Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Finding Time, Making Time

I was talking to my workmate the other day about weeknight cooking. She pointed out that it eats up a lot of our 4 hours a day of spare time. 

Hang on, 4 hours? I mentally did the maths. Yes, it was true. We both work 8 hour days with 2 hours of commuting. Home at 6pm, bed at 10pm-ish. Up at 7am to face the new day. 

In those precious 4 hours, we have to cook, clean, shower and then with what time is left over - relax a little. 

I usually use my "relax" time to watch my tv shows, peruse social media and read blogs. 

So now I'm wondering if there are changes I can make to positively and more constructively use my time.

Perhaps I could go to bed later, or get up earlier? Do I really need 9 hours of sleep a night? I probably should be exercising at some point!

Should I use my commute time for more writing, instead of reading?

Should I bulk cook meals on the weekend to cut down on prep time in the week?

All of these are options. But at the end of the day, the decisions I make about how I spend my time will be based on my priorities - what I want to do! If I want to spend more time reading books or blogs, I will make the time. I'll borrow it from the precious minutes I was spending doing something else. If I want to spend more time with my partner, perhaps I'll reduce my social media time. 

I believe that complaining you can't find time to do the things you like is useless. Because if something is important, invariably you'll MAKE the time. I just need to decide what is a priority to me!

What do you always make time for in your day?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tiny Houses - living with less

I've heard of the slow living movement - but tiny houses are new to me! Have you heard of the Tiny House Movement?

So what are tiny houses? Well, they are what they say on the box - houses that are very, very small. People who build and live in them say they want a lifestyle of reduced spending, less waste and more conscious living.

Tiny homes are less expensive for things like heating, cooling, electricity and maintenence. Plus they are said to encourage a less cluttered and simpler lifestyle - imagine the reduced size of your environmental footprint! Many decide to build them on wheels, so they can move easily about.

The below video gives you a better idea of what this kind of lifestyle is all about.

There are quite a few blogs about tiny house living. I'll leave you to google - I find the whole thing intriguing and more than a little charming. And it doesn't have to be minimalist - check out this caravan of luxury in France!

I will leave you with this cool site to check out: Tiny House Swoon. You'll want to sell up and build a little wooden cabin, I swear.

And sealing the popularity of the movement - there's going to be a tv show.

What do you think? Could you downsize into a tiny home?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Things They Don't Tell You About Being An Adult

Much has been written about how high school and university don't really prepare you for the Real World. Here are some of the things I've learned since stepping wide-eyed and innocent out into it...

- You have to clean the OUTSIDE of your house. Who knew?

- You have to clean the inside too.  Even the toilets. 

- If you have grass, you have to mow it. Regularly. 

- Everything costs money. Everything. 

- Fast food is both expensive and horrid, for the most part. 

- You will have to go to the dentist, eventually. 

- The best-paying jobs usually have some kind of catch. 

- There are nice people and evil people, but most folk are somewhere in between. 

- There won't always be a White Knight to rescue you. So you should learn how to change a tyre. 

There are numerous others, of course. Care to contribute? 
What have you learned about being an adult that nobody ever warned you about?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dawn Service

Up and dress in the dark. A quick cuppa, straiten hubby's collar and lament we didn't polish his grandad's medals. 

Down to the Services Club to join hundreds, maybe thousands of others, shuffling quietly about. Many dressed in Sunday Best, others in thongs, shorts and hoodies. Medals pinned on the left and right. Kids milling about, most quietly, sensing the sombre mood. 

Old friends greeting each other, diggers exchanging news. 

The ceremony begins and we hear speeches. Prayers. Bagpipes. Wreaths are laid, heads respectfully bent. School kids in uniform, community organisations and service leagues all bring forth flowers. 

Then The Ode, the Last Post and some silence to remember those who have fought and those serving. Reveille. Tears are wiped from eyes. 

Everyone adjourns to the RSL for a Gunfire breakfast and a few beers. 

Lest We Forget. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Yard Work is Hard Work

Well if there's one thing I have learnt about myself this long weekend, it's that I freaking hate yard work. Hate it. 

I hate being out in the hot sun. I hate getting my hands dirty. I don't like doing physical, repetitive tasks. I will find any excuse to stay in the house and do something else other than things like weeding, pruning or mowing. And most of the time I just find it downright boring. 

This is probably why our yard always looks like a jungle. A jungle slash construction site anyway. 

But what I have learned is my parents-in-law freaking LOVE IT. They both like being out in the hot sun. Getting their hands dirty and whatnot. Mother-in-law has spent the past few days doing what she calls "pottering", perfectly happy. 

What a lazy girl they must think I am! Which makes me worry about my vege garden which C and Father-in-Law are going to build (at my request!). Am I going to even tend to it? I desperately want homegrown veges but seem to be allergic to gardening. 

May need an attitude adjustment in that respect, I reckon. 

Do you loathe or love yard work? How can I make it more appealing?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Going Above and Beyond at the Office

This morning my other half had to be on the south side so he dropped me at work early on the way through the city. 

Rocking up an hour early for my shift, I felt virtuous as I strode through the door with some raisin toast clutched in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, ready to tackle some emails. 

Astonishingly most people were already there. I usually arrive at work 15mins early to log in and make a cuppa. Turns out my coworkers are putting in extra hours every single day - for no overtime pay. 

Now I have a strict policy when it comes to this sort of thing. That is, I just don't do it. No matter how far behind on my work I get, I resist the temptation to start coming in early or staying late. In my opinion, you've got to be in the higher pay grades than I currently am to have that expected of you. And that path, folks, is a slippery slope downwards to high blood pressure and stress leave. I've seen it and I don't like what it does to a person's work-life balance. 

Well, I just re-read this and don't I sound like a slacko? But you know what? If I was ten years younger and being paid a bit more maybe I would be doing ten hour days trying to get ahead. 

But I'm not, so I don't. I give 110% in the hours I'm there, I reckon that's enough. I value my down time so much more than helping my employer fill their corporate coffers with the last drops of blood they can squeeze from me, their little worker stone. So I guess if you want a super-keen, over-achieving busy bee that'll stay back at the office to get a little more work done, don't look at me. 

I'll be at home, eating chocolate and watching a cooking show.  And work will be the last thing on my mind. 

Do you put in extra hours? Is it worth it?


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sarah Suggests: Game of Thrones

I've written before about how big a fan I am of the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire books. However the TV series has its own merits, and I'd like to commend Season 4 to you, which starts tomorrow April 6 (US) and April 7 (Australia).

Why? People will say to you "Oh, that show has so much violence/gore/nudity/sex!". Or they will say it's got a complicated plot. Both these things are true.

But then again, both these things are true of House of Cards or True Detective

At the end of the day, if you enjoy amazing acting, characters you can really love/hate/love/hate, production on an epic scale, beautiful locations, exquisite costuming and dragons, you should be watching this show.

I will only say - perhaps don't join in on Season 4. Binge watch from Season 1, you'll thank me.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Earth Hour 2014

Did you participate in Earth Hour this year? I know some people go to the city to watch the lights go out in the buildings. What a great lesson to teach your kids.

This year, we at Casa de Surely Sarah decided to do a little experiment. It involved trying to gauge just how much energy we waste on electrical devices.

Being the frugal person that I am, I wanted to know what was sucking the most power in our house - because our electricity bill at present is enough to give any normal person a heart attack.

So, at 8.30pm, I got out our little electricity meter (obtained via a city council "green" initiative a few years ago), lit some candles and turned everything off.

Here's the numbers for what happened next:

Initial reading (all devices on, air con on, lights on, tv on)

Everything off
 (at this point C drove himself into a frenzy trying to figure out where that 0.059kW of energy was coming from - we never did find it)


+Computer powerboard


+Water cooler

+Fridge and Freezer

+Air con

What did we learn? Well, for one thing, that lights don't contribute much, but added up with power points with standby power they do contribute to energy use. The water cooler was a surprise - it's on 24/7 so may have to rethink how much power it uses. One thing we did know already was that our fridge and freezer aren't very energy efficient and we need to look at replacing them.

And of course, air conditioning is the main culprit. We do tend to switch it on more than we should, so maybe this stark reminder of how much it costs us might help us use it less!

Did you participate in Earth Hour? What do you do when the lights are out?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Movie review: Divergent

On Monday night, I was lucky enough to secure tickets to a preview screening of Divergent. It's the latest in what I hope will be a new genre - the young adult action movie. Many people seem to want to compare it to The Hunger Games, but I'd like to say at the outset - this is not Panem!

Divergent's story centres on a girl named Tris. She lives in a post-war dystopian future, in the remains of the city of Chicago. Society is split into "factions" based on personality, in an attempt to foster peace and cooperation. When children come of age, they get to choose whether to stay in the faction they were born into, or leave their families to join another.

Tris (or Beatrice, as she was born) comes from a faction called Abnegation, which idealises selflessness. She makes the decision to leave and join Dauntless, the warrior faction, who value bravery. She soon finds herself caught up in what may become a faction war.

The movie is based on the first of a series Young Adult fiction novels by Veronica Roth. As a fan of the books, I was happy to discover that the movie is very book-faithful. I believe fans of the novels will be happy with both the casting and also the screenplay. But non-book viewers will also enjoy it, because it is a damn good movie - lots of action and even a little romance.

I took my husband along so I'm using him as a yardstick for the general audience. He went in expecting to see something along the lines of The Hunger Games and came out quite surprised and impressed that it wasn't. We spent ages in the car on the way home debating the lessons and morals of the movie, not coming to any firm conclusions!

The standout in this film is the performance of Shailene Woodley as Tris. She really is fantastic - I couldn't take my eyes off her every time she was onscreen. I predict she may be the next big thing - look out for her in the upcoming adaptation of John Green's hugely popular YA novel The Fault in Our Stars.

And I also have to make mention of the music - yes, I'm a soundtrack geek. I really loved the music in this movie, it was beautiful.  Ellie Goulding's "Beating Heart" is a standout. Watch the lyric video with added movie goodness below.

So, go see this movie if you like stories about strong girls who make their own choices, or if you like a bit of post-apocalyptic action, or both!

If you've seen it, let me know what you think! Are you a fan of the book? 

*Disclosure: not sponsored, but I received a free double-pass to the film thanks to Review Brisbane



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