Buying a house and making a home

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. Travis and I purchased a house earlier this year. Unsure whether we would live in it or rent it out or other, we figured either way it would be a good opportunity to get into the housing market and also a good learning experience. We had been looking around at houses for a while, perhaps a year, maybe even longer.

During this time we were very unsure what we wanted. Did we want to buy a house together, did we want to buy individual houses, how much could we afford, where should we buy. Near our parents? Did we want to buy a house with land, a unit or an apartment? Before buying our house we put three offers – one was two blocks of land next to each other with one piece of land having a small 3×1 house (this was more of a longer term investment as the property was far away from the city), one was a piece of land with two houses, one was a two bedroom apartment which was half way being renovated. Looking back, it was an interesting experience and the diversity in our choices really demonstrated that we didn’t have any specific, particular desires in a house. The apartment was a bit of an anomaly – there was another apartment we were very interested in. Great location, close to the river – what a life it could have been, but unfortunately someone put an offer in on the first day of inspection! The market was extremely heated during this time and our offers were often beaten by people offering more than the selling price!

Anyway, my dear mother brought us to the attention to the house we finally purchased. I remember we went to visit the place on a Saturday morning. It has just been listed on and the agent didn’t even have brochures. My first thought upon entering the property was “no way”. It was a complete mess, even compared to many other places we’d seen. The entrance to the house was by no means safe (no steps leading up to the front door), the house was hardly lived in, there was a bed in the living room, a top 20 songlist pencilled on the wall in the lounge and a billy can in the kitchen! A billy can! I’m not sure what changed our minds but eventually we discussed the benefits of the property, the reasonable sized block, the wooden floors under the carpets, the solid double brick veneer of the house, the joys and experiences of renovation (little did we know!). Anyway, we made our offer and the rest is history.

Sonya and Travis's first home

Here are some before photos of the house:

Outside before landscaping
Bathroom before renovations
Bedroom before renovations
Bedroom before renovations
Kitchen before renovations

So, after buying the house I was left thinking “goodness what on Earth have we done?”. Travis was off course, at the time, gallivanting to the Middle East for work, six weeks at a time. However, on his two weeks off he worked super hard to paint the house and sand the floors. I exercised my DIY skills polishing the floorboards with some polyurethane varnish (probably killed a few brain cells whilst I was at it). Many late nights, lots of trips to Bunnings, and we got it to a liveable, somewhat homely state.
Here are some after photos:

Outside after landscaping
Outside after landscaping
Outside after landscaping
Bedroom after renovations
Dining room after renovations
Hallway after renovations
Kitchen after renovations
Living room after renovations

After only six or seven months of living in our home, it was sad to leave…

Gianni’s Restaurant, Perth, Australia

This post is long overdue! We visited Gianni’s for the first time a few months ago and then again more recently (last weekend) to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

The cosy, family run restaurant in Mt Hawthorn was our first introduction to Balkan food. Given that Travis and I had been there once before, this time round we thought we would try the mixed platter for two which consisted of samples of a variety of dishes:

cevaps – grilled rolls of beef minced meat
pljeskavica – veal meat patty flavoured with salt, onions and peppers
kobasice – smoked grilled, pork and beef sausage
shishcevaps – grilled rolls of spicy minced beef and
raznjici – skewers with cubes of chicken meat.

The platter was served with some homemade bread, dips and a salad – more than enough food for the two of us, particularly as our table had also ordered garlic bread and lepina (air dried beef and homemade bread) for starters.

Our friends ordered pizza, burek (layers of pastry filled with meat or other filling) and sarma (minced beef meat, rice, onions, herbs and various spices mixed together then rolled into large cabbage leaves).

Overall consensus was that the food was enjoyable, abundant (dishes were extremely huge!) and we were all simply very full post consumption. While we didn’t have desserts this time, we did try the baklava on our first visit which was delicious but the small slice didn’t quite satisfy my appetite for the sweet pasty!!

Flavor Tripping Picnic – an experiment with Miracle Fruit

I was immediately interested  when I heard of  Flavor Tripping Parties on the radio by chance. Further searching the web of the parties, which led to the crucial miracle fruit, confirmed what I heard and now I had to try it. But how exactly was I going to acquire a miracle fruit berry, especially since living in Australia?

I resorted to trusty eBay which immediately resulted in plenty of hits, but these seller were all overseas and with many specifically stating ‘will not post to Australia’. However, there was one seller selling five portions of miracle fruit granules at about $17 AUD including postage (from reading; a single berry goes for about $2 US in the states). I immediately purchased and now it was just a matter of waiting for it to arrive.

It arrived concealed as a letter with a small quantity of miracle fruit granule hidden inside. Before arranging the picnic, I tried a small sample with a lemon as a tester. It seemed to work. Next I arranged a surprise picnic with Sonya, but didn’t mention the miracle fruit, which caused her to be quite confused. Now it was time to go shopping, I briefly researched some foods that worked well and others I thought would work well, on the list were:

  • lemons
  • tomatoes
  • cocktail onions
  • gherkins
  • salt and vinegar chips
  • goat’s cheese
  • Guinness (a dark beer)
  • tequila

I packed up the picnic set, and then we headed to Perth’s Kings Park. As we walked towards an ideal spot I briefed Sonya on Flavor Tripping, she wasn’t quite sure about it yet. Luckily I brought a print out of the miracle fruit Wikipedia page, which once reading the effects of turning sour foods sweet, was all excited to try it.

We both took a small portion of the granules and swirled it around our tongues. Sonya made the mistake of swallowing a little too early. After a minute or so and some more granules we began food tastings.

We started with lemons to confirm everything was working, and it was, as the lemons tasted like candied lemons dipped in sugar. We moved on to cocktail onions and gherkins, which were difficult to decipher as the cocktail onions now tasted like sweet brown pickled onions and the gherkins the sweeter bread-and-butter pickles variety. What we then realised was that we should have done a control tasting before consumption of the miracle fruit.

The tomato was an interesting choice that turned out well. Chosen due to its natural acidic taste, consumed after miracle fruit, the tomato could justify its botanical classification of being a fruit as it turned extremely sweet. From fruits and vegetables we moved to the salt and vinegar chips. I am not sure why no other flavour tripping parties had any mention of these, as I thought it was a much better idea than drinking a shot of vinegar. Sonya, a big fan of salt and vinegar chips in their unmodified form, wasn’t happy when the vinegar was missing, complaining they tasted like the original variety. I thought they tasted like salted sweet potato chips.

Having consumed a large amount of foods, it was time to crack open the can of Guinness. This one was one of my favs. Guinness tasted pretty much like lolly water, and Sonya, not usually a fan of Guinness found it very easy to drink. Our final food was goat’s cheese which I had read tasted like cheesecake. Sonya thought it did, describing it as a creamy cheesecake; I wasn’t too sure, not liking the taste.

Finally we had a little bit of tequila. This one was also an interesting one, it did taste nicer, which was a surreal feeling given it still had the strong alcoholic smell and burned on the way down. The fact that we were drinking tequila in broad daylight in a public park probably also helped on the surreal feelings.

The miracle fruit experiment was an interesting experience both enjoyed by Sonya and I.  It was also an interesting experience having a sour themed picnic, with passers by wondering why we had a plate of lemons.

I wouldn’t mind trying to grow a miracle fruit plant and hosting a flavour tripping party with real berries. From what I have read though it is at least 2-3 years for a plant to develop fruit from seedlings, and a 25% rate of seed germination, well, best start early then.

Our Nullarbor Adventure – Wrap-up

Five months after completing our journey we have finally completed our blog posts. As usual, I like to produce some statistics as a result of our trip and maybe it will even help other travellers wishing to cross the Nullarbor.

  • travelled a total of 8248 kilometres.
  • filled a total of 1106 litres of fuel.
  • averaging 13.4 litres per 100 kilometres.
  • average price of fuel was 115.6 cents per litre.
  • spent a total of $2094.
  • travelled a period of 16 days.

and a quick pie chart of our expenses.