I’ve been hiding in the US

It feels like a long time since I blogged.

Mainly cause I’ve been exhausted.  Work takes it out of me.  I don’t like it.  And I even don’t like it when I get back from two weeks of recharging (or should that be refueling) holiday in the US.  I’ve had one day back, and I realise all too quickly everything that’s wrong with the culture due to the ongoing restructure. The pressures of work were spilling into my home too, and it’s nothing to say of the things on my BF’s mind – his work’s really ramped up too!

The city by the bay
The city by the bay

So it was nice to have two weeks away with my mother in the US.  We spent about 10 days in San Francisco and then four days in Portland, OR.  It was a lovely refreshing cool time, without much rain (but alas, SYDNEY! It’s bucketed down since I returned early on Australia Day – that walk to and from the station is less pleasurable with an umbrella!)

I ate everything that was

  • caramel flavoured
  • cinnamon flavoured
  • maple flavoured
  • cheesecake-y
  • weirdly flavoured, like honey lavendar or caramel with bacon
Voodoo donuts in Portland - maple bacon mmm
Voodoo donuts in Portland – maple bacon mmm

I’ve now rounded out to a whole number in weight, and it’s ghastly! Even more ghastly that in a handful of days I’ll be 30, and a week later, I’ll host a fabulous dinner party, complete with catering, gown, map themed decadence.  Reckon I can drop 10kg in two weeks? (I’m not serious, but I am eating healthier!)

Oh, and did I share? For Christmas, I got SURFING LESSONS – I’m sure I did.  Anyhow, I have to fit that in at some stage, I’m really looking forward to giving it a whirl once the sun is out…

I think I’ll do some grouping of my holidays photos, I’m thinking of posts

  • all the food
  • weird things about America (mainly text that one!)
  • you can buy that?
  • pretty stuff – houses mainly, but some art too
  • signs that I love, or just don’t get!
  • a selfie (almost) every day

As always, I’ve been reading y’all – I’m just useless at commenting when not on the laptop.  I’ll work on that!

Guerilla concrete art

As regular readers would know, I notice things on my walks around inner city Sydney, like this.

In the past few months, there’s been a cluster of concrete art around scaffolding in my local area.  They must have excess, so they cast it into fun shapes.  i noticed some of the ‘older’ ones have been chipped away, perhaps removed by the true property owners?  Who knows… But for you enjoyment:

Red head - I wonder if this invalidated the no parking sign - I know if the arrows get grafittued over, it counts, and you can park freely til the council replaces the sign.
Red head – I wonder if this invalidated the no parking sign – I know if the arrows get grafitted over, it counts, and you can park freely til the council replaces the sign.
White skull, YOLO - similar to the one on the parking sign
White skull, YOLO – similar to the one on the parking sign
As my father calls them: Baklava...
As my father calls them: Baklava…
Guns are common - there's one near my church, been there many years.  Should get a snap.
Guns are common – there’s one near my church, been there many years. Should get a snap.
Bigger arms
Bigger arms
This is ubiquitous AUssie (as Lucinda Sans will attest).  The goon bag (wine bag)
This is ubiquitous AUssie (as Lucinda Sans will attest). The goon bag (wine bag)
Not a step further. a REAL foil wine bag in the recycling (which, is NOT recycling...)
Not a step further. a REAL foil wine bag in the recycling (which, is NOT recycling…)
Not concrete, but getting creative with the hoarding (which I saw hand painted by a 60yo man)
Not concrete, but getting creative with the hoarding (which I saw hand painted by a 60yo man)

2014 clothing round up

This yeah, I bought/acquired 57 items of clothing or pairs of shoes.  There were 8 pairs of shoes, so make that 49 pieces of clothing. Last year’s more basic count which was 35.  I attribute some of the purchases with my change from wearing a work uniform to wearing corporate clothing.

 

The shoes I coveted, but don't feel nice on my feet :( via
The shoes I coveted, but don’t feel nice on my feet 🙁
via

Of those, 29 were second hand.  I’ve include clothing given to me by my mother or friends that is worn in this count. I was given one top and one scarf.  The scarf isn’t in the count above.

15 items are work appropriate. 14 items of sock/jocks variety not included in the count.

Beautifully soft, and zips up nice and snug.  It just needs to get colder!
Remember this? Will work SO well in San Fran in a week’s time!

6 pieces of jewellery, two pieces were second hand. The others were Chinese rubbish.  And a further two which were gifts (forgot those in the count!) :s  2 belts.

I bought 8 pairs of shoes – one pair was from Kmart for $5, I wore the sole out, and bought another pair, that was identical.  I also bought a pair of leather flats, and then bought the identical pair again, as they were comfy and it’s so hard to find that.  I bought a pair of ‘jelly’ shoes, which I’ve coverted for so long.  They hurt my feet, so I can see them heading out the door 🙁

Of all the new things I’ve bought, all 77, six have already gone. Thankfully at least some were seond hand items that just didn’t work for me.

Overall, my wardrobe has:

29 pairs of bottoms – 4 pairs of shorts, 5 casual skirts, 2 dressy skirts and 7 work skirts, which I seldom wear in my current role. I also have 5 pairs of work pants, 2 solely for winter, and 1 pair that were new this year and aren’t comfy :s The rest are jeans and a pair of cords.

Need? One or two more pairs of work pants that are ‘summer weight’ – I’m hoping Banana Republic in the US will be the answer.  Maybe a navy pair?

I have 20 dresses (approved for the public… I have more house dresses).  Only two plus a top fit in the ‘formal’ category, so most of the others should see some wear. Interestingly, I have 17 for summer, but of those, I have a ‘too hot to wear’ on four (poor fabric choices, so better for transeasonal).  I have 9 suitable for, and to be honest, some are ONLY good for a date :p  10 are church appropriate, so that’s a positive, cause that’s a reason I have grown my dress collection since my student days.

Need? To make the more date only dresses a little more modest, with adding a lace trim perhaps?  I also need to look at the four ‘too hot’ and ensure I don’t keep buying nice, but too hot, dresses!

Now for tops.  I have 101 tops!!  Of those:

21 for work, 8 long sleeved, 7 ¾ sleeved, and 6 are sleeveless or short sleeved.

15 singlets, which are worn under things in winter for warmth mainly

20 short and ¾ sleeves casual tops

14 long sleeves cotton tops for wearing under jumpers in winter (probably more than I need!)

5 dressy tops – I need to check that, think I might have du0plicate counted somethings

6 summer weight cardigans or jumpers

6 thin winter jumpers

4 thick cardigans, of which I deem 3 suitable for work (win!)

4 jackets

2 long coats and 4 cropped coats, of which two could be replaced with better quality than the Chinese made ones I bought in my student years.

Need? Jackets and cardigans is the sweet spot.  The short sleeves count at 20 seems more generous that what it ‘feels’ like I have, so I should really weed those out that don’t serve my needs.  I need to be mindful of fabrics more, for summer clothing, especially work wear.

Work out gear

22 in total – 9 pants, 11 tops.

Not quite what I bought in the sales, but similar. via
Not quite what I bought in the sales, but similar. via

 

19 pieces of house clothing, which includes 2 dressing gowns (so seldom used), sumemr house dresses, hoodies and track pants.

Need? Nothing!!

Overall I think there were 79 individual items bought for only 16% more than I spent on 35 items last year.  That feels like a win, likely due to more 2nd hand shopping.  The win is also probably partly attributed to no real ‘shopping’ holiday.

How did you fare this year with clothing shopping/culling/spending?  Do you aim for second hand, or is it too hit and miss when you ‘need’ specific things?

30th Birthday prep

Each envelope was made from a sheet of a map - often with the street of the recipient where they were locals!
Each envelope was made from a sheet of a map – often with the street of the recipient where they were locals!
Crazy cropping so I dont share my address with you!
Crazy cropping so I dont share my address with you!
White dinner 214
The front of the invite
White dinner 213
Some of the inside cropped for my safety :p
my FAVE flowers - test run.  BTW, two bunches for the price of one I realised once I got home
my FAVE flowers – test run. BTW, two bunches for the price of one I realised once I got home
Heart punch to make a mini set of bunting
Heart punch to make a mini set of bunting
Off to the mailbox!
Off to the mailbox!

Pantry inventory (the moth elimination game)

For the past few months, we’ve been plagued by pantry moths.  I’m not sure how we got them, but I’ve never really experienced them.

Initially, I found a number of refilled zip lock bags of gluten free flours infested, so I ditched those pronto.  I wasn’t using them, and there weren’t substantial quantities anyhow.  The moths had turned the tapioca flour bag into a plastic sieve! Eww…

Everything safely contained
Everything safely contained

But that half hearted effort, and another, wasn’t enough.  Neither was the sticky moth ‘catcherer’ I bought.

So, what better activity to do on New Years Day, than take everything out, wipe everything down, and rid the moths ONCE AND FOR ALL.

I’m pleased to report the moths infested the quinoa… I never liked it, to they gave me an excuse to ditch two half used packets.  Sadly the rice paper roll ‘pasta’ was also infested, so I transferred them into a new packet and froze them for good measure.  Also in the freezer quarantine is a 2kg bag of plain flour (just in case), the gravox powder (likely infested due to the box showing signs). All boxed pasta was put into pop top containers, and the boxes disposed of.  Pop top containers each got their very own bay leaf… here’s hoping my baking won’t take on the flavour!

This drawer saw the greatest reduction
This drawer saw the greatest reduction

I also got to throw out the mashed potato packet – half used.  Serves me right for ‘meaning to’ use it up for so long.  I also threw away the gluten free breadcrumbs (really corn) as they showed signs of the moths too.

Simultaneous to this, I found some things past their use by dates.  Not that I hold much stead in that, but I might try to give away the gelatin, yeast and baking powder seeing their use is limited to never here.

This is the top drawer - which ended up with MORE in it
This is the top drawer – which ended up with MORE in it

Lots of my spice sachets have passed their use by date.  I plainly ignored it. I use most of them most of the time, and whilst they are still fragrant, I’ll keep them.  No need to waste, right?

A few days have passed since I’ve done this, and there’s less moths.  Still some.  I’ve got a sticky trap still waiting for them…

Have you battled pantry moths and beaten them?

2014 goals review

Reviewing my 2014 goals:

Fun – 12 in 2 list

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 -didn’t happen, but I did research options to do something in San Fran whilst on Holidays
  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, thanks to the BF!)
  4. Learn to surf: 2015 thanks to a generous gift from my BF!
  5. Dinner at Aria: planned for early February
  6. Read the new testament bible Done in September
  7. Run a half marathon
  8. Plan and prepay my funeral – cough cough, not so fun, didn’t happen, but the cash is there?
  9. Zorbing (a weekend away at the Gold Coast)  The place went out of business…

The other 3?  Well my friend stopped living in NZ, so that was scraped.  One was a dinner at a fancy restaurant, which I did for my birthday in 2013. The third was a knife skills course which I did in 2013

Health – monthly challenges

These were a wash! I started out strong, but then it all went bust!

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 fail
May: Morning stretching/yoga fail – though some attempts made
Jun: Planking challenge fail
Jul: Mental health: daily act of kindness fail
Aug: Mental health: daily gratitude journal fail – though attempts made
Sept: 1 internet free day per week fail
Oct: Ocsober fail
Nov: Coffee free challenge fail
Dec: +1 walking fail

Interestingly, I did have a week or two when I woke to do yoga before work? So that was something.  But generally my coffee intake increased.

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 Septmber, met this, and by the end of the year exceeded it by $8k!

2. Save $200 a week in for holidays yep, it’s all automated, but now bundled into goal 1 so it’s all in one place

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! But kept separate from the pot in goal 1. $20 automatically goes to Church, from this $100.

 

Social

Plan a dinner party or similar once a quarter. Passed

1. Started with a pizza night for water polo girls in Jan 🙂 Easy and fun.

2. Excess cheese? Informal wine and cheese Sunday arvo.

3. Another polo dinner of Nachoes.  

4. Halloween party hosted at a friends home but catered by both of us.

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) so so – not 100% success rate on the stated frequency, but we stayed in contact.

Career

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.  Then for Christmas, I made another gingerbread house (and a trifle, but that’s less crafty!).  I also made bunting and decorated jars for my upcoming 30th and did another baby’s blanket!

Overall, I think I did well on most of my goals.  I really let myself down in the health department, despite doing a three month healthy eating and exercising plan which I paid for.  I lost and gained roughly the same amount of weight, which puts me back where I was.  Again, I’m trying to be healthier since Christmas day, and have cut out almost all sugar.  That being said, I’ve still had juice and soft drink and the occasional taste of sweet things.  But I have tried to eat less than I was in the later months of 2014.

How’d you go with your 2014 goals? Feel free to link to your posts!