Recalibrated

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This blog post has been unfolding in my mind over the past few days as the next phase of our lives – retirement – is on the horizon but looming ever closer.

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We have been ’empty-nesters’, with no children at home for over 12 years.  This coincided with our move from Brisbane to our current home on a semi-rural block of 1.5 acres.  There has been no shortage of things to do as we have developed the garden as well as undertaken several renovations to the house.  There are other projects which we are looking forward to working on once we have more time but most of the major work has been done.  Additionally, we have gradually sorted, culled, decluttered and generally streamlined a lot of stuff so the day-to-day cleaning and maintenance is becoming simpler and easier.

To add to the busyness we have both continued to work full-time, however, this will change when we retire in the middle of next year.

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I am regularly quizzed by well-meaning people as to what I am going to when I retire and my somewhat truthful but flippant answer is ‘travel’.  Of course, travel will be only a small part of what we do.  I think my comment to GMan a few weeks ago really summed it up when I said that I was looking forward to having 7 days to do what I currently try to fit into 2 days of the weekend.

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A few things recently have led me to rethink how I manage my working hours which I am fortunate enough to have very flexible arrangements.  However, this has led to me not working in the most efficient manner at times.  Even though I will still be working full-time I have decided to structure my office and working from home times so that I will only work 4 days each week with Mondays off each week apart from once a month when I will swap it for a Tuesday so that I can continue my involvement in a community project.  Thursdays will a full day of working from home and I will be in the office on the other 3 days.  There is still a degree of flexibility if I need to swap my days around for a particular reason.

I believe that having a 3 day weekend most weeks will allow me to do things I want to do at home without feeling quite so rushed and be be organised for the remainder of the week.  I am thinking particularly of cooking and meal preparation and gardening.

With only 10 months (but who’s counting) until I retire I also need to consider how I will manage the workload whilst handing over the role to my replacement in the first half of next year.

There are certainly different seasons of our lives and what was necessary when I had young children is not relevant in my current situation.  We are all at different stages of our lives and sometimes the biggest hurdle is actually identifying what is best for you and your family now.  It will not be the same as mine but by finding what works for you will help to promote a sense of calm, peace and gratitude while minimising angst and stress.

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It is admirable to strive for goals and targets but do not wish your life away.  Be grateful for what you have today because this stage of your life will not last forever.

 

 

The Grand Staircase

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I have always regarded these steps as simply the steps from the driveway to the verandah but last weekend my cousin referred to it as ‘the grand staircase’ which has a rather nice ring to it.

This project has been several years in the planning and some weeks in the execution but the entrance stairway has been replaced and is now completed.

This post shows the demolition of the old steps and creation of the replacement.

We have waited several weeks for the finishing touches which were done this week.  Instead of a swathe of fresh, grey concrete we now have a textured Covercrete finish in our chosen colours.  It provides a durable, non-slip surface which tones with the surrounding landscaping and painted wall.

The addition of the railing is primarily a safety feature but also adds to the overall effect of a grand entrance.

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A closer look.

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Looking down.

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It has taken a number of years but I feel like the entrance to our home is finally completed.

Fruits of Our Labours

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Sometimes you seem to spend ages beavering away in the background with not a lot to show for it.  Then it finally comes together.  Yesterday was one of those days.

After about 5 weeks without a door on the dining room, it is finally finished and re-hung.  However, it was much more than a 5 week job if you take into account all of the time (years) that it remained unpainted and the agonising debate over what colour to use. We are both extremely happy with the result so it was worth the wait.

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And the view when it is closed.

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Of course, GMan has identified a couple of minor touch-ups which require a steady hand so I have been seconded to do those and the glass needs a final clean as there are a spots of paint on it.

Whilst not completely finished, here are some progress photos of the entrance walkway/arbour that has been in progress for a few months.

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Yesterday we added the final cross rail as well as the wire of the lower sections.

Here is a close-up of one of the mandevilla creepers that we planted. I hope that in time they will cover most of structure.  We have planted 3 and need to buy one more.

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The lawn has been dug up from beneath the walkway and will be paved.  We also need to work our exactly what size and spacing we want for the slatted roof.

 

A Three-Pronged Approach

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Although the blog posts have not necessarily reflected it, we have slowly but surely been concurrently working on several projects around the house.  It is interesting to note that they all relate to the approaches and entrances to our home.

First is the walkway we are building which you can read about in this post.  The walkway will provide a more defined entrance to what is essentially our backyard.  It is close to the vegetable garden and the back steps that lead to the area of the verandah which we most often use for entertaining.  We recently took the next step and bought the timber for the horizontal rails.  I have painted them this weekend.

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This was not the only painting I did.  While I had the tin of ‘Woodland Grey’ paint open, I started on painting near the main entrance to the front verandah.

Yesterday I did the first coat of the wall.

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Today I made a start on the steps.  You can still see some of the original salmon colour in the section of blockwork under the verandah which is visible between the stair treads.

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Apart from the fact that I had the paint tin open, the real reason I painted this areas this weekend is that I wanted them done before the finishing touches are put to the concrete stairs.

This is the before photo which I took when we had pulled up some of the pavers.  You can see that the timber sleepers were beginning to rot.  It was a trip hazard and had no handrail which makes things difficult when we have elderly or less able guests.

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The builders weaving their magic.

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The end result.

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The concrete has to cure completely before the final step which is to have a non-slip finish applied.  This will be a similar colour to the surrounding rocks and will hopefully blend in to the surroundings much more than the fresh, grey concrete.

I decided to paint the adjacent wall as it is much easier to do before the final surface is applied.  There will be a short railing on the left hand side of the 2 steps up to the verandah so it made sense to do the steps before that is installed, too.

We are gradually painting all of the besser block base at the western end of the house and the next section to be done will be the walls surrounding the garage doors.  I will be glad to see the end of the salmon pink colour.

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I have not been the only one painting.  For the past couple of weeks GMan has been working on the door which leads from the verandah into the dining room.

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It has been bare timber since it was installed about 9 years ago, mainly because we could not decide whether to stain or paint it and if so, what colour?  The exterior of the house is very neutral and this will provide a real pop of colour as well echoing some of the tones in the lounge/dining room.  I will post some photos once the door is re-hung.  GMan has been busy sanding and painting the door frame as well as the doorstep.

There will be more updates as well as photos as these projects progress further.

Finished

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The last 10 days have been pretty busy due to some self-imposed deadlines.  One of these was to complete the baby quilt for one of my work colleagues.

After completing the patchwork, I added the batting and backing before doing some simple rows of straight stitching to quilt it and the final step was to add the binding which I finished by hand.

Here is the end result.

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And a very happy mum-to-be (holding the quilt doubled over).

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The Home List

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Happy New Year!!

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I mentioned in my last post that I did not have any major resolutions or grand plans for 2018.  However, I have created a list of things we want to get done.  We have agreed that we will not take any major overseas holidays this year but will try get some things done around the house.  We have been overseas for each of the last 4 years and while we thoroughly enjoy the trips it does not leave much time to catch up on domestic tasks.

We are at work during the week and find that we think of jobs to do faster than we can accomplish them.  Many are things we can do but some will definitely require some professional assistance.  In those cases we still need to make the contact and arrange for the job to be done.  GMan is considering taking some annual leave during the year to try to get ahead on some projects.

Here is the initial list – in no particular order.

Make 3 more raised garden beds
Connect tank and get new outdoor taps
Make outdoor sink
Have back wall washed
Replace front steps and add handrail
Revarnish verandah
Revarnish verandah handrail
Repaint ceiling in kitchen, hall, lounge/dining room and front entry
Repaint front entry
Recoat slate floor (front entry and fireplace surround)
Refinish vinyl floors
Replace 3 security doors
Paint external door to dining room
Paint board on wardrobe in 3rd bedroom
Finish painting edges of verandah ceiling
Create garden bed outside vegie garden
Make gabion seat for above garden bed
Build lychgate
Build pergola
Remove tree near front steps and replace
Remove trees beside driveway and replace
Replace garage roller doors
Finish concreting and pebbles and verandah
Paint exterior blockwork
Assess guttering – new or repaint
Battens under the house
Make rack with pulley system in workshop
Blinds for lounge/dining room

The first step will be to assign priorities to the items on the list.  There will other things added over time that may well take priority.  If I am completely honest I really don’t think that this will all be completed in 2018 but we have to start somewhere.

I am excited to report that the board on the wardrobe has now been painted so that is one thing off the list.  It was probably the smallest and easiest task on the list but they are often the ones which are most likely to be overlooked.  The 2 horizontal boards had been removed when we painted the room years ago.  GMan bought a length of replacement board but it was not put up until a few months ago.  I was determined not to leave it for years before doing the painting.

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There will be updates during the year as we hopefully make some progress on the outstanding items on the list.

 

Running Repairs

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I feel as though I could open my own repair cafe at the moment.

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Yesterday I repaired the cover for my iPhone rather than buying a new one.  I have a tiny tube of supa-glue and I managed to re-attach the plastic case to the cover and also re-join the split along one side of the plastic case.  I did such a good job that it is not really visible in these photos.  Unfortunately, I did not get any ‘before’ photos as the battery for my camera was flat and I had to recharge it.

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Tonight I did the second step of the repair when I replaced the small magnet which actually secures the closure on the case.  I had lost the original one some time ago so it did not actually fasten.  The replacement magnet was salvaged from the cover of a little notebook.  The notebook had become detached from the cover and my grand-daughter was ready to toss the cardboard cover so I retrieved the magnet before she did so.

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While I had the supa-glue out, I also repaired a Christmas ornament which had a mishap when being hung on the tree.

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The antler and the oar back in place.

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Finally, this is a dress which belongs to my grand-daughter.  It is strapless but not really practical for a 9 year old.  It needs some shoulder straps and I have found some black fabric which I will use.  I will do the sewing on the weekend during daylight hours as I find it too difficult to sew with black fabric and thread at night.

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