Friday, February 20, 2015

Kicking the Bucket List

Oh, I had such fun looking through all my old photos for this post...!

I was listening to the radio yesterday, and the segment was on "Bucket Lists". People rang up to share things that were on theirs, or that they had crossed off. Some were dangerous things, others unique experiences, or places to visit.

Not to be too Carrie Bradshaw about it, but it got me thinking...

... I've actually done quite a few amazing things that were on my informal "do before you die" list. It was kind of a cool realisation. 

- patted a tiger

- ridden an elephant

- had a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar at Raffles

- stood in front of the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh's Sunflowers
- been up the Eiffel Tower

- had a beer in the Eagle & Child in Oxford where the Inklings used to meet

- been to New Zealand, twice

There have even been some amazing experiences that happened quite by accident that I didn't know would be once-in-a-lifetime things I could add to my Bucket List:

- hiked a Glen in the Scotish Highlands

- napped in a hammock in a 200-year-old former Opium Den in Malacca

- went down the River Kwai on a bamboo raft
- got lost in the back streets of Venice and stumbled on the world's most amazing pizza
- watched the blackjack table in the Monte Carlo casino

And perhaps the biggest and cheesiest Bucket List item of all, amongst it all I somehow managed to meet the love of my life!

So what's left? There are so many amazing things in this world that I want to see and do. Most of my personal Bucket List wishes involve travel. I want to see Egypt, the Galapagos, Machu Pichu. I want to visit the Smithsonian and eat a bagel in New York. I've never seen Uluru and want to photograph the Red Centre. 

It occurs to me that I have not done anything Before-I-Die amazing lately. Need to get on that.

And if I had unlimited resources and could let my imagination run wild? I would love to go in to space. That would be the ultimate Bucket List item for me. 

What's on your List? Have you crossed anything off lately?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Opting out of Valentine's Day

My husband and I have never really "done" Valentine's Day. Not because we're not romantic, more because we don't think it's something to get excited about.

Basically, because we show and tell that we love each other every day, it seems a little ridiculous to make a special fuss about our relationship with flowers and/or chocolates on a certain day of the year. The idea is a nice one, but I think it's the commercial fuss and pressure that puts me off as well. 

When I was single, I was vehemently Anti-V-Day. I hated it. Because all it did was remind me very painfully for a seemingly interminable amount of time every year that I was alone. I found it horrific. I always secretly dreamed of a partner who would show up with a bunch of red roses though.

And guess what? My husband has never bought me flowers. Not once. Once his mum picked roses from her garden and told me they were from him. He is of the opinion flowers are for "when you've done something wrong". Nothing I can say will convince him otherwise!

But I get lots of other little gifts and gestures, so the flowers thing does not matter so much any more. 

Thus, Valentine's Day pretty much gets ignored in our house.

What do you think? Do you see it as a good excuse to do something nice with your partner? Or have them do something nice for you? Or do you hate it?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Costco Fun

After my last disastrous expedition to Costco, I was looking forward to hitting it again at a little less chaotic time.

My suggestion to hubby that we go on a weekday evening was met with an affirmative grunt so off we went. 

The store was refreshingly empty, so we were able to amble about at leisure. Hubby immediately found the tool and hardware section so that put him in a positive frame of mind straight away. 

I was just grateful to have a proper look at everything, and let my other half push the trolley (those things take some practice!)

I agree with those who say that Costco is a great place for catering a party - the platters are amazing. Where else can you buy a massive tray of prepped buffalo wings?

We ended up spending just over $100 on random stuff. I didn't really have a list so we decided to get things that struck is us a bargain or we really loved. 

Here is the haul. Ignore the other crap on my bench, I beg you.  Not pictured: 48 rolls of toilet paper that I do not have a storage solution for. 

The only thing I regret buying was the tray of Danishes (they're under there somewhere), 10 of which are now in the freezer and I'm not sure how well they will defrost. 

Best buy: Pop Tarts. Where have they been all my life?

My novice tips for Costco: don't go on a weekend, and know your prices. Other than that, just have fun! Aussies aren't used to seeing stuff in bulk, so a lot of the stock may be a novelty. 

Is it worth the yearly membership? Yes, if you team up with some family and friends and split up some purchases. Or if you have a family of ten or more!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Death to Stools

Yes, you know what I'm talking about. The Abominations that are Backless Chairs.

They lurk, waiting for all other "proper" seats to be taken, then somehow appear, making themselves appealing to the weary. I don't know about you, but about one minute on one is enough for me before I'm squirming and complaining.

Oh I know, I know, I should sit up straight and use my core strength or whatever but unfortunately I'm a sloucher who enjoys relaxing when I am seated.

Our lunchroom has some, a tribe of red plastic monsters that are forever being dragged out of the way and are generally the last seats to be taken. But it is at cafes that they really get my goat.

Nothing ruins my occasional "breakfast I didn't make myself and don't have to clean up afterwards" treat like having to eat it while sitting on a stool. The ones at my local place are all rustic wood and look quite inviting, but a few minutes bent over the Saturday paper sipping my cup of Earl Grey are all it takes for regret to set in. Especially as the foot rests are the wrong height. Knees higher than hips is a bad bad thing.

Just wrong

The funny thing is, at a hipster coffee place recently, a stool was the best of a bunch of poor choices. A mix of mid-century modern furniture, tip-shop chic and repurposed industrial design meant that I chose a tall stool at a long table made out of a door rather than sit in a low chair at a tiny spool. Yes, an actual electrical cable spool.

Do you hate stools as much as I do? Or am I simply prejudiced? And what the hell is up with spools?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Great Southern Land

In honour of Australia Day I thought I'd share with you all some of my favourite photos showing this beautiful land I love.

Lake Sampsonvale, Qld

Sunset over Lake Sampsonvale, Qld
Caloundra, Qld

Glengallan Homestead, Southern Downs, Qld
Sunset over canefields, Far North Qld

Mount Glorious, Qld

Lake Perseverance, Qld

Townsville, Qld
Cattle, Darling Downs, Qld

Gum trees on the hill, Darling Downs, Qld

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to Train Your Social Media

This is not a post that is going to recommend your trim the people you follow or drop one of your favourite platforms.

I'm going to tell you a secret: you can now train your social media to show you more of the kind of things you want to see.

How? Well the start of understanding comes from the knowledge that there is so much content on sites like Facebook that even if you scrolled for a day, you could not view every single thing posted by people you follow (plus sponsored content). Same goes for Pinterest.

What both these social media platforms have found is that due to sheer volume and because you can't seem to curate your own content, they have had to figure out a way to do it for you. The answer was algorithms.

I don't know the nuts and bolts of it all, and can only speak from my own experience here, but I do believe that we have reached the point where you now have to "train" your social media.

The mechanics of it are simple - the "like", "comment", "share" and "repin" buttons are your friends. Everytime you indicate to Facebook that you LIKE something - a joke meme, a news story, a friend's photo - it remembers. It then tried to show more of that kind of stuff in your feed. Pinterest now operates on the same principal, showing you items that are similar to things you've recently liked or repinned.

I noticed this on Pinterest when I opened it one day and saw page after page of pretty landscape photography. I realised this had mainly been what I had been pinning lately. I figured out then that I had to tell the algorithm I wanted to see other things! Unfortunately those things weren't in my feed (because Pinterest didn't know I would like to view them) so I had to do manual searches and then like and repin different content. I now try not to pin too much of the same thing in the same session, thus ensuring my home feed stays interesting!

What is scary about Facebook is that it also pays attention to what you Google and shop for. I recently googled and looked at some foot spas for my mum's Xmas present. When I opened a new tab for Facebook, it showed me ads for foot spas for days. I looked up a cookbook on Booktopia, and sure enough when I flicked back to Facebook, there was an ad for it in my feed. Ta da!

YouTube remembers what you've watched and liked too; on the app it offers an a main feed called "What to Watch" compiled using this info. You can ignore this by going to your subscriptions, but the What to Watch suggestions shouldn't be ignored - most of the time there will be videos in there you will enjoy. 

So what's the moral of the story? Be aware that everything you search for, look at, buy online, like, share, comment on and favourite is being logged. It can be a good thing - but it can also make you the target of advertisers and marketing. Is anonymous browsing the answer, I wonder?

And how long until Instagram gets on board?

Have you had to train your social media lately? Got any good or unsettling stories?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Careful what you wish for

On the weekend I visited a friend at her new house. She and her partner had just finished building. Walking around the freshly-completed property, I enthusiastically admired their efforts. 

You see, I've always dreamed of a "blank slate" house - one where I (or we, depending on the level of give-a-damn from my husband) could choose everything from the interior paint to the bathroom fittings and kitchen splashback. 

But when I asked my friend about how great it was, she said actually filling in the blanks of a new house wasn't much fun at all. After the expense of building, she didn't have much left to splurge so most of the furniture and linens were Budget with a capital B. She explained that after spending hundreds of thousands on the actual construction, she couldn't let herself to go on a big shopping spree at Freedom or Pillow Talk to get wall mirrors and quilt covers like they do on House Rules. 

The other thing was that although the house had things in it - tables, chairs, sideboards - there were none of the things that make a house a home. No knick-knacks, or piles of mail or framed photos. They haven't been there long enough to accumulate the detritus of daily life. They didn't even have a bookcase. 

So I learnt that perhaps a empty house probably isn't that fun to decorate unless you have an unlimited budget and lots of time on your hands. And so I went home with a new appreciation for my vintage crockery collection, the magazines strewn across the place and the fridge covered in magnets holding scraps of paper that were once important. 

Have you ever started from scratch with a house? Was it fun or stressful?


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