It’s a funny old thing how, no matter how many things one gets done around the house/property and no matter how happy-making they are, there are always – and I mean always – other things that need doing. Somehow the to-do list seems to magically grow faster than things can get crossed off it.

Endless gardening

This can be overwhelming, to put it mildly, and I’ve seen many people admit defeat and give up. The list wins and becomes the we-won’t-get-to-it list rather than the to-do list.

Recently I reviewed a bunch of stalled-out projects, ones that have either trailed off or somehow haven’t even gotten off the ground. The sheer volume felt a bit depressing, to be honest. I was chatting to DaughterDearest about this last week and she agreed: so much to do, so little time, so much competition for resources. However, she and K have devised a most cunning life hack to help to solve this dilemma.

They each listed every task they could think of – big and small – that needed doing on their property. These ranged from costly tasks, such as installing more water tanks, to time-consuming ones, such contacting the local council to resolve various issues. Then they combined the lists, removed the duplications, and independently ranked each task on their personal perception of its importance (on a scale of 1 to 5).

At the end of this, they conferred and negotiated, then created a master task-list from which to work. No more items will go onto this list for the next 12 months, she said, after which they’ll review and reprioritise. Work has commenced and they’ve already crossed things off their list 🙂

Whilst I applauded the idea – and the progress they’ve made so far – I was feeling listed-out and somehow didn’t see it working for us. Even so, I mentioned it in passing to Himself and – much to my surprise – he thought it was a splendid idea! It’s logical, will clarify what needs doing when, and should provide a workable roadmap, he said.

So over the weekend we listed, compiled, agreed on no more items, prioritised, negotiated – and now have our very own master list. It’s been printed out on an A3 sheet and is up on the whiteboard where we’ll both see it every day: 98 items in total (several of which are sub-tasks of others).

It is a long list and might seem daunting – but it feels good to have sat down together and worked out a plan. We have 12 months in which to conquer as many of the items as possible. Progress is already underway and we’re both keen to move maintain the momentum. Roll on next September and review-time  🙂

Just down the road from our house there’s a new development – a veritable suburban mansion that’s just about ready for its new tenants. It’s taken about two years from the demolition of the pre-existing house to completion of this new epic abode – and I certainly hope the new neighbours will find it to be all they wished for.

local suburban mansion

For my part, however, I see it as something of a monstrosity. It fills the block of land almost from edge to edge in all directions and has great big columns out the front. They’ve also painted it a sad shade of grey that, whilst apparently the colour of the moment, I find most unappealing.

Coincidentally, I recently watched a documentary on tiny houses – and they were the cutest, most practical little abodes one could imagine! The tiny house concept is apparently a relatively new one to Australia, largely due to building regulations, but it’s really starting to take off. This is hardly surprising, given the current housing and rental costs!

These little houses are the polar opposite of our local suburban mansion. They tend to be under 40m– which is definitely pretty cosy, given that the average house size in Australia is somewhere around 227m…which means many of the tiny houses are probably not a lot bigger than some lounge rooms I’ve been in!

So they’re small. But they’re also adaptable (can be moved to a new location if necessary), are relatively low cost to build and maintain (due to size), and are very functional. Starting at a base price of under $30,000 for the tiniest of houses, you can then option up to include any number of convenient extras, such as solar panels, loft space, composting loo, appliances, and so forth – depending on your budget.

What I really fell in love with was the idea of a converted school bus. This one, for example, ticks most of my (all new) tiny house boxes. Really, what’s not to love about this?


There are a few things that need to be thought out carefully before going down this pathway, of course. I’ve listed a whole bunch of them here as they’ve occurred to me, so that we can think about them if we ever take the leap.

  • downsizing and dejunking
  • general storage to maximise the space and minimise chaos
  • deciding whether the tiny house would be on wheels (so that it could be relocated if we chose to move elsewhere)
  • where would we park it? (DaugherDearest’s property is starting to sound rather appealing….)
  • designing in appropriate lighting, heating/cooling, and sanitation
  • then there’s the layout: a loft bed wouldn’t really work for me, so we’d need a cunning plan that wouldn’t involve ladders (or hammocks or stairs)
  • the biggest gotcha of all is building/local government approvals, particularly if we buy some land and plan on parking the house on it as our primary dwelling – this would need a lot of attention and could be a right headache!

Further to this, it’s worth having a look at the planning codes for your state to establish what the general rules are – and then following up with some research into local council rules as well. Some councils are coming on board with the idea and I imagine that more will over time.

I think the biggest challenge for us would be to adapt to a compact, tiny lifestyle – because it would mean downsizing in a big way from our current 4×2 (etc.) house. I think I could do it… but Himself is super attached to his workshop and garage and we are midway through a number of renovations on our house… So it’s not a scenario that would play out well for us at present. But who knows what the future holds… so I’ll start keeping an eye out for a retired school bus… and on successful bus-to-tiny-house conversions in Australia.

There might be any number of reasons that our garden wall looks the way it does. For example, the bore water may have been eroding the bricks and mortar over the years. But my guess is that the mortar used to build it (back in the mists of time) may simply have been substandard. Apparently brick mortar joints last somewhere around 30 to 40 years before they start to show wear… unless low quality mortar was used or if the joints are continually exposed to bad weather. I’m not sure how long our wall has been up, but this is Perth – and we don’t really get extreme weather here – certainly not on a continuous basis.

When large sections of the wall started to fall down – and after a goodly amount of research and consultation of the bank balance – we got someone in to give us a quote on turning a falling down wall back into a real wall. This was, the gentleman assured us, completely doable. He’d repaired worse and was confident that he could help us.  The one small caveat being that he  would need some dry weather (in June!) and half a metre of clearance on each side of the wall in order to wield his magical rendering machine. We would then be the proud owners of a tough-as-nails mock limestone wall that would stand the test of time – particularly if we didn’t let the bore water wash across it every week!

And so began a long weekend of garden rampage, ably and fulsomely assisted by friends and family. It’s always a bit of surprise to find that people will happily pitch in for no more reward than a sincere thank you and a great afternoon tea. And I’m here to tell you that we all worked for that afternoon tea, every calorie of it! We picked at least 15kg of cumquats, moved several trees (for replanting later), demolished and removed a postbox,  pruned trees and shrubs, put the mulcher to work on the debris, relocated the chickens, and emptied the garden shed so that it could be moved. There was a work list and we got through everytign on it, but it could never have been achieved without the willing arms, backs and attitudes of all the ‘garden gnomes.’ (Thanks again, guys).garden rampage_the next day1

We’re looking forward to a break in the weather so that this falling-down-monstrosity can be turned into something a great deal prettier – and the replanting can commence in earnest. The great thing about gardens is that they do grow back, eventually…

garden rampage reason1_jun14