Monday, December 13, 2010

Cheeses are the reason for the season
On Saturday we had a mini-working-bee. We dusted and vacuumed, mopped and tidied, rearranged and tarted up. The reason for all this activity was of course our guests on Sunday.
The house ended up looking fabo. I've brought the daybed in from the verandah and put our persion rug down too. It's a bit mish mashy, but it works. Lately, I've been following instinct rather than magazine pictures.

Needless to say, we also had beautiful flowers to celebrate the occasion. Sorry about my terrible photos, they could all do with a bit of cropping and some colour correction.

My husband and I also whipped out and got ourselves an early Christmas present. This is our new little Yamaha Ipod dock. It's white and grey and sits quite unobtrusively on the kitchen bench. Looove having music again.

We had our lovely neighbours over in the afternoon for a lot of cheese and champagne.....and cherry-topped patty cakes.
We couldn't ask for better neighbours, they're tops!!

Although we consider our neighbours to be very special, our extra special guests were actually here earlier in the day.
A week ago or so I called Mrs Baby to see if she and Mr Baby would like to come and see our handy work. As coincidence would have it, Mrs Baby had only just posted me a Christmas card with a note saying they'd love to come and see the house.
It was so good to see them. Mrs Baby  follows this blog so she had seen a lot of photos already.  They were interested to see some of the original furniture in the new context.
They didn't stay long unfortunately, but we planned to have a lunch or something next Christmas, and we'll also have more work for them to see.
Now, a small confession, Euphemia is not the real name of our house. Euphemia was Mr Baby's mother, and she grew up in Scotland in a village called Motherwell, and that is in fact the name of our house.
This is the old copper sign at our front door.

This photo below is the Baby family. You can see Mr Baby standing in the centre, as the youngest of the family. That's Gwennie on the right hand side with the plaits, and that's Doris sitting on the left. Euphemia is on the right hand side of Mr Baby.  They all grew up, and some of them grew old, in our house - and it is our house now. It definitely feels like home.

This is Mr Baby yesterday when he visited. That's also Mrs Baby and me and my offspring. They will be the next children to grow up here.

And that is where our story will end, on-line anyway. We still have lots of work to do, but we'll plod along at the pace that money and time allows.
Thank you for reading my blog, and giving me your encouragement and advice. How wonderful are blogs! They are a window into someone else's life and they allow like-minded people to link up all over the world to share ideas and inspiration. I'm looking forward to resuming my role as the voyeur.
Thank you of course to Mr and Mrs Baby for giving us Motherwell. If she had gone on the open market,  competition would have been so fierce I'm not sure we would have ended up with her. We consider how lucky we are every day.
Now I'm off to prepare for the new year. I'm positive on January 1, I will awake to find myself a brand new person who eats well, exercises every day, doesn't drink, saves money and is well organised.  I may even find little blue birds circling my head, Snow White-style.
So from me and Motherwell, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A frangipani mystery
Our frangipani tree seems to have flowers in two shades of pink. Is this normal?

Friday, December 10, 2010

You can't make an omelet...without breaking some eggs
So the saying goes, and we broke lots of eggs. The poor house had quite the face lift.
The builders started with a bang, firstly by excavating under the house and removing 37 trucks of dirt!
A retaining wall and steel posts were then added. Whenever the words 'retaining wall' are used by a builder, brace yourself, there are going to be significant costs involved. It's a necessary cost, but it's hard to get excited by it.

Apart from building in the lower level, we changed the outside of the house very little. We added on this wraparound verandah, but it seems like a natural progression because the sleepout, a later addition, protruded from the side of the house. The verandah just neatened it all up.

The rooms at the front of the house (the back is shown above) stayed pretty much the same, but we changed things around at the back of the house. We moved the kitchen, turned the third upstairs bedroom into a bathroom and stairwell, and split the long sleepout into an ensuite, pantry and the 'void'.
This photo below is looking through the soon-to-be kitchen, into the pantry.
Whenever the builders removed a vj wall they recycled the timber and used it again in new walls, which we were happy about.

If you're about to renovate prepare yourself for dust and mess.....lots of both.

Originally, we intended to just excavate downstairs, pour the concrete slab and put in the steel, then batton it. However, the builder was able to build it in for a very reasonable cost. It was much cheaper to have him do it while they were here and set up, then to have them come back again at a later date. Fitting it out will happen sometime in the future, so for the moment it remains like this.

This is the kitchen going in.

Below is the infamous hole in the bench which was in the wrong place. The bench ended up having to be replaced!

We found this (below) in a metal box in the house. It is pages of hand written instructions on how to build our house.

Briefly, on a different matter. You know my lack of skill never prevents me attempting yet another 'crafting' task. Below is my tissue paper pom pom. I got the instructions off the Martha Stewart website, and thought it sounded so easy even I could make them....turns out I was wrong. Mine is all wilted and just doesn't look quite right.

This is my latest find. I found this old cane chair in a second hand shop. It was a hefty $80 but I had a good feeling about it. I have since taken it into And Woven Cane. Mr Twaddle told me it is from the Victorian era, probably made between 1850 and 1890. He said if he was selling it in his store it would be at least $600 in its current state.
It is ridiculously well made and still solid as a rock. Apparently traditional colours for it would have been pastel shades, black or royal blue!

I have two solid days of prep before our special guests arrive on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In the beginning....again
I'm re-capping for those who may not have read the blog from the beginning. This is only the bare essentials though.
In April last year (2009) we purchased our house, Euphemia. She was a graceful old wreck that we had admired from afar for years, afterall, we had lived next door to her for nearly ten years.
Euphemia was built by a family in 1904 and by 2009, only the baby of the family was surviving. He is now 90. It was Mr Baby who sold us the house lock, stock and barrel - 105 years worth of clutter.
This is what she looked like from the outside.
Inside the house was dark and dank and full of treasures. Every dresser and chest of drawers seemed to be bursting with 'domestic debris'.

Even in all that mess, her gorgeous bone structure was still visible.

The ceilings are 12 and a half feet high.

The first day of clearing out we had twelve people helping us. At the end of the day, after lots of chicken sandwiches and champagne,  we had unearthed some weird and wonderful things.

Euphemia had absolutely everything left; china, cutlery, make-up in the bathroom, clothes, shoes, handbags, personal papers, photos and postcards, old linen, even food still in the kitchen. It's taken so long to clean her out that I still have boxes unsorted, 18 months later.

There was even things under the house....the really old stuff! This metal trunk had family photos inside that were too decayed to see properly, an old broken chandelier (still in pieces) and children's fancy dress-ups.

While our story is interesting, it's not unique. It's not that unusual for houses to be sold with contents. We know people just around the corner from us who received all the furniture as well when they bought their house. My mother had a friend who bought a house with contents in the 1960s. It included everything right down to the Bentley in the garage apparently.
When I first started my blog I had a comment left from a lady who had purchased a house in the Victorian goldfields. She found out all the furniture had been taken out of the house before she moved in and thrown down an old mine. The former owner thought it was all just old junk!!!!
I don't feel I've scratched the surface, but you get the idea?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Did I mention we are having Christmas at Euphemia this year? It's a quiet sit down dinner for 19. We've got quite a bit of work to do between now and then.
While I have some quiet now I thought I'd post some pictures of the old girl as she stands today....just a few snapshots.

Our frangipani, which we assumed was on its last legs, has flowered beautifully. We were giving it one last Summer to prove its worth before being replaced, but as it turns out, it's a gorgeous (albeit lopsided) keeper!

We have very special guests visiting on the weekend, which I'm excited about.
This week I'm going to try and get some befores, during and after photos to post, and I'd like to include a debrief of the whole process thus far!
If you've been wondering anything about anything, as far as what I've been banging on about, then now is the time to ask.....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hedging our bets
We've always been a fan of the hedge. We've put one in every single house we've owned, usually the trusty, hearty, fast growing murraya.
Feeling extra inspired by the gardens of Melbourne designer, Paul Bangay, yesterday we whipped in a murraya hedge along our front fence.
The front footpath has long been neglected, and really needs some attention.
This is some of Mr Bangay's work.

I really love this one below...

This is our hedge, more modest indeed, but give it time and water and it'll come along nicely.
The upside.....


I have also been going through Gwennie and Doris' sewing paraphenalia. There was a whole room of it at Euphemia. Some I'll keep, but most I think I'll get rid of. There's buttons, beads, scissors and thimbles galore.