Friday, 30 December 2011

A reflection on 2011

I have been doing a bit of reflecting over the past month or so about 2011 and what I have achieved, what I haven't achieved, what I've done and learnt. 

It's been a busy year!!!

We started the year with a flood.  Between 1 December 2010 and mid January 2011, our house had recorded more than 1 metre of rain in our gauge.  Everything was soggy!!!  Brisbane also flooded - Mum & Graham went away on a cruise the day that Grantham was decimated.  His cousins live up there and their lives were saved by them diving into their garage which was under the house and built into the hill.  Other friends who's house wasn't even finished yet went under at Wivenhoe Pocket.  Quite surreal - we sat at home, flooded in, watching it on the news. 

We then headed off on a quick trip to Adelaide for my brother and I.  Dad has diabetes, which he was not looking after, and all of a sudden couldn't feel his feet and legs.  He got the bus home from Kangaroo Island and was diagnosed with Diabetes Neuropathy.  Saw a heart specialist who put him straight onto a Neurosurgeon who whacked him into hospital and diagnosed Guillian Barre syndrome.  12 weeks in hospital and 9 months later, he's a lot better than he was!

Come April, mum is put in hospital with a racing heart.  Her normally ~50 bpm heart rate had gone to ~190 bpm.  She spent nearly 2 weeks in the Mater Private and wound up with the heart specialist stopping and restarting her heart to get it to return to normal.  She now has a heart rate of ~40 bpm!!!

End of April Miss Michelle and I headed off on a road trip to Sydney with Sue.  We dropped Sue off at Gosford, and headed out to Millthorpe.  After Millthorpe, we went to Sydney for ANZAC day, and then left to go up to Glen Innes for the Australian Celtic Festival.  Ok, so we nearly got blown away, but we had a good time!

June came along and we had some time at home, recarpeting and re-timbering the floors... what a job!

July came along and Henrik arrived from Norway for 10 months through YFU.  He's a teenager - what more can I say.  He knows everything, and goes nowhere without headphones on his ears.

August - MUSTER TIME!!!

September - we headed off to learn about Red Claw fishing from Bert.  Went out to Borumba Dam, and over the course of the weekend, we managed 360 + of the little blighters!  Yummmmm...

October we also went camping out at Boondooma Dam.  That's where I decided I wanted to camp in more style - so a week later we were the proud owners of a Jayco Flite Campervan... with a quick trip to Mooranbah thrown in for good measure!

November, Gai and I headed off on our cruise from Singapore to Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, Darwin, Port Douglas and Airlie Beach.  You can read all about that in other entries on my blog...

And now it's December.....  Christmas is gone, and tomorrow is New Years Eve.

This year I've re-learnt to crochet, have continued my sewing journey, sorted a lot of my house out, and started spending quality time with myself.  I think I'm pretty happy about 2011...

The things that didn't go so well is my finances - I need to take them in hand.  That will be my main focus for 2012.  I am not going away on holidays this year as we are heading off in 2013 on a cruise with Chris and Lorraine out to Hawaii, and I want to take some good time off then. 

My goals for 2012 include:
  • Save $1.00 per day.  This is for Christmas next years' expenses.  I've already set this up - and it will be more like $3.00 per day as I have 3 accounts that always seem to have money in them.  I've also started transferring piddly little amounts over too - it will be a nice experiment to see how much winds up in the account!
  • Pay down debt.  This is a serious budget year, and I haven't yet refined what the actual goal will be.
  • Spend time doing gentle things.  Sewing, crochet, knitting etc. 
  • Work on ensuring my relationship with Ken stays as good as it is now!
  • Slow down, focus on what I am doing and finish things!  Don't try and do 10 things at once!!!
  • Take my health into my own hands.  Eat more fresh food, drink less alcohol, get more exercise.
On top of that, I will continue my decluttering journey to rid my life of what I don't want in it.  I'm certainly closer than I was, but I'm not there yet. 

I wish you all a wonderful new year and look forward to sharing some of my 2012 with you!

Friday, 2 December 2011

I made it to holidays!!!!!

Perhaps you’d like to grab yourself a cuppa, or a glass of wine – this is a long blog!!!  I’ve been so busy doing stuff, I haven’t had a chance to write about it!!

Are you comfy??  Ready???

Well… what a week it’s been for me!!!

One week ago today I had just started my holidays and was aboard a plane to Singapore…. Now I’m sailing the ocean between Laem Chabang (the port of Bangkok, Thailand) and Saigon, Vietnam. 

Thank god for holidays!!!  I never thought they’d arrive!!!

But… I digress…….

The second last week at work I wound up in Sydney on Tuesday afternoon, and then spent Wednesday all day at Head Office at Rhodes.  It was good – we were writing OHS standards from a corporate viewpoint, which is something I’ve long been an advocate for.  Nathan, Max and I spent the day pacing the room and leaping in and out of beanbags and a really comfy tub chair sort of a thing in wicker, discussing wording of OHS standards.  Ok, so not exactly thrilling stuff, but stuff that needed to be done, because I really am a fan of standardized corporate policies & procedures, and it was time to put my money where my mouth was!

I got back to work for Thursday morning and had an OHS and an Environmental Audit for two days…  that basically means two days of getting a miniscule amount of work done in the morning, a bit in the afternoon, and not much else.  That got rid of the week ending 19 November!!!

Spent the weekend with Chris and Lorraine, which was delightful….  Saturday , Lorraine and I went to the sewing group’s Christmas lunch, and on Sunday we all went to Capelli’s in Gympie for their Seafood long lunch – mmmmmm…..


Monday and Tuesday the following week were basically just tidying up things, and putting a couple of large projects I’ve been working on to bed.  It felt really good to get them out of the way, too – why on EARTH do we put things off??  Anyway, we do...

Gai arrived on Monday, Chris and Lorraine left on Tuesday, I came home from work on Tuesday afternoon and packed my bag – I’m an expert at leaving things to the last minute, and Wednesday we took off for the airport and the rest is history!!!

Gai and I had quite a bit of money in a credit with Flight Centre after they made a boo-boo last year on our holiday overseas and”forgot” to tell us weneeded a visa to visit Vietnam.  Turns out it’snot Flight Centre policy to tell you that you need a visa to visit Vietnam, andthey thought that itwasmy fault that I didn’thave one.  I didn’t agree, andnor did the judge when I took them to the small claims courtand won… 

(just as an aside, they still don’t tell you that you need a visa until you’re using a credit provided by a court of law in booking a flight to overseas….!!!) 

If you don’t get my meaning by what I’ve said up above, let me spell it out.  Use Flight Centre as your Travel Agent AT YOUR OWN PERIL.  Look up the site and google “flight centre visa” and see how many times they’ve not told people they need a visa and been taken to court over it and lost.  Lots of people very unhappy, being stranded in overseas countries and losing out on tours because a so called professional Travel Agency doesn’t have a “policy” of telling you about a visa.  It’s in their terms and conditions you know – it’s your job to get a visa…. (yeah, it is my job to get it.  I don’t get it, though, if you don’t tell me I need it….)

Anyway, Flight Centre rant over….  (I love that they wouldn’t settle out of court – I didn’t sign a confidentiality agreement, which now allows me to tell the world about my experience with them!!!)

Now.  Where was I?

Oh yes…

We had a credit with Flight Centre… 

We needed to use it up, so I had seen a cruise on the Diamond Princess from Singapore to Sydney via Koh Samui, Bangkok, Saigon, Bali, Darwin, Port Douglas and Airlie Beach.  When my auditors decided they were coming a week earlier than previously planned, we both jumped at the chance to go. 

We booked ourselves a Balcony cabin, mainly because that was the very last cabin available on the cruise when we were booking.  I thought it would be nice – we would be on level 14, right up with the swimming pools etc., and we would have a lovely time. 

So – we headed off to Sydney with Qantas, to catch the flight to Singapore on Wednesday 23/11…  Sitting in the Qantas club, I had plenty of time (thanks to Gai’s spectacular organizing skills…) and went to check my e-mails.  I had one from Princess, telling us that they had upgraded us to a mini suite – how good is that!!!  I have never even seen a mini suite, let alone travelled in one!!!

So – we got on the Qantas plane, drank lots of wine, watched lots of movies, and arrived in a very hot, humid and sticky Singapore about 9.30 pm that night.  We got a taxi to our hotel in the Marina area, the Pan Pacific.  Lovely, lovely hotel, except that we had one king bed rather than two singles, but a quick call to housekeeping fixed that in about 15 minutes flat!

In Singapore we saw all sorts of things including Jurong Bird Park, High Tea at Raffles (I was SO born in the wrong Century), Little India for a lovely henna tattoo, the Mustafa centre (just because we could), the Marina Bay Sands – the top, and the Hawker Centre for the BEST satay sticks that I have ever eaten with Mr Neil…. 
The view from our balcony in Singapore.  The 3 towers are the new Marina Bay Sands - do you like the ship on the top???  That's got a pool in it that you can swim up to the edge of!!!

All too soon, Singapore came to an end though, and it was Sunday morning, so off to the Marina Bay Sands again we headed, to get on the boat.  Thanks to the Elite Passenger Status that I have (thanks Mum & Graham for taking me on enough cruises with P&O as a kid which count towards the Princess Status thingy) we sailed right through the boarding process, got on a bus and just over an hour after leaving the hotel, we were boarding our ship!!! 

First things first – lunch, then we went back to the cabin, unpacked, and hit the decks.  Ohhhhh… the mini suite is great! It’s basically a cabin with a large bathroom, and a small lounge room attached, and a balcony that’s twice as wide as a normal balcony.  Noice!!!!  Oops – forgot to mention, glass of champagne to help us unpack….

view from the lounge into the cabin

We trotted upstairs to find a bar to have a drink to celebrate holidays, and found the Crooners bar.  It’s a lovely little bar on the Promenade deck and so we parked ourselves there and met a couple called Dave and Sue.  Lovely couple!!!  Spent quite a while in the bar, and looked up to find ourselves gliding away from the dock… oops – missed that!  Funniest thing was that Sue told us she had a lapband – Gai and I melted into giggles at that!!!!

Monday found ourselves at sea.  I don’t really remember what we did, other than we did sleep in, and then we went to a lecture from a guy representing Good Feet, which are an orthotics company.  Had a nap in the afternoon, ate dinner and collapsed into bed!

Tuesday we were in the port of Koh Samui in Thailand.  We didn’t take a tour, and didn’t really have a plan either, so when we got off the boat (quite early in the morning thanks to that black elite card which meant I didn’t need a tender ticket), we were accosted by taxi drivers, and wound up accepting one’s proposal of US$100 for the day to go around the island, which was a great thing to do!  Saw all sorts of things, including Grandmother and Grandfather rock, and the Mummified Monk (real – and he wears Raybans) and spent about 3 hours in Chaweng beach, where we had a pedicure which was gorgeous…

Came back to the boat, and Gai took some tablets & that left me to my own devices for the evening, so I had taken my little laptop to the Crooners bar, thinking I’d write this blog and then have some dinner and come back to the cabin….  Wrong!  Found Sue and Dave there, and sat for probably 3 or 4 hours and then went to dinner – again a lovely evening.  Headed off around 9.30 pm for bed, totally wrecked again!

Today we were in the port of Laem Chaebang – also known as Bangkok, even though it’s really only 30 klm to Pattaya.  We went on the shuttle bus to Pattaya, and I have spent all day shopping, for other people.  I have 7 t-shirts and 4 pairs of various shorts for Brent, 2 t-shirts, 1 shirt, 2 boardies and a couple of dress shorts for Ken, some lights for Richelle, some painkillers for Ken, and some antibiotics for the household for “in case”….  I got myself a lovely little handbag in amongst all that. 

This afternoon we have come back on board, headed to the Crooners bar & met up with Sue & Dave, and saw an elderly gentleman making Waratah’s from ribbon and a polystyrene ball….  It was amazing to watch him!!! This is apparently his “afternoon hobby”, with his morning hobby being sketching….  I’m going to have a go at making one when I get home – they look really easy, but also very classy. 

Tonight we ate in the Santa Fe dining room, I had Scallops for entrĂ©e, and Crawfish for mains.  You don’t know what Crawfish is?  Neither did I!!! Turns out they look like little bitty baby redclaws without any claws or feet (probably because they’d been removed).  I don’t envy the poor cook person who had to shell them!!!  They were probably the size of the little shrimp that you get in the chinese fried rice… but oh goodness, being fresh, they were yummy!!!

Tomorrow the plan is to go to the Champagne Art Auction at 2.00 pm.  And back to the Crooners bar for 5.00pm.  That’s about all the plan that’s around at the moment…  I like it like that, it’s nice to be able to do nothing!  I might do some crochet, I might make it out of bed in time for breakfast at the restaurant, or I might not.  I might go to the sew & chat group if its on – I haven’t read the Princess Patter yet, so I don’t know what else is on that I might want to do.  If the learn to dance class is up to the Waltz, I’m going to that (if it’s not on too early…..)

1 December 2011

Well – I made it to the stitch & chat – I finished a whole hand towel topper thing for my friend Victoria for Christmas!  I had already made the dishcloth, and this is just to match – it’s nice to have that gift out of the way!  At the stitch & chat, I met a lady who was also crocheting towel toppers.  Turns out she’s the wife of the gentleman I told you about above, who made the Waratah’s!!!  There were quite a few other ladies there too, it was very pleasant chatting to all of them.

At 1.15pm I was heading to the Art Auction, and ran into Dave & Sue, so went and had lunch with them on the deck.  I just had some cheese & crackers and some mushroom ragout, which was all lovely, even though I’m not so fond of the Horizon Court, I think it’s a little “Coles Cafeteria” like…  We wandered down to the art auction, and it went on FOREVER!!!  Didn’t finish till 4.00 pm!!!  I’d given up about 2.45 pm and gone and looked at my e-mails, and came back and it was still going!!!  Wandered back to the Crooners bar at 5.00 pm and met Dave & Sue again and went off for some dinner. 

All in all, a lovely relaxing day at sea!!!

3 December 2011 – welcome to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City…

Today was an early start.  I had finally decided that I should do a tour into the city but one where I was left to my own devices.  Turned out to be a great decision!!!  We had a great guide, who rattled on non-stop most of the way to the city (a 2 hour drive!!!) but he was interesting to listen to.  After a quick orientation, we were left to go our own ways, and I headed off towards the Notre Dame Cathedral and the French Post Office.  Both really interesting architecture, and beautifully preserved.  The French Post Office had wonderful tiles on the floor, and booths that you could go into if you needed to make a phone call… 

Cathedral Notre Dame

The Old French Post Office

From there I headed down Dong Khai street, which is a street full of stores like Versace, Rolex, Cartier etc. on one side, and tiny little shops and workshops on the other side, next door to other shops selling gorgeous silk clothes & lacquer ware. 

I bought some T-shirts in Ben Thanh market, they were about $6 each, and two Jimmy Choo handbags – one for me and one for Lorraine.  They were about $40 each, or 965,000 Dong…  I also bought a small lacquer ware pot for about $5 for Ken’s mum. 

Before I knew it, it was 2.45 pm and I was back on the bus.  The absolute funniest thing happened on the bus too.  There was these two old ducks from Wales in front of me on the way to Saigon, and on the way back they were sitting across the aisle.  They had gone into the supermarket and had found two small casks of wine.  They had bought them and then proceeded to decant one of the casks into their water bottles and a thermos that they had with them.  They had decided that they’d take the chance on getting one box through the X Ray and if they had that taken off them, at least they’d have the other cask in their bottles…. 

What a bloody brilliant idea!!!  Why hadn’t I thought of that???

There was a bit left over, so I offered them my small water bottle but they filled it up and gave it to me.  Not bad wine actually!!!

We got back on the ship a bit after 5.00 pm – gosh I smelt soooo bad!!!  Sweaty, stinky, icky.  I felt a lot better after a shower, but didn’t really feel like being sociable so here I am with room service, and the wine.  Gai didn’t feel like going out and didn’t want to eat anything so she’s tucked up in bed with the biggest block of Cadbury’s I’ve ever seen!  It’d seriously be 3 of the family blocks that you can get in Australia!!!

Before we set sail, there was lots of little sampan type boats hanging around the ship.  The kids on board were having a great time – jumping around, in and out of the water.  The tugs came close before long and rounded them all up.  I think they wanted people to throw money to them, which I think a few people did.  It’s all notes, so it’s not like its coins that would sink.  We’ve been underway now for nearly an hour and a half, and we’re still in the Saigon River.  It’s about 20 miles to the river mouth, and lots and lots of traffic around – I have heard the ship’s horns quite often, about every few minutes.  We must nearly be there though – we just went past the heavy lift boat with the Oil Rig on board, and I just watched the Pilot disembark our ship, so we’re on our own now.  Absolutely NO OHS there!!!  A small boat being thrown around, with no railings on it…  the Pilot just jumped off our ship onto his boat, and ducked inside.  No lifejacket either… Ahem. 

We now have three sea days before we arrive in Bali on Tuesday next week.  After 3 ports in the past 5 days, I’m ready for nothing!!!!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Some more photo's of our new arrival!!!

Happy wanton Wednesday everyone!!!

That saying comes from a wonderful lady who I have come to regard as a good friend over the past year or so.  Online forums & communities do that sometimes.  Some people become passing acquaintances, and others become firm friends.  I am so very blessed that I have discovered a group of people on SS that now link up on FB also that I have come to regard as friends.  Isn't modern communication wonderful that we can make friends like this?  Even ones we haven't met yet!!!

Anyway....  Back to the topic at hand!!!

The gorgeous Susan asked for more photo's of our new arrival.  The campervan is up at home, but will be put away by the time I get home... Of course, I could ask Ken to take some pictures for me, but that'd be logical!  I'm far tooooo impatient for that! 

So - I turned to the Internet, found a campervan the same as ours, and nicked their pics of the inside!!!  The only change is the fabric on the cushions - ours is slightly different...  layout and everything else is identical...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Bent cars, a road trip and some Bobcat Ballet thrown in...

Wow – last week is the week that was!  What a week!!!

We went to Boondooma Dam last weekend, chasing some more Red Claw.  There wasn’t many of them, but what we did get was mostly good quality.  We brought home about a dozen for Buzz to pop into his dam – wouldn’t it be nice to be self sufficient like that!!!

Bert taught us how to hypnotise them too – check this photo out!!!

This is how the Red Claws sit once they're hypnotised...

Hold them down, bend their claws back (don't be rough - just gently), and rub their forehead.

We checked out Tina’s A’Van camper while we were there.  DANGER!!!  It was actually pretty compact and neat, and everything had its place.  DANGER!!!  We packed up – hot, sweaty, hot...  I was a bit over it (lending and assisting others with camping & not much help to pack up communal facilities...  DANGER!!!

When we got home, I was scooting around the Internet and came across some of the Jayco Wind Up Trailers – where the two beds pop out of the ends.  I found some at pretty good prices actually – well, I’ve never really looked at those types of vans, only ever camper trailers or whole caravans. 

Next up was Monday afternoon, I was heading to the Doctor’s at Noosa... (oh yes, better make that appointment again today!!!) when I’m pootling along Louis Bazzo Drive and all of a sudden I hear klunk klunk klunk klunk under the car.  Stop the car, get out, look at tyres.  Nope – can’t see anything.  Sounds like a stick under the car – nope, can’t see stick.  Get in, drive 20 metres, klunk klunk, stop.  Look again.  Nope – can’t see anything.  Get in.  Reverse – no noise.  Hmmmm.... 

Drive forward – noise.  Drat it!

Ring Doctors surgery, cancel appointment.  Turn around, head home – slowly.....  Ken looks at tyre – tyre has actually shredded itself on the inside!  Like a ribbon it had unravelled from the tyre – no, they’re not retreads!!!  He puts spare on, and sends me inside to call the tyre place and get a new tyre... 

I call Bridgestone, yes, they can have one for me tomorrow by 11.30 am or so.  $563.00.  OUCH!  One tyre!  Mental note to self – don’t buy a car with 19” low profile sports tyres on again!!!  Ken comes inside – actually now need two tyres.  Double ouch!  Get back on phone to Bridgestone and order second tyre...  **sigh**

Tuesday – I’m hurtling along the Bruce Highway, doing 90klm per hour as per the speed limit, on my way to Katie Rose Cottage (my Volunteer job on a Tuesday evening).  Because of that, I was further down the highway than where I turn off when I’m heading home.  A Jim’s Skip Bin truck went past in the other direction, and off flew a 2 metre long piece of metal and smashed into the front of Ken’s car.  Broke the indicator lights, and scratched the mud guard bit of the front of the car.  Good thing I was in his car – if it was my car I would have had it hit the windscreen...

Stop car – get out, look at front.  Grrr... turn car around, chase truck to find out which company it was.  Call Katie Rose Cottage – can’t make it tonight.


I’ve spoken to the Jim’s man, he’s talking to his Insurance company.  Ken’s had my car fixed, it had to go in two days for the two tyres, as they didn’t get the second tyre in in time for the first day. 

**double sigh**

Wednesday is Ken’s birthday and his friend comes up from Beenleigh for the evening.  Ken shows him some of the campers that I saw on Sunday night.  Steve agrees – good price.  DANGER!!!

By Wednesday evening we’d decided that we wanted the Camper that I’d found in Moranbah.  We figured we could drive to Moranbah and back and be back in time for Mick to come and Bobcat on Saturday.... 

So we did!

Ken’s back’s not getting any better, and nor’s mine.  I’ve also found it difficult sometimes to get up off the ground when we sleep.  Perhaps this will work out better.  We’re going to keep all our camping gear and tent though – we love the sound of canvas/tent fabric and may well do both.

Thursday afternoon he picked me up at work and we drove to Rockhampton.  Friday we went to Moranbah, looked at the camper, decided to buy it, ran around organising some paperwork, and drove back to Rockhampton again.  Saturday we drove home, and were home just after lunch. 

Numb bum...

Okay, so the flys over the beds aren't up yet, but you get the idea!!!  Woo-hoooo!!

When we got home, Mick arrived shortly thereafter, and began ripping parts of our garden apart.  He got an almighty fright when a snake appeared between his legs of the Bobcat (I didn’t realise they’re open under the pedals) - it turned out to be a python.  It had been scraped by the bucket of the Bobcat and didn’t survive unfortunately. 

He finished off Sunday afternoon with a Ballet Recital along the road...  Show off!!!

We topped Sunday night off by going to Lance and Chris’ house and stayed on for dinner... 

Thank god it’s Monday – I can now get some rest!!!

Friday, 28 October 2011

On my mind... when is enough enough?

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join, courtesy of Rhonda's Down to Earth Blog. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY. If you're in another country you should join in when you read this, even if it's still Thursday.

To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to Rhonda's blog. Please visit all the blogs that appeal to you and leave a comment. Slow down, take the time to cruise around and enjoy your cyber visits.


Last night I had to head back to a house that I also visited a few weeks ago now as a favour for a volunteer organisation that I assist.  

I thought about the house when I was first there - god, it seemed HUGE!  Last night I confirmed it - it IS huge!  Seriously - you could have 100 people inside the living area (which is sort of set up in zones but all in one large room) and not notice how many people were inside... 

I got to see downstairs in the guest room - it's as large as our lounge/dining/entrance and hallway all put together!  It comes off a huge media room with a full sized billiard table in it.  The kids' bedrooms were off a huge area with the biggest TV I've ever seen in my life... and I could go on and on but I'm sure you get the idea.

I would love a house that big.  I really would...  Well, I think I thought I did....

This house was what I thought I really wanted.  It was huge, minimalistic and not much stuff out - but what was out was all impersonal decoration sorts of things, and nothing that showed it was anything but a house. 

Hmmmmm - is that what I want??? 

I came home and looked at the warmth in our house.  Our house is probably 1/10 the size of this one (and ours isn't all THAT small) but it had such a different feel to it.  Like I was sitting in a foyer of a fancy hotel.  As for the TV - how do you watch a TV properly that's that big???

Nope - that's not what I want. 

Friday, 21 October 2011

On my mind... a new lifestyle?

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join, courtesy of Rhonda's Down to Earth Blog. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY. If you're in another country you should join in when you read this, even if it's still Thursday.

To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to Rhonda's blog. Please visit all the blogs that appeal to you and leave a comment. Slow down, take the time to cruise around and enjoy your cyber visits.


On Wednesday, I went to see Dr Vivienne Taylor at Ibuki Health in Noosa.  Gayle, one of the Security Guards at work had told me about her, and how fantastic she had been, the time that she had spent with her (over 1 hour) and how confident she felt that the Dr could help her back to feeling good again.  It's taken a couple of months to get into see her, but I now think the wait was worth it.

She has talked to me about how I feel in lots of detail.  Now don't get me wrong - I am not hugely unwell.  I'm just not...  "right" I think is the correct word. 

I yawn and feel tired all day, I go to sleep and don't stay asleep, I feel... well... blah.

We talked at length about my thyroid issues and the Rheumatoid Arthritis, and she linked quite a few things back to those diseases, and then made the connection with the symptoms that I am feeling. 

It was amazing...

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that she had a lot of blood tests she wants me to go and have.  She also provided me some suupplements to take.  (she's a regular GP but looks at life holistically - herbs, supplements, as well as conventional medicine).  The next piece of information though was one that I'm only just getting my head around now:

"I believe that you will benefit from being wheat free, or even going so far as to be gluten free". 

Whoa!  I don't have any problems with wheat or gluten... do I???  Maybe I do....  I feel sluggish, my body doesn't work well, I'm tired...  You know - all that STUFF that you feel but nothing you can put your finger on. 


I cut soy out of my life a few years ago, and felt much better for doing it.  It's now at the stage where I can eat a bit of soy but not too much, and have no reaction.  I'm hoping that eventually I'll be able to do that with wheat and gluten, but I don't know. 

I was just walking back from the canteen, and thinking that it would be nice to not have the feeling of such tiredness and heavy arms & legs all the time.  I'm going to give it a go - I've been doing a bit of research on it, and what I can and can't eat.  I don't think it'll be too bad, I know I'll miss bread though.  I'm looking forward to eating a lot more basically - fresh veggies & meats, legumes, nuts etc.  I'll have to extract my digit and make sure that I get organised, and go to the farmers markets more than I do currently.  I'm sure if I get organised I'll be just fine.

Do you have any suggestions?  Are you gluten or wheat free???  I would love to hear any suggestions you have!!!

Monday, 17 October 2011

It's not all about being quiet!!!

I read a quite a few blogs about simple living, about simplifying lives, about decluttering and so on. 

One that I read this morning had me thinking for quite a while about what the person had written.  They had taken on an office bearers job, and so they had spent part of the weekend "quietly" organising themselves for this. 

I pondered on this, because my life isn't always quiet.  Wow - it's sometimes an absolute whirlwind!!!  That doesn't mean that I don't have quiet time, not at all - it's just that I don't feel I have to do everything quietly in order to have the space in my mind and life that I am working towards. 

I don't want to be old - and to me, being quiet all the time says "old" to me.  It implies that you don't show excitement by jumping up and down and squealing, you don't have the music on as you go about the things you have to do in your home (unless it's ABC Radio National type music...) etc.  That's not me. 

Oh boy, that's SO not me.

I like noise.  I like music.  I like it when my life is sometimes zooming around at 1000 klm/h...  I just don't like it ALL the time. 

I had a nice mix of both over the weekend.  On Saturday morning I got up after a wild storm, & went to sewing.  The storm was just incredible - lots and lots of lightening, and plenty of heavy thunder and rain to go with it.  I woke up at a bit after 4.00 am to all the noise, and enjoyed laying in bed and watching the light show and the soundtrack to go with it.  I fell asleep again about 6.30 am, and then dragged myself out of bed about 7.30 am.  I should have just gotten up rather than going back to sleep!!!

Anyway, at sewing I spent most of my day on my knees pinning my quilt.  It's looking good!  I am going to have to get some more pins and then do some more pinning - I ran out!!! 

Sunday morning, I got up, unloaded the dishwasher, and was making myself a cup of tea & I got a text from Belinda.  She was un-enthused about having to pack to move out of the house that she and Simon had shared.  I headed over and gave her a hand for a couple of hours - really, she had very little in my view!!!  We soon had it packed and stacked in the spare bedroom, ready for Friday when she'll move.  Belinda is like me and loves gorgeous antique china and glassware, so it was lovely to look at her pretty things, too. 

On the way home I came via the mountains, and popped into the IGA in the next town to us, then went via our town to look in a new little Antique shop that's opened up.  They have some very pretty things, and I thought that their prices were very reasonable indeed.  I wound up purchasing an old rolling pin for Belinda as a housewarming present - I know it seems an odd gift, but she had commented that she didn't like her rolling pin as she was packing it, and she does quite a bit of cooking and baking, and loves old "stuff" as well, hence I chose it.  I hope she likes it!

I came home, and Ken was just getting out of bed.  He finished at 6.00 am and went surfing with a couple of friends from work, and then came home and had a sleep for a couple of hours.  We pottered around at home for a bit, and then headed off to Lance and Christine's home for a BBQ.  They've spent such a lot of time lately in Adelaid, I commented that it felt like FOREVER since I'd seen them!  Anyway, we had a lovely evening and came home about 9.15 pm, and Ken fell straight into bed. 

I wasn't long behind him, and fell asleep trying to read a magazine.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Freezer Inventory

I have always been against making a freezer inventory, or a meal plan.  I always justified it by saying that "I don't want to be restricted to what I eat" and "I know what's in the freezer"....


I did (kind of) know what was in the freezer, but let me tell you - when it's laid out in front of you on the floor or on the kitchen bench, or written down on paper, it's a whole different story!  We have a LOT in the freezers!  Time to eat it up!!!

6 full corned beef silversides
1 full rib fillet (whole)
6 kilograms of prawns
15 Chicken schnitzels
9 Lamb cutlets
Lime juice
Lemon juice
Orange juice
Mango juice
Chook carcasses
Fritz (from South Australia)
and on and on and on it goes....  We have, believe it or not, 4 full freezers.  One on top of the drinks fridge, one on the kitchen fridge, a chest freezer and a tiny upright on loan.  No wonder our electricity bill is high!

So - I now have 4 spreadsheets that are all printed out and ready to go.  Not sure what I'll do with them - maybe I'll sticky tape them to the front of each freezer and so that way it can easily be crossed off when it's eaten. 

Boy I'll be cranky if I've done all this work and while I'm away the boys muck it up!!!

I pulled everything out of the deep freeze & laid it all out on the floor in the garage.  I sorted as best I could - "like with like" and then decided where things were going...

This is partly why the freezers were so full.  I went to Meat City at Caboolture on Tuesday and stocked up.  This is only $130 worth of meat!  That's a great price! 

On my mind... the results of my weekend away concentrating on my sewing!

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join, courtesy of Rhonda's Down to Earth Blog. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY. If you're in another country you should join in when you read this, even if it's still Thursday.

To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to Rhonda's blog. Please visit all the blogs that appeal to you and leave a comment. Slow down, take the time to cruise around and enjoy your cyber visits.


I had such a lovely weekend away with the ladies from sewing group! 

It wasn't all hard work!!!!!

First of all, I made a pair of pants for my good friend Victoria.  She had a stroke several years ago, and it left her with her left arm paralysed and she also needs a stick to walk with.  She has made a miraculous recovery, and now lives on her own with a small amount of community assistance.  Anyway, I was getting some material together to make a pair of pants for myself, and she said that she would like a pair herself, but needed a couple of adjustments to counteract the fact that she only has the use of one arm. 

She’s a purple girl, so purple they were!

They didn’t take anywhere as near as long as I thought they might – so then I faffed around for a bit trying to decide what I was going to do next, and finally I just decided to “get on with it”, so I pulled out the quilt that I started quite a while ago.  I had made the 20 blocks from the centre, and that was as far as I had gotten, so it was time to get on with turning it into a quilt!

I trimmed up the quilts to get them to size – 15 inches square.  Then I put them all out on the floor so that I could look at what they looked like together.  I moved a few around and was happy with the final look, so then I sewed them all together. 

The next step was to cut out the border of raspberry, then the strippy border, and sew them together and onto the quilt – done!

I ran out of time then – I had to come home from the retreat at 1.00 pm because my dear friend’s father died in Sydney and I had a 5.15 pm flight from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney to attend the funeral.  I will continue with my quiltmaking tomorrow at my monthly sewing group meeting, so I have bought a can of adhesive binding spray to hold it all together until I have quilted it.  I’m really looking forward to the next part!!! 

I’m starting to feel a little cramped again at home – it’s time to pick up on the decluttering again and get on with it.  I think that will form part of my activities this weekend.  I’m also coming to the realisation that I need a list of what is in the freezer.  **gulp**

Menu planning and freezer inventories are something that I haven’t done before.  I am now starting to cook up extra meals so that when I go away in November/December, the boys will have food to eat.  The chest freezer is getting a bit full, so I think it might be time to be pulling things out and looking at them and writing down what they are and sorting them into an easy system for the boys to get to the food.  They tend to have boy looks at things rather than girl looks, and overlook the fact that there’s actually heaps of food in the freezer!  I hope this might make it easier – I will have to make sure though that it’s updated as things are taken out!!!

As for the decluttering, there’s a box in the study that I’d like to be rid of.  I think that will be my focus for the weekend also, along with the mandatory bill paying!!!

I am really enjoying slowing down and spending more time doing things for me in my home.  I feel more balanced at work and at home if everything is organised and calm, and I have time for my own creative pursuits.  I seem to be making headway in the “making place for space” in my life, which was the whole idea of the blog – to keep myself accountable!!!

Have a gorgeous weekend everyone! 

Friday, 7 October 2011

On my mind... a weekend away with my sewing group

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join, courtesy of Rhonda's Down to Earth Blog. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY. If you're in another country you should join in when you read this, even if it's still Thursday.

To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to Rhonda's blog. Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When your photo is published, come back and add a comment below, with a link to your blog photo so we can all find you. Please visit all the blogs that appeal to you and leave a comment. Slow down, take the time to cruise around and enjoy your cyber visits.


A few years ago when I decided I wanted to learn to be more crafty, and in particular I wanted to learn how to sew, I stumbled upon the Australian Sewing Guild's Pomona group and joined up. 

It was a wonderful group of women who have such fantastic knowledge that they are only too happy to share with anyone who wants to learn.  I have certainly benefited from that willingness to share, and I hope I've been able to give a little back to the group in other ways. 

This is our meeting - every month we get together and do stuff - it's a lovely environment together. 
We use our local Lion's Club Den - they are very kind to share it with us.

The lady on the left is the creator of this gorgeous quilt!
The group decided in May that it wasn't getting the value from the Australian Sewing Guild that it wanted, so we have simply formed our own neighbourhood craft/sewing group.  We still pay a fee each year, but it goes to what WE want, rather than what the Tewantin Sewing Guild want and we had to tag along to...

Anyway, so this weekend we are heading off on a retreat, to Tin Can Bay.  A retreat is where you go away for a weekend and you take your sewing/craft/whatever, and you don't have to cook, or clean, or do anything other than your chosen craft, all weekend.  How absolutely decadent will this be!  My wonderful (kind of) sister in law is coming with me, and I think there'll be 6 or 8 of us all up for the weekend - delightful!

I have taken some crochet and some sewing.  I am really enjoying getting into crochet at the moment.  I want to make a new start on a floppy beret cap for a friend, I want to see if I can finish off some more of my milk jug cover (I've packed my glasses for THAT one!!!) and perhaps I'll do some more on the towel toppers that I've recently figured out how to do. 

This is the milk jug cover that I'm making.  I'm a bit further along now than I was when I took this photo! 
I'm using a 0.75 mm hook, and it's size 20 cotton...  I have to wear my glasses when I'm doing this one!

On the sewing front, I have my quilt to get back into, plus I'd like to make some 3/4 pants for my friend Victoria.  She loves purple, so if I could have them done for Christmas for her, that would be just so great!  I promise I'll take some photo's of the weekend and share with you next week...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The glass ceiling...

So – here at work we thrive on challenging ourselves and others to do better.  We call it “respectful challenge” – it’s supposed to be done respectfully to the person, however it also doesn’t skite around the issue or what needs to happen.

So – what is it about women that feel the need when they are promoted, or in a position of some influence, that they need to suddenly put on men pants and start being the bloke?  I just don’t get it.

It’s kind of like it’s not okay any more to be a woman, with the softer side – all of a sudden, you have to be a straight faced bitch that barges over everyone, male or female.  And, while we’re barging, lets’ not let anyone else get a word in edgeways...

Thank goodness we also have feedback in our workplace culture, and the feedback on what others thought of that persons behaviour always arrives.  For today though, I'm over it. 

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Seriously... is life THAT busy nowadays???

I just came back from an interesting lunch hour.  I went out with the express idea of buying a card for a dear friend who has just lost a friend to cancer. 

Wow - what a trip out.

First of all, on the way down the road in the car, I remembered that it's Thursday, and Aldi have specials starting today, and Ken and I would like one of the $29.99 BBQ rotisserie's so that in summer time we can still enjoy roasts without also having to have the airconditioner on full blast...  I think that's where I went wrong.  I was going to Aldi...

In Gympie, to go to Aldi, you have to turn down the street that McDonalds is in.  That in itself turned into a feat, because it's school holidays, QANTAS is half on strike, and it's payday for god knows who but they're all out in their cars, TODAY.    So - I've turned into the street, and the traffic going the opposite way is banked back, I come to the corner where I need to turn to go to Aldi, and just before I get there, this car shoots out from behind one of the banked back cars.  I hit the skids in the car (thank god for ABS braking - yes, I hit the brakes THAT hard).  I also hit the horn to warn her I was there.

Stupid woman in car then gestures & says "I can't see" - pointing to all the traffic that is lined up trying to get through the lights.  So I then wind my window down and say patiently "so why on earth did you go if you couldn't see what was ahead?".

She then tailgated me (should have just opened the boot & she could have gotten in) all the way down to Aldi, and drove then at high speed into the carpark, fortunately NOT the same way I drove into the carpark.

Am I getting old?  Or is this the Safety Manager type in me coming out, that this type of behaviour isn't acceptable?  Had she poked the nose of her car out from behind the pile of traffic, I more than likely would have let her through.  But she didn't - she saw fit to endanger not only her but also my life, and telling me it basically wasn't her fault because "I can't see"...

This was then on my mind during my Aldi trip... bad move!  I saw another mother & 2 kiddies nearly get hit by a car because they didn't look before they walked, other people looking frustrated as they found parks, and people almost throwing trolleys back into their corral - busy, busy, busy.

Seriously - are we that busy that we can't take 5 seconds to make sure something is put away properly, or that the road is clear before we drive on it?  Are we so busy we'd rather hit or be hit by a car because we didn't look?

I then headed over to Centro, and witnessed kids running wild, mothers accepting this behaviour from them and not even attempting to control them, littlies squealing and being allowed to continue squealing...  One child was swinging around and around in circles with a shopping trolley with his little brother in it.  Fine - but what about the man with a walking stick coming???  Argh!

Maybe I am getting old.  Maybe I expect more than some people and some kiddies can give.  Or, maybe I'm surrounded by friends & family who do care about their children and do control them so that they're not running wild inside the shopping centre.  Kids who want to run & play should be in the park!!!

God I'll be so glad when the school holidays in Gympie are over and life can return to normal!!!!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Some ramblings about stuff...

Wow... what a week!

It never seems to rain, but it pours!

Ken, my gorgeous partner, decided to surprise me for my birthday, and I had absolutely no idea until his son Jake left a message on the home phone the day before the surprise, asking when Mick (my brother) was coming to pick him up.  I rang Ken at work and said “are we expecting your children here this weekend” and all Ken could do, being put on the spot, was ‘fess up.  

Turns out he’d not only invited his boys, but my brother & his kids, along with mum & Graham!  Wow! 

Let’s add to that my invitation to Yvonne and Geoff the previous weekend of “come along and have a curry with us – we’re going to India Today on Saturday night” and let’s also not forget Richelle after Sue asked me if I could pick her up from work on the Saturday afternoon as they were going to the footy...  I mentioned that she could come over for dinner if she wanted, and then as we were going out, just included her as well. 

Ahhhh... 13 for dinner!

It was loads of fun – and very, very yummy.  It always is.  I didn’t think the service was as good as it has been, didn’t see any of the Family there, and one of the waitresses only spoke a VERY little English.  We didn’t get the attention we normally get – but it was still lovely...

On Sunday morning we all got up, had bacon & eggs for breakky (yummo!!!) and everyone headed off after lunch.  Ken and I blitzed the house and put everything back in its place, and it’s all quiet again.  Henrik also went to Brisbane with mum & Graham for a few days – so it’s quiet without him too. 

We headed down to our park about 3.00 pm – there were a few of the neighbours there for a catch up and it was lovely to sit and chat to them...  the kids played on the grass, kicked balls around and played tennis. 

We finished at the park just as it was starting to get dark, Sue & Hugh and the kids came over and we finished off the Indian leftovers (they let us take them home) – that was great to finish off all the yummy food from Saturday night and have a clean fridge again! 

Monday evening we headed to Sizzlers to meet the gorgeous Karen and her family – what a hoot!  She has 4 littlies and a teenage daughter – they were all lovely, and we had such a great night!  I didn’t get my early night, which I am STILL waiting for!!!  These 5.45 am starts are killing me!!!

We didn’t take any pictures, but I did take this one – isn’t he so sweet????

I think that’s about it for now.  I have been decluttering the study floor with good success and may even get back in there tonight – slowly but surely.  I seem to have an issue with chucking away paper that hasn’t been written on.  I know it’s a waste, but I have enough notebooks to last till the year 3030 so some have just got to go.  Time to bite the bullet!

Friday, 16 September 2011

The joy of scarcity....

A blog that I read this morning on Simple Savings directed me to this post by Leo Babauta.  It's certainly got my interest - I've read it twice now!!!  Thought you might like to share???


Often we think of having very little as a hardship.

It’s bad to be poor, right? It’s not easy struggling with low wages, with debt, with scarcity.
And while all that is true, it’s also not true.

There can be joy in getting rid of things, in living with less, in freeing yourself of debt and possessions. It’s all in your mindset.

I grew up poor, and it wasn’t long ago that I was struggling with an income that was too low to meet my mounting bills and debt payments. One of the worst times of my life, actually.

But as I worked to eliminate my debt, I learned to live with less. And I learned that it can be a wonderful thing.

Struggle is hard, no matter how you paint it. But living in scarcity doesn’t have to be struggle. That’s completely up to you.

Reducing Debt

When my wife and kids and I began reducing our debt, more than five years ago, it was a scary time. We were overloaded with bills, over our heads in debt, and it was one of the most stressful things we’d ever faced.

So we cut back on spending, which meant learning a whole new way of living. Zap … we got rid of the cable TV, magazine subscriptions, mocha coffees, regular outings to the movie theaters and restaurants and the mall, and more. We changed our entire lives.

And yet, while we could have thought of this as sacrifice, in truth, we learned to enjoy it. We were living with less, but we were happier.

We were happier because we saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with each other, doing things that were cheap or free. We took the kids outside more, and played with them. Playing kickball and soccer and tag … these things cost nothing. We dusted off board games and decks of cards, played charades, and had a blast. We visited family and friends more.

We cooked at home and had better meals than ever, got healthier, enjoyed eating together.
It wasn’t all roses and cream, but there were many, many positive things that came out of this scarcity. When you are forced to cut back, you can moan, or you can find joy. We chose the path that made us happiest.
And once we were out of debt, that was one of the most liberating things ever. So we reached an amazing destination, but the journey was just as wondrous.

Reducing Clutter

Clutter is another scary thing for a lot of people. Just facing the piles of clutter in your home can be overwhelming. In truth, clutter is a mountain of procrastination … putting off decisions and fears and emotional issues and shopping addictions and more. Facing those fears and issues is too much for most of us.
I faced them, and learned that when you deal with these fears and emotions, even a little at a time, it is freeing. You feel clean and spare, not just because you’re burdened with fewer possessions, but because you’re burdened with less emotional baggage that you’re hiding in the back of your mind.

Reducing our clutter meant tough choices, it meant a lot of discussion about what we wanted and why we really need things, it meant learning a whole host of new habits.

But it also meant getting rid of things that were weighing us down, that we didn’t need but that were still costing us time and energy and mental cycles. We learned to love a spare-looking room, and the amazing feeling of sitting or lying around in a room that was clean and uncluttered.

Living with fewer possessions can be a pure joy that is unmatched by anything you can buy.

Less Food

Losing 70 lbs. has been a journey of exploring my relationship with food. In days of fatness, I ate because everyone else was eating, I ate because I was bored or stressed out and needed the comfort of food, I ate because I didn’t want to confront my health issues, I ate because it was one of the only ways I knew of finding pleasure.

Now I know that less food can also be a joy. Eating simple foods, rather than fast foods or convenient foods or sweet or fatty or fried foods, can be a joy.

I’ve learned the simple pleasures of drinking a cup of unsweetened tea made from whole tea leaves. I’ve learned the deliciousness that comes from eating a single fresh fig, half a handful of berries, a few raw almonds. When you stop putting so much sugar and sauces on things, you learn their real beauty. When you stop killing animals and learn to appreciate the natural taste of plants, you feel incredible and alive.

I now skip breakfast so I can remember what it’s like to feel a little hungry — something I never did when I was fat. I eat two meals a day because it’s easier to prepare, and I like a little scarcity in my life. I eat what I want, but I find that I enjoy the simple foods more than ever now.

Fewer Choices

We think we want a lot of choices, but really we want freedom. There’s a difference, and the overwhelming number of choices in our lives these days leads to confusion, paralysis, and unhappiness.

Scarcity choices can be seen as a bad thing, but I see it as liberating. I’m not saying we should have no choices, but fewer is better.

Try narrowing down your choices, in as many ways as you dare. Watch fewer TV shows by picking just three you watch every week. Pick just one book and read that until you’re done. Have a to-do list that’s only three items long each day. Make a weekly menu that only has two or three meals you cook in big batches, and eat those all week. You might worry that you’re making the wrong choices — you’re not. There are no wrong choices, there’s only the fear of making the wrong choices.

I find limiting my choices to be an opportunity to let go of the worries about making the wrong choices, and to focus on enjoying the choices I do make. As I’ve explored scarcity, I’ve been left with this one truth: every path I take is perfect.