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Our house: Year One

This time last year we had just moved into our house and it felt so strange. We went from living in a 1 bedroom plus study, tiny little apartment that had lots of noise from outside (thanks to a pub across the road) to living in a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs that, other than the frogs (and the cows) and sports on the ovals nearby, was very quiet. Our house does like to make unusual noises though… especially when only one of us is home.

Yes, there are cows near our house!
Yes, there are cows near our house!

The first time we heard cows it was really odd, they sounded like they were right outside and we wondered why there would be a cow right outside but it turns out the sound just carries from the farm up the street and maybe cows are just loud.

The farm about 5 mins away
The farm about 5 mins away

It took a long time to come home and not feel like I was just staying in someone else’s home, someone more grown up than me. How could this big home be ours? That’s crazy! It had been years since I’d lived somewhere with a yard and a clothesline. The clothesline was one of the first things I used and it was awesome. Until it became the home of some particularly weblike spiders. They really love making their webs over the clothesline.

Once spring came (we moved in in autumn) we decided to get some weeding done. It had been 6 months+ since the yard had been weeded and wow, I never want to do that again! Our arms and legs hurt for days after from all the bending, cutting and ripping out of weeds. After that I decided to plant some poppies and sunflowers. But, as expected with my lack of gardening skills, only one of the sunflowers ever took and it was a mammoth sunflower! I chose a nice looking pack of seeds and didn’t really think about the fact it said it grew to around 1.8m high. This thing just grew and grew and grew.. it took months to flower and we wondered if we’d been looking after a massive weed. It basically had it’s own ecosystem going on. Finally, a few days after new years it decided to flower.

Our sunflower, and why yes, that is the roof
Our sunflower, and why yes, that is the roof

I tried to get a selfie with it one day but it was so much taller than me that I couldn’t get me and it in the frame together.

The strange thing about buying a house is that you find all these random quirks that it has and you wonder a) how did the previous owners live with it like that or b) what the hell does that do? After a year we still have things we don’t know the purpose of. It would be great if the sellers would be provide a ‘Our house: The Quirks’ handbook when you move in so you know how to change the time on the oven (we left ours on daylight savings time until it actually changed to daylight savings time because we couldn’t work out how to change it), what that weird switch does, why aren’t there exhaust fans in the bathrooms, etc. So you can get an idea of the history of the house.

It took us a few months to notice that in our kitchen there were under cupboard lights and a few months after that (when an electrician came to visit) yes, they did work and here’s how you use them.

Our kitchen and hey, those lights do work!
Our kitchen and hey, those lights do work!

While it took me a long time to get used to living here – I really missed living near everything. Our place isn’t really that far from things but it was further than we had been living and I felt sad we didn’t have a local shops within a few minutes walk – there have been some definite upsides. We own the place (well, the bank does and they charge us lots of interest for the privilege of lending us a bunch of cash) and we can put holes in the wall if we like (and on accident.. oops).. we hung a mirror and a floating shelf and felt accomplished. We’ve learnt how to fix some things instead of getting people in to fix them for us… although that also included unclogging a really, really gross drain. When you’re pulling blonde hair and grey gunk out of a drain and neither of you are blonde, you start to feel a bit queasy about whose gunk you’re taking out of that drain. I also mowed a lawn for the first time in my life, I still can’t start the mower by myself but I can mow the lawn and I have to say, when you mow over a particularly tall weed it’s sort of exhilarating.

Plus we get to see variations of this every day (although today is gloomy and not exciting):

sunset2

sunset3

sunset5

sunset6

Yeah.. I like taking photos of the pond at sunset.. if you couldn’t tell.

Maybe during year 2 I’ll take more photos of the inside of the house, rather than just the surroundings.

Delicious chocolate!

Happy Easter!

Easter is by far my favourite holiday, which has nothing to do with religion and pretty much everything to do with chocolate. Also the 4 day weekend doesn’t hurt. I wait patiently all year for the deliciousness that is Lindt bunny’s.. I don’t know why they taste better than the blocks, they just do somehow.

This year we decided, given we don’t particularly have any religious ties to Easter, that we’d share our eggs on Good Friday rather than on Easter Sunday, mostly because we wanted to enjoy some chocolate before we take our trip to Melbourne next week. We decided not to get each other much this year because we’re trying to decrease our snack/junk intake but.. we decided that after I’d bought about 80% of eggs for Jarrod – oh well.

Easter1
My easter haul – not pictured, a lindt bunny that had it’s ears bitten off almost instantly and a bunch of Cadbury eggs!

 

Jarrod's haul - not pictured, the display box full of Malteser bunny's!
Jarrod’s haul – not pictured, the display box full of Malteser bunny’s!

Sometimes I go a bit crazy when it comes to easter. I think up the presentation and how I want to do that.. this year it was about the ‘MaltEaster’ bunnies. They’re one of Jarrod’s favourites and he kept hinting how he would like some.. so I put together the above assortment and then put the rest of the box on his desk as an extra surprise. I assume buying 30+ of them means getting the hint.

.. Plus there are pirate bunnies, yargh!

He also got the hint about Lindt bunnies and 3 of them (in milk, dark and hazelnut) are hiding in the above shot. Are lindt hazelnut bunnies new this year for everyone or just Australia? They’re pretty amazing!

This year I also decided, for some crazy reason, to make eggs for people rather than buying them. It all started when I saw this mould at Aldi and thought they looked neat. Little did I know that it was going to be a task that took hours and left us with chocolate all over the kitchen. I remember doing chocolate moulds as a kid and never remember it being so time consuming or difficult.. but then I guess as a kid I didn’t really care if the chocolate was tempered or if I went outside of the moulds.. chocolate was chocolate. And Mum and Dad were the ones that had to clean up the kitchen.

Delicious chocolate!
Delicious chocolate!

I was pretty concerned about the tempering of the chocolate as I don’t have a candy thermometer and I wanted the bunny’s and eggs to be able to stand up on their own in room temperature if needed. I ended up using this technique with the microwave of Ann Reardon’s. She makes the reason you need to temper chocolate easy to understand (by way of lego blocks) and shows you step by step how to achieve tempered chocolate without a candy thermometer.

After we got the tempering done it was time to get the chocolate into the moulds! Which sounded really easy but let me tell you, don’t use a spoon because it is far too big for the moulds and makes things very, very messy. We ended up using a snaplock bag with a tip cut off to ‘pipe’ it into the moulds. This means you are able to get into the corners easily and hopefully not miss any spots. While we did have a bag explosion at one point (it started oozing out down my hand) it was pretty easy with this method.

Piping into the moulds
Piping into the moulds

Once you have piped in enough chocolate it’s time to smack the mould against the bench hard a couple of times and shake it around to get it into all the little crevices in the mould. The smacking helps even out the chocolate as well as removing air bubbles.

Milk chocolate in the moulds
Milk chocolate in the moulds

This was the mould that we completed second, after we’d learnt the ‘spooning into moulds is hard’ lesson. It was so much easier and less messy as you can see. Unfortunately we ran out of chocolate and had to melt some more at this point.

Into the fridge they went to set for about 30 minutes and we hoped when they came out we wouldn’t break any.

Assembly time!
Assembly time!

We had some issue with the white chocolate setting too fast and also the explosion so some of them turned out quite rough (as pictured above) and well.. I snapped 2 of the white bunny’s :( Hopefully our emergency surgery works and they don’t snap again on our second attempt.

And complete!
And complete!

Completed bunny! The idea was to wrap it all up in cellophane but the cellophane I got is rectangular and isn’t really playing with us to get them packaged as I’d like so I’ll need to think of something else.

All in all I’m not sure I’d do this again, maybe it’d be easier next time because we would have learnt from all the issues that popped up. I was lucky Jarrod was there to help otherwise I’d probably have never got to the end and there would have been even more chocolate over the kitchen.

Also, Jarrod took most of the photos because I was covered in chocolate, how cool does the chopped chocolate one look? I want to eat it all!

Now it’s time to go munch on a Lindt bunny!

Three Years

It’s Jarrod and my third anniversary!

We’ve gone from hanging out on Friday nights as friends, drinking and doing stupid things to hanging in on Friday nights as a couple, not drinking and doing whatever we want in our house because we can!

We’ve gone from having no where to call our own, seeing each other on weekends and a few hours during the week to living together in the home we bought together, seeing each other every day and night.

We’ve gone from safe foods to Jarrod allowing me to take him places he’s never been before and trying foods he never would have previously.

We’ve gone from being shy around each other (the first time we slept in the same bed, Jarrod wore jeans to sleep in – I told him he was crazy) to letting it all hang out :)

It’s been a happy, fun, interesting, silly, super cool time and sometimes I wonder how life allowed me to find someone who understands and loves my crazy. And then I don’t question it and just be grateful it did.

#DearMe

At the moment YouTube is doing a campaign called #DearMe in celebration of International Women’s Day where you give advice to your younger self. I’m too much of a wuss to make videos of myself so I thought I’d do a blog post instead.

#DearMe: Things will get better

Dear Me – 15 years ago

Yes, you’re the weird girl that lots of people like, but some people don’t. Don’t worry about them, they’re not going to matter. Your friends will change and no, she isn’t one of them any more no matter how much she tried to win back your friendship. People will like you for who you are and want to be around you because you encourage them to be the best version of themselves they can. That doesn’t mean you can’t sit on the internet all day or that you can’t stay at home for the entire school holidays and forget where you took off your shoes at the start of them. You don’t need to go out and do everything, there’s nothing wrong with staying home and doing what you want to do.

Don’t feel bad for sleeping in Modern History because you’ll drop that class anyway and wonder how a teacher can make learning history so boring!

Mostly, don’t be sad. Don’t get so angry because no one sees that you’re sad and yes, they probably would care if you weren’t in the world any more.

Dear Me – 10 years ago

That boy isn’t right for you. No matter what you do or try, he isn’t going to change. No matter how much you want to help him. He just won’t. I’m not sure I can emphasise this enough, when the alarm bells start ringing in your head, listen to them, because they’re right. He’s going to cost so much of your energy, your money, your time and he will take a lot of who you are until you’re not sure if there is any of you left. Read up on emotional abuse and realise that not all abuse in relationships is physical. People can be manipulative and emotionally abusive too.

Dear Me – 5 years ago

Refer to the above. You haven’t learnt your lesson yet, but you will. You will see that things can get better. You don’t have to live the way you do and you deserve more. You can be around people that are interested in you for you. People that will encourage you to work out what you want to do and do them.. You might not have worked those things out yet, but that is ok too.

Just remember, you make things get better! It all starts with you.

In Five Years

Not many questions scare me more than “So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. I don’t even know how this became a standard question to ask people. Are we really expected to plan ahead for 5 years, working hard towards that goal and hoping for the best? That sounds sort of terrifying, especially if it doesn’t turned out as planned.

If someone had asked me 5 years ago (and they did) where I thought I’d be today, I can guarantee you it wouldn’t be where I am now. In fact, one woman pushed this point and asked me about my goals and what do I want to do and I should write it all down and wouldn’t it be wonderful? I did my best to stop myself from crying in front of her because no, I couldn’t see how it would be wonderful. I never thought I could have the life I do now. I always expected I’d be that same person, struggling to get by in a life she didn’t particularly enjoy.

Five years ago looked like this for me:

  • Working in a school supplies company, ordering text books and stationery for schools.. lugging boxes in a warehouse, faxing off orders
  • Living week to week and often running out of money before pay day came around again
  • Swimming in debt I never thought I’d pay off
  • In a relationship that was unstable, unpredictable and unhappy
  • Living in the cheapest 2 bedroom flat I could rent
  • Blaming everyone else for the situation/life I had

The flipside of all that is where I am now:

  • I’ve worked at 3 companies since that time. Currently in the public service
  • I have more money than I need, I make 73% more(!!) than I did back then
  • The only debt I have is a house mortgage. I was able to pay off my debt in 12 months and start saving towards a house
  • In a relationship that is stable, understanding, fun and happy
  • Living in a 4 bedroom house, that we’re paying off as fast as the bank will let us!
  • Taking responsibility (or at least trying) for my life and what happens to it

It’s sort of amazing.

A lot of people feel hopeless and that their life won’t get better but it can and if you put your mind to it you can make it happen. The hardest part is making the hard decisions and getting out of/away from bad relationships, whether that be friends, family or romantic. Get away from the people that bring you down. In turn, find people that lift you up and will support you. For me, that was Jarrod. He showed me that there was a better way of living and I was worth more than the situation I was in.

The second hardest part is taking responsibility for your life and accepting that not everything is going to go your way but how you react to that can make all the difference.

So, where will I be in five years? I have no idea! I expect my home and relationship will stay the same, but we’ll be in somewhat less debt. Maybe I’ll have finally worked out what I’d like to do for a job/career and be working in that role, or at least towards it. That’s the hard one, I’ve spent my adult life trying to work out what I want to do and I still haven’t worked it out.

Mostly, I just hope to be happy with the person I become.