House tour – living, dining, kitchen & balcony

Right before heading to Vietnam, I cleaned the house from top to toe.  And then I felt ready to photograph it for everyone.  I do clean it other times, like for our housewarming, but I forgot to get photos!  All the photos were taken on my phone, so the quality isn’t ideal, but that’s life 🙂

Welcome to a visual feast:

living dining
The living and dining area from the doorway from the hall
living 3
Sofa close up
left side
The left hand side of the living/dining (the view from the sink!)
view from kitchen
The view from the kitchen, over the living and dining room, to the balcony
kitchen sink
The kitchen sink and the open shelves in the dining area
kitchen bench 2
The counter behind the sink
kitchen shelves
The open shelves – how I enjoy open shelves!
kitchen from dining
The kitchen from the living/dining area
kitchen bench
Along the kitchen bench from the sink – the laptop’s charging. It’s also where it sits when I cook
kitchen
Kitchen from the hallway
Hermes framed scarf
The famed piece of art/scarf
Entertainment centre
Entertainment and more chairs
balcony 2
Balcony to the right hand side – with my bokashi bins for compost. The extra microwave is in the box, as the place came with one. I’m not sure how it came to live on the balcony, but it doesn’t get wet so….
balcony 1
Balcong to the left – with my new lemon tree, a bin from the BF’s, and the drying rack

I’ll catch up on all your comments once I’m back to Vietnam – yep, I’ll read and reply to every single one of them!

House tour – master bedroom

Here’s a photo rich post I’ve been meaning to share since we moved in!  Welcome to our master bedroom:

Looking from his side of the bed
Looking from his side of the bed
Looking from the fan's point of view
Looking from the fan’s point of view
Looking from my side of the bed
Looking from my side of the bed
Bedroom from the doorway
Bedroom from the doorway
Looking straight in the doorway - yes it's big enough for the BF's sofa!
Looking straight in the doorway – yes it’s big enough for the BF’s sofa!

Just wait til I share the photos of the master suites we’re staying in! We’ll be back Monday afternoon, and I’ll read all your comments then.

Menu planning made simple

This week, we’re in Vietnam where someone else will be cooking, and washing up.  YAY!  However, every other week of the year, there’s meals to be cooked.  Here’s how we menu plan.

As I’ve elaborated on many a blog comment, I prepared a menu plan before moving in with the BF.  I hate the ‘what’s for dinner’ conversation, cause let’s be honest, I never “feel” like anything, certainly nothing that’s healthy!

So here’s what we did.  We made each night have a theme.

Sunday – Roast (though sometimes this gets swapped for something good in bulk for lunches)

Cornbread with taco spiced pork mince, then some lettuce and a weird new (lovely) salad!
Cornbread with taco spiced pork mince, then some lettuce and a weird new (lovely) salad!

Monday – Mexican

Nachos - yum!
Nachos – yum!

Tuesday – Italian

Pepperoni and artichoke pizza on a GF base (thanks Economies of Kale!)
Pepperoni and artichoke pizza on a GF base (thanks Economies of Kale!)

 

Wednesday – Veggie rich – salads, stir fries (reality… Italian night 2, or leftovers!)

Homemade ceaser salad (I'm sure there's more protein than salad!)
Homemade ceaser salad (I’m sure there’s more protein than salad!)

Thursday – egg based – omelettes, quiche and one day might feature frittatas

 

The last slice of quiche!
The last slice of quiche!

Friday and Saturday are left unplanned, seeing we’re often out or they are the nights you can do some complex meal, as I have every second Friday night off.

I totally recommend this method of meal planning.  There’s enough variety in each category to mix things up.  And it’s not rigid – if we want sliders or something else, we just make them! I’d ask how most of you meal plan, but most of you already post about that :p

I’m in Vietnam, eating other delicious things!  Feel free to comment, but I won’t be checking in as often.  I promise to read everything you write though, and reply when I get back!

Savoury foods I love

A while back, I shared a list of food I don’t like.  I was just crunching on an apple and I thought, gosh darn, this is delicious.  So, here is the current list of favourites:

  • crunchy apples: no matter the type, I’m loving them!
crunch crunch source: www.jamesandthegiantcorn.com
crunch crunch
source: www.jamesandthegiantcorn.com
  • macaroni and cheese: the BF is amazing at making this! It’s almost a weekly staple, often as a lunch
  • garlic butter: oh my this is my kypronite! Friends brought it around on the first night here, and the BF was hooked. They thankfully replenished our supply! We use it on bread (under cheese on toast), to cook bacon or chicken, as a pizza base.  Oh my, I’d almost put it on banana bread
  • frozen strawberries: somehow so much better than fresh, what is with that?
  • risotto: so warm and comforting, my call is gluggy rice, but even that won’t deter me!
  • Pad Thai: yummy rice noodles with some chicken and egg.  So long as you hold the bean sprouts.

Let’s be clear, I also love sweets: chocolate, gelato, ice cream, caramel sauce, cinnamon scrolls… Stop me now!  But we don’t need to focus *too* heavily on these guilty pleasures.

What are your favourite foods?  What do you always order on a menu when you see it?

I’m in Vietnam, so I won’t get to your comments as quickly as usual.  Should be back to normal programming in a little over a week.

Packing for Vietnam

The BF & I booked with Air Asia, a budget airline from Malaysia. We’re flying from Sydney to Kuala Lumpa to Ho Chi Minh City. We decided to buy 20kg of luggage to share, as we thought it was unlikely we’d each get in under than 10kg carry on limits.

Here’s what I plan to pack:

Short dresses - two for night, one for day
Short dresses – two for night, one for day
Three pairs of shorts: denim, white and navy
Three pairs of shorts: denim, white and navy
Jeans - likely to be worn on the plane
Jeans – likely to be worn on the plane
Two (mini) skirts: denim and pink and white stripe
Two (mini) skirts: denim and pink and white stripe
Three 3/4 shirts, self explanatory
Three 3/4 shirts, self explanatory
Three tops: pink t-shirt, white linen button up, blue and white kaftan top
Three tops: pink t-shirt, white linen button up, blue and white kaftan top
Swimsuits/bathers/cossie
Swimsuits/bathers/cossie

 

Casual dresses - I love to wear this around the house, but these two are also out for outside wear
Casual dresses – I love to wear this around the house, but these two are also out for outside wear
Here's a snippet of what I'm packing, a lot in hand luggage, some in other luggaeg
Here’s a snippet of what I’m packing, a lot in hand luggage, some in other luggaeg
Here's my reading pile, compliments on my parents extensive collection.  They will find homes in Vietnam
Here’s my reading pile, compliments on my parents extensive collection. They will find homes in Vietnam

You can do without an underwear shot!  Of my shoes, I’m packing my leather thongs and my black ballet flats, and my runners.  To see my shoes, check out this post.

The contents of the pink/clear purse are in my post about my handbag’s contents

I also think I need something warmer and comfortable layers for the plane. Usually I wear a hoodie, which is great for cold temps, but I know it’d be bulky and get no wear in Vietnam. So some more planning and thinking needs to happen there. <- I decided on a singlet top, a thin long sleeve tee, my trench coat and a scarf to go with the jeans.  Sorry, no photo.

At time of posting there was four hours til take off! Exciting!  Anything you think I’m missing?

 

Zero Waste & ice cream

I love fro-yo, ice cream, gelato, you name it!  Admittedly, I do try to keep a lid on my consumption, but it’s the way to the BF’s heart, so I’m not too strict on myself.

Recently, a friend came to stay from Melbourne.  In additional to a lovely linen tea towel, she picked up some gelato on the way home.  It was delicious, but it came in a styrofoam insulated tub.   Even though there’s a 6 in the chasing arrow symbol, it doesn’t mean it is recyclable.  It just tells you what it is.  So look what I did:

Nice enough right?
Nice enough right?

I just popped it on the counter when I walked past.  He’d just opened and was out the back, so he didn’t see me and I didn’t have to have an awkward conversation.  I love heading to this particular gelto store on date nights for a cone of lavendar.  Or cinnamon doughnut.  There’s something about non-conventional flavours I just love!

On the same errand mission on foot, I dropped off a week or two’s plastics in the bin at the grocery store, Coles, which they make into outdoor kids furniture.  I weighed it too, just cause.

Coles thankfully takes these back and recycles them into play furniture
Coles thankfully takes these back and recycles them into play furniture

So are you a cone or a cup person? When I met Liz from Economies of Kale, we grabbed some ice cream (or was it gelato), and I got a cone, with just a paper wrapper.

Holidays must already be on my mind! I forgot my weekly trash weigh in, so I’ll come back at update this in about 10 hours when I’m home next!  I know it’s going to be a good week though!

Waste Wednesday is 97g (3.4oz)
Waste Wednesday is 97g (3.4oz)

Better than last week by 11g, I have a weigh in of 97g, last week was 108g. I aim for 67g, my personal best! I’ll weigh again on Friday night as we head to the airport, and toss it out. Then my brother has free reign of my ‘weirdness’ til we return on Monday afternoon, and I’ll start a short week of waste. And after the holidays I’ll update my Zero Waste page graphs for y’all.

Holiday! Vietnam activities

The BF and I are going overseas! We’re going for just over a week from Friday night 25th October to Monday 4th November.  I’ve tried to queue up some posts, but I can’t imagine I’ll reply to all comments as promptly as usual.  And I might not be commenting and reading all your posts either.  What are holidays for, but a little digital sabbatical?  We’ll see – I might not be able to resist the lure!

If I'm not replying to your comment, here's why! source: www.fanpop.com
If I’m not replying to your comment, here’s why!
source: www.fanpop.com

We’re spending two nights in Ho Chi Minh, and then some nights in Nha Trang and then back to HCM city.  Whilst I’ve been a blogger, I’ve not been overseas, but I love travel.  On average, I make one BIG international trip a year, usually for a few weeks, to either Europe or the US.  I like to go back to old faithfuls, but it’s just as important to me to see new cities and countries.  I’ve never been to Vietnam.  I did do a project in primary school about it though!

I’m not a huge tour girl, which is sort of in line with my no guide book motto from Honeymoon with my brother, which I mentioned in my all time favourite books post.  That’s not to say I don’t think about and research what I’d like to do on my holiday.

I’ve done a fair share of my travelling with my family.  They’ve structured most of it the same way.  It goes a little something like this:

I can already hear the theme tune! source: www.bbc.co.uk
I can already hear the theme tune!
source: www.bbc.co.uk
  • wake up (and read/watch BBC world/CCN <- it’s not a holiday if I don’t see one of these news channels!)
  • eat breakfast
  • wander/shop/sight see
  • eat lunch
  • nap/read/watch trashy movies
  • cocktail/happy hour in the hotel room, sometimes with board games (scrabble is a favourite)
  • eat dinner
  • sleep
  • repeat

So much better than the usual eat, sleep, (rave), repeat.  (Sorry, it’s a song lyric of a song I can’t stand, and whilst I don’t rave (though I do Neon Run), but the song is so pervasive!) I really mean eat, sleep, work, repeat.

Cu chi tunnels source: www.grandvietnamtours.com
Cu chi tunnels
source: www.grandvietnamtours.com

Here’s what I’m considering as activities whilst we’re there:

  • visit flower farms
  • visit silk worm farms
  • zip lining (though there’s been some deaths, so maybe not!)
  • cu chi tunnels from the war in HCMC
  • sampling endless Vietnamese coffee, and pastries (seeing they were once a French colony)
  • visit Hoi An
  • mud baths and hot springs
  • get cheap manicure and pedicure for…
  • get sandals made!! in Hoi An (I love some leather sandals that are dying, from Greece)

What would your must see/do/buy be in Vietnam?  Have you been?  What would lure you to visit?

Neon Run

To keep with my 12 in 2 goal to run a half marathon sometime by the end of 2014, I signed up for the Sydney 5km Neon Run this past Saturday with my water polo coach and some of her friends.  The run was in the evening around the Domain and Mrs Macquaries Chair – iconic parkland around Sydney Harbour.

Here’s the foursome:

Light in our eyes for the neon run
Light in our eyes for the neon run

The glasses were $10 (!!) each – seems a lot for plasticy goodness with LEDs.  I wasn’t going to buy any (partly because I didn’t bring any money, and partly – well regular Wednesday readers would know why).  But the team bought me a pair, and were smart enough to know they just HAD to be blue!

I'm blue, if I was green I would die
I’m blue, if I was green I would die
Blue glasses for the blue eyed girl
Blue glasses for the blue eyed girl

There were other merchandising options, like these:

Other merchandise - fluro dreadlocks on head bands.  There were also mowhawks.
Other merchandise – fluro dreadlocks on head bands. There were also mowhawks.

Here’s the crowd, it was a small event, relatively speaking. That being said, we entered in a walking group, but did want to jog a bit. Sadly, there were too many people underfoot at the start, and of course after our first burst of running, we weren’t as interested anymore! There were four different music and dance stations, as well as fantastic harbour views! We did run the last 750m plus to the finish, which was nice.

The crowd and the starting arches
The crowd and the starting arches

My phone ran out of battery not that much later, so there’s no ‘night’ photos, which is when the run started. It was pretty amazing to see all the costumes, and we vowed to amp it up next year. I’d love me a bright tutu, though I’m not sure how comfortable it would be to run in! There was one guy just in fluro jocks – and painted on suspenders! And it was cold at the start line… So he was very daring.

Events like this a great – legitimately FUN run (or walk). I’m pleased to report that they used paper cups (unlike last time) AND they had lots of recycling bins for the cups too! Sadly, the glasses were plastic wrapped, as were our ice lollies filled with rehydration fluid, handed out at the finish.
For more fun photos, see the Neon Run site.

What’s the most fun you’ve had exercising? (Or is that an oxymoron to you?)

The dilemmas of buying clothes

white linen shirt, blue line shirt, cotton strip top

2016 update: the tops are still going strong, and in high rotation.  Both bras -> bin.  Pink one stretched out.  The teal one was a creeper, up over things it shouldn’t.  So it moved on 🙁

Yesterday evening, I involved myself in some retail therapy.  Planned spending on clothes (not planned on what clothes, though I did want a white top).

Oh my, shopping since reading blogs so extensively is such a minefield!

Firstly I was shopping in normal retail stores, so nice and new.  Not like Economies of Kale, who is so much more patient and shops at thrift stores (where, incidentally, I bought ‘new’ lavendar blue skinny jeans, ie never used, but sold at Red Cross for a majorly reduced price last week).  Sorry, no photo of those today.

Then everyone reviewed the Overdressed: Shocking Price of Cheap Fashion by E Cline.  Consider

But I also read personal finance blogs (the most extreme of which now deletes my comments as I challenge some of their ideas) and they talked about being frugal to become a millionaire, and I think, at what cost to the people who make the clothing?  (Jacob from said blog probably stopped reading back when I posted about buying $300 shoes!)  Admittedly, none of these purchases pushes the ‘clothes’ threshold the two clothing cost thresholds he mentions!

All this weights on my mind as I browse stores, and make decisions on what to buy.  Here’s what happens on my shopping mission:

Here's my thought process!
Here’s my thought process!

So it’s any wonder I came home with anything!  This is even before I try things on, and the self esteem monster reveals itself. This monster has curves in all the wrong places!

white linen shirt, blue line shirt, cotton strip top
Ducks in a row – all natural materials!

In the end, I spent a lot (in the ballpark of three hundred dollars) for two linen shirts and a cotton light weight 3/4 sleeve sweater.  The first two were made in Vietnam, the last made in China.

I then bought one bra (definitely made is a sweatshop, and ‘reduced’ to $19), and another bra from Myer, just as likely to be a sweatshop item, but priced higher, and both made in China.

teal bra and baby pink bra
Lovely bras – one for under the white top, and the other cause I’ve been wanting a teal bra since forever!

Overall, I love my new purchases.  I feel like they fit my style and age, and at least with the tops, I ended up with natural fabrics and a price that seems fair, even if they are made in developing economies.  The bras are definitely not fair trade, but I’m just not sure where to even start for a ethical bra (though I have read about Jen’s search, linked above).

How do you balance cost vs materials vs where things were made, and assumptions you make about the conditions of the workers?  Is your figure the last things from you mind when you’re shopping now, and how do you feel about that?

Income protection?

To be honest, I’ve not done a lot of research to share with this post, but seeing as we’re in different corners of the globe, well, it might be moot anyhow!

What's the chance? soruce: Shelley Marsh moneymummy.com.au
What’s the chance?
soruce: Shelley Marsh moneymummy.com.au

So, for a long while, I have been ruminating about getting income protection insurance.  My superannuation (which is the retirement savings in Australia) covers death, and that would go to whomever I choose (my brothers at this time in life).  But what if I accidentally chopped my hand off (not likely)?  Or if I got electrocuted and couldn’t work anymore (much more likely)?  I know there’s workers compensation, but I don’t think that’s a successful insurance plan.

Have you consider income protection?  How relevant do you think it is?  I wonder how many people are temporarily or permanently disabled, statistically?  Would it be worth it, or would if I decide not to get it, and something horrendous did happen, would the state benefits have me living as a pauper?  Would I burden my family and friends with my poverty?  So many what ifs….

More questions than answers, so I welcome your thoughts and ideas!