2014 Goals

This is a ‘live’ post where I update my goals, changes, and plans.  I hope you enjoy the links I add!

Last year, I set goals in a number of different categories of life, and tracked them almost every month with another post.  I think I’ll continue with this idea in the coming year too, but naturally, the goal posts will adjust to suit the things I learnt!

Hold onto your hats everyone, there’s a lot in this post.  I find monthly tracking helps me to achieve things, so that’s why there’s so much laid out here, ambitious as it may seems.

Fun – 12 in 2 list

I’ll start with the ‘nice’ stuff – which I’ve posted about previously, as my 12 in 2 goals – 12 things I want to do in 2 years, and most of them are ‘bucket list’ style items.

For 2014, I’ll do the following (some of which I did earmark to do in 2013, but it didn’t happen):

  1. Silent retreat – some time after the half marathon in July (cause you can’t run at these 10 day retreats)
  2. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb I got a voucher as a birthday gift in January 2014!!!
  3. Go jet skiing (done over the Christmas holidays)
  4. Learn to surf
  5. Dinner at Aria: planned for early February
  6. Read the new testament bible Done in September
  7. Run a half marathon could do it at the Gold Coast in July (it’s a super flat course), already booked the flights
  8. Plan and prepay my funeral – cough cough, not so fun
  9. Zorbing (a weekend away at the Gold Coast)  The place went out of business…

Health – monthly challenges

Why the water challenge and the coffee challenge are in different months! source: http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMy1kNjdmZWUyN2QxYzMxNjAw
Why the water challenge and the coffee challenge are in different months!
source: http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMy1kNjdmZWUyN2QxYzMxNjAw

As I mentioned in late November, I will look at creating ‘get healthy’ monthly challenges of better healthier habits.  I started earlier than the new year cause I felt the need to lose some weight, and the Christmas season is as good a time to start as any.

Each month I’ll dedicate one post to introducing the challenge (and encouraging others to join in), a post or two on my progress and a post to wrap up the challenge and the success or failure.  Here’s my rough plan, subject to change:

Jan: Stair challenge start, progress, end
Feb: Drink 3L water per day: start
Mar: Squats and abandoned 🙁
Apr: Push up challenge – increase the number everyday
May: Morning stretching/yoga
Jun: Planking challenge
Jul: Mental health: daily act of kindness
Aug: Mental health: daily gratitude journal
Sept: 1 internet free day per week
Oct: Ocsober
Nov: Coffee free challenge
Dec: +1 walking

I’ve been slowly trying to start Jan & Feb’s goals in December, but each month I will commit to doing it every day!

Financial goals

I prefer my fingernails bare, but this is amazing, and just like Aussie money source: http://www.morenailpolish.com/2013/01/aussie-nails-show-me-money.html
I prefer my fingernails bare, but this is amazing, and just like Aussie money
source: http://www.morenailpolish.com/2013/01/aussie-nails-show-me-money.html

This is one category I always kick a** at!  So, for 2014, I will:

1. Save $20,000 in my mortgage offset account (in addition to the starting balance) as of mid Sepetmber, met this, and aimed higher (hopefully anotehr $15k by year end)

2. Save $200 a week in for holidays yep, it’s all automated

3. Save $10 $20 a week for my ‘one day’ dream of a first class holiday to Paris and NYC (First class flights and accommodation).  I plan to spend 20 years saving slowly for this one. $20 per week, cause why not!

4. Save $100 a week for ‘charity’ which I will also withdraw from when I do support fundraising etc. automated too my friend!

This is in addition to savings plans that already tick over weekly for bills and health insurance, and a weekly contribution to the church.


Plan a dinner party or similar once a quarter. Started with a pizza night for polo girl in Jan 🙂 Easy and fun. Excess cheese? Informal wine and cheese Sunday arvo. 2 down, 3 to go! 3 down, 1 to go – another polo dinner of Nachoes.  Tempted to do something for Halloween..n

Inspiration for the zen I'll try to create source: www.sheknows.com
Inspiration for the zen I’ll try to create
source: www.sheknows.com

Email my brother at least weekly whilst he’s in South America (until Sept 2014)


Ekk, seeing I didn’t submit my 16 x 700 words long episode reports in 2013, this goal will role over.

I will also start to think more (again) about the next step in my career. Whilst I wasn’t thinking about it, someone was, and I’ve been acting in a promotion of a role for a few months.  And I’ll apply for the position when it’s advertised

Keeping it Creative

I’ve realised that I like to create things, like my gingerbread house, or the candy cane wreath.  I really enjoy mending clothes, or sewing.  I even made a map of the world with stamps!  So I’m going to try and do more of these sorts of things.  One crafty thing per month.  Pinterest and blogs will guide me, I hope.

I’ve covered my router with a hard cover book; made earphone holders out of old plastic cards; cross stitched a baby’s blanket…

Christmas Waste Wednesday

Seeing we flew out on Tuesday evening, there was just enough time to commit to weighing my waste.  Just what you want to open in a blog post on Christmas morning right? 243 grams

Good Christmas present - 243g
Good Christmas present – 243g

There’s a lot of plastic zip locks that got sweaty from produce spoiling in the fridge.  Into the bokashi compost container.  There’s also a broken pair of sunglasses – that’s how these $3 sunnies from a second hand shop emerged from my bag on Saturday afternoon.

Sad but true.  I should have tried glue...
Sad but true. I should have tried glue…

There’s also a Chinese noodle box – seeing it’s semi water proof I figure it’s plastic coated, and it did have a plastic handle, so trash it is.

Thankfully, the gifts we’ve recieved to date haven’t generated much trash – some wrapping paper and sticky tape.  There were some plastic boxes from some candles (which I decided weren’t recyclable either).  I’ll share photos of my gifts in the new year.

What? It’s Christmas Eve?

Tonight I fly across country from Sydney to Perth, to meet the BF’s family for the first time!  EKK! Will I get the house clean in time, and pack enough nice outfits for the possibly sweltering heat? (Although it’s now turned gloomy and cool here in Sydney, and I couldn’t be happier.  My morning walk was just delightful is the milder conditions). I’m debating whether I can take walking clothes for all the days we’re away, in my 7kg luggage allowance?  In any case, I’ve walked 94kms in since I started the challenge on 25 Novermber, which has taken almost 13 hours.  13 hours sounds like a lot, but it’s under the duration I should have walked to by today (13.75), but my distance is further than I predicted?!

From one side to the other source: www.laineybird.com
From one side to the other
source: www.laineybird.com

I’m not sure what my posting schedule will be for the next week.  By January 1st, we’ll be back to normal in Sydney, and I’ll try to pick up where I left off.

Interesting, Boxing Day (26th December) will mark 1 year of blogging for me 🙂  This will mark the 224th post.  Here’s my first post ever.

I do plan to post about my 2014 goals, and maybe with some spare time this afternoon before we head to the airport I might share my lengthy and ambitious goals (or queue them up, so I don’t bombard you with lots of posts all together, and then a long silence).

I broke into the gingerbread house on Sunday – it’s delicious despite it’s few weeks on the shelf.  I think I shall make gingerbread a food group.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, whatever they’re doing.  I look forward to hearing about it all – I hope there’s some peace and relaxation!

Saving money with home contents insurance

Auto renewal of premium trends up, negoiated premium trends down

I’ve had contents insurance for three years.

The first year, I set my contents to $35,000 (which they guided me towards, everything indicates I NEVER spent that much on all my belongings, but then I bought a lot second hand you can see my inventories in the Inventories tab at the top). My premium was $376.70.

When my annual renewal came, I noticed they’d increase my contents to $40k~!  The premium was now $400.32.  It wasn’t too much more, but still, I knew I hadn’t bought $5k more stuff (nor do my things cost more to replace – they are getting older, not newer!) I rang up and asked them to adjust it back to $35,000 and re-quote my premium.  They came back with $326.76.

Imagine that – year two, I saved $50 on the first year.  Small savings, but still, a bill that goes down?!  Awesome! I told the whole office…

Now we’re year three.  The premium was adjusted when I moved into cohab central, to $411.56 for the year (but pro rata’d).  The renewal came, for $37,500 of contents, at a cost of $426.35.  Again, not really a radical jump from $411.  Still, even with the BF paying half now, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to call up and see if my same tricks could work.

And they did!  She quoted me something like $320 for $37,100 of contents.  Trying to stick to my guns, I asked her to quote for $35,000 of stuff, and she assured me it’d make no difference.  It was $316.57.  Hey, that’s the cost of a coffee, so I asked her to leave it at $35,000 on the content.  But see that – year on year, my premium has *decreased*.

Here’s a rudimentary graph of quoted vs my negotiated premium!

Auto renewal of premium trends up, negoiated premium trends down
Look at those trends!

If you have spare time this holidays, think about spending some time pressing 1. for a call centre staff member reading a script, and see if you too can decrease your premiums!

Have you ever had year on year successes like this?  Is it worth it for $4, $10 or $50 per annum – where do you draw line between the effort and ‘bother time’?

Stinky Waste Wednesday

Scales reading 285 grams

For new or irregular readers, I weigh my landfill trash every week in an effort to work towards having a zero waste household.  Sure, I may never get there, but tracking and watching what I use, I remain mindful and try to limit the useless waste of materials where I can.

You’d think when your trash smells nasty, you’d remember to take it out, right? Nope, Wednesday morning came around, and thrown by the BF being up early, I forgot to get my regulation photos and weigh in done before work. Rest assured, it’s the *first* thing I did when I got home (or maybe second, after some rocky road was scoffed).

This week, Wednesday 18 December, I weighed my non recyclable, non compostable land fill rubbish in at 285 grams.

Scales reading 285 grams
A weighty sum of 285grams

Almost on par with the week before last at 288g. It must have been an odd week last week at 129 grams.  My overall average since I started at Easter is 327 grams, but if you take out the two big hauls when I moved house, it comes down to 221 grams.  For those who know me well, from Easter to July I lived alone, now we’re a household of two.

Given I wasn’t lugging work lunches and handbags, I took the recycling out at the same time.  Here you can see a normal week of rubbish for us.

A couple's week of trash and recycling
Recycling for a week and the trash for a week.

Yep there’s a purple (turkey) meat tray in recycling! I removed the thin film and put that in the landfill trash. As for the ‘nappy’ that soaks up blood in meat trays, well, let me tell you from a VERY messy experience, do NOT try to squeeze out excess fluid in an effort to lessen the water weight in your trash. Of course, go for it if you like the look of speckled clumps of redish goo everywhere. Finally, Lois, I cursed those open shelves!

There’s also a pair of the BF’s boxer shorts in there. No good for charity, and I’m a little icky about using underwear as rags. Out they go! One day soon my bra will join such a trash haul, but not yet.

As to the nasty smell – I don’t know what it was.  There was something leaking from the plastic bin bag liner, and it was dark and sticky but I figured I didn’t really need to know.  It’s funny, it’s been months since I’ve dealt with rubbish smelling bad – composting sure smells nasty, but my landfill trash never does.

Anyone else out there exploded a meat tray nappy?  No? Good for you… will  you use old underwear as dusters?  What about bras?  How out there are my readers 😉

Summer Bucket List

Pool under Sydney Harbour Bridge

Oh you Americans, or is it just the subset that pin (on Pinterest)?

I didn’t know of these summerbucket lists til recently, but as a blog called ‘Live to List’, yes, I too want a summer bucket list!

Here’s what I have, some of these things have been completed, as Summer in Australia starts on 1 Dec.  Some of these are also planned, and I’ll elaborate on each point.  Here goes:

You couldn't ask for a pool with a better view source:www.uec.edu.au
You couldn’t ask for a pool with a better view. My photos are further down


  • Walk the 14 km harbour foreshore walk: previously you couldn’t walk on public land all around Sydney Harbour, but with the development at Barangaroo, you now can.
  • Complete the ‘Bay Run’
  • Clear the greater than 24 month tasks at work (3) (wow, that one is exciting, isn’t it!) This was magically achieved… not sure when, but overall, I’m killing it in the stats, and helping other portfolios ‘clean house’
  • Go to a movie at the Open Air Cinema (sales opened today… and the allocation for the day sold out on films I liked) – Alas, they sold out, and I never did wait in line on the night of to see if I could get tickets.
  • Get a photo strip done with the BF in lieu of any more gifts, I asked the BF to come to the photo booth with me.  It has a real rustic look, slightly sepia toned.  It was good fun, though we’ll be better prepared last time, the flash caught us by surprise the first time!
  • Start a herb garden then it died from an infestation.  I shall try again, using offshoots from friends.
  • Chip away at visiting all the pictured beaches (sorry I’ve forgotten the source!) with the BF, we’ve been to: Maroubra, Manly, Bondi (though not to swim), Dee Why, I think it was Queenscliffe?, we’ve walked Bondi to Bronte, but not swum any
Not really all of them...
Not really all of them…

It seems putting things on a list does wonders for me getting things done! I did the Bay Run and the pool visit in this past weekend! The bay run was through a organisation my father introduced me to (he beat me at the 7km run too – I took 47 minutes, I’d hoped for 45 minutes).  We signed up on the morning of the run, and I think having it on the list was enough to make me commit to it.

The BF took me to the pool on Saturday to cool down.  It’s incredible to see the scale of the bridge built so long before sky scrapers, next to a pool.  Here’s some more photos of it:

Pool under Sydney Harbour Bridge
Real life
Close up of the eyes of Luna Park
Close up of the eyes of Luna Park
I swim a lot - I've never seen such prescriptive signs!
I swim a lot – I’ve never seen such prescriptive signs!
The best pool in the place
The best pool in the place

What things are you hoping to get done in this season? Hopefully you have some fun things on there, not just doom and gloom and household ‘musts’! Let me know

Fixing the funk on Friday

I try to keep my posts upbeat – or at the very least, striving to achieve goals and do better.  (and the titles alliterative)

Sometimes I don’t feel upbeat at all.

There’s a few things I do when I feel less than stellar:

  1. Work out how I can get more sleep.  What my mothers has always said is true, half of my tears is childhood (and perhaps now) are largely due to tiredness.  Although she always said it would be better in the morning – guess I wasn’t waking up tired as much then?  Needless to say, I’m strongly considering ‘get enough sleep’ ‘as my January health challenge!
  2. Focus on the good.  That’s why I do gratitude posts, but also actively steer conversations at home to focusing on the good, rather than the bad, the things to be grateful of.  So, for now, I have
    • another fine and sunny day for my walk
    • continuing great results in getting my task count down at work (read more about that here). Actually just running some more statistical anaylsis always brightens my outlook, reflecting on what I’ve done rather than what’s left to do
    • tomorrow IS Saturday and I can sleep in to my heart’s content
    • I have nothing on this afternoon/evening, so I can get home at 4pm and nap if I feel the need 🙂
    • I’m not actually tired enough to ‘need’ a coffee this morning (which is a bonus, cause I didn’t have cash on hand)
    • a nice chat to my mum in the carpark before I started work
    • a new commenter to my blog yesterday

Desk clean up

  1. Get some simple to do list items struck off.  Some  decluttering, a trip to the op shop, or tidying and straightening horizontal space can often feel like quick wins and mentally clear some space.
  2. Plan some activities I love.  Nothing is better for morale than having something to look forward to.  It can be simple, like watching a favourite TV show or as involved as planning a dinner party or a gingerbread house!

I try really hard not make food a pick me up.  As evidenced in Wednesday’s waste post, sometimes a Mars Bar sneaks in.  But I know there’s no long term gains from junk food.

So, taking some of my own advice, I’m going to straighten my desk, and then get started on the most important tasks.

What’s your action plan to get out of a funk?

Waste Wednesday once again

Hello loyal readers, so kind of you to drop by to see the weekly photograph of my bag of trash, and oh and ah and the weight for yet another week!  Despite the gingerbread house making, the weight is low.  I craftily donated the calories excess lollies from decorating it to my lovely friend Christmas elf, though the bags I did end up with will go to the supermarket packaging recycling efforts.

How’s this week? Like the biggest loser, I got a low weight, then I shifted the bag and got a higher weight, and one more shift and I ended up with the weighty total of 129g.  (To think I could have deceived you with a 89g misweighed bag this week).  That’s the lowest it’s been since October, when I had a partial weigh in due to the holiday (97g).

Final weigh in at 129grams
Final weigh in at 129 grams

I’m pretty pleased with the weight, but here’s what took me to this number

  • foam meat tray – those aren’t recyclable in our area.  Funny, I didn’t know they still existed, the BF did the shopping and got it
  • plastic Christmas card box – alas, I’ve found plastic free normal greeting cards, but not so for the Christmas cards (which are radically cheaper on a cost per card basis than any other cards)
  • ice cream wrappers – it’s been hot hot hot here, and on Sunday we splurged $9 for two magnums from the corner store
  • Mars Bar wrapper – I think the BF’s stopped reading these recently, so I’ll confess to my Monday weakness
  • cupcake wrapper – probably compostable, but I don’t know.  Oh, and that was Monday too.  Tough day, evidently… or the long work earnt me more calories?
  • receipts & movie tickets – I’m not sure if the movie tickets are plastic coated, but to be sure.

I wonder how long until we don’t need actual movie vouchers (and the pretty little folder)?  I mean, you can board a plane, I hear, without any paper documents, just your mobile phone.  Where can one buy Mars Bars in bulk? I did not just think that, promise!  What chocolate bar do you wish was available in unpackaged bulk?

Clothes shopping 2013

In the same vein as EcoCatLady, AnExactingLife and Minhus, I thought I would round up my clothes shopping for the year. I keep all my receipts (I think, I hope).  And I have posted some of the recent purchases in October here and here, for those who like pretty photos.  Here’s what I bought:

Seven (!) pairs of knickers from Target – $56

Two Target bras (beige & white) – $8
Woven skinny black belt – $12 (already died :()
Lace front cream Jeanswest top – $30
Very short Dotti navy dress – great for dates – $60
Church dress, all my favourite colours (Paul Dane) – $50

Paul Dane dress
Paul Dane dress

Camper Sinousa shoes (posted about it here) – $310 (to think I found their outlet in Nov!)

Running top in pale blue fro Lorna Jane – $76
Nude Target pantyhose x 2 – $20

Two tops from Temt $12

First pair of Jeanswest skinny jeans, dark wash – $90
Boohoo Sexy dress for date nights – $40

Asics running shoes – $160 (yay for the outlet! This is cheap for Australia)

Gold pave earrings – $8

Sexy lace teal bra – $20
Pale pink bra – $30
Cream & white Sportcraft cotton knit top – $60
White short sleeved Sportscraft button up top – $108
Blue 3/4 sleeved Sportscraft button up top – $117
These five items in this post

Banana Republic stuff – dress, and four tops – $308.50

Random other purchases, mainly second hand, that I didn’t keep good records of

Mavi skinny low rise jeans
Mavi skinny low rise jeans

Red Cross op shop blue skinny jeans – $25
Black handbag from op shop – $15?
Brown woven handbag from op shop – $10?

Weirdly, I feel like, except for October, I didn’t really do much/any clothes shopping. But clearly, I spent $1,625 on 36 items, which segments like this:

  • 4 accessories (2 bags, 1 pair of earring & a belt),
  • 13 underwear items (7 knickers, 4 bras & 2 pairs of stockings)
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 4 dresses
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 10 tops

I’m on par with what Dar at An Exacting Life spent.  I spend a little more than the ‘average’ American, but end up with far less items 68 items that Elizabeth Cline sites in her book Overdressed.

This is better than other years, I have stats from 2009 & 2010.  I spent $2560 in 2010  (44 items) and $1660 in 2009 (guesstimate 32 items).  But last year I spent $1100 mainly in Dubai and France on 29 items.  I’m not sure what happened to records of 2011!?

Overall, I’m up a net 9 items, largely in the ‘tops’ department, as I didn’t get rid of many.