My All-White Kitchen

Ever since we purchased our new home, I’d always dreamed of ripping the kitchen out and starting fresh. We’d moved from the country and I wanted to make sure my kitchen was a far cry from the very rudimentary home we’d come from. I really wanted a slick city look. When it came to finding the perfect kitchen designs around Melbourne, there was a huge range of places I could go to for inspiration to imagine my dream kitchen.

I was so excited to get started, and it probably helped a lot that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted a certain style. I wanted white, white everything, walls, floor and cupboards. I didn’t even want chrome taps or fittings, I had the image in my head and I knew from the day I first saw the kitchen, hours before we first bought our house, just how incredible the heart of our home would look if I got it just right.

I got the green light when our budget loosened up a little to allow for some renovations to take place. I spent days checking out different kitchen designers. Melbourne is a diamond mine if you’re after an artistic perspective!

Although I felt confident in saying exactly what I wanted, I didn’t know a single thing about the industry. I was so pleased when I found a place that was all about kitchen designs, Melbourne based and even better, they were incredibly transparent with the way they interacted with us.

I found a bunch of samples on line and had archived my most coveted kitchen designs.

The company was on our side from beginning to end, there was never a time when I felt overwhelmed or unheard. To the kitchen designers, the Melbourne look was easy to achieve. The team we used were absolutely brilliant and my new kitchen is everything I wanted it to be.

Read More

My Knee Is Needling Me

My knee has been driving me up the wall this week. I just tried to book an appointment with my physio for Friday, and was told that she wouldn’t be around that day. She’s off to do some training in dry needling in Christchurch, apparently. The receptionist said she’d be back next week, ready and able to administer treatment using her freshly minted skillset, if I was interested. I gave a reply of vague assent and made the booking for next week; I trust my physio to decide if this treatment is going to be of any benefit to me.

In actual fact, I didn’t have the foggiest idea as to what dry needling entails, aside from an image in my mind of a skin needling scenario administered in a fashion that’s slightly more sporty than spiritual. I decided that some research was in order if I’m to avoid unwittingly entering into something a bit heavier duty than I was picturing.

Well, it seems I wasn’t all that far off the mark. From what I understand from a cursory internet search, dry needling uses equipment that’s very similar to what’s used in other needling treatments. So, yes, it does involve sticking needles into the body. It’s a bit more conventionally Western in its aims though – it’s used primarily by manual therapists to treat acute and chronic orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions.

It’s kind of cool that a therapist can disappear for a weekend and return with this technique in their toolbelt, ready to apply it to patients, as appears to be the case with dry needling training for clinicians. The receptionist mentioned that my physio was going to be doing a level 1 course, and that she was planning to complete level 2 early next year. I wonder if level 1 will give her the info she needs to dry needle my knee, seeing as (from what she’s told me) it seems to be a fairly complex situation down there in the leg-bending department.

Read More

Surviving the Extension: Wallpaper at the end of the tunnel

It’s been six months of us all sleeping in the same room together and while I’m almost ready to move into the roof, I’m amazed to say we survived.

Even though I have close to zero energy left for anything at the moment, I feel the spark of motivation flickering when I think about decorating the kids rooms. Especially when it comes to amazing and unique designer kids wallpaperWe’re letting them pick their own, which might not sound particularly cool yet, but trust me it is. There’s a company I found that take your images and ideas and hey presto! You get your own unique designer wallpaper. Melbourne never fails to inspire me creatively.

Jane is eleven and Mica is six. Though they look pretty much the same, they are certainly very different kids. When I was Jane’s age, I wanted nothing more than a little space away from my brother, who bulldozed everything in his path, and I can relate to her requests for something of her very own. Mica just wants dinosaurs.

What did they chose? Around eight weeks ago, we went on a holiday to northern Queensland, and Jane wanted a print out of the picture of all of us in a canoe on a white water rafting adventure. It’s a great shot, but really, do I give her the green light for having such a ridiculous image on her wall?

Flash forward to three weeks later, the extension complete and the rooms with their final touches looking fantastic. Mica’s dinosaur print paper was designed by my cousin Allard, who we commissioned to draw up a great design for the wallpaper. But Jane’s room is probably my favourite. I can’t help but smile every time I pass it by,  and when I see how much joy that image brings her as well, I’m so glad I gave her artistic license on her own decorations.  

Read More

Puppy Power! Just when you think the day is over

This evening on the way to work was one of the worst I’ve had yet. Thank god I know my way around Moorabbin, vet hospitals aren’t something you can find easily in the midst of a huge panic.

I was driving home from work on the highway, and noticed a glaziers van in the middle lane moving really slowly, and a lot of traffic spilling over itself to overtake. The last thing I imagined I’d be doing after finishing my crazy shift was taking a dog to see a Bayside emergency vet.

I saw the driver hunched over his phone. I slowed down a little to make sure that what I was seeing was right- and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was slow enough and close enough to see that the driver of this vehicle (which was stacked with sheets of glass and surrounded by peak hour traffic)  was watching what looked like the latest episode of Stranger Things on his smartphone.

So, this guy, right? In this same second I realise what is happening, I’m also swerving to miss a small animal on the road.

In the rear vision mirror, I can see the poor thing hurtling towards the wheel of the glazier van, and traffic either side of it slowing down to a standstill. The puppy somehow escapes certain death and ricocheting through traffic, darted into a neighboring yard.

I pull over and park, looking for the pup when the owner appears, an elderly lady that had lost her grip on the lead seconds before the dog had a fright and bolted into traffic. She was absolutely distraught and desperate to get her dog-. She found the poor dear shivering underneath a tangle of hydrangeas. We set off for the nearest vet.

I was happy to give them both a lift with the closest place being down the road, the strangest and most unlikely thing of all is that the dog as uninjured.

Read More

Leave the Sea-Salt, Get the Lavender!!

I don’t care who knows any more: I LOVE Jack of All Trades. I love it! Luisa caught me in the supermarket yesterday reading TV Magazine (the only magazine that’s all about television, since 1876), and everything came out, even though I’ve been saying in book club for weeks that i think it’s silly trash. Well, it’s not. I’m invested in the characters now, I want to see them do well, and that makes me an empathetic person, so there. Of course, I also love it when they start bickering and stabbing each other in the back over failures, so…well…I’m only human.

And how could anyone NOT love the latest episode? They were tasked with looking for luxury accommodation in Lorne, which just happens to be MY specialty since getting a good deal for accommodation is like my personal superpower. Whether it’s flights, hotels, hostels, motels, motor-homes, caravans or camp-sites…I am the bargain sniffer.

Though that’s not to say that I compromise on quality. If I’m booking luxury accommodation, or some nice beach apartment, I’m not going to settle. So when the candidates are scrambling around Lorne, looking for pricey items to assemble a perfect hotel room, I was screeching at the TV without a hint of decorum, to my slight shame. Gave the neighbours a good fright, I tell you that much. But seriously, you’d think some of them had never been on holiday, the things they were buying. One team thought ugly vases and scented candles equalled ‘luxury’, while the other one was under the deluded impression that what people truly wanted in a beach apartment…was sea-salt spray. And they bought sixteen caskets of the stuff.

Trust me, friends. I’ve done beach apartment bookings. In Lorne, I know exactly what I want, and I would’ve nailed this task in an hour. Which happened last week, funnily enough…and the one before. Maybe I need to go on this show and win it with ease.


Read More

The perfect place to turn 15

Mum told Gray he could have his birthday anywhere he wanted this year, as long as he organised it himself. Gray is a fairly safe bet.  He’s quiet and not very outgoing. He’d much rather be with his mates out on a field before popping party poppers.

“You can start by researching kids birthday party venues. Melbourne places are busy this time of year so don’t put it off too long.”

Mum is super busy herself. She runs two businesses from home and flies in and out of the state a lot on business trips.  When it came to finding a great place to have a party in Melbourne, Mum would actually already know. She doesn’t leave a lot up to us, but when she drops a responsibility bomb on us, we’ve learned that she expects us to come back at her with a result.

Gray had to ring around and get quotes and work out everything he needed to do. Mum gave him a list, and on it was everything he’d need to find out to make sure they could walk in and walk out of the party without needing anything else.

I tried to talk to Mum about how much I thought it was a bit much, I reminded her about how Gray could hardly look anyone in the face without blushing.

Mum widened her eyes and gave me the shtick about doing the things we are frightened of the most.

‘We don’t go around problems. We go through them.”

Anyway, Gray sailed through his problem like nothing we expected. He bought mum back a print out of the quote he’d been given for a party for six of his friends at an ice-skating rink near one of Melbourne’s docks. Mum took one look at the quote, nodded and looked him right in the eye, folding the quote into her handbag.

‘Get started on your invitations,’ she said.

Read More

DIY date: ice skating edition

To help all you poor, hopeless souls out there, I’ve put together a template for the perfect date. I know what you think you’ve heard it all when it comes to date ideas, and what I have isn’t new. It is, however, basically foolproof and while have your girl smiling away.

Step 1: Pick her up from her house and bring her flowers. I know, it sounds cheesy, but girls love that kind of stuff. Trust me. Note that the flowers should come out nonchalantly and be given to her when you open the door. That way she has time to put them in water inside and she doesn’t feel awkward carrying them around with her.

Step 2: Make sure where you’re taking her is a surprise. Tease her with a couple of well timed puns involving a variety of different activities. Make sure to keep conversation light and easy.

Step 3: Take her ice skating in Melbourne. This fun, romantic activity is sure to be totally unexpected. If neither of you have been before (which is preferable) then learning together can provide a bonding experience, as well as giving you something to base the conversation around.

Step 4: Do something to bend the rules. The best ice skating rink in town also offers birthday venue hire in Melbourne, so chances are there will be a party on while you’re there. For fun, encourage your girl to sneak into the party with you and try and steal some cake. This will show her your fun, cheeky side, as well as implying that you break the rules.

Step 5: Drive her home and ask her to have have a great time during the week performing literally any activity she told you about. This is important as it showed you listened and you care. At the same time, ask her when you can see her again. It is important to make the first move and be decisive, so she can tell you’re really interested in and committed to having a relationship with her.

Read More

DIY Pool Fencing

Fencing is an extremely important addition to your home if you’re thinking of building a pool. The laws regarding fencing surrounding your pool in Melbourne are some of the toughest around, and for good reason. The safety of people around a pool is paramount, especially if you have found children in your neighbourhood. It is the responsibility of the pool owner to keep others safe. Although DIY pool fencing is an option if you have the requisite skills, It might be best to get professionals in. They know about the various regulations surrounding pool fencing that must be adhered to.

However, if you’re going to tackle the project yourself, there are a few things to watch out for.

The fence of your property won’t need any alterations, provided that the pool itself is built against the fence, but you’ll need to make sure there aren’t any objects that can be climbed anywhere near. This includes trees on the other side of the property with overhanging branches. If it’s an option, place the pool in the middle of the space so there’s no danger of the fence being bypassed. The actual material is subject to regulations as well, specifically those that state that the fence must be see-through. Again, the reasons for this are obvious and it also lessens the cost of the fence itself.

Rows of aluminium bars are a popular option, as they are generally completely secure and more or less allow viewing of whatever is going on inside. However, glass pool fencing in Melbourne is also a popular option, since it adds to the decor and allows for complete vision. This isn’t an average DIY task, but take it on if you feel prepared.

Finally, every part of your fence has to be kept in working order from start to finish. That includes the gate latch, which comes with a set of regulations by itself. Once you’ve covered all the bases, you’ll need an inspection to have the work approved.

Read More

A Traditional Scottish Christmas Experience

I’m getting subtle hints that the family doesn’t really approve of the way we do Christmas. It’s been tradition in the McDoogle household ever since I was a young lad, when we moved from the cold hills of Aberdeen shire. Grandfather Angus couldn’t stand the thought of us sitting here having our Christmas turkey in the stifling warmth, and so we’ve allocated a bit of the budget each year to some top-notch air conditioning services. Our lounge now has…let me count…16 air con units, which together fairly accurately create the sensation of being in the hills of Scotland during the winter. Fortunately, the air conditioning services around Melbourne have been pretty great for generations, making it easy to find someone to keep the Christmas set-up ticking.

Oh, we’re not savages. We have a roaring fire going, big and strong enough to be found in a great medieval castle! See, we get all the McDoogles together in the one home, and they know what’s up by now so they all wrap up nice and warm. We use the air con units to generate a frosty cold, so low that you’re breathing out steam and you can’t take your gloves off without them going numb, and then the fire is stoked. And thus we have ourselves a pleasant, authentic Christmas whilst warmed by the fire, all the blinds closed to simulate the dark of winter.

And then this year my wife comes and says that maybe we don’t need to do that any more, and that for once, we should TRY to see what Australians do for Christmas. You know…fly in the face of decades of tradition. Apparently the cost of both the air conditioning and the air conditioning repairs is tallying up. And I know Christmas is an expensive time, but I really think the McDoogle family Christmas sets us apart.

We shall have a clan meeting, and take a vote! But even for one year, the companies in Melbourne who maintain air conditioning units are going to have a sad Christmas. We’re by far their best customers.


Read More

Bouncy-Mice, and Also Trees

Day 1 in Australia: My notes were incomplete, so it would seem. Nobody here refers to jumpers as ‘sweaters’. Also, I pointed out the fact that there was a bouncy-mouse outside, hoping to garner the approval of my host family. They seemed to think it extremely amusing, and pointed out that even in Australia, they are mostly known simply as ‘Kangaroos’. This is truly a confusing nation.

Day 7 in Australia: My opinion of the services has gone up considerably. My host family lives in Ormond. They need tree removal for an old gum that’s gotten a bit too big and is now a danger to the home. Now, I have been told that Australians take things slowly, that everything is halted by a simple lack of urgency…and yet, it was not to be. The tree removal agents came within the day, and removed the tree post-haste. They were quite efficient about it too. They DID seem quiet casual about the whole affair, but perhaps it’s too much to expect a trades-person to show up to a tree lopping job in a suit and tie. The tie might get caught in the equipment, for one thing. Perhaps there is a method to this Australian madness.

Day 18 in Australia: The chocolate here is odd, and I’ve yet to ascertain a reason. The same goes for the milk, although the water from the tap is relatively drinkable. No more tree removal has been necessary, though I did get a chance to watch some Australian workmen working on a road. One of them was operating a pneumatic drill whilst wearing shorts. He didn’t seem too concerned. What a strange place indeed.

Day 96 in Australia: Still I have not seen any more tree removal agents within Ashwood or anywhere else, for that matter. I am forced to assume that none of them wear suits and tied, and all are garbed in the traditional work gear. Propriety is not dead in Australia, to be sure, although still further research is needed on the subject of flip-flops. Can you run in them? More research required.


Read More