Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pinteresting - Gardens and herbs

This week I've been thinking about gardens. Because though I possess a "black thumb" and do no gardening myself, I like looking at other peoples' green stuff. Plus I'm wanting to grow some herbs (more on that in an upcoming post) and have been looking around for pretty ideas for herb pots. I am especially in love with the tea tins. So rustic!

Linking up with's Ooo! That's!

Tina Gray {dot} Me

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Heart My Body 2011


I struggled a bit with body image in my teens and early 20s. I was always the slightly-larger girl, never slim enough to fit into trendy clothes, or pull off the kind of outfits my friends never gave a second thought. Additionally, I'd had huge boobs since primary school and it was hard sometimes knowing they were the first thing people noticed about me!

I never hated my body but didn't think that much about it - except when I couldn't find clothes in my size at the shops.

Meeting my partner was a big revelation. He thinks I'm pretty (hee hee) and LOVES my big boobs and hips, and every lump and bump. He even loves my frizzy hair and snub nose. I only realised that I do in fact have a tiny waist when he told me! I have resolved recently to try to dress to emphasie this more, as I really feel it's an asset.

I bought this dress for our engagement party, and yes it's probably not the most flattering piece of clothing on the planet but it shows the real me - big boobs, belly and hips too. I have large thighs and I was once asked if I had been bitten by something because my ankles appeared "swollen"!

I would have to say my fave body part is my boobs, then my waist, then my hands. Heh. I have lovely hands and fingers, if I do say so myself :p

I think it is important that you love yourself first, and not rely on the validation of others to boost your self esteem. Yes, I adore that my partner loves me just the way I am - but I am comfortable with and love my body interdependently of that. The last few years, I have even become less anxious about appearing in a swimsuit. I'm resigned to the fact that I will never look like a model, and when I look around on the beach, there are more ladies that look like me than look like Miranda Kerr!

My photographer abandoned me this morning, so these are iphone pics in my messy bedroom. I'm not going to ask you to excuse the mess though, because I happen to know you all have similar-looking houses (I love that bloggers tell the TRUTH about these things!) I am sans makeup and hair styling because I wanted to look more "real" - if other brave ladies can post their bodies in their underwear, surely I can post something where I'm completely without product to aid me! When I first heard about the We Heart Life link-up on twitter, I didn't even posting a pic of me in my underwear. I applaud all those folks who have - but it's just not me :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Honey & Vinegar

I have a favourite saying. It’s “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. I use it all the time at work, because the general public seems not to have heard of this tried and true maxim.

I include in the category of “vinegar”: shouting, whining, moaning, sob stories, crying of all kinds, threats, blustering, name-calling, swearing and blackmail.

Under “honey”, I include: manners, courtesy, asking politely, logic, compromise, common sense and calm rationality.

The first way will get you absolutely nowhere with any customer service person worth their salt and force them immediately into a position of hating you; thus decreasing dramatically your chances of getting any kind of satisfaction. The other will open doors, work miracles and probably result in a happy resolution.

Those people who use vinegar to try to get what they want are just bullies. But what most of them don’t realize is that I have the power in this conversation. Not you. Me.

Ultimately I can bend over backwards to help you, or make your interaction with our company a living hell. The true art lies in making you believe I’m doing the former whilst actually doing the other. A range of harmless punishments might include:

- putting you on hold
- making you recite all your personal details before even letting you even state the reason for your call
- listen to the epic story of your problem before advising it’s not my area, and transferring you to someone else to repeat it all again
- advising that I will have to get someone to call you back about that particular problem as it needs further investigation
- launching into highly technical explanations which you won’t understand

I can think of a lot more evil ones too, but I am not that mean. But if I stretch my imagination a bit, a really, really awful customer service person might:

- be assured that the problem will be fixed, but have nothing done
- leave a message, then not have it passed on
- accidentally have their email deleted
- accidentally have their fax lost

And then there’s the really scary thought – that this person, whom you have abused, screamed at, swore at, called names and generally treated like crap, has ALL your personal details. Vinegar people need to think about that. Note that I have never seen customer information misused, and would NEVER do such a thing myself, but I ALWAYS keep this in mind when dealing with companies. Because I know: I am their customer. They have the power.

Are you nice to people to get what you want? Or do you find being a vinegar person works better?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Scrapbooking Day

This weekend I went to another scrapbooking event with Creative Memories. Regular readers will know that my mother and I have been customers of Creative Memories for some years now, and we always try to attend their big workshop “Extravaganza” events which are held about 4 times a year. We also go on scrapbook camp once a year to enjoy two full days of uninterrupted scrapping bliss!

One of my pages - I am up to scrapping the January floods

This event was aimed at raising funds for the Make-a-Wish foundation. Creative Memories releases exclusive product every year that contributes money from every sale to the foundation. The consultants also frequently come up with ideas to put more in the donation tin. This year we had an auction – each consultant donated their old, no-longer-offered products and everyone had the chance to bid. It was great – everyone was very competitive, especially for the exclusive products that were customer gifts and never offered for general sale! We raised a couple of hundred bucks that way. Also the consultants were donating 20c for every completed scrapped page on the day. I’d estimate over 60 people were there so I think some of them may have shelled out quite a bit, especially when some were completing 15+ pages!

Love the colours in these layouts.

As usual at these events, we were fed and watered well. Subway was the caterer for the day and I wolfed down my sandwiches. Scrapping makes me hungry! Fueled by frequent cups of tea and inspired by the day’s workshops (how to use the new border tool and page layout ideas), I managed to scrap my way through 9 pages of my “everyday” album. Not up to my usual standard but I found myself taking it easy, talking and eating a lot! I also spent quite a bit of time looking at the example albums of the consultants and admiring the new product (the new “Reflections” set is just so gorgeous, wish I wasn’t so broke!)

The other very cool thing was spending time with my mother. She’s getting progressively more deaf and now can only really hear clearly on her right-hand side. In between her tinnitus and Meniere’s it is very difficult for her in a large hall with lots of conversation going on, but all her friends know to speak up when they are talking to her. Her scrapbook albums are just amazing and I always love watching her put them together.

I had a great day just spending time with people who love scrapbooking as much as I do. The next event isn’t until January so looks like I’m going to have to find some time to do some more scrapping in my own time, or my album will never get done!

Some inspiration

What do you do with your photos?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thank You Sara, Thank You Faraday

This is a co-written post, crossposted here and at my dear friend Brooke's blog, infinite.. and... unforseen...

Imagination decides everything. Blaise Pascal

Sara Douglass 1957 - 2011 - Australian Fantasy Author [Image Source]

Reflexive memory is a funny thing.  All the strange, half remembered, half-ridiculous little pieces that flutter into your mind and then disappear again, just as quickly. Reflexive memory is also a source of frustration. I seem, never to be able, to remember the littlest, most important part of the memory.

Where has this morose little morsel developed from you might wonder. To answer, I can only give a name. Sara Douglass.

I think I was about 20 or 21 when an uncle introduced me to her first book BattleAxe. I was hooked from the first sentence and by the end of the book I could think of nothing but getting a copy of the second book, which, luckily, he owned.

This was another world full of magical beings that I could identify with, even though they were so very different from me. I wanted nothing more than to be an Icarii. This series of books was also the first in which I strongly wished for the death of one of the main characters. Faraday. How that woman annoyed me. Perfect at everything. No flaws. Irritating beyond measure. It was with relief I read one day, that Sara also hated her. Image.

Shortly after I began reading the series, I met one of my best friends, co-blogger and co-author of this post. SurelySarah.  She sat next to me in an anthropology tutorial and I saw she was reading BattleAxe and before I new it, I was asking her if she hated Faraday yet. Like most of the other memories around this, I cannot entirely remember what her answer was. I think she said not yet, and that I said, you will. It was an odd way to start a friendship but over a decade later it seems to have worked.

“Don’t you just HATE Faraday?”

I looked up from my copy of BattleAxe – it was a girl addressing me. I probably looked at her in complete incomprehension. I tend to get completely lost in any book I’m reading.  But then I realized she was talking about the main character in the Sara Douglass novel I held in my hand. I was a first year uni student and I was early for my first tutorial for Introduction to Anthropology. I knew no-one at all and had been avoiding talking to people by burying my nose in Douglass’ tome.

The girl promptly sat down next to me and we started to talk about the series. Her name was Brooke, and she had already read all the series and probably the next one. Being only halfway through the first book I had no real fixed opinion about Faraday either way, but Brooke was adamant that she was an insipid half-wit who was possibly the most annoying character in literary history.  As it turned out, she was right – even the author later famously wrote that she would like to drop a spiked pumpkin on Faraday’s head.

The most important point was that I had made a friend, and it was all because of Sara Douglass, her insipid Faraday and the Axis trilogy.  I went on to read the rest of that series and the next. Brooke continued to read everything Sara Douglass ever wrote and we always shared a love of reading.

I was deeply saddened last week to hear of Douglass’ passing as a result of ovarian cancer. Always close with her fans, she will be dearly missed not only for her wonderful writing, but her sense of humour and the encouragement she always offered to those who were budding authors. I recall in the early days of the internet, she was very involved in her website and I found it a wonderful resource not only for interacting with other fans, but for writing tips as well.

The writing world has lost a great author and friend - but her legacy lives on through all of those who share a love of her work.

I don’t really know what to say about Sara. I never met her. I never spoke to her. I only knew about her from her website and blog. And I realise I am writing about her in the past tense. Sara Douglass left this life on 26 September 2011. I find that with the number of deaths surrounding me this year I cannot bring myself to write more.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pinteresting - Wall decals

I have been thinking about wall decals as a decorating idea for a while now - specifically I want one for our front entrance because the wall is so bare and I don't want to put up photos there.

This is a sample from my "interiors" pinboard, which I've been filling up with some decals this week.

Linking up with's "Ooo! That's Pinterest... ing!"

Tina Gray {dot} Me

Friday, October 14, 2011

Polly Dolly: Bike Riding

When I think of bike riding, my mind immediately transports me to rural Provence, and an old fantasy about riding around eating good food and drinking too much wine.

This is the outfit I wear in that fantasy - not practical for pedal-pushing, perhaps, but incredibly cute! In my bike basket I will carry a baguette, some gorgeous soft cheese, a bottle of local red and a good book.

Bike Riding in France

Monday, October 10, 2011

Date day

Since the boarder moved in, my fiancĂ©e and I have had very little time together. I’m working when he’s at home, he’s working when I’m at home. When we are both home, the boarder is there too. As a result, I’ve been sulking about being neglected and generally not paid attention to and resentful of evenings spent with the boarder rather than my other half. Weekends lately seem to have been filled up with separate activities so I resolved that on Sunday we were finally going to spend some time together, a “date day”.

I gave C some notice and asked him to think about what he would like to do. He wanted to go to the movies, but as this was not what I wanted to do I tried to steer him towards something where we could actually talk to each other, thus creating some “quality time”. In the end he just told me to pick something and he would go along with it. I am a genius.

I suggested a drive, like we used to do when we were dating. I pointed out it was a gorgeous day and I wanted to see the ocean, so off to the Sunshine Coast we went.

I have really missed cruising along in the truck with C. It was off the road for so long, and there is nothing quite like driving down the highway looking down on all the other cars from a great height, with the magnificent stereo blasting and the wind in my hair. I looked like Bridget Jones on a mini-break when I got there, but I didn’t care.

We had burgers and chips at Dicky Beach, but a walk on the beach itself was not on the cards due to inappropriate footwear (and a refusal to take off sneakers from one party). We decided to go for ice cream up at Maroochydore, but the lack of parking along the main strip meant a diversion to Macca’s for a McFlurry. Have you tried the new McFlurry? It’s terrible.

And then we went home. Sometimes you just need to get away from your own place and spend time actually talking to your partner. And for me, sometimes I’ve just got to see the ocean.

What do you do for quality time? Do you have “dates”?

*all images mine

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lazy day

I'm pretty sure we had hail this morning. I woke up to loud bangs, but it didn't compute at that hour of the morning so I rolled over and slept again. And slept. First time I've slept in that much in ages, and it was GLORIOUS.

I have a no-plan day today. Nothing pressing to do, nowhere to be. My fiancee is out playing paintball in the mud and the boarder is off at a course. I had formulated some vague plans of going to the shops to print out save-the-date cards but you know what? It's raining, and I don't want to get out of my pajamas.

Despite this, I've still been pottering about doing some housework. It's like some sick compulsion. In my mind, I rationalize: "If I put a load of washing on, and make sure the kitchen is clean, then I can relax for an hour or two. Then later I can make a start on the floors... ".

NO. I must resist! Plenty of time for housework tomorrow. Today, I'm going to enjoy my no-plan day.

Do you have planned lazy days? Do you still find yourself doing housework and errands anyawy?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Tyranny of Uniformity

[image source]

As some of my twitter followers know, my work recently introduced a uniform. Their rationale was that we were moving to the city (the office used to be located in the industrial area of the airport and the dress code was "business casual" at best) and it would look smarter next to the perfectly coiffed employees of other corporations and government agencies we would be sharing the building with. As if we couldn’t stand someone from another company to look at us in the elevator and think “God, why is she in civvies? Is that a pair of cargo pants she’s wearing?”

My entire school life, I wore a uniform. In primary school, I wore a blue smock. I can’t think of any other word to describe it, the style was interpreted in many ways by enterprising mothers who sewed them for their daughters (quite common in those days, and in a country town). The boys got to wear a blue button-up shirt with grey shorts. On Fridays, which was sports day, girls got to wear a red t-shirt and black netball skirt with black “runners” underneath. Runners were supposed to lend some kind of dignity to any accidental flashes of underwear, but looking back I fail to see how. Your normal undies used to poke out the sides of the runners anyway. Later, girls were allowed to wear black shorts, a trend I embraced as it was much easier to concentrate on high jump without worrying that the boys were looking at my runners.

In high school, we had a boxy grey blouse and maroon tie, teamed with a knee-length pleated grey skirt. For sports, we wore blue polo shirts with maroon skirts, shorts or trackpants. You can probably guess which the preferred garment was for teenagers – even in high summer, when it got to 40 degrees, you could still find smelly boys wearing trackpants. Parachute material was the most popular, if I recall correctly. Anyone wearing heavy pajama-type cotton trackies was ostracized. Kids can be so cruel, especially maroon parachute-panted ones.

Now, at my company, when a uniform was decreed necessary, a department committee was formed. Yes, organizing and deciding on uniforms necessitated a committee. Deliberations went on for weeks. Certain items (such as clothes made out of actual nice material) were unable to be ordered, due to budget constraints. The colours were chosen and everyone’s worries that we would end up looking like Ronald McDonald in our corporate logo shades were put to rest. The end result was an understated range of white button-up shirts, navy trousers and skirts and your choice of a navy vest or cardigan with logo embroidered on the left hand chest.

At first I was unconcerned. It would make dressing myself in the morning much easier, I told myself breezily. The fact that I hadn’t worn a uniform since high school and hated it then didn’t cross my mind. We were given the opportunity to try on a few samples and ordered sizes. The samples were horrid, but we consoled ourselves that perhaps it was because they were “similar” styles to what was ordered and not going to be at all like the final product. A few weeks ago, the uniforms finally arrived. They are horrid. The polyester in the pants and skirts are static-y. The pants themselves are just amazingly badly cut – I don’t think I’ve ever worn a worse style. Despite purporting to be a “relaxed fit” the waistband falls undernearth my bellybutton in the front and shows my asscrack at the back when I sit down, so they are really more like hipsters. The blouses gape at the front buttons on anyone remotely chesty. The wool cardigans and vests are the only saving grace – but god help me when it comes to summer and I can’t cover up my gapey buttons with the vest any more.

I’ve actually rebelled and stopped wearing the pants. I have two pairs of black pants and one new pair of navy ones that I have started wearing. Nobody has noticed. The uniform people actually came to our office to hear everyone’s complaints a week ago, but we have heard nothing from them since.

The other problem is that even though you can give people nice, neat, ironed ensembles, the reality is that when they put them on more than half look like a sack of shit tied in the middle. Whether it’s innate laziness which prevents the use of the iron, or the style simply doesn’t suit those with long/short legs/torsos, you just can’t make everyone look presentable in a uniform. Thus, glancing about the office today I realized that the idea of looking all neat, tidy and corporate seems to have failed in a colossal manner.

I hate this uniform. I wish they’d just given me the $200+ they’ve spent on allocating me four shirts, a skirt, pants and a vest and sent me out to buy something for myself. I hate that everyone on the train or who sees me walking to work knows what company I work for. Most of all, I hate not being able to choose my own outfit every morning. Who would have thought?

What’s the worst uniform you’ve ever been forced to wear?

Monday, October 3, 2011

100th post

For my 100th post on this blog, I'm linking up with weheartlife's "What you love about" post.

I want to know three things you…
…love about yourself.…love about your life.…love about your job.

3 things I love about myself…
1. I’m smart. I love learning and was like a sponge in school. My mum considered putting me up a grade but decided to keep me in my current year so I would be the same age as my friends.
2. My hair. I curse it more frequently than anything else, but it’s so amazingly thick that a simple haircut is an adventure.
3. My boobs – another thing that I frequently curse however they are pretty amazing. My partner likes them a lot too ;)

3 things I love about my life…
1. I have the love of a good man. No idea how or why but he wants to marry me!
2. I have a lovely house that I bought with that same good man. I have so many plans for it in the future.
3. I live in the best city in the best country in the world. Brisbane has amazing weather and suits me down to the ground. And I truly believe that Australia is the greatest place to live, work and raise a family.

3 things I love about my job…
1. I get paid well for what I do, considering it’s mainly answering the phone and sorting paperwork.
2. I cop a minimal amount of abuse from customers compared to my last job. A LOT less. And here I’m allowed to terminate the call if I wish (YES!)
3. My boss is pretty laid back, a nice difference from previous bosses who have all either had a) an ulcer; b) high blood pressure or c) both.

What do you love about yourself, life and your job?


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