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Emergency cleaning

Friday, August 31, 2007
You know what I'm talking about. Your house is plodding along ok, it's not great, but getting there. Things are happening. The house is "lived in". Then you find you have people coming for dinner. 4 to be precise. Grandma & Granddad are fine, they will probably find your home clean in comparison to what it normally is. But it's the other guests you worry about. And you have.... 3 hours!

Yeah, that's what's happening here. So this afternoon I'm engaging in what is affectionately known as an Emergency Clean. It is a combination of other emergency style cleans I've ready on sites from Flylady to Candy's Keeping the Home. Ours goes like this

1. Put disinfectant in the main toilet and spray the bathroom sink
2. Empty the dishwasher, restack, do excess dishes and clean the kitchen as best you can (clear the benches)
3. Clear the dining table and any other flat surfaces
4. Clear the floors, put everything away (if I'm really short of time I chuck everything in a laundry basket in the laundry to be put away tomorrow)
5. Clean the toilet and main bathroom and put out fresh towels
6. Sweep, vacuum or mop the main floor areas (lounge, dining, kitchen and anywhere else guests will go)
7. Check you have all the necessary food and drink for guests, if not duck out while the floors are drying and grab what you need.

Guess what I'm doing this afternoon? I'm up to number 2.

And the paperwork keeps coming

Thursday, August 30, 2007
As I mentioned last week, we got our registration bill for the car. This often results in an avalanche of paperwork from the CTP insurer's in Queensland. Just to make life interesting. One such offer arrived yesterday from RACQ. While all our insurances are through AAMI, we have RACQ cover for when I lock my keys in the car or leave the lights on. Those incidents have been non-existant since we got this car in 2004, but that's a whole other post.

The offer this time from RACQ was a reduction by $10 on our bill if we switched our CTP insurance to them. While this offer would result in a $10 saving this year (the costs for insurance are exactly the same) the effects on our other insurance policies wouldn't be noticed until March next year when all our other insurances are due. See having 4 policies (CTP, Comprehensive Car Insurance, Home and Contents Insurance) with the one provider, gets us a discount of about 15%. 10% on Car ($660) and Home & Contents ($650) policies is a LOT more than $10 (over $100!).

Obviously it's sometimes worth looking at these offers and always worth running the numbers, for the most part offers that offer a saving for switching some part of your insurnace to another provider increases costs elsewhere. If you are considering switching providers anyway, this is obviously a good time to do it, and increase the benefits in your pocket. Alls I'm saying is, sometimes an advertised saving isn't a saving at all, if you look beneath the surface.

Friends from the past

Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Once in a while you meet a special person. Someone you can sit up all night with talking (either in person, on the phone, or on the net). Someone you talk about philosophy with. Someone who you solve the worlds problems with. Yes, I do that a lot.

I was very blessed to meet such a special person many years ago. Her name is Tania Major, and she is the Young Australian of the Year. At 25 she has achieved WAY more than I ever could dream at her age. She finished school at one of the toughest schools in the state, went on to university and studied criminology, and is now working in that field, and at 22 was elected to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, and now advocating the issues facing Aboriginal communities. What makes this more special is she was raised in an Aboriginal Community in Far (far) North Queensland.

I am saddened that I haven't kept in contact with Tania. She was a very special person to me, and through some of my rather dark teenage years forced me to come out of my bubble and consider the world around me. I often talk about her to Hubby, and wondered what she was up to, hoping that she made it, and did something that she could be proud of.

When I heard she was named Young Australian of the Year I shed a few happy tears. What an amazing achievement for someone so young.

Last night she was interviewed on Andrew Denton's Enough Rope (you can view video of her interview on the website). An amazing, articulate woman who had my Hubby trying to hide a few tears. He could hear the echos of my education in hers, and her passion and drive impressed us no end. He finally understood how she could have made such an impression on me at such a young age.

I have been blessed by some amazing friendships in my life, some wonderful people who will always hold a special place in my heart. Tania is one of them. She challenged my thinking and challenged me. I hope now she can challenge more people and create some of the change her community so desperately needs.

What we did on the weekend

Monday, August 27, 2007
For ages now I've been bemoaning the kids in our lounge room! I clean it up and 10 minutes later it's covered in toys and crap. SO I came up with the idea to set up a little lounge room in the dining room for them. I study and work on the computer in the dining room, and like most mothers spend a lot of time in the kitchen. This way they're supervised all the time, and have their own space (and we get our space back!)

So while this was planned for Saturday - other things happened, and it finally happened last night. Here is the before shot:

As you can see there's a lot of wasted space there (and it's well used). Here's the after shot:

They had two massive boxes of toys which I sorted into musical instruments, tea set and "other" and along with their lego that makes up the 4 boxes on the shelf. Under the table with the tv will be boxes with their DVD's when I finish decluttering the lounge room. Those pictures are taken from the kitchen room, so you can see they're well supervised while I'm there. Past the clock on the wall is the laundry, so I'm never far away now.

It was quite a big job, and I'm glad it's done now. 1 room down, 10 to go :)

Menu Plan Monday - 27 August

We've been flat out this weekend, hence my lack of posts. I hope to redeem myself with a detailed account of what we've been up to with photos later this afternoon.

As for our menu plan, I've got loads of food in the freezer, so we're basically eating out of the freezer/pantry this week, which will keep the groceries low.

Monday: Apricot Chicken
Tuesday: Haystacks (vegetarian Nachos)
Wednesday: Veal Casserole
Thursday: Tomato Macaroni Cheese
Friday: Hamburgers
Saturday: Chicken Burgers
Sunday: Roast Chicken

Why only checking the mail once a week is scary

Friday, August 24, 2007
Rego: $523.00
Rates: $2067.00
Electricity: $142.60
Total: $2732.60

Eeek. Electricity is good, it's down HEAPS. Like, about $60. Rego I was expecting and has not changed. Rates have gone up $180. NOT happy with that. And my step-mother was complaining about her $1600 rates bill. I can only dream of a rates bill like that.

$250 Savings Challenge - Update

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm early this week because I seem to be getting a bit more organised in the financial sense. Pity that isn't tranlating to the house.

I filled the car with petrol yesterday - savings from the budget over the last 3 weeks is now up to $101, less the $24 I added last week, so $75 more. I have $4 left from my spendings, and $3 from groceries.

Total addition this week of $82, bringing the savings to: $174.90

It's nights like these

I get a glimse of what being the parent of a teenager is like.

Since I've known him my Hubby has been a volunteer in emergency services, specifically marine emergency services. Now while I've known him 10 years, lived with him for 7 years and been married for 6 years, I never get used to, or comfortable with the late night call outs. Granted tonight has been different. Two in one night is rare.

The thing is, apart from quick jobs, like someone running out of fuel, or rescuing people from boats that have run aground, most jobs can take a while, and often happen in less than favourable conditions.

I'm not a huge fan of the beach, or water, really, so I tend to stay away. And I probably shouldn't watch the news either, because tonight I saw that the wind is picking up here, and I noticed last time I drove near the water, a large number of boats in the bay. Probably the most I've ever seen when there hasn't been a cyclone bearing down on us. I'm guessing it's pretty rough out there. And my Hubby's out in it.

I know they have a great boat, and I know Hubby knows his boats, but it's one of those times you think "now I know how my parents felt". And feel bad for them. And me, because you know in 15 years I'll probably be lying in this same bed, hopefully with Hubby beside me, wondering where the girls are, and what they're doing. And I'll not be able to sleep until they're home. Just like now I can't sleep until Hubby's home.

Birthday parties

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Well, it's getting to be that time of the year again, in October will start the great end of year birthday rush, which will now follow through until February when the little bean (ok, not so little bean now I guess) makes his/her entrance.

First up is Miss nearly 4! I can't believe my baby is so big. While cleaning out the garage on the weekend we found all the pictures of my assorted birthday parties, and let me tell you, this kid is the image of me, if not in looks, then obviously in personality and style. Even the same tragic obsession with Strawberry Shortcake I had at her age. As I looked further back I found photos of me that prove I'm not insane when I look at Miss 2.5 and feel like I'm looking in a mirror. I might even share them one day.

But back to the important aspect of planning birthday parties for little people. We have a rule which hopefully will only last until their 12th birthday, that states however old you turn, you can have that many friends to your party. This year that makes it 4 kids, plus my two, plus parents, grandparents and assorted other family friends. I'm thinking about 20-24 people. Can you imagine if I said she could have 6 people??

Anyway, we're thinking 2 hours was enough last year, maybe 2 or 2.5 again this year. With a theme. Oh I'm going to love this. Both my girls, and apparently any other girl I know between the ages of 2 and 6, are obsessed with Dora the Explorer, and Miss nearly 4 has asked for a Dora cake. Soooo, I'm thinking of planning a Dora expidition. I've watched enough DVD's to know the format. Problem, someone hands them the solution, they check the map, remember the things to do on the way, then off they go to face 3 challenges along the way - but don't forget Swiper the Fox! I figure that could take them a good 20 minutes. Which only leaves 1 hour and 40 minutes to fill. Last year we did some great activities like beading (even the token male got into it making jewellery for his sister and mother), dancing (freeze), pass the parcel, decorating cupcakes, before the culmination of the party and presentation of the cake. Dead on 2 hours. Anyone would think I'd planned it.

Of course plenty of food in there as well, although not too many lollies, which I think the parents were greatful for.

Well, only one of the kids who was here last year will be here again this year, so I guess I can recycle the same old activities as well! Unless someone can come up with other activities to do....?

Blog Action Day

Monday, August 20, 2007
I'm proud to be participating in Blog Action Day on October 15th.
On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important
issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the
environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get
everyone talking towards a better future.
So to get involved, head on over to the Blog Action Day website and register your blog.

Menu Plan Monday

I'm slightly disorganised this week, so going for some simple favourites.

Monday - Crumbed Chicken and veggies
Tuesday - Meat Pie and veggies
Wednesday - Lamb chops and veggies
Thursday - Fried Rice
Friday - Vegetarian Nachos
Saturday - Apricot Chicken

I'm only planning six meals this week as Hubby's cousin is in town and we'll be eating with them one night somewhere, I'll just pick up the menu plan from then.

As always, head on over to Organizing Junkie for more menu plans.

Major decluttering

Sunday, August 19, 2007
I HATE clutter. It's probably due to growing up with an incredibly sentimental mother, and having dozens of knick knacks EVERYWHERE. If you look through my house, it's messy, and junk piles everywhere, but there's no knick knacks! It probably has something to do with the fact I didn't move for the first 11 years of my life, but since then I have moved 11 times (in 16 years).

And whilst I still am a sentimental person (2 boxes of school photos, letters, and books will attest to that) I just can't stand things that don't have a use. Like my garage. It's only use seems to be to store junk I don't want in my house. If I don't want it in my house, why do I still have it I hear you ask? Well, basically, a couple of reasons. Firstly I'm pregnant. Not restrictive in itself, but I need to be a bit more careful of what I do, and various ailments that afflict me during pregnancy limit my mobility somewhat. Secondly, until this weekend I hadn't been able to get out there without opening the front doors, which means my children coming in and out the front door, and the dog getting out. Not good. Thirdly, with two children at home, getting any decent block of time to make a dent is very difficult.

But this weekend, well, have I mentioned how special my in-laws are? I'm sure I have. They offered to take the girls ALL WEEKEND. So Saturday morning I dropped the girls off, and Hubby and I got stuck into the garage. Unfortunately I didn't take a before shot, and I'm not going to take an after shot until I'm satisfied, but with only a little bit of work I think we could get the boat in now :-)

4 boot loads to the tip, at least a ute full of stuff for the first charity that can collect it, 14 boxes to go into storage, and about 40 empty boxes. I'm feeling rather chuffed. Now to just get the rest of the house done.

$250 Savings Challenge - Update

Friday, August 17, 2007
The end of another week, and surprisingly I have some substantial additions to my savings stash this week.

1. From my spendings money last week I have saved the tragic amount of $1.90.

2. From the fuel budget I have saved $24 by not using the car as much as normal

3. Also from the budget, groceries this week came in well under, meaning a saving of $51

Thus, the savings for this week total $76.90, bringing my new savings total to $92.90. A few more weeks like this and I'll have achieved my first $250 savings challenge! Go me!

Multiple Award giving day and my 50th Post!

How exciting that as I was struggling for something brilliant to post for my 50th post I check my comments to discover I've recieved not one, but TWO awards from two very dear friends.

Kez at Kez's Blog has awarded me the Nice Matters Award started by Bella-Enchanted

"This award will be awarded to those that are just nice people, good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world!"

Aww, that's beautiful. Thanks Kez!

I now have the honour of bestowing this wonderful gift to some good friends:

Karen at Miscellanous Adventures of an Aussie Mum
and back to Kez at Kez's Blog

THEN! A few short minutes later, I recieved from Lightening

This award was created by Danielle at Pink Reviews with the help of Mike at Things by Mike.
The award was created to:

"recognize those people that were exceptionally adept at creating relationships with other bloggers by making an effort to be part of a conversation, as opposed to a monologue".

Awww, you're too sweet!

So now, for the best part, I hereby honour those listed below
Karen at Miscellanous Adventures of an Aussie Mum
Erica at Little Mummy
and Kez

Thank you to everyone who's commented, I love seeing comments! And my page counter tick over. And to those who emailed me now I have my email address up (only took me a week to figure out how to do it). Don't forget to vote in my poll and hopefully something just as exciting will happen to help me celebrate my 100th post in a few months time.

My recipe magazine habit

Thursday, August 16, 2007
There. I admitted it. I have a habit of collecting recipe magazines. It's a private shame, although one I happily share with my mother-in-law. Our habit is so bad we still must buy 3 magazines a month each, all the same.

What's worse is that I lose them almost immediately to Hubby. Yes, that's right, any cooking magazine or recipe book (a WHOLE other post) that gets brought into this house is comandeered almost immediately by the man of the house.

By the time I get the magazine back, he's already picked out some recipes he wants to try, and I go through and add a couple of easy ones to the menu plan for a few weeks. What's completely rediculous about this system, is that in 2-3 months, EVERY SINGLE RECIPE in these magazines will appear on the most awesome website in the world. Ok, maybe an exaggeration, but it's very cool. combines all the recipes from about 7 magazines, and is easy to search and categorises the recipes, of course my favourite search is "budget".

There is a great mix of basic, on the table in 30 minutes recipes, along with more complex dinner party menus that take up to 3 days to prepare. Christmas, Easter and other holidays are not forgotten either, as well as simple recipes for the kids to help with. The print facility is awesome, and the pages I print (even in my recipe/display folder) last even longer than the torn pages from the dozens of magazines still lying about my house.

Breaking this habit is going to be hard, but the $10 a month I save will be worth it. Maybe I could treat myself to another magazine to replace it... it would be cheaper, I would still save money, and satisfy a need somewhere. I think I need to start buying Money Magazine again.

What's your guilty habit? I won't tell, honest. If you haven't noticed you can now email me directly if you don't feel like leaving a comment.

Thinking about the future

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
It's always a scary prospect, when deciding how best to plan for the future. Recent reading on Get Rich Slowly has definitely got me thinking on this topic, in light of the big move we're making in the next 6-8 months.

After (what will be) 5 years of working and living in possibly the most beautiful spot in the world, right on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the age of our children, and honestly, finances, are inspiring a move south. Just for an idea, here is a couple of photos Hubby took from a helicopter ride we took a couple of years ago.

The Marina:

My old workplace:

An Island just off the coast:

So, as you can see, leaving here isn't exactly an easy choice. There are a couple of issues. One is the cost of living. I'm sure you can imagine the value of some of those houses in the first shot, and the real estate value of my old workplace? If not, here's a little hint. Add six zero's and you'll be getting close. Anyway, on top of that, wages don't necessarily fit the area. In fact being a regional area, wages are notoriously low, despite the obvious affluence of the region. Through a series of lucky coincidences (and bloody hard work) we've been able to buy here, even though at times it's been a bit of a struggle. But with child #3 around the corner, and Miss nearly 4 starting school in 18 months, other considerations added to our decision to make the move. The area we have picked in Brisbane to move to has an excellent reputation for schools, family friendly facilities, is precicely 40 minutes drive from my parents, and close to many long time, and new internet friends. All these combine to make the decision easier.

But back to the topic. What was it again? Oh yes, thinking about the future. A couple of posts on Get Rich Slowly that have given me pause lately. I first came across Get Rich Slowly through a link to this article on Renting vs Buying which explores the possibility that buying is not always necessarily the best option. Reading through the comments it's obvious that the majority reject this notion. This aversion to non-traditional-home-ownership options can be seen further in the earlier article "Is it Better to Invest or Prepay a Mortgage?"

The reason this has come up for discussion in this household, is the cash we will walk away with from the sale of this house, is a decent start to a savings plan, and as we're looking at renting anyway, for a while, until we get used to the area, what would happen if we didn't buy? Continued renting and put all our spare money into a decent (balanced) managed fund? Conservative estimates put our retirement at 10 years away. That was an eye opener. Yes, we'd have to continue renting for that time, and continue to rent ever after, but for Hubby, who's not a fan of his industry, the prospect of retiring at 49 definitely makes him stop and pay attention.

Now at this stage, it's an interesting idea, and just that. But even taking into account buying a house at retirement, it would only take 12 years to save that money. And very conservative estimates.

Were we to buy a house, put all our spare money in, it would still take 20 years to pay off. Is renting for 12 years a good enough price to pay for retirement potentially 23 years earlier? This is the question we'll be asking ourselves before we make the final decision.

Meny Plan Monday

Monday, August 13, 2007

Well, the financial situation has seemingly abated, but it's a nice feeling to know that despite the low finances we've been able to eat well, and even have food in the house. I did the shopping this morning for the coming week, and apart for $5 I need to spend still on veggies later in the week for stir fry, I came in under $50 for the week. Not a bad effort.

Monday - Meat pie, mashed potato & peas & corn
Tuesday - Apricot Chicken Drumsticks, rice & beans
Wednesday - Sausages & potato salad
Thursday - Crumbed chicken & Potato salad
Friday - Dinner out (we're childless)
Saturday - Pork Stir Fry (childless again and the kids don't like it)
Sunday - Roast chicken, roast veggies and Apple crumble for dessert

I picked up some more great meat specials this week. 700g of Stir Fry Pork for $5, 6 chicken burger patties for $4, and 4 lamb chops for $3.50. The last two will go in the freezer for next week.

Don't forget to visit Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plans!

Homeschooling for Dummies

Sunday, August 12, 2007
First off let me say, I will not be homeschooling my children. Period. But after SIX MONTHS of my eldest genius daughter nagging me senseless asking me to teach her how to read and write, I couldn't really put her off for the eighteen months until she starts school.

So I went searching over the dozens of sites I have in my favourites, and found a few useful things. I'm starting slow. About 4 x 5-10 minutes a day on various things, initially: letter recognition, number recognition, pre-writing readiness tracing, shapes, patterns and cutting and pasting.

Because she and the other little miss go to daycare on Friday (where I'm assured she is also getting pre-writing and pre-reading small group work) and the fact she was bored very enthusiastic today, I decided we would do 5 days a week, Sunday through Thursday. Sunday is a very quiet day here, and something to focus her might mean she'll leave her little sister alone. Hey, let me dream all right?

Meanwhile I haven't forgotten the little miss, who no doubt will want to be involved as well. Dozens of sites provide free printables for colouring, and as the left handed toad little miss seems rather creative, I plan to involve her further in things such as colour recognition, and cutting and pasting. I have also planned a couple of "fun" sessions a week, with craft, music and cooking varying our days.

Now, if I could just find the motivation apart from the constant nagging to stick with it, and stay on top of the house, washing and my own study, I'd be set.

$250 Savings Challenge - A plus to end the week

Friday, August 10, 2007
Kind of. As the week draws to a close I turn my attention to the small pile of coins I have accumulated next to my bed 65 cents. Yes, it really is a paltry sum. I do. however, have high hopes of managing some actual savings over the next few weeks, now that a large number of our financial burdens have been lifted. Meanwhile, my new total is an inspiring $16.00.
I finally managed to get around to my 14 week appointment today (at 14 weeks and 6 days). All is going well and the little bean is showing a strong resilliance the poor things mother is not. After a week with a cold and 10 weeks of nausea, the little bean proves he/she can survive on minimal food, simply by sucking up 13kg of my fat stores. Lovely. Unfortunately, mother is not coping so well on little food and losing her precious fat stores (hey, I worked hard on those!) to fund the growth of the little bean. The doctor is hopeful an appetite will return soon, and has left instructions to return if anymore weight is lost.

At this point all I can say is: thank goodness hubby is a wonderful cook, able to provide for himself and the little misses after a long days work. Because I don't think I've spent any time in the kitchen for 10 weeks.

On buying reduced meat

Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Some things I have learnt over the years about buying meat at a reduced price. These may not be relevant to supermarkets near you, or they might be.

  • Check the use by date, it may be today, or yesterday. Double check before you buy.

  • Always go for meat as far back in the case as possible. Yes the meat at the back might not be reduced, but always try and get one that's not been sitting at the front of the case all day

  • When you get home, open the packet, sniff the meat There's nothing worse than freezing meat and defrosting it only to find out it was off when you bought it.

  • If it is off, take it back straight away. You should still have your receipt and the packaging which will make getting a refund easier.

  • Freeze the meat as soon as possible. If you are not eating it tonight, it goes in the freezer. Freeze it in a container or plastic wrap. Label with what it is, and the date you put it in. I also add the amount which helps when I'm deciding what to do with it.

If you do these things, you'll have a happy experience with buying reduced meat. Otherwise, well, the smell of chicken soup cooking with off chicken has been enough to put me off chicken soup and off meat for 10 years now.

I watched a rather interesting documentary last night, called "The Lost Tomb of Jesus". Even a cursory Internet search shows it to be one of the more controversial documentaries in recent times. Although I found it fascinating to watch, Hubby, an avid documentary watcher, found it boring. I likened the style to "reality archeology", following a bunch of boring scientists around on their search.

The articles related to the documentary are mostly negative, pointing out flaws in the documataries claims, and although the documentary never specifically claims the tomb belonged to Jesus's family, it is definitely a possibility that should not immediately be discounted. As with anything archeological, it is difficult to prove anything. All that remains in the tombs are "body boxes" or ossuaries and all that remains in them is the dust of bones buried 2000 years ago.

Dan Brown would probably appreciate the documents used to support the theory that the tomb did house the remains of Jesus and his family for nearly 2000 years (including the gospel of Mary Magdaline, and the Acts of Phillip, her brother) and further claiming if it WAS in fact the tomb of Jesus, that he and Mary Magdaline were married, and he did father a child (there was a child's ossuary found bearing the inscription "Judah, son of Jesus").

The most interesting thing I found was the acceptance by people that other tombs and ossuaries belonged to other people named in the New Testament, and yet the reluctance to entertain the possibility in this case. While the evidence was indeed compelling, there is no way to prove it either way, and as expected the most feverent disbelief came from various religions.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it is the tomb of Jesus, or that it isn't, but it does raise some interesting questions, doesn't it? If it is, in fact, Jesus's tomb, how was he resurected, among others. I guess this is one of these things that we'll never know the answer too, and one side will continue to gather evidence to support the claim, while the other will try and discredit any evidence. The fact is we really know so little that it is impossible to know either way.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday, August 6, 2007

Well, here we are again. Things are still interesting around here. Lots of cheap meals with (unfortunately) not a lot of variety. But here we go:
Monday - BBQ - Sausages, Coleslaw, cake
Tuesday - Pork mince spaghetti bolognaise
Wednesday - Vegetarian Nachos
Thursday - Sausage Casserole
Friday - Cottage Rolls
Saturday - Roast Chicken
Sunday - Chicken Sandwiches
Told you it wasn't exactly exciting. I got some good meat specials last week that I'm still using up. Hopefully I'll manage some more this week.
For more menu plans go to I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Reading Jane

Sunday, August 5, 2007
Inspired earlier this year by the movie "Becoming Jane", I returned to some of the classics. Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. I haven't yet been able to track down a copy of Emma or Northanger Abbey.

While I have obviously seen recent BBC adaptations of Pride & Prejudice and the movie's Sense and Sensibility and Emma, I had never heard of Persuasion or Mansfield Park. Re-reading some I had read, and some for the first time, I definitely felt my alliances toward various stories changing. While previously being a fan of Sense and Sensibility over all else, Persuasion and Mansfield Park are definitely two of her more underrated novels. I look forward to seeing the latest adaptation of Mansfield Park, filmed last summer in the UK at Newby Hall, where we spent a day on our holiday in May this year.

What inspired this post was that last night, as I'm sick, I curled up in bed with the laptop and watched Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslett, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman etc). While I still love the movie, it really has nothing on the book, and neither, do I think, do any other adaptations. I know the book is always better than the movie, but in this case I feel cheated. I don't know that I'd ever read Sense and Sensibility until earlier this year, and was quite amazed at how different the book was and read to the movie.

In my quest to read classics, I also re-read Jane Eyre for the first time in over 10 years, and while I think I definitely appreciate it more now I'm old(er!), I still feel it's entirely overrated when held up in comparison with Austin's work.

Are lawyers bad people?

Thursday, August 2, 2007
I was 14 when it was first suggested to me I would make a good lawyer. A friend of my father’s and I got into a big debate, and he commented that I argued like a lawyer. It was that seed that motivated me to study Legal Studies in high school, and ever since I have harboured a dream of studying law.

Of course getting into a law degree isn’t as easy as it sounds. It has taken me 9 years since finishing school to get my act together and do it. It’s not that I’m not smart enough to do it, it’s just that everyone wants to do it, so they only take the smartest. I’m sure it makes sense in their head.

For my birthday last week, friends gave me a book, “Anonymous Lawyer”. I highly recommend both the book, and the blog. The book tells the story of an ‘anonymous lawyer’ who is the hiring partner at a large firm in LA, and his career aspirations. I won’t go into too much of the plot, suffice to say it was hilarious.

What isn’t hilarious, is the fact that this is how the majority of the population I encounter view lawyers. And while I’m sure some exist like this, in my experience the lawyers I have encountered have been nothing short of normal (slightly crazed) people who work hard, play hard and have a lot of fun along the way.

So while it’s amusing to read so much about the apparent injustice of associates working conditions, and why lawyers might be uptight, bitter people (and don’t get me wrong, after only 1 subject in a law degree I can understand why lawyers are jaded), it’s not something I’ve seen yet in my experience.

Maybe it’s just An American Thing? Or is it worldwide? What have your experiences been like with lawyers?

$250 Savings Challenge - Update

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

After a few very lean weeks for the $250 Savings Challenge, I am pleased to announce that we have made it through. I know things aren't over yet, but we are at a place I'm comfortable with. Thanks to the 3 fortnightly pays in August, there is automatically one extra home loan payment available. My first instinct was to spend it, but instead I will leave it in the account as further backup savings. I am also anticipating my Tax Return in a week or so, which will relieve the pressure immeasurably. Put simply: things are looking up. It is pay day tomorrow, we haven't starved, our electricity or phones haven't been cut off, and I can see money coming in from various sources for a few weeks to come.

Back to the topic: This week I am depositing exactly $4 into the fund. I know it's not much, but considering that's 36% of what's already in there, I'm impressed. This money is leftover cash that has found itself into my purse. Bringing the total to $15.35. This is slow going, but I WILL get there.