Category Archives: grand plans

Of Peg boards and Nannas. Both mine.

I bought a sheet of pegboard today. That white, unfinished stuff with holes punched in it, that lots of people use for hanging tools in garages.

I’ve been looking for something to hang my jewellery on. I thought about those cheval mirrors that you open and they have storage inside, but they are big and bulky and I don’t really have anywhere for them. Then I was going to use a spare shelf from one of our BILLYs, but I am a bit useless with a cordless drill and I don’t think that “make me a jewellery hanging board thing” was going to cut it with Fraser. I contemplated stick-on hooks but ideas like that don’t last long, even for me.

And then today I was driving past Bunnings and my meeting was cancelled and circumstances conspired so that I was in the left lane at the time so I could just pull in to the carpark and I thought oh well why not see if they have something you could use? And I saw a sheet of pegboard and had a moment of OMGTHATISAWESOME and then a moment of WHOA THAT IS BIG. But there was a guy there with a big saw and before you could say PLEASECANYOUCUTTHISPEGBOARDFORME (or at least not long after), I had not one but THREE pieces of pegboard, all smaller than the first. And some hooks.

And as I drove home, I found myself thinking of my nanna, who died when I was seven and of whom I have not very many memories really. She was my mother’s mother and was not in the best of health, but I used to go and stay with her sometimes and I thought her house was wonderful because she had an old 1950s-style caravan out the back (we never got to play in it) and a piano and this amazing dark green hairy scratchy lounge suite. And a teeny-tiny wood fire, and plates with PINK FLOWERS which I loved desperately and which my aunt and uncle used for years (I think they disappeared years ago, although maybe I should ask whether there is a plate left that I could have in remembrance – they looked a lot like this plate, at least in my memory, although they were definitely not Limoges).  And a toilet with blue water, and a laundry and drying room that was out the back of the house and you had to go outside to reach it. And a milk bar up the road which she would take me to and we would buy twenty cents of mixed lollies. These days, that wouldn’t buy you a jelly snake. And a blue tongue lizard that lived outside the kitchen and terrified me one day because I thought it was a snake.

And when I got home, I realised that it was the PEG BOARD that made me think of Nanna, because she had some in her kitchen (I think a wall, or maybe just above a bench) which she used to hang her soup ladles on. And if I close my eyes I can still see her kitchen, and her chairs with stripy red and white floral fabric – and I could tell you which cupboards she kept the plates in.

And I’m going to experiment with spray painting my spare peg boards with high gloss paint and think about maybe incorporating peg board into my plans for my kitchen. If it was good enough for Nanna, it should be good enough for me.


Posted by on April 19, 2012 in family, grand plans, house


Financial Planning, my way. AKA Mature & sensible. Really.

I want to spend, Fraser worries


Posted by on April 12, 2012 in grand plans, house, travel


Being Mature, Grown-up and Sensible. It’s a stretch, believe me.

After a weekend of gaming (LOTS of gaming), Fraser and I had our much-heralded Big Talk on Monday.

On the agenda: Would we or would we not go to Essen this year?

Now I don’t know about your Big Talks with our partners, but ours never go well. At least, not when we are both being Mature, Grown-up and Sensible. Frivolous and Irresponsible are much more charming.

Really, this talk was about a lot more than Essen.

[Imagine here that I wrote lots of serious stuff about Bigster and school. Actually I did but I deleted it because it was boring. Upshot: She can’t travel in October for the next 3 or 4 years.]

The stuff I deleted demonstrates that 2016 or 2017 would be the next time we could actually all go to Essen. And there’s a family consensus that, whilst cheaper, it would not be fair anymore for some of us to go and some of us not to. This is the down-side of being in a family that shares your hobby. Meh, Germany, what’s that? NOBODY wants to go to Essen *cue weird hallucinogenic music and lights*.

And after that, we have to wait till around 2020 for Otto to be done with exams. That’s forward planning for you! In fact, Fraser and I have a date in England in 2021. If we have done being Mature, Grown-Up and Sensible by then.

OMG IN TEN YEARS MY BABIES WILL BE ALL GROWN UP. << This way lies madness. Do not think about it. It does my head in. Frequently.

Anyway. That’s why we wanted to go this year.

Sadly, we overspent last year and – while we have reduced spending dramatically this year already – we are still spending too much. Which fails that Mature, Grown-Up and Sensible test by a LONG way. So the prospective trip has been cancelled.

BUT – and because it is never that simple in our lives:

Bigster wants to do a school exchange program in 2013 or 2014, spending April to June in Germany. Which would be awesome and exactly what she needs and I think she MUST DO IT – except that we would have to host her exchange partner and we just don’t have room. We always expected to renovate our house but it hasn’t happened. YET.

That’s right. MORE PLANS TO SPEND OUR MONEY. Which would involve re-mortgaging the house (ugh) but would improve our quality of life out of sight. At least until someone tells me what all my wonderful plans & schemes will actually cost.

But – again – this has to happen SOON. Because I don’t think it’s fair to renovate while your kid is doing their final years of school. (Note to self: Life would be much easier if I worried less about being fair.) And because the exchange partner would be here at the start of next year or the following year, and we need somewhere for her to sleep (apparently the cubby house would not be acceptable). And because our house gets messier by the day because we have already thrown out or given away most of what can be thrown out or given away and we just keep collecting games books shoes stuff. We need the extra space. And because my brother & his wife live in the same municipality as we do and their house plans have just been rejected after the Council spent ten months considering them. Which I prefer to call NOT considering them. SERIOUSLY. TEN MONTHS. SO RUDE. With similar stories from other local friends, we have to get started soon or we will be in our nineties before ANYTHING gets done! And the kids will probably have left home by then.

But also because I want a game room and a hidden door and all the awesomeness I am planning for. (You can see some of it here, on Pinterest, if you are interested). (Aside: OMG! PINTEREST!!! What a time suck!)

Cue much Angst and Obsessing from me.

Also, betting odds. To wit:

  • Go to Essen this year: 678,755:1 (Coincidentally, this equates to the odds of winning the lottery with a 12-game ticket. Must ponder that.)
  • Go to BorderCon this year: 1:785 (unless something dramatic happens, we’ll be there)
  • Renovate house this year: 2:1 (I think the odds are good but I always do. Note: This does not include allowance for time-wasting by municipal staff.)
  • Go to BGGcon this year: 364:1 (Still a VERY slight chance of this as there is a work-related conference the week before.)
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in grand plans, house, travel


Big, not-quite-plans

So, Fraser and I had another of those Big Conversations during the Christmas-New Year break. This one went a bit like this:

Me: Bigster will be in Year 9 next year. So in 2013 and for 2 or 3 years after that, she’ll have end of year exams in October-November.
Fraser: Yes. So?
Me: Well if we WANT to go back to Essen, this year could be our last chance!
Fraser: Yes. That is correct.
Me: So …
Fraser: We can’t afford it.
Me (cunningly): Yes.
Fraser: Yes what?
Me: Yes we can’t afford it.
Fraser (confused): So why are we having this conversation?
Me: Well, maybe we SHOULD be able to afford it.
Fraser (frustrated): Have I not been telling you that we need to Spend Less?
Me: Yes. And you are right.
Fraser: So how are we going to afford a trip to Essen?
Me (triumphantly): I think we should Spend Less!

At which point, his head exploded.

So here’s the Plan.

1. Spend Less.
2. ??? (also Revisit conversation (and spending) at Easter.)

Which of course means that I have three iterations of an itinerary already. At 70% at least. And we have both booked time off at work, because there’s no point deciding to go at Easter and then finding we can’t get the time off. And we’re talking about all sorts of places to visit and see and kinda planning for a day at Legoland Windsor and balancing the many days we want to spend in the UK with wanting to spend a full two and a half weeks in Germany so the girls can hear it spoken and wanting to see some other places too. And my friend gave me a whiteboard and it is covered in notes about towns and B&Bs and maps and people to see. And we’re going to try to sell off some tat on eBay for spending money. And i have ALREADY Not Spent about $2000 and although that doesn’t really count as savings it still makes me feel all warm and noble and self-sacrificing. And our Hotel Of Choice has vacancies at Essen time but shhhhh don’t tell anyone or they might get booked. And the girls are excited most of all that they might go back to CARDIFF and even more that they are going to ESSEN and can we work there please mummy and WHOA hold it right there we aren’t even in the 100% club yet.
But it will happen, right? Because now I have told The Internet.


Posted by on January 16, 2012 in grand plans, travel


And three weeks zipped by ..

Last time I counted, it was 6 weeks till we left.

Ah, heaps of time.

Now, it is three-and-a-half.

Just to put that in perspective:

  • The girls and I have three weekends left in Australia. This weekend, Fraser and I will be at BorderCon in Albury – so there are really only two weekends left before we go. And we want to have a party the week before we leave – so really only one weekend to pack things up.
  • I have a project to finish for a client. It involves writing a whole battery of PRINCE2 documents. That will be achievable.
  • I have another project to finish for another client. It involves lots more writing. That will be partially achievable, but I will probably have work to do when I get to Germany. The client is not happy with some of the work that I didn’t do, and has asked for me to work on that area. While her faith in me is touching and flattering, I am nervous that it might be misplaced.
  • I have two games to translate. The urgent part of one is half-done. I’m hoping to finish the urgent bits by the middle of the week.
  • I have all sorts of things to organise for our trip. More on this elsewhere. I need to stop overthinking the small stuff.
  • Mum and dad’s house has its first Open-For-Inspection on Thursday. I have not been there for a week. I need to find time to go there.
  • I still do not have a British passport. Nor do the girls have Australian passports (long story). Lots of chasing things up to happen on Monday morning.
  • Fraser and I need to get international drivers permits. We tried to do this on Saturday, but the RACV shop closes at 12 noon (where every other shop in the centre closes at 5pm).
  • I have to go to the luggage shop and ask if they can order the new model of Trunki for Otto. Failing that, I need to order one online. This is becoming urgent.
  • We need to organise parent-teacher meetings with the girls’ teachers. These would normally happen at the end of this term but they have been delayed to early next term.
  • Fraser and I need to move back to our “2 boxes a night” packing philosophy.
  • I need to do invoicing and tax. Urgently.

Skippedidoodah Skippediay

So, there was a skip. At my house. With a few of mum’s things down the bottom, but not many.

Friday night, all we did was padlock it.

Saturday, I workworkworked all morning and finally got to mum and dad’s at 12.30 or so (three cheers for Fraser, who took the girls to the German School Excursion all by himself). Then we went out to buy them some new furniture, as they had had their sofa and armchairs carted away earlier in the week.

Now, dad has a fabulous armchair. It is a recliner, very big and comfy, made by Moran. We paid over $1500 for it as a gift for his 60th birthday, 18 years ago. He loves it, but lately he has trouble getting up from it.

So after we looked at the sofa that mum likes, I asked the salesman whether he had any OMGElectricChairs – and he did, and even though they are a bit ugly, we found one that literally gets dad onto his feet and into a standing position before he has to leave the chair. And it reclines, too.

Result: 2 Electric Recliners (sooner or later mum will find it helpful) and a rather nice bronzey green sofa. (Actually, it looks a bit like ours, but it is not ridiculously pale-coloured).

They are to be delivered on Monday, which I think is foolish. Plan for now is that they will go into the garage initially, as we have to meet the interior designer at 4pm. 

Now I am considering whether we want to take dad’s Moran recliner, especially as I want to get rid of The Stinky Chair (TM).

Anyway. Skip.

Well, meanwhile, we have filled it. Including one carload from mum and dad’s, but the rest was ours. Fraser was a trooper and did most of it, I took about 15 minutes out from work today (when it became clear that the Bigster was well and truly stuck) to go out, direct, and clean out the shed.

I feel efficient 🙂

Even more so, because over the last 3 weeks or so I have been auctioning old books etc on eBay. So far, I have sold $350 of items. Not bad for about 4-5 hours’ work 🙂

There is one more thing that I want to get rid of, though. See, a couple of years ago, our old VCR died. And I went and bought a new VCR. Then I realised that we couldn’t program the TV to see the new VCR because we’d lost the remote control that is the only way to program our TV. So we jerry-rigged the old VCR to work, then we tuned IT in to the new VCR and basically daisychained the two of them together.

I found the TV remote control a month or so ago, when we gutted the sofa. Technically, we could change that setup – but it was going to be too much hassle to bother.

Then, last week, the VCR (the “new” VCR) started eating tapes. So I went out and bought a new one – which is a combo VCR and DVD player – because that was all you could get.

I looked at our entertainment unit and smiled. Not only could we get rid of BOTH VCRs (and associated remote controls), we could get rid of the DVD player and ITS remote control too. Whee! Down to two remote controls (and the one for the speakers – oops), at least until we go crazy and buy a set-top box.

Only it turns out that Fraser won’t let me throw out the DVD player, because it still works. Even though we have a new one, and we can’t watch two DVDs at once.

I should have expected this. After all, it was only a month ago that we finally got rid of the Beta VCR – and it hadn’t worked since before we started dating in 1992.

Oh yeah – and one more thing.

We got a flat!

It’s kinda small, but looks very nice. My friend is going to go and do an inspection asap, just to check it out.

It’s in Wuppertal, which is right next to Düsseldorf. And I found German language classes for children just nearby.

For a non-religious person, I am very superstitious. I firmly believe that something will come up – and it did, with remarkably little fuss.


Back to work now. Procrastination break over.


Not looking …

So, you will remember that I am NOT LOOKING for accommodation in Germany.


I think I may have found a flat. 

Cross fingers and toes for me, please.

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Posted by on May 15, 2009 in grand plans


What I did today :)

Woke up.

Thought, hmm, I need to do some work.

Decided to turn on the eee first to check email etc in bed.

La, la, la. Read the paper, checked email, wandered around on bgg. Then decided to do what I usually do on Mondays – check the Qantas website and sob that airfares to Germany are around the $2700 mark during June-July.


$1409 RETURN!!!

gmail and gtalk Fraser. Possibly before he was even at work. Wait impatiently for him to respond.

Three options. Let’s go through them and eliminate some. OK, let’s eliminate one and change one. We now have dates we will be in Europe

Run to bathroom, shower, dress. Makeup? Nah, no time.

Me, on gtalk: Fraser, this is your last chance to change anything

Fraser, on gtalk: Go for it.

Drive to shopping centre. OMG my travel agent has a client with him. Make appointment to see him in 20 minutes, run to kmart to pick up easter egg for niece.

Back to travel agent. He’s free.


Our preferred dates are booked out. Wotthehell, we’ll go a bit earlier.

Travel insurance? You beaut. No problems there either. 


We are booked. I must pay today. $6200 for 4 return airfares to Europe. Expected price was over $9800. Holy frijole that’s a cheap plane ride.

And so, ’twas done. 

We leave Australia in late June, and Fraser will join us in late July. We return at the end of November, leaving time for a trans-atlantic hop to BGGcon if we decide the kids are up for it. Or if Fraser decides to go on his own.

The Bigster might even, if she is very lucky, get to see a German christmas market.

I am so excited. Also, a little bit terrified. But only a little bit, because that won’t really kick in until a week before I FLY TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD WITH MY KIDS. omg.

Now, apartment hunting. And trying to rent out our house. Or find a home exchange, or something. And thinking about travel. And school, and all that stuff.

And telling work, of course. Yikes.


Oh yeah – my day. Then I had a filling. This afternoon, I have a pap smear and an icky painful gynae thing. From the sublime to the ridiculous, here I go again.


Posted by on April 7, 2009 in be happy, family, grand plans, travel


Now officially planning

We arrive in Europe on or immediately after July 1st.

Outstanding questions:

  • where will we live? (I even posted something in the Germany forums on BGG)
  • will be start in the UK, then travel, then go to Germany? Or start in Germany, then pack up, travel, come back for OMGESSEN! ?
  • um, just about everything.

We have a date, though.

And I am officially looking for a flat or house to let or sublet, in Germany, for up to 3 months, from 1.July.09 or a bit after that.


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Posted by on March 29, 2009 in family, grand plans, travel


Summary – recent posts

I have not forgotten my beloved friends, and have been writing many postsf for you, my darlings, while off-line. I have now uploaded a bunch of them. Maybe I should have put them on timed release or something. To help the reader, here is the order of writing (all links open in new windows):

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Posted by on January 20, 2009 in family, grand plans, meta