The real reality of home improvement…

We are about to see the end of another series of The Block. The renovation show that is more about getting tradies to do the work while you go and spend ridiculous money on fluffy stuff and then complain cause you’ve run out of money and can’t pay your trades. It’s all a fantasy and I love a good bit of escapism on my telly so I like to watch it and yell at it. I also love to renovate. We bought this house and it was filthy and in fairly average condition so it’s been painted – mostly – flooring ripped up and new flooring laid, new window coverings, security doors, garage door, ceiling fans, light fittings blah blah you get my drift. We have a tight budget and some of our ‘nice to haves’ have been put into the ‘you’ve got to be joking, how much?’ file. We would love to do so much but one of us works for money and one of us works for love – and the only time love pays the bills is in dodgy 70’s porn films. Anyhoo this weeks project is to finish what we started last week and that is to re-roof our pergola and paint the patio floor. We took the roof sheets off last week and removed 28 cup hooks from the timbers – must have been the hanging gardens of Babylon at one stage – sanded, washed and repainted the timbers ready for new roof sheets. We worked together and we didn’t end up having an argument, which is pretty amazing really. Our budget for this job is $1000. Yep that’s right, only three zeros. Will it be the super awesome outdoor area we would love? Probably not. But it will be a shelter from the weather so we can cook and eat outside while MrRooben chases his ball and Barry Big Hole practices riding her bike. We don’t have a budget for pillows and cushions and throws for our bed…we have four pillows and a doona cover my mum picked up in the recent closure of a House store – thanks mum! To be honest even if I did have spare money pillows and cushions would be last on my list. I would rather buy a coffee table or side table so I can put my drink down without MrRooben whipping it onto the floor with his broom like tail. We currently use the two small chairs that form part of an Ikea chair and table set that Barry Big Hole has in her play room – they do the trick but to be honest it would feel more of a grown up space with a coffee table. We’ll see how we go in the budget. Our guests might have to continue to play dodge the dog tail with their coffee or wine so we can plant out our neighbours instead. Turns out that at $27 our kids Ikea setting was a sound investment with multiple functions….it just won’t be appearing in Vogue Living anytime soon.

The Five P’s

Many years ago I worked in the family business and my Dad would always recite the five P’s….

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance….yes, yes it does. So it was with his words ringing in my ears that I asked for a refund on my coffee as I didn’t have the 15-20 minutes to “be patient” while they caught up.

It was Fathers Day last Sunday and my Dad loves to tell anyone who will listen that he’ll probably get the same gift he got last year – that would be nothing – and then he will regale the listener with woeful tales of how his kids never buy him anything for Fathers Day blah blah blah. I call bullshit cause I get him a bag of chocolate bullets – from Darrell Lea – every year and he eats them all, no sharing. So I am at the shops early on Sunday to get his bullets and to see if any of the other usual Fathers Day suspects have been marked down and I decide to grab myself a long black before heading round to remind Dad that my brother is still probably waiting for his wife to remind him to call. So I order my coffee and stand aside to wait for them to call my name….about four minutes in a man approaches the baristas and asks if it’s going to be much longer on his takeaway coffee…uh oh.

Then a women standing near me heads up and asks the same question….she’s been waiting longer than him. And I have a four-year old, who doesn’t drink coffee, whining about wanting to goooo. Both of the baristas gave the same excuse – we’re really busy.

Yep – it’s Fathers Day. And you forgot your first three P’s and you are now only left with Poor Performance. I was done after that so I went to ask for a refund as miss whinger pants had stepped it up a notch. While I was waiting for the people in front of me to order I heard one of the baristas tell a customer – you just have to be patient – then it was my turn to ask for my money and the cashier doesn’t know how to do refunds…so the barista says “we’ll just make it for you now” ahhh no you won’t….I would like my money back please. So they open the till and give me my $5.30 and say “sorry we’ve just been busy” to which I said “yeah, it’s Fathers Day”

So this really grinds my gears….if you own a cafe or restaurant or outlet selling food don’t you want to be busy? Isn’t that your goal? And if you do have one of these businesses don’t you also track historical data from previous years so that you can understand and project how busy you might be on any given day – let alone an event day such as it was? I would really like to see a change in the language that staff and managers and owners of these businesses use when they are struggling to meet the demand. Try saying we’re really sorry, we’re unprepared or we really didn’t expect this, please bear with us. At least that puts the onus back onto the business and takes it off the customer – cause saying to me “sorry we’ve been really busy” makes me think you should also say “and you just made us more busy with your order so now you’ll have to wait”.

Anyhoo I finally got round to see my Dad and give him his bullets and make myself a coffee and it seemed fitting that most of my morning had been spent with my Dad at the forefront of my mind.

A note to anyone who may follow along from the USA – I did not give my Dad actual bullets for Fathers Day – they are called chocolate bullets and they are small sticks of licorice covered in chocolate, delicious!


less of the serving suggestion please…

I am not a shopper. I don’t particularly like the shops, I don’t really enjoy buying things – other than stationary. I find myself to be on edge and mildly pissed off from the minute I enter the carpark so it’s never a good start. Unfortunately I do have to venture into the shops on a fairly regular basis, though I do know that I can get my groceries delivered however it is a painful process and shits me to tears when the order is wrong. Yeah, I know, first world problems. But I am living my life and no one else’s so this is just my perspective. Anyhoo…clothing shopping is diabolical for me so I usually go for the cheapo tee-shirt and jeans combo and jazz up my outfit with a funky haircut. So imagine my dismay when my recently purchased $10 tee from BigW went from a flattering hip length to almost crop top after one wash. Turns out not so much of a bargain after all – which was a bugger cause if things had been different it could have been the start of a summer wardrobe. Apparently, in this case, you get what you pay for and I paid for shrinkage. I see this as yet another way marketing companies give us ‘serving suggestion’ like when you buy a box of weet bix and on the pack it has this amazing picture of weet bix floating in milk with berries on top…really?? Just try to replicate that at home. By the time you have your camera ready for the shot those cheeky weet bix have sucked up all your milk and are a soggy – but delicious – mess. Then you will see in very teeny tiny print *serving suggestion only. For more examples of this tomfoolery lets  just look at the home shopping network. Those wire free bra thingys that were meant to still give amazing cleavage AND be super comfy but in truth made you look like you had sausage boob and the minute you sat, bent or generally moved the bottom of the thingy rolled up. Don’t get me started on all the gym equipment that you only need to use for 10 minutes a day and all of a sudden you’re a tanned and toned god or goddess. Of course I know that if honesty was used in advertising we would all buy far less so it is in the manufacturers best interest to have a powerful sales pitch but please how gullible are we as consumers?? Take ladies shape wear for example…modelled by a woman who is probably all of a size 8-10 and, unless she has the curves of an ironing board, I’m guessing she does not need shape wear. So why not choose a bigger sized model to give the target market a better idea of what it can do for them? What about Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals…should come with a disclaimer “meals will only take 15 minutes if prepared by Jamie Oliver, purchasers of this book should expect to add at least an hour” ohhhh I could go on and on but you get the idea. I guess the one that is affecting us the most right now is the advertising ramp up towards Christmas on the kids telly. Man they really need to help out the people buying for these kids. Cause my little boss thinks that the Paw Patrol whatever the hell it is comes with a whole team of pups and their transport when, in fact, it only comes with one dude. Major let down when you see it on the telly and the whole gang is there but fast forward to the big day in December and Ryder is hanging out solo – not cool, toy company, so not cool.

In the words of The Beatles….

Let it Be….Vegemite. just be happy to be Vegemite. so far we’ve had Vegemite mixed with cheese spread and called Cheeseymite – not cool. if you want cheese with your Vegemite you do just that, you make a sandwich with cheese and Vegemite. that way you can choose the desired level of Vegemite and the preference for cheese. they have also just launched a Vegemite that is lower in salt. how ridiculous?? the reason we love Vegemite is the salt. now the most absurd of all collaborations is the Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate with a caramel and Vegemite centre. just let it be Kraft….stop trying to make Vegemite for everyone. the truth is it’s not for everyone so just be happy with the knowledge that those of us that love it will continue to do so and know that by putting it in chocolate and trying to make it something it’s not will not make more people like it. these poor souls that have tried the Cadbury Caramel Vege combo are going to buy Vegemite and think it tastes totally different than it does.

so while I’m on  Vegemite how about Aussie celebs stop trying to get Americans to like it. Americans feel the same way about Vegemite as we do about Dr Pepper. just let it be, Hugh Jackman, they don’t like it and that’s okay. you don’t see American celebs popping down under and trying to force us to eat grits or biscuits and gravy so I think it’s time we just left it alone….just let Vegemite sit on the shelf next to its old pal Peanut Butter and we’ll all be happy with the knowledge that our one constant in Aussie life is the same as we remember it from childhood – thank you and good night.