Those dreaded words. Kitchen renovations.

I’ve lived in my house for 15 years, no nearly 16 years, and I’ve done bits and pieces to the house, but have steered away from doing the expensive updates like kitchen and bathroom.

However, I finally bit the bullet and planned and implemented a kitchen renovation.

There were aspects of my old kitchen I hated apart from it’s very dated look. I always battled with the kitchen taps no matter how often the washers were replaced and I even replaced the taps themselves a couple of years ago. Whoever tiled didn’t grout half of them. And some tiles were broken around the kitchen taps. I’d also perfected a closing technique for some cupboards that didn’t sit flush.

Kitchen sink - before

I didn’t really have much bench space. See how much space the old double kitchen sink takes up?

Kitchen sink - before

The old oven took twice as long to cook something as it should. There used to be a cupboard next to it which I removed prior to these photos.

Oven area - before

The pantry cupboards were never straight so never closed properly. The post it notes are for the demo guys.

Pantry cupboard - before

In typical me fashion, I went from thinking I’d get the kitchen done in July, to getting the kitchen and bathroom done in September, back to just doing the kitchen in September. The reason for it happening recently was that I house-sat for friends so I didn’t have to be at home to live through the reno. I pulled out of the bathroom reno because of the cost and logistics. I don’t have the luxury of a second bathroom to use so it would have been a real hassle. And the vague promise of one place saying they could do it in two weeks morphed into the more likely reality of it taking around four or more weeks. So I’ll have to build up to that one financially and emotionally.

But the kitchen went ahead. I called a local company and the person who was going to come around to have a look cancelled on me that morning and never called me back.

I went with organising and managing the trades myself and I think I did a pretty good job as I haven’t come out the other end with a horror story of renovations.

I didn’t really change the footprint of the kitchen and even managed to keep some of the cupboards. The old oven was happily thrown out (well it went the way of scrap metal collection along with the kitchen sink and other bits and pieces) and new oven and a dishwasher ordered. Yes, a dishwasher.

The image below is after the demo. It took a day to remove the cupboards and the tiles. See all the gaps at the bottom of the walls?

After demo

If you ever do a kitchen this is roughly what will happen.

You will umm and ahh over making any decisions but you will eventually make decisions about what you want.

As I used pretty much the same configuration as it was in, I didn’t use a kitchen designer or come up with a design myself as I was trying to save some money.

I found an excellent cabinet maker to do the cupboards. He was great. He was happy to reuse what I could which wasn’t all that much in the end really. I recommend an excellent cabinet maker.

I’ve got drawers – soft closing drawers at that. Who knew one could be so easily pleased by soft closing drawers. Get soft closing drawers.

I’ve got cupboards that close easily. I now don’t have to lift up the door handle to adjust the cupboard door so that it will close.

I packed up everything in the kitchen and moved it out. Luckily I’ve got a back room. This seemed to take forever and made me realise how long packing up the whole house would take.

Two friends came in and removed everything that was being replaced, and removed tiles. I paid them for this and it took a full day.

I got a 3m skip for them to use for rubbish and got them to keep the sink and oven aside so they can be collected for scrap metal. There was a bit of room left in the skip so I filled it up with other rubbish lying around. What a great feeling!

After the demolition, an electrician and plumber came in to get things ready for the dishwasher and new powerpoints and lights. If whoever is doing your demo isn’t comfortable with electrical and power you’ll need the plumber and electrician before demo starts, but mine were. An electric cable going to a powerpoint went pop scaring the hell out of them so luckily nobody was electrocuted. I knew the previous house owner was a DIY fella so I’m not surprised about the dodgy wiring.

When you’re figuring out what you want electrically, you realise that a powerpoint on that side of the kitchen is a brilliant idea and let’s add more lighting so you can see what you’re cooking (the oven is in an old chimney alcove). I’ll be going from two usable power outlets in the kitchen to about six and that’s not counting the ones that are used by the fridge, the kettle/toaster, and oven. I’ve got LED lights under my cupboards and under the chimney/stove area. Wow. I love it.

After electrical/plumbing prep is done get your cabinets put in. Your soft closing drawers and lined up cupboards. He had his work cut out for him in my old house with non straight floors and walls so I don’t think a flat pack kitchen would have worked for me.

Next is tiling.

Then the plumber and electrican come back to do their second fix and you get the plumber to do a couple of other jobs around the place that you’ve been putting off. After all, what’s a few extra bucks on top of a kitchen reno?

Last but not least my mates who did the demo came back to do the painting.

Then I was left with putting stuff away and trying to decide what goes where. I’ve lost a bit of cupboard space because of the dishwasher.

All up it took two weeks.

Friday/Saturday – pack up and move out
Monday – demolition
Tuesday/Wednesday – electrical and plumbing first fix
Wednesday/Thursday – cabinet installation
Sunday – tiling preparation (this was because of my old wobbly walls (house is not brick and built pre-plasterboard) so board was put up as a good base for the tiles)
Monday/Tuesday – tiling
Wednesday – electrical second fix
Thursday – painting
Friday – plumbing second fix, cleaning up and starting to move back in.

Below are the after photos.

You can see the LED strip lighting underneath one of the cupboards and a new powerpoint in a place I never had one before. The dishwasher should be sitting flush with the cupboards. One should read the instructions before installation.

After - dishwasher/cupboards

See the gap underneath the oven below? I’m getting the cabinet maker back to make a box to sit underneath it. One because the oven’s legs are wobbly (nothing to do with installation), two because it will look neater.

After - oven area

This is the decluttered benchtop. It WILL stay that way!

After - pantry cupboards

I still love being able to use a tap that I don’t have to battle with.

After - new tap.

What you can’t see in the photo below is the roman blind I installed myself. I’m a little bit handy, and not afraid to use a drill.

After - kitchen sink/dishwasher/cupboards

Things I love about him (13)

Ahem, you there on the trampoline!

I love that he loves our dog. After all the main reason I got another dog after Monty died was because of JJ. When we first met Phoenix he went straight to JJ. He wouldn’t go near me at first. I love that he enjoys playing with him and I think the feeling’s mutual don’t you? Look at the smiles on both of them.

And I love that the trampoline I bought for JJ ten years ago still gets used. Don’t see many of these ones around any more.

See all the things  I love about him.

Things I love about him (12)

On our way to the game.

I used to add snippets here of the things I love about him (my son) but I haven’t done it since 2006. He was five then. He’s 13 now.

When people ask me how he is I usually sigh and say, ‘he’s a teenager’. Sure, there’s attitude, but there are good things too.

The other day we had to move the dining table back into the kitchen and we were having a hard time getting it through the door. I knew there was a way because it originally got into the kitchen and out again. I was just about to give up when JJ said let’s try this.

His way worked and we soon had the table back into the room.

PS: the photo above was one of many I took, but the only one where he was sticking his finger up.

Life’s too short

The lake

Yesterday was an awful day in Adelaide. An eight year old girl was tragically killed when she was flung from a show ride. I don’t know the full story but maybe she was too small for the ride. Whatever the story is, it’s a horrible outcome for her, her family, friends, and everyone else who was affected.

JJ’s school has a day off for the Show and I took a day off too. I asked if he wanted to go but he wasn’t interested. Because he’s 13 now he probably won’t want to go with me again, but will go with his mates in the years to come I imagine.

Instead of going to the Show we spent some time putting rubbish in a rubbish skip. I had the skip to get rid of my old kitchen cupboards. Yes, after 15 years of living in my house I’m finally getting a new kitchen.

The old oven that takes twice as long to cook anything than it should is out. I’m getting a dishwasher. I’ve got soft closing drawers and I’ve got cupboard doors that close with ease and don’t have to be closed in a certain way to get them to close because they’re uneven. My house is quite old and the walls and floors are very uneven. Fortunately I know an excellent cabinet maker who’s done a sterling job. Hopefully in another week everything will be done and dusted – literally. Removing tiles creates quite a bit of dust! Not that I removed them. I paid a couple of friends to do the demolition. Totally worth it.

Last night I forced myself to go out to a party an acquaintance had. I wasn’t sure who’d be there but I went along anyway and I’m glad I did as there were a few people I hadn’t seen for a while. One of them asked me if I’d been on holidays this year. I answered in the negative and said that I’m doing my kitchen up instead. As we chatted and talked about mutual friends and 50th birthday parties that are happening thick and fast it confirmed that I’m getting older and I really can’t take life for granted and I need to do things.

It’s hard to be totally free to do these magical things because of being a mum to a new teen and a reactive dog, holding down a job, and running a house, but it’s in the back of my mind that the teen will grow up, the reactive dog will calm down and I need to be thinking about other things to occupy myself when this happens. One thing that’s occupying me at the moment is my new phone. I managed to get selected to review a phone provided by Telstra as part of their Mobile Insider program. I’m reviewing an LG G3. The photo above was taken with my new phone, which I think I’ll keep.

Getting out and about and doing things aside from my day-to-day reality is partly why I forced myself to go out last night. I could have easily stayed in by the fire and the latest episode of Big Brother but I switched off, put on my latest op-shop purchase and off I went.

Life’s too short.

How we’re helping Phoenix be a happier dog

The dog wins this round.

Despite what it may look like in the photo above our dog does not rule our roost.

After our two week trial period and we decided to adopt him it became clear that he’s reactive around some other dogs.

My vet recommended a couple of behaviourists and I got one out and she hung around for an hour or so giving me some tips for him when he sees other dogs, and some recommended training to do with him at home so he’ll stay calm. Of course he’s fine at home, and chucking food at him when he sees other dogs on our walks doesn’t always work. Sometimes a dog will just appear from around a corner and it’s too late to get the food to distract him, especially when I’m trying to hold him as he’s jumping around like a mad thing.

After a month or so of doing this I realised that it wasn’t really working and I wondered about the common sense in getting him not to react to other dogs by not letting him mix with other dogs. It doesn’t help our quality of life, or our dog.

We struggled along for a while and I’d pretty much resigned myself to this is how it is.

A couple of months ago JJ had the side gate open to get some wood and Phoenix got out and bit it. He ran across the road to a dog on the lead who probably hadn’t even looked at him. I don’t know as I was inside. He bit the dog and naturally the owner was upset and I got to pay the vet bill.

I did some more research about dog training methods and realised that there are differing schools of thought to approaching a dog’s behaviour.

It appears as though the behaviourist I got comes from the purely positive dog training and there’s a balanced approach as well where corrections are used. This sounded just like what we needed.

I spoke to a trainer who uses this method and he said to come along to one of his classes.

We got there and stayed well clear of all the puppies and adult dogs because of course Phoenix barked and lunged at them even though we weren’t that close.

I found the trainer and he came over with a choker chain and a long lead and took our dog. He walked over to some other dogs and when Phoenix started doing his lunge and bark he gave him a correction. After about two more of these he handed the lead back to us and Phoenix didn’t leave our side even though he was on a long leash. A little dog came near us but with a small correction Phoenix was fine.

We hung around for a while then joined in the socialisation component of the class and towards the end of it (with no more reactions from Phoenix) he was sat in the middle of a circle of dogs and was just fine.

I’ve since taken him to three more socialisation classes and we’ve been to three obedience classes. The previous behaviourist had not recommended Phoenix attend obedience training because being around the other dogs might flood him.

I’ve been doing some training with him at home and out on walks too. He sits as soon as I stop and now he drops on command 99.9% of the time. He’s even dropped at socialisation classes with all the other dogs around him.

He still pulls on the lead and as I took a break from socialisation the other day, the trainer asked me to come into the middle and put him into a drop. As I was doing this I didn’t have a hold on the lead properly and he got away because a German Shephard looked at him. They had a scuffle and then both got taken aside to do some socialisation with each other. I felt really bad because the German Shephard had been attacked by a dog when he was younger so my dog having a go at him wouldn’t help. Now I know why this dog is so reactive as well. Who knows, maybe the same thing happened to Phoenix.

And the car sickness? He’s been a lot better with that too. He still drools a bit but nowhere near as much as he used to. We even did a two hour car trip a few weeks ago and I dosed him with ginger tablets. The medication I got from the vet was $70 for four tablets and goodness knows what’s in that stuff. He hasn’t been sick in the car for a few months now.

So I’ll continue with obedience and training classes while I can. He’s definitely better out on walks now. Occasionally he’ll growl or lunge still, but overall he’s a lot calmer when we encounter another dog. Unfortunately I won’t ever feel comfortable taking him to an off-lead dog park but they’re not the be all and end all of a dog’s life anyway.

Just as well I love him ey?


Not all about hiking

Off on a hike and the backpack is heavy. Day 251/366. Off to the Branch Hike

On the weekend my beloved teenager went on a hiking camp with scouts. Two years ago he did the same thing as shown by the photos above.

I don’t often get a childfree weekend and it just so happened that a friend had a big party on the Saturday night. So I had an early to bed Friday night and prepared myself for the shindig on Saturday eve.

It was far enough away from home that made it hard to get home that same night, and there was room for camping so I borrowed the aforementioned teen’s tent and set it up at the party.

I didn’t know how long I’d last at the party because I’d not been feeling 100% all week but as I fell into bed around 4.30am Sunday morning, I quickly looked at my Fitbit and saw that I’d done 14,000 or so steps since midnight. Obviously I’d found my second and maybe my third wind. Dancing a lot will make those steps add up. My legs were already killing me and even after the paracetamol tablets I still couldn’t get comfortable.

But let’s rewind a bit.

The ex was at the party with his new girlfriend. I thought he might be attending and I’d heard on the grapevine that he was seeing someone. He didn’t go out of his way to talk to me apart from mentioning Rollng Stones coming up soon when he came across me and couldn’t avoid me. I wish I’d made an effort to ‘bump’ into him and see how he acted around me and his new squeeze. Afterall, this is the man that wouldn’t even introduce me to his ex-wife even when we were all standing together at a function once. But I was unmoved that he was there with her which I’m glad about. I can pretty much predict how their relationship will be and I don’t miss that at all.

So onto new pastures for me and in an effort to be on the lookout kept my eyes out and ended up dancing with a fella later on in the evening. He was becoming very friendly and it was nice to have some male attention. I was quite ready to go to bed earlier than I did but he kept hassling me to stay and I thought I would as I didn’t have to be up early the next day.

We moved outside and he told me I could call the shots. I could take that a lot of ways but I was thinking that my shots to be called would be that I was going to my tent by myself. As we stood there a girlfriend of mine joined us and casually asked him if his wife had gone to bed.

I was shocked that he was married as he’d been acting the way he was with me although I did then spy his wedding ring. She went on to say something along the lines of how inapprorpriately he was acting with me when he’s married. He said that he ‘just wanted to dance’. I told him that he was suggesting a lot more than dancing. He was still ‘apparently’ oblivious to his actions. Tosser!

I was annoyed with myself for being so trusting with someone. I was glad that it didn’t go any further. I was annoyed that I’d wasted my time on him at all! I felt sorry for his wife. I’m sure this isn’t the first time he’s ‘just danced’ with someone. But I’ve learned my lesson, that is if someone’s clearly flirting with me to suss out their situation.

I may as well have stayed up as I couldn’t sleep because of the noise and my sore legs but at least I got to lie down and rest.

I got home to a quiet house and enjoyed the peace until I picked up the dirty, tired teen.

We both had early nights and deep sleeps.

Who now Mrs Doubtfire?

You are a star.

On my way to work yesterday morning I was listening to the radio when I heard the news about Robin Williams. I gasped out loud. I didn’t know much about his private life and his struggle with depression. I only really knew what I saw of him in movies. I introduced my son to Mrs Doubtfire last year and he loved it. I also remember watching Mork and Mindy when I was a kid. He was a great comic, and entertained us all and I think when what you know of somebody is being funny, their death by apparent suicide is unexpected and sad.

My Facebook and Twitter stream has been full of other peoples thoughts about him too. He’s left a great legacy for us – his fans. We’re lucky.

I think suicide has touched us all at one time or another, some more than others.

I had a phone call from an ex manager one day to tell me about a colleague of ours who’d committed suicide. Apparently my manager became concerned when our work mate hadn’t come to work so went to his place to see if he was there. The door was propped open with a shoe and my manager found him – dead. I had no idea about my colleague’s private life, only that he had a young son and was divorced from his wife. I suspect that many of us are really good at hiding things. And I wonder how many people hide their depression in the workplace because they don’t want to be labelled.

I’ll never forget him because when I came back from my overseas holiday in the year 2000, he asked me – jokingly – if I’d come back pregnant. Unbeknown to him, I actually was pregnant and I nearly choked when he asked. I would have loved to have said, well, yes, I am pregnant actually,  just to see the look on his face, but I was standing in my boss’s office and that’s not how I wanted to break the news.

A few years later I bumped into another colleague and chatted to her, and offered my condolences about her daughter in law who was tragically killed in a traffic accident. She told me about a person that we’d both worked with who’d committed suicide recently. I didn’t know this person that well but had picked up that she was a bit highly strung. Again, I had no idea of her personal struggles.

I don’t know what it’s like to suffer with depression. I know I go through down periods but I know that it’s temporary and that in a day or so I’ll feel better. I’m lucky. I like to think that if any of my friends are depressed and they need someone to talk to or help with something that I could be that person.

While deaths of celebrities like Robin Williams are awful, it does highlight that depression is real, and not something that you just snap out of.