Planning the back driveway

I’ve been eyeing up my driveway lately, because it’s looking kinda sad. By kind of, I mean A LOT.

And I have all these awesome ideas to tidy it up, but haven’t started any of them because I’m on a budget, which means I really need to do this stuff right the first time. So: PLANNING.

Planning is a thing I’ve been doing.

Driveway plan

True my planning looks a bit like a drawing done on a post it note with highlighters (because it is), but it still counts!!

I’ve also been looking online for inspiration, and I’ve decided that I’m going to hide my unsightly concrete paths by putting stones straight over top of them, and adding a cool slat path like this one (that I saw here – totally my new favorite blog):

Path (concrete cover up)

I’ve also been looking at ways to hide ugly concrete stairs and pads, and I might try covering my back porch with timber, so it’s more of a cute deck arrangement than a heck of a lot of ugly concrete. I found PART of a video tutorial here, that makes it look super easy (is that guy even measuring??) And if I can cover the deck with timber, then maybe I can extend it a bit too, and start the epic decking project that I want to tackle in a year or two!

First I have to read up on the council though, because if I can avoid having to get a permit, then that would be awesome.

I’ll need to get a truckload of stone to fill the drive, and to re-do the driveway edging to keep everything tidy.


I’d like a raised garden along the back, that I can plant up with blueberries, dwarf fruit trees, and strawberries. and I was also thinking that pallet gardens are apparently super easy, and I LOVE the look of this one… it would be nice to give it a shot up against the house maybe… anything that hides the stucco is a good thing!! Or maybe it might work as a wind break?

Back Privicy Fence


The dance of the tiny work kitchen

I totally just won the tiny work kitchen dance. And by won, I mean I accidentally caused a colleague to drop a glass of water down the front of his shirt.


One day I will work on the top floor of a fancy company, where they have all the good desks, and matching chairs, and a kitchen big enough for more than two people at a time. I will never be asked to take the minutes, and I’ll probably spend meetings saying things like “Hm. I see. and how does this initiative support the quarter three strategy?”

Today is not that day, unfortunately, but I’ll take my wins where I can get them.


Archerpants the Brave and Captain Bratticus Batz have been remarkably good lately. (This is where I knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, and lick a rabbits foot.)

I think it’s because Batz has realised that the Puppy will ALWAYS want to play catchfeetunderthebed, whereas I have a pretty limited tolerance for how long that game will last.

Archer has been getting more excercise lately too. At the moment we go to the dog park after work most days. We met a couple of really crazy older dogs that just go and go and go, and Archer spends about half an hour a night running and wrestling with them. We used to walk for longer on the leash each night, but compared to running around with other dogs leash walking so does not compare.

Archer is also a puller and walking a pulling dog is a total pain in the ass. I’m working on a different training technique now, because corrections, and a slip leash don’t work for me. Like with most things, I’ve got to lay some ground work with him before we can try walking again… so right now he’s learning the ‘Boop!’ command, which is basically getting him to ‘boop’ my hand with his nose on command.

In theory, once he has that down, I’ll be able to teach him the right position when walking by getting him to stay in optimum ‘booping’ position.

Probably the technique has a more technical term but to be honest who cares?

About the dog park? Weird but true: you know all the dogs by name, but owners? Nope. Not a clue. Even though I run into these people like twice a week sometimes, and we have the usual ‘how’s he going?’ conversations it’s all ‘Rhino’s Owner’, and ‘Shay’s Owner’.

Lulu’s Owner keeps saying “wow he’s not shy at all, is he?” meaning he’s a boisterous rough playing little brat at times. Like, if I was going to enroll my little delinquent in a sport? It would be gridiron. Watching him and the other dogs chase and tackle each other makes you cringe.

I’m actually a bit worried about taking him to a puppy class when the next one starts in November, because I’m fairly certain my dog is going to be the bully jock that no one else wants to play with.

He also has a bad habit of wanting to make friends with all the weirdos and scaryass looking dogs. A couple of weeks ago he went and barreled up to a complete stranger with a couple of massive red nosed pit bulls on leash at the park. This was the day after he made friends with a guy so high he left a cloud of pot smoke when he wandered off towards the fish and chip shop after my dog had tried to crawl up his legs into his lap.


Skip Skip Skipbinning


So late afternoon yesterday I was lazing around in the sun, when I realised I hadn’t even touched the garden, which is silly because there is A LOT in that garden that needs work. Namely the raised weed beds. Once upon a time they were vege gardens. Now there’s one leek, and a buttload of weeds. Also some gross green potatoes, which apparently are the cockroaches of the vege garden.

So I went out with the full intention of weeding a vege garden.

Then I got distracted by a bunch of generic saplings that some dork had planted along the fence line. Right now they’re small, but in a year or two they’ll be big enough and bushy enough to obstruct my meagre afternoon sunlight. Also, they weren’t even remotely the kinds of trees I want here in my garden – they don’t work for the space they take up with fruit or colour,  so I uprooted them, and dumped them on my compost heap.

Then I found myself eyeing up this evil behemoth:

Evil Tree

I have no major issues with this tree, except the fact that it’s probably possessed by evil spirits. I mean, it’s fine, but it’s probably the same type of tree that was in Pans Labyrinth… You know, with the toad living under it, and the malicious intent. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that movie, but I’m sure that tree was evil.

Basically some idiot planted it years ago, and since then it’s spent it’s time growing higher, and wider, and sending out runners. It spreads like you wouldn’t believe – in fact, it was probably a weed once upon a time ago, and now it’s a bloody useless tree. If I was going to have a massive tree there I would rather it was a plum tree. Then it would be useful.

That big pile of branches and saplings? that all came from around the bottom 30cm of that bloody tree.

I think for now I’m going to leave it there, but keep a pretty aggressive pruning schedule for it. So long as the foliage is up high, it’s a good shade tree, I guess.

In the mean time I’m going to order my first ever green waste skip bin. I feel like I should be making one of those baby scrap books for home ownership. I could put a picture of the first hole in the wall, and sticky tape in the first chunk of wallpaper I accidentally ripped off. Some leaves from my first pruning spree. the receipt from my first electricians bill that made me faint.

(the electrician charged $80 to wear muddy boots inside my shower, prod at a lightbulb, verify his previous work wasn’t going to set my house on fire, then leave. It took maybe 5 minutes.)

Pans tree

And now: An imaginary conversation about the evil tree. 

“Do you have anything stronger, poison-wise, than this?”

“What’s it for?”

“A tree. But, like, a possessed one. So I guess either stronger poison, or an exorcism.”


“Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s like that evil tree thing from Pans Labyrinth. You know, with the toad?”

“My afternoon has taken a strange turn.”

“Mine was outright weird. One minute I’m weeding the back garden, so that I can put some raised beds in, and the next, I’m tackling an evil tree with my pruning shears. It’s going to take a hell of a lot more than clippers and a pruning saw to kill this behemoth. Also, you know, on account of the evil.”

“…So I think you want a paint that you put on the stump to suppress further growth.”

“Do you have anything stronger? You know out the back? Maybe something you don’t give the regular customers?”

“No this is really it.”

“Right, no of course. Wink wink, nudge nudge. It’s ok. I’m cool. I know how this works.”

“Seriously, this is it. There is nothing stronger.”

“Well, that’s disappointing. I’ll just take another 10 of these then.”

“Wow. You must really want that tree gone.”

“I really do.”

“Haha, I hear salting the earth and setting evil spirits on fire works well too!… Which was 100% a joke. Don’t set your tree on fire.”

“No, no, It’s actually a workable idea. I live pretty close to the fire station.”

“We have a very good arborist I can recommend, How about I get you his card?”

“While I have you here, I have some questions about killing off sentient flax bushes. I think they’re conspiring against me.”

Today’s post is brought to you by ASTERISK

Sugar Skull

So a couple of years ago I brought some amazing Chili Hot Chocolate mix. It made a serious impression, I thought long and hard about creating a new religion based on cinnamon, chocolate, and chili. Then I tried a version made from actual melted chocolate, and built an alter with candles for the awesomeness that is Mexican themed hot chocolate.

So last week I was cleaning out my pantry because I am a domestic goddess. (Please stop looking at the pile of dirty pasta bowls in my sink.) and I came across a boring hot chocolate mix that has been lingering in the back of my pantry for months. It’s pretty Meh.

Instead of putting it back in the pantry to linger for another couple of months, I decided to jush it up a bit. I added nutmeg, and cinnamon, and dash of chili, then some amazing rich dark fair trade cocoa powder that I stumbled across at the supermarket and can’t stop buying because it makes my various chocolate themed baking taste amazeballs. And Voila, I have a spiced, spicy, dark rich hot chocolate.

YUM. I keep it at work.

viva revolution

I’m thinking about Mexican hot chocolate because I did something a bit scary at work this week – I wrote an email challenging a manager, and then sent it to a few like-minded individuals to see if they would support the cause if I sent it.

I messaged a friend later, and said that it felt like yelling “REVOLUTION!” across the floor of the PMO.

The like minded individuals all responded to my email yesterday with sentiments like ‘OMG Yes’ and ‘You’re totally awesome Shannon’ and ‘I think that you should run for Empress, Shannon’*

*obviously I’m paraphrasing, to keep the identities of my co-conspirators secret.**

**I’m also upping the drama level just a smidge, because it was all very professional and boring.

Anyway. I had support, so I sent the email to our big Boss. He responded yesterday with something along the lines of ‘Hm. You raise many good points. I’ll talk about it with some of the other managers and get back to you.’*

*To be honest? that was actually more than I was expecting. I was totally expecting to be told ‘Please raise this through the correct process. Also you are totally in the naughty corner. And the answer will be NO, NOPE, and NO WAY again.’ 


(I bet my bosses are all looking for work requiring a Shannon now. Give me a week without projects, and I’ll get caught watching oceanography talks on TED, change a colleagues profile picture to one where he sports a 70’s pornstache, give someone lessons on how to use facebook at work, and start a revolution.)


In other news, the wind died down enough this morning for me to finally break out the bike that Lisa lent me!! I have decided that Archer will get a run every morning… I thought very briefly about joining him on the running, but then I remembered that running is actually not something i have ever enjoyed. Ever.

Biking on the other hand is totally easy, right? Hell it’s probably even relaxing, you get to sit the whole way.*

*I haven’t been on a bike since 2009 I think, in Rarotonga, and at the time I was fueled by pina-coladas and tropical sun. 

So this morning I started with teaching him to walk beside the bike on a lead while I wheeled it. we had a few false starts, because he’s all about pulling ahead when he can, and I don’t think he’s actually met a bike before, but it was a good start. Next we’ll graduate up to stopping and turning on command, then riding!!

Flush with my success (and late for my train) I jumped on the bike, and peddled to the train station. And discovered that actually biking is harder than I remember – for starters, I’m pretty sure I used to have better balance than I do now. What the heck happened to that?!

Anyway, Biking, it’s a thing I do now.*

*A thing I’ve done once. That counts. Shut up. 


So I had to put a jingly collar on the cat this week, so that I can tell who it is I’m yelling at at night when they’re causing havoc.

I think probably you’re not supposed to have favorites when it comes to your fur babies, but Batz never scattered stinking rubbish across my garage floor, so it’s definitely him. In fact? Batz also never dug up a pot plant and gleefully ran the remains through the house, showering my distressed floors with potting mix, after having broken many bowls, knocked my dead seedlings off the porch, and eaten 2 electrical cords and a TV Cable.


Thursday was a bad day.


Moving on.

(Before I succumb to the urge to find the dog new adoptive parents. Or a boarding school.) 

I had an awesome weekend, because weekends in general are awesome. I made bread, got sunburn (quite a feat in the crapola weather this spring.)

Then on Monday I had to come back to work… which is not exciting at the moment. There’s not a lot of work on requiring a Shannon, so I’m basically sitting on my butt most of the day doing training and little jobs, and asking around to see if there’s anything people need help with.

To make things worse we have a new manager, and so her first impression of me is going to be catching me on facebook, listening to TED, and circumventing process in the effort to gain myself a little work.

This right here? PROMOTION MATERIAL. (Actually, though, because I’ve been shooting for a promotion before Jan next year, and time is growing short before I either have to put up and shut up, or go elsewhere.)

Directly relating to my time spent on TED this week, you should watch this. It’s a Talk by Andrew Solomon about how we experience Depression, and it’s insightful, and thought provoking, hopeful, and even a bit funny. Highly recommended from someone who’s been there, and will probably (statistically speaking) be there again some day.

Spring forward!

Happy Daylight Saving dudes!!

Does anyone ekse know what time they need to get up in the morning? No? Excellent. Well all either miss our collective transports to work, or be earlier than ever before. For me that will be something noteworthy, because: NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT A MORNING PERSON.

This weekend was awesome. I went for very long walks with Archer, who is right now snoring in the corner of the room. I love bedtime with an exhausted puppy. Its similar to bedtime with a wired puppy, but with less crying – and the dog is quieter too.

I took many photos of spring things in the rain with my phone because, why bother with an expensive camera if you cant get the photos onto you tablet/ cellphone/ INSTAGRAM! Also I have a cannon digital camera, and their editing software makes me angry. And confused. Like the hulk. I hate it with a passion, but have to use it because I cant find any other way of getting my photos onto my million year old laptop.

Whatever happened to the simplicity of iPhoto? All I really want is an auto upload, magic editing button, and some pretty filters.

As for my spring photos: Look its a one eyed tree! And he’s happy to see you!


I love me the spring! I have to get a photo of my cherry blossom tree, theres no blossoms yet, but its getting all jiggy with the greenery as we speak, which is awesome, because for a week or two there I worried that it was going to be a sad little bundle of twigs forever that I’d have to proudly show off to confused visitors.

In other news the puppy toilet training is killing me. I feel a little bit like maybe I smell like puppy pee 24/7. I definitely smell like kibble, because  all of my jacket pockets and dressing gowns have dog food in them to get the little booger outside. Some of the problem is that the weather is exceptionally bad at the moment, and my pup is of firm belief that if he has a choice of pooping outside where the wind and rain is, or in my kitchen, where its warm and smells like baked goods…. well there’s no comparison really.

The other day I was on the train home, after 3 hours standing in the wind cold station with hundreds of other stranded people, and I reached into my pocket to get my ticket, and came out with nothing but a handful of dog food. At that point the train guy was just as done with the awful ‘will we get home, or won’t we’ saga as everyone else, and so he just shrugged and said “close enough.”

So I guess the kibble has its upsides afterall.

My little bro (of wifi lights fame) posted this pic on facebook the other day. They have this awesome retriever called Nala, and have just added to the family with the happiest, fluffiest samoyed I’ve ever seen.  His names Oliver.


Look how happy he is! Dont you just want one? Only, like, not, because I already leave the house every day covered in dog kibble, cat hair, and Archer pee… I’m not sure I could handle polar bear fur on top of it.

Then Dad and Lisa drop the bomb that they’re getting another baby ewok. They have one already called Bella, and Lisa seems very set on calling her new puppy Benny…. I hope to convince her that Edward is a contender name-wise. If I can get her to agree, my Dad is getting a framed twilight poster for his man cave.


Today I am grateful for sleep. Also trains that run three minutes behind schedule.


So are we all ready for a post that does not centered around my adorable little Jack Russell Terrier Impersonator*? Yes? Too bad, because it’s not happening yet.

*I’ve decided that’s exactly what my puppy looks like running around the yard. he’s the right size, with the right markings. One can only hope and pray he grows into a real German Pointer soon. 

In the meantime, let us all now bow our heads and give thanks to sleep. Sleep is awesome.

Archer settled down with exasperated grumbling and unicorn snuggling last night again…. WITH NO CRYING. Just like the night before. It was a thing of beauty. I’ve never seen a puppy yawn passive aggressively before.

Meanwhile Batz is very much approving of the more sedate approach to bedtime. With Batz smooshed up against my pillow snoring loud enough to shake the bed, and block out a passing stock truck, and Archer giving the occasional sleep grumble… it was pretty hard not to laugh loud enough to wake the both of them.

I’m currently looking for an awesome collar for the little man. We may have our first trip to Animates ahead… there are some really neat ones on Etsy with engraved buckles and things which I’m totally coverting, but I’ll wait until he grows up for one of those… I almost wasn’t going to bother (because I’m going to use slip leads for training and you don’t need a collar with those) but then two things happened:

1.    I re-read the council dog bylaws, and he has to have his registration tags displayed on a collar when he reaches 3 months old. 

2.    This morning he totally squeezed out a hole under my gate and chased my car down the road. 

Suddenly the hunt for a collar has gained new momentum. Luckily he already has ID tags with my phone number and address on the way.

I HAVE seen awesome DYI make your own collar tutorials online, but for that I’d have to buy a sewing machine. Then use it… Despite peer pressure from the various crafters in my life, I’m not quite there yet!!

On the craft thing? I have exactly one and a half rows of a spectacularly fiddly and annoying scarf completed (here’s the pattern on Ravelry) I aim to get it to two centimetres by Christmas!! (Or I’ll abandon it because the yarn I am using is fricking annoying, and splits all the time, and makes it REALLY hard to knit.)

Perhaps sewing would be easier than knitting. And I do have a lot more rooms in my new house to fill with crap. (Ahem: Stash. My crafting mentor told me a while ago that crafters and drug users are the only people in the world who use the word stash. I’d argue that both of those groups of people display some very similar behaviors, so it’s hardly surprising the vocabulary has parallels too.)