Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Our next trip to Perth

I previously wrote about my bestie (known on this as P) moving to Perth. I was a bit devastated at the time, but we've gained a great spot to holiday in when we get the chance :D

Because we now get free accomodation thanks to my best friend, we have some extra pocket money set aside for spending on activities when we get there!

This lead me to start researching things to do in Perth. I actually came across that post after following starryeyeing.com, a beautiful Bulgarian fashion blogger. I have a bit of a woman crush on her and love the beauty tutorials... So anyways she linked to that article about Perth and now I want to meet a Quokka!

Image source: wikimedia.org

So the next time we go to see P we're definitely going to take a ferry trip to Rotnest Island and take an awesome selfie with a fluffy ball of adorable known as a Quokka!

Apparently they're known as the "world's happiest animal" so I'd like to go see it for myself. I find it hard to believe that they're any happier than P's Italian greyhound when he gets a treat, but we'll soon find out!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Getting moody with mood boards

I've recently been working with a friend of mine regarding their decision to build their dream home. I have a bit of experience in interior design, and after spending some time chatting and looking at ideas on Pinterest, my friend wanted to get my help in choosing a residential architect in Sydney.

After doing some research online, we spoke with a company who clearly understood our requirements. Both of us had a really good idea of the interior based on what we'd talked about, and sitting down for coutnless hours looking for inspiration.

We created a mood board, which is something I highly recommend for any of you out there that are looking into undergoing ANY type of design project. If you’re like me, you’re probably bookmarking designs you find online left, right and centre. It's like a digital collage of ideas that is a great reference point to return to when your design guru starts asking you questions outside of your area of expertise.

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Before I got into the habit of creating mood boards, I found outsourcing the design process to be a very tedious task. My hubby had me help handle the organising of the assets to get his businesses website re-designed.

I run my own blog, but I have NO IDEA when it comes to search engine optimisation and other technical aspects of web design. So when the digital agency we hired (who were great by the way) helped walk us through the more technical aspects, we were able to achieve those aspects without neglecting our original design concepts.

Long story short - create mood boards! If you're finding your design or DIY renovation projects too much handle, you can easily review your boards and get back on track.

I use Pinterest for mine, but you can use any visual bookmarking tool you like :D

Sunday, 2 April 2017

"If no one ever took risks, Michaelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor" - Neil Simon

So we're on a renovation streak, and we're shopping for new floors. Even though we live in a smaller city (i mean Newcastle is pretty big, but it's definitely not as big as Sydney) there's such a huge amount of stores selling flooring in Newcastle.

In our research, we ended up comparing prices on the Newcastle Carpet one website. We've spent (invested?!) quite a lot on the house lately, so we wanted to stay within budget. Hubby and I typically plan out budgets for everything we do, but when it comes to the house we have a habit of blowing the budget out... Oops!

In this instance though we were extra focused on staying within the allocated budget, including installation. One bonus is that we found out there's a bunch of warranties for carpet from Carpet One which makes the pricing even more attractive.

Sustainability is important for us, so we've been looking at sustainable flooring options. Bamboo floors look like the way we're going go, and I've been looking at how they're made. The process is truly amazing, and it does make you feel warm and fuzzy knowing that they're sustainable and sourced responsibly.

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Hubby is more into engineered timber floors, as he gets the look that he's after of the more traditional style hardwood-timber, but much more affordable (within our budget! hehe) and significantly less costly to install. As the flooring consultant I spoke to mentioned to me "it's the total installed price that counts" which is 100% correct. My advice is figuring out the installation cost before committing to anything!

We're still in the research process, but I expect we'll have some nice looking new floors in our home by mid 2017!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Roaming the Wild West... Our Trip to Perth

When your best friend moves interstate, you think to yourself that hey, at least she didn’t move overseas… Except when that state is Western Australia, a full FIVE hour flight and three hour time difference from most of the rest of Australia. I’ve been promising P for months that yes, I’d make the trip to visit her in her new city and last weekend I did.

Of course, there was another reason for the trip… P had a few boxes still in storage at Chess Moving’s Sydney HQ and it was cheaper to add these on as luggage than ship them, so I popped in on the way to the airport to do a pick up.

The kids love visiting the airport, they are mesmerized by the airplanes taking off and landing and ask me more questions than I am able to answer. I told Miss 3 that the wheels are controlled by little elves who sit in a special seat right by the wheels… sounds like an OHS law suit waiting to happen, but she was impressed.

I’ve never been to Perth before, and I was nervous about taking the kids on the airplane for that length of time, especially as J was staying behind because he had “too much stuff on at work” (typical workaholic response!).

Because I’ve got the two kids in tow, and I wanted to make the most of our time there, I decided to book a hire car online before we left. I organised for Burswood car hire company in Perth to drop the car off at Perth Airport, so P didn’t have to collect us during the school afternoon rush. I booked the hire car online and It was the simplest car hire I’d ever done, and the right car showed up which is a near miracle in car hire world.

That was Thursday afternoon. P opted to take Friday off work so we could enjoy our time together properly, and also fit in a sneaky trip down to Margaret River, but more on that later.

On Friday, as promised, P’s husband, H, (who is far more willing than my husband to chuck a sickie) stayed home with the kids to allow the two of us to pop in and out of boutiques in the suburbs of Mt Lawley and Leederville before indulging in cheesy burgers and endless onion rings. Just like old times!

We got back to hers with more than enough time to pile the kids and P’s hubby between P’s car and my rental and beat the after work traffic escaping the city for the gorgeous beachside wine region of Margaret River.

We spent the next two days popping in and out of wineries, letting the kids run among the vineyards as we sipped on shiraz, chardonnay and rose’s from across the region. We even managed to get the little ones to sit still long enough to enjoy a meal one of them. Can you even imagine?!

It probably helped that we bribed the kid’s with a trip to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory for milkshakes… and treats to take home.

As we drove back late Sunday afternoon, we made one final pit stop at Western Australian institution, Simmo’s Ice Cream to treat the kids… and the adults! It may have been our last night together, but as we sat out on the lawn slurping up mango ice cream, you could not find a group of happier people.
P, I miss you already and can’t wait for our next reunion… I was thinking we meet half way and check out the Barossa Valley?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Grandad is getting some wheels

My dad took a major fall recently and it’s sent the family into a bit of disarray. He was once an architect in Sydney (back when the job required a fair amount of movement and activity) but he's now retired and spends most of his day watching horseracing.

 My brother and I have been insisting for years that dad consider moving – not necessarily out of his home, but at least to the ground floor of his two-storey. We know he won’t leave the family home, he’ll die before he ever lets us suggest a retirement home. But at least just living entirely on the ground floor? Well we didn’t think that was such a big ask!

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks reshuffling his house, moving his bed into my brother’s childhood bedroom and setting up a ramp at the front steps, because he’ll be confined to a wheelchair for a few months while he recovers from hip surgery the doctors did tell us recovery could be longer, but dad doesn’t need to know that yet.

Being such an active man in his younger days, it’s been emotionally tolling on him to give up his mobility, but he’s slowly coming around to the idea, especially now he’s got a snazzy motorised wheelchair that means he can whizz around without too much effort. We picked it up from Comfort Discovered, who spent time with dad asking lots of questions to make sure he rolled out with the perfect set of wheels to suit not only his injury, but also his lifestyle.

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He’s got a little bag on the back to carry a book wherever he goes, he’s still able to roll up the hill to the beach using the motor function and he tells us it’s actually pretty comfortable although he can’t wait to recover so he can move back upstairs. Yeah, in his dreams!

Even when he is mobile again, we’re cautious about letting him move back upstairs. He keeps talking about the stair lifts he saw in the Comfort Discovered showroom, but we aren’t so sure that’s necessary yet. We also had his bathroom fitted out with appropriate aids (a shower chair and some rails to help him manoeuvre in and out of his wheelchair) and his bed got a bit of a makeover with a wedge to help keep the pressure off his hips while he sleeps. He resisted using these at first, and watching him have to admit that yes, he did need the extra assistance in the bathroom was amusing.

J said he can see where I get my stubborn streak from! My brother and I are taking turns going over to help dad prepare dinner, and the kids are loving spending extra time with their grandad – but that’s probably because he has a pretty impressive lolly jar and kept all of my childhood Lego. Families, right?

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Veggie Patch that Could

I’ve not got the slightest green thumb, but I decided growing a veggie patch with the kids would be a great way to help them at least TRY new vegetables. I read somewhere that kids are often more inclined to eat veggies if they’re involved in the process of growing them. I’ve already found this helps a bit if I involve them in the cooking process, as they definitely want to try their pizzas filled with all sorts of veggies that they put on top. (In our house, you don’t get any cheese or ham unless you put at least two different coloured veggies on your mini pizzas first!)
I started small and planted some herbs (basil, parsley and mint) and a patch of cherry tomatoes – as I didn’t want to jump into something too hard to manage before I was ready – but they never grew. Despite my regular watering and care to ensure they were planted in a spot that got good sun nothing popped up. I felt entirely defeated! I did a little Googling and it seemed that potentially there was something wrong with the soil in my yard.
I decided to call SESL Australia about doing a soil test to see what was wrong with it and just as I suspected, my soil was broken! It seemed the acidity was a touch too high and was stopping the seeds absorbing the nutrients they needed to sprout.
They were even able to recommend what I should do to fix it, which was amazing. I was even able to pick up the compost and manure they recommended from our local nursery. And we could do this all via the mail and over the phone – which made it much easier with the kids.
So I replanted the seeds after the fix and this morning, the very first seedlings popped up through the soil. The kids were so excited to see that their vigilant watering was paying off and have already named the handful of little leaves (At least three of them are called Sarah). Little do they know that handful will quickly turn into great big bunches of glorious food.
Now I’ve just got to think of some good recipes to cook with the kids in the hopes of encouraging them to try tarragon. Perhaps I’ll make some chicken, mayo and tarragon sandwiches for our next picnic at the beach.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Bling, bling smiles

I know it seems like overkill to drive all the way into Sydney CBD to visit a dentist, but when you’ve got a good one… well as Marvin Gaye put it:
ain’t no mountain high, ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough babe!
I’ve never much enjoyed visiting the dentist (I know, my fears are just so unique!), but I actually enjoy my annual visits to Dr Fadi Yassmin. He’s a cosmetic dentist, which means he’s concerned with appearance just as much as he is with tooth health.

DFY Dental. Source

This was actually my second visit this year, although the kids first, as I had to get a veneer replaced because I chipped it and popped into the emergency dentist in Newcastle, where a non-cosmetic dentist filed off the chip, leaving me with a stumpy, blunt tooth… which was the entire reason I got a veneer in the first place: to disguise a stumpy, blunt tooth.

DFY Dental also specialises in digital smile design. So Dr. Fadi showed me the process and it was pretty amazing - I’ve got to say, they were pretty well behaved the whole time too… although that might have been because the promise of a trip to Taronga Zoo loomed in their future if they sat still and didn’t complain
Master 6 has already lost two teeth and one of those gaps has started to grow an adult tooth, which he was very proud to show off to Dr. Fadi. It’s coming in a little wonky, although Dr. Fadi did say it’s still too early to know if that means braces are on the cards… I best start saving just in case!

Miss 3 asked for ‘sparkly teeth like the men on TV’, I guess she recently spotted some rappers on the Grammy Awards red carpet, flashing their blingy mouth grills.

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Rapper "Lil Yachty spent $35,000 on his mouth Jewelry for the Grammy's . Source

I’m not surprised she thought it was cool, I would’ve been exactly the same at her age. Dr. Fadi has a great sense of humour though, and told her the tooth fairy gets to decide who gets sparkly teeth and who doesn’t – and it all comes down to how well you brush your teeth each night! Hey, if that’s what it takes to make tooth brushing time easier each night, I’m willing to perpetuate the lie.
While I was in the chair, getting my veneer replaced, the kids sat quietly in the corner, enthralled with the iPad (which is normally off limits, but sometimes you’ve gotta make concessions!). At the slightest whinge, Dr. Fadi reminded them about seeing the elephants and they zipped it pretty quickly.

We made it to the zoo just after lunchtime, I’m pleased to say, and the kids snoozed the entire drive back to Newcastle. But most importantly, in the photos from that day are filled with bright, white smiles thanks to Dr. Fadi.