Retro Kitchen Be Gone!

Our kitchen had served us well since the seventies. It was a rustic looking kitchen with dark wood panels and bright yellow tiles. The main problems, aside from how it looked, couldn’t be ignored any more, and we decided to look into options for kitchen renovations. Melbourne had been our home since we married in the early sixties, and we’d only renovated once. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at designing, but I never got the ball rolling.

We’d had enough of the dated look in the kitchen. At least, I’d had enough of it, and I wanted our home to better suit the changes in our lifestyles. As it turns out, anyone looking for  kitchen renovations in Melbourne can expect to be met with a whole lot of choice. It’s a big world out there.

Most of our requirements related directly to being easy to clean and simple to care for. I have arthritis and this makes it difficult for me to turn taps, open cans, do things that are most likely taken for granted by most people. It would be nice to have a space that I can use without having to ‘improvise’ in, or a space that I need to make exceptions for.

When I started looking,  I expected to run into some serious distractions, but I found a company who specialised in kitchen renovation. Melbourne is lucky to have them too, they’re all about personalised kitchen designs, and making sure people like us feel looked after. They were very direct about matching us with the perfect kitchen, which for us meant a good solid design that had minimal tricks, good warm light, and maximum function.

We’ve enjoyed our new design for almost 6 months now. and since deciding to go ahead with our kitchen renovation, Melbourne weather has warmed up. It’s lovely to have the light filter into what is now my favourite space and to have friends over to see the new space. The company we used made it so easy for us that we’re considering having them renovate two of our bedrooms as well!


The ideal pet name doesn’t exi-

‘You need to be careful of calicivirus,’ said Steph, who loves all animals, hates animal ownership and tends to be more alarmist than anyone I knew. You see, I bought a rabbit. A wee baby dwarf bunny, the colour of charcoal. She’s the sweetest thing you ever saw.

‘Seriously? Steph, I’ve lived here my whole life and never heard of calicivirus hitting Bayside. Animal Hospital sites all over Australia will have information on it, so if I have to worry about it, I’ll know where to look first.’

‘Look, I’m not trying to scare you,’ he widens his eyes, “You really do need to know who to call if things go wrong! You can’t be a dopey companion to your animal. Listen. Write this down: Emergency vet care, in the Bayside area. You got a pen?’

I write down the number as Steph reads it out twice to me.

‘Look at her little bell collar!’ I jingle the bright red leather strip in front of the computer screen.

Steph pauses, and frowns.

‘That’s too small! She’ll feel claustrophobic! And why do you have to call her Pepper? What’s wrong with  real actual name?’

‘Like what? Diana? Or Beverley?’

‘Beverley is a great name for a rabbit. As a child my parents had a large greyhound named rocket. Pet names are a very personal thing, don’t worry about what other are going to think. I’m not saying anything except…just try and think of something respectful please?’

‘Steph, some human kids are called Apple. That’s a thing that some parents have done. That kid has to live that name down for the the rest of their life! No one is called Beverley any more, not even animals. Stop trying to give my rabbit an ironic label, it’s upsetting.’

The phone call between us finishes on a friendly loving note, with Steph saying he can’t wait to meet Beverley in person and hanging up before I can correct him.

Sandcastles: No Fun, Just Profit

Sandcastles are not ‘fun’.

Sandcastles are a serious matter for serious people. In fact, whenever I’m on the beach, and I see some total AMATEUR making a stupid castle using a bucket and maybe a few shells, I have to resist the urge to go and kick it into their faces, obliterating their foolish playtime mockery. I never have, although when I’m all geared up and in the middle of a serious practice session, it’s tempting. Such…amateurs.

Obviously I’m already looking in Lorne for luxury beach apartments, for me and the team. We’re lean, we’re mean, and we can make practically anything out of sand. All the other kids at school thought I was crazy, but I was just following the sandcastle greats. My family went on holiday to Lorne, and they thought I was being antisocial by not wanting to associate with them while I honed my sandcastle skills.

Never mind…I was always better than them. At least I’ve kept going back to the family beach apartment, mostly because of its proximity to the beach. Nothing quite like waking up and heading straight out for a 5am castle-crafting practice, before the tourists get there and ruin all the sand by WALKING on it. Has no one heard of sand-shoes, to preserve our nation’s natural shorelines? Apparently not.

It’s a good thing we booked our accommodation early, as well. That beach apartment is hot property for sandcastle enthusiasts, as well as rival teams. I’ve seen it every year: the great and terrible rush, as spectators and competitors alike descend upon the beaches to view great works of art, crafted by artisans, artistically. Except now, WE have the edge. Now they’ll have to find a hotel in Lorne, and they have walk to the beach, and that gives us the tiny edge we need in this incredibly cutthroat competition. Seriously, people in this league can play dirty as flip.


My Beloved TV, Lifeless


…are down. By which I mean: “Oh! My television signals are down!” Sorry, I think I’m just so addicted to the drama that I forget myself sometimes. And of course, if anything is going to get me worked up, it’s my television aerial going on the blink before an episode of my beloved Week of Our Lives. I’d only just got the kids to bed, and Charles is working late again. I was hoping I’d squeeze the episode on before he gets back…working late always puts him in a bad mood. Doesn’t help that I had to stay an extra hour at the café today, which means the kids had to go to after school club, and I’m not sure how we’re going to pay for THAT with the water damage to the car…

Oh, I’m rambling. I always ramble when I don’t have the show to distract me in the evenings. Well…I wonder if the piggy bank can go a little further towards antenna installation. All across Melbourne people are tossing out their old ones that they got in the nineties and swapping to the new models. I’ll talk to Karen next time I’m in work, see if she can’t hook me up with something a little bit on the cheaper side. Of course, I’ll want some degree of quality, because the show really does mean a lot to me. Oh, Charles isn’t going to like it…but if he wants to go on holiday with his friends to Aruba over the weekend, whilst giving me hours of notice, then he can just stuff it in this one case.

Catch-up isn’t enough, of course. As soon as the new episode is broadcast, it’s ALL over the girls’ chat group. I could mute them, but since I’m the one who started it and am its most vocal member, I think they’re assume I’ve been hit by a bus or something. And it’ll be all over the web, in the magazines…no. There isn’t a moment to waste. I’m going to go, find a gap in the budget, cut down on a few coffees somewhere and find someone in Melbourne who installs TV antennas for us. Charles can hardly complain. He watches TV much more than I do!


I’d Rather Talk About Housing

Philosophy classes are stressing me out. I thought it’d be a bit of…well, not ‘fun’, but informative. I never got the chance to pick philosophy as a subject at school. Little place in the country…and none of the teachers were offering it. So now I thought I’d fill in some of those dull evenings.

Phew. It’s all postmodern stuff, talking about how no one is making anything new, how we can’t trust anything because there’s no objective truth, and how the world is steadily sinking into a mire of hopelessness. It’s *interesting*, but not fun.

The worst thing is that I sit at the back and I can hear the other lesson through the wall. It’s a night class on being a property advocate. You know Melbourne is going through a craze, and lots of people want a piece of the buyers advocate pie. They got someone along to do the job, and whoever he is, he has a really nice voice. Our philosophy professor at the front, growling away about how life at its core is meaningless, and I’m sitting up the back happily listening to how you can find high-end properties faster if you build up a network of contacts. And it IS true. Just think of all the high-end properties you can find, if you gather together a useful network of contacts, not that it matters because the universe will soon collapse into entropy, but it DOES matter because we still need to live in houses. Everyone needs houses. It’s one of the most basic human needs, to have four walls and a roof…of sorts. I think I’m mixing up my lessons. Can’t help it. I’m getting someone Melbourne’s best buyers advocate advice in one ear, and doom and gloom in the other. I really did pick the wrong class.

I wonder if they’d let me switch if I started taking notes on the class through the wall?


Take A Risk, Sis

My little sister Samantha (okay, she’s not that little – she’s 20) has been going on about wanting to find a hair salon that uses Aveda products. Melbourne is still pretty new to her, and she doesn’t know where anything is yet; the other day she went to Brunswick when I told her to meet me on Brunswick St. So it’s no surprise that she’s seeking salon recommendations. I just wish she’d consult someone else, as I’ve told her several times that I have no idea about where to find such a thing.

Samantha has always been like this: constant extracting face-to-face recommendations when she could simply consult the internet like any normal person. She reckons it’s because people’s facial expressions reveal more about what they really think of something. If that’s her approach, I reckon her best bet is to choose an Aveda hair salon in the CBD, don’t stress about it too much, rock up for a haircut and see what she thinks of it herself. I mean, which you think about it, no recommendation – however sincere – is going to stack up to direct experience.

She’s never been the most experimental person around, though. I think I’m realising that her whole approach to life revolves around getting other people to test the waters on her behalf, then scrutinising their reactions to figure out if the experience in question is for her. She would never get a haircut from a salon to which she wasn’t directly referred by a trusted individual. This leads her to some positive outcomes, such as her preference for naturally derived and environmentally friendly hair products.

Unfortunately, it also means that she misses out on the thrill of deliberately taking a risk. In my opinion, getting a haircut from an untested salon is one of the less loaded rists that one can take in life. Maybe I’ll randomly choose a salon for her and tell her that I’ve been there myself. If she doesn’t like it, perhaps it’ll be a life lesson from her.

Airhead Car Owner

My colleague Randall just got a new car. It’s so fresh off the showroom floor, you can use it as a mirror. It’s aqua coloured and kind of sparkly when the sun hits it at a certain angle. As for any details beyond that level of superficiality, don’t ask him, because he isn’t the slightest bit interested. It’s a bit disconcerting, to tell you the truth, how few shucks he gives about keeping track of the paperwork it came with – he’s already gone and misplaced the manufacturer’s logbook.

I’ve just been trying to explain to him why he needs to replace it, and that it’s the norm for people who buy new cars to have them serviced by the log book. Car servicing in the Ringwood area tends to compatible with this – my mechanic complies with it automatically – but you need the logbook in order to keep a record of it. Seems simple to me, but Randall doesn’t appear to get it. Sigh.

In addition, he told me that he’d joined the RACV, on his mother’s advice, without having any idea what it is. He doesn’t even know what the acronym stands for – he probably thinks it’s the Really Awesome Car Vroomers society or something. Anyway, I told him he should find a mechanic that does RACV-accredited servicing in Ringwood, because his membership will give him a discount. I have no doubt that he’s already forgotten that piece of info; if not, he definitely will have by the time his car is due for a service.

I just hope he’s bothered to hook up car insurance – knowing him, he’s bound to absent-mindedly leave the handbrake off at some inopportune moment. It’s just a matter of time. Anyway, there’s not much point arguing with him about it; I’m just going to make sure never to leave my car across from his in the staff car park.

Catching the 4WDing Bug

My folks just love driving holidays. They have a particular thing for going off-road. I’m not sure how they got into it, since they’re a relatively mild-mannered pair; they must have caught the bug from the gang of pals they normally go on these expeditions with. Regardless of how it started, they’ve amassed quite the collection of equipment and paraphernalia. And yet, they’d have you believe that their rig is not yet complete. I’ve accepted now that it’s never not going to be a work in progress.

Their latest update has been to invest in a huge cover for the tray of their 4WD ute. These aluminium ute canopies (Melbourne city-slickers, listen up and learn something) are basically huge boxes that sit over the tray, transforming them into something akin to a small, sturdy truck. The one my parents are having made comes equipped with special compartments for various things – a dedicated zone for their car fridge, for example (yes, of course they have one of those). There’s even an inverter to power the fridge, and interior lighting so they can find their tent poles in the dark.

I have to admit, it’s a pretty sweet rig. Maybe I’m even a tiny bit jealous. They totally won’t be satisfied with this, though. I can picture their next add-on now: a set of roof racks and bars tailored to realising their dream of having a balcony on top of their vehicle. There’ll be a ladder up the rear of the ute canopy, a pair of sun lounges secured to the roof racks, and a metal bar around the edges of the platform to limit the likelihood of dad toppling over the side in excitement. Seriously, all this wouldn’t surprise me at all… it’s all about copping the desert sunset from the best possible vantage point.

I think I’m finally starting to see why they’re so into all this. Aluminium 4WD accessories are actually pretty enjoyable. Maybe it’s time for me to get in on the game…

Our Subtle Lighting Change

Mum and Dad took a holiday overseas recently, and us kids decided to do what they’d been threatening to do for nearly ten years- update the lighting in the living room and the kitchen. We got onto a consultant to talk about residential lighting ideas, and found some great solutions that would suit Mum and Dad really well.

We’re taking a risk, Mum is the tough nut to crack with any change, so Dad gave us the green light to do it while they were away. They’re pretty particular people who know what they like and will tell you what they hate, which is probably one of the main reasons that any of the changes have taken so long.  Dad nearly took a fall in the dark last year, and this made us all worry a lot about their safety as they get older.

So, we had a home lighting solutions consultant  come and talk to us as a group about what we wanted.Thankfully, we didn’t have to change a lot, but what we did need to change made a difference that we all agreed was nothing short of perfect.

There considerations we had to take into account we solid; we wanted them to have options that can be altered and could be used late at night when they need to get up.  We also needed alternatives that are easily maintained and could be individually altered- Mum is a reader, while Dad watches more TV, and they do this in the same room. This means that some of our lighting required dual control- Dad hates watching telly with lights on of an evening, but they would never sit in different rooms.

Mum and Dad got home last Thursday and they’re really pleased! Mum didn’t say much until we showed her how the light she used to leave off could now be used as a reading light without creating glare while Dad watched telly. Best decision ever!

Anti wrinkle treatments are a gift

When my mother offered to take me to get some cosmetic treatments before my wedding I was a little shocked. My mother and I have never gotten along that well, recently we have both decided to get to know each other better. We wanted to strengthen our relationship and spend more time as a family. I hadn’t lived with my mother for over ten years and out of nowhere she wants to spend time with me. I moved out when I was 15 and have never been back to the house since. Our agreement was made after one of my close friends lost her mother in a car accident. After that I promised to make a significant effort to build stronger relationships with all of my family members. My mother even asked if I wanted to move back home, I politely declined. Although naturally I agreed to a free day at the beauty clinic with her.

I was looking forward to spending the afternoon getting a few procedures taken care of. The beauty therapists were exceptionally nice, greeting us with big smiles and warm conversation. I went straight in to get my anti wrinkle injections. Melbourne has been my home for such a long time now, I can’t ever see myself moving to back to the suburbs. I’m only a few weeks away from marrying the man of my dreams. I think she knows that once I’m married there is no chance of me every moving home again.

My mother had been getting cosmetic treatment ever since she turned 50, her favourite was dermal cheek fillers at a Melbourne beauty clinic. While Mum had her cheek fillers taken care of, I decided there was time took into other treatments. I thought it best to inquire about laser hair removal for my wedding as it had been on my mind. After the fillers Mum surfaced and was looking fantastic. I decided that was the perfect opportunity to tell her that I had decided to stay in the city. She was a little disappointed but understood my decision. Later that afternoon I offered to treat mother to dinner so she could spend some time with my future husband. It was ironic, we had spent the day with the plan to build our relationship but we hadn’t been in the same room or spoken a word to each other since we walked in the door. It was like living at home again.