Merry Christmas! It’s Something Useful!

It’s official: Christmas is here. You can always tell, because Byers has their special Christmas window up on display, and strange people are queuing for hours just to see it when you can just stand there and admire from afar. Or buy a pair of binoculars, whatever you feel is more worth it.

But Christmas time in our household is a special time for special things, and there’s nothing more special than buying 100% practical presents. We have a little bit of a competition in our household and close family, and all of us get right into it! Most practical present wins. This year, I’m thinking the orthotics are sure winners. I went all the way to Cheltenham for children’s orthotics, because the ones Jasmine has right now are getting a bit worn. You might say that it’s a natural, parental duty to replace that kind of thing, but that’s the genius of our family Christmas. You keep costs down, and disguise essentials as presents. It’s practical, it’s necessary. It’s NOT  senseless waste of money for the sake of capitalism and feeding the corporate machine by buying into their nation-wide brainwashing campaign that has held this country and many others in a death-grip for decades because of clever and diabolical advertising. It’s practical! And orthotics will always be appreciated. If Jasmine runs without them, her arches get quite sore, and thus she has no reason not to be grateful. I thought taking her to the podiatrist last Christmas was a bit of a splash, but as it turned out, it’s actually set up years of potential and practical presents.

So that’s that sorted. Need to pick up some spare arch supports, Ben needs a new notebook for school (might even splash for some pens) and…well, Neil knows what he’s getting. Socks. It’s ALWAYS socks. Socks are the safe option, since he goes through them every year.


Getting a new pool fence for the new pool

If you were brave enough to attempt to, and succeed in, building your own pool in your backyard, then you have my praise and admiration. The toughest part may well be over, but there is still more to go. Even if you haven’t built your own pool, or you’ve just purchased a new one, you should all take heed. One of the most important aspects of a pool is the pool fence that surrounds it. There is little use for a pool without a fence, as by Victorian and Australian standards, the thing is unfit for use, especially by children. That’s why it’s best to start off a new or improved pool fence sooner rather than later, to fully reap the benefits of your private pool.

Pool fences come in all sorts of styles, sizes and forms, but a few have stood the test of time. When deciding what style of pool fence to get, consider your needs and your requirements.

Perhaps you have small children, pets, or perhaps you live on your own. Perhaps you have a large bird population that will be freaked out be a frameless glass pool fence in Melbourne (however unlikely that is). You don’t want birds flying beak-first into your glass fence while you relax in the pool.

Whatever you choose, the key is to get the fence installed by professionals. I’ve seen too many cases of people overestimating their ability to do everything involved with a project and eschew away from professional guidance in favour of a jack-of-all-trades attitude. This can cost people dearly, as I’ve seen with many a pool fence blow away in a gusty wind. You certainly don’t want to further endanger the health of those around you; make sure the pool fences are done correctly.

With a new pool to add to the home, you should back it up with a new pool fence to match the elegance, the style and the safety that you and your family deserves from a pool fence.

I’ll believe it when I see it, Uncle Jacob

My uncle Jacob is changing careers again… or, at least, so he says. I’m skeptical, since he’s always saying this and rarely following through. It was only couple of months ago that he was all about becoming an DJ. I’ve seen virtually zero evidence of that. Then there was the period earlier this year during which he was hell-bent on becoming an online business coach – fat lot of good he’d be at that. He never seems to get beyond giving lip service to his aspirations.

Anyway, he’s now professing to be keen on getting into trigger point dry needling. There are training courses in dry needling in Melbourne, he says, that will qualify him to administer the treatment in just one weekend. I looked up some of the companies that offer the training, and it turned out that Jacob had skipped over a key piece of information (as I’d suspected). Basically, you’re kind of meant to be a practicing physiotherapist (or a medical doctor, osteopath or chiropractor) before you enrol in one of these courses. The closest Jacob has come to being a physio is in his ongoing refinement of his knuckle-cracking technique (i.e. not very close at all).

I  passed on this info to him, and he responded – I kid you not – that he’d just have to sign up for a physio course. I asked if he realised that that would involve spending several years at university, to which he sort of grunted and changed to subject. Then I felt a bit bad for him, so I investigated a bit further to check that there isn’t some kind of ‘dry needling for laymen’ type of course going around. Turns out that it’s kind of the same deal across Australia – dry needling training is for people already practicing in at least some form of manual therapy.

You know, it’s not that he couldn’t do it if he set his mind to it. His only problem is that he gets attached to ideas quickly, and detaches from them just as quickly.

The Aussie Relationship With Trees

There are some nationalities that just have such a great reputation that I can’t believe they’d do anything truly terrible. Take Nepalese people, for instance. All the ones I’ve met have been lovely. Canadians are so polite. And then you get to Australians, who have this reputation as being a friendly sort who have barbecues and call each other ‘mate’, because everyone is just somebody else’s mate.

Then I get to Australia and…well, I think I always knew it was a normal place, with some friendly people and a small minority of not-friendly people. Now tradespeople…that’s where you find all of that stuff. I worked for a place in Caulfield that does tree removal and the people just seemed to be the salt of the Earth. Maybe something about ripping dead trees out of the ground just means you’re not left with much time for any sort of foolish negativity. It WAS a pretty awesome job, truth be told. So satisfying, going along to a place, setting up the equipment, ripping up those trees by their roots. It all sounded a bit…well, ‘evil corporation’ when I started. We’re ripping up trees! Making way for industry! Nye he he! Whereas it’s mostly just trees that are burrowing underneath the ground and ruining roads, or gigantic dead ones that are taking up space…or gum trees. Which, despite their reputation, can be pretty invasive and hard to get rid of.

I’ve bounced around trades over the years. I’ve never been one to put down my roots, so to speak.  Maybe it’s just because I quickly learned to speak the language, but I always feel at home with that sort of person, even those who are covered in a veil of grouchiness. It’s always skin-deep. And if you lived in Oakleigh and needed tree removal, it’s not like a bit of morning grumblies is going to prevent the job from getting done.


Great Uncle Boris is at it again

My great uncle Boris has always been pretty handy on the ornamental arboriculture front – from pollarding and coppicing to grafting and espalier techniques, he does it all. On the more practical side of things, though, he seems to have a bit of a blind spot. For example, one of his trees if currently overhanging into his neighbour’s yard, and he has been studiously ignoring their increasing frustration with the situation.

The neighbours would, in my opinion, be totally within their rights to ask him to prune the tree back, seeing as it’s beginning to block their window in a major way. I think the only the only reason they haven’t done this yet is that he’s always charming them with homemade jams and pies. Now that I think about it, I doubt he’d be physically up to the task of trimming the offending branches. But he could acknowledge that it’s becoming an issue and dial in an arborist service. Melbourne has been his home for thirty years, but he still feigns being new to the country and not knowing who to call on for this sort of thing.

It’s amusing to me that Boris can be so enamoured of ornamental pruning techniques, and yet have not the slightest bit of interest in things like routine crown thinning, deadwood removal and giving a dang about footpath clearance. This situation with the neighbour is quite a benign situation relative to some of the oversights Boris has pulled off in the past. I remember from when I was a kid in Adelaide that he once allowed a large shrub in his front yard to spill across the footpath and onto the nature strip.

I don’t know what the deal is in Adelaide, but here in Melbourne, tree trimming companies are perfectly abundant, and there’s no reason Boris’ neighbours should have to put up with this. Perhaps I’ll make the call myself; it’s possible that Boris won’t even notice. But I have my suspicions that his apparent obliviousness is actually just his way of entertaining himself.  

We Wish You A Merry Mechanic

Argh! It’s getting to that time of year when my organisational abilities go flying out the window and I begin to resemble a stressed-out chicken on a mission to avoid having its head cut off. Basically, I start putting off essential tasks that I’d normally be quite diligent about. In their place, I begin to prioritise things like explaining to my son why he can’t glitter-bomb the front lawn, and coming up with excuses to get out of going to my in-laws’ house on Christmas Eve.

One of the many things I’ve been putting off is organising an RWC inspection for the hatchback we’re giving Cassie to celebrate her finally finishing that seemingly endless BA degree of hers. It’s a used car, and we’ve had to do a bit of work on it, but I reckon it’s good to go now. It’s just a matter of getting it out of the garage and over to the mechanic without Cass catching wind of it. I might have to wait til she’s in the city with her mates on the weekend, and not at home in Croydon.

I’ll line it up with my next trip into Ringwood. Roadworthy certificates are starting to appear in the slightly stressful dreams I’ve been having lately, which is clearly a sign that I need to cross this item off my neglected to-do list. We can’t get the car re-registered in Cass’s name until we have the RWC, which means we also can’t pick up the new number plates from VicRoads. Note to self: track down an auto service centre in Ringwood.

I hope she appreciates all the running around that’s gone into this gift, although I don’t expect that she will – 22 year-olds in south-east Melbourne tend to be pretty low in the department of understanding the hoop-jumping their parents go through on their behalf. Luckily, I’m high on the spirit of Christmas right now (if I wasn’t, I’d have been to the mechanic already rather than shopping for decorative marzipan balls).


Catch-Ups and Windows

I was recently invited over for dinner with an old pal from high school, Janine. I hadn’t see her for years, and she’s changed a lot. No longer the party animal that I remembered, she’s just bought into the property market in spectacular style. She’s now the owner of a really huge house on the Mornington Peninsula.

When we were at school, if you’d told me that I’d be listening to Janina weighing up various glass frosting installation services in Melbourne (for her poolside cabana, no less), I’d never have believed it. But there we were, doing exactly that. It made sense, too – the house has a whole lot of glass going on. It almost gives the impression of being made entirely of windows.

We must have talked for at least twenty minutes about where to find the best home window tinting services in Melbourne. Janine told me that living in London for the past several years had sensitised her to the harshness of the light here, and she needed to dial back the UV glare and exposure. Alongside that, she had some very beautiful designer furniture, which apparently can become faded through sun exposure.

I had to interrupt this conversation to express my surprise at the turn her life seemed to have taken since our school days. Turns out, it wasn’t all that much of a coincidence. As she went on to explain to me, Janine had taken an interest in interior design after a fateful visit to a volcano-themed nightclub in Berlin, and it all spiralled from there. Years later, she now has a very successful line of business in restoring antique furniture.

Hearing this, it did all start to add up. I remembered that her bedroom as a teenager had always been elaborately decorated with obscure finds she’d tracked down on ebay and at garage sales. More to the point, her windows had always been covered over with a layer of purple cellophane. Now she gets to restore old stuff all day long, plus deck out her dreamhouse windows with specialised solar film. Good on her!

Celebrating With A New Kitchen

The divorce papers have finally been signed! Hallelujah. Now, here’s the really exciting part – I’ve been planning this for a while, so bear with my excitement. I’m celebrating by (drum roll, please) installing a new kitchen! It’s going to be epic: the gas stovetop I’ve always wanted, heaps of bench space – maybe even an island! – and a walk-in pantry. Best of all, I’ll get to have all this in the exotic colour scheme I’ve always been into (Michelle was all about the neutral colours).

In light of this, I’m currently on a mission to unlock the best kitchen renovation in Melbourne. This is a celebratory investment, remember, which means I won’t settle for anything less than my personal idea of perfection. As much as this might be an unattainable ideal in a marriage (as Michelle discovered, to her dismay), I think I can capture it in my kitchen paradise. I’m picturing all the surfaces, hardware and finishings being perfectly integrated, with a tailor-made place for everything, from appliances to waste.

So, here’s a question for all you design-heads clogging up the fabric of Melbourne: kitchen design. Talk to me about it. What are your non-negotiables? Is there something I need to incorporate that I haven’t thought of? I should mention that I’m an avid home cook, and the kitchen has always been my sanctuary in any house I’ve lived in. It’s really the heart of my home. That’s why I’m going all out on this renovation. I deserve it, after all those years spent married to someone who wound up having the bare minimum of appreciation for me or my passion for cooking.

I suppose I should keep my head a little; we had some good times. And I don’t need to go too crazy trying to reinvent the wheel and create a totally innovative kitchen experiences. At the end of the day, I’m set on a luxury kitchen, but I also want something classic and, ultimately, functional. It’s a delicate balance, much like the combination of spices in a truly mind-blowing rogan josh.

Today, the Ultimate Hair Smoother

It’s not the most glamorous life, being a guinea pig. But then…I knew what I was getting into. I signed a massive document that I had to read in detail, and it described all of the horrible things that could happen if something went wrong during the testing process. Because…well, that’s the point of being a guinea pig. But then I’m getting paid stacks to just show up, press some buttons, sometimes just have something sprayed in my face. One quick survey later and I can take the rest of the day off, which is occasionally extra-great because my head has swollen, or I’ve been infected with a mild-to-moderate strain of the black plague. Eh, occupational hazard.

So yeah, fun. Today’s invention was the Ultimate Hair Smoother. Supposedly it’s going to be trialled in a few hair salons in the Melbourne CBD before they roll it out worldwide, but of course, I’m here to make sure it’s totally safe for even the trial process. I even got a bit of a pitch this time: it’s a helmet, of sorts, that makes all hair types into a single type. Just pop it on, and you’ve got the smooth, wavy look that just falls into place by itself, regardless of how many hats you wear or jumpers you take on and off. I think the aim is for people who go and get a haircut, but don’t know how to look after it afterwards. They can just take a spin in the Hair Smoother and they won’t have to worry about the day-to-day maintenance, for a little while at least. So for the first time you can go along to a hairdresser and say ‘I’d like THAT look, please’ and they don’t have to just give you the closest thing possible for your hair type. Of course, it can only give you the one, wavy look, but it’s better than wanting to look like a movie star but having hair like a broom.

Interesting results so far. My scalp sort of feels…tingly. Like a thousand ants with little knives are stabbing me repeatedly. I’m also experiencing tunnel vision, migraines and I think telekinesis. Just gonna tick the ‘unsure’ box on that last one. Along with the ‘cannot currently recommend for Melbourne best hair salons’ box. But hey, big pay day, AND my hair looks fab.


Preparing your home is about preparing the details

The devil is in the details, as the old saying goes. That means that the most important part to the whole is the collection of the parts, and making sure all the parts are working correctly is the most important thing you can do when preparing for a big day. If you are looking to sell your home, you need to maximise the number of offers, as well as the price those offers give. This is achieved by making your home look as appealing as possible, and this is done with the parts.

One of the parts that’s most important to the success of an open house, an auction, or any house related venture, is the windows. They give a great representation of the home in general, and can be a great way to make sure that you get the best sale price for your home. Windows can be easily damaged or broken if they aren’t properly maintained and can suffer serious hardship. This is not only bad for sales, it can cause injury to yourself, your family, or the next owners of the house. That’s why it’s so important to keep your windows as well maintained as possible, and make sure that window repair companies based in Melbourne do a flawless job in repairing damage.

Some say that windows are the heart and soul of any home. I’m not so sure if that’s true, but they are certainly important to the style of a home. If you want your home to get the most from your window replacements, be sure to find out the best aluminium or timber bi fold windows in Melbourne. If you are planning on selling, it’s best to get a professional to come to the house to check over the existing windows. That way they’re able to repair or replace any broken or worn out windows that turn away buyers with a keen eye. Together you can decide how best to showcase your home to potential buyers.