Fashionista ~ Career Woman ~ Op Shopper ~ Online Shopping Addict ~ Bargain Hunter ~ Child Rearer ~ Book Reader ~ Social Commentator

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bub Turns 4

As with many childrens' birthday celebrations, Bub's has been ongoing now for what seems like forever. It started with her "at school" birthday, for which we made cupcakes to take to her class. She is only at preschool 3 days a week, so this had to be done the day before her birthday.

On her actual birthday, we had some friends over for dinner and used it as an excuse to eat delicious seafood (fresh tiger prawns - yum!). We had pre-baked 2 cakes, and the kids decorated them with edible sparkly paints until they looked almost inedible:

Today we hosted 20 energetic 4 year olds for her birthday party. We couldn't have asked for better weather (thank goodness) so they could run around outside and the house was not trashed as much as it otherwise would have been.

 About 60 mini cupcakes were baked and iced.

 This cake was made, a la the Womens Weekly retro kids cake book... They have cakes in there that I had for my own birthday parties as a child :-)

 Decorations were put up. This reminds me of a scene out of The Castle ;-)

 Party hats are a must at any birthday party.

20 tornadoes unleashed in the games room...

 There was also painting...

 And party games.

It was a very successful party. We are all now thoroughly exhausted!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Latest Asos Order

Asos currently has 20% off the Asos collection, and the code PLUS10 gets you an additional 10% off (including already marked down items). I just bought the following items:

 ASOS Knitted Geo Cardigan - Black - $32.11

I ummed and ahhed over this one as it might be too gaudy in real life... but decided to go for it anyway. ASOS Checked Cardigan With Gold Buttons - Orange - $26.28 

ASOS Knitted Turban Hat - Mink  -  $4.38

ASOS Knitted Tank Top - Red - $16

What do you think? I really felt like buying some winter gear, and these prices are sooo reasonable... *sigh*, just appeasing my guilt LOL...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Possums + Fire = an Eventful BBQ...

I decided that we might as well make use of our large and well equipped outdoor entertaining area before summer ended, so I organised a true blue Aussie BBQ for Saturday night.

On the menu was:
  • Veggie kebabs (mushroom, onion, zucchini, capsicum)
  • BBQ and satay chicken kebabs
  • BBQ chicken wings
  • Sausages
  • Gourmet burger patties
  • Coleslaw
  • Chicken and pasta salad
  • Garden salad
  • Tomato and chorizo salad
  • Chocolate mud cake for dessert
No photos unfortunately because I didn't have time to take any...

I love Coles/Woolworths pre-washed and packaged salad leaves. Such time savers and as long as they're fresh, they look great. I especially love the coleslaw mix... crunchy and delicious, and it would take ages to grate all of the cabbage into different sizes.

The first disaster involved lighting the BBQ. It hadn't been used in a while and the men were having difficulty. "It shouldn't smell this strongly like gas", I observed. This was met with chortles and phrases like "It always smells like gas, this is a gas BBQ", "I have lit over 100 BBQs in my life, can you just relax?" and "I think I can light a BBQ, it isn't rocket science".

What followed was a loud bang, one person getting their hair and eyebrows singed (thank goodness he wasn't hurt) and a fire somehow started behind the BBQ, under the patio. A quick thinking guest poured a jug of water over it, and thankfully we didn't burn the whole house down. I hope our landlord has good insurance, we are evidently dangerous tenants.

The men proceeded to burn all of the meat, and the onions were so charcoaled that they had to be binned. It still (mostly) tasted good, except the burger patties which we called "meat biscuits", they were that hard. Their excuse was that it was too dark and they couldn't see. I think they just had no idea what they were doing.

The second incident involved possums. We live in a leafy suburb and the possums share it in the hundreds. They wake us up at night with their scratching and banging in the ceiling, and I have had a bubble bath ruined when I could hear them mating right above me (in case you haven't heard this before, there is a lot of grunting and what sounds like a cat being strangled).

 I may look cute, but I am the Aussie equivalent of a raccoon (although less viscous when provoked - I'm more likely to pee everywhere and run away, ripping everything in my path to shreds with my long claws)

Two possums decided to visit the BBQ, run around the outside of the table sending guests scattering and screaming, and then climb up onto the patio and sit perched as if they were about to jump onto the table. It was getting cold anyway so we removed all traces of food and relocated inside.

At midnight when the guests left, the possums were still in the same spot:

It was a nice night, although I don't think I had any time to sit down and chat to anyone - I was always running around getting food ready, making sure people had enough wine or clearing up plates. Being the host is tiring stuff, I much prefer being a dinner guest!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

And the Winners are....

The lucky winners of my Bakers Delight voucher giveaway are:


Courtesy of random.org :) There were 23 eligible entries (I checked for followers, there were *gasp* some disqualifications!).

I will be in touch to get your addresses so I can send the vouchers...

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Sunday Brunch

On Sunday, my girlfriend threw a wonderful brunch party. Some people are natural hosts. Once I upload the photos from my other camera, I will tell the story of the BBQ I hosted on Saturday night, and how we almost set the whole house alight. I am not a natural host...

I think I should definitely leave catering to the naturals, the spread was delicious:

Pancake stack. I poured berries over it for the photo, because I knew it would be food p-orn. Unfortunately this made it hard to serve and eat, but I think it was worth it ;-)

 Can you do moscato for breakfast? I am more a coffee person myself.

Home made melting moments, fruit kebabs and there was even fairy bread!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Day in Goulburn

Firstly, a reminder to enter my latest Giveaway if you haven't already (open to Aussies). It's closing soon :-)

It has been just over 12 months since I was last in Goulburn, and I know this for a fact because I went last year on Canberra Day, and returned on the same day this year. Canberra Day is a Monday public holiday in Canberra, which is not a holiday in NSW - the perfect time to visit op shops across the border. Last year I posted a review of the op shops in Goulburn, and not much has changed this year, except that the Salvos is currently closed due to flood damage :-(

I don't think I actually save any money by going to Goulburn - maybe my car is inefficient, because it takes half a tank of petrol to do the round trip = approximately $30 in petrol. I know someone who commutes to and from Goulburn to work in Canberra every single day, he must spend so much money on fuel!

Goulburn is a very quaint town with lovely old buildings and cute little cafes. The locals are so friendly and I always enjoy chatting with them. It has 5 op shops all within walking distance of each other, and as in any country town, they have very cheap prices.

Here are the day's finds:

 Pyrex mixing bowl ($3), 2 retro glasses ($1 each), Johnsons mug (50c) - I love the design!

 Anise dress ($12.50) - this was from the Smith Family store, which has the best range of fashion items but is also the most expensive op shop in Goulburn.

Handpainted Japanese pot ($1), Pyrex casserole dish ($3), Corningware pot with lid (50c!) and vintage pillow case (50c).

If you're in Goulburn, the Coffee Bean serves fabulous coffee (with beans freshly roasted on site) and the owner is lovely. We had lunch at Lunch Box on Main which serves a delicious Mediterranean lamb burger, huge club sandwiches and great freshly squeezed juices.

I took some snaps of the inside of Trish's Trash and Treasure to share. This is a recycling shop linked to the tip, and everything is dirty and dusty but you can find some great treasures. The prices are a bit hit and miss, but it's definitely the most fun to rifle around in for retro homewares:

Finally, here are some of the beautiful old buildings that can be found around the place:

Linking up with Sophie's Flea Market Finds and Apron Thrift Girl.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Random Phone Snaps

Here are some snaps I have taken recently, mostly on my mobile phone (using a camera app that is largely equivalent to Instagram, on an Android phone...). They're of things that have made me smile.

The biggest watermelon I have ever seen, and some delish mangos, all grown by some family friends who live near Perth.
 The coolest modern retro-styled kettle. I must have one!

Ferrero rochers, one of my favourite choccies

Handbag + flight ticket, taken while bored on the plane

 An example of good marketing - "Strawberry, Hibiscus & Quandong ice cream". It looks and sounds gourmet, but really just tastes like any berry ice cream.

 Gasp- a frozen meal which was largely edible and which I mostly enjoyed! Beef rissole Healthy Choice meal.

Psycho cat attacking the top of her scratching pole

The cat stand-off. This went for at least 10 minutes. Lots of hissing and angry meowing.
Balloons in the sky above our house

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Trend: All That Glitters

You will notice that some of the items in fashion this season include things that look like they have been covered in glue and had kids craft glitter poured all over them.

Try as I might, I cannot help being reminded of those cringe-worthy glitter top hats that we wore for dress ups and were given at birthday parties as kids:

It makes me worry that the next lot of designs will be inspired by the equally cringe-worthy sequined caps of our youth, which I also associate with dance concerts:

I had one very similar to this when I was around 10 years old:

Lord, please shelter our eyes from blinding glitter and give the fashion gods better inspiration. I love it on the nails, and possibly on the heels of shoes... but that's as far as I can go.

What do you think of the glitter trend?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Facing Your Fears

The above quote really resonates with me. What would I do if I had no fear, and how much is fear holding me back? In writing this post, I am going to think what steps I would advise another person in a similar situation to do, and then follow those steps myself.

Step #1 - Identify the fears

The first step to facing your fears is to identify them. What I really want to figure out is what I want to do career-wise or generally with my life in the near future, so I'm interested in which fears are connected to that. Hopefully this will help me to get my thoughts in order and work out whether I *do* know what I want underneath, but am refusing to acknowledge it because of fear.

A List of my Fears:
  • I am scared of disappointing my family.
  • I am scared of how I will appear to others and what others will think/say about me.
  • I am scared of having to move back in with my parents temporarily, and about fighting with my younger sister with whom I don't get along (she lives at home).
  • I am scared of making the wrong decision, and remaining unhappy.
  • I am scared of making any decision, when there are so many choices and each of them is a risk (so I can't use my usual logical approach to decision making).
In making this list, I tried to drill down to the root of each fear. For example, at first I wrote "I am scared of failure". When I thought about it more, I realised that the fears underlying this were numerous, and that my initial phrase was too general. The key to this exercise is really understanding what your fears are, and this may take a lot of thought.

Step #2 - A deeper understanding

Once you have identified your fears, it's helpful to gain a deeper understanding into how these fears influence and constrain you. At this stage it might help to ask things such as, "what is the worst that could happen if this fear is realised?", "is this something worth being afraid of?" and "what can I change to change this fear?"

My list revisted:
  • I am scared of disappointing my family, but I know they will support me and they want me to be happy. Whatever decision I make, they will come to accept over time. 
  • I am scared of how I will appear to others and what others will think/say about me. A large part of how I define myself is dependent on others' perceptions, so this ties in with my own self esteem and being scared of not living up to the image which I expect of myself. 
    • My Dad tells me not to worry about the future, but I can't seem to do this. I think this is because self-concept includes our future selves.
    • The only way I can think of targeting this problem is to make a conscious decision not to let others' perceptions worry me, and to continually remind myself of this promise.
  • I am scared of having to move back in with my parents temporarily, and about fighting with my younger sister with whom I don't get along (she lives at home).
    • The worst that can happen is I make the decision to move out and rent an apartment. This will make saving for a deposit for my own place a lot harder (and it will take a lot longer), but it is something that I can live with if necessary.
  • I am scared of making the wrong decision, and remaining unhappy. 
    • What have I got to loose? I am unhappy now, if I remain unhappy then nothing has changed. There is more sense in taking a chance and trying to find something that makes me happy rather than staying in a rut.
  • I am scared of making any decision, when there are so many choices and each of them is a risk (so I can't use my usual logical approach to decision making).
    • This is a hard one, and it is essentially about relinquishing control. I have always been afraid of change because it makes me feel like I am loosing control. Control of what? When I drill down into it, it's not a rational fear. My perception of control is derived from stability and predictiveness, yet change necessarily involves temporarily being upended to some extent. 
Step #3 - Decide how to deal with each fear

I will:
  • Be open to not being in control.
  • Be willing to make a decision, without being afraid of failure. If I fail, I can at least be proud that I tried.
  • Be open to advice and assistance from others. 
  • Look for opportunities and be open to them.
  • Think positively. Re-frame mistakes as either neutral or positive.
  • Remind myself daily that I should not care so much what others think or say.
  • Be easy on myself and accept that I am struggling. Take baby steps if necessary.
  • I think my fears are inhibiting my intuition. If I can, trust my gut feeling. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Olympics + Super Talents = Sponsored Video

I can't believe how soon the 2012 Olympics are! They start on 27 July.

 Source: Reuters

The official mascots are called Wenlock and Mandeville. To me, they look like aliens from a childrens TC show. The (fictional) story behind their creation is as follows:

"At the steelworks in Bolton they are finishing building the last girder for the Olympic stadium. Two drops fall out of the molten-steel, and once cooled are picked up by a man named George. The day happens to be George’s retirement day so he signs the finished girder and cycles home... Later when everyone else is asleep he decides to make a gift for his grandchildren out of the steel drops. The next day George and his wife give their grandchildren the steel Wenlock and Mandeville. The two children take the mascots up to the attic and place them on the windowsill when a rainbow forms going through the house. The rainbow brings Wenlock and Mandeville to colour and to life where they learn sports from the children, posters and the TV..."  Source: Wikipedia

Erm, yes. The only explanation I can think of is that the creative agency who thought up these creatures were specifically instructed to think of a way to involve children in the Olympics and get them interested.

I think a much better mascot would be "Winston" the British Bulldog:

See? They should have hired me to come up with the mascot. I would have been cheaper, and gotten a better end result. Kids love dogs, especially dogs in clothes.

Mascots aside, I would love to watch the Olympics in person at some point in my life. London would be a great place to do this, as I could combine the Olympics with shopping on Oxford Street. That's enough to make any girl happy!

If you have a special talent (and no, we're not talking being an Olympic athlete yourself), film it and submit it to this competition and you could win a trip for two to the Olympic Games in London. The top 10 videos will also be  featured globally on TV (and on the big screens at the London 2012 Olympic Games). I wish I had a video worthy talent!!!

This video gives you more information about the promotion. I especially like the guy who can ride a bike while jumping over a skipping rope:

Do you have a special talent, or know someone else who does? I'd love to hear about it, or see your entry!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Art vs "Art"

I am definitely a fan of modern art, and I love looking at it and wondering what on earth the artist was thinking when they made it (or what they weren't thinking, and whether they randomly stuck together some junk that they picked up from a verge collection, in which case we're all idiots to be paying money to see it in a gallery):

It often makes me laugh, and it gives me satisfaction that I too (or anyone else for that matter) could make it. Take that, year ten art teacher who failed me at still life drawing - I could be an artist of a different type if I wanted to!

The above two photos are of art at a modern art gallery in Belgium (I think it was in Brussels, or nearby...) It had fabulous light and sound displays too. I agree with their philosophy of providing limited or no explanation of the pieces of art, so that you can draw your own conclusions about the meaning (or lack of meaning) of the art.

I like modern art more than the next person, so I was excited to visit the Political Porcelain exhibition which is part of Canberra's Enlighten festival this year. The bio was "Artist Penny Byrne takes familiar objects from our mantelpieces, china cabinets and toy boxes and transforms them into powerful works of political commentary."

I was super disappointed. I didn't find the majority of pieces to be interesting, intriguing or creative. I found them to be mundane and uninspiring. For example, this piece depicting Julia and Kevin and the leadership change:

Seriously? There is no underlying meaning (apart from the obvious), no space for creative interpretation and I can't help but feel completely uninspired by it.

Here is another piece:

No prizes for guessing that it's an anti-whaling statement, despite the little Japanese people actually standing on what looks like a dolphin.

Allow me to juxtapose the above with modern art that is also political commentary, but that I find beautiful and inspiring:

The piece is called 'Suspended Together', and it's by Saudi Arabian artist Manal Al Dowayan. In the artist's words:

"“Suspended Together” is an installation that gives the impression of movement and freedom. However, a closer look at the 200 doves allows the viewer to realize that the doves are actually frozen and suspended with no hope of flight. An even closer look shows that each dove carries on its body a permission document that allows a Saudi woman to travel. Notwithstanding their circumstances, all Saudi women are required to have this document, issued by their appointed male guardian.

“Suspended Together” carries the documents of award-winning scientists, educators, journalists, engineers, artists and leaders with groundbreaking achievements that gave back to their society. The youngest contributor is six months old and the oldest is 60 years old. Regardless of age and achievement, when it comes to travel, all these women are treated like a flock of suspended doves."
What do you think of modern art? Am I being too harsh a critic, or missing something in Penny Byrne's work?
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