What I list about…

So here’s a snapshot (sanitised) of my current lists (that I have in electronic form):

– To do: broken into categories: work; day off; awaiting; long term

– BF’s to do list: things he keeps talking about…

– Be more generous: tracking ways I’ve been generous – moving that to this blog currently, in my monthly tracking

– Songs at end 2012: lists the songs I like on the radio/want to download

– Graffiti’d assets: This is a running list of work assets I see when on ‘down’ time that need graffiti attended to.  Bit of a weird habit!

– To google: For sites I can’t access with work’s blocks – weirdly this doesn’t get added to much at all, maybe I don’t need to ‘list’ it anymore

– Holidays (v1): Friends who live out of town that I should go and visit

– Holidays (v2): (predominantly) international destinations I’d like to visit (with time frames on what year and time of year)

– Events/Acitivites: date and other ideas to do with the BF (shush he doesn’t know I list this!)

– Big spending plans: born out of weeks where you could spend 10x you pay cheque and stress out, I just list all the money I plan/want/need to spend in the future – on things like income protection, insurance, funeral plans etc

– Dinner invites: Friends and family I really must invite around, who haven’t yet seen my ‘new’ (year old) place

– Grocery pricing: tracks  costs of regularly bought items at various stores

– Future decluttering: Things I need to get rid of, or are thinking might be on their way out (I need to improve on GETTING THINGS GONE!)

– Decluttered 2012: I was vaguely seeing if I decluttered more than 365 things.  Woeful.  I didn’t.  Keep in mind, I was equipping a house, so it’s not entirely bizarre to think I didn’t get rid of a lot!  There’s 115 line items, but some have multiples, so I’d say there were about 165 things.  But then I also include things that went in trash (which makes me feel uncomfortable), things I returned to stores etc.

– One day jobs: once a huge list that had everything I wanted to around my apartment.  I’m incredibly pleased with my progress!

– Gift ideas: for the BF

– Dimensions: of spaces and things in my apartment, so I know if a wine rack or photo frame fits

– Foods I don’t prefer: wow this list is long… I mean most food I will eat, but I use the ‘dislikes’ to narrow down ordering food out and choosing recipes

– Foods I love to order: this reminds me of the fail safe loves of food (even if they are unhealthy!)

– Countries I’ve visited: a simple count of all the places I’ve been lucky enough to visit in my so far short life

– Clothing likes and dislikes: this list was born out of shopping frustration (and a hot summer in classes in France!), and is rather detailed!

– Adventures: those crazy ‘sports’ that I’d like to do (incl sky diving and the like)

– Things that make me happy: to pull me out of a funk or brighten a day, it’s nice to revisit this list.  I started it in 2002 I think, on coloured bits of paper, and allowed myself positive and negatives on different sheets.  Over time, I’ve chosen to keep the positive ones only.

There’s a few other lists, that really, I shouldn’t have or I should ‘hide’ better (than being on Gtasks which syncs to my phone), mainly relationship-y stuff…  I also write paper lists at work, for ‘things to do tomorrow’ and the like.  I also write paper lists for myself.  Sometimes it feels better to cross things off…  And get through the MAMMOTH pile of one sided printed paper my work generates.

I think I’m willing to elaborate on lists, should any spark your interest, let me know!

Operation: Bed Ledge

All I wanted was a bed ledge.  And for so many months, I could NOT find one.  Sure, Ikea makes a bed ledges/shelving unit for my style of bed (the Malm), but I didn’t want all that shelving-ness.  I just wanted ledge-ness.  I searched the as-is section with a fervor bordering on stalker (helped that Ikea is on the way between my work and my parents place, which I do at least once a week).  But never did I find an ‘as-is’ Malm 3 Piece bed head like below (I’m not sure I could have made it work anyway – cause as is can be ANYTHING).

Ikea's 3 piece bed head offereing
Ikea’s 3 piece bed head offereing

One day, in as-is, I found this:

Malm occassional table
Malm occassional table

If I overlooked the orange-ness (haha… sure, me, and orange!), it was still 22cm too ‘wide’ for a bed head ledge. And a few centimetres lower. It just wasn’t good enough.  It just wouldn’t work.  And nor would Ikea’s ledges.  Nothing looked like it would work (despite me seeing them make a catalogue COVER with a ledge behind the bed that was the SAME width – one of those mysteries I’m yet to have solved!).  I diversified to gumtree.com.au and ebay.com.au looking for occasional and sofa tables that might, by chance, meet all my measurements, and hopefully tone in with the wood.

And then… amazingly, something in my brain switched.  I wish I could remember when or how or why.  I undoubtedly it was with my MR DIY (not the BF, someone else, I like to compartmentalise).  What if I had a second Malm bed.  What if I used a second ‘head’ of a bed, against the wall, and jutted my normal bed out off the wall.  And bridge the gap with a ‘foot’ of a second Malm bed?  This would all measure up PERFECTLY.  And then: I found a Malm queen bed in the black brown for 50 big ones on gumtree.  It would be mine.  And it was.  I took a friend along for a ride (she was up for company, and I had a mission – and she was a sport… cause there’s two long ‘side’ bits to make it a bed frame… well we needed to NOT impale ourselves on those on our drive back… and so she helped me carefully dispose of them pronto!)

I carted the components into my loft, and then balanced everything out.  Which is FINE when you live alone.  And you sleep ‘carefully’.  But then, well, someone came along and it went boom crash!  So a securing system was needed.  Lengthy negotiations with MR DIY commenced.  And, to be honest, best laid plans didn’t succeed (we though we could out-Ikea Ikea – with dowels.  But ikea hollowed out the bed head and it was never going to work :'( )  In the end, we just duplicated the L bracket scheme on each side.  Of course, I bought enough to do this initially, then we changed the plan, returned one set, only to have to go back and buy it again.  I’m a serial ‘returner’ of anything unused – waste not, want not!

Now for the photo essay:

Mounting simple L brackets to the horizontal ledge component
Mounting simple L brackets to the horizontal ledge component
Two 'legs' to my bed ledge - using a second Malm Queen bed head
Two ‘legs’ to my bed ledge – using a second Malm Queen bed head
IMAG0708
Drilling into the ‘legs’ to later screw the horizontal ledge to the vertical leg (creating an upside down L)
Attaching ledge compenent to legs component
Attaching ledge compenent to legs component
Brackets attached to the 'rear' (wall side) leg and the ledge
Brackets attached to the ‘rear’ (wall side) leg and the ledge
Look at that ledge!
Look at that ledge!
Sid eview
Side view
Finished - complete with BOOKS!
Finished – complete with BOOKS!

My house may or may not resemble an Ikea showroom – what do you think?

Want to learn more of my tricks for making a small loft work for me? How about how I store all my jewellery beautifully, so I know what I’ve got, and I wear it? What about an innovative way to organise my spices?  Or maybe you’d like to see more of my house – see the house tour.

Penny-wise

Well to be honest, we, in Australia, don’t have pennies – actually, I’m starting to think 5c pieces are useless.  Most vending machines no longer take them, and I’m inclined to decline those given to me as change.  They are just too small to be ‘worth it’.  But this post is about whether I ‘manage’ the pennies – as inspired by An Exacting Life’s post.

The answer is ‘sometimes’.  Since going away in October, I think I’ve let me fastidious money tracking lapse.  Prior to my holiday, I was tracking every expense, looking for an average ‘normal spend’ so I could start withdrawing just that amount of cash (and hopefully save the remainder).  In actual fact, my budgetting works in reverse to most (I think).  I set savings targets, and the rest is ‘fun money’. Here’s how it works, on pay day (weekly):

1. Pay mortgage (variable amounts, but a target amount per week, sometimes I overpay if it’s a ‘good’ week, other weeks I ‘under’ pay knowing I’m ahead… I track what I pay, so I always meet my monthly repayment by the due date).

2. Pay bills – this includes whatever is on the credit card from the week prior, plus any utilities/insurances etc that have come in the mail.  This may meant moving money from the fund outlines in 3. into the ‘everyday’ account.

3. Pay savings – some of these are automated – I take about about $20 per week to ‘save’ for my annual health insurance premium.  I also put about $200 per week away for bills – I have strata payments due quarterly, at a whopping $1250!  So if I don’t plan for this expense it can be a RUDE shock!  I also put away $50 per week as a savings cushion or holiday fund (I change it up, with respects to the goal), to meet a rewards program with my bank.  These are all automated.

4. Spend spend spend – this is groceries, eating out (by FAR my biggest expense, but I’m ok with that mostly), transport (negligible given I don’t own a car, and work pays for everything for my work car).  I try to make these around 20% (or about $240 a week) of my take home pay per week.  That being said, it doesn’t always work like that!

5. Savings – as Tuesday comes around, if I know I have nothing planned spending wise, I’ll sock away whatever cream is left that I won’t miss to savings, leaving about a $100 balance for ’emergencies’.  Knowing it’s a day til pay day, I seldom have an emergency, but I don’t like the idea of having no ready accessible cash, if only for a day.

Strangely, once the money is in the cushion/holiday account, I’m reticent to withdraw it.  Which means I stress myself out when I get down to a nil cash balance, or start putting things on credit cards, even though I know I have a nice big cushion tucked away.  I suppose I create a ‘poor’ mentality, so I keep on my toes.

All in all, I work to my money goals, and the rest I try to just take easy – and go with the flow.  Given I reach most of my savings goals (such as buying a place, and going on holidays), I feel like my strategy works.  That being said, I sometimes feel like my strategy makes me less ‘fun’ as I’m always planning and scheming and find it hard to just live it up – cause I’m always thinking ‘that’s money I could be saving for an awesome business class flight’…

The really thing I grapple with are the ‘slush fund‘ situations that Carla asked about.   My philosophy (generally) is that all should come out of my ‘spend spend spend fund’  (like my $30 per month prepaid phone credit).  However, given I love to buy stuff for my house (ok, get stuff DONE to my house), not all these expenses fit into this weekly budget.  That’s where I grapple with dipping into the savings cushion.  I do try to maintain a min balance on the savings cushion (which is my nice name for an emergency fund) of at least $10k.   It’s such a balancing act between growing the emergency fund and doing things I long to do in my home.  Some weeks I feel like I have no money, and endless ‘to do/buy’ things on my list.  But by writing a list last year, I was able to slowly work through all my ‘renovation’ goals each month, and now I’m close to being done. But that’s a subject for another post.

Cutting expenses

Pauline has inspired me, again (cause of course I like a good list)  She’s collected a number of questions to help to cut expenses.  And I’m a penny pincher if there ever was one!

My answers are all in bold.  Nice way to tell you a little bit more about myself, and my money management skills.

Car

Do you need a car? NOPE! So I don’t have one.  Well, I lie.  I have a ‘free’ work car, for driving to and from work, and at work.  Bonus! I then share a car with my younger brother.  At the moment, there’s no sharing – he’s half a world away.  That being said, I don’t need it, though I do enjoy having more regular use in his absence

Really? Sure, I’ll use one, but if I don’t have a car on hand, I work it out – pub trans, walking, a cab

Can you work from home a day per week, or commute? See above, whilst the car is free, I’m sitting pretty from a $$ (say nothing of my green credentials being shot – so much for being a greenie when I drive to and from work!)

Can you walk or cycle more? YES! (if only to be able to eat more bad foods!)

Do you pay the minimum amount on insurance for the coverage you need? Good question – we don’t pay comprehensive (so if the car gets nicked in my less that safe suburb, that’ll be a real shame!).  Compulsory third party insurance is unfortunately not at all competitive, but I did get two quotes back in September when it was due.  Otherwise, I don’t think we have roadside assistance, which seems ok – cause our parents and our other brother live nearby (and I also have awesome friends who’d help out if I got stuck)

Do you need two cars? Well, no – I don’t even have the car space for more than one!  But one is 100% free in the dollars sense… Alas, it’s due to be taken off me in March due to changes at work.

Housing

Are your utility bills as low as possible or are you wasting energy? For sure I’m wasting energy – I’ve got lax on switching off the microwave at the wall (and I’m using it less often now, so I really should make the effort!).  I have also powered the air con a bit lately – largely for guests, but I’ll admit that it’s often for me too!  I do have a 10% off contract with electricity, which is pretty pathetic (imo), but it’s not a very competitive industry (I’d know, I work in it!)

Do you need cable? I’d love to have it – but alas I don’t!

Do you turn off the lights when you leave a room? Always! Admittedly occasionally I leave some low energy mood lighting on if I know I’m coming home late (ie when I go out after work), as much for others that will come home with me, than solely me.  But I like a little ambient lighting when I get home…  My guest last night went and turned lights off before we watched a DVD – what a great friend!

Can you switch to a better deal for broadband / Netflix / utilities?  I don’t have internet at home! With a smart phone, I hardly need it (despite my friends telling me otherwise!!)  I stopped Quickflix – which is mail order DVDs Australia style.  I haven’t missed it either.  So that’s two things I don’t have as expenses.

Is your house properly insulated? Well it’s a concrete box looking out of one large set of windows (it’s a loft apartment!)  The concrete floor is a good thermal mass – especially with the air con!  But generally the place stays warm in winter, which is more important to me than cool in summer, cause I don’t get that hot.

Could you dry your clothes outside? Yes – although, this question would perhaps read better ‘naturally’.  I hang them up on a clothes airer inside my apartment.  I don’t own a clothes dryer.  I don’t need one, and if and when I do, I go to the local laudromat, pay my $5, and they dry it for me.  In a year, I’ve used them on two occasions  and interestingly, only for other people’s stuff…

Do you need a cleaning lady? Hells yes! But alas, no I don’t have one of these either.  I did recently engage someone for two hours to clean after doing a large wedding in my tiny apartment.  I used some of my ‘pay’ to cover this ‘expense’

Groceries

Are you eating everything you buy? More or less, yes. I’m churning through (quickly spoiling) fruit salad, as I don’t like to waste.  I hate to have ‘wet’ rubbish, so this really helps not to waste food.  I did throw out some parmasen cheese that was a little funky last time I used it

Could you switch to the store’s brand? Done – even though I did feel a little weird when someone was standing next to me in a grocery store.  I feel like because people think I earn ‘good money’ I should buy ‘premium’ – but I’m not that silly!

Do you eat meat with every meal? Nope!  Love a good vego meal, or even a meal that’s largely vego save for a slice or two of bacon.

Could you reduce meat, dairy and alcohol consumption, even temporarily? Sure can – bought some beer and wine for NYE – wow that’s a pricey trip.  But I can’t cut down to the extent that I’m ‘freeloading’ from my friends.  So it’s a balancing act.  Dairy has been severely reduced in the past year – mainly cause it’s hard to buy zero/low waste versions of cheese/yoghurt/cream.  I really would like to limit my trash, and dairy isn’t easy as I don’t have a local deli.

Have you gone through your stockpile for products about to go bad? No, but I do have a ‘to use’ list so I make sure those esoteric ingredients get used up, rather than languishing.  But no meat in the freezer (as I became used to at M&D’s place)

Do you use coupons? No – they aren’t really common in my local grocer (ie they are independently owned stores, not a chain).

Personal

Can you do without new clothes for some time? Yep – did this in 2011 – got SO bad, my father started questioning my decision, as he often hung out the family’s washing. It was worth it to be able to buy my own place.  Since then, I buy the bulk of my clothing whilst on holidays, which is usually once a year.  I buy underwear whenever it’s in stock and I’m in store (not often enough!).  I tracked clothing expenses for two years – I spend between $2000 to $5000, so a year off is a HUGE saving.

Can you ask a friend to cut your hair, or do your own manicure? I have a buzz cut – I supported my friend who is currently undergoing chemo.  So no more conditioner, no more hair dryer (at least for now!)  Even my hair clips are languishing in the drawer.  Now manicures.  This is something I’ve never done, but my partner has indicated he’d appreciate.  I painted them twice since – once was ultimate fail, but the second time was an improvement (thanks to good quality polish).  Actually, by late Jan, I can recruit my mum to DIY – she’s a pro!

Can you find a free course instead or a paid one? I’m not doing any courses… maybe I should be?!

Can you get your books from the library instead of buying them? Pft – people buy books? (OK, I bought two cook books as gifts for Christmas… but still). I have a list of library books to read, and I work through them.  That reminds me, I must renew them, they are due back today or yesterday (ekk!), and I’ve only read one of four.  (Bless friends for keeping me busy this Christmas/New Year period whilst my family were away). I’ll also never buy a magazine, save for a long haul flight – and then I’ll buy an economist, which is worth whatever the ticket price for the amount I learn!

Giving gifts

Thank Pauline, again inspiring a post!  How much do you spend on gifts – and why?

This is obviously a little more of a review, than a ‘pre’ Christmas thing.  But it’s something I grappled with this Christmas, being in a new relationship (and it’s a long time, it seems, since I was last in one!)

**Sorry for the stray balloon about halfway down – and the less than readable font. I’m very new to this, so I’m having some teething issues – but this post I learnt how to have subtitles, so that’s all VERY exciting!**

Family

I roughly budget about $150-200 per person for Christmas (Mum, Dad, and my two younger brother – big bro and little bro (one is tall… and older than the other).  Admittedly, some years I run away overseas, and they have to settle for about $20-$50 gifts.  I feel OK when I ‘scrimp’ (in my eyes) cause my mother at least thinks I’m very generous.  I don’t mind spending when I know it’s a gift they’ll like or use.  This year, mum and dad got tickets to Bruce Sprinsteen.  Little bro got a money transfer – whilst i could have got him something, he was leaving for a Europe trip, so I figure cash was simple!  Big bro heard about the cash… and so he got a pail filled with the same amount of money in $2, $1, 50c and 20c coins.  I was so proud – he’s someone who finds money burning a hole in his pocket, so this was my crafty way to be equal with his bro – but slow him down (he also has a sense of humour!).  The upside of the “change” gift was that it took to bulk of coinage that was littering the floor at the BF’s place – win win!

BF

Oh, did I struggle with this one! Before he went home to his family, i got him two ‘joke’ presents – things that had some up in conversations.  So, clothes pegs (or pins), and a scrubbing brush that you can put the liquid in!  Oh and a card.  I did this the night before he went away.  He didn’t want to open them – and I wanted to make sure he did, lest he think I was uber serious… Needless to say, he still went home and returned with generosity! (and… then I knew where to pitch my non joke gift’s value – about the same as my family above!).  So today he should hopefully get his gift voucher in the mail – let’s hope he likes it, cause if he doesn’t, I’ll happily use it! It’s a helicopter flight over Sydney Harbour – given he loves sailing, and has only lived in the city a short while, i think it’ll be good (and I’ll happily buy myself a seat alongside him when he/we pick a date to do it!).

Pauline – I agree with you about guys paying for a few dates  – and my boy is incredibly generous with dates.  Thankfully there wasn’t any tech gagets he wanted, though there are a few things I know I could have sorted that he’d have liked (like sunglasses, or getting his car detailed) but they all seemed like they had a high chance of failure – wrong style or hard to sort out the car thing.

Extended Family

This is guided by established protocols – this year the deal was ‘no gifts except for Grandma’ – so I made her an album of our family’s photos.  It’s such a relaxing and fun hobby – even if I only took a few nights to get it done.  And there’s so many leftover pages, I might get charged with adding other families…  Otherwise, some years it’s $50 per person you are charged with giving to.  I handle all 5 people our family draws out – seems I love thinking and getting a great gift – and my mum loves letting me… mostly!

Friends

Generally, I implement a strict no gift policy.  Works better with some groups better than others.  So this year I had to reciprocate (in a MAD hurry) cause the past two years they’ve not given me anything (and I’m OK with that!).  Anyhow, I went for about $50 each – which got a cookbook, or a lantern as suited the couples.  I’m pretty sure I ‘over’ compensated, but I’d rather do that, than scrimp – cause I feel like all year I bring less alcohol to things, and all my friends so generously offer their’s to me…

Colleagues

This year, I did nothing.  In the past, I made mini cakes or the like.  This year, my neighbours got something similar – I was reaching out to people I’ve lived with for a year and still don’t know.  It was nice to slowly getting cards back from each of them – now to match faces to names! If only I’d had the courage to knock on doors to give them my Christmas brownies (and likewise…  all the cards were secretly squirreled to me, even when I was home!!)  Some very generous neighbours also gave me a book, and some others, some chocolates – really lovely!

I did however volunteer myself to help with the BF’s secret santa in the office – and I/we won hands down as the best gift! (helps that he had his fave staff member… maybe?).  I got a cheap glass saladier and filled it with jelly beans, and wrapped it amazingly (if I do say so myself) with cellophane and a big bow.  Certainly some wow factor for a $20 gift. (I’ll fess up, I’ve done this gift before for my cousins… )  Seems the office continues to eat the jelly beans now, and the recipient intends to top up the bowl – win win!

All in all, I think I got out of Christmas fairly easily.  I think in total I would have spent about $800, which certainly seems like a lot, but I do put more into Christmas than birthdays (easier to get a good lead time on Christmas – whereas birthdays sneak up on you!)

Receiving

I would really like to have a zero waste home, as well as an uncluttered home.  Gifts scream potential for both of those!  So I’d rather say no to gifts than risk something I won’t use/enjoy/like!  That being said, my family are pretty happy to be ‘told’ what I’d like, and I can settle for that.  Some of the best gifts of all time were: a mini swiss army knife with USB (admittedly the USB is close to useless due to it’s small size in today’s terms, but the knife acts as a key ring, and I’d use the mini scissors close to daily) and a dress (I fought SO hard for them to not buy it for me – and they scoured the world, quite LITERALLY to get it for me, and of course, I couldn’t not wear it, and now I love it!?).

Annual Goals

Despite my efforts to make this ‘publish’ whilst I was enjoying life, I failed 🙁  But that’s given me time to reflect (and enjoy my time off) and so I’ll ensure everything listed still fits reality!

Financial

– Save a total of $20k by 22 Dec (for mortgage refinancing):  Current balance is $13,487.55.  Whilst this account doesn’t pay bills, it is dipped into occasionally for ’emergency’ spending (which sometimes means ‘a flight’s a really good deal, and I can save that money up again’!)

– Continue to meet all bills with weekly savings contribution of $200 per week

– Aim for $100+ ‘generosity’ per week – charity, church, random acts of gifting and kindness (this is setting the bar HIGH – but it’s in the ball park of 10% of salary, if others can do it, I should try it!)

Health

– Cook at home at least twice a week – living alone, cooking semi-regularly means I have some healthy food, and limits my take out. It also means I don’t have to buy lunch (which I hate – not the buying as much as the decision making process… and then the money spending… I hate spending money and then finding it was ‘wasted’ because I didn’t like what I bought!)

– Limit wheat intake – try to make the ‘right’ choice more often

– Limit sugar intake – maybe ‘dessert’ once a week.  No sweet snacks…

(both the above aren’t measurable… so not very exact.  The rule I used between 12 Nov (my return from my last trip) and Christmas was to not eat any sugar.  Whilst that wasn’t strictly adhered to, I certainly lowered it significantly.  Whilst I was away, every day pasteries was the order of the day!! )

– TRAIN and play water polo – I’m good at attending every game (been known to reschedule holidays around games!), but not so good at training, so I need to commit to a weekly training, and stop making excuses!

Cultural

– 2 films a month – a few years ago, I counted my ticket stubs on new years day, and had 40 for the year! That’s INSANE but an indication of how much I love immersing myself in the cinema (musty carpet smell and all!)  It’s truly a few hours where I can escape.  It’s not the same to steal it from the internet, and do your mending or cook dinner at the same time.  When I go to the movies, I don’t text. I don’t let ‘normal’ life interfere (though… I do chatter away to someone who has been silly enough to come along with me – sorry!)

– 2 books a month – So far I have had 52 loans at my local library, and given I’ve only been ‘in area’ for a year, that would be more like one a week (actually seems I started lending in March, so more than one a week!).  That being said, some of them aren’t ‘read’ – I did borrow some CDs.  I also borrow magazines, and they aren’t something I’m willing to count as ‘books’.

Social

It does seem weird keeping targeted lists on social front.  But there are a lot of friends who I don’t keep in touch with as much as I’d like to.  I’ve certainly been better since I stopped being a student (Being a student just sucked life out of me – there was always something I ‘should’ have been doing, and it never seemed there was enough time just to live… to enjoy life…)  In the past I know I set a goal of calling a friend a week (obviously targeting ones I wasn’t seeing regularly, so largely those who live interstate) This was a big deal for me, as I realised I don’t call people ‘just for a chat’ and felt awkward about it.  One thing I have mastered in the post card sending whilst on holidays, as well as Christmas cards (though this year the latter list was severely truncated…)

– touch base with an out of town friend once a month

– make time for friends around regular commitments (work, church, water polo): I’m mindful that a close friend mentioned I was ‘always busy’, and therefore did lessen my load with water polo.  I want to make sure my friends don’t feel like they are neglected, but at the same time, not that I’m leeching off them to spend every hour together -it’s a balancing act between needy and hoity independence sometimes!

Professional

– Get my certification: Agh this is something I have to do, but have NO enthusiasm.  I shouldn’t take the next week off, I should stay at work at write career episodes – but the friends goal above is winning out!

– Start looking for my next role: career progression targets at work mean this is the year I need to look for a new role, so I can meet the certification + experience targets to continue progressing.  I’m loathed to leave where I am – I have a great boss, I’m still learning, I love my work, and I don’t want to risk any of those things by moving.  But if I don’t move, then I might be closing doors for my future (and I’m young, there’s a lot of ‘career’ ahead!)

Things I achieved in 2012

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

In line with the 2013 summary I published, I thought I’d take the time to review each year since I was at school, as a record of my life.  Things get hazy as time goes on, and it’s not going to get any better as I age!  So here we go!

In 2012

  • My parents live in Toulon, France from Sept 2012 to Jan 2013
  • I visited my parents in Toulon, but we met in Marrakesh and visited Casablanca too, in Oct/Nov 2012
  • Visited Duabi alone, shopping up a storm and going hot air ballooning over the desert
  • I flew business class on Emirate from Paris to Dubai to Sydney at my cost on an A380 and a 777
  • I started dating “The BF” at the start of October 2012
  • Prior to “the BF”, this was my year of dating!  A good friend spent a lot of time awkwardly setting me up!
  • Memories of brunches with Mr DIY and his GF
  • My first year living the apartment I bought (the loft), having settled on 22 Dec 2011
  • I equipped a whole home with living furniture – sofas, kitchen stuff etc
  • Hosted a Thai birthday banquet for myself at the new house
  • Recarpeted the upstairs in the early days, meaning I lived in my living room when I moved in!
  • Had the loft painted (un)professionally
  • Updated the tapware (thanks Aldi!)
Toulon harbour
Toulon harbour

 

Selfie from a hot air balloon in United Arab Emirates
Selfie from a hot air balloon in United Arab Emirates

 

Dubai location shot
Dubai location shot

 

The view from my Paris hostel
The view from my Paris hostel

 

Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc

Living solo

This post is inspired by the following article:

http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/a-room-of-ones-own-20120629-217rx.html

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