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Archive for October, 2009

my updates

October 30th, 2009 at 12:00 am

I have not been on here to post as much as usual. This month has been weird with lots of things to do but not much to write about.

We got our tattoos last week, I am waiting for the last of it to heal before I post a picture, for anyone interested (probably not many on here!) Big Grin

It was much less than we thought it would cost. For starters he was very quick (I think he surprised himself) and he didn't charge for drawing time. For both it ended up being $520, plus a $30 tip (Yes! something I actually tip for here...). Initially we thought it would be around $900.

I think the tattooist was really excited about mine because he is now using it as his profile picture on his myspace.

Anyway.

We get our puppy soon. Haven't decided on a name yet. They are jumping and trying to use their voices, very very cute indeed.

Work has slowed down for DF again. He is still earning money every week but not full-time. But mine remains the same which is good.

Still haven't gotten the stove or oven fixed, but it isn't a huge hassle at the moment. When it becomes more of a problem we will do something about it. At the moment it's fine.

The next door neighbours dog keeps sleeping under DF's cars during the day, underneath our house. It is getting a little annoying as she leaves dark patches all over the concrete - we are not sure if it is blood or dirt. She is an old dog and the neighbours are always out, I am not sure if they realise she gets out. Anyone know of anything that keeps dogs away, like pepper or something? (I think pepper keeps ants or cats away... can't remember which...)

weightloss!

October 27th, 2009 at 07:44 pm

In the past two weeks I have lost around 2 kilograms.

I have not been doing a whole lot differently, but I believe the warm weather has something to do with it. It is much too hot to eat at work during the day, which stops me nibbling on things I probably shouldn't be!

Lack of a stove or oven is also resulting in most foods being grilled or slow-cooked, which mainly means mexican beans or grilled veges most of the time. Tonight we are having soup.

Spurned on by the difference on the scales, I have also been refraining from snacking, and again the heat makes it difficult to stomach even a share of a slice of cake or a biscuit when having coffees with friends. Smile

Weightloss was one of my new years goals at the start of 2009. I am feeling motivated to keep this up (at the moment Big Grin), so I may achieve this goal, even if it is only partially. I am by no means overweight, but I think I could stand to lose a few more kilograms, to be completely comfortable in my own skin.

spent some of our gift vouchers

October 26th, 2009 at 08:54 pm

On Sunday we went to the CBD and spent some of our gift vouchers that we recieved for our engagement party. We also got $70 in cash from DF's sister - I am going to use some of that to buy a Scanpan stainless steel frypan.

We decided to buy things that we would ordinarily spend money on anyway - but have been putting off for some time.

First off was a Brita water filter jug. We got a good deal on it, went to three different stores to compare. Myer had the best deal: a 2.4L jug for $29.70, which came with three free filters ($23 each normally) and a free re-usable waterbottle. To compare, I found a 3.5L jug for $33 in Kmart, that was the next option. So you can see why I went for a smaller jug with more extras.

I decided I wanted some summer shorts and found a pair for $35, and DF wanted to buy the new Wolverine movie on dvd, and another dvd, can't remember which one.

With our hardware store vouchers ($200) we bought a lawn mower. DF found one on sale from $350 reduced to $299, so in the end we got a lawnmower for $99.

Other things on the list are, obviously, a Scanpan frypan, and one of the things you tap your used coffee grinds into (I never thought this was necessary until we started having people over regularly - I have realised how useful it will be). So far have found them at Myer for $36, which is the best deal I can find. I believe we have just over $100 left on the GC's, and $70 in cash.

DF found $836!

October 25th, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Doing our tax returns yesterday, I asked DF to log on to his old Bankwest account (similar to an ING account) to find out how much interest he earnt in the last financial year from the house deposit.

Seconds later I hear 'uhhm... huh?'

He has $836 still in there!

He had $18 792.00 and transferred $18 000. The $792 has remained there since January, slowly working itself up to the $836 it is now.

Um, wow?!

The found money is going to the EF.

Also, wanted to share how much interest DF earnt in the last year, only six months of it where he actually had a high amount in there: $236.37!


Currently Listening To: Air - Alone in Kyoto

finally did our tax returns with 6 days to spare

October 25th, 2009 at 01:52 am

Normally I am all onto our tax returns and have them done within the first week of July. However this time things were tricky due to closed accounts, deductions etc etc.

Finally got it all together and did it online tonight.

Combined we get back nearly $2000.

It is just in time too, as DF's mum is trying to buy a property and needs a buffer in between the exchange of her old property and the new one. She gave DF $4000 when we were getting ready to buy our house, so we are going to give her $2000 back. Even though it was a gift, I still don't like it hanging over our heads. She has not asked us for it but I know that she would be thankful, and even though we do not have a LOT to spare, I feel compelled to. She is a very generous person and if it means we cut back and tighten the purse strings for the next few months, that is fine with me.

So really, the tax return has not made a difference in our accounts at all. But it has helped someone!

puppies!

October 20th, 2009 at 03:38 pm

Everyone loves puppies, don't they? Big Grin

So here is Jeds son and daughter. They are still with their mum (DF's dads dog) and we will be getting the boy (the one that is all white) and DF's grandparents will be getting the girl (the one with the black patches).



DF's dads dog, Trinity. She is such a goood mum! Smile

tricky meal plans

October 19th, 2009 at 06:45 pm

Because we have no stove or oven for the next few weeks I have had to be inventive with our meal plan. We have a lot of other things going on so at the moment we are not bothering to do anything about fixing it until atleast the start of November.

To top it off, going away for the weekend meant I wasn't able to go to the farmers market on Saturday. I have not missed it since we moved here back in March, so I am at a bit of a loss as to where to get good fresh veges. I am going to try a place near my drive home - wish me luck on that front! I think we are spoilt with the freshness from the markets, even my dad and stepmum were amazed at how beautiful the produce was.

I am using up our freezer stock of meals too.

Last night we had pasta because I discovered you can cook it in a rice cooker! It was an experiment that lead to a happy outcome. I had to heat up the sauce in the microwave though Frown

Tonight we are having an Indian Vegetable curry that my dad made while he was here (thawed from the freezer). I will cook the rice, and once it is halfway through cooking will put the curry on top of the rice to heat it. I have heard of people doing this before, so I know it works. We are having chapatti and yoghurt with the curry.

Meal Plan:
Tuesday: Indian Vegetable Curry
Wednesday: Slow Cooked Lentil Soup
Thursday: Grilled Vegetables with Tofu/Lamb Chops
Friday: Fresh Spring Rolls (rice paper wraps - NOT fried)

(saturday is market day, so this is my meal plan for the following weekSmile

Saturday: BBQ & Salad
Sunday: Vegetarian Mexican Beans, Rice & Salad (beans made in slow cooker)
Monday: Slow Cooked Minestroni Soup
Tuesday: Bean & Salad Tortillas
Wednesday: Toasted Panini Sandwhiches
Thursday: Slow Cooked Indian Curry
Friday: BBQ & Salad or Grilled Veges

Isn't it funny, when you knock out use of an oven and stove, the only options you have are (mostly) healthy ones. Out of the next two weeks of our eating plan, the only meals I can see that are questionably healthy are the toasted panini (wheat and cheese) the curries (coconut milk) and the mexican beans/tortillas IF we have cheese on them.


Weekend Away - Expenditure

October 19th, 2009 at 05:12 pm

So it worked out to be a fairly cheap weekend away. Usually when it is a big group of us, we have to pay accomodation costs (around $50 a night divided by all who are staying) to use our friends' parents beach house. But this time we did not have to, which was nice.

So this is what we spent:

$13.20 Takeaway Lunch
$6.95 Groceries
$47 Dinner out
$21.50 Drinks
$94 Alcohol
$3.80 Icecream Big Grin
$2.80 Water
$4.40 Groceries
$7.60 Drinks

Probably could have made it cheaper by not going out for dinner the first night, and DF not buying alcohol. But he brought some back with him so it wasn't all consumed there. We also had two bottles of champagne that was in the cupboard at home, so we took those.


a banned ingredient got me thinking...

October 15th, 2009 at 12:11 am

Awhile ago at work we stopped being able to buy a product that we used regularly. Luckily our suppliers had a similar product which we then started using. A few weeks later our rep told us (I don't think he was meant to - I believe he told us because we were complaining about how different the second product was) that the reason we couldn't get the first product was because an ingredient in it had been banned and they were currently testing other ingredients to find something they could use - the product was made in the US and the ingredient banned was something they used to stablise it.

So all this got me thinking.

If I didn't work there, and if the rep hadn't told us, I wouldn't have ever known.
Customers who buy our goods have no idea. The only thing they will notice is that some goods are a little different now, because the new product we use is a little different to the old one.

And then this got me thinking even more:

So exactly how many things have I consumed in my life that have contained ingredients which have then forced the product off the shelves? How many manufacturers have gone 'Oh! Shit!' and changed their recipes?

Obviously this was not something hugely drastic, otherwise there would have been a product recall. But still - if it's bad enough to ban and cease production for some time, isn't it bad enough to warn people not to eat it? (We threw out our stock with the old product in it - in case you're wondering)

This leads me to my next line of thinking.

Exactly how much do you know about what is in your food?

I have been brought up cooking from scratch and avoiding foods with numbers and ingredients I cannot decipher. But not everyone has. And even still, I find it incredibly difficult to avoid all those nasties on a daily basis.

Furthermore, are you aware that over 60% of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your body?

So, are you completely happy with the contents of your shampoo bottle being inside your body? What about your foundation, anti-wrinkle cream, skin care scrubs and cleansers, hair removing agents, laundry powders etc etc?

Would you eat them? Why not?

I have only just started thinking about this all. While I do think I am a little more aware of these things than, say, the average 22 year old, this whole 'banned-ingredient-thing' has really filled my head with questions and reservations.

It's all quite a bit to think about, so I wanted to share it. Hope you all don't mind.

I think I am going to take (baby) steps to reduce our consumption of items that have ingredients in them that I don't know what they are or do.

Thoughts? Opinions?

This could possibly be a frugal exercise too. Has anyone ever used castile soap? I have been reading about it.



what to buy, what to buy?

October 14th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

We have been talking about what to buy with our gift vouchers from our engagement party.

Our initial thought was to get a dvd player/hard drive recorder. It would probably be the most useful piece of technology in our house for two reasons: we hate advertising, and we both go to bed reasonably early and miss out on good shows that play later in the evening.

But, we went to check them out and apparently they are phasing out making them. WHAT?! Why???

So the only ones that are there, are around $800. Excuse me? I am not paying that much. Sorry if appear to be somewhat of a tightass.

So instead we were thinking of buying the following:

- a water filter (either one that connects to the tap, or just a jug filter you put in the fridge)
- a normal dvd player

That uses up about half of the Myer vouchers. The hardware store vouchers we are not really sure of, but were thinking of getting a lawn mower. We don't have one so we have to borrow DF's dads one. It has been good lately as it has been winter, and the grass hasn't grown for about four months, but soon it will start again.

The lawnmowers range from $340-$800. We don't have a lot of land to cover, so a cheaper one will do as long as the parts are sturdy, DF can do any maintenance that is needed.

I did have a thought that if we bought the lawn mower, I could use the leftover Myer vouchers for groceries, and that would sort of offset the extra spend on the lawnmower? Technically we would be out of pocket around $50 or so. Good idea? Bad idea?

our oven could have burnt down our house!

October 13th, 2009 at 06:46 pm

For a week or two we have been smelling a burning plastic smell whenever I light the oven (note: our oven has a stove on the top). Because it's summer I've only used the oven a few times, so I haven't really paid that much attention. But last night I finally asked DF to have a look, and lo and behold, gas is leaking from one of the pipes, which has created a bigger pilot flame.

It could be a case of a loose nut or fixture, but the burning smell indicates it has probably melted something that might be important. How scary to think that could have made a huge fire one day if we hadn't checked it!

So, I guess this means we will have to buy a new stove. (Truth be told, it is around 10 years old and in need of replacing anyway...)

Our problem now is, in 4 to 5 years we had hoped to have enough to remodel the kitchen. It would be a medium sized renovation as we would be putting in a bay window to add extra room. We would look at getting a wall mounted oven and a stove with a rangehood - which is something that is impossible to do at the moment.

So - do we fix it or buy a cheap(er) stove/oven now with the intent of using it for only 5 years? Do people buy second hand stoves? Could we sell it later? Or should we buy a second hand one? Doesn't that mean that whatever we save on buying second hand, we will have to shell out for new fittings anyway?

----------

In the meantime, I am confined (yet again!) to cooking on the barbecue or using bench top appliances. Hooray! As if I didn't already have enough of that experience when we first moved in.

Now I have to think up ways to use our veges up that don't involve the stove or the oven. GREAT Frown

I have:
a slowcooker
a rice cooker
a barbecue
a grill/sandwhich press

I also have an outstanding assortment of takeaway menus Big Grin

how do your holidays affect you?

October 12th, 2009 at 06:17 pm

I've always had a somewhat predictable pattern whenever I return from a holiday - whether it be a 'going away' holiday or a 'stay at home' holiday.

1. I stop watching a lot of television. I think it's the ads that annoy me the most. And the meaninglessness of it all. I still watch shows that I love, like Topgear etc, but I don't bother to channel surf for something to do. This usually lasts a few months or so, until I start to get worn down by the daily grind and don't feel like thinking about anything for a few hours, hence Neighbours works itself into my schedule.

2. I clock-watch at work. Not noticeably - no one sees me doing it. But I find I need to know exactly how many hours, minutes, seconds I have left before I am let free for the day.

3. I start fantasising and dreaming up ways so that I don't have to work. Or don't have to work as much. This is possibly done in conjuction with the above mentioned clock watching. 'If I didn't buy any clothes for a year, reduced my spending money by half, found a cheaper phone plan and started growing a bigger vege patch... I could have one day off a month...' is regular thought while I ice bar-cakes and decorate elaborate 18th birthday cakes. Oooh look, it's now five minutes closer to home time...

4. We start eating differently. While most of our meals are healthy, I find after a holiday I get more enthusiastic about cooking again. I make more meals that require time and effort and more stages of cooking. I get interested in aquiring and trying different spices and odd ingredients. For instance, have you ever used the spice mace? It is a similar smell to nutmeg (actually, it is from the outer shell of the nut of the nutmeg), but it gives a beautiful warm flavour to dishes...

5. I start to spend time doing things that I never found the time to do before, such as just sitting on our deck with our dog and a book.

6. I spend less time on the computer. Is this a good or a bad thing? Not sure, but it sure does free up a lot more time. I have gone two days without checking facebook, saving advice or my emails. Previously unheard of for me. And you know what? I don't mind. I log on and then log off again in a matter of seconds. I guess a holiday reminds me there is LIFE out there, away from cyberspace.

7. I read before I go to bed. It's something I do when I am on holidays because I don't have a definate time to get up the next day, and it's something I try to keep up, atleast for a little while, after my holidays.

8. I start thinking about what I'm spending my money on. I start asking myself if it's worth it. Do I really need a piece of overpriced frittata, or am I just buying it because everyone else is buying food? Do I really need to buy papertowel, or couldn't I use some rags instead? Is there a use for all these cleaning products, or is the bicarb, vinegar and bleach in my cupboard good enough? What could I use my money for, if not for this? Oh, another holiday!

9. I start thinking up ways to make our everyday life better and more enjoyable. Just little things, that probably seem like they don't matter, but they make a difference. Like playing cards or boardgames together once in a while. Inviting friends over for barbecues. Going for walks together. Making three course meals just because we can. Sleeping in on weekends. Going to comedy shows. Having tapas on our deck for lunch. Having picnics with friends at parks and botanical gardens. Trying out a nice bottle of wine every now and then.

I am sure there are more things that I change after a holiday, but these are the most obvious, that I can think of right now. Why? I guess going on holiday, and then the shock of going back to work, makes me realise that we WORK to live, and that I personally want to live more than work. Does your holiday affect your life after you get back?

split loans finalised, finally!

October 11th, 2009 at 11:55 am

After a month of waiting for the paperwork to be put through (and even longer since I actually signed the papers!), our split loan has been finalised. I checked our balances this morning, and instead of owing $298xxx.xx we now owe:

Fixed (7.94% for 5 years) $175 000.00
Variable (currently 5.11%) $123 630.24

For a month I have wondered if we did the right thing, or if we should have waited a tad longer. (Atleast, I now know we should have fixed straight away at 6.94% - but eh, what can you do?).

I got an email last week, the Reserve bank had raised their interest rates by 0.25%. The next day the Big 4 raised theirs. So, that was my answer. We did absolutely the right thing. (Hasn't hit our variable portion YET - will soon...)

I have also read that there will probably be another raise in December. Whew!

have accomplished one of my yearly goals!

October 9th, 2009 at 12:00 am

I set a goal to read a book a month this year. Last year I virtually read no books at all. Magazines, yes, but they are trash! Not literature!

Anyway. So even though I said a book a month, I think I can safely say I am motivated to go to the library two more times this year - so I can cross that off my list as done!

I read three books last month. Chemical Pink, The Messenger & The Girl Most Likely. I just borrowed five more from the library today. I find that I often borrow one or two that I simply can't get into, and therefore don't read. So I figure that the more I borrow, the more chances I have of finding a few I actually like!

T, a friend of mine, and I, have this thing where we try to find really disturbing books, read them, then lend them to the other. Why? I have no idea.

Because we can, possibly? I guess it's like a dare. "I read it the whole way through, now you have to".

So the financial aspect of this post is that I did not BUY any of these books, which is great! I am now going to make it a habit of writing down interesting titles of books I come across (usually in magazines I borrow from friends) and then attempt to find them at the library.

What's a good book you've read lately? What was it about? And what was the authors name? Big Grin

to meat or not to meat?

October 8th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Next weekend we are going away to BIL's family's holiday house.

It was arranged awhile ago, as a 'relaxing weekend'. Yesterday we got an invitation in the mail for their daughters '3 month birthday'.

Huh!?

Cute, I guess.

Are we supposed to give them a present???

Also, one thing that irks me, even though it probably shouldn't:

She wrote on the invitation: 'Meat will be provided'. And also that she can organise all the rest of the food if we all put in money, or we can bring each bring food and pool our items.

How much would everyone like to bet that if we all put in money, I would still have to go and buy something for myself, the vegetarian?

The only reason I say this is that I have noticed that every time we go to their house now, we go out for dinner. But when they come to our house, I cook something that usually has meat in it and something else for myself. But we always have the option of them having meat (wouldn't want to miss out for a single day now would we?!?!). I'm probably being petty but argh!

engagement party recap

October 6th, 2009 at 08:04 pm

It was nice to be on the recieving end of a pile of gifts; usually we are the ones giving to everyone else.

Our engagement party went well. Everyone behaved themselves and the weather was lovely. DF got there 2 hours early to get a table and pretty much all of the food got eaten, which was nice. (Usually have WAY too much food - but I think I have worked out the formula now Big Grin).

We recieved:
A blanket
A boardgame (Sequence)
The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander
A slowcooker (I gave our other one to my mum a while ago as it was too big).
A six person setting cutlery set.
Assorted cooking utensils.
$190 in Myer vouchers (a higher-end department store)
$200 in Bunnings vouchers (hardware/homeware chain)
A set of dip/cracker & olive plates.
A painting

and we have another gift coming from DF's sister.

A couple who we had not seen in a while came along, but as the wife was pregnant and due, they left quite quickly. She had been having contractions that day and the night before! I couldn't believe that they actually came along, and they had an hour drive ahead of them to get home!
She gave birth the next day to a healthy boy.




Holiday Snaps

October 5th, 2009 at 06:59 pm

Some pictures from my holiday:



(Noosa Beach. As much as I HATE Noosa (as in, Noosa Hastings Street), the beach and National Park are lovely. Smile I guess it's a Locals vs Tourist thing...)


(The view from the National Park walk)


(View from Hells Gates, a cliff at the end of the walk)


(My little sis, perched on the edge. It's a long way down!)


(There was a fire across the bay - I assume they were just burning off but my parents were worried - they are from Victoria. I don't blame them. But they thought it was odd as everyone walked around without a care in the world - where they live, everyone would have been making evacuating plans if they saw a fire like that.)


(Hard to believe that the ocean is to the left of this photo! Such differing landscapes we have...)


(A river I took my family to. A friend and I go there regularly to swim)


That's all for now folks. Hope you enjoyed!

september totals

October 5th, 2009 at 06:09 pm

Well, these are my September totals. They are conservative, in fact, we probably spent more than this, I just haven't kept track very well. Though I did go through the credit transactions, so this is *almost* everything.

Income:
$5477.30

Expenses:
Mortgage: $1523.08
Groceries: $508.14
Bills: $907.71
Petrol: $147.56
Personal Loan: $148
House Repairs/Maintenance: $158.62
Appliances/House: $151.45
Work Expenses: $317.65
DF Fun: $119.79
Me Fun: $201.08
Dining Out: $141.70
Entertainment: $64.00
Misc: $184.85
New Bed: $1498.00
Vet Bill: $644.55
Gifts: $24.41
Health/Grooming: $21.48
Total Spent: $6762.07

Deficit: $1284.77

I'm actually quite pleased with this figure! Even though it appears to be ugly (a minus is always ugly, unless it's on the scales!) we had some extra expenses that weren't planned. Car repairs, for one, which is why our bills were so high. Fortunately, I have a separate account for bills so that was covered. It is still an expense though.
The new bed. Probably could have found a cheaper one, but we are happy with the quality.
Vet bills, wasn't expected at all but what can you do? The $644.55 was for an emergency ceaserean for DF's dad's dog. (pictures still coming, I promise!)

Income was down too, that was another major factor. I had a week off, and DF is just starting to get back into full weeks of work.

Technically the new bed comes out of our 'stash' of money, (which is depleting rapidly! still there, but the pile is getting smaller! we are seriously going to focus on building it back up from now on.) If we take away the bed expense, we would be in a surplus rather than deficit, so there we have it.

I'm back!

October 4th, 2009 at 11:42 am

I'm back from my holiday, my parents left last Friday. I haven't been on the internet at all for about a week and a half (it's actually quite freeing!).

I hardly tracked our expenses at all for the last week, so September will be a bit of a write-off. Didn't spend a great deal because my parents insisted on paying for most of everything.

So it's Monday 4.30am and I am about to leave for work! What a rude shock to the system, I have been getting up at 630am and some mornings even 8am, it has been nice to not worry about going to work. But alas, money pays the bills, so off I go again!