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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The year that was.... 2011

2011... time has gone fast, I can't believe it is new years eve already.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my readers. I hope you have a wonderful night and stay safe.

This year has had the usual highs and lows. Overall it was a challenging year for me, with lots of upheavals and changes. 2012 should be more settled, so things can only get better (hopefully). I'll start with the Challenges (I'll be positive and won't call them Lows) and then move on to the Highs, so we end on a positive note...

Lows Challenges
  •  Moving to Canberra - a new city, a 5 hour flight from my family and friends. A city where I knew no one, where I had to find somewhere to live and where I started a brand spankin' new job. Stressful times.
  • Having no car for the first two months I lived in Canberra - due to some sort of ridiculous delay in trucking my car across the country. This was made very stressful by the fact that the car company were rude and unhelpful when I asked where my car was. I got to know Canberra's bus system intimately.
  • Returning to my parked car to find that someone had smashed into it and driven away, leaving a major dent. Having said dent panel beaten out, and going without a car for another five weeks while this was done.
  • Breaking my ankle while playing mixed netball, a mere 4 months after I had arrived in Canberra. I hardly knew anyone, and had to call on favours from almost-strangers to drive me to hospital, and then to and from work for 6 weeks while I could not drive. To make matters worse, it meant I had to delay my hip operation by 6 months which inconvinienced people who had taken time off work (and made fill in arrangements) and booked flights to look after me!
  • Experiencing Canberra hospital emergency department with the broken ankle - what a horrible, over crowded, dirty and disgusting place. I really hope we're not sick again while we live in Canberra, as the emergency department is the pits! There's nothing like sitting on a ripped chair while others have to sit or lie on the floor due to lack of space... a room filled with coughing people, screaming babies and people vomiting into plastic bags... a 3 hour wait at midnight, after which no one in the waiting room had even been seen and I was told I'd be waiting at least another 6 hours to be seen if I stayed there that night (due to the arrival of a helicoptor dropping off seriously injured patient(s)).
  • Living on the third floor of an apartment block with no lifts while I had a broken ankle, and then having to move house, with a broken ankle. This was absolute murder, but I somehow did it.
  • The passing of my Grandmother in Perth, and not being able to get to the funeral. It made living interstate so much harder, as it brought to the surface thoughts about wasting time away from those who I am closest to.
  • Having my hip operated on for a second time.

  • Starting my job with a fantastic manager and team, who I really enjoy working with. Being challenged and getting exposure to new areas of law. Being valued and rewarded for my ability and the work I produce.
  • Meeting lots of new people and making friends in Canberra, through work and sport (netball and touch rugby, both social which I joined to meet people) teams.
  • Living a 5 minute drive from work, in a city with hardly an traffic. Being able to park a short walk from work, for free, whatever time of the day I arrive.
  • Lunch time walks outside amongst the greenery, an excellent escape from the clinical office environment and necessary to get my daily dose of vitamin D - this isn't possible if you work in the CBD.
  • Moving house and finding an excellent living arrangement the second time around, with great landlords. The arrangement allows me to save more for my own house deposit (because I'm saving money on rent), and I have a lot of space and privacy.
  • As boring as Canberra may be, it's a great place to raise kids and is very family friendly, with lots of open spaces and it's easy to get from A to B. Bub and I have enjoyed exploring the parks and childrens activities that are on offer.
  • Exploring Canberra and its many cafes, and experiencing its events, including Floriade and Tropfest.
  • Making the most of Canberra's proximity to Melbourne and Sydney (not as much as I could/should have though) and visiting them for weekends away.
  • Having a witness take down the number plate of the dishonest lady who smashed into my car and drove away. I gave this information to the police, who eventually sent me her details. This was a lovely surprise as it meant I didn't have to pay my insurance excess and didn't loose my no claims bonus.
  • Lucking out with excellent panel beaters who did a really good job on my car, and finished it even earlier than expected.
  • Having my hip operated on a second time, with my Mum there to look after me and pick up the pieces during my recovery... and finally getting the operation over and done with.
  • Spending Christmas with my family and friends, and spending a few days by the beach in Rockingham with my close family.
  • Discovering and pursuing a love of op shopping, which has caused me to accumulate junk (as I probably would have done anyway) but at least it hasn't cost me as much as retail priced junk accumulation would!
  • Starting this blog, which I have really enjoyed and is a great outlet for me. It has also allowed me to meet some very interesting and friendly people online. One day maybe I'll meet some of you in person.
  • Learning to be independant and resilient, and that I can rely on myself and cope with a lot without the support of my family and friends.

Things I Discovered in 2011

* Blogging - so much fun!
* Google friend connect
* Tumblr
* Bluefly.com
* Madeit

Beauty / Makeup
* ASAP facial cleanser = amazing for my face
* Aesop primrose cleansing facial mask = again, amazing
* Natio moisturiser

* How expensive it is to get clothing altered, even to just have trousers shortened
* That I really really can't find any nice suit trousers that fit me properly off the rack.
* Skinny belts
* Middy skirts and maxi dresses (I was incredibly late to the maxi dress party, always thinking they didn't suit me - but now I love them with wedges)
* Rediscovered wedges

In other news, today hurts... a lot. I went shopping yesterday at the Galleria with my friend. We didn't do the whole mall, and I had my trusty crutch to help me walk... but I obviously got overexcited and overdid it! Now I'm back on the strongest painkillers that I was taking right after the operation, and I'm still in a lot of pain. It was the most walking I have done since the operation. Oops, I will certainly take it easy over the next few weeks!

I did manage to buy some PJs, which you can never have enough of. I love Sussan's pajamas and these were such a bargain. Reduced to $20, with a further 30% off... $16 for a long sleeved top AND pants!

Loving the cute herron / oriental print.

    Friday, December 30, 2011

    Mandurah Canals Christmas Lights

    Every December, many of the beautiful houses on Mandurah canals are decorated in thousands of twinkling fairy lights and elaborate Christmas fare. The spectacle is only visible from a boat. We are very lucky to have some friends who have a house on the canals, and partake in the lighting up tradition (in a big way - their lighting is extravagent beyond belief - see below). Every year they take us for a tour of the canals in their boat. It is truly magical!

    If you don't have your own boat, or friends with a boat... there is a big ferry that leaves from Mandurah Foreshore doing tours of the canals at $30 a head.

    Here are some photos:

    This is our friends' house / Christmas wonderland:

    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Post Boxing Day Sale Offers

    Due to the popularity of my 'Boxing Day Sales List' post, I have decided to keep posting offers for people to enjoy. Again, I'll update these as I hear about more offers.

    * Surfstitch - Extra 15% off sale items with code 15off
    * Crossroads - All sale stock $15 or less (online only)
    * Frock You - 40% off storewide with code DEC40 (12 hours only - ends 9pm AEST 29/12)
    * Appliances Online - boxing day sale, up to 45% off.
    * Asos - sale continues, now up to 70% off. A further 10% can still be gained with the code LATE10.
    * Bonds - Online sale with free shipping 
    * Dorothy Perkins - further 10% off sale items (applied at checkout). Free international shipping when you spend over 30 pounds.

    Department stores
    * Target - new catalogue

    * Portmans - Further 30% off sale stock for members
    * Bras and Things - Further 30% off sale stock for members
    * Sportsgirl - Further 30% off sale stock
    * Rivers - Spend $50 to receive a $20 gift voucher to spend in February
    * Jeans West - further 30% off sale stock
    * Jetty Surf / Surf Dive N Ski - 50% off all swimwear (excl board shorts)
    * Rockmans - further 30% off reduced items
    * Sussan - further 30% off reduced items
    * Cotton On Body - all sale stock $10 or less

    Makeup/ Health
    * Sasa.com - Sale and free shipping worldwide
    * Chemist Warehouse - Sale incl 50% off vitamins, further 10% off fragrances

    * Kathmandu - further 20% off selected sale stock
    * Paul's Warehouse - Half price or less on Nike, Adidas, Asics, Puma, Reebok, New Balance, DC and more shoes

    * Myer - 75% off Christmas decorations, trim etc when you purchase 2 or more items
    * Spotlight - On top of sale, VIP members get $10 off a $10+ spend with printed voucher.
    * Dotti and Portmans - 50% off Christmas gifts

    My Boxing Day Sale Purchases

    I went to the boxing day sales *in a wheelchair*. Big thanks go to my Mum and Dad for pushing me around all day, and their excellent steering skills. People are also super polite and move out of the way for wheelchairs, and I got to skip the lines and use the disabled change rooms at Target and Kmart - the silver lining!

    This would not have been possible if we were in the city. We were South of Perth in Rockingham, which is not busy like Perth city/Melb/Sydney. It is quite a low socio-economic area, so there are no designer stores and they don't have a Myer, DJs or Country Road (which was a little disappointing)... however, I am not complaining as I had a great day anyway.

    The boxing day sales were definitely better than last year in my opinion. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the chain stores had decent sale sections, and some bargains. My massive haul of the day was at Target of all places. The best thing about Rockingham is that there are always heaps of sizes 8 and 10 left, and they don't sell out of corporate/office clothing like the cities do. Shopping in a satellite city has its advantages :)

    This maxi dress (my favourite purchase) was reduced from $80 to $20 at Katies:


    We actually started by visiting Kmart. I would have skipped it, but Dad was my steerer and he wanted socks. I'm glad we went in, because I managed to find two basic work blouses, for $5 and $10 respectively (score!):

    I couldn't resist getting the $35 mega box at Hairhouse Warehouse. It contains an RPR My Hydrating shampoo, conditioner, thermal protector spray, My Quick Fix dry shampoo, My Argan Oil Elixir treatment, a basic cheap hairbrush, a mini travel hairdryer and a Models Inc lipstick. The only thing I really need in the pack is the dry shampoo which I was going to buy anyway, but it was such a bargain I got the boxed set:

    Then at Target, I picked up:

    Linen fully lined pants and 3/4 sleeve jacket set - $10 for the pants, $18 for the jacket

    Hot options trousers with belt, approx $30

    Tea dress $25 (50% off) - I tried this on at full price and decided that I would resist, so I was chuffed to get it on sale!

    Straight leg black jeans, $10

     Black cardis, $22.50 each.

    Finally, at Valleygirl I picked up this cute beaded black mini dress for $20:

    My grandma's comments when looking at my purchases was, 'Do you wear any colours other than black and white?'. It was an honest, serious question. It made me realise that I did buy a lot of boring classic stuff (apart from the maxi dress). What did you buy at the sales?

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    Christmas Day 2011

    Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you all had a lovely day surrounded by family and friends. Here is my day in photos.

    Christmas at ours is always about seafood. This is quite common in Australia (for overseas readers!). This year we did something a little different - the centerpiece was a huge seafood paella. It was delicious, recipe courtesy of Rick Stein and his adventures in Spain.

     Christmas lunch

     A good way to piss a person off is to make them put a puzzle together before they can read their card! LOL

     The tree - sans star / angel, which went missing this year

     Very elaborate Christmas decor throughout the party house

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Our friends get into the spirit of lights too.

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    The Bargain Hunter's Boxing Day Sale Guide

    **I'll update this as new sales comes to light**
    Additions in purple so you can see them easily :)

    Threadless - all tees $10 each with code FUZZY20 - until 6am AEST 27/12/2011

    Department Stores/Mixed
    Harris Scarfe - 15-30% off electrical, 30-60% off everything else. Catalogue.
    David Jones - Flyer
    Target - Catalogue
    Myer - Catalogue
    Westfield - Online Sale, 2 weeks free shipping sitewide
    BigW - Catalogue

    Hairhouse Warehouse - Mega Beauty box for $35, rrp $150+
    Priceline - Pink Dot Sale Catalogue
    L'Occitane - up to 50% off
    Maybelline - 50% off at Woolworths with printed voucher

    Womens Fashion (my picks only - otherwise too many to list!)
    Country Road - 60% off selected styles, extra 25% off for cardholders (4 days only) and 25% off all full priced too - email here.
    Peter Alexander - Up to 60% Off
    Supre - Up to 60% Off
    Leona Edmiston - 50% off everything in sale section
    Tilkah - 20% off storewide (1 day only)
    Farage - 40% off selected items
    Queenspark - 50% off storewide
    Sheike - Up to 70% Off
    Seduce - Up to 70% Off
    Forcast -Good sale, preview here
    Portmans - VIP get an extra 20% off - print this but probably only applies if you have a VIP card - otherwise use code VIP SALE online.
    Arabella Ramsey - 50% off full summer range
    Diva - Nothing over $5 sale (selected stock)
    Mimco - sale 
    Esprit - 25% off storewide (2 days only)
    Cotton On - all sale stock $10 or under
    Katies - under $10, $20, $25 sale sections
    JeansWest - extra 30% off all reduced items for VIP members

    Wittner - Up to 70% Off
    Peeptoe - 40- 60% Off Sale Stock
    Nine West - Up to 60% Off + Free Shipping Online
    Wanted - 70% Off selected items
    Floresheim - 50% off selected styles + Free Shipping Online 
    Novo - up to 50% off, for sale styles click here

    Gant - 50% off storewide until 28/11
    Man2Man - 50% off most suit sets and trousers
    Gazman - 30% off full priced, 4 days only
    Ed Harry - Catalogue and Free Shipping Online with purchase of 2 items

    Dick Smith - 10% off Apple computers (excl ipads)
    JB HiFi - xBox 360 for $149, Instore Only Deals
    Dick Smith - 12 One Hour Deals
    Centrecom - Special Sale
    WOW Site and Sound - Catalogue
    Dell - Catalogue
    MLN - Flyer
    Good Guys - Catalogue
    Bing Lee - Catalogue
    Harvey Norman -

    Ray's Outdoors - 26.5% off storewide and 40% off footwear and apparel, VIP only (register online)
    Kathmandu - Catalogue
    Anaconda - Catalogue

    Jetstar - Sale, eg flights to Bali from $99 - Sale commences at 12.01am (AEDT) Monday 26 December 2011 and ends 11:59pm (AEDT) Wednesday 28 December 2011

    Toys R Us - Catalogue
    BBQs Galore - Catalogue
    Sheridan - Sale Items
    Lincraft - 30% off storewide (instore only)
    Spotlight - Sale incl 30% off all fabrics and quilt covers, 50% off all pillows, floor rugs, timber blinds and paper patterns and more.

    Free shipping sitewide at Kogan
    Free shipping sitewide at Westfield (all retailers)
    Oroton Signature Sale
    Guess - 50% off all full priced items with code 50OFF
    The Iconic - Up to 50% off
    Asos - Up to 50% Off
    Dorothy Perkins - Up to 50% Off ... free international shipping when you spend 30 pounds
    Surfstitch - Online Sale
    Bloom Cosmetics - 25% off everything with code boxingday25
    Portmans - extra 20% off with code VIP SALE 
    Cellarmasters - 50% off storewide and free shipping (via Westfield)
    Threadless - all tees $10 each with code FUZZY20 - until 6am AEST 27/12/2011
    New Look - Tops from 3 pounds, shoes from 4 pounds Sale
    Next - Everything at least 50% off (sitewide) + $7.50 Shipping

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    Last Minute Preparations, Regifting & Pavlova Disasters

    My Mum is a very practical woman. She is always prepared for every eventuality. When it comes to pavlova making, this involves having a backup plan:

    I did not think we'd need it. We have made Margaret Fulton's pavlova recipe several times. We have also tried other pav recipes, and have always returned to trusty Marg's. Last night we had a pre-Xmas-eve dinner and we offered to make the pavlova.

    Unfortunately, before I had even set foot in the kitchen, Mum managed to mix the whites and yolks of not one, but three eggs. This did not leave enough whites to make the pavlova. We could either go back to the crazy busy supermarket to acquire more eggs, or use the boring emergency Coles base. We opted for the latter. Mum has never done this before, but now I think I am going to buy her one of these:
    Ceramic chic egg separator

    Or even one from the $2 shop made out of white plastic. If it means proper pavlova bases, it is a necessity.

    The good thing about using a Coles pavlova base is that it takes about 5 minutes to make the pavlova. All you need to do is whip up some cream, and place some fruit. The finished product looked like this:

    Not too shabby, although you can taste the non-homemade-ness of the base.

    It was also time for some last minute re-gifting of Christmas gifts. I have already eaten way too many chocolates and biscuits - we always seem to be given food gifts. These elaborate boquets are an exception:

    Apart from weddings/functions, I think this type of thing is excessive - I'd be just as happy with a lovely $20-30 bunch. And spend the rest on fashion :-) or a gift voucher for me! But hey, I'm not complaining. Gifts are gifts!

    These choccies, wine and bikkies all went bye bye to neighbours, gardeners, even the postman. Spreading Christmas cheer is even better when it saves your own waistline:

    Merry Christmas all, have a wonderful night if you celebrate Christmas eve! :)

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Boxing Day Sales: should we be hyped?

     Source: WeHeartIt

    In 2010, boxing day sales were dissapointing. Due to the tough retail climate, retailers had heavily discounted in the lead up to Christmas, and on boxing day the discounts weren't comparatively special. This year, if you believe the media, the retail sector is in even more strife. And pre-Christmas discounting certainly seems to be ramping up!

    For example, a few sales we have already seen pre Christmas in 2011:

    ~ Crossroads - nothing over $19.99 storewide, selected items $5 etc.
    ~ Katies - minimum 50% off storewide
    ~ City Chic - 50% off storewide
    ~ Cotton On - nothing over $20 sale
    ~ Ben Sherman - 40% off storewide
    ~ Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Dotti, Jacqui E, Portmans - 30% off all full priced stock
    ~ Jacqui E, up to 40% off storewide which then become up to 60% off storewide. Um, yay?
    ~ Peter Alexander, Smiggle - 20% off full priced stock
    ~ Ojay - 40% off storewide for cardholders
    ~ Deals Direct - 10% off code and free shipping sitewide
    ~ Certain mall promos, like Westfield Paramatta's 40 Hour Nonstop Shop [9am 22 Dec - midnight 23 Dec], where every store has some offers. The best of this one IMO are Giodarno 50% off storewide, Mossimo 40% off storwide, Queenspark and Sussan further 50% off reduced items, Man to Man 50% off suits,  Typo 30% off all full priced items.
    ~ The usual raft of discounts at Myer and DJs

    If you are thinking "What!? I didn't know about these sales!?", you need to check out my bargain shopping tips post, pronto!

    Myer and DJs have promised that boxing days sales will live up to their hype this year:

    According to Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes, "We still spend $300 million a year marking products down but we are saving a lot of it for the stocktake sale, which will be big this year. We need to step up the discount and the aggressive nature of the stocktake sale and that's exactly what we're doing."

    DJs boss Paul Zahra said the store was having "fewer but better" promotions compared with last December to ensure the Boxing Day clearance was "distinct".

    My predictions are as follows:
    ~ Myer will have worthwhile offers but these will mainly be daily or hourly sales/specials.

    ~ There will be bargains to be had online, for those sitting infront of their computer. A smart online marketer should be advertising in the days leading up to Xmas to attract shoppers who would otherwise be at physical shops on boxing day. Online stores that don't have large dedicated sale sections may offer sitewide free or capped shipping for the day, or a % off discount. Online retailers have the potential to do a roaring trade, capturing those who can't be bothered facing the crowds at physical stores.

    ~ High street retailers such as Jacqui E, Portmans etc who have already discounted aggressively in the Xmas lead up will not be offering up anything spectacular, maybe a further 10%-20% off the pre Xmas sale prices at best. There might be some exceptions - let's hope they surprise me.

    I managed to get caught up in the pre Xmas sales hype, buying this Asos Kimono Dress with Drape (Approx $33 AUD on sale):

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Dragonfly Sex and High Tea (Intercontinental Hotel, Sydney)

    Sydney Cont'd - for post one click here.

    We decided to indulge in a spot of High Tea at the Intercontinental Hotel, Sydney. It cost around $50 for a buffet selection of food, a pot of tea and a flute of sparkling wine. It certainly wasn't the nicest high tea I have gone to, and the food was rather average... but it was still very much enjoyed.

    I was very excited by the gingerbread men, I loved these as a child... the creme brulee was delicious too:

    Finger sandwiches and scones were rather average, but the self serve crepes packed a punch (note the skittles, yes I am like a child):

    I just love photos of macaroons. There is something so *food porn* about them. These looked a lot better than they tasted, they were below average as far as taste and texture go unfortunately:

    The cute buffet arrangement:

    In terms of value for money, quality and taste, I wouldn't rate the Intercontinental's offering of high tea very highly. There are plenty of hotels offering high tea in Sydney - next time I'll try another. Hooray for the economic term known as 'competition'.

    There were some very educational elements to the day, experienced immediately before high tea when we took a leisurely stroll through the Botanical Gardens.

    Flying foxes - according to one person in our group, "They're like bats, but fuzzier".
    Check out this St Andrews Cross Spider in its web. I was wondering what that dark white zig zag / zipper looking part was... the Bear Gryllis of our group informed me that spiders who make very large webs add this feature so that larger animals don't accidentally walk/fly through and destroy the web. Trusty Wikipedia somewhat confirms this: "The white patterns are called stabilimentum and reflect UV light. They have been shown to play a role in attracting prey to the web, and possibly to prevent its destruction by large animals."

     By far the most interesting part of the animal/insect educational series in which we found ourselves involved dragonfly sex. This male red dragonfly procreated with a yellow dragonfly in a typical display of aerial acrobatics. Immediately afterwards, the yellow female hovered over some lily pads and started laying eggs into the water (while the male hovered protectively above her). We could actually see the eggs, and could see little fish eating them. The female was subsequently exhausted, and rested on a leaf while the male continued to dart around energetically, looking for his next victim conquest. As one person in the group exclaimed, "Wow - we just saw the circle of life!". This was all very exciting for our group of childlike adults.

    So there you have it - our stroll through Sydney's Botanical Gardens turned out to be more educational than a documentary. High tea was very much deserved after all this intellectual stimulation.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    The (NOT SO) Wonderful World of Operations

    I loved the board game. Nothing like getting an "electric shock" when you fail. But really, I have good childhood memories involving eating ice cream smothered in Ice Magic and playing Operation. Go figure.

    I am currently bored, sore and grumpy. I am about a week out from my long awaited *second* hip operation. They tell you that it's good for kids to play sport, stay active etc etc. But putting your body through the paces as a child and teenager certainly catches up with you. The hip thing happened during my soccer days.

    I had operation number #1 about 3 years ago in Perth. Operation number #2 happened in Melbourne. It took me one failed operation, done by a surgeon who I never trusted or believed he know what he was doing, to realise that it's totally worth the extra cost and inconvinience travelling interstate to see a specialist who actually knows their stuff. The whole experience has taught me:

    1/ Don't trust doctors unconditionally just because they spent however many years at med school and then training. Not all doctors are equal.

    2/ Go with your gut feeling. If you don't think your doctor knows what they're talking about, it's worth getting a second opinion. And finding a new doctor.

    3/ If your condition is complex, and medical science has only recently evolved in the area, find someone who is at the forefront of said medical science. 

    4/ We generally perceive doctors to be ethical and we respect them. There are exceptions - some are uncaring, money hungry and completely unethical. 

    Can you tell that I had a really bad experience with the first surgeon!? *Rant over*

    Anyway, I am in Perth sweet Perth but there's not much sweet about a place when you are laid up in bed. I have been keeping busy by:

    Eating way too many Ferrero Rochers... they are so damn good!

    Watching season 1 (or now, season 2) of Weeds
    Taking pain killers which make me sleep.

    Bring on recovery, strength and the ability to exercise again. And cheers to surgeon #2 who may have fixed me, and at least convinced me he knows what he's talking about. In happier news, my stitches come out tomorrow - woohoo!
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