Saturday, September 27, 2014

We're building a house!

I know it's been a while since I've posted here, but let's get straight to the AWESOME news: we're building a house! Thanks to the generous support of both our families (and the Queensland government's First Home Owners Grant), we're not just buying our first home, but building it exactly to our specifications. After months of display villages and research, we've found our block and our design and are going through the early stages of the process now.

The block

We looked at a few different land developments and independent blocks but we were always pretty keen on the Ormeau Ridge development by Stockland. It's handy to the motorway and transport a really nice little quiet community with gentle hills and lots of parks and bushland. Our block is opposite natural bushland which runs down to the Pimpama River ("river" being a very generous term), which means that we do have a bushfire rating of 12.5 on the block - this is the minimum level of bushfire rating so it's still very low risk. It does mean that we have to meet certain requirements like extra insulation, upgraded window screens, and specific front doors, but a lot of it was things we'd want to upgrade anyway so it's not a huge extra cost.

Our "dirt"
It doesn't look like much yet, but it's ours! You can't really see our boundaries yet because there's still works going on in the land release. As soon as we have a properly defined block with a nice lot plate on it I'll do a proper photo.

The outlook from the front across the road to the bushland
Our beautiful view will be more beautiful by the time we move in - there's going to be a nice wide walking path with shrubberies and stuff. It's very peaceful here and there's plenty of bird sounds. Today when we visited there were kookaburras.

Obligatory "SOLD" sign pic! Our very own slice of Australia.

The house

We shopped around a lot of builders and I must have looked at hundreds of house plans before finally narrowing it down to Plantation Homes. They're part of the Henley Group and one of the biggest builders in Australia. It was really hard to decide but in the end Plantation won mainly because of their beautiful kitchens, friendly helpful staff, and competitive price. We went through a few different designs with Plantation before settling on the Bronte 4.

Bronte 4 Floorplan
To best suit our block, which runs from south-east at the street to north-west at the back, we've flipped the front of the standard Bronte floorplan and then flipped the whole house, which is why it's backwards in the photo. This puts the garage in the south corner and our alfresco and yard space in the north corner. We also added an extra sliding door to the alfresco from the living area. Bedroom 2 is our guest bedroom with the main bathroom as a semi-ensuite, and the "Kids Retreat" is our library. We get a giant walk-in pantry and a double vanity in the ensuite as standard, both of which were requirements.

Colour Selection

The bit I was most looking forward to with building was the colour selection, but it's actually really overwhelming! There's so many decisions to be made, right down to not only the handles on the kitchen cabinetry but whether you want them horizontal or vertical. Today we went to an information session with Plantation then spent 3 hours wandering around the colour showroom making notes. We've got a pretty good idea of most of the colours we want, but of course when we get to actually go through it with an interior designer we'll probably have to change things. Even down to the colour of the walls - they had a book of over 100 different shades of white, it's crazy!

Ensuite colour scheme
This is our current planned ensuite floor and wall tile and feature mosaic strip. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the tile we had chosen for the main living area, or the carpet for the bedrooms - I'll make sure I do when we actually do the colour selection. You can see a corner of the main floor tile on the left.

Our current choice of render for the front of the house is "Raku" and brick for the rest of the house is "Perisher":

Because the facade is therefore going to be fairly dark, we think we're going to go with the Colorbond "Monument" colour for the roof, and "Windspray" for the garage door, guttering, and fascia.  Having the lighter colour on the garage and trims will help break up the facade. We are of course also having a TARDIS-blue front door:

You can see the Colorbond colours below on the right. For the cabinets and kitchen, we're still not settled. Because the floor and walls are fairly light, we're currently thinking dark cabinetry and then in the kitchen, a lighter benchtop:

Colour swatches
Dave prefers the benchtop on the left, while I prefer the one in the middle. An alternative is the one on the right, but then we'd have to change the cabinetry colour. Dave ultimately gets the casting vote in the kitchen so at this stage we'll be going with the one on the left. For our own ensuite, we're going with darker shades for nearly everything, while for the guest bathroom we're keeping it a bit lighter.

The main thing we still need to decide on is the kitchen splashback. We know we want something a bit brighter and funkier but otherwise we're not sure yet. We get a small selection of tiles as standard, and can upgrade to other tiles or a glass splashback if we want.

Of course, it's entirely possible that when we do the actual colour selection appointment we just throw out the whole thing and start again from scratch. Except for the TARDIS blue door. We're keeping that.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What's Happening in 2014?

It's been a bit quiet around here, sorry. I lost my blogging mojo for a while there. I'm not going to try to guarantee 2014 will be any different either - this is a very big year for us!

2014 brings me to 10 years in Australia, which means that Dave and I have now been together for 10 years. He's about to turn 40, which means we've been together a quarter of his life. And more than a quarter of mine, because I'm younger! Our 4th wedding anniversary also happens this year.

I'm also going back to university (again). I'm starting an Associate Degree in IT through Southern Cross University, studying online. This is a big move for me, but I have plenty of support from friends in the field, so I feel confident I'll be able to see this through. It's taken me a while to figure out what I want to do and what I'm good at, but I finally have a clear and realistic vision to work towards.

On the game front, there's three that are occupying my time right now. The biggest of those is World of Warcraft - I reopened my account after several years of being away. I'm actually really enjoying playing again, without the pressure of raiding. It's fun to play how I want to play instead of how I'm told by someone else. Apart from WoW, I've also been playing the Beta of Hearthstone, Blizzard's new online CCG. It's pretty fun and I think I'll continue with it once it's out of Beta. Finally, I've been spending some time on XCOM: Enemy Within, the expansion to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. XCOM is good stress relief when I just need to mindlessly slaughter some aliens.

As for my reading, well, I didn't *quite* reach my 2013 Goodreads challenge goal of 45 books - I topped out at 41. I didn't read half of my Off The Shelf books either. They're still occupying my "To Read" shelf in my room though, and I plan on working my way through them all eventually. I set a Goodreads goal for 2014 of 50 books, but as I started reading The Wheel of Time again I'm not sure how I'll go. This year I'm also going to try a Reading Bingo challenge. It's a bit easier than some of the others I've done before. Here is my progress so far:

You can see I've already crossed off some of the squares! The very first book I finished in 2014 met 4 of these criteria already. The Eye of the World, the first book of The Wheel of Time, is more than 500 pages long, has non-human characters, is more than 10 years old, and my copy has a blue cover. I'll try to complete all of these squares and keep my blog updated with my progress.

What are your plans for 2014?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Jen Does PC Repair II

In the last edition of Jen Does PC Repair I talked about Dave's aura that interferes with electronics. I've since read The Dresden Files series and I'm convinced he's a wizard of some kind (one of the traits of wizards is just such an aura).

Last weekend we went to the inaugural PAXAUS (more on this in a later post) and while there we bought Dave a new graphics card (a Gainward GeForce GTX 760) to replace his old crossfired Radeon 4770s. They wouldn't run DirectX 11 and we could get a really nice deal at PAX (with lots of free swag) so we went for it. We got home yesterday and I installed it straight away and everything seemed fine...until his PC randomly switched off after a few hours. I figured we'd kicked a cable or something and didn't think much of it until it did it again today, and I realised it was ridiculously hot - his CPU got up to 87C. The power supply wasn't overloaded at all - it's rated for 620W and he's only running about 130W - but it seemed like the extra heat from the new card was too much for his case cooling to handle. So we carted it down to Umart to discuss it with them.

They said a first quick fix would be to just get some new thermal paste for the  CPU cooler, but since it's the middle of winter and we were already having cooling issues we decided to upgrade the CPU cooler to a water cooling system. The Umart guys suggested the entry-level Corsair Hydro Series H60. Unfortunately, they weren't available to do an install until early next week. Having just returned from 10 days of no PC (in the middle of the Steam Summer Sale) and with 4 more days before he has to go back to work, being PC-less wasn't a very favorable option. So I decided to take the plunge and install it myself.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

BA's Posting Challenge 14: Icebreaker

This week's topic: How do you get on to the topic of books when socialising, especially with new faces?

Socialising with new faces? I do not understand...

Seriously though, this is actually really easy right now thanks to the huge success of HBO's Game of Thrones. Most people have watched (or at least heard of) the show, and if they haven't it's generally easier to talk about TV than books. Once you get them started on the show, you just ask "Have you read the books the series is based on? The book series is called A Song of Ice and Fire and it's also really good!" And then, depending on their reaction, you can go from there. If they say "oh no, I don't read books", you can politely excuse yourself and move on to someone else at the party. Because who wants to socialise with someone who doesn't read books?

This post is part of the above Posting Challenge

Sunday, July 7, 2013

BA's Posting Challenge 12 & 13: Your Changes / Cha, Cha, Changes

Combined Week 12 & 13 Topics: How have you changed since your blog began? What has changed with your blog since it began?

I started this blog back in April 2010. I'd just gotten married, I was studying, and wanted a place to talk about my upcoming honeymoon and share stuff about my studies (like poetry). I also wanted to share outfit posts, because I'd recently started becoming involved in Fat Acceptance, and wanted to be more visible.

266 posts later, my blog and I have both evolved. I'm no longer studying (although I'm desperate to start again, maybe next year...) and I'm more confident in myself and my place in the Fat Acceptance community. I've gone back to the feminist roots I started putting down as a teenager, and educated myself about feminism and privilege. My blog has most recently evolved to be more books than anything else. I don't mind that, reading is a big focus of my life right now and I love talking about books.

This blog was never meant to have any kind of theme, and I still resist that strongly. It's a personal blog, more like a diary. I write about whatever I want to write about. It goes through phases. I write most about my outfits and body image and fashion, and about food; about Postcrossing, which I've recently got back in to; and about books and reading.

My blog posts get emailed to my husband, my best friend, and my Mum, so I must admit to a bit of self-censoring for that reason. I still keep my more "radical" thoughts to other platforms. My tumblr is probably where my most controversial stuff is, hidden in between the lolcats. It's mostly reblogs - there are so many fantastic people out there that say things far more coherently than I can about feminism and privilege.

I think that one of my most defining characteristics is my drive to learn. Anything, everything, I'm always trying to learn new things. And so I think that this means I am constantly changing and evolving as I learn and adapt. Which means my blog is constantly changing and evolving too.

This post is part of the above Posting Challenge