21 May 2014
27 April 2014
I recently had the privilege to visit Seattle for work. Here are some of my favourite photos from the trip.
From top left:
1. My Abe Lincoln Lego Minifig expressing his happiness about being in the US, 2. Actual Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory*, 3. The twinkly-light-wrapped trees on the streets of Bellevue, 4. Skyscrapers in Seattle city, 5. Pike Place Market, 6. Tulips tulips everywhere (Spring time), 7. Giant elephant garlic at Pike Place market, 8. Interesting squid floating sculpture, 9. random Robot in chalk on pavement, 10. At the waterfront, 11. Daffodils! (Spring time), 12. The exhibition outside the Chihuly Garden and Glass with the iconic Space needle, 13. Flash in the annual pillow fighting celebrations, 14. the entrance to the WA state conference center, 15. Snow-covered mountains as visible from the SeaTac airport.
* As a non-US fan of the Big Bang Theory, I didn’t realise it was an actual place, but, as a fan, I had to eat there.
23 March 2014
My old friend insomnia is back in full force. But, just for funsies, he has decided that he will let me think I am getting sleep, and only visit at 3am, once I have actually had a little bit of sleep. So, just to be difficult, I now go to sleep at 9pm *grin*
So, I’ve been quiet for a while. I was incredibly lucky and managed to land my absolute dream job, which I started at the beginning of March. Starting at this company has been equated to drinking water from a fire-hydrant, which, I can now tell you, is a fairly accurate description.
Because of the new job, I have decided to consolidate my travel blog and this one again. I have imported the posts and comments from that blog into this one and will post all travel related posts to this blog. I will make some time to complete the posts about our UK and Germany trip last year over the next couple of weeks. The new job also includes a fair amount of travel, so I may possibly post some more pictures, even if there isn’t time for real updates. The first trip is to Seattle at the end of this month with a couple of colleagues and I am sure I will be taking loads of photos, as we are also planning a couple of touristy outings while we’re there.
Our grand design (or the slow moving sludge, as I like to think of it now) is, well, moving at the pace of slow moving sludge. When I last wrote, we had just employed someone to do some architectural work for us to get the plans council ready. A slight case of ignorance led me to believe that this would be completed within a week or two (probably because he said so) and that, by now, we should be nearing plan approval. Boy, was I wrong. It took him some time to get the original plans back from the council and then, I think, he took a bit of a break from all that strenuous work. He picked up the pace again in the last week and have finally done the final measurements he requires to draw the last bit of the plans. It also turns out that there was some work done on this house that did not have council approved plans, which means we now need to provide 3 sets of plans: as it was, as it is now and as it will be. No doubt this will add some additional delays, but our plans guy feels like he should be able to submit the plans in the next two to three weeks. I am not holding my breath. This does push our estimated start date out to early June, depending on how long the Council takes to approve the plans
We’ve had some really soggy weather recently (I believe it was to prepare me for Seattle), and now, sadly, the roads are covered in leaves and the mornings are chilly. I am not quite ready for Winter’s arrival, but I think Winter will arrive regardless. At least we still have some spectacular mornings:
1 February 2014
When we were house-hunting last year, we had some very specific requirements for our new home:
- We wanted to be close to Delta Park.
- We needed at least 3 bedrooms, as well as a room we could convert into a study/home-office
- We wanted a swimming pool
- We needed a lounge big enough to really utilise the Kinect
- We wanted a large, modern kitchen
- We needed space for our ever expanding library of books, music and DVDs.
We were happy to either buy a house checking all the boxes or buy a house that checked some of the boxes and allowing us to check the rest of the boxes with some renovations.
We were lucky enough to find the perfect house in the perfect location that had a swimming pool and oodles of potential for the rest. We called a couple of contractors and invited them to come hear our plans and quote us for the work. In the end gave the job to a contractor we’d worked with previously because he could visualise what we wanted to do, and he drew up the first draft of the plans for us. We sat with him and tweaked the plans a little until they fitted our vision.
When we were house shopping, we looked at houses ranging from R1.2 to R2.5 million. Our private banker ran our budget through the numbers, and said we could buy for up to R2.5, hence the range. We saw a lot of really bad houses, and some really beautiful ones, and got a good feel of what the market was like. We ended up buying for R1.4 million, and, after pouring over our budget for a couple of weeks, decided that we were willing to spend up to R600K on the proposed renovations.
Our contractor came back with a quote of about R450k to do the following:
- Break down the wall between the kitchen and the rest of the house to open up the flow
- Build a new curved wall to replace the odd angular wall of the old kitchen, and repurpose the old kitchen into a sparkly new bathroom for our bedroom
- Convert the second bathroom into an on-suite bathroom for our daughter’s bedroom
- Replace the current single door front door with a double door in the middle of the wall, and match the door on the opposite wall leading into the courtyard.
- Build a new front boundary wall.
This work also includes rewiring the entire house, as the current DB board is located in the old kitchen/new bathroom, and replacing all the lights in the house with LED lights.
We then met with a couple of kitchen companies, and gave the business to Weizter in the end. Their consultant was passionate about his job and the service simply wowed us. The kitchen quote came in at R153k.
Great, so we’re a little over the R600k budget, but not to a point where I feel uncomfortable and panicky about money and we live on baked beans every month.
We’ve applied for a R600k additional home loan from the bank, and it has been provisionally granted, pending council approval of the plans. And that’s where we’re at now. We have employed someone to provide us with some architectural services and take the plans to the council for approval. This process will probably take another 8-12 weeks, which puts our estimated start date sometime towards the end of April 2014.