August Summary

Church flowers – meant to look ‘flame like’ due to the patronal festival story

Culture

In the month of August, I didn’t make it to any’cultural’ events (yesterday’s post was in Septemebr). I did put two book talks into my calendar, and then got analysis paralysis.  You can purchase an annual membership and then book talks are included.  I always want to ensure I get the value for money.  Perhaps I need to ‘treat’ myself the $40 for a year – it also garner’s a discount on book purchases, but I know that’s a habit I don’t have.

I met with Mum, on her birthday, to complete two urns of flowers for the church for our ‘feast day’, St Laurence, who was burnt on a grill if I recall correctly!

Romance

After laying low one day (ie a sick day) I was starved for company and said yes to a drink nearby.  It turned into dinner and he was generous to pay for the whole event.  That being said, we were not a match.  For me, there’s one thing I’m not ‘liberal minded’ about and it’s drug use.  I’m all for them being legalised, and reducing harm.  But they aren’t for me, and they aren’t for someone I would share a life with.  So it was a lovely night out, easy conversation and no awkward follow up.

Some friends sometimes keep me ‘at home’ and we cook!

Work

Recently spending a day with a friend with a baby, who I don’t see regularly, she said ‘you’ve not been happy in your job for a while now’, and even mentioned a year!  It was shocking to have this reflected to me.  I do admit that it’s been more challenging since Easter when there were big changes in management.  I was definitely refreshed by my three week holiday in May. I took the step of telling my boss this today – he didn’t offer much reassurance.  I actually drafted a long post about work, but figured there was nothing to be shared but it did help me process and sort my thoughts a little.

Health

I seem to persistently have a niggling cough or sore throat.  I took 3.5 sick days, around what would have usually been a weekend I’d have worked, due to a huge wind storm.  One upside of the bed ridden time was seeing my weight down to my target weight (72kg), and it hasn’t stayed that low, but it was a small reward.

I have noticed that I often only need two meals in a day.  That helps reducing my eating out expenditure at least :p

In between the on again off again cold, I went to F45.  My three months is rapidly approaching, and so is water polo season.  I’m trying to decide if I do one or both.  I am intending to change water polo clubs to be closer to one closer to where I live.

Bought

New work out top selfie (after working out!)

I had set myself a weight loss reward, and I met it, so I went and purchased more work out gear.  I went planning to buy ‘a top’ and ended up with two tops and a sports bra.  Two were on sale.  I can’t even recall when I last bought a sports bra, so I’m hardly being reckless.

I also bought

  • two part epoxy to mend a glass bowl I store pegs in
  • Lush items – solid deodorant & shampoo & tooth powder
  • flights, a night’s accomodation and car hire to Byron Bay for a wedding at the end of September
  • hair cut and colour <- MY FIRST HAIR DYE EVER

I’m noticing other than the above, eating out and targeted savings, there’s nothing too interesting in my expenses: some fuel, public transit card top up, phone credit & insurance for my scooter.  I feel reassured that I’m not cluttering up my home with things,

Ate out

My friends drag me to the prettiest places (yes, sick weekend)

Oh so many times! It seems predominantly on the weekends, and almost all meals!  Thankful for a ‘sick’ weekend, but I still went out to savour some social contact! I tallied up as best I could, and it comes to about $500, and 5 a piece on b’fasts, lunches and dinners, and then some ‘drinks’ either coffees, alcohol, or dessert/cake.  I’m not sure the numbers are enough to see me start havign people over for meals – I just get such anxiety about their comfort, but also waste.

Read

The hyperlinks are to Goodreads – I don’t believe in buying books remember

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea – Barbara Derrick – incredibly well written, and given I’ve felt down on my life, it’s helped me realise how extremely comfortable and happy I am.

The Most Good You Can Do: How effective altruism is changing ideas about living ethically – Peter Singer. I didn’t finish this and couldn’t renew it as it was requested by someone else.  I did enjoy it, and it certainly further added to my analysis paralysis on career, earnings, spending and the ‘most good’.

From Sand and Ash – Amy Harmon. This was read in ONE SITTING.  This isn’t at all common for me – I was off sick, but I just loved this book.  Reading about war was interesting, especially after reading about war last month too, by Scott Turow

What was the highlight of your August?

Archibald Prize 2017

As per my 2017 goals, I’m trying to make an effort to do cultural things, that I enjoy but often pass me by.  If I’m smart, I can time my visit to the Archibald portrait prize with the weekend for complimentary tickets for people who bank with the major sponsor, ANZ.  Last year, I went a weekend late, but there’s been a black out and so they were extending the generous deal in the following weekends!  Again, I mis-timed this visit, but they did reduce the price to concession, which was a nice bonus.

This was an amazing collaboration – painted blocks by school children to make a portrait of their outgoing principal. I remember very similar wooden cubes being used in early schooling to aid counting practice.

Going to the exhibit alone, I had so many thoughts, so I started drafting this post (in notes in my phone).

Australia seems so small sometimes – none more so that attending the annual portraiture prize this year.
For example, Ahn Do is a well known comedian, whose written at least one book “the happiest refugee”, his family having migrated from Vietnam. But also, he’s more recently had a tv show where he paints portraits – usually known characters so there’s interest in the conversation as much as the outcome.  Therefore; not at all surprising one of his works is in the exhibit.
Notice the reflection. The subject is incredibly interesting in and of themself.
Then there were staid paintings, and on reading the blurbs, all dull and boring in their similarities: chairman of this board or that. Largely conservative but redeemed by philanthropy. The conservatism, politically, was actually expressed by listing the subjects family line. It just bored me. And it was a commission for one of the board he sits on. How is it that people have high executive roles 9-5 and also chair boards? It’s just not something I’m buying into.
There’s also a lot of artists painting other artists (the next picture). That figures. Like fashion designers modelling.  And then there’s pieces that I think “I saw this last year” or was it last prize, when the style remains consistent if the subject has changed.
It’s not to say the prize wasn’t without some stunning pieces but overall, there weren’t many I loved or appreciated.
Are artist couple – the artist intentionally stripped the surroundings.
Another coincidence was a stunning portrait of an old (you can surely say that of people older than a centrists?) women, a dancer and choreographer. What surprised and delighted me was that she was painted by a plastic surgeon. The juxtaposition of a wrinkly old lady by a person whose career in some part is about refining and restoring skin.
A very well executed piece of art – the subject is a 102 years old!
This was an interesting comment on souvenirs and the projection of indigenous culture onto artefacts for tourism.
One of at least two self portraits of recent mothers. This one she’s named it clown or similar, and it’s her daughter’s tutu. The other mother self portrait was… not at all to my taste.
A famous TV personality – so the TV behind her shows a reflection of her family. I didn’t realise it was a reflection until reading the children’s blurb. The red bandana’ed man was painted for the portrait prize the year prior by the same artist.
Some pieces do not seem to indicate any talent. Even any real investment of time to make something – be it thoughtful or beautiful. I wonder if that art is just someone making a joke at the expense of the gallery or the ticket buyers?
Not my favourites

The black with white writing was plastic sheeting with ‘unstirred’ house paint.  Seriously?  And the blurb was as inane.  At least the bottom right was related to Cane and Abel and a self portrait, and it seemed a little more considered at least.

In addition to the Archibald, there’s the Sulman and Wynne’s – one is indigenous art, another is landscapes.

The caption panel for this said: In my opinion it is axiomatic that if a painting requires an explanatory text it has failed. IN this particular painting, the title is specific. I certainly need someone to explain it! It was called The Arcadian repose
Related to the connections of conscious and sub conscious mind. Incredibly well done, the artist is Michael Peck
Invisibleness: this was a comment on how women of colour are both invisible and highly visible. It’s incredibly true (from my non coloured perspective). In television, mainstream film politics and art, coloured women are largely invisible. Unfamiliarity makes her highly visible in her everyday life. It’s features which are noticed and seem peculiar.

Lastly, they have (outside the exhibit) children’s contributions.  I loved the one below:

What a dad

As I expected, I’m thankful I took the time to look at this art (and then the gift store – I love museum and gallery gift stores).  It helped me think and ponder what I do and don’t like.   Do you have a favourite of the art I photographed?

Oh, and Lucinda, I couldn’t help but think of you:

Fascinating story!

Bridge Room

A friend and I decided to have a healthy month, which included her starting work outs (I’d been going F45 for about two weeks at that stage I think).  She also somehow shoehorned me into Dry July a few bottles of wine in too… And we settled on an ‘end of month’ reward being a fine dining meal at The Bridge Room.  I’m no stranger to some fancy fine dining, so of course I was in.

Rose sake cocktail

Awkwardly, I was about 30 minutes EARLY for the reservation and my friends.  So I broke Dry July with a great cocktail.  I love when you can’t taste the harshness of alcohol, and this was definitely easily drinkable!!  I did feel completely slack using my phone in a fine diner, but I was alone, and a drinks menu isn’t captivating reading for that long!

Raw fish I’d never heard of (Emperador) with smoked white eggplant
Raw wagyu shoulder

The above dish was a little tricky to cut, with the raw meat, and even the mushrooms (enoki).  This was a clearly Japanese inspired meal, but the decor was largely Scandinavian.

Murray cod cooked with butter

The puddle it’s on is black vinegar, and aged pancetta on top.  We weren’t loving seeing the translucent fat on the pancetta!

Ash grilled duck with prunes, burnt apple and canele

 

An enjoyable sweetness to this dish (and I AM a sweet tooth), but I wouldn’t say I’m a duck fan like some.  My father drools at the thought I think!

Bring on the desserts:

Whipped black sesame (not actually ice cream)

The vertical column was melon, and quite tart compared an otherwise very sweet dish.

Honey pear, burnt bread, pear butter, muscovado sugar, candied pear, lace biscuit

This was delicious, although one of our table of three missed it being served, and the habit of them explaining the dish.  A misstep for a fine dining resturant.

Petit fours

One of the fabulous things about fine dining with set menus is that ‘six courses’ was seven course with a petit fours.  So, BONUS!  There was a jelly like thing there,  and I have no recollection of what the ball was!

It has the top accolades with 3 hats, but I have to say, it didn’t feel three hats.  I’m not sure if I’m jaded in all my experience? I’m not for a minute saying it was horrible.  Just it lacked sparkle or something perhaps?

July Summary

Vera Blue – yep, second concert of hers this year I’ve been to

Culture

Zero waste events – screening of the clean bin project with a great three person panel afterwards.  Also a waste reduction talk which was a little more homegrown.  I’m so thankful for a friend I play water polo with for suggesting these, and proud all my nattering about my ways over the years have taken seed in her mind.

Caught up with a friend who lives out of town, but we went to school together.  She announced she’s got a great job ‘back’ in Melbourne, where she was until her role brought her to Newcastle.  IT feels right for her, but me too, for her to be in Melbourne.

A close friend had a birthday and quite last minute I joined our friends to axe throw! Yep, inner Sydney has a place to axe throw.  We were all equally rubbish and awesome in different rounds so there were lots of laughs and fun had.  Here’s our instructor – looks the part right?

Maniax

Right on the border of the end of the month, I went to a concert with a close friend, whose middle name is also Vera! It was my second Vera Blue show this year, and I did prefer the other venue as it was more spacious, and I didn’t experience a group of unruly men last time.  This same friend and her partner joined me for a great fancy dinner, post up next.

Romance

Brunch with a gal pal – rose water porridge. SO much awesome.

Started talking to one or two guys in a more authentic and genuine chats than recent experiences – I continue to refine my profile to include my thoughts/expectations and I think it’s weeded out some of the sorts of people who used to reach out but I found no match with. I also added or started using a different app (Bumble) as another single male friend kept mentioning it.  It’s a lot less information about people, and women must initiate conversation.  It’s not struck any gold yet.

There was someone I was very keen on lately, but realised that we weren’t a good match and it would only lead to me being very hurt later on.  I made the tough decision to stop contacting him, with a brief warning to him.  It’s been easy some days and incredibly hard other days.

Work

Agh, can we not?  Work’s been challenging.  The change is really impacting one of the team, and I take his outbursts and dissatisfaction to heart.  Many of the things that are driving him to be so angry are beyond my control and sometimes, squarely sit with decisions of my manager.  Taking it one day at a time.  Some days are better than others.

Health

Trending the right way, but life y’know

The first week I was injured with a glute strain, so I did 2 works outs at F45, Sat (injury day) and Monday and a Barre on Tuesday. After seeing a physio and giving myself a little rest, it cam good, and I got back to F45 3-4 times a week.  Barre kept being booked out when I wanted to go (or just far more challenging than before), so I decided to drop the $35 a week cost for two classes, and focus on F45 for the remainder of my 3 month trial.  This month I took on Dry July somewhat unexpectedly.  I have a friend who has a way of phrasing things like we’d already talked about it, and it’s decided.  She’s done the same with a Christmas trip to Japan, but that’s a bigger thing to be roped into!  Anyhow, I started being dry earlier than July to allow for our ‘reward’ dinner  which I’ll blog about.  Part of our goals were to both lose 4kgs.  Neither of us truly met out targets.  However, I did, in a way…  The night after our Dry July pact, I weighed myself and was 80kg.  This was uncharacteristically high and I attribute to some food poisoning.  Sometime in July I did weigh 75.7kg.  So, target met! However, I haven’t stayed that low, since going back to 77kg, and then back to under 76kg.  Late in July, I paid to have a full body analysis as part of F45, which goes beyond weight.  They explained that water retention changes throughout a month for women, so perhaps it’s that?  In any case, the body scan is repeated in eight weeks, so I’ll see how I go with that.

Bought

I like to track all the stuff that trickles into my home – cause having a streamlined or minimal home takes a watchful eye.  I did eat out and spend on food, and sometimes think I should track my eating out and keep it a little lower for financial savings, but also help my health.  Maybe a new category (and a way to share food photos I take :p) The first two dot points hardly count, as they are gifts and not staying!

  • An engagement gift, right in line with my zero waste ways and help them set up their home 🙂
  • Two gifts for hostesses – one was a plant, the other was a bunch of flowers
  • Lush tooth powder
  • Phone case – after dropping it cleaning and cracking the glass screen protector, I decided on a robust case and haven’t looked back

Read

I borrowed a book by an author I quite like, Scott Turow, but between it being large print, hard cover and a slow start, I just couldn’t get into it, and returned it rather than renewed it when it came time.  Not to be discouraged, I borrowed another Turow book to try again, as I have really enjoyed the other two I have read.

  • Money: A love story – Kate Northrup – I can’t recall how this was on my reading list.  I found it a little too meandering for my liking, so started leafing through to the activities, which were lots of journal writing.  When I did the money quiz, it was clear I had little need for reform! Actually, I thought I wasn’t tracking well in the quiz (ie not knowing my bank balance within $100s, not knowing how much I spent last month within $100) but overall, I scored sufficiently to be in the most proficient category.
  • A beginners guide to acting English – Shappi Khorsandi – I LOVED this book. I didn’t realise until I had finished the book that she’s a comedian.  It’s about her childhood and moving from Iran to England, during a very interesting time in Iran’s history.  I would now read anything she writes!
  • The most good you can do – Peter Singer – an interesting book to be reading after my post on paying off my mortgage, and in the month I received an inheritance.

How was your month?

Dave Ramsey made me wanna

So, for reasons I can no longer recall, I started to follow David Ramsey for Australians on Facebook.  I have a history of reading personal finance blogs, and whilst they often drive me insane (the content is very repetitive, and they all want to monetise… And a little ranty). This is how I’ve come to know the bible belt financial gospel guru.  Aside from books, he also has a podcast.  I do not listen to it.

I know the basics – there’s baby steps, and they are pretty darn simple and logical to me, a daugher of a banker

  1. Save a $1000 emergency fund
  2. Pay off consumer debts, start with the smallest debt and work through them.  AKA Debt snowball
  3. Save for (three to) six months of expenses
  4. Pay into your retirement fund at 15% of income
  5. Save for your children’s education
  6. PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE
  7. Spend/donate etc

That’s from memory… If I got it wrong, I’m not too fussed.  My post is about what reading all these posts have made me wonder…

How long would it take me to pay off my mortgage?

I kept turning the idea over in my head, and couldn’t work it out.  So I broke it down.

First I’d get my offset account to “fully paid up”.  For long term readers, you might recall that I go to this point with a previous lender.  I am onto my third lender – each time the fixed term component ‘matures’ I review the market and go for the lowest interest rate.  Cause..  loyalty gets you no where.  So I started with

  • ANZ (2 years, all fixed), then went to started in Dec 2011
  • Bankwest (3 years, 20% variable with offset, 80% fixed), and now I’m with
  • ING (2 years, 40% variable, 60% fixed) started in Jan 2017

When I looked at my regular ‘inputs’ to my offset account, I could work out roughly what goes in monthly, less what goes out monthly (namely, moving money out of offset to the two mortgage components), and a quarterly strata bill.  I did a calculation and found out I could do it 10 months.  Which was pretty darn close.  And then… I received an inheritance, quite unexpectedly (and I never count those sorts of things). And now I’m close to 6 months. (And I don’t plan to put all the inheritance onto the mortgage, I plan to purchase two ‘big ticket’ items which I see as heirlooms  – one is a gorgeous desk and the other is getting a ring made.  Cause… a paid of mortgage is great, but the two items will hold memories, and were things I was saving for before this unexpected windfall).  Let’s call that out – it would be January 2018! Wow.  By my birthday!

My place is NOT this pretty

And then, I looked what would happen if the same monthly amount *could* go onto the fixed mortgage month on month, knowing it can’t due to stupid rules.  That’s not the point – the point was to motivate myself with the timeline of when I could have it ALL paid off – and the answer was, that amount would take 2 years and seven months.   I was gobsmacked it was such a small duration of time.  You ‘buy’ 25 and 30 year mortgages!  And I’m talking about August 2020.

Of course, I don’t have a step 5 to fund of Dave Ramsey’s plan.  (And I’m at 12.5% +$50p/w on my retirement). And I’m at prime child rearing age, so I’d happily have this plan hijacked by having kids.  But each month I’m not pregnant (ha! I’m single!) is a month I could shoehorn some money into that mortgage and get closer to that end goal of NO MORTGAGE!

I dream of a garden like this (via)

Oh, and 2020 is a much mentioned year where I work.  Because politician Fred Nile got it written into law that if our company was sold (aka long term leased) there could be NO job reductions until 2020.  Well… provided there wasn’t an agreed forced redundancy policy introduced – and you can be sure our strong union will die fighting a forced redundancy policy.  But there’s this concept of job guarantees (when we have 3,570 employees, and Treasury did also say that could be certain types of contractors) until 2020.  And… well… No one knows where we are at relative to that magic 3,570.  To me, it doesn’t matter.  Working hard is what matters.  Take it a day at a time.  That being said, so many people say ‘well we won’t have jobs in 2020’.  I cannot think that far in front of me, there’s enough going on RIGHT NOW.  But, that some mythical 2020 is when I could have a mortgage paid off.  Imagine… I could be someone who takes in rent from my tenants (ha) and due to the rent differential, could live on the spoils.  Ha! It’s not a plan I conceive actually happening, but it’s fun to imagine!

Now every time the doom and gloom mongers say ‘2020’ I will think about having no mortgage.  What fun!

Feel free to check in, in a few months.  Who knows, I might get seduced by international travel, and adjust this back a month or two… Let’s see.

Plastic Free July 2017

I’m delighted to see friends, from different spheres of life, announcing their intentions on Plastic Free July! It warms my heart.  As this is a public blog, many of my friends know I have posted at length about my Zero Waste hopes and intentions!

So, what am I doing for Plastic Free July?

  1. Use it up challenge for moisturisers.  I have a handful of small containers (from flights or samples) of moisturiser.  I’m not a regular moisturiser user, so… there’s that! The idea is to get to one bottle, and then refill it (where, I haven’t sorted yet).
The use is up area. Notice anything Lucinda?

Ok a numbered list might have been overkill there!

Let’s revise what changes I’ve made since blogging (and for long term readers, it’s a check in and update on this post). It’s great to see progress in four years (items in italics)

This is what I have on me most days
  1. Joco glass cup for take away coffees daily, upgrading from plastic keep cups
  2. Glass bottle with silicone sleeve – a bit heavier than the steel one I lost, but pretty
  3. Bamboo cutlery – always in my handbag, to say no to single use packs.  It was a ‘gift with purchase’, which I’m thankful for 🙂
  4. Bamboo straw – a recent addition to the cutlery in my handbag.  Still mastering learning ‘when’ I might need to warn against a straw.
  5. Fold up shopping bag – also always in my handbag with 3 & 4
  6. Pyrex glass dishes with plastic lids – this removes almost all my need for cling film or similar disposable
  7. Hessian bags for grocery shopping (cough… or work out bag.  Nothing if not multi purpose)
  8. Deodorant – years ago I tried Lush and it’s so so, I also found a cardboard ‘pop top’ style deodorant, which is even poorer at odour control.  But these two are all I’m using currently
  9. Shampoo bar from Lush – I do re-use stockings with runs, to hold fragments together
  10. Lunette menstrual cup – not ideal I have two, but one seemed to cause bad smells
  11. Cotton buds with cardboard stems – so at least there’s a little less plastic
  12. Toothbrush – it’s bamboo with charcol bristles
Stylishly plastic free
  1. Bottle brushes – again, no plastic.  How often do I was my bottle? Not enough!
  2. Glass blender – I freecycled a plastic one, then bought second hand a glass one.  Small things, but all are minimal waste.

Things I need to work on:

  1. Toothpaste – or perhaps tooth powder.  I want something that works for travel as well as day to day.  So far, a powder has seemed a little ‘far gone’
  2. Conditioner – solids ones are a fail (from my trial), but I can either get a Lush bottle (you can return their containers – not clear if for refill or recycling) or refill at a bulk store
  3. Dental floss – I tried and failed with silk thread… SInce then, there’s a great company  in Germany who provide it in a glass vial, then Dental lace from the US
  4. Face wash – I have two.  One is the biggest I can get (Cetaphil) but the other was a purchase when I forgot to pack face wash
  5. Body wash – I have one that’s scented; another is an exfoliant
  6. Razors – one handle, and only replacing the head.  Perhaps when I’m through the blade heads, I should look at a plastic free option, but there’s a little fear.
  7. Freezer food – so, since I’ve been single, I’ve resulted in buying and eating meals ready-to-eat from the freezer.  They are cheap.  They have more vegetables than I’d otherwise be bothered with.  The containers are recyclable, but the soft plastic is often soiled and NOT recycled.  I’m icky that I’m this lazy.

Things that are acceptable passes for me

  1. Band aids
  2. Medication or painkillers in blister packs
  3. Ear plugs – I use them for SO long, but they are foam which isn’t recyclable
  4. Storage of bulk items (flours etc) as they aren’t heated, and 2kg of rice is heavy without ALSO storing it in glass
  5. Dish sponges – still cut in half to use one for longer. Though I could retry natural alternatives or options

Finally, some things are just building habits.  Things like:

  • preparing to grocery shop, so taking your bags
  • thinking to take a Joco cup for a coffee, or having a sit down coffee
  • storing cutlery, fabric serviette and a straw in my handbag with a fold up shopping bag
  • planning to refill certain items from a bulk store
  • planning when and where to drop off compost at community gardens with compost bins. Thankfully there’s one near the library I go to

June summary

The other day, my mobile phone recharged (yes, I’m on prepay) and I realised a month had flown by since i got back from Europe.  I spent a week or two after returning recovering from mild but lingering cold.  Work gobbled me up, however, these summary posts remind me, that’s not ALL that happened!

Culture

I started thinking I’d done nothing, but then I found photos of a band I went to with my brother.  Simon doesn’t know them, but enjoyed them, and said more than once that he couldn’t believe I like this genre of music.  Shrugs.  They sung a cover of a song I love too – a cover that they adjust the words to, and make EVEN better!

Thundamental concert – Blue Mountain’s born and bred

I also had my turn of doing flowers for the church.  There was a funeral, right after I did it, and I had requests for the colours and flowers.  I hope they were happy!  In any case, I was proud of the outcome.

Church flowers, for a funeral

Romance

We should rename this section “photos I took of food when I ate out”, because none of the following were at ‘dates’!  I’ve really slowed down from dating.  Some of this is due to focusing more on my fitness.  But also, you get fatigued with profile reading and become very judgemental.  So instead, here’s snippets of a breakfast with friends, a great cafe near my parents, so I spent the night at their house.  Actually, three Friday nights I stayed with my parents, once for the flowers, once for this brunch and once to take them to the airport on Saturday morning.

German pancakes

I have a lovely friend who I met at church who also lives locally, and when he’s in town we catch up for coffee or breakfast prior.

Thia French toast

Work

I have settled back into a groove – the week or two post holidays I was clearly revitalised and much more perky and upbeat than some around me.  It’s worn off a little, but I’ve worked long hours again this week – really trying to take some load off my team, but also preparing to hit the ground running in the new financial year with all the ambitious targets and programs.  So much so, I left work late on Friday 30th June, and was mighty angry at my boss <- it was NOT his fault, but being angry at myself was not fun :p

Health

I did  it – I joined F45.  I did a week’s trial and attended three classes, and still did my usual 2 Barre tone classes.  It’s around $580 for a 3 month membership, and I feel this is a timeline I can commit to.  I paid upfront, as I HATE automatic deductions and all the rules to cease the deductions.  And, to be totally hypocritical, I do happily pay $35 per week for two classes at Barre Body, and sometimes miss weeks due to illness.  Seems sometimes, the ‘cost per class’ I can stomach!?

I also did a special Barre class on the 30th, and was late, which was by candlelight.  I thought it would be darker, with the light dimmer more, but alas no.  Still, it was a different teacher and routine/style to usual so that was a mix up from usually doing F45 on Fridays and Barre on Saturday.

Bought

Shopping haul – pillow protectors, suction hooks, a moisture absorbing egg and candle making items
  • Candle wicks – to remake candles from leftover wax
  • Suction hooks to hang coats – sadly didn’t work on our loggia tiles, but the internal bifold glass is a winner!
  • Moisture absorbing ‘egg’ – ceramic with material inside that can be microwaved and reused!  An impulse purchase
New jacket
  • Marcs cropped Lani wool jacket – $100 off spot sale, so $179.95
  • White bra from Target
  • Wooden shelf and hardware to ‘expand’ storage in my pantry
  • Cancer council sunglasses – replacing the pair left overseas
  • Cancer council lip balm – an impulse purchase
  • Two pairs of runners – one pair for high impact, blue and pretty, one pair for lower impact, black and great for long walks
First work out done with the new runners
  • New (second hand) bed frame.  The Ikea Malm fell apart when I moved, and I made do, but it creaked and felt on it’s last legs.  I wanted a padded head so I could sit up and read, or blog.  $175!
  • The Ikea bed

    The new bed head, and the existing (hacked) ledge

Between paying for the F45 membership, and these little shopping moments, I feel quite cash poor.  Hopefully in coming weeks and months, it’ll feel better having prepaid the workouts at least.

Read

  • The bricks that built this house – Kate Tempest.  Very disappointing, I have NO idea why I read it to completion
  • Innocent – Scott Turow – a great author, I really feel like you get to know the characters but without making it long, and a compelling story that isn’t predictable.

Looking ahead to July, I hope to continue on the 5 weekly work outs, trying Dry July with a friend, and rewarding ourselves for those two feats with a fancy dinner at The Bridge Room.

May Summary

Sunset in Heidelberg

Culture:

There was bucket loads of culture this month, given I spent two weeks in four other countries!  I won’t reiterate what’s in countless posts (you can click on the travel category on the right to get them all in one place, or select a country).

Films on the plane

  • Passengers
  • Fences
  • Collateral Beauty

Wanted to watch

  • Loving
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • I, Daniel Blake
  • Jackie
  • Lion
  • Split

Romance:

With the travel, the meeting of new people slowed *right* down, but that isn’t to say I didn’t keep in contact with a few new people and a few people from previous months.

Work:

My role was backfilled by someone of my choosing, and he did a GREAT job.  We were in email contact from time to time, as I like a daily check and file of emails whilst travelling.  I find that this keeps ‘on top of things’ rather than having a whole day back at work just sorting emails out.

I continue to ponder the future of my company, and my place within it.  I feel like I’m no longer growing and learning, as much as I’m otherwise enjoying things.  I’m not sure how or what would challenge me.  Food for thought!

Health:

My fitness has dropped right off, with travelling.  It might be nice to assume I did a lot of walking, but I think more days than not were largely sedentary.  I did hike a glacier, and ride 7km in Heidelberg between the wedding and the reception.  I had initiated contact prior to coming home from holidays with a F45 studio, and hoped to go my first weekend back, but have been knocked over with a cold.

Bought:

Gifts

  • mints for Mum in a tin with Modrian’s famous block painting from the Netherlands
  • a skein of Icelandic teal wool for a cousin
  • my favourite children’s book as a gift for a pregnant friend

Clothing etc

  • two black long sleeved tops from Lululemon for my trip (one is about to be eBayed as it served it’s purpose whilst away, and I know I won’t chose to wear it day to day)
  • eight pairs of knickers for the imminent trip
  • two second hand clutches – to store and corral items whilst travelling.  One is blush pink pleather, the other is dark purple silk.  Both served their purpose exceedingly well!
  • a secondhand backpack for the travels

Other things

  • a picnic blanket/bag secondhand
  • two second hand novels for my trip – one was great, the other I intentionally left on a plane!
  • deodorant – in a cardboard ‘push’ tube – yay for no plastic
  • charging cable for my iPhone (it’s great, there’s LED lights to know when the item’s fully charged vs charging! No light means it’s not charging)

Read:

As I alluded to in the bought section, I had two books, one was great, and listed below, the other was a let down, and promptly forgotten!.  I also picked up a great book at a book swap, and am pleased to find the author has a number of other titles, which I’ve promptly added to my library ‘to read’ list.

  • Identical – Scott Turow – a great crime fiction, based loosely around an ancient Greek myth!
  • A Treacherous Paradise – Henning Mankell – bought second hand as a ‘Nordic’ fiction.  In the end, the female Swede spends most of her time in Mozambique, so a misdirect on the planned setting I’d hoped for, but still incredibly interesting commentary on race relations in the early 1900s

 

Post Euro trip expenses

For my recent trip, I had a spreadsheet running in advance of departure, and it had pre trip expenditure.  As my trip unfolded, I was curious to see how my spending went, and so added things to the spreadsheet.

Glacial lagoon

I prepaid all my tours in Iceland, with Extreme Iceland, which was

The above cost just shy of 90,000ISK which converted to about $1,100 AUD.  I would say it was money incredibly well spent, if not a little pricey when I was paying.  For every tour, I had door to door transfers/collections in great vehicles with wifi. I really couldn’t have asked for much more.  Meals weren’t included, but many stops were provided and advice (ie buy now, pricier or less choice later).  When I combine the Iceland activities to the other holiday activities, such as the tulip gardens entry fee as well as the entry to Oradour-sur-Glane,  activities end up being 17% of the money spent.

Little twingo – my first car hiring experience solo

Travel costs include the flights to Europe, which were the cheapest I have ever seen them at $1,300 return.  They was Sydney > Doha > Amsterdam then Paris > Doha > Sydney in May.  As I mentioned in another post, I took the opportunity to upgrade the Doha > Sydney leg, and even still, the total flight cost was below what I have come to expect for this journey.  When I include the costs of two days of car hire, tolls and petrol, as well as a few ICE/TGV trains in Germany and France, my total for travel comes in at 50% of my costs.

Chic Icelandic hostel

Accommodation varied between countries

  • Netherlands: AirBnB  ~$75 per night
  • Iceland: Hostels ~$70 per night
  • Germany: AirBnB ~$70 per night
  • France: chain budget hotels & private room in hostel ~$85/$55

Without this blog, I’d not have noticed that I cam in around $70-75 AUD most nights.  I can say that my AirBnB experiences were all great! The locations were wonderful, the hosts helpful and in most cases, breakfast happened to be covered, which I LOVE!  The last night in Paris was in a hostel that I knew well and was well located for an early departure.  I’m sad I missed their breakfast, as it’s worth every cent.  Accommodation came in at 15% of my spend.

Then one has two cheeses with two meats in a square pizza

All that’s left is cash purchases and meals, and for what I can itemise and best guess, feeding myself was 13% of costs.  That leaves only about 5% either unaccounted for or not in these broad categories.

I didn’t set a budget for this holiday, so I can’t comment on how my spend compared to that!  What I can say is that I think I am content with what I spent, for what I saw and experienced.  What I’ve really noticed is the shift away from ‘shopping’ styled holidays, where I replenish my wardrobe with stores that aren’t in Australia, to a greater focus on seeing the things I’ve longed to see.  This also helps with luggage and transit 🙂

Last minute upgrade

Right after arriving in Amsterdam, Qatar Airways emailed with an offer to upgrade on either return sector of my flights.  Well timed – send that email when the pain of long haul is FRESH!  So I decided to take up the offer for the 14 hour flight from Doha to Sydney.  Overall, adding this upgrade STILL made my total fare less than what I usually spend to fly to Europe (given it was May, it was cheaper than July/August or around Christmas/New Year when I’ve travelled in the past).

Army planes at Charles de Gaulle – there were a STACK of men in the terminal in uniform and clearly travelling

Doha lounge

Never been SO happy to see a shower – I woke at 5.30am in Paris and skipped a shower, knowing I could get one in the lounge in Doha
This cannot even compare to my hostel sink the night before!
Oh what a shower! Though, I couldn’t get it cold enough!
Lounge area with refelctive pool
Lounge meal – from self serve buffet
The day’s cocktail, something with honey
Lounge desserts
Date cake post tongs. I really think some one needs to let Qatar know about cake slices (the utensil)
Another section of seats in the HUGE lounge
Section of the lounge known as the ‘Grill’ for sandwiches (and OF COURSE drinks)

Now, on the plane!!

Exited selfie – double chin at no extra cost
Honestly, no one needs a screen this big on a plane
The green stickers near the bottom, MIddle Eastern modesty
Delicious biryani for dinner
A hazelnut and caramel tart with some port before sleep time
Sorry it’s blurry – this is the ‘bar’ for Business class…
Blurry selfie of me in the complimentary PJs
A pre landing sweet snack… cause… why not?

I was well and truly getting a cold, and so my sleep was restless but I can ONLY imagine how much worse I may have felt elsewhere in the plane.