Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to one and all

Well, almost another year over. Boy I hate getting old!! The years just seem to roll on and I never seem to do half the things I wanted to do.

2009 is going to be a great year for us.

Sarah starts at a new school next year (Grade 6) in preparation for high school in 2010. She's growing up to be quite the young lady. Like any spoilt, only child, she has a rotten attitude at times and gives us all a lot of grief - but she's a pretty good kid (bias mum talking probably).

My job is changing and I am looking forward to seeing how that plays out. Economically, just like most other businesses, we will see some tough challenges but I'm pretty happy to be here and to work through the tough times with my team mates.

J continues to work at the same place (yay!!) although he has warned me he may be off to Perth for a few months next year. Hoping that doesn't happen but will wait and see.

Tim & Chris (J's kids) are growing up fast and we are hoping to see more of them next year. Although Hobart isn't too far on the plane (takes longer sometimes to get to work in the morning!!) he still continues to have issues with his ex so we can't always arrange for the things we'd like to do with them. The kids arrive tonight for 8 or 9 days so J is pretty excited.

And finally, my 2009 wish is to purchase our pavers. Yes yes ... I had to say something didn't I!!!! I'm hoping that once the patio area gets done, we can complete the rest of the backyard and then finish off the front yard. I imagine this is going to take most of 2009 but my goal is to have all landscaping done by christmas 2010 (with the exception of the pergola which should get done in 2011).

So to those friends and loved ones that read our blog because distance keeps us apart ... and to those cyber friends that we have met throughout the year and continue to build friendships, we wish you a spectacularly merry Christmas ..... joyous New Year celebrations ..... and a 2009 that brings you love, prosperity and happiness.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A new benchtop ... eventually

At our 1 year inspection (waaaaay back in June) we asked PD to replace the kitchen benchtop.

Why? Because it showed up every tiny little mark and you couldn't even put a bottle of wine on the bench without it leaving a ring.

After the first few months I thought that maybe it was because we chose black and it just shows every mark, however I was assured that regardless of the colour, it shouldn't be doing it.

So after 5 or 6 visits (can't remember now) ... from 5 or 6 different people .... ranging from PD, to the cabinet maker, to Parbury, to Parbury's boss to the uncle of the man that knew the guy ...... anyway .. you get the picture. Everybody that looked at it said "yeah .. it shouldn't be doing that". Then I would go through the pain of explaining that I don't cut things on the benchtop, I don't clean it with bleach .. blah blah blah.

Anyway .. I was starting to think that it would never get fixed and I'd have to put up with a horribly marked looking benchtop for the next 10 years ... but yay ... we finally had approval that they would replace the whole thing and they will give us a call after we get back from holidays. Should take 2 days at the most apparently.

I did try to be a bit cheeky and ask for an upgrade to the benchtop and to add the waterfall bits that everybody has now (love love LOVE those) but I was very quickly told no. I said I was happy to pay for the upgraded bit but the phrase 'tell her you're dreaming' comes to mind.

You have to try don't you!!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Christmas is almost here

Well after my little meltdown yesterday, I thought I'd post some christmas cheer.

Our christmas tree is up!! Yes, I'm one of those people that puts the tree up as early as possible and the carols start piping through the house for weeks on end.
While I'm still very disappointed that the paving area won't be done by Christmas, I figure if that's the worst thing that is going wrong right now ... I'm doing OK.

And of course J's consoling efforts last night consisted of the phrase "Don't worry too much about the pavers darling, at least I can ride my bike".

One day Alice ... pow ... right in the kisser!!!! :-))

Monday, December 01, 2008

Not bloody happy Jan

Just rang to order the pavers.

None available until January.

Am I pissed off? Too bloody right I am.

Where's Jan so I can smack her in the head.

Friday, November 28, 2008

007 Movie review

So firstly, we get stuck in the storm yesterday afternoon heading to the cinemas. Fortunately I had bought my wet weather pants a couple of weeks earlier so I was completely dry when I got there .... poor Scarlett copped a thrashing by the weather.

Note to pant manufacturers ... when you add an 'x' to the size, it doesn't just mean that the person is getting taller!!!!

So we arrive ... pick up our tickets and head into Gold Class lounge. Greeted by a lovely young lass who gives us a table and the menu.

They had a deal .. 3 course for $40 so it actually worked out cheaper to do that because 2 courses was only just under that by a dollar or so. There was the first mistake ... I was so full at the end of the movie I could barely move. Felt like I'd already eaten christmas lunch!!!

Anyway ... I'm digressing.

Movie starts (mind you we didn't know it was the movie, thought it was a trailer).

Now I'm not going to give anything away other than this:

1. The man is so completely sexy it's ridiculous
2. One major flaw of the movie is that he only takes his shirt off once
3. The writers seem to be moving away from the typical Bond traits (ie. bombs in the wheel arches of the car, a hat that turns into a grenade .. you know, all that sort of stuff).

Personally I didn't think it was as good as Casino Royale, but it was still a good flick. Loads of action and the bad guys seem to be getting uglier and creepier so that's all good.

So in my very humble opinion ... if you love action films, go and see it. If you love the traditional Bond movies, then you may be a little disappointed.

Still .... beats 2 hours of laying pavers. Oh that's right ... we have none to lay.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Insert drool here .....

Tonight ......

Gold Class .......

James Bond .......

No more to be said. :-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

'Boral' has arrived

Well she's here. John picked up his new love on Friday afternoon and went up to the Dandenongs with my dad to celebrate.

Unfortunately the weather here in Melbourne on Friday night/Saturday was somewhat similar to a Hollywood verison of really bad weather, so he couldn't get back on and ride her until yesterday.

We went out for breakfast, picked up Dad and headed to Marysville, through the Spur and back home again.

John on his baby

The bikes at Marysville

The 3 bikes - Dads (BMW), Scarlett and John's beast

So in keeping with tradition, John decided that he should name the bike.
My suggestion was Boral or Austral Bricks so that it continually reminds him that everyday he rides what should be, my pavers!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sorry husband ... the public have a right to know

Dear friends, I have been banned from posting this particular post today ... however ... I'm going to do it anyway because it still makes me laugh (some 14 or so hours later).

So J tells me that we need to leave work early on Tuesday so that he can collect his bike. No problems. Discussions about how he would need to drop me off to work in the morning took precedence over the usual discussions such as "what do you want for lunch today", "can you please pick up your shoes" and "oh my god, that stinks .. what the hell have you been eating".

We decided that Scarlett wouldn't be able to hold two tubs of lard such as ourselves, so the only reasonable option was for me to ride the Honda back home again once he'd collected the ZX. Never mind that the poor car sits in the driveway day after day, feeling lonely and left out.

Tuesday arrives and throughout the day numerous emails and phone calls end with 'I'm so excited' and 'T-x hours to go before I collect my bike'.

J arrives at work to collect me ... off we go.

Arrive at the shop (that coincidentally doesn't look anything like a landscaping shop with pavers), sign some pieces of paper, have a chat to Steve (the bike guy) and he says "OK mate, thanks for that ... I'll send the paperwork in tonight".

There is a brief silence ............... awkward ................... and J asks "so .....can I have my bike".

Now at this point ..... J's face replicates the happiness of the face below:

Steve then says "nah mate .. we have to wait until the finance company sends the settlement certificate through. You should have your bike by the weekend though".

Cue face below:

I don't think I've laughed so much in a long time. Nothing like a good belly laugh to finish the day off.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A post for Carolyn

Boy was it hard finding a pic of our bathroom!! Had to go WAAAAAAY back to when the house was first being built. This pic was taken while the house was still being built which is why you can see writing on the glass!!

On another unrelated house point, the paver bike is being collected today. Pics to follow tomorrow no doubt :-)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The BBQ works ... and 2009 has come very early

As J posted last week, we were held the inaugural BBQ for some of our friends on Thursday night. Yes that's right ... the night the storms were due in Melbourne.

We're not too bright really.

I forgot to take some pics just before people arrived - ie. when the cushions were on the chairs, candles lit etc etc. so I've posted the 'pre' photos. You get the idea anyway.

Before it rained, it was very very pleasant being outside. We had whacked down the crushed rock with the machine thing from Bunnings so although the top layer of stones was loose, you didn't sink into the ground or anything. Feels quite solid. Dad reckons it is good for us to walk on it and let it settle for a few weeks anyway to give it a really good base for the pavers.

J did a great job at his very first BBQ, only burning a couple of rissoles (which we decided to use as hockey pucs the next day).

When the rain hit everybody did a great job at picking everything up and bringing it inside in record time. Only wish I had the camera handy when J was outside in the rain, in his sailing jacket cooking the meat while we were inside enjoying lots of laughs and wine, champers and beer. Was a very funny sight.

Now you may be wondering what the title of my post means .. '2009 has come very early'. It's come very early for the man of the house ....... see below. Delivery is hopefully on Friday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Zen, high finance and the art of BBQ assembly

Howdi Folks, J here,
I don't know what came over me last weekend but in a fit of marital bliss I went and signed away my soul to G.E. money for a BBQ. It is apparently 'interest free' for 12 months, but I will be paying it out well before then thus avoiding the opportunity for them to charge me 1 years interest on day 365 + 1 at the highway robbery rate of 29.45% !!

The really good bit is that I got 'pre approved' for a limit of $10,000 and am expecting a card in the mail any day now that will allow me to pull that limit out of an ATM machine (again at 29.45% + a 3% withdrawal fee!!)

Pigs arse !! I got bitten by this sort of thing once before as a lad and came to within a hair breadth of bankruptcy..... so thanks for the offer Mr G.E. money but no thank you.

Anywhooo, having gotten that rave out of the way A and I consulted the astrological and biorhythm charts, called a meeting and decided that we would put the BBQ together on Sunday arvo after a good shag, going out for breakfast and a quick ride through the dandenongs on Sunday morning to make sure we were both feeling happy with each other, thus minimising the chance of any arguments during the assembly process.

Such was my commitment to the cause that I even let her ride my bike for part of the ride!!

As a result of this preparation and my masters degree in Ikea furniture assembly from the university of Stockholm (Cranbourne campus) the assembly of the BBQ went well (as did the turf laying once I mastered the concept of 'brown side down, green side up'), with the exception of one 'I told you so' moment from A and a slight hole misalgnment problem, the sort you would expect to get from a chinese guy who is getting paid 50c a day to build BBQ's for some capitalist.

As it turns out Getting A to 'help' me put the BBQ together was a good Idea because we had a heap of nuts and bolts left over and if she hadnt supervised the job and if I hadnt put together the BBQ as per the instructions of A, I would have been accused of doing a shonky job of it.

As for pictures, well there are none, but it looks like every other trolley BBQ in the world apart from the cross threaded screw at the bottom of the left hand side but that only adds charm. So look out for a picture of it when we get our pavers down.

The BBQ christening is set for thursday night when we have people over for dinner and yes of course, rain is forcast ..........



Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bike porn and a new lawn

Our extra long weekend started on Friday afernoon when we headed to the Motorcycle Expo at Jeff's Shed. J calls it 'bike porn' as we drool over the things we can't have!!!!

His mission was to find his Kawasaki ZX14 which he wants to move on to ... ha ha, did I laugh when I saw that it was in the very back corner therefore it would be one of the last stands we looked at!!!

My goal was to check out my upgrade ... the Honda VFR800.

So here they are ....

John on his new 2009 baby

Andy's upgrade (hopefully)
So, on to all things 'house'.
Saturday morning saw us up at 6:00am to move the last cubic metre of dirt into the backyard before the grass arrived ... which was due at 7:15am. Dad was then to arrive at around 8:00am to help us level the dirt and lay the turf.
Well the turf arrived at 7:00am ... loads of noise just for the neighbours!! How they must love us. Then when the guy left again at about 7:20am, J decided to shout "it's OK neighbours .. you can go back to sleep now". oh the shame ... the shame!!! :-)) (Cathy from across the road did have a giggle about it on Sunday when she told me that she heard him). It's a good thing I love him hey!!
I have also decided that the TV shows like Backyard Blitz, that have 20 minutes to spare and no turf laid .. and then all of a sudden it is done in time ... is more bullsh*t than I first realised. There is absolutely no way in the world they can lay turf as quickly as they reckon they do. Not properly anyway.
We finished just after lunch .. and our lawn area is really quite small!!!
Anyway ... the first hour or so was preparing the soil. Dad bought his contraption down that levelled the soil really well ... we then put the 'starter fertilizer' they give you (I think it's a mixture of fertilizer and water crystals) and then it was time for the turf.
Progress pics below. The first pic is to remind you what it was a month ago.....

The lawn area 1 month ago

Soil levelled and fertilized ... first rolls of turf ready to go

Brickwork pattern working well

Da daaaa ....... all in. J making sure the lawn gets a good drink

Another shot ....

and a close up shot
We were completely knackered on Saturday night ... those rolls of turf are dam heavy, but we both agree that the work was worth the effort.
Can't wait for some plants to go in the garden bed and the path to be done!!!
Next time on the 'Adventures of J & A in the backyard', hear how J puts together his new BBQ with a screwdriver, a Bundy and lots of nagging from A.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The front garden

Well all of our attention of late is on the backyard and my poor little front yard is feeling very neglected.

So ... I thought I'd show you how my plants are doing. Now, please excuse all the mess around these beds as we have to re-do the path to the front door and fix other parts of the front as well ... so don't focus on the mess. Just focus on the healthy plants :-))

Monday, October 20, 2008

More progress ... 2 weekends in a row!!!!

I'm very pleased to report another very successful weekend of progress in the backyard, and you may not believe it, but all of it was done WITHOUT the help of Dad. His back is most grateful for the break I'm sure!!!

Jobs this weekend were:

1. Paint retaining wall - DONE
2. Paint inside of garden beds with that thick black stuff that stops water from getting through the bricks - DONE
3. Paint garden beds - 90% DONE
4. Paint blueboard - DONE
5. Move 8 tonnes of dirt into the garden beds at the back - 50% done

Not sure if you've ever had 8 tonnes of dirt delivered to your nature strip .. and then had to move it out the back by the barrow load .... but it's pretty hard work. J had this job and by about 4 tonnes (approx) he was really starting to feel it. So he had some X-Box playing time to give his arms and back a rest. Good thing his controller fingers weren't aching!!

And yes ... there were 'differences of opinion' aired on how things should be done :-). Wouldn't be landscaping without these would it!!!!

In the second picture down you can just make out a paver on the right hand side. We think the creamy paver will look really nice against the other colours.

Now I know that green is not everybody's cup of tea (nor was it husband's) but he even likes the colour. Can't wait to get some plants in there. Should look ace!! I've decided to go with my first choice in the garden beds .. yuccas. I love them and after looking around at a billion different plants, I still keep going back to them so I'm taking that as a sign.

Our 'faux' rendering was done by Dulux Full Texture paint. What a great invention this stuff is for the DIY'er. We have done 2 coats (first coat colour was too light) but we think we got it right with the 2nd coat. There are a couple of patches that don't look so great, so we are going to give it a 3rd coat to see if we can even it up. It looks good - but we want to get it as perfect as possible.

Next weekend the backyard will take a breather as J is in Hobart and I am going to have a lazy 2 days at home. Yay.

First coat of texture paint on bricks

2nd coat of texture paint on bricks

Everything painted - probably need one more coat on the bricks to make it look a bit better

Retaining wall painted

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sssssh... don't tell my boss!!

Yesterday (Wednesday), Dad was dropping off my brother's new BBQ (brother only lives 10 mins away from me) so he thought he'd swing by our place and sand the blueboard ready for the topcoat. He knew we didn't have a ladder so couldn't reach the top bit. I asked him what time he'd be at our place so I could leave work and meet him ... his response (earlier in the week) was "don't know but probably late afternoon".

So I decided to leave work at lunch time, then do work at home for the afternoon while waiting for Dad. Lo and behold, when I got home at about 1:00 he was already there, and had started sanding!!!

Oh well .. good one, I still had every intention of working.

When we put one of the sleepers up the previous evening, we'd stuffed it up a bit and it wasn't levelling properly, so I asked Dad if he could take a look and see how we could fix it. No problems was the reply.

Well ... 3 hours later and this is what we finished!!! No work done for my actual paid job, but the retaining wall is now complete. John (very timely) arrived home just as we were packing up the tools.

This weekend's job is to start painting the retaining wall (and fence), paint blueboard and brickwork. We are also going to get some soil for the garden bed and bring that in.

Going to be a busy weekend I think!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Backyard progress ... mega photo warning

Firstly, lots of photos in this post so my apologies if it bores you (just don't look I guess!!).

The weekend was an extremely productive one. We didn't even go for a bike ride on Sunday when it was perfect weather!!! Insane? Possibly, but when somebody offers to come and help, you don't turn it down.

Anyway ... for those that are interested .... photos below show the progress of the weekend.

Site Supervisor - Zach

Site Supervisor Andy (with Zach)

What you looking at?? Roxy

Dad arrives ... construction zone gets set up

First posts in (that's Dad .. Andy's Dad)

John and Dad covering up the joins
All done - ready for sanding

John sanding the joins ... and a bit of painting to test the colour
So still to do .... second coat of 'joining stuff' on the blue board then another lot of sanding back. Brickwork to be rendered and painted and the blueboard to be fully painted once John has done his thing (the sanding thing).
The other job started on the weekend was the posts for the garden bed at the back. Just 1 sleeper high but enough to make a bit of a garden at the back.

Good one huh!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Digger's gone .. and a hole in the fence

To copy Perry's comment 'wow - two posts in one day!!'.

The backyard is virtually flat ... just some tufts of grass/weeds that I need to get rid of around the boundary and it will be quite barron. Not for long hopefully!

The plan is to get the retaining wall (just one sleeper high) along the back fence done this weekend. Frank is coming back on the 24 October to bring in the dirt for the grass and the crushed rock for the patio area. Lazy? Yes but at $60 an hour it's much better for our marriage than barrowing it all in for 2 days.

The only mishap was a small hole put into the paling fence (in the gate). There was a star picket in the dirt that Frank didn't see and as he went through the gate it pierced the wood. Oh well ... worst things could have happened.

Getting very excited about this area now. I can visualise how I want it to look .. just hope it comes out that way.

Looking onto patio area

Looking from gate to back

Alcove area outside the formal lounge - this will be a lush garden one day (hopefully)

Back - the bit that will have a small garden bed and grass

Back - can you imagine the grass there and trees along the fence??