Love for the loft home

This is adapted from a comment I made a long while ago on An Exacting Life’s blog.

Yes to the following traits:

  • To be renovated from industrial or commercial space – TICK was once a technical school, and there’s all sorts of weird ceiling levels cause of it
  • To give the illusion it’s funky and real, and hasn’t always been chic real estate – TICK (well not entirely sure what was meant with this one!)
  • Industrial elements such as concrete floors or a garage door – TICK (but darn cold in winter, I have carpet on the stairs and in the loft bedroom)
Concrete floor and (a version of) a metal staircase
Concrete floor and (a version of) a metal staircase
  • A row of windows at least as tall as you are – TICK (though not as ‘character’ as I’d hoped, though I did just frost them… just glass sliding doors to my itty bitty balcony which is not common with a loft)
  • Wooden beams, and/or plumbing/heating pipes overhead, or commercial ceiling fans – :( NO (they’ve boxed in all the pipes, but every morning I shower ‘with’ my neighbours… as I hear each of them!)
Exposed beams in the dining area - and a glimpse of my pendant light (the art work is a temporary stop gap!)
Exposed beams in the dining area – and a glimpse of my pendant light (the art work is a temporary stop gap!)
  • Open floor plan – except for bathroom, I hope – TICK – only door other than the front door is for the bathroom (and living alone, I feel odd when I shut it (for company))
  • Room to hang massive artworks – TICK (not for the $$ to buy some! I have hung a scarf that’s almost a metre squared)
  • Pendulum lighting – TICK (I think… I changed from wall mounted, which is common in lofts, to two ceiling mounted pendant lights, looks great imo!)
  • Obligatory sounds of traffic and sirens, and ever-present light from street – YES! I have drug addicts and crazies bickering at all hours… but it’s all part of the charm!

And I have a car space (underground, luxury in the rain!). You made me feel oh so proud with my purchase (I sometimes still have buyers remorse!)

No to

  • Exposed brick on at least one wall – :( NO… could a ‘cover’ a wall in brick faces? Or wallpaper?
  • Salvaged materials such as glass block or bathroom tile – NO
  • Huge scale custom-built furniture such as bookcases or dining table – no… though the bookcase idea tickles me a little… The Dining table is just IKEA, but it’s stainless steel, like the kitchen!
  • Ladders or a metal spiral staircase (if there is an upper level, i.e. an actual “loft”) – :( NO, though I did try to source a ladder for deocartive purposes (old, wooden). I have a staircase, shown in the photo above
  • View of a fire escape and the wall of the next building – No – I have a large playing field… which is lovely. Exposed/external fire escapes are uncommon in Australia
  • Mid-century modern furniture (e.g. 1950s/60s/70s retro) – No, just not my style, though across the road from my building there are many vendors of exactly this kind of furniture and homewares

6 reasons I shaved my head

Many years ago, I was watching Oprah in my school holidays (stay with me here people…) and she interviewed some ladies who shaved their heads.  I was inspired.  It helped that these women were really positive about what they’d done – even if the audience seemed a little shocked.  Then and there, I made a silent pledge that if I ever knew someone with cancer, who’d be losing their hair to chemotherapy, then I would ‘lose’ my hair in support.

My grandmother got cancer in 2001, but I don’t think I’d seen the Oprah episode (or remembered it then), so it wasn’t until mid last year, when a Facebook message alerted me that a friend had breast cancer at the age of 31.  Her and a close (male) friend had only started dating in the last year, so the cancer diagnosis really accelerated their life’s plan! There were eggs to be frozen, and an engagement and then a wedding to plan – all around chemo and radio therapy sessions!

I was a little worried about broaching the ‘I’ll shave too’ idea – I’m not sure if I thought they (the couple) would think it was a funny idea, or lame, or just… I’m not sure – stupid/dramatic/overthetop?  So I figured I’d start with the boyfriend – whom I’ve known longer.  When he didn’t scoff at my suggestion, I thought I’d let him relay it back to ‘cancer girl’ and we’d see what happened.  Well… she was delighted! I’d started something!  In mid November, we had a ‘shave day’ – ‘cancer girl’ (who was two cycles in, and starting to lose hair by the clump), her BF, me, another two guys, and two girls.  A further female friend also lopped off her hair – to donate to a wig charity.  Sadly my ‘before’ hair wasn’t long enough to be donated.

Whilst it may seem altruistic, what I did, I thought I’d share all the reasons I was willing to do it (and whether all those reasons turned out as I’d planned)

Shave Day :x
Shave Day 😡

1. To make my friend feel less like ‘the only bald girl‘: seeing we live a few blocks from each other, I hoped the check out staff and other people in our neighbourhood would just think the fashions were changing.  Entirely possible in our esoteric area!

2. To assist in fighting my psoriasis: whilst it’s easier to see (therefore I’m more self conscious about aggravating it), I don’t think it’s miraculously been improved by the increased vitamin D exposure 🙁

3. To save time in the mornings: now I can get away with a much quicker wash.  And no conditioner (and I was fighting to find a good, zero waste conditioner – the bulk one just wasn’t cutting it and neither was the solid bar from Lush).  For almost three months, I didn’t blow dry it either – I just towel dried to the Bart Simpson look! About a month ago, I decided to get it styled (cause… there’s a limit to the length of sideburns even on someone as gorgeous (jokes) like me), and now I blow dry it to style it, so I look more Anne Hathaway than Spike!

4. Making cleaning easier: Oh yes! It is SO much easier.  And I really realised after a house guest (with long hair) had been in my place for a few days – there was so much more hair everywhere!

5. To make sport easier: I play water polo and since November, I’ve not had to wear a silicon swimming cap at all (I still have to wear the funny ear protector playing caps though).  Even my running/gym sessions – I can do without my head band that I used to use to keep the hair out of my face.

6. Personal growth: I think this was the most important reason I wanted to try shaving my head.  I thought it would help with vanity and ideas of beauty and femininity. And somehow, once I’d decided to shave, I picked up a lovely BF.  Perhaps ‘hey, I’m going to Europe for three weeks and when I get back I’m shaving my head’ isn’t necessarily a normal second date conversation – but it is a good way to see if you have a keeper!

One week on exactly
One week on exactly

I was sure I was going to burst into tears when I saw my bald head – but I didn’t.  I felt weird – experiencing wind in my ‘stubble’.  And not having anything to ‘play with’ – you know, put up, restyle, brush…  I’ve had a lot of moments where I’ve looked in the mirror and gone ‘that’s not me’!  But I’ve worked through it.  I’ve had a wig, for when I’ve wanted to feel normal (it was retired about a month ago, when I got my hair styled – even though I’m not 100% in love with the current natural style, I’m 100% over sweaty wig wearing!).  I’ve certainly spent more than usual on earrings.  And worn a lot more make up, to make myself feel pretty on the outside.

Overall, I prefer the benefits of short hair to my longer hair (which I always always wore up!).  And, I was overwhelmed by generosity of others – mainly colleagues  who donated so much to support me in my head shave (either that, or they took me literally when I said they couldn’t pay me out unless they’d paid out!)  I was so pleased to raise almost $5k towards the research centre that my friend is continuing her radio therapy treatment now.  ‘Cancer girl’ in now enjoying fuzz, and she has a posse of male and female friends to guide her through the next few years of hair style trials and tribulations!

So, am I vain? Well I don’t think so, but I sat down and worked out how much it would cost should I do everything I think I should do, with my post The Cost of Being Vain

“Sunday” Chit Chat

I love Carla’s blog My Half Dozen Daily, and am so sad I can’t work out how to comment.  Every Monday (in Australia) I see her Sunday chit chat post and think ‘oh no, I’m too late’.  But today, I’ve decided, nope, I’ll give it a whirl!  Here’s how it works, if you want to get involved:

For anyone new joining in this week, here are the (very loose) rules:

  1. Start your post with a favourite photo (your own, “borrowed”, etc…)
  2. Copy my ‘text’ after “your turn”, paste on your blog to start a new post.
  3. Come back and put in your info in the comment section below so everyone can see what you’ve been up to!
  4. You can also just play along in the comment section if you like!
Sushi share plate - thanks from my house guest last week.
Sushi share plate – thanks from my house guest last week.
  • Reading? The Blade Itself, by Marcus Sakey.  Thanks to some Facebook recommendations, I now a list of books to borrow from the library. I’m enjoying this book, enough to stop playing Freecell on my phone
  • Watching? Keeping in mind it’s work week time now, I’ll answer for my weekend: Gossip Girl Season 6 – which is totally confusing as I haven’t seen the end of Season 5 and people have come back from the dead?!  Also an episode of Law and Order: SVU
  • Listening to? Just the radio, so popular/indie music.  Would like to have listened to a Sunday night radio program but it’s about religion, so I’m not sure the BF would be on board to listening to it with me in the car – I should look into pod casts (and things to play said pod casts on…)
  • Cooking/baking? Sunday I made a zucchini slice for a light lunch after church.  Otherwise, I ate KFC for dinner.  Tonight it’s ‘leftovers’ as I’ll be at a meeting from 6.30pm which is my hungry, dinner eating time.
  • Happy you accomplished this week? Glad I got something baked for Church on Sunday.  And I got a lot of paperwork prepared for early April at work.  And I set myself a plan for posts…
  • Looking forward to next week?  Hmm, it is sad when I say ‘having no Saturday night plans’?  There’s still time to be booked ‘in’, but I like the idea that a lazy Saturday night might be in store.
  • Thankful for today? No Water polo training to ‘have’ to go to, as the last game of the season was last night.
  • *Bonus Question* Are you shy or outgoing? Definately outgoing – but I wouldn’t have it any other way, working with all men!

Ok, your turn!

  • Reading?
  • Watching?
  • Listening to?
  • Cooking/baking?
  • Happy you accomplished this week?
  • Looking forward to next week?
  • Thankful for today?
  • *Bonus Question* Are you shy or outgoing?

Blog giveaway

The tiny parcel of give away goodness!
The tiny parcel of give away goodness!

I was lucky enough to **WIN** a blog giveaway lately, thanks to Fairy at organised castle.  Generally I don’t enter giveaways, unless I’m sure I need what’s on offer.  So Fairy was offering a surprise, I was a little dubious. I shouldn’t have been – her blog aligns nicely with mine, all about making do and being frugal and having less clutter.  And sure enough, her giveaway gift was right up there with utility and style.

organised castle's Peg Bag giveaway
organised castle’s Peg Bag giveaway

What was it you ask?  Why it was a peg bag! Fairy’s pretty handy with the sewing, and she might have ever reused fabric from her thrift store shopping – who knows.  It’s a lovely shade of lime.  (I’m not being tongue in cheek – my pantry/linen closet is also lime – by choice!)

Pantry and Linen closet
Pantry and Linen closet

I need to find a coat hanger than fits in it a little better – perhaps mold a wire hanger a little better?  Here it is with a ‘normal’ plastic hanger:

Peg bag with my usual coathangers
Peg bag with my usual coathangers

It seems just a little too big, as you can see from the fabric straining. Thanks Fairy – next I need to load it up with my pegs!

Attention to detail

I still have my Grade 2 report card.  They were on thick yellow card, and came with pretty line drawings of different skills.  There was of course place for some comments.  Naturally a report card is as much about reporting progress to parents, as it is finding room to grow and improve.  Like life really – it comes with feedback loops.  And it’s great to never be done (ok, who am I kidding, I love a to do list that’s achieved, with countless lines through all the tasks….)  but there IS always more to be done, or more to improve on.

Of course, I couldn't find THE comment on the report cards I could put my hands on...
Of course, I couldn’t find THE comment on the report cards I could put my hands on…

And today, and for the past few weeks, and back to Grade 2, I’ve needed greater attention to detail.  I’m not sure in what task my lack of attention presented itself in grade 2, but the comment was ‘Sarah shouldn’t be in such a rush to finish her work, and should use her time to review her work’.  Wowzas.  As true now, 20 years on, as it was the year it was written.

The key to me is finding out WHY I rush my work, so I don’t do it as much, or as often.  I know that I don’t spend hours proofing blog posts (I’m not sure if that shows, to you, the readers).  I just don’t get any joy in ‘checking’ what I big headedly assume I of course would have done correctly the first time.  And so often you reread things and your mind plays tricks – it puts the word in that you missed, or it rearranges the letters to make the work you meant to write.  And I assume that the reader is smart, and will ‘work it out’

Work it out?

Where’s the respect for your reader?

Why can’t I do my ‘job’ properly?  In my work, I don’t ‘write’ in the same sense.  It’s not prose.  I write documentation with specific rigid language, and I attach diagrams to support what I’ve written.  It seems simple, and with *attention to detail* I could cross check every part of one against the other.  Instead, it seems that I send them along in the chain, and this lovely fellow with a truly unique name, politely lets me know of all the changes I need to make (or he’s generously made on my behalf).  He’s never angry.  He never (appears to) lose his patience.  If I was him, I would have.  A L-O-N-G time ago.  Because 80% of the time, his feedback is something I knew, in some dark recesses of my mind.  In my once over, I didn’t remember that a certain symbol should accompany that change.  Or that something is “always” orientated that way for that type.

How do I never make the same mistake twice?  I could simply record all the mistakes I make.  But the key is to REVIEW this list with every submission (and there’s a few a week on average).  I have made lists of mistakes, a checklist of the more commonly forgotten things.  But it doesn’t seem to be lessening the ‘attention to detail’ mistakes.

All I can do is try to improve my ‘mistake-o-meter’.  I shall try to more rigourously track each one I make and then at least I’ll know how often I’m making the mistake of the same type…

In sickness…

And to improving health!  I’ve been off work most of the week with a cold, as I’m a big believer that rest is the cure to almost all things.  And as per my mother’s strict childhood guidelines, I spent at least the first half of the day in bed.  I was so thankful to have printed out a chicken and chickpea soup a while back, so that I could rustle it up on Tuesday (after my lovely dad dropped by a chicken, as my local grocer doesn’t offer them).  However, my humble home does not have internet.  I have my phone, so I can check my emails and facebook, but I don’t really read recipes, or blogs or the like, from my phone.  It’s just too hard.  So thus the radio silence.


In that time, the lovely Dar at anexactinglife nominated me for an award (two awards, one award with two names, I’m totally not sure). Nonethless, I’m so honoured, given I’m such a new blog (though a long time commenter on a number of blogs – well a long time for me!)  So thank you so much for the kind link!

The rules of the award are listed at the bottom of the post, but I shall continue forth with it’s prescriptions here.  Now it’s time for 7 things about myself

1. I have a degree in engineering and arts in international studies.  I also have a Cert II (and almost a Cert III but I didn’t finish the work experience requirements) in Floristry

2. I’m not an animal LOVER (to be clear, I’m not a hater either, I’m just pretty ambivalent)

3. I used to collect birdcages – I just love the structure and form.  However, I downsized from 7 to 3-4 and am looking to suspend them from my double height ceiling in a little corner.  How I’ll do this remains a challenge with a concrete ceiling!

4. People always find me contradictory – not what I say, but who I am and what my values are.  I can’t for the life work out how or why though!

5. I can’t help but always try to divide this by that – so if someone says ‘I saw 56 movies in 4 years’ I try to work out how many a year etc etc… it’s just instinct!?

6. I go to church every week, almost without fail.  But I keep my faith, otherwise, very private.

7. I really do not have a plan in life – either career or personal life.  Despite being ‘a planner’ and being organised, I’m a little unsure of what and when.  On Saturday, a childhood friend of my brothers mentioned she sees a fortune teller when she’s at a crossroads in her life, and I’m starting to think maybe I should give that a whirl.  Even if they are only telling me what they think I want to hear, I’m curious to know what this person might think I want to hear!

Now for my ten nominees (who I TOTALLY do not expect to jump through the hoops if they don’t want to – it’s surely as much about increasing people’s awareness of different blogs out there!)  Sadly some blogs I loved have disappeared from my ‘bookmarks’ and I’ve lost them forever 🙁 If only I had a better memory!

1. 71toes : A lovely SAHM who inspires me with her love and happiness.  Her children are also totally gorgeous (and she’s an awesome photographer).  One day, I hope I’ll have as delightful a family!

2. My 1/2 dozen daily: such a prolific sewer and blogger, and incredibly frugal but upbeat.  No matter how many times she writes that she lives in Canada, I still think she’s in England – brain malfunction!  Sadly I can’t comment on this type of blog – some Google Chrome/Typepad interface issue 🙁

3. 365 less things: This is where my daily appeite for blog reading started.  I’ve been lucky to meet Colleen in person, and whilst we’re a generation apart, reading her blog helped me declutter to simplify my move from my parents place to my own.  And I love Cindy’s guest posts every Wednesday.

4. Young House Love: A DIY family blog that seems to be #1 worldwide!  Ok, perhaps not, but they seem to pop up everywhere, and they are often my first post read for a day.

5. Clover Lane: Another SAHM who I found due to her decluttering efforts.  Again, I just love a snapshot into other family’s lives, especially big families

6. A blog about love: Some how I tripped and found this delightful blog – reading their ‘story’ through their emails back and forth are just amazing (and maybe make me reflect on a little less amazing life), but still, it’s like an epic love story!

7. Zero Waste Home: As the name suggests, an amazing Franco-American family who have a ridiculously small eco footprint with waste.  I’m inspired by them, and continue to wonder just how I could be more like them.

8.  Go Gingham: Well she shares my name (if not spelling) and is wonderfully home made, no nonsense mum.  She really is a perfect balance of pragmatism and fun, with responsibility for the earth thrown in there.

9. Reach Financial Independance: A lovely French personal finance blogger (who write in English) living in South America.  She’s inspired a few of my recent posts on money.

10. Penelope Bell: A bright and cheery country ‘girl’ (she’s my age, we’re still girls right?)  for rural Queensland, Australia who is an incredible artist and fashion designer.  She always brightens my day with her beautiful posts and sometimes an accompanying water colour.

And that marks a diverse collection of blogs I enjoy reading!

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award / The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post. **I hope this just means the images?!**
3. Share 7 things about yourself.
4. Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
5. Include this set of rules.
6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs. **I really don’t want to pester people with this ‘chain’ style thing…. hmmm***

Living solo

This post is inspired by the following article:

When I ‘moved out’ for the first time, it was to a house for (Anglican) girls coming to uni in the ‘city’.  It was great, but I was naughty (which, then, I most certainly was not!), and so when I reapplied to live there in second year, I was told they were looking for a different mix of people.  I then moved onto uni housing – 8 bedroom purpose built apartments, with 3.5 bathrooms and a double kitchen.  And to single rooms in French ‘Cite U’s’.  But it wasn’t until I bought my own place did I really have the sense that I was ‘living alone’.

When I was looking to buy, I consider living somewhere more ‘affordable’ so I could buy something with two bedrooms, and have a flatmate.  Then it was a balance – would I pay more, knowing I’d have a flatmate?  Would I stretch my loan that much further, but then be obliged to live with someone?  And then I recalled mum’s horror that I re-categorised the pantry.  Or when I wanted less in some cupboards.  I started to think about having someone in ‘MY’ space!  And then it became simple.

If I was OK to live alone, I could live wherever, as I was fortunate to be able to afford (and accept living in) ‘small’.  And I didn’t want more than small – bigger than small needs more stuff.  And one thing I don’t want to get sucked into is more stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, I have stuff, but feeling the need to ‘fill’ a space with stuff… makes my stomach churn at the waste of money and resources…  For my little body can only sit in one chair at once… or be in one room at once!

I do feel proud that I can and have lived alone.  That I can balance the budget, feed myself, truly live without relying on someone else.  I luckily live so close to some wonderful friends, who have stuff… like power drills and spirit levels and hard disc drives full of TV shows to starve out the demons that intrude my home when I have a long weekend and no firm plans.  Because, living alone is 90% lovely, and 10% crazylonely.  It’s lonely when you imagine that everyone else is having a grand time – with someone, doing the banal things in life.  You never actually imagine houseshares or couples fighting… or the piles of dishes that no one washes…  even though that’s more like the reality.  It’s crazy ’cause it’s not truth that you imagine, but this fairytale fiction of what it would be like to live with someone.

It’s nice to come home to as clean (or dirty…!) a house as I left it.  But, man, it’s oh so lovely to get home when a friend’s been staying, and play ‘spot the difference’.  Love to my friend who emptied the seldom used dishwasher and put everything away.  Thank you housesitter for new toliet paper, washing powder and wool wash (and oh so sorry for not replenishing those, and for me thinking that you’d need more plain flour and sugar… cause surely she’ll bake?!)

Living alone is great, when you live so close to your community.  And connected enough to get out when you need to – to spend time with people.  I’m lucky to have a few nearby buses, and a train station that’s an oversized block or two from my place.  And I’m lucky that just one stop on an express train (15 minutes) I can be at the station closest to my parents and brothers’ place.

None of this is to say that living alone is something that’s so good I’d never consider anything otherwise, just that I am thankful for what I’ve got in the here and now!

To new beginnings!

With days until NYE, and more than a year of commenting and enjoying so many great blogs out there, I’ve decided to (re-)create my own!  My very first blog still exists and occasionally it generates a spam email.  It was of my life in France in 2006, when I studied there for an exchange.  I got sick of writing long emails, and figured I could put all my photos interspersed with text on a blog, and those that could be bothered would hopefully drop by and read it.  At the very least it was more appealing than rereading emails with lots of text and then a collection of photo attachments with no captions!

This blog… probably won’t share as many tales of my jaunts overseas, though that’s not a promise that there won’t be some juicy ‘what I saw when I went here’ posts.  I mainly plan to document my life, and write posts inspired by other bloggers.  A place to reflect on life, and then to plan and achieve all those things that are on my lists!!  Looking forward to taking you along for the ride.

Things I achieved in 2011

*Published in 2019, but back dated to be ‘year end’ summary*

Wow, only two or so years ago at time of writing, and I’m already thinking ‘what did I do that year?’

  • I went to the US, with a side trip to Israel
  • I met close friends from Sydney in NYC for a night or two
  • I saw Cirque de Soliel in Radio City Hall
  • I did a huge road trip all over Israel with a fantastic friend I met in Paris in 2010
  • I suffered major plane delays with Delta back to the US, so moved to El Al
  • Successfully met my NYC to Chicago connection to meet a friend from studying in France in 2006
  • Shopped my heart out in Chicago (hello Banana Republic and Victoria’s Secret)
  • Met my family in NYC, having all flew into the US at different dates/times (Mum: conference in Colarado, Brothers a few days before Dad)
  • Visiting the ‘YMCA’ in Harlem where my brothers were staying!
  • Freaking out about dogs after staying with a family in Connecticut I met on the plane from NYC to LAX in 2008
  • Visited Washington DC alone, meeting up with a friend form Paris in 2010, somehow, without a mobile phone!?
  • Continued to save my pennies for a house deposit
  • Had an offer accepted on a loft opposite Mr DIY’s rental terrace, for the building society to reject my application based on the property valuation 🙁
  • Visited endless open houses!
  • Successfully bought the loft pre auction, that settled on 22/12/2011
  • Lived at home until the day my property settled
  • Pre bought furniture, such as second hand dining chairs, the tenant’s kitchen table and buffet, and crockery
  • Tried a homeopath/natropath for psorasis