Thursday, October 23, 2014

House Envy

I am in Melbourne tonight, travelling with work. I relish working away, it gives me a chance to be something other than a working mum. I am going to be honest here, I don’t love this working mum shit it is hard freaking work. The last thing I want to do after a busy day at work is make dinner, clean the kitchen and feed the family. When I work away I finish work eat in a restaurant and go back to a hotel to write, read or sleep. No obligations.

In the last few we had also been trying to fix up the house on the weekends. We got our new bathroom a few months recently and I am totally in love! Nothing is more rewarding than jumping in the spa when the kids go to bed with hubby and a glass of wine to de-stress. It makes it so much easier to work everyday when you can enjoy a beautiful bathroom.

Last week we put in our plans to get our kitchen designed so that we no longer have to deal with a stinky cupboard because the sink doesn’t seal properly. We are hoping for a kitchen that actually fits rather than a modular one that doesn’t quite work.  A few weekends ago we managed to strip back one of our window and fit gorgeous wooden venetians. This job took about  hours because of bad workmanship so the paint.  I put in a new garden down the side of our house to try and help with the water fall and dampness that happens when it rains. 

Because our house is old and the previous owners did dodgy renovations, it seems there is always something else to do.  The never ending job of fixing things is the story of home ownership I guess. My parents built their dream home 30 years  ago, the last few years have been never ending repairs, Dad commented the other day it would be better to upgrade your house to new every 20 years to avoid the money pit that older houses become.

Coral Homes Kitchen Yes Please!
Last year hubby and I went searching for our dream home, we found so many we liked and one we loved. The idea of selling our old house in needs of endless repairs for a sparkly new house was very inviting. I fell in love with a house from Coral Homes  that I could image my family growing up in. I love the open living areas and sectioned off parents retreats that come with the newer homes. Plus those beautiful clean fresh windows, bathrooms and tiles without cracks in them. Moving into a home with nothing to do, just move in and live life.

We crunched numbers, being accountants that’s what we do, head over heart. We realised we needed to fix up our home first before we could put it on the market. We realised that we would need to sell an investment property to fund the new home and finally we realised that our kids are growing up too quickly and leaving home. We have already had one child fly the coop and join the navy, Miss 16 only has twelve months left of school and is uncertain of her plans after that. It seemed a little silly to build our dream five bedroom, so we decided to go back to the drawing board and get something a little smaller and newer to see us through to retirement. Although I am content with our decision, part of me is secret envious when I visit friends with their beautiful new homes, especially when I am sanding and stripping paint for hours. 

I still think one day we will own a beautiful new home, one just like the show homes we went through. But for now I am staying content with our new bathroom, blinds and kitchen.

Do you get caught up in materialism? Do you want a new home?  Have you ever built?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dear tenant.....

Dear Tenant,

I am a really easy going landlord.

I generally fix things when they break.

I understand that wear and tear happens and I am generally fine about that.

I understand that when you are moving out doing a huge clean can be exhuasting and at the end you start to cut corners. That is why between every tenancy I go in and spend a day cleaning the again to make sure it is sparkly clean for the new tenant.

I try to upgrade something with every new tenant whether it be new carpet, fresh paint or a new appliance, I like to keep the place in good shape for my renters.

I always leave a little gift to welcome you to your new home.

At Christmas I send you a present, sometimes I give you a weeks free rent.

When construction started next door, I arranged for you to be compensated so you got two years rent at half price.

I am pretty good landlord. In fact in over ten years of owning two rental properties I have never had a bad tenant ever. My tenants have always paid rent and looked after the place. I have never called tenants back to clean the property or claimed anything from their bond, I understand that properties have wear and tear.

But you give tenants a bad name.

This is why we had to take it off the market.
Don't borrow your friends vacumn that claims to clean carpet,  it doesn't. The carpet is beyond filthy it is ruined. Yes we did measure it up to get a quote to put in new carpet but it came in way more than we were expecting so we hoping to just replace some now and some after the next tenant as only a small part of it was worn. So it feels pretty shit when you tell the agent that carpet is depreciated over 10years and anything older than that doesn't need to be looked after so you are not responsible.

The way to clean dirty walls is with hot water and sugar soap, it is a pain in the arse job but it works well. What works even better is if you wipe the wall when you spill stuff on it. What doesn't work is when you paint over marks in a colour that is not even close to the original colour, on every freaking wall in the house. Those walls I freshly painted myself just before you moved in, it made me sad when I saw the destruction. PS Never ever ever glue anything to the walls especially not something the size of a poster which then rips the paint off the plasterboard.

In most houses toilets gets cleaned every week or so, most people clean their shower at least once a month and in fact throw some of these babies which help clean a toilet for you. I love flushable toilets wipes which takes five seconds to wipe down the toilet. Do these basic things and I won't need to spend hours scrubbing and near vomitting to clean the grotty mess you left behind. Whilst I am talking about mirrors, you can usually see yourself better in a mirror that has been cleaned in the last two years.

Kitchens require regular cleaning, when you don't clean the stove top for months and months, food and grease builds up, it doesn't just wipe off. When you use scourers and scrub you ruin the enamel and it looks gross and costs a bomb to replace. PS dishwashers only work when they are plugged into power and oven tend to smoke when you don't clean them, these are not electrical faults just your lack of cleanliness. Your regular calls to the electrician got pretty annoying.

And dear tenant I know that you believe that you have been ripped off when we took your bond but so far we have spend over 60 hours fixing your mess and we are not even finished yet, repainting an entire home isn't easy you know. We have spend over $3,000 on carpet and paint products alone, this does not include labour which will peak at about 100hours. So when you do the calculations you got off very lightly, I even have to pay the rent whilst we repair the mess you left.

PS your boss has coffee in my office everyday, you are lucky I am not vindictive because we live in a small town.

Kind Regards

A not rich, just caring landlord

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Time Saving and online shopping!

I am shocked to realise that it has been three weeks since I published on this blog. Between hubby being really sick, me being mildly sick, my ex wanting to upset the cart and Miss 16 sitting yearly exams, life has been full on! Actually life has been crazy. I was scrolling through my instagram account whilst waiting for yet another appointment and found a post which said something like "constant busy is unsustainable". I pondered a lot on this one sentence, it is also something my life coach often said to me in different words, how can you change things to make it work? So I started to think about all the things that make me so freaking busy and what things I could somehow change to give me more time.
  • Stop working full time - not really an option, I kind of like my job but I really like the income. Scratched off the list.
  • Run away from my family - again not really an option although Miss 5 wakes me every freaking morning at 6am, she is too gorgeous to run away from, and Miss 16 she isn't moody this week so we will keep her too. And hubby he bring me coffee in bed each morning so he is a keeper.
  • Stop Running - well to be honest I have already put this on the backburner a little but I have also lost some muscle tone which make me sad and I wasn't really too nice, actually maybe bordering on becoming a crazy lady so I think I should stick to running! 
  • Get a cleaner - Seriously on my list of things to do right after I pay for that physics tutor for Miss 16. The idea of starting the weekend by cleaning my house induces all kinds of anxiety. Cleaning is boring and constant, I would much rather garden in the sunshine or having champagne brunch.
It is like receiving the perfect present
  • Online Shopping - I can't believe I didn't think of this one earlier, a girls ultimate time saver, do you know you can order pizzas online on Sunday for Wednesday after sports pickup? Online shopping for things like clothes and sunglasses has also gone more upmarket. I recently got some sunglasses from Vision Direct, it was awesome experience, to be honest I was shocked how well it worked out. Plus it is like getting a present that you really wanted delivered to your door.
A girl I work with is constantly getting deliveries from online clothing and shoe stores so I always ask her about her experience and they are overwhelmingly good so I thought I would dive into the world of online fashion shopping. I desperately needed a new pair of decent sunglasses but getting the time to go to the shops was proving impossible. So I leapt into the world of online glass shopping because surely that is what all busy working mums do right?

Vision direct has a super cool style finder and then an awesome app where you take a photo with your web in case you like them. cam or upload a photo and you can try the frames on your face. The crazy thing is that this actually worked and the glasses I choose fit the same way they did on the photo app!  This helped narrow down my choices and after a glass of wine I took the plunge and ordered. A few days later my new Ray Ban sunnies arrives, beautifully wrapped up and a perfect fit! I am not going to show you my web cam photo because it sucked but the real life photo is awesome! I have been using these glasses for the last few weeks to hide the dark circles and go about life as though I was a normal person.......
these ones

Anyways, online shopping is my new time saving vice and I can not fault the service or product from Vision Direct so it has my stamp of approval. I love that you even get a free lens cleaning kit to get rid of kids sticky hand prints. Other than saving time and money there is a third really cool reason to shop with them, for every pair of glasses sold they give a pair away to a third world country, read more here. So I feel slightly less guilty about buying a pair of designer sunnies knowing another person is getting a pair of glasses to help them see. Plus after paying $300 at the optometrist for Miss 5's new glasses this week, and hubby requesting new prescription sunglasses I think online glasses shopping may be my new vice.

So tell me, do you online shop? Would you dare by glasses online?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kindness and Gratitude

Kindness and gratitude go hand in hand. Kindness needs to be recognised with gratitude and gratitude should be repaid with kindness.

When I was getting married, a dear older friend of mine gave me some marriage advice, it was to also be kind to one another. It is always the moments when we forget this that our marriage starts to stall, things get hard and resentment builds. Imagine if everyone just became a little kinder to other. It doesn't need to be grand gifts, but just a short message to say you are thinking of someone or popping a card in the post box.

Sometimes we lose sight of looking after each other as we get caught up in the whirlwind of life, let me tell you that of late my life has been one crazy tornado. Whenever I think we have a quiet weekend planned, life has another direction for us to take and we get hustled and lose focus. My friend broke her leg over a week ago, I still haven't managed to visit, I keep meaning to drop in a coffee but then my coffee time gets cancelled by yet another obligation. So I have been thinking about what kind things we can do for each that don't take up a huge ridiculous amount of time but are thoughtful and mean a lot to the person who receives the kindness whether it be a friend or a stranger. Here are 10 ideas I have.

  • Coffee
Everyone I know loves coffee or wine so drop one over if you know someone is stuck at home or invite
them out for a coffee, sometimes people just need some time to chat. If you want to do a random act of kindness, buy a coffee for the person behind you at the coffee shop - this really will make someones day.

  • Send Flowers
If you don't live close, send a bunch of flowers. I particularly like to send them to workplaces because it gives the recipient an extra self esteem boost that someone truly does care and think about them. There are lots of great florists online now that can deliver flowers locally with a competitive price.
  •  Write a thank you card
If you sit there for a while and think about how many great things have happened each week, you realise there are a lot of people in your life who made that happen. Like last night my friend arrange a dinner out with the girls, or my parents in law watched my daughter so we could go, or my husband vacuumed the house. There are an endless list of people you could send a little thank you card to. For extra love put a stamp on it and post it, helps break up the bill cycle.
  • Offer to be Designated Driver
Off for dinner with friends? Offer to be the designated driver. Or take it in turns with your partner to let the other have a couple of drinks.
  •  Make a meal
As a mum I often dread the idea of making and deciding dinner yet again, my dream is that someone would drop in a delicious healthy meal for my family, so why not do it for a friend, or get a recipe, put all the ingredients together and drop the box off. If you bake a cake, do two at the same time and drop off to a friend to enjoy or bring a batch to work.
  • Let someone in front of you at the checkout
When I am not in a hurry I try and let people in front of me in the shopping line. I can't explain to the stranger how much I appreciate when they do this for me when my daughter decided she is busting to go to the toilet or I am trying to grab milk before the school pick up. Sometimes we are in a hurry and other times we are not, give graciously when you are not and receive graciously when you are given something.

  • Tell you Partner how great they are
When I got together with my husband, my self esteem went up. He is forever telling how great I look or that my dress looks sexy or that my hair is fabulous. He pulled me up once when I was being a bit mean and saying he was a little overweight and he said to me, why would I say that? Did I want him to feel bad. It was then that I realised that he needs to feel good about himself just like I do. Having two partners with great self esteem helps for a happy family, in a relationship it is important to hold each other up and emphasise their good points and help them feel happy with themselves.

  • Say Hi
As a society we seem to have lost the art of saying hi, I love when you visit country towns people always say hi. When I am out running I often give a cheery puffed out hi as I run past people. I noticed when I run in bad weather or early in the morning people are happier and have a content look about them and always happy to say hi.

  • Buy stuff from Kids
Buy chocolates, raffles tickets or stop at the lemonade stand. If you see kids making a positive go at life and trying to help others, support them. Building confidence in kids is so important and that little conversation and couple dollars you hand out might shape their life. Never under estimate the power of our youth!
  • Compliment People in Front of Others
People love to hear positive feedback and if it is done in front of others it makes them feel even better. If someone has done a great job, tell them and don't make it private. It seems to mean more when others hear it. The more people hear compliments the more likely they are to focus on those good things in others.

Do you think you could implement one of these kindness acts in your week? Can you challenge yourself to be grateful whenever you experience an act of kindness?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Running City 2 Surf 2014

Rocking the lumberjack look courtesy of a Kmart sale!
Last Sunday I set out at 4am to catch a bus to Sydney to run the famous City 2 Surf. It was a perfect day for the run, not to hot, not to cold just perfect! I travelled down on our local jogging group bus with hubby and a dear friend who was running her first ever City 2 Surf. I was so tired on the bus still recovering from a migraine on Saturday. I spend pretty much the whole Saturday day in bed, except two hours when I forced myself out of bed to eat comfort food (chinese) whilst high on panadeine. A tummy full of chinese and I was exhausted and came home and went straight back to bed, so much for a romantic kid free weekend with hubby. Luckily the headache had started to shift by Saturday night.

We arrived at the start line 2  hours early, but it is amazing how quickly that time goes. We walked around and found a coffee shop doing a roaring trade especially selling banana. I tucked into my cappuccino and belvita biscuits, when you have a pre-run meal that works, a runner does not stray on race day. I also eat half a banana 30minutes out. The atmosphere is electric, so many people, some veterans, some first timers and everyone freaking out a great big incline they call heartbreak hill. I saw lots of other Steggles runners and it was cool to be a part of their team.

The start line still smiling!
As we lined up at the start line with thousands of other runners I started to get really nervous and wondering why on earth I signed  up to do this. Then before I knew it Red Foo had started playing and the early groups were off. I was lucky enough to be in the green group this year for runners who had done the run in 70-90minutes so no walkers and the pace was good to start with. There was lots of dodging people in the tunnel especially the walkers from the Gold group who had set off before us. By the third kilometre I had set into the pace I needed and garmin gave me an alert each time I fell behind. I have been using my pacer for a few months now but I had set it faster for the race because I had an almost impossible time goal that I wanted to reach.

By the sixth kilometre I felt great, my pace was spot on, and then I hit heartbreak hill, I don't know how I had managed to minimise it, but I forgot how steep and long it really was. It is the hill that never ends! I actually walked through the drink station on the hill and had to use every bit of my motivation to keep going it was tough. I lost a lot of time on the hill with an average pace of 6minutes which meant I needed to make up 40seconds somehow in the second half of the race to reach my goal time. I swallowed a shot bloks and started running as hard as I could. My knee locked up at the top of heartbreak hill, damn ITB but I was able to run through it much better than my last half marathon. On every downhill I pushed as hard as I could, not my usual race strategy.
I love sharing my running with my hubby.
I started to make up time but by the 11th kilometre I realised that I needed to run 5minute kilometres for the rest of the race to get under 75minutes, that is hard to do at the back end of a race, I usually run a cruisy 5.45-6min/km. But I just focused and ran harder than I had for a long time. As I approached the last kilometre I was looking out for hubby who had agreed to cheer me on after he finished the race but I couldn't see him. I saw people dropping to the sideline with injury or exhaustion but I just kept going, it was during that last kilometre that I realised I had miscalculated the time I had left at the 11km mark and I actually had an extra minute up my sleeve which was lucky because I didn't manage a 5minute pace for that last kilometre. As I crossed that finish line my face lit up as I realise I had broken my secret goal of 75minutes, I also was so emotional I almost cried, there is something amazing about training for something and beating your own expectations. I keep joking with hubby that maybe I should spend the entire day before a race in bed, it clearly helps me get a personal best.

I didn't find hubby for a while after the race, it turns out I was only 4minutes behind him and he didn't get a chance to get back to the sideline to cheer me on. It is awesome though to share the race with friends and loved ones afterwards. Here is me and a friend having a glass of champagne to celebrate her first City 2 Surf and my PB! I was so excited that I rang my mum, she has competed in the City 2 Surf so it is the only race she understands!

I ran 6minutes faster than the last time I ran City 2 Surf, I have changed a few things since then. I cross train now with a balance and Hiit class every week. I dropped a few kilos and eat way more vegetables and leaner meats like turkey thanks to my awesome sponsor Steggles. I run from the hips rather than the calves and have been building stronger glutes, hello squats! Running has changed my life and keeps me on the right path, it is the best stress buster, seriously, nothing gets out frustration better than a hard run, and it keeps me eating well and feeling strong.

Have you done the City 2 Surf? Do you make time to exercise?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kids Birthday Party Ettiquete and Presents

My youngest started kindy this year, anyone who has experienced the kindy birthday party craze will get what I am about to say. Parties are great fun, for kids...... Our weekends seem to be filled with yet another party and associated trip to the shops. Here are a couple of lessons I have learnt about kids birthday parties this year.
  • Expect lots of Invitations
In Kindy, kids haven't formed strong friendships and they like everyone, so most parties tend to include the whole class, so expect 25 party invites. A bit of ettiquete here, don't forget to RSVP, it is rude to just ignore an invite even if you can't attend.

  •  I Hate Play Centres
I have pretty much always disliked them but now I really hate them, way too many out of control kids, so noisy and less than sanitary conditions you know the snotty kid in the ball pit ewwww. Plus the coffee is pretty guaranteed to be awful, but they are so freaking convenient, no cleaning, no food prep and no entertainment required!
  •   Kindy Kids want a big Party
Miss 5 has been planning her party all year! If we do it her way, it will cost a fortune. I saw a great party program at our gym the other day so I rang up about the price and it was $27 a head, times that by 25 kids and you get a whooping $675, holy crap that is a fancy weekend away! I haven't decided what we are going to do yet, but I like the idea of park party with a sausage sizzle! Some parents spend a lot on these parties including designer cakes that resemble wedding cakes with a similar price tag! Be aware that your cheap party may not be as easy to get away with as you think.
  •  Opening Presents
Kids rarely receive guests or presents anymore, and they never seem to open gifts in front of the other guests. I guess this make practical sense, but I can't feel a little sad that I would like my child to open the gift and give thanks for it's thoughtfulness rather than just having guests dump them on a table and never hear anything again.

  •  Cost of Presents
Now I didn't investigate this very well before our first couple of parties where I allowed Miss 5 to choose a present up to $40 but steered her towards the $30 mark. But if you go to 25 parties that could equal $1,000, plus you have to put on a party for your own child ouch! I have since realised that most parents try to spend $15-20 for kids parties.

  • Online Shopping
 I was all righteous about the presents and getting your child to pick something thoughtful for the recipient, but after our tenth party this year, I am starting to lose that righteousness. In fact after my last dash to the shops before a Saturday morning birthday party I vowed to shop en masse to prevent this last minute dragging the kids to the shop experience.

The next Monday as I was recovering from the hell that is my crazy weekend life, trying to fit everything into just two days I received a lovely email from the guys at Yogee Toys offering me a voucher to try out their shopping experience! Perfect timing, so I went a little crazy and bought lots of presents suitable for kindy kids parties to pop in the birthday box ready for the next invitation that would hit the school bag.

It was so easy that I just jumped online with a glass of wine, shopped by age group and price, picked lots of small gifts for the seemingly endless birthday party caper. Shipping is just $7.90 and is shipped same day if you order before 1pm my order came within days. Yogee Toys is a local company shipping from Sydney and service is great. So if you hate shopping with kids as much as me, give these guys a try!

I would love to know how much you spend on presents and if you have a present box.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

{Giveaway} A day in the life of an office worker

I was sent the entire second series of the VEEP to watch on DVD. My first thought was "I don't have time for this" then I realised that if I wanted to do something I needed to make time. Life has just become nuts for us, I had two weeks of work which was way way more than full-time and I really don't enjoy working 14hours straight getting home at 11.30pm and then getting up at 6am to start it all again. But then on top of work, my little girl got mildly sick, my big sister got really really sick and I have a teenage girl, do I need to explain more? Anyways I am hoping that now work things have calmed down, I can enjoy a little more me time and watch the rest of the series.

Last weekend I sat down and watched a couple of episodes of VEEP, I was totally drawn in ,because characters closley aligned with people from offices I have worked it. All week I have been watching the antics at my office, and matching characters from the storyline to my collegues.

The Vice President of The United States played by Julia Louis-Dreyfun best known for playing Elaine on Seinfeld. She plays a hilarious role, working twice as hard as the president with half the recogonition and everything that could go bad does. She is power hungry and wants to twist people to do things her way, god help the assistant if her lipstick colour is not right. She reminds me a lot of those office woman who are high up on the food chain but not quite at the top. The ones who do pretty much all the work but also get all the blame and none of the glory. She would be quite painful to work for I think.

The climber, who will pretty walk over anyone to rise up in the white house. He is a pain in arse and will go to any length to make himself look good and others bad. Everyone insults him because he is a dick. Does this remind you of anyone, there is always one in every office.

The hard working, married to her job woman who is extremely organised but would do a lot better under a different boss! She is the personal assistance who does all the behind the scenes and of course gets blamed for everything that goes wrong.

The staff member who spends more time thinking about his finance problems than his job and continues to spend money making more issues for himself.

The receptionist from hell, you won't get through her to the Vice President but you might get an insult or two.

My office is not quite like this but there certainly is some power plays going on, quite a few insults, and some direct statements, for example "shut your mouth whilst you are chewing". This series states what everyone really thinks about their bosses and co-workers.

So if you want to change the way you think about those annoying traits co-workers can possess just watch the series and give everyone a silent character, it is amazing how the dynamics in politics mirrors every office around the world.

You can win a complete copy of the second series of the VEEP thanks to Warner Bros. Just comment below about a shady character that you have worked with!


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