Tracking 2015 – August

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Another month has flown by and time to review what we spent.

BudgetingJanuary – $5,144.53
February – $1,783.49
March – $4,350.56
April – $2,385.31
May – $5,961.54
June – $2,939.07
July – $3,537.09
August – $3,601.19

I was a little surprised at how much we spent this month but when I examined the categories it was interesting to note that ‘House & Garden’ which is often a substantial amount was only $24.50 in August.  However, we made up for it in other ways – routine service for the car, major dental work for GMan, new sandals for Gman, a couple of items of clothing for me and a bulk purchase of dog food.  We also had visitors and so naturally we spent more on entertaining and also petrol but I would not have it any other way.

The average monthly discretionary spending for the first 8 months of the year is $3712.

September will be an interesting month for spending as we are heading to Singapore for a week during the month.  Airfares, accommodation and travel insurance have all been accounted for earlier in the year so our spending will be limited to transport, food, admission costs and anything that we buy while we are there.  More on that at the end of the month.

Marie vs Me – Round 2

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Back in March I wrote this post about the Japanese tidying guru, Marie Kondo.  Her ideas seem to have taken the world by storm but I was not overly impressed with what I found.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally caved in a bought the Kindle edition of her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.  I have read well over 50% of it and remained firmly unconvinced that she had anything new to offer and some of her ideas seemed downright wacky.  However, a few days ago I came to a section where she described standing her laptop computer on its end as though it was a book in a bookcase – now that really was a lightbulb moment.

I had been too busy for the past couple of days to try this idea but this afternoon I spent a few minutes repositioning the 2 laptop computers that we own and this was the result.

Check out the middle shelf.

2015-08-30 01The simple act of standing the laptops up has made a huge difference to the ability to make and (hopefully) keep that shelf tidy.  Now I need to find time to re-look at the top and bottom shelves.  The bottom shelf is actually the top of the 2 drawer filing cabinet.

While I do not plan on using her methods to fold my clothes, I am always open to suggestions and am really happy to have found this idea.

Have you read the book or applied any of the principles to your own circumstances?

Small Talk or Social Grease

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Tonight I want to address a discussion I became involved in on a forum.  Someone asked if people felt that interactions with businesses, either face-to-face or in telephone conversations had become overly familiar and insincere.

2015-08-27 01I felt that this was the case and even quoted the following example which was fresh in my mind.

I had just been to pick up my new glasses and during the process of fitting and adjusting them I was asked

“How’s your day been?” – “fine, thank you” then
“Are you working?” – “yes” then
“Where do you work?” – “name of employer” then
“So, what have you got planned for the weekend?” – “just a quiet weekend at home”.

At this point the glasses were ready and I escaped. I am much closer to 60 than 50 and the interrogator was was a male who was probably in his 30s. I had to bite my tongue not to reply with something the lines of “none of your business” after the first question and answer which I accept as standard. Am I being too harsh? I am quite happy to sit quietly while the fitting process is completed.

I do not mind chatting and some people who know me in real life would attest to that.  However, I am essentially an introvert and prefer not to share all of my details with a random stranger who is not really interested in my answers.  One of the aspects of this particular example which I found particularly annoying was the interrogative style of questioning. I have thought about this and examined my interactions quite a bit since the experience I outlined above.  I have decided that it really all in the delivery.  Probing questions that leave you feeling as though you are being interrogated are not the way to go.  It is clearly an art to set the customer at ease and have a casual conversation.

Like the poster at the top, perhaps I should build up a collection of witty one-liners for times when I feel confronted by the line of questioning.

What are your thoughts?

Local Sightseeing

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The last few days have been pleasantly busy as we hosted some friends from interstate.  It was a great opportunity to do some local sightseeing and discover some hidden gems in our own backyard.

After meeting our guests at the airport in Brisbane and then having lunch we headed home on the road less travelled.  There is not a lot of interest on the highway between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast so we took the scenic route via Dayboro and Mt Mee.  We had discovered this route a couple of weeks ago and you can read more about it here.

On Sunday we ventured to the Glasshouse Mountains lookout, a short drive west of Glasshouse Mountains township.  I had previously noticed signs about this but had never sought it out.  This is a fantastic spot with great views, picnic tables, BBQs and a short walking circuit.

2015-08-25 01 2015-08-25 02 2015-08-25 03Monday saw us take off in yet another direction where we sampled cheese at the cheese factory in Kenilworth before travelling along various back roads and finally ending up at Boreen Point on the edge of Lake Cootharaba.  We had a picnic lunch and then adjourned to an historic hotel for a quiet drink.  The Apollonian Hotel was relocated from Gympie where it was built during the goldrush days of the 1870s.

What gems have you discovered in your local area?

Home, Sweet Home

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You may have noticed my absence for a few days.  I have been in Sydney for work but am now safely home.

2015-08-20 01I stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel.  Depending on which site you read it is 4 or 5 star.  However, I found much of the experience over-the-top and excessive.  The lighting in the foyer would illuminate an entire village in a Third World country.  The extravagance was overwhelming and I can honestly say that I am relieved to be home.  Give me the simple life any day.

There seems to be an ever-increasing competition between luxury hotel brands to outdo the opposition so this type of experience is not limited to this particular hotel.  I wonder how many people actually find this appealing.

What are your thoughts and experiences?

A New Recipe

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It is not very often that I come across a recipe that is not just a simple variation of something I already make.  However, here is one I came across from ‘Christine’ on Simple Savings.  I don’t know what the origin of the recipe is.

007It was so good that I did not even have a chance to photograph it before we served up our dinner.

This is exactly as Christine presented the recipe.  I made a few minor adjustments and will continue to do so but more of that in another post.

BEAN & BROCCOLI LASAGNE
Lasagne sheets
Bean Sauce (see below)
Cheese Sauce (see below)
250g frozen broccoli or equivalent fresh (I use fresh & steam it a little)
90g matured cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
½ cup light sour cream

Lightly butter a 20cm square casserole dish
Lay sheets of pasta on base and cover with half bean sauce
Spread half cheese sauce evenly over bean sauce
Chop broccoli into pieces and place on top of cheese sauce
Cover with another layer of lasagne
Spread with remaining bean sauce then cheese sauce
Top with final layer of pasta
Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese, then with parmesan cheese
Bake, uncovered 180 deg C for 20 minutes
Drizzle sour cream over top and bake a further 10-15 mins or until golden brown
Stand 10 minutes before cutting & serving

Bean Sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
125g mushrooms, sliced
1 x 440g can red kidney beans, drained
Salt & pepper to taste
½ tsp oregano
1 x 425g tomato puree

Melt butter, add onion, garlic and sliced mushrooms.
Saute gently for 3-4 mins
Add beans, salt & pepper, oregano & tomato puree
Bring to boil the simmer 10 mins or until slightly thickened

Cheese Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp plain flour
Salt & pepper
Pinch nutmeg
500ml skim milk
100g matured cheddar cheese, grated

Melt butter, add flour, salt, pepper & nutmeg and blend until smooth
Allow to cook 2 mins
Remove from heat and blend in milk
Return to heat, stirring constantly until sauce boils & thickens
Reduce heat and cook 1 minute
Remove from heat and stir in cheese

Have you ever seen this or a similar recipe?  What do you think?

Some Sewing

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You may remember that earlier this year I ran a series of posts titled “Sew My Stash Sunday”.  Well I have finally got back to my sewing room and continuing to sort and cull.  Of course, I did not get too far as I was inspired to actually sew.  I have made 2 little t-shirts (Size 1) from a piece of fabric that I found last week when helping my mother sort through some excess fabric.  I just have to put the ribbed neckbands on and they will be complete.  There was some blue ribbing that was with the fabric so that is what I will use.

008Next, I found a couple of pieces of fleece and have cut out some tracksuit pants.

009The black ones are a size 2 and the red spotted ones are a size 6.  The spotted fabric would not be my first choice for tracksuit pants but it was a piece leftover from a dressing gown I made for my grand-daughter a few years ago.  They might make a snug pair of pyjama bottoms that will keep someone warm.

That is a couple more pieces of material gone from my pile and hopefully will be of use to someone.