Oct 13, 2014

Introducing Number 4

We left our two dogs behind when we moved here. We could not afford to bring them over and they were 14 years old and would not have done well with the move anyway. Number 1 teared up when he hugged his favourite of the two and said goodbye. He cried again when the dogs finally went to the kennel in the sky.

I guess there is always a part of me that feels guilty for taking my kids out of Malaysia, for removing them from family, for placing them in a cultural context that is part alien to them. I can't give them more family here, and I can't change the colour of their skin, but I could get another dog, so I made promises. Once we bought our own place, I said, we would get a dog.

There are other reasons we had. Research shows that growing up around pets build immunity. Both Number One and Two grew up with dogs (as did hubby and I) and I wanted Number Three to reap the benefits too.

Number Three adopted Number Four early, so much so, she began thinking she was a dog. She put stuff in her mouth and shaked her head vigorously from side to side. She got on all fours and romped around the house. She got all her toys out when he first came and spilled them on the floor in front of him. She poured him a cup of tea and put the tea cup to his snout. He thought she was his littermate and pounced and jumped on her.

They are really funny together, I guess because they are both babies. Sometimes go they out in the garden and sit together, pulling out my leaves or decapitating some flower head. Sometimes they exchange hugs and licks. Other times though, they get on each other's nerves. I have to break up arguments. They steal each other's toys. Number Three sometimes entices the dog to jump on her, then she gives a plaintive wail and a 'help me, look at what he is doing" look.

Number Two is a bit ambivalent at present. He treats Number 4 as he does Number 3 - he gives them an exuberant hug and kiss once in a while, but because they can't kick a soccer ball around, they aren't of much use to him.

It's Number One who has a close connection to animals. I read an article that said pets are good for mental and social development and confidence building. I would think it's true. Number One's confidence has grown a bit. He has taken the lead in training the dog, and the trainers have praised him and how well Number 4 is getting along.

Number 1 normally gags at the sight of blood and poo, but is now feeding the dog and cleaning after the dog. He has overcome his aversions and can now even pick up poo with his hand in a plastic bag and he doesn't whinge. I am amazed at what love can do! I think he amazed himself because what he thought was 'impossible' for him to do, isn't so impossible when you face the facts and 'just do it.'

Oct 9, 2014

Once in a red moon in Sydney

Last night, we all stayed up until 9.25pm because of the lunar eclipse. I set up the camera on my small balcony and managed some long exposure shots (well, as good as can be with Number Three and Four running in and out and shaking the tripod!)
It was interesting to see the progression of the shadow as it crossed the moon. The clouds kept playing hide and seek with the moon but we caught the tinge of red around 9.10. Number One brought out his telecope and we camped at the top of the driveway trying to use it but it is a cheap telescope and rather frustrating to use so we gave up after seeing some blurry white stuff. At 9.25 pm when the eclipse should have been at its peak, the moon was completely covered by clouds.

Here is a magnified picture of the blood moon.

After moon-watching, we all went in and Number Two helped me bathe Number Three. Number One cleared my bed and put out her clothes for her.

"I must be dreaming!" I said. "My boys are helping without being told!"
"Here, here, let me pinch you, " said a cheeky Nmber One.
"Noooo," I said, a tad melodramatically. "If it is a dream, I don't want to wake up!"
"Enjoy it while it lasts," said Number One.
I sighed. "I guess it only comes once in a ...red moon!"

Oct 7, 2014

Where to find blue subway glass tiles in Sydney

I have just finished my kitchen renovation, and I spent hours in search of blue glass tiles in Sydney. I visited a dozen shops and googled for hours.

I was obstinate but hey, I love glass. I love how it reflects and captures light, and I love blue. As the morning light streams into my kitchen and hits the blue glass tiles, it is a hint of rippling water and the beautiful blue sky.

For anyone else seeking the above, I will hopefully save you some grief and summarise my 'adventures' here.

You're probably thinking, why not a glass splashback? At first I considered it but
1) was dissuaded by someone who said it would be hard to replace if cracked
3) but primarily, the price tag put me off. If I had an unlimited budget, I would just go for a patterned blue glass splashback, (you can find beautiful options at emilyziz.com) but I had almost 5 sqm to cover and could not splurge.

Then I considered glass tiles. I know cleaning the grout is an issue but I also like the pattern tiles offer, a level of interest as opposed to the flatness of the full glass splashback. But I didn't want it too small, not as small as mosaic tiles and I liked the brick-tile pattern of the subway tile (something like the picture below) Yes, I am fanciful!

After much search, I found a beautiful blue glass subway tile made by Southern Cross Ceramics, available through BigA+. You will need 2 weeks lead time to order. But at $300+ a sqm, it was still too hefty considering how much area I had to cover (that's not even with installation costs yet).

I found blue glass tiles (not my ideal colour but I was getting desperate) at Tile Mega Mart but they all still amounted to $200-300 a sqm.

where to buy blue glass tiles in Sydney

The neighbouring Tile Factory Outlet had a Subway glass tile for $10 a sheet but only in white!

where to buy Subway glass tiles in Sydney

Finally I found cheap blue glass tiles online at TileStonePaver. They were a little smaller in size (and thus a bit too much grout!) than I would prefer, but the price of $35 per sqm was irresistable. I know I took risks buying tiles at such price differentials. They looked great but what would happen when they were installed? I held my breath when the tiler cut them, but they have been installed and unless you inspect the borders closely, they look pretty good.

It was pretty fuss free buying tiles online. I ordered a few samples first  and decided on the tile before making another order.The shipping was fast (and not too pricey), prices are good and shopping is easy.

P/s: If you go with blue tiles, another problem you will hit is the lack of matching blue grout and blue silicone! They all come in white and grey! The catalogues show you the full colour options but the shops don't stock it. The tile shop assistants (I went to three tile shops) actually smiled sympathetically when I said I wanted blue grout. The tiler wanted to use his light grey silicone but I said no way! I didn't go to so much trouble to find blue tiles only to have them in grey grout and silicone.

I also wandered far and wide to get the grout, so I can tell you now to find blue tile grout and blue silicone to match your beautiful blue tiles, go straight to http://www.tilegrout.com.au/. I actually drove an hour to their shop because I did not have enough time to order online and got the Mapei crocus blue grout and matching silicone. Mapei is an excellent brand and coincidentally, made in Malaysia.

Phew! I'm sooo glad all that is over.