costs. And part of their conditions for hosting is that you do one of their workshops so that works out well for me! I’m gonna have to start dreaming up a floorplan and all that fun stuff soon.

Anyway back to the ole grind…

 

 

Long time no speaky!!

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EEEEEKKKK!! Just realised it’s been ages since we’ve last spoken. SO much happening at the moment so I’m sorry for the lack of updates! I’ve been madly fixing up my house, finishing all the last minute things that I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t quite gotten around to doing since I moved in last October. I spent the last week touching up the paint in the patio out the back, finished planting new plants in the front and hortichipping it all so it looks really nice and tidy now. Had to paint the entrance hallway and front railing too so it’s looking pretty good now. I had to declutter in the extreme for the photographers who came a week ago and even then they took stuff out so it was pretty bare. Not that I have a lot of clutter but they want it bare bones for some reason. In some cases I think it looks too bare but oh well as long as it sells!

AND dun dun dunnnnnnnnn it was listed last Monday! The photos make my place look AMAZING!! And on the first day there was already enquiries for the contract for sale which my agent sent out and there were 600+ views since it was listed at lunchtime. Today, a week later, its 2344 🙂   Had a really successful open house on the weekend with 30 groups coming out and 5 more contracts sent out so it’s certainly getting a lot of interest. And scarily enough I’ve just had a call from my agent who wanted to show someone around this afternoon who didn’t get to see it on the weekend and clearly can’t wait for next weekend’s open house!  Speak o the devil and he calls you up haha. With all the interest I’ll hopefully have an offer of my magic number soon! Keep your fingers x-ed for me.

Clearly I didn’t get around to making the lemon marmalade as I’d planned to either but might give it a crack this weekend after the open house. There’s also a high protien gluten free bread recipe that I want to try out.  http://www.elanaspantry.com/paleo-bread/  Looks really yummy and appeals to my tastebuds with the almond and coconut. /me drools… can you imagine the fresh bread straight out of the oven with a slathering of lemon marmalade?? mmmmmmmmmm. There’s also another property that I really like that I might go and have a squiz at on the weekend. It ticks all the boxes but looks like it’s about 10 minutes out side the buffer zone so…. might not be THE one.

Also found my dream property BUT it’s 30 mins outside the zone. http://www.domain.com.au/Property/For-Sale/House/NSW/Araluen/?adid=2010623289   Simply gorgeous.

Anyway just wanted to give you a quick update… all VERY exciting!

 

Getting there… slowly…

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Well I started writing a ranting and raving post but didn’t post it and I’ve calmed down now and rewritten it so it’s a lil less venty. Basically I got my house building inspection report back which is a mandatory report required for selling your house here. My house got a pretty good EER rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 so I’m quite happy with that (EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio). What I did discover is that my bbq/patio area is not “development approved” and is also on the electricity and drainage easement which means that even if I did seek approval that it probably wouldn’t be approved because of the easement. Basically the water company could come in at any time and rip it all up if they needed to get access to the drainage.

Had a chat to my wonderful lawyer cuz I was freaking out thinking I’m going to have to tear the whole thing down and put something else in it’s place and she said that if it’s stated in the contract that it’s not DA approved then the seller cannot get me to seek approval or seek compensation for it so that’s a massive relief. So if the buyer wants the house they’ll just have to wear the fact that there is a potential risk that the water company could come in if they needed to.

The house is basically in good nick but I’ll have to get the sagging fence repaired (which I kinda figured anyway). The photographer is booked in for next week so I’ll  be packing and decluttering to stage the house properly this weekend. I had a bit of a karma moment last week in that I Freecycled the agapanthus plants from the front of my house with the catch that the person had to come and dig them out themselves. I was teeheeing to myself that I was getting someone else to do my dirty digging work AND carting all the unwanted plants away (they were a bit straggly and not happy in that position so didn’t look very good). Unfortunately I wasn’t very specific and she took some of the plants from my front garden as well and left me with an ugly bare patch. So I had to put chips over it and I’ll probably put in a few flowers or something to make it look less ugly. I’ve planted some dwarf nandina in their place and it’s looking really pretty because of the winter color.

This is the other thing that I’m doing this weekend as there was a glut of lemons from the guys at work:

from: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1898654/lemon-marmalade

Lemon marmalade
marmalade
Cooking time
Prep: 20 mins Cook: 3 hrs Plus cooling

Makes 6 x 450ml jars

Ingredients

1kg unwaxed lemons
2kg granulated sugar

Tip

To sterilise your jars, wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse, then place on a baking tray in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm until you fill them.

Method

1. Chill a saucer in the freezer, ready for checking the setting point of your jam. Wash the lemons and remove the top ‘button’ which would have been attached to the stalk. Put the lemons in a large saucepan with 2.5 litres water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer for 2½ hrs or until the lemon skins are lovely and tender, and can be pierced easily with a fork.

2. When the lemons are cool enough to handle, remove from the saucepan. Measure the cooking liquid – you’ll need 1.5 litres in total. If you don’t quite have this, make up the difference with water. If you have too much liquid, bring to the boil and reduce to the required amount.

3. Halve the lemons and remove the pips – reserving the pips and any lemon juice that oozes out during the process. Cut the lemon peel and flesh into strips, as thick or thin as you like. Put all of this, including any juices, back into the pan. Put the pips in a small piece of muslin and tie up with string. Add this to the pan, as the pips will aid the setting process of the jam.

4. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring until it has completely dissolved. Boil rapidly for about 20 mins until setting point is reached. Test the setting point by dropping a little marmalade onto the chilled saucer, allowing it to cool for 1 min, then pushing gently with your finger. If the marmalade crinkles, the setting point is reached; if not, continue to boil and check again in a few mins.

5. Leave to cool for 10-15 mins (this will prevent the lemon shreds sinking to the bottoms of the jars), remove the muslin bag, then gently stir in one direction to disperse any scum (small air bubbles on the surface). Pour jam into warm sterilised jars and seal straight away.

Seems pretty easy and I have jars at the ready, will post an update once I’m done.