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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Funniest Book Ever & Other Childhood Gems


My friend and I were op shopping when she came up behind me and exclaimed “Look at this disgusting book I found!” I was intrigued; she is not the type of person who would generally call things ‘disgusting’, and it’s an unusual term for a book (let alone a childrens book!) We are forever sharing funny op shop finds (the type that you laugh about but don’t buy). This one, I had to buy. For $1, it was too amusing to pass up.


It all starts innocently enough, with interesting facts such as “Silver tabby cats usually have good temperaments” (not sure how this assumption rests on colour, but anyway) and lovely vintagey artwork:


And then things start hotting up:

It goes on to show the birthing process in graphic detail.
Even a picture of a tongue is made somewhat raunchy, with the “cross section” featured on this page (I was like, what on earth is that thing!?):

Whoever said that children weren’t educated about the birds and the bees in the 70s clearly had not seen this childrens book. I don’t think I’ll show it to Bub, because she is liable to describe it at daycare to the poor unwitting ladies there (and even the other children) but I have no doubt her reaction to this book would be hilarious.
I really really need to get my hands on Purnell's Lifecycle Book of You - the version about people.
This all got me thinking about my favourite books when I was a kid, those childhood gems which hold lovely memories.
(1) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Judith Viorst
"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." 
(2) Clive Eats Alligators - Alison Lestor
While Frank eats muesli for breakfast and Rosie enjoys eggs and bacon, Clive prefers to eat alligators (alligator shaped cereal). Follow a delightful group of children through a day as they discover and celebrate their individual differences.

(3) The Faraway Tree series - Enid Blyton
 I have lovely memories of having a chapter read to me from one of these books every night in bed.

What are your favourite books from your childhood?

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Sister's Creative Space

I wanted to share my little sister's creative space, because it is so cute. Have you bought into the owl craze? She certainly has – as well as having several owl necklaces, she has decorated her bedroom with owls. I do like owls, but I think I have seen a bit much of them and prefer more unique and unusual treasures.

 Super cute desk space, all bright and happy and cluttered (but in a good way)
 
 Pin board with fashion shoot pics and … an owl.


 Owly wall art
 
 Owly pillow

 Wooden wonderland - she made the box

  A mirror and shelf that she made herself, with 3 ceramic owls resting on it

 
Cute hand painted boxes, and a very hungry caterpillar

More creative spaces to come soon :-) I hope everyone has a lovely weekend planned ahead...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Summer Lust Have: The Dip Back Skirt / Dress

I am lusting after the dip back/scoop back skirt or dress at the moment.


Given my penchant for polka dots, I am devastated that I missed out on this super discounted (reduced to 12 pounds) dip back dress from Dorothy Perkins (all totally sold out, and has been for weeks – I keep checking and it doesn’t look like there’ll be any stock added):






I also love the look of this ‘Waterfall’ skirt from Glassons, but I think I need to try it on before committing:






What is your lust have for summer, and have you seen any other dip back skirts or dresses that you can direct me to?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Suncream Artist

Daddy was supposed to be looking after Bub. I arrived home and Bub ran to the door to meet me. “Where’s Daddy?” Bub puts her finger to her lips- “Shhh! Daddy’s sleeping” (Silent eye roll from me). I ask her what she’s been doing. Excitedly she tells me “I’m drawing a picture, with sun cream, with my FEET!”

At this point I am thinking - Uh oh. This is not the kind of thing you want to hear from a 3 year old.

Our lovely fluffy colourful rug has had half a litre of sun cream emptied onto it and smooshed around. “And then” she tells me, “I made a WATERFALL!” Sun cream is cascading down a stack of DVDs and off the side of the TV cabinet.

Very creative. Daddy was promptly woken up to rectify the situation. I wish wish wish I had taken a photo of the damage, as it’s so funny in hindsight. But I think I was too annoyed at the time...

It appears others have been in a similar situation. This photo is a still from this Youtube clip:


And a final thought - why is it that Daddy gets to sleep on the couch but I would be woken up within minutes?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Asos purchase, and a warning about their customer service

I boycotted the Asos website for a few months, but I have decided to give it a try again because they now offer an Australian returns address.  Here is the (way too long) story of Asos's terrible customer service....

It all relates to a purchase made way back in the vintage era of January 2011. I ordered a lovely Vila one shoulder dress, and what arrived was a horrible Asos maxi dress. Completely incorrect item, and by then of course the dress I wanted had sold out. 
Asos instructed me to return the dress, and said they would reimburse me for return postage and refund me for the dress. I went to the post office, had the parcel weighed and took home a list of postage quotes. I emailed Asos listing the postage quotes for different types of postage and asked how they’d like me to send it. I noted that if I posted it seamail, it could take 3 months to arrive and was uninsured – I said I didn’t want to wait this long or take any chances for a refund, since the situation was their fault. Asos quickly replied, saying they would refund the postage and the amount for the dress upon receipt of proof of postage (not upon receiving the item). 
Perfect, that's fair, I thought. I wasted yet another lunch hour going to the post office and sending it off. I scanned and emailed the receipt to Asos, filling out their forms exactly as required.
What has followed was SIX MONTHS of emails back and forth between me and Asos, asking why I haven’t received my refund. Sometimes they wouldn’t reply, another time I had to resend my scanned postage receipt, every other time they would ask question which they would already know the answer to if they kept proper records, or I was promised that they would ‘look into the issue with the finance department’... Finally, after 4.5 months and 35 emails, I received a refund for the dress (but not postage). 
It took 1.5 further months and 10 further emails to get a refund for the postage.  I suppose because I had already spent so much time and expended so much effort in getting a refund for the dress, I was angry and wanted to get some sort of positive result to finally appease my anger. 
I don’t care if the first and second postage refund cheques supposedly went missing (this is what they eventually claimed), it doesn’t take this long to sort out a refund to which I’m entitled, and there’s no explanation for why it took me so long to be refunded for the dress when I was PROMISED that if I used the cheapest postage method, I would be refunded immediately upon providing proof of postage. I don't know anyone who would define "immediately" as 6 months later.

If they cannot be trusted to refund money rightfully owed and resolve a situation where the buyer is polite, rational and makes life easy for them by listing the events in detail in every detail sent (in recognition that a different staff member may deal with it every time), they certainly cannot be trusted with higher value items or problems. I am still very unhappy with Asos, and I will not be trusting them with much of my hard earned cash.
However, I could not go past these super cheap leather ballet flats when there was a voucher floating around for a further 20% off:
 $26 for a pair of genuine leather ballet flats? Yes please!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Final Perth Op Shopping Haul

Study, work, everything has been driving me insane these past two weeks. I feel very run down and exhausted. Thank goodness for the lovely weather this weekend, and for no plans (except for study). I plan to get as much sleep as possible, and enjoy the sunshine. Now, as promised, I am finally posting the last of my Perth op shopping finds.
On my final day in Perth, I decided  to check out 2 more op shops. At the first op shop I picked up this stunning set of 8 tea cups and 10 saucers for $25. They’re in perfect condition, and the brand is Essenbach (Bavaria). I didn’t realise at the time but it’s probably a pretty valuable collectors set (I buy things because I like them, not because I think they’re worth a lot). They are feather light, so obviously have a high percentage of porcelain in them. I have googled and googled but I can’t find any pictures of this pattern or indication of when it was made:


I have long wanted to start collecting vintage plates that have beautiful patterns. These will not be valuable or special plates (those ones will still be acquired if I see them, they might be for special occasions or wall decorations), but everyday use plates which may get chipped/broken and which I should be happy to part with if that should happen. When I move back to Perth, I want to have a kitchen stocked with mismatched, beautiful and unique vintage items. Being in Perth (and being able to leave my purchases at my parents’ house for safekeeping), I was able to buy a few nice ones:

And then there’s Australian pottery. I like it because it often features wildflowers and because someone has put a lot of effort into these handmade gems. I have a few pieces already, and I picked up a set of 3 more (again, perfect condition) for $4:

There’s also a little ‘herb’ pot in that photo which at 50c I couldn’t resist- it will look cute on the kitchen windowsill, surrounded by other vintage gems.
There was some Pyrex at the op shop I was at, but I passed on it. I’m not much of a fan of Pyrex, even though it seems to be very popular with vintage bloggers. Maybe my tastes will change as a result of this exposure in other blogs, but for now I’m going to stick with only accumulating items that really appeal to me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival

An Asian friend from work invited me to a mid Autumn festival gathering. 
We....
Ate plenty of moon cake: 

Played in the courtyard with lanterns:

Marveled at the full moon.
Played with photography and the lanterns:

Read (and laughed) about the legends behind the festival.
And ended the night by watching a horror movie:

All in all, a lot of fun! I love being invited to experience another culture, it’s very special.
Happy (belated) Mid Autumn festival everyone!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Meet Thomasina

Today was a frustrating one at work. My boss somehow merged an old version of a document over my work. This resulted in the loss of a full day (and night, because I stayed late) of solid work. It also left my team scrambling to meet a deadline. Apparently this was my fault, because I should have known to save the document in more than one location. Lesson learnt, but come on – learn how to use a computer so that you don’t delete someone’s hard work!
In happier news, meet Thomasina:
 I didn’t like the name at first, but then I found out that Thomasina is a whimsical Disney character from a bygone era (the 60's to be precise).  It’s a fitting name, since every cat is ‘Tom’ to Bub and this one is a female. It makes people laugh the first time they hear it (because it is kind of weird for this day and age), and laughter is good.

Isn’t she stunning? She’s 8 months old and a full on pedigree, with parents from America. She is very energetic, playful and mischievous. She has already made a hole in a pair of my work trousers, it’s just a matter of time before she destroys something.
Bengal temperament: Bengals are highly intelligent. They like to have close contact with people and are very entertaining, because they love to play and will find something to occupy themselves. They bond strongly to their owners, either individuals or whole families, in an almost dog-like fashion. Many learn to walk on a leash, to fetch, and to ride in cars. Bengals love water. They like to play in it or with it and many join their owners in the shower or bath tub. They are not lap cats. Though a favorite person is allowed to hold his or her Bengal for a while, the Bengal prefers to sit on or near "his" person at his own discretion.” Source: http://www.breeds.traditionalcats.com

I am not much of a cat person usually, so the Bengal seems like the perfect breed of cat for me. Part dog is better than all cat!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I found it: the perfect clay masque

I have two things to share today. The first is a product recommendation, the second is just funny.
On the recommendation front, you may recall from this post that I am yet to find ideal beauty products in some categories. The ‘to discover’ list is now shorter, as I have discovered a fantastic clay mask.


Aesop primrose cleansing facial masque
This does an excellent job at clearing up my blackhead prone chin area, and it is gentle enough for me to use twice a week. Lucky me having a friend who works at Aesop; with the staff discount she is going to buy me a big tub at 50% off :-) I have tried a few clay masques in the past and this is the first one I noticed an immediate difference with (plus I love the smell, but I wouldn't choose a clay masque for that reason alone). It really draws the gunk and goo out of my pores, leaving my skin soft and the pores less visible. The web shows mixed reviews, so obviously it works for some and not others... I am yet to try this all over my face (I have tested on the chin area) but even just for my chin (which is my number one problem spot), this is a winner.
The second thing is... Have you gotten yourself a replica Kate Middleton engagement ring yet? I saw this for sale on Living Social and I found it quite funny. Upon googling I discovered that Debenhams in the UK released a 6 pound version, which flew off the shelves and ranks as Debenham’s number one selling piece of jewellery, ever. Pretty much every chain store, supermarket etc in the UK released a replica ring. This is hardly surprising, given that the ring has its own fan site ( katemiddletonring.com ). I kid you not. I can’t believe I am so far behind the bandwagon, only learning about replica rings months after the wedding. My poor hands have been lacking such an attachment which would identify me as a tacky-jewellery-wearing prince hunter. 
No more time to post as I have been super busy at work, so you'll have to wait until next time to hear my gaudy product recommendations. In the meantime, buy yourselves a KM replica ring (and then throw a KM ring fan party, where all guests have to be adorned with several KM replica rings).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Super Sickness Record

Just when we thought we were in spring, and the sun had cheekily showed itself from behind the clouds and warmed our faces… the weather round here has been freezing, rainy and windy.  It’s the typical Canberra ‘it’s not really Spring, we were just toying with you’ mid-September temperature dip.  I’m not complaining, just observing. At least the maximums are higher than they have been in winter. 
 I actually don’t mind the cold weather that much. Who am I to complain, all rugged up with my furry dressing gown (which Bub calls my kangaroo pouch, because she comes underneath then pops out like a little joey), my long bed socks and the heater blasting out warmth. Everyone told me that the Canberra winter was going to kill me after spending so long in toasty warm Perth, but I have proved them wrong. With a smug grin I shrug my shoulders and say, “I never complained, I just didn’t find it that bad… I’m not sure what everyone complains about!”. In other words: I have superior cold tolerance, and therefore am a superior being. 

Far from being weak, I currently hold the super sickness record. I have not been sick (not so much as a sniffle, and migraines don’t count because they are not caused by germs) since early December 2010. That is 10 months of total wellness. In that time, Bub has been sick 3 times (which in itself is pretty good for a 3 year old who goes to daycare) and I didn’t catch anything. I have an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that this means that when I do get sick, I will be really sick and bed-bound for a week… but let’s not dwell on the folklore or the science (whichever it is). 

How did I do it? I am not a mad vegetable juicer and I don’t take multivitamin tablets. Although, when I take the contraceptive pill and Bub asks me what it is, I tell her it’s my ‘vitamins’ (you never know what kids are going to repeat, in an embarrassing situation). I do eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and try to eat healthy, and I make time for more sleep than most. I lean backwards when I have to go near sick people (every so subtlety) and carry a mini hand sanitizer around in my bag (although I hardly ever use it). I think it must be the leaning thing that saves me.

I have a fabulous Aldi bargain to share with you. I saw this and thought, this is the best bargain I have seen ALL YEAR. You should all go and see if you can get yourselves one:
 
 Tomorrow (once you've all run out and snagged above bargain), I'll introduce you to our gorgeous new kitty cat. She is so naughty, but so adorable.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Queanbeyan Op Shopping

I was going to share my final Perth op shopping haul today, but I forgot to upload the photos - so that will wait. Instead, I will share my op shopping finds from today. I decided to take a trip out to Queanbeyan. It's in NSW, but about 20 minutes from Canberra city. If you missed the 'Welcome to NSW' sign, you wouldn't even realise that you'd left the ACT... According to Unencyclopedia

Queanbeyan is a small town on the outskirts of Canberra which fortunately for Australian Capital Territorians is officially located in New South Wales, making it New South Wales' problem... Also known as "Hell on Earth", and "That Craphole", Queanbeyan is home to many of the ugliest bogans on earth... Queanbeyan is known as the Home Of Landfilling Excellence (abbreviated HOLE)due to the native bogans stealing dirt and trash from neighbouring areas. The Queanbeyan city council received the landfiller's choice award in 2009 and it is still what they talk about everyday.

So as you can see, Queanbeyan is a bit of an in house joke. To me, it looks a lot like a big country town, and I find it quite quaint with the old buildings, concentrated main street, flower filled round-a-bouts and signs boasting "free parking", which are redundant because all parking in Queanbeyan seems to be free.

The best thing about Queanbeyan is the fact that there are 4 op shops, all within walking distance of each other, and all open most of Saturday. I have been told that the best op shopping in Canberra is in Queanbeyan (which is not Canberra), so I decided to check it out this morning. I have to agree, the op shopping there is good. Definitely comparable to Perth op shopping, so I'm a happy camper :-) I had a very successful day.

Firstly for the non-vintage, this cute Maxwell Williams teapot from the 'Crazy Horse' range, $4:

Soft bird scarf, with screen printed birds (and artist signature), $1:

Kelly Lane cardigan, $5. I wasn't sure about the bling on this one, but when I saw that it is 100% merino wool (and in perfect condition), I couldn't resist. Merino wool is a great all season fabric, so this will be the perfect spring cardigan:
Zero idea why this is showing up sideways- sometimes computers just don't make sense. I rotated and saved the picture, and it's the right way up on my computer. I rotated and saved one of the photos below too, and that one is showing up the right way... Technology and I don't mix a lot of the time.

 And now for the vintage! This tea set (5 cups, 5 saucers and a teapot) for $6 the lot. It only says "Made in China" on it so isn't anything expensive, but I like the pattern:

This beautiful vintage little girl's dress was $2. I couldn't resist, even though it won't fit Bub. The pattern is darling:

And finally, a vintage cardigan for myself, $6. I have too many oversized vintage jumpers and cardigans that I don't wear, but this looked good even with what I was wearing today so I couldn't resist:

Does anyone know why 2 of my photos are showing up sideways, and a third that I also rotated is showing up the right way?! Seriously annoying, and I don't understand it!

I spent the whole morning shopping, enjoyed myself immensely and spent a grand total of $24. And that is why I love op shopping :-)

I hope you're also having a lovely weekend!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Horrible Mirror Moments

Have you ever had one of those moments, when you’ve looked in the mirror and just thought “Oh my goodness….”? It may have been that time you realised you had something stuck in between your two front teeth for the whole job interview, or worse – black seeds stuck in several teeth. It could be that you realise your mascara has run or you have something hanging out of your nose. Arguably the worst experience is when you look in the mirror, and suddenly realise how much weight you’ve put on. It suddenly is clear that you have become a whale, and you can’t understand how you didn’t see it before.
I had one such moment a few days ago. My worst fears were confirmed in Perth when I tried on the bridesmaid dress that I have forked out $500 for (not my choice, or desire) and I could not do the zip up. In five months, I have gone from the dress being a perfect fit (even slightly loose) to being skin pinching, zip splitting tight. I looked like I was busting out of the boob tube like some kind of porn star gone wrong.
Two things have become clear to me. (1) You burn a lot of calories chasing after kids all day. Sitting at a desk in the office all day does not compare. (2) You should not play social netball if you are prone to clumsiness and bad luck. I broke my ankle doing so, and it is only now getting to a stage where I can start to do exercise on it again.
So, the diet has begun. There’s nothing like an already ugly $500 dress to motivate me, I refuse to be any more embarrassed than necessary wearing it. Consequently, I am hungry (all the time), grumpy (most of the time) and craving sugar (almost all of the time).  But hey, it has to be done.

In the spirit of healthy (and easy) cooking, I will share the super dooper easiest stir fry recipe ever. It is a staple meal in these parts, and it’s cheap, SIMPLE and tasty. Gourmet foodies beware; you are likely to be affronted by my inadequacy in the kitchen.
Super Dooper Easy Stirfry Recipe

Ingredients:
-Frozen mixed veggies. Choose an Asian stir fry mix if you want to be a little bit fancy. Of course you can buy Asian veggies and chop them all up, even carve some flowers out of fruits for the serving, but you'd probably be cooking a more elaborate recipe to start with if you had the time (or desire) to do such things.
-Chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces. Use thigh or whatever else you have on hand, I just prefer breast.
-Sweet chilli sauce
-Hoisin sauce. I prefer Aldi's version, but they often don't have it in stock. I think it's specific to when they do 'Asia' catalogue sales.
-Soy sauce
-Rice or noodles (I use udon mostly)

(1) Add 3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, 3 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to the wok.
(2) Once the sauces are bubbling, throw in the chicken.
(3) When the chicken is mostly cooked, throw in the frozen veg. I usually just let them thaw in the wok (If I’m poisoning myself and others by doing this, please let me know. We’ve been fine so far…)

(4) If you’re serving with rice, you’re all done with the stir fry. If you want noodles, mix them in at this point (the precooked variety) and serve once the noodles are warm. 
Voila – simple, tasty and healthy. Super lazy, but it beats takeaways.

And it's a damn sight easier than this, which is what any slightly complicated recipe might as well involve for someone as useless in the kitchen as I:

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