Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kids Session # 4

We have had some terrible weather recently, and it wasn't the best day to head out for a drive in the mountains.  Despite the weather, it was nice to get out for the day.  We also had the added benefit that most other people had not braved the weather, so there was no jostling in traffic or crowds.

After a nice trip up, we ordered some super large hot chocolates and a bowl of seed for the birds. Maddison has been negotiating all year for a cat, then tried a dog and has now thought a bird might 'fly'. I have passed over the cat, considered a dog after all the fences are finished and generally been ok about the concept of a bird.

I guess that the thought of a parrot was too much, so the current list has a budgie on it instead!


Pool Update # 4

The goal was to finish by January 2013, in time for the 40th Birthday celebrations. After sinking over $15,000 into the renovation project in 2012, it was clear that an alternative venue was to be selected.  The new fencing has been constructed, and it looks awesome.

The tradesman did give me a money saving idea. Turns out there is a market for second hand pool fencing due to the changes in Queensland laws. The easy part was to disassemble the old panels and gate. The much harder part is to dig out the existing posts. All sensible people have vanished claiming that back breaking activities are not in their job descriptions.

For the record, they are wrong. After 30 minutes on the first one, it is not back breaking at all....but OMG it certainly is bicep killing. It turns out my biceps are not going to be big enough to lift the post and the concrete out of the hole.

This may be another case of outsourcing, and I think that who ever builds the deck down there can also dig out the posts! Or maybe I can include post digging out in the eBay ad :-).

Pool Update # 3

Well that tradie sure moved faster than I would have, here's to outsourcing! The next step is to arrange for the existing fence to be relocated, and some additional fencing constructed. Given the large cash outlay for the first quarter, we will resort to some saving time before started the next phase.

Pool Update # 2

In September I made a start on the pool renovation project, 2012 year's big goal. After deciding that the best course of action was to outsource the construction of the retaining wall, I am about $8,500 poorer, but way ahead on me building it myself.

There is also an added bonus that now the fill is in, we have several more metres of usable space. The next mini project is to have a timber fence constructed on the retaining wall, and I have got the first quote underway. Hopefully it comes in cheaper than the retaining wall, or we will be celebrating my 40th birthday bash with Vegemite sandwiches!

Pool Renovation Project

Well this little gem was always going to be a a challenge. Part way through construction, the two landowners parted ways. At the completion of the pool, the other party did the handover and signed off the project without really looking at what we were getting. When I arrived at the site some weeks later, needless to say I was furious.

The whole pool construction was a nightmare. It was dug the wrong way around, then torrential rain caused it to collapse inside and fill up with water, without the concrete. The pool company then left the water to magically drain out, and of course frogs started breeding due to the time taken! When the hole was re-dug around the correct way, the darling digger pushed it over too close to the existing retaining wall. Fast forward to the fencers, and they were clearly on some sort of narcotics, but in there defence the construction guys had left a mess. So tradies do what they do best, complete the work and hope to hell you do not actually notice. They sure got a free ride with this one.

So after years of walking around the pool, trying to work out how I can actually fix the dramas without costing and arm and a leg, I have decided to just get on with it. Yes, yes laughter and about time comments are flying around :-) The actual fencing situation is really annoying, it actually bothers me heaps more than I care to admit, and anything short of ripping it all out and redesigning it, is going to leave a constant reminder of time gone past, and not in a favourable light.

The boundary fence behind the pool was built by the property developer, so really was not built to last. I have decided to remove the boundary fence, or really only part of it, as it has to be over 100m long. Then install a retaining wall, a truck load of dirt to level it out and re-fence on top of the retaining wall. This will then allow for part of the boundary fence to form part of the pool fencing, at some future stage.

I rang a landscaper earlier in the week, and the installation of a retaining wall is around $5.5K, and about $500 for the removal of the existing fence. Guess where I have been this afternoon! I traded mowing my sister's lawn for her cooking me dinner and baking a cake. Added bonus, she cooked at my house, so the youngster remained inside, and I had a cracking run outside. In around an hours time, I managed to do $250 worth of work....nice. I also got a free ab and arm work out, so multi tasking a fitness work out at the same time is an added benefit.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Coming home from work one night recently and I had absolutely ever intention of skipping the induction session at school later that night. As we sat at the dinner table Maddison told me I needed to hurry or I would be late. I explained that the night was not essential, and that I already knew how things worked given that we had been at the school for three years.

The big blue eyes opened wide, and she said "But Mummy, I have made you a note, and it is sitting on my desk for you, waiting". Big sigh from the tired parent, and I quickly finished dinner, arranged for a babysitter and dashed down to the school.

After 30 minutes of standing and listening to the Principal espouse the virtues of the school and the essentials of all white sneakers, I dragged myself down to the classroom to sit through the next lecture. As I sat down with my knees around my ears I glanced down to the waiting letter. It almost bought a tear to my eye. And I think when the parent of the young boy that Maddison sits beside looked over at the two pages on my seat, then back to the three words on hers, I think it almost bought a tear to her eyes!

It was a humbling lesson in life about what is truly important.

Vanilla Zulu

"VANILLA ZULU Culinary Adventures is an interactive cooking school designed to inspire and motivate even the most shy or reluctant students by keeping it simple, fast and fresh."
A gift from a couple of close friends for my birthday.  The three of us headed off to learn some Portuguese cooking skills.  Without really understanding what we were actually going to cook or learn, the night turned out to be a wonderful surprise.
Thankfully, a lot of the prep work was undertaken by the trusty side kick Susie.  Apparently Susie has a passion for prep work!  Whether true or not, I loved the concept of here's one I prepared earlier!  We manage to make some lovely loaves and a baked Camembert for starters.  Excellent for me who had come straight from work and was really looking forward to eating something, and almost right away.
Our main was a series of vegetable dishes combined with a spatchcock stuffed with sweet potato.  Somehow I managed to land on the spatchcock preparations, much to the laughter and cheers from my companions.  The laughter was all mine later when I had selected a small serving for mains, and the others had hooked in. 
With plenty of room left for my citrus baked custard tart and tappy tap sugar, I left feeling quite content, and not rolling sideways with my buttons undone like the other pair!  The head chef was a lovely South African lady who had a witty repertoire of cooking one liners.  A great way to spend a few hours with cool people and awesome food.


Did you get my good side?

Very nice of the subject to pose for the photograph :-)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

2012 Vision Board

The start of another year, the setting of new annual goals and more steps on the journey of the 65 year plan. For the past 6 years or more, the first item on the to do list for January involves the creation of the next vision board.

To put some context around time, the end of March is almost here, and that means we are about 1/4th of the way through the year. I am happy to say that this year's board is complete, laminated and affixed to the usual position for viewing.  This year was extra fun, as I had a partner in crime. Actually it may well be the first time a partner has undertaken the activity with me. I was proud as punch as I laminated the both of them.

The usual process feels like more of a longer time horizon, and fits more across the life plan. The 2012 year the result has some of that, but also appears to have picked up that theme of completing the pool renovation in preparation for the celebration of the 40th milestone. Each board really entails moments of randomness that then get weaved together to create the final product. It is a fun exercise that I look forward to each year.

2011 was a little more tricky to put together, as the floods have impacted on our junk mail delivery. Not to be stopped, I relived some past magazines that I have kept.

And 2010 .....


Beach Trip

It was a rare opportunity tonight to actually sit in front of the laptop without work or homework commitments. I thought I would finally start to put some action back into the blogging world, so I took a spin through some recent photographs on the iPad. Life has felt out of balance and routine for awhile, and that is surely evident by the lack of posts!

I found these shots, and looked fondly on one of our family outings to the beach. The whole crew loves the activity in general, and the youngest adores looking for stuff. There is always a check with Mum to see if anything is living in the pretty shell! I absolutely love the camera, and some of the photographs we have are great, they surely capture the moments, and remind me of how I love the ocean.