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Archive for May, 2009

May Expenditure Totals

May 31st, 2009 at 03:15 am

Income: $5454.10

Expenditure: $5250.89

Mortgage Payments: $1572.46
Groceries: $498.81
Petrol: $246.74
Phone & Internet: $77.39
Car Registration (2 x 1 year): $1058
Electricity: $79.35
Car Repairs/Expenses: $63.00
Mobile Phone: $58
House Insurance: $69.56
Life Insurance: $53.67
Car Payment: $148.00
House Spending: $189.00
Work Expenses: $20.00
DF Fun: $413.83
WS Fun: $234.04
Clothes: $211.90
Dining Out: $78.60
Entertainment: $153.54
Misc: $19.00
Bank Fees: $2

Remaining: $203.21

NOTES: Groceries are higher this month due to our housewarming party - however, we are only $4 over 'budget' per week. This is probably due to me cleaning out the pantry at the same time. So it is good I decided to do that this month!

Car Registration is what really set us back this month. I mean, it didn't set us back, but, if we didn't have to pay it, it would mean we could have sent $1058 more to our mortgage or savings this month. As it is, we only have $203 remaining after all of our expenses. Which means, next month should be great. (SHOULD be).

DF is still spening more than his allowance per week. This month it was $23 per week. I said to him 'I have spent $2 less per week than I am allowed, and you have spent $23 more!' and he said 'yeah but you don't buy alcohol!' and I said 'yeah, but I get $20 less than you per week, and I have coffee with friends three times a week, buy my makeup and clothes and magaziens out of that too, remember!' Hrrrmmmmph!

Clothes expenses are actually out of my stimulus money - but it is an expense, and I added our stimulus money into last months income, so that is why I am listing the spending this month.

Dining out and entertainment aren't too bad, but could be better. $50 of that was for food for the party too (I bought it from work so it didn't really count as groceries).

DF got a cash withdrawal from another atm so we were charged a $2 fee, that's why we have bank fees this month. GRR! lol.

The $203.21 remaining will be paid into the mortgage. I am also going to start next week putting $180 into our E-saver account for bills. When I pay a bill I will just record it, and then transfer it back at the end of the month into our main account.

I am also going to start splitting the leftover money each month into two groups: mortgage pay off and EF fund. Even though it will be going into the same account, I will record it in a spreadsheet so that I have totals of how much we have put into each. Once things start settling down we will work out a buffer amount of how much we want in our everyday account (I was thinking $5k is a nice round number, but it's possible we could do $10k).

So, here's to June!

we need to spend MORE on our credit card!!!

May 29th, 2009 at 09:48 pm

So I realise it's a rather controversial title. But I also realise there are a few people here who carry my line of thinking in the rewards aspect of credit cards.
There is NO WAY in the world do I ever advocate a credit card for anyone remotely irresponsible with spending. Let me just say that!
Credit cards are a very useful tool for many people. I have never had a problem with mine, and I currently have about 6. (I intend to close some and only have two or three very soon.) I also know that people get themselves in debt with credit cards over things that they can't help, like medical expenses or vet clinics or car repairs. That is unfortunate, but with motivation and a plan these things can be rectified.

Ok, so back to my title (just had to put a disclaimer in there!!! so that people realise I know what I'm talking about!)

I got our bill for the month. The past two months it's been roughly the same amount, so I would say our spending is pretty much the same as the months go along. We've managed to earn around 5300 points in just over two months. 3000 points equals a $25 gift card, so I can safely say that we probably earn around $50 every three months, or a bit more. Points are, I think, 1 for every $1. I am not quite sure. It could be $2 = 1 point... anyway. They have a lot of special offers that contribute to points as well, which helps. It's a good rewards scheme in our neck of the woods.

HOWEVER: THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

My grand plan was to earn enough to offset our $395 annual fee ($395 for an everyday account, unlimited withdrawals, homeloan account, offset account, free redraw, free extra payments, free gold credit card, free debit card, free high interest savings account, free financial planning interview, 10% off insurance, 0.05% off the standard rate - ok so obviously NOT free, but $395 a year for all those ain't that bad here).

Anyway, so $50 every three months means $200 a year. Which means in the end our banking costs us $195. Take into account we probably earn around $5 in interest a month, so that's $135 a year in banking fees.

So, I have come to the conclusion that we do not spend enough on our credit cards - OR we do not earn enough interest. My problem is, to earn interest, we have to put our money in an account that does not SAVE us interest off our homeloan, so that is basically out of the question. I do not think we can spend enough to offset the entire amount, but I think with planning, we can utilise our cc's a bit better. Currently we do forget and pay cash/debit for a lot of things. So this is a bit of a wakeup call I guess! It will make me think when I pull out a card to pay for something - but not in the usual way!


engagement ring search, part 2

May 27th, 2009 at 04:07 am

So, as some of you will have read in my last post, I called two jewellers that I had heard good things about.

The first, quoted an approximate price of $1800 for the band, plus the gem price.

The second asked me to go in and look.

Yesterday a friend took me to a place she had heard about. They go to Thailand to buy their gems, and while they are reasonably priced, this is my issue with them:
The gems originally come from the gemfields IN AUSTRALIA, are sent to Thailand to be cut & polished (and I am assuming, sometimes treated). Then these buyers go from Australia to Thailand, to bring them back to Australia.
So, I really don't like outsourcing like that.
Also, they do not come with a certificate. They guy tried to lead us to believe that, if you're spending 'only $200' on a gem (which would be $500 in a jewellery store) you don't need a certificate. He said, as long as you like it, what's the big deal.
And I do agree with that. BUT I do not want to make someone else rich because they fooled me. I would rather pay $50 for a treated gem, and know it's a treated gem, than pay $200 for a treated gem that I have been led to believe is natural and untreated. I just believe in honesty. Is that so bad?

Does that make any sense? Or am I just being picky?

So, today in my lunch hour I went to the second shop I called.
The woman was quite helpful at the start. She even pulled out a band that had already been made, but someone had decided not to buy it. It was beautiful, very elegant and simple, in white gold.

I asked about the gems and she showed me some that are from the Australian gem fields. She asked why I wanted Australian only - and I told her 'oh, I just like to... you know, keep the money in the Australian economy...'
WHY did I say that? *sigh*
Is it really such a big deal that I do not want to buy anything that may have come out of conflict? I get people rolling their eyes at me. Like I should just not care where they come from. I am going to be looking at it every day for the rest of my life, it is meant to be a symbol of love, why would I want that symbol to make me sick to my stomach every time I look at it?
Is that too hard to understand?

So anyway, back to the story:

So I asked the lady a round about price for the ring, including the gem I had taken a liking to. She said it would be around $1800, because the ring was already made, and that is priced on 'old gold' prices, whatever that means. So we are getting somewhere. First shop, $1800 for the band. Second shop, $1800 all up.
I also get a 10 year warranty and lifetime service & cleaning on the ring, as well as having all the appropriate valuations and certificates, for both the ring and the gem.

You know, it is funny. As soon as she gave me the price and showed me some more stones, it seemed she either got bored of me, or decided that if I wasn't going to buy anything right then and there, she must latch onto someone who potentially would. And it is a shame, because everything was going great until she gave me the price (and I had a GOOD reaction to the price) and then all of a sudden her attention was on someone else who had walked in the door (even though she was sitting down with me) and then another worker of the shop. So I don't know, it's possible I mis read the situation, but I was trying to tell her when I would call, but she didn't seem to hear me, so I just took a card. Maybe it's something to do with the economy and sales? People giving up before they've done the full pitch now? I don't know. It was interesting. I am trying to not take much offense to it, they have a good reputation after all.

---------------------------

The next thing I need to consider is, in August there is a Gem Festival. It is about 11 hours drive from where we live. So, I could potentially source my own gem. But, it would be over two months before I even get it, let alone get the ring made.

And then I have to factor in the cost of driving there, staying over night, and then driving home. My friend has already offered to go with me (she is actually more excited than I am about this whole thing - it's odd - or maybe I am just the odd one). And then I got home and DF said he would go too.

But now I just dont know if I want to wait that long!

*sigh*

Anyway, sorry about my rambling. I am trying to get things sorted in my head, and it ends up being about as clear as mud in the end anyway. Blah!

ring, ring, ring...?

May 25th, 2009 at 06:45 am

So, I have begun the hunt for an engagement ring.

I've left it rather last minute seeing as we had an idea last week to announce the engagement at our housewarming party. I know it's possible, but I don't want to really announce it without a ring. It's a bit of an anti-climax.

And yes, I know we've both been slack. I just didn't know where to start, so I never actually started... Frown

And yes, I also know that the boy is meant to go and get it and bring it to me, but we are really not very traditional in that sense. I think he would rather leave it to me so he doesn't have to worry about it. He will come with me to get it and try it on, but I already know he doesn't have time during the week to do anything other than work. And while they have work, they should be working! Especially in 'these times'.

So I have called two jewellers who I have heard good things about, and am already over it. $1800 for a plain band? not including the gem?

*sigh*

To be honest, the lady that quoted me that price was super helpful, and explained the differences between cast and handmade etc.
I am going to go in and have a look at the second place, as they have a wide range that are already made, and they said they have quite a few with sapphires. (what I am after)

Any tips?

my year without sex

May 24th, 2009 at 02:33 am

haha. yeah right.

No, actually... it is the title of a movie that I saw last night at the cinemas with a friend. I do not normally like paying full price for a movie ($16.50) but after watching it, I am happy that I did.

In the US you probably won't have it at the cinemas(but I could be wrong), it is an Australian film. Very well done with quirky characters, about a lower-middle-class family who's mother suffers a brain aneurism. She is not allowed to do heavy lifting, hold in sneezes or have sex. It's a great movie, if you ever get a chance to watch it, do so. It's a great look at ordinary life in a family, and all of the characters are really endearing. The family goes through such a tough year, made worse by the fact that the mother isn't feeling as close to her husband, and seems to also be going through a 'revelation' type phase of her life, almost like a mid-life crisis. So, as I said before, it's a heartwarming story, see it if you ever get the chance.

We also went out for dinner before the movie, to a nice little vegetarian restaurant. I have been there a few times, it was originally run by hare krishnas but they have taken a step back. Their merchandise is still there, and they still play their music, though. They also give out over 200 meals per week to the homeless.

Anyway. So dinner was $13.50, movie was $16.50, and I also bought a coffee.

Yesterday I also went to the growers market for fruit and vegetables, and spent $27.50.

This morning I went to another market with the intent of buying marigolds to plant near my lettuces, so the bugs don't eat them, but about half the stalls weren't there! The weather has been very windy and rainy lately, so I understand. But they missed out on my sale! I spent $4 on a coffee.

I am planning on going to the supermarket for a few odds and ends. I think I may even be able to stretch this pantry challenge to the week after next week! Why? Because we will probably have leftovers from the party, which I would like to incorporate into our meals next week to use them up.

Oh I nearly forgot:
My exercise challenge for the month was to do 12 sessions of 40 minutes or more of exercise.
Well!
Week 1: 2 sessions (40 minutes yoga each)
Week 2: 5 sessions (60 minutes yoga each)
Week 3: 6 sessions (5x60 minutes yoga, 1x40 minutes pilates each)
Week 4: ?

So, I have done 13 sessions, and I have a whole week to go. I have exceeded my goal and have 7 days left to go!

Next week I plan to do atleast two sessions of pilates, as well as yoga. I know that I will be unable to do any on Saturday, and possibly Sunday, as we will have people over.
I know that yoga is meant to be relaxing, but the dvd that I have is actually really hard! (which I like!) DF snorts and says 'yeah, but I bet it doesn't get your heart rate up', and well, there are several sequences where I am out of breath, so ha!

Budget Overhaul: Part One

May 23rd, 2009 at 02:21 am

I have decided it is about time I worked out our bills budget. Actually, our budget in general. I am not the type to stick to a budget religiously, but if I have a figure in my mind, I automatically factor that into things when purchasing or choosing to spend money. Of course we go 'over' in many categories, but who's making the rules anyway? We are. So we're breaking our own rules. And if we aren't hurting anyone, or going into debt, does it REALLY matter? Everything sorts itself out in the end.

Having said that, I like to be super organised anyway. I like to have everything written out, and planned. Not that I necessarily stick to any plans, but I like to have them! Wink

I want to start putting away money each week again for our bills. While it will take away from our main account, and may mean a little bit more interest on our home loan in the process, the amount would only be very small, so I think peace of mind is more important in that respect. I just paid DF and my vehicle registration for the year, and it occurred to me that if we didn't have a nice balance in our account, the $1058 I had just forked over would worry me a bit. A year ago it would have not worried me, because I used to put a weekly amount into a bills account. Now we do not, as I wanted to have all the money in one account. But alas, I have realised I am not 'that' type of person. *sigh* I need to have atleast some things split up so I can relax a little in terms of money and accounts. It just makes me nervous to have all of our money together.

So, I endured the painful process of estimating our bills for a year:

House & Contents Insurance 69.56 monthly
Life Insurance 53.67 monthly
Phone & Internet 79 monthly
Mobile Phone 55 monthly
Electricity 240 3 monthly
Gas 100 6 monthly
Car Registration 1058 yearly
Car Insurance 478 yearly
RACQ Membership 62 yearly
Car Repairs 1000 yearly
Property Rates 1900 yearly
Bank Package Fee 395 yearly

I cannot think of any other bills at the moment. Is there anything missing???

At the moment, with the current amounts, that would mean that we spend approximately $9139.76 on bills per year. So if I were to put that away weekly, it would equal $175.76 per week. So if I rounded it up to $180 per week, that should cover everything.


party/food

May 20th, 2009 at 08:01 am

I am doing well with the pantry challenge. I have decided to not make 'plans' for any meals for the rest of the week and just cook whatever I feel like for dinner when the time comes. Today I bought yoghurt, vege chips and frozen spinach. I didn't have to buy them, I was at the grocery store with a friend and thought 'oh, a new vege chip flavour!' (lime and chilli) and 'oh, that looks like a yummy gourmet yoghurt!' and 'oh i have a pizza base in the freezer, that spinach will do nicely...!'

anyway! I didn't do too much damage, $11.23 all up.

I may just buy the basic fresh fruit and veges at the farmers market on the weekend and stock up on VERY BASIC supplies, like milk, at the supermarket, and continue the challenge into next week.

I will have to start organising for our housewarming next week too. Eeek!

The food plans have been revolving in my head for the past couple of weeks. Here is what I have so far:

To be out when guests arrive:
- Chopped carrot & celery with homemade hommous dip.
- A couple of gourmet bought dips (cashew & basil, beetroot & pinenut).
- These nifty little parmesan dippers I am planning on making, made out of puff pastry and then sprinkled with parmesan and twirled, then oven baked.
- Some lavash bread sprinkled with olive oil and rosemary, then oven baked for a few minutes til crispy, for dipping.

- Some fruit. I was thinking maybe just a bowl of grapes, as I don't want anything that will go brown. (ew).

- A few packs of potato chips.

For a bit later on:

- A couple of bags of spiced potato wedges with chilli sauce.

- Mini guinness pies (DF's request)

- Mini quiches

- Mini cupcakes

- Mini spinach & fetta rolls.


I was thinking that would probably be enough. Then I might go with gamecocks suggestion and order some pizzas later on for who ever is still hanging around at about 7.30-8pm. I'll probably stock up on some soft drinks and ice teas for the non-drinkers. (I'm not planning on drinking myself except perhaps a glass or two of champers).

Does that sound like an alright plan?
So far I have had 13 RSVP's as yes, and 4 maybes, but the official rsvp date is on Friday. I am expecting a Yes from 8-10 more, and am not sure about another 10 or so. All of our friends are quite slack on rsvping, they assume we know they are coming. It's all good and well for laid back events where everything is BYO, but it annoys me to no end when you're actually planning the thing. GAH!

that nice blanket i mentioned in my last post?

May 18th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Well, DF and I went in and bought two. It was a $96 saving, and we only spent $69. We do not have a lot of blankets, but we do have 6 available places for guests to sleep (a double fold out sofa, a day bed, a single futon, a double blow up mattress and two single beds )- so it was a neccesary investment.

We also bought a book each. DF bought an antiques price guide. It was also on sale from $125 to $20. We would never buy it for $125, but $20 is a good price seeing as DF will actually use it. I bought a cooking book by Rick Stein, for $10, saved $20.

Today I have a doctors appointment. Fingers crossed for me everything is good!

ooops!

May 17th, 2009 at 06:52 pm

In my last entry, I mentioned we bought a new fleecy cotton blanket as a guest blanket?

Well!

I opened the packet, and DF and I both immediately fell in love with it. It feels like cashmere, it's so soft!

So we have decided to use it ourselves, and go back and get another Big Grin

It is just a perfect weight and softness - it is not too thick but not too thin, and has a heavy feel to it, perfect for winter. I washed it and we used it as a top-sheet instead of our flanellete one last night - it's like sliding into a little bit of heaven! *sigh* So soft on your skin...

So I better go back and buy another before the sale expires - I do not want to pay $55 for it, but $23 is a good price.

spend spend spend yay!

May 17th, 2009 at 05:42 am

Well, that's what today felt like anyway.

We had to buy some new towels and a guest blanket. It took us about half an hour to decide what towels to buy in Myer. They were having great specials on Sheridan, Vue and Country Road towels, but in the end we opted for some organic cotton towels made by an australian made and owned company. And they were softer anyway! We bought 4 @ $15 each (2 beige and 2 x navy), and 2 x navy handtowels @ $10 each.
We also bought a beige fleecy cotton blanket that was marked down from $55 to $23. And then we decided to buy some flanelette sheets for our bed, marked down from $70 to $40, seeing as it is winter... Big Grin
AND THEN we decided to have lunch out as well, @ $46.40.

eating out of the pantry Part 2

May 16th, 2009 at 07:22 am

Well, I have done the shopping for the week, so I thought I would type out a list of everything I have on hand. Not only because I like doing lists (Big Grin), but I wanted to see what everyone elses ideas were for meals. Lunches and breakfasts are sorted out. I am interested in trying out the sachets for the slow cooker - so that I can do it from scratch next time Big Grin

Freezer:
1 x Serve vegetable pasta sauce
1 x serve mexican beans
2 x serves lentil dahl
bag of frozen peas
1 loaf sourdough rye bread
1 loaf multigrain bread
5 sheets puff pastry
200g beef chuck steak
3 vegetarian sausages
3 packs of 6x beef sausages
1 x vegetarian patty

Fridge:
skim milk /plain yoghurt
plain yoghurt with fruit
butter / parmesan cheese /tasty cheese
feta/ricotta/filo pastry
coconut milk/ sliced beetroot
kalamata olives /sundried tomatoes
chilli/bbq/tomato/soy sauce
tahini/assorted jams/mustard
whole egg mayonaise/8 free range eggs
rice vinegar/balsamic vinegar
pumpkin/bok choi/carrots/brocolli
cucumber/grape tomatoes
mixed lettuce leaves/fresh spinach
green beans/unhusked corn cob
sweet potato/potato/zucchini
lemon/onion/garlic/ginger
plums/bananas/pears

Pantry:
large variety spices/herbs
risoni pasta/spaghetti/penne
flat rice noodles/vermicelli
lentils/ taco shells
white rice/arborio rice/brown rice
sultanas/currants/apricots
pinenuts/walnuts/ tinned peaches
chickpeas/kidney beans/cannelini beans
tinned tomato/tomato passata
wholemeal SR/Plain flour/rice flour
oats/semolina/coconut/yeast
golden syrup/honey/ chocolate chips
castor/brown/raw sugar
tuna/olive oil/bi carb
muesli/beef & red wine casserole slow cooker sachet/beef rendang sachet/garlic & herb lamb shank slow cooker sachet



lots to do today

May 16th, 2009 at 04:22 am

I have had a pretty productive day today. We got up late (around 8am). DF worked for a few hours and I went to the market and did our weeks worth of grocery shopping. I think I must have been in a 'spendy' mood because I bought a magazine, some hair dye and a pair of jeans as well! The magazine and hair dye comes out of my fun money, and the jeans come out of my stimulus money. I have $428.62 remaining Big Grin

So, when I got home I cleaned the kitchen and did the breakfast dishes, started cleaning the bathroom & cleaned the toilet, and did my 60 minute yoga dvd.

DF is restoring a table downstairs, so it will be shiny and newly coated for our housewarming party.

My list of things to do today:
- finish cleaning the bathroom
- tidy my desk
- tidy the rest of the office
- tidy the loungeroom & dining roomb tables
- bring in and fold clean washing, put away
- prepare dinner (freshly made ravioli Smile)


eating out of the pantry

May 15th, 2009 at 07:46 am

So, I have decided to make next week "Eating out of the Pantry Week". I will still buy lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, but my aim is to clear as much out of the freezer, fridge and pantry as I possibly can. Why? Two reasons:
The first reason is, to save money. I'll save money by using up things and being creative, and by not buying things for meals I have planned, but rather making things out of what I have.
The second reason is, I am one of those rather odd people that like to empty their pantry and then restock it again, all fresh and new (with the same things). It's something I actually look forward to in a way. Weird? Yes.

Anyway. So one of the days I am going to eat some lentil dal I froze in single servings for myself, and will make DF a beef and red wine casserole in the slow cooker. I have most of the ingredients for this, just not the fresh vegetables. I am not sure what else I have in the freezer (I think I may have a pasta sauce I made from scratch as well), but I am looking forward to being inventive this week!

Does anyone else do this? What are some great recipes you've 'discovered' when being creative with cooking and cooking from what you've got?



interest rate decreased!

May 13th, 2009 at 09:48 am

Today in the mail I got a letter from the bank saying our mortgage interest rate has dropped from 5.21% to 5.11%! Which means our minimum weekly repayments go from being $430.15 to $380.77 which is a huge difference. That is how much we were paying in rent nearly a year and a half ago. The plan is to set up an automatic payment to make up the difference Smile

Update to May Goals

May 13th, 2009 at 03:59 am

Well, I thought I should do a mid-month review of my goals for May.

I have been eatin healthier. If not healthier, then the unhealthy things I have been attempting to make myself at home (I don't think it's any better - but atleast I am saving a bit of money right?) By this I mean primarily desserts like fruit crumbles, muffins and things like that. Better than nothing?!

I have been having atleast one or more cups of tea a day, and have stocked up on a few more varieties. I am liking a Green-Jasmine Leaf tea I picked up the other day on special. Very refreshing! I hardly drink coke now, probably once a week at work and maybe one glass a week at home.

There have been a couple of days where I have forgotten to drink water but for the most part I am doing well. At work I make sure I drink the entire 600ml bottle of water I keep in the fridge before I go home. I usually have a glass in the morning and a glass at home, as well as my cups of tea. My main goal is to have 8 glasses of water, and then an extra two glasses for every cup of coffee or cola that I have.

I completed two sessions of exercise last week, both were 40 minutes. This week I have done much better, one session was around 50 minutes and the other was 60 minutes. I plan to do one today, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which will mean I have done one every day except Sunday! I would like to get DF to do the Saturday one with me - I know he is about as flexible as a board so it could be very good for him. I won't mind if every session I do is Yoga, but I would like to go for a jog atleast once this week.

I have sent out nearly all the invitations to the housewarming party, and ordered some of the food. I have recieved 9 rsvp's for Yes and three maybe's. Still tossing up whether to invite my boss, his wife and kids along. DF agreed to invite a few of his uncles and aunties so that they are not out of place (as most people will be under 32 - my boss is 38). Also undecided on whether to invite my mum and DF's dad. We are kind of leaning against it at the moment, even though they will be both angry about it.

DF has cleaned up a fair whack of the downstairs area for the party. I am going to have to get cracking on the inside of our house. Our pride and joy, the floor, has not been cleaned since we moved in!!! I have swept it but haven't given it a going over with a eucalyptus oil/warm water spray and a microfibre mop like we're supposed to every week or so. *sigh*

Still working on what to hold the fire in, and working on a snacks menu.

I have kept track of my stimulus money spending. I have approx $400 left to spend.

DF is getting better at remembering what he spends, so I think we have kept track of roughly 95% of our expenses.

I have started a spreadsheet to keep track of mortgage payments, with my measly $331 recorded for April.

I have taken the first weeks gardening photo, and will take one this afternoon when I get home. Something seems to be digging in my basil/coriander plant box! And the mint and rosemary have not germinated Frown but the lettuce is going well!

I have made an appointment to go to the doctors next Tuesday - it's something I always procrastinate about. I just need results for my last blood test, my ultrasound for my leg pain and a regular checkup. I am thinking of doing an experiment: my blood pressure is normally a little on the high side, so i was thinking of doing a yoga session in the morning before the doctors appointment, and see how that affect my blood pressure. It does *make* me feel calmer, I wonder if it does actually calm my body?

new yoga dvd

May 13th, 2009 at 02:30 am

Last week I bought a yoga dvd on eBay for $20.50, and it arrived yesterday. I got home late from work at 5pm (well, late for me!) but I used the slowcooker for dinner so technically dinner was already cooked, so I decided to try out the new DVD. I was a little apprehensive as I have heard some fitness DVD's can be crap, but I was pleasantly surprised at this one. It's called Power Yoga and I really enjoyed it.
It's quite challenging and goes for 60 minutes, with an option of another 20 minute version. It is a nice change from another one I have which is 40 minutes, and focuses more on relaxtion, basically a beginners-yoga-dvd. I also have a pilates one which is challenging, but I don't feel the love for pilates as much as I do for yoga.
Another one I have is an army routine which I have done a few times. I think it's good to mix things up. I think I will be purchasing a few more in the coming months. Seeing as it is approaching winter, I think indoor fitness aids are a good investment!

what's your vice?

May 11th, 2009 at 07:17 am

I have been thinking lately, how everyone seems to have a 'vice' (a bad habit). Well, typically people have MANY vices, but I am focusing on the financial side of it (of course).

What is the number one thing that weakens you when it comes to spending money?

For me, it would probably be between clothes, magazines and coffees with friends. The magazines, I know I could live without easily, as I have done it before. Clothes, I can also do without buying for very long stretches (as I have so many Big Grin).
But coffees with friends...? What's $3 here and there?

Considering sometimes my 'FUN' money is spent entirely on coffees, cakes, sharing a plate of dips, and lunches... I can safely tell you that this vice of mine adds up!

But is it as bad as other vices that people have?
Gambling? Drugs? Drinking? Sure, I do all those too, but it is never a priority of mine, and it's not something I think of every day. Or even every week.

DF's number 1 would have to be alcohol. It *IS* a priority of his. It is something he makes room for out of his fun money. And I guess, in a way, it can be compared with my coffees with friends. I relax with my friends - he relaxes with his beer (with friends or without).

Another question I have is: what's your personal opinion on 'vices'? should they be worked at? should they be stopped? or should we stop looking at these things as 'vices' and start looking at them as a part of life? why do we put guilt on ourselves over enjoying things like this? if they don't hurt other people or affect other people's wellbeing, is there a problem? but then where do the lines blur? when does it become too much? should we be identifying who has restraint and who doesn't?

can't think of a title

May 10th, 2009 at 01:17 am

Well, today is Mothers Day. I called my mum this morning to wish her a happy day. I am having coffee with a friend who lives close to me, who's mother passed away from breast cancer two years ago. Her partner is working away for 12 weeks, so she is all alone. I think I will take her a bunch of flowers.

We had a friend stay the night last night, and the risotto I made last night was delicious Smile and cheap, compared with dining out, which is what we usually do when someone comes over.

This is my everyday pic of the week:



A photo taken a while ago at a restaurant. It is one of my favourite dishes (a miso soup with udon noodles, vegetables and lightly fried tofu).

I am going to attempt to make a similar dish tonight, but with soba noodles.


lettuce has sprouted!

May 9th, 2009 at 05:45 am

I was beginning to think it might not happen, what with unexpected cold snaps the past couple of days.

And even though technically I shoudn't be seeing sprouts for a couple more days - I couldn't help checking them every day.

I spotted five teeny-weeny lettuce sprouts today! YAY!

I can't spot any rosemary or mint at the moment, but keep your fingers crossed for me!

My Weeks Dinners

May 9th, 2009 at 12:38 am

So, because my plan to record the dinners we eat every day died in the arse, my new plan (thanks to cassandra for this idea - though i know it's been done before - but she just reminded me Smile) is to post a menu plan each week. (My week starts on Saturday because that is the day I go to the market).

So this weeks menu is:

Saturday: Asparagus, Pumpkin, Onion & Pinenut Risotto.

Sunday: Miso Soba Noodle Soup with vegetables. (carrot, bok choi, zucchini & brocolli)

Monday: Rice Pilaf (peas, sultanas, capsicum & brocolli with lamb for DF)

Tuesday: Slow Cooked Tikka Masala Curry (sweet potato, potato, onion, tomato & pumpkin) with rice.

Wednesday: Pumpkin Soup with crispy garlic tortillas

Thursday: Chilli Garlic Soy Stirfry with noodles.

Friday: Either Dining Out or Homemade Pizza.

some advice... would be nice...?

May 7th, 2009 at 10:43 am

do you ever have times when you realise something, too late, and then you get that unmistakeable feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach? and it won't move?

well I currently have that.

The past few days I have sent out batches of invitations to our housewarming party, which is on May 30th.

Yesterday I was talking to my friend T, about a friend of hers, A, who I don't particularly like, but had made up an invitation for anyway. I had given T the invitations to give to a few people, and she had A's. T told me I was silly to invite A if I didn't want to, but I didn't want to be rude. In the end, T returned it to me and I decided not to invite A.

While I was talking to T on the phone, DF mouthed at me if I had invited friends of ours, J & M. I had completely forgotten about them, so I quickly made up an invitation and posted it this morning.

I asked DF to call a few people that aren't on facebook to get their addresses. He called them today. While talking to one of his friends, C, he found out that J & M had broken up! Four weeks ago!

I feel terrible. We don't see them a lot, and they have been together for a few years. DF went to school with J.

Four WEEKS ago!

Anyway. There is nothing I can do about the invitation now, but I can just imagine that it would be such a blow to M, as it is her house it will be going to.

Maybe it was some kind of spooky sign that I forgot them at the start? I just can't believe I sent it this morning to them, and found out this afternoon about the break up!

ARRGH!

So DF is going to call J tomorrow and explain. Frown

---------------------------------------

While on the topic of the housewarming party, these are my planned nibblies to supply:

- 20x mini cupcakes
- 20x mini quiches
- 20x mini sausage rolls
- 20x mini spinach & feta rolls
- assorted sandwich triangles (filling ideas anyone???)
- assorted mini barbecued kebab sticks (i was thinking: haloumi or beef cubes with capsicum, asparagus and/or mushroom)
- Assorted Dips, Chips & Bread Sticks

Any other ideas, anyone? Help me!
I have sent out 20 invitations (most to couples), and we are asking another 10 or so people by phone, so I expect approximately 30-40 people.

They will be bringing their own drinks, and I have clearly stated that fingerfood will be provided (not meals!) though I would like enough food so that people don't go hungry, also as there will be a few kids and pregnant women there too.

So any advice, ideas and recipes would be great!

BTW, I am making the cupcakes, quiches, sausage/spinach rolls at work so I will get them for a cheap price.

Thanks in advance!

have i had my head in the sand?

May 6th, 2009 at 07:53 pm

Yesterday I went shoppping with a friend. I bought a thick, red coat ($60) two thin cardigans ($42), two pairs of shoes ($25), a CD for DF $30) and that dress I mentioned ($24.95).

I am astounded by the price of things. I avoid going shopping because I don't want to spend money - so here and there I will pick up a T-shirt for $7.50 or a skirt for $10 because they have been drastically reduced in price.

But there are not many sales on now, so I had to find the best deal on fully marked clothing.

And I had already accepted that I was not planning on buying good quality clothing either. I wanted a few trendy things to go with my other clothes during winter, so I visited all the chain stores.

Holy Cow!

While I eventually found prices I was comfortable with (except the coat) I just could not believe some of the prices. I think I have not been 'shopping' for so long that I have not realised how much the prices have risen.

I do not mind paying a bit for good quality items - but these are not good quality items!

A cardigan, for $80? (I found two for $42)

Flats (synthetic materials) for $30 a pair? (I found two pairs for $25)

Chain-store, badly fitting, pants for $60?

What on EARTH?

The last I remembered, cardigans were around $30-$40 full price, flats around $15, pants around $25....at chain stores.

*sigh*

When I questioned my friend (whom I was shopping with) she didn't display any surprise at the costs. I guess it must just be me.

controlled shopping spree?

May 6th, 2009 at 04:14 am

The reserve bank met today, but everyone has been saying that the rates will not drop again this time. I think our time to fix the rate for free has run out - but I am going to hold off until they drop them another percent (it will be down to 4.21% for us then) or until I hear that they might raise them, and then we will be fixing! At the moment I am happy to leave it all at variable. We are thinking of fixing a portion of it, probably half at this stage.

This morning I had a wardrobe melt down. I could not seem to find anything I wanted to wear (which is stupid, because I have so many clothes). I have decided it would be a good idea to invest in:
- a knit cardigan in a colour other than black (i have three in black)
- a pair of business-type pants in a colour other than black (I was thinking a navy colour?)
- some more flat shoes (maybe 2x pairs)
- and maybe another pair of jeans, seeing as I only have one pair I wear all the time.

I did have a bit of a look around while in town today. I found a dress (yes I know I am not meant to be looking at dresses! shhh!) for $24.95 that I really like. It's a nice casual dress.

Anyway. So I am meeting a friend in town this afternoon, and I think I might go in a bit earlier and have another look around... I will call DF first and see if he minds me buying a few items out of my remaining stimulus money (I have around $600 left).

Woo! Very-Tightly-Self-Controlled Shopping Spree, here I come!

overheard in the supermarket

May 5th, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Yesterday I was in the supermarket grabbing a few things before the big grocery shop today (I like to go with a friend... weird, I know). Anyway, so I was in the aisle that had a lot of canned items, and the opposite side had Eastern and Asian food. While I was deciding what brand of chickpeas to buy to make some hommus, I overheard a conversation that made me both laugh and a little sad at the same time:

18-20 YO Girl: What? What! I'm not eating it if it's been out for that long!
18-20 YO Boy: I took it out of the freezer the day before yesterday and put it in the fridge!
Girl: That's frigging disgusting!
Boy: It's *still frozen*
Girl: How can it be still frozen?!
Boy: It hasn't defrosted yet, duh.
Girl: Well that's even more gross. I'm not eating it.
Boy: It's still frozen you idiot. It's fine. There's nothing wrong with it.
Girl: I'm NOT eating it if it's been out of the freezer for three days.
Boy: Well, whatever, I'll eat it. You can cook your own meal.
Girl: Fine we'll *EAT* it then.
The girl storms off, the boy puts taco shells in his basket and follows.



Can I just say, HAHAHA.

It was the funniest thing I've witnessed in a supermarket in a long time.

inspiration ramblings

May 5th, 2009 at 04:30 am

Everyone draws their inspiration from something, whether it be from travelling, other cultures, books, certain people, movies, stories etc.

I draw a lot of inspiration from my father. Not because he is extraordinary - well, of course he is, he's my dad! - but in the sense that the life he has created with my stepmum and step sister is so normal and calm. Whenever I visit them, which is usually once a year, or once every two years, I immerse myself in their day to day life. It is so far from what I have grown up with, around my mother, and so far from an average persons day-to-day, rushed, stressful, daily grind kind of life as well.

When I think about how I want my life to turn out, there are a number of things I can associate with that my dad and his family practise. When I visit, I just feel wholesome and relaxed. It is hard to explain why or what it is that makes me feel this way - but I would have to say the number one thing is that they take things slowly.
They enjoy their time. I don't see them rush through anything. They do not just do something to get through it, so that they can do something else. They are never focused on achieving a hundred things a day.
And I don't mean to say that they have a lot of time to spare, either.
My dad commutes four to five hours a day. He leaves their house, in the country, on the train, at 6.05am. He works in the city, Monday to Friday. He gets home at 8.10pm, in time to read my step sister a story, tuck her in and give her a kiss goodnight.

My stepmum works from home. She is able to organise her day so that she can drive my stepsister to the after school activities that are planned. My stepmum cooks dinner during the week. On the weekend, she sometimes works as well.

There is not a hint of fast food consumption in their house. They enjoy good wine but only on special occasions. The thing that I love most I think, is their moderation. It is a far cry from my life with my mother, where everything is excessive - as most of you have read about. And while I can't blame my mum, I know that I don't want to follow in her footsteps in that department.

My dad spends the weekends with my stepsister. He gardens, does handyman stuff, goes grocery shopping and visits friends for a cup of coffee. He spends a few hours each week cooking different batches of curries and bakes and bean mixes from scratch, so that he can freeze them for easy dinners when his wife doesn't get time to cook.

They have an amazing kitchen. It is not technologically advanced, not typically modern in any way. But they have such a large and varied list of ingredients, a lot of it is influenced by Eastern, Chinese and Japanese traditional foods. They both love to cook, and from scratch.

So while they have a lot on their plate, they still maintain an aura of calm that I can't seem to figure out. I have come to think that maybe this is just because they are happy.

And that is where I get my inspiration from. Every single time I visit my dad, I come back bursting with ideas on how I want to shape my life better. I don't want to change it, I don't want to re-shape it, I just want to mold it a little bit more. Simple things, I want to change. Things that, when I see, I go, hey that's cool. Things that are so small, but that in my life here, I seem so rushed that I have not considered it.

I guess maybe my fathers side of the family is more of a tightly knit unit. There are not a lot of outside influences, and this probably makes them closer. They enjoy their time, and they enjoy their time with each other.

Like I said, a lot of the things they do that make that tiny bit of difference to their day to day lives, are small things. They are small, but added together, they make a lifestyle, and it's a lifestyle that I admire, because of its simplicity.

Like brewing tea in a tea-pot, with loose, good quality tea leaves instead of an old stale tea bag.
Taking the time to prepare the tea, and letting it brew. It's a methodical and relaxing process.
Like having one or two cups of delicious espresso, instead of four cups of badly burned coffee made with cheap ground beans.
Taking your time to cook a meal, listening to some music and enjoying the process, instead of hurriedly throwing together something that resembles food.
Taking the time to cook from a recipe book once in a while.
Using fresh ingredients. Using spices and fresh herbs. Growing your own herbs.
Setting the table, sitting with your loved ones, tasting the food and enjoying the company, instead of wolfing down your meal in front of the tv.
Inviting friends over for a meal that you have taken a few hours to lovingly prepare and cook, instead of going out to a crappy restaurant.
Making meals and desserts together - sharing in the experience.
Playing boardgames and cards instead of watching television.
Listening to people. Actually listening and not just sitting there waiting for your turn to speak.
Taking the time to meet people, know people, and visit them. Make friends, and be friendly. Be generous. It doesn't have to be with money. Lend a hand to a neighbour. Check up on an old friend. Bake biscuits for your grandparents. Make a birthday card and deliver it to a friend. Invite old friends for meals and cups of tea. Have sewing days for your kids.
Be organised and have a process. Put things away. If you're surrounded by clutter and mess, you feel more stressed.
Don't worry yourself with keeping up. Life will go on even if you aren't up to date with gossip, or have the newest and latest of things.
Buy things that you like. Things that make you happy. Not just because someone else tells you that you need them, or because everyone else has one.
Consider what you purchase. Consider the impact on the environment. Where it was made and by whom. What you need it for. The quality of the item.
Resist the fast-paced world outside. Things move at a mile a minute out there, but it doesn't mean that you have to as well.

Like I said, it is so different from how I have grown up with my mother, feeling like myself and my younger siblings are in the way. Having to look after ourselves, not being able to talk to our mum because she is busy (and then have her yell at us that we don't talk to her anymore). I guess most of all, feeling valued is an important thing that I get from my fathers side of my family, more than my mothers.

Working @ home today!

May 5th, 2009 at 01:18 am

Well, I am working at home today. I much prefer it. I don't feel so on edge, wondering if my mum is going to crack open a beer at some ridiculous hour (yes, while working!) and wondering how to deal with that (ignore it? or say something? it's a home office). And I am not wondering if my mum's partner is going to come in between quotes and start a 'discussion' about one thing or another, which will then tangent into twelve other subjects, including my father, my past, my mum's past, my younger brother and sisters behaviour, my relationship, their relationship, my DF's work future opportunities, our newly purchased house etc etc.
So, while I don't have to deal with THOSE issues, I still have to deal with the fact that they are still spending money they don't have, on things they don't need, and having an 'I don't care, let's get another loan' attitude.
And while this week is very different to other weeks financially, because there is VERY little money left in their accounts. Usually there is money from jobs rolling in, and money rolling out, but it always APPEARS that there is money in there. So when I say 'We have no money' they think I'm joking or something, because there's 50k in there. What on earth do you mean, no money?
So there's under $2k in there now, so I think this may be the kick in the pants that has been long coming. I have no idea what they think they're going to do. I am sure a payment for a job will swoop in and save the day, and seeing as work has picked up again for the boys, it will continue to drip in again, and the whole cycle will repeat itself.
*sigh*
Well, I am becoming more detached from the situation as the days pass. It is now just a job for me. I get paid $18 an hour to pay bills, record reciepts, do the taxes, pay the credit card, juggle money, chase up unpaid money, pay the wages and superannuation, send out group certificates, meet licensing requirements and meet with the accountant every year. This is my job - it will last as long as they can afford me. I feel as though I have hardly any other connection with it any more.

Sorry for my rant, I had to get it out so now I can start work with a fresh mind. Atleast it's financially related! Big Grin

May Goals

May 4th, 2009 at 04:09 am

I have decided to keep my goals for May fairly simple. My main area of focus will be health. I do not have a lot of financial goals for May, nor a lot in any other category. So it will only be a short list this month to keep track of:

- Begin to drop sugar-laden, processed and white flour products from everyday eating habits. (this is a long-standing goal)
- Continue to drink teas and mineral water/juice in place of coffee and soft drinks.
- Ensure that I drink 1-2L water each day.
- Complete 12 sessions minimum of 40 minutes or more exercise each week (walking, jogging or yoga).

- Succesfully host our housewarming party at the end of May. This goal includes:
Sending the invitations
Making a large portion of the fingerfood
Cleaning up our downstairs area
Finding something to hold a fire in

- Keep track of our stimulus money spending, so as to not overspend it.
- Keep track of all expenditure through the month.
- Formulate a plan for keeping track of extra payments and savings (I am thinking a spreadsheet for now)

- Take weekly photos of my gardening efforts.

- Take my ultrasound results to the doctor and get the results for my blood test.

April Goals Recap

May 4th, 2009 at 12:26 am

Money:
[x] Keep track of all joint spending
[/] Manage personal spending and keep to the alloted amount per week.
/[] Sit down with DF and draw up a savings plan for the next 6 months.
[x] Plan what to spend my stimulus money on! (yes - I am spending it)

House:
[x] 30 minutes gardening per week
[x] Unpack at least 3 boxes per week.
[x] Write up a future To Do list for house repairs and maintenance
[x] Write up a future To Buy list for the house
[] Call the pest people about the termites on the letterbox
[] Call and change my address details for all correspondence (yes I know - still have not done it)

Health:
[x] 3 x 40 min exercise sessions per week
[] Atually WEAR my pedometer to get an average of my steps for EACH day of the week.
[] Begin this: http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/diet/detox/plan.htm
[x] Re-introduce the 'one hour of body care per week' that I used to do.

Other:
[x] Call my little sister every week
[x] Catch up with my closest friend at least once per week (used to live near each other but since I moved I want to make the effort to see her like we used to)
[x] Stand by my resolve to not respond to the other 'friend' I have previously blogged about. And yes, this is a goal! I find these things very difficult.

-----------------------------------------

I am pretty happy with my efforts. I completed nearly all of my goals. I did not call the termite people because DF lost the piece of paper with the name and number on it - it is somewhere in the house so we will find it soon. Fortunately the termites seem to have disappeared for the meantime, and we know they aren't anywhere near our house because everything is visible - there are no tracks to be found.

While I kept to the alloted allowance, DF did not do so well, so this month I will be keeping a watchful (and nagging) eye on it.

We sat down and discussed what we wanted to achieve but have not done a proper savings plan yet. But atleast we have discussed it!

I haven't changed any address details yet - mail redirection makes me lazy! I still have a few months left...

I did not remember to wear the pedometer at all in April, except for a short walk to the mailbox.

I would like to start the detox plan, but instead I have been implementing healthier eating habits. So you could say I have half-heartedly done the detox plan (save for the caramel mudcake that some friends bought over... oh and the anzac biscuits some other friends bought over... *sigh*)
I have made DF hide the chocolate (I am one of those people, if it is there, I will take a square or three off the block every day, just because I know it's there!) He has also agreed to buy it out of his personal allowance, seeing as he does not want to not have it.
*sigh* I am working on it!

My May Goals are to follow shortly!

our first month of joint tracking totals

May 3rd, 2009 at 06:52 am

As the title suggests, April was the first month I have tracked our totals together.

I am still working out how to get it into a system so that it works easily for us - at the moment i just ask DF to tell me what he spends every day. He is getting better at remembering it now - but still needs to work on the cents part of it! ("spent twenty bucks on beer" "twenty? or $19.75? or $20.50? there's a difference!" "pfft, just put $20") *sigh*

So, here we go!

INCOME:
Earnings: $5004.80
Other: $3129
Total: $8133.80

EXPENSES:
Mortgage Payments: $2150.75
Groceries: $564.24
Petrol: $241.30
Internet & Phone Bill: $263.90
Car Repairs: $479
Car Engine: $1910 (one off expense)
Engine Hoist: $130 (one off expense)
Mobile Phone: $49.63
Life Insurance: $93.64
House Repairs & Maintenance: $304.32
Appliances/House Gadgets: $237.28
Gifts: $101.50
Health & Grooming: $108.90
Misc: $51
Dining Out: $231.67
DF Fun: $551.89
WS Fun: $395.58

Total Spent: $7864.60

Remaining: $269.20

Extra Payments Made: $333.14

While I agree it looks like we are cutting it fine, and not saving, generally speaking most months we won't be dropping $2k on car engines! So I think we did quite well, considering.

I worked out my figures wrong, so that is why more was paid into the loan that was actually remaining at the end of the month. Normally what I will be doing is calculating what is left and adding that back into the loan for savings or extra mortgage payments.

DF did not earn very much at all last month, it was quite slow. He had nearly two weeks off. I also had days off, so my earnings are down too. I am looking forward to May, as our earnings should be back to normal, and our spending should be under control.

Notice there is no longer a Bank Fees amount listed? Yes! Now we only have an annual bank fee, that we hope to offset with our credit card rewards. Yahoo!

Hmmm, not sure what else I should comment on here. Yes, DF's 'Fun' money is high, mine is also slightly higher than should be, but some of that is spending from my stimulus package, which I haven't bothered to seperate. DF is going to work on his Fun spending this month. Our dining out is high, even though it was only dining out once a week. Which I think is pretty reasonable really. Maybe we will push it to once every two weeks. Generally it is only when people come over, and we go out for lunch or something.

The phone & internet bill is high because it is the transfer fee for moving - I accidently put it in last months expenses too, so I will have to remove it from there.

All in all, I am happy with our first month of spending in the new house.

House Appliances & Gadgets were: a muffin tin, a set top box, and a slow cooker. The house maintenance & expenses were mainly gardening supplies and equipment, plus some other items like a rubbish bin, a front door mat, a sink strainer, window locks etc.


gardening purchases

May 3rd, 2009 at 02:42 am

This weekend has been very spendy indeed, but mostly in a good way. We finally bought a set-top box. The ticket price was $59 but we got it for $49. We now have perfect reception. It's so perfect, in fact, that DF, who *hates* tv, is willing to sit and watch it. Big Grin (which goes to show how bad it was before!)

We bought a lot of gardening supplies yesterday, and spent $74.43.
We bought: lawn fertiliser and lawn seeds (for a tiny patch that DF wants to grow grass on where it is shaded - all of the other grass areas are fine except this one part). Also bought a round flat saucer (thanks to Baselle for that brilliant idea!!!) and some lettuce seeds, and a long rectangular tub for herbs. I bought mint seeds, rosemary seeds, coriander and basil seedlings, as well as seedling potting mix and regular potting mix. Fingers crossed it all works out! I should have a lovely mixture of lettuce in 8-10 weeks. Not sure about the other herbs. I will post pictures later.

Today we bought a passionfruit vine as well.

Not a lot of other news. Now it is time for me to go and start planting!!!