Friday, June 29, 2012

More on clothes shopping.

Elsie's recent shopping post and my own situation have made me realise that we have have "grown up" as far as shopping goes. We must have grown out of the sort of shopping I remember as a teenager: a big excursion to the shops with friends, browsing, buying, comparing. Now it's all about efficiency. Elsie has her backwards approach—she looks online, then targets the things she wants in the shops she likes. (Backwards because often shoppers admit that they look in shops then find a better price online). Similarly, I have also narrowed down my shopping to 2 or 3 stores, plus Myer if I have the time. No longer am I excited to go to every shop in Westfield. I rarely shop with a friend or a group. It's a cruel irony, that when I had no money shopping was exciting. Now I have a job and proper adult money and independence, but the thing I like about shopping is that I know what I want and how to access it efficiently. New clothes are always fun though.

In praise of canned soup

I cannot praise canned soup enough! In the past, I've made my own soups, but if you want a quick and easy dinner, canned soups are tops. The other night, I had a can of chicken noodle soup and I added shredded, poached chicken thigh fillet, steamed asparagus and lots of cracked black pepper. Perfect for a winter's night.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Effecient clothes shopping

I can't believe it's taken me this long to work out such an efficient method of clothes shopping. I guess it's because I've never really needed to build this type of work wardrobe before.

My old method would be to trawl store after store looking for something suitable. I didn't particularly enjoy it, and would avoid going shopping for clothes, unless I really had to.

Eventually, I worked out my go-to brands. My top two are are Saba and Oxford. Both of them do really good work shirts, have very good sales and if I'm pressed for time, I'll just pop into those two.  David Lawrence is a distant third, only because there's nothing really suitable for me this season, but I have picked up some very good sales from them in the past. If those options aren't working for me or I have a bit more time, I'll check out Myer, Cue, Jigsaw and Review.

My new method is to hop online and check out each brand's collection. That way you can see the entire range (not every store will have every item), see what's suitable, prices and what's on sale. So much easier than trawling through each store, and allows for easy comparison of product and price.

I still prefer to try things on and buy instore, so I'll then write down a list of what I want and head to the stores. If things are on sale, I'll ring up ahead and see if they have stock in my size (why waste time going to the shop, only to find out they don't have your size left?). If they do, and I really want it, I ask them to hold it for me. Generally, stores will say they don't hold sale items, but experience has told me they will ;)

Much more efficient!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mistake out loud.

While walking from the bus to the office this morning I realised I had spoken out lout to myself. I said "Such a mistake!", oops, then I checked if anyone would have heard me, and there was a man very close behind with no headphones. I wonder if he was intrigued. I would have been, if I'd heard someone say something like that out of nowhere. What was a mistake? Other than talking to nobody? How odd.

The answer is mundane: I didn't wear a scarf this morning, because I felt like a change, and it was more super cold than normal. My neck was really cold. I should have worn a scarf, "such a mistake".

Morning routine

What's your morning routine like? It takes me an hour to get ready in the morning, and I divide my time into 15 minute blocks.

First block: Shower
Second block: Get dressed
Third block: Eat breakfast
Fourth block: Clean teeth and apply make-up.

It's the only way I know if I'm running late or ahead of schedule: what am I doing vs which block of time am I in?

Friday, June 22, 2012


That is a word I invented this week. It is a the opposite of a sniff. It is not as much as when you blow your nose, it is safe to not have a hanky or tissue. I can't be blowing my nose every 5 minutes, but I do need oxygen. It's just a gentle outwards sniff. Just a snoff, to try and create an air tunnel through your stuffed-up nose, for breathing. The word is a lot prettier than the sound it describes, though.

Cleaning with sorbelene

Did you know you can clean your hands with sorbelene? Well, it depends on what kind of dirty your hands are, but the other day, I noticed black marks all over my hands. It came from the shopping bag I was holding. I rubbed it with sorbelene, wiped the excess off with a tissue and my hands were clean. It's a great way of cleaning those kinds of marks off your hands, especially if your hands are dry and sensitive like mine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lose lose

With my last last top, I had used it so much that eventually, the lettering on the keyboard faded away. I decided to prevent that with my new laptop and bought a silicone cover for the keyboard.

As you can see, if I use the silicone cover to protect my keyboard, it leaves grubby marks on my screen when I close my laptop. Lose lose.

Of course, I can remove the keyboard cover when I shut my laptop or do a number of other things, but then that would make my point redundant.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lights, power, action.

Changing lightbulbs is annoying and inconvenient and I put it off as long as possible. Me and my flatmate have been using the bathroom with a torch for 2 days, because it's such a nuisance to change: get a thing to stand on, (normally remove the light cover except that I left it off last time for efficiency), remove a lightbulb correctly (unscrew the screw one, unlock the bayonet one, not the other way around, as you can damage our old wiring), see if we have the right type of light bulb under the sink, if not—put new light bulb on a shopping list (current state of affairs), buy new light bulb, get a thing to stand on again, replace light bulb. I had a mini temper tantrum last night and kicked the bathroom door to release my frustration.

On the other hand... one of the small things I am proud of is knowing how to flip the switch in the box in the kitchen and get the magical electricity to be on again. It's invaluable to know that when you hear a pop and everything goes quiet or dark, you don't panic, or call a professional, or eat ice-cream for dinner. You know where the switch is, and you confidently flip it. It makes me feel so capable. It's not an obvious thing everyone knows, and it's not a thing that my parents taught me when I was home schooled. I somehow learned it myself in the real world.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Retailing in the internet age

A lot of the traditional bricks and mortars retailers in Australia have been finding it tough in the age of online shopping. They've been slow to jump on the online retailing bandwagon (e.g. Harvey Norman) and their profits have suffered as consumers search for better bargains online.

If you're happy to save money and wait a little bit longer to receive your product, why wouldn't you shop online? I was looking at a watch that retailed for $200 at David Jones and I found it on Amazon for around $60.

The truth is, retailers cannot compete on price alone. The internet will win nearly every time. You only need to look at the price of cosmetics in the major department store and compare them to their US prices.

One major way for bricks and mortars retailers to fight back is to offer something the internet can't: a particular kind of service. Benefit Cosmetics is a particularly good example of this (though the example might be somewhat flawed). Why pay inflated Aussie prices for Benefit Cosmetics when you can buy them cheaper online overseas? Instead, in opening a brow bar, they're providing a service for people that the internet cannot. They're also ensuring their income doesn't rest solely on their products alone. I'm pretty sure they do quite well with the brow bar.

Also, David Jones and Myer offer personal shopping. A few months ago, I came across it at DJs and asked about it. The personal shopper explained that it was a free service, you tell them what you're looking for, they find it for you on that floor, and you get to try the outfits they pick out for you in a really nice room (not your typical changeroom) with a glass of champers to boot. The smart thing is that DJs put this service on the floor where the clothes are more expensive than the floor below.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The globalisation of pop music

I caught a bit of PopAsia on SBS the other morning, and it got me thinking about the globalisation of pop music. I look at the clips and they don't seem that much different to Western pop music. My impression from watching the show is that there's a lot less solo artists and more groups.

As in Western pop, the Asian pop stars are also ridiculously thin and good-looking. The music sounds the same. It's hard to pinpoint what defines Asian pop, other than it's in an Asian language and the singers are Asian. There's lots of dancing and acting in the video clips, but that's the same for Western pop as well.

It's interesting to see how Asian beauty ideals differ from Western beauty ideals. The men are very lean, very pale and have very luminous skin. Western ideals dictate a more muscular build and a more tanned complexion.

Let me segue into this Bollywood song that's been stuck in my head ever since I saw Dhoom 2 (highly recommended) two weeks. It's a pop cultural masterpiece: the leads are ridiculously good-looking, the dancing is infectious and energetic, and the acting is dramatic and over-the-top. This song, Dhoom Again, is the lead track from Dhoom 2.  Love it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What I did on my sick day.

Home with a nose and throat cold, I managed to achieve the following 3 gentle activities.

I machine-washed a dusty blanket and hung it on the line outside. Because it was a sunny day! I then rested by lying on the concrete in the sun under the washing line, because that is the only sun my place gets.

I cleaned mould out of the bathroom cabinet. This is part of my Spot Cleaning Regime, i've started noticing that there are lots of annoying jobs that only take 10 minutes to do, but get put off forever. Things like culling the utensils in the second kitchen drawer. Very satisfying once done, and utensils are more efficiently stored. In this case, emptying the bathroom cabinet, wiping it clean, and putting the good stuff back in. Followed by resting in the sun under the washing line again.

Finally, and I am very proud of this, I did my filing. It took a while but it was a sitting down job. I made a cup of tea, got out my black expandafile and all the bank statements and important papers that were piling up next to it, and filed. I threw out old statements, filed new ones, threw out old warrenties, filed new ones, and collected the papers and receipts to do my taxes. I am ready to do my tax BEFORE the end of the financial year! I also have a handful of paper to take to medicare, so I will make some monies out of the exercise.

What a sense of accomplishment! I still feel sick but I feel a lot more in control of my life.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I am not one of those people who can groom their own eyebrows. I just can't. I don't have the skills. So I usually go and find someone to do them for me. I've had them waxed, tweezed and threaded. Let me share my experience with you:

Curious Hair, Maroubra
In my humble opinion, this is the best place to get your brows done. Tweezed into a nice shape for about $15-$20. Unfortunately, this place is no longer around the corner from me, so I've had to go elsewhere. The only con is that you do your brows in the shop front, so you are visible to passerbys.

There's a place in Chatswood called Weena Skin Care Centre, and near her is another threader. I've also seen someone at the Kirribilli General Markets offer threading services for $10. I had my brows threaded for a while, but I've decided to stop going because I didn't like the end result of my last threading and I find it the most painful form of eyebrow shaping. Literally, tears streaming down my face sometimes.

I've been to various places, and they're more or less the same.

I saw a handwritten sign that said, "Eyebrow tweeze and shape. $10". That is ridiculously cheap, especially compared to a Benefit Brow Bar. Might have to give it a go if I'm feeling brave one day.

Benefit Brow Bar
You'll find them in Myers and Benefit stores. The service is not bad. The woman who did my brows didn't do such a great job on the left brow, but did a great job on the right brow. If the left brow was as good as the right one, I'd rave about them. They're the most expensive option listed here, but the most convenient as well. Also, you do it right in the middle of the cosmetics section of Myer, so you have to not mind about that kind of thing.

At the end of the day, the end result really depends on the skill of the person doing your brows. Any of those three methods can achieve good results, but it's the skill of your brow person that makes the difference.

What's your brow experience like? Do you do your own?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Social Gospel, rain, tea.

A sort of ramble with a few jelssie-worthy observations.

I went to the cathedral convention on Monday, because I had no plans and it was a long rainy day. Although the topic of Social Gospel didn't appeal to me. Whenever I hear words like Social Action, Social Justice or whatever, I turn off. And I feel guilty about not being keen and earnest about these trendy Gen Y buzzwords, but I just hate being earnest about buzzwords. Basically, I'm not cool enough to be into Social Justice and I don't wear TOMS, is how I feel. Maybe that's something other people feel too, because it wasn't as well attended as other cathedral conventions I've been to. Or maybe it was the weather. But I reckon I can dress warmly, drink tea and enjoy a cold cathedral a lot more comfortably than I can cope with a hot, packed out cathedral with the fans on, so the cold and rain were a positive for me.

But anyway, the talks were excellent for where I was at, and clarified lots of things really well. Very much worth listening too, if you can. Adrian Russell in particular was really clear on the problems with things like "making poverty history" and "redeeming the city", things that have always slightly confused me and now I know why—eschatology. Phillip Jensen's Agenda for Evangelical Concern was good sense. The muffins were good enough, but the cakes were disappointing.

A personal highlight, and worth the price of this whole post, I took my own supply of peppermint teabags, because you can only expect black tea at these things, and having the herbal tea I like made a big difference to my comfort and enjoyment of a long day. I think I'm going to start travelling with a tea stash more often, it's a tiny effort for a huge comfort: tea people take note.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Nothing unites people quite like a common enemy. It's fascinating because people with a common enemy cannot stop talking about the situation. I have seen this with my own family!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Blowing your nose

I have spent this public holiday long weekend with a miserable cold. [On a tangent, how is it possible for the body to produce so much snot?!] I have concluded that there is no ladylike way to blow your nose. I trumpet. Can anyone offer any advice?

Friday, June 8, 2012


I have earned a reputation for being frugal. I like to think I have even made frugal cool. I used to be a bit embarrassed about eating food other people would throw away or buying something on special that doesn't fit properly and altering it myself. Now I say, if you can't enjoy unlimited wealth, enjoy limited wealth.

But I have boundaries, as G discovered when I recently advised her to go straight to Good Guys and spend some money. I went 3 weeks with no fridge, but 1 week with no TV remote. I spent quite a bit of energy wondering what to do about the fridge, but went right out and spent $60 on the remote. No question. I need to watch TV. That's not a luxury.

Currently I am thinking long and hard about this cup. It's been my office tea mug for several years. I bought it at Coles for the specific purpose of office hydration, before I remembered that I had a cupboard full of mugs at home and I will never need to buy mugs ever in my life. They come from NTE, they come in sets of 4 with 4 plates and 4 bowls, they come out my ears. I have 2 mugs that I actually like and use at home, which were thoughtful gifts. I have 20 other mugs.

So anyway, the office mug is chipped. It doesn't matter because it doesn't affect the performance of the cup in any way. It's opposite the handle so my lips don't have to touch it. Frugal me is trying to keep the mug.

But small-kitchen declutterer me is thinking "I can legitimately get rid of this mug, and reduce the number of mugs I have at home and don't use. I can bring in one of the mugs that came with the plates."

This is difficult a choice between 2 good jelssie things!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: Cadbury mini drop egg things.

You might have seen the ad and got wondering, are they nice?

They are egg shaped M&Ms. The chocolate is better and there is more of it, but the shell, while thinner, isn't as sweet and leaves a strange feeling/taste in the mouth.

Early morning.

I had an ortho appt booked for 7.30 am yesterday morning. It's a good time for not missing any work and having breakfast afterwards without being much hungry. It's an unreasonable time for getting up in the morning and catching a bus to the city. Except that actually, a lot of people are doing that. Although probably half as many as at my normal time, and a higher percentage of them are wearing orange. It was a bit more peaceful. The moon was still up, big and ghostly, and there was a lot less traffic, and the bus wasn't full. A change in routine is very refreshing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


If you have the ability to have apps, and want to track your spending, I know some of you do, I recommend Smart Budget. It's like a spreadsheet, but better looking. It has cute pictures, and you record things by the month, and can set up repeating things like salary and direct debit giving. That's about all I want to do. It's not instantly easy to use, it took me a while to discover most of the functions, but I've got it now.

It has a column which totals the general categories, like transport, entertainment, food, and then a tracking column for adding the individual things as you spend, like a travel10, a movie, a hot chocolate. When I put in a hot chocolate, it's under the "Restaurant, Cafe" category so at the end of the month I can see how much all my hot chocolates and Eat Streets add up to.

See the cute pictures? You can also change the font if you like. There are 4 fonts.

It's free to try and $3 to buy. I'm on the second month and haven't paid for it yet, but if I have to I will because it's worth $3.

UPDATE: you can draw your own little pictures! I decided to break chocolate out as a separate category from groceries, and I drew a square of chocolate.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pumpkin scones.

I feel like jelssie has been neglected again, so here is some love. A recipe I cooked on the weekend. It's a staple of mine, when it's cheap pumpkin season.
  • 1 cup of cooked mashed pumpkin minimum. More is better. I usually use butternut.
  • 1 egg
  • 2.5 cups of self raising flour
  • 60 grams of butter or margarine. A lump as big as the egg.
  • milk
  1. Chop up pumpkin, cook it in the microwave (I put it in a covered bowl with a little water and steam it then drain it) then mash it with a fork.
  2. Mash the butter into the pumpkin. Salt and pepper if you wish.
  3. Add the egg and beat it with the fork.
  4. Add the flour, adding milk as needed to moisten.
  5. Put it in a greased square baking tin. You can just put it in in one great lump like a loaf or cake, or you can dollop it in as per the traditional scone.
  6. Bake in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until it's just starting to brown.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spotify Wagner.

I wasn't convinced about Spotify at first, because I hate a bandwagon, but now I find it is useful. It's like web streaming radio where you get to choose the songs, with occasional adds. I am listening to the Ring Cycle at work. I mean, I just want to see what it is, and I'm not going to spend hundreds of dollars buying it, and I want to listen to the whole thing, not the tiny samples on iTunes, and not even Classic FM is going to play the complete Ring. So this is perfect. If I listen to an act or two a day I'll get through it in 2 or 3 weeks. I'm also finding all sorts of musical soundtracks I've never heard of.

I got curious about the Ring after listening to a Radiolab podcast about it. It's the most epic opera ever written, and I like epic things, so maybe I'll like this. It's a pity it's in German though. The language barrier really annoys me in opera.

My other favourite technology, the TV, is currently not my favourite, because the remote is broken. I'm a channel flickerer, so I have to sit on the floor within arm reach of the TV. Which inexplicably makes me feel like a kid. I've ordered a new remote online and I'm waiting. Online shopping is such a patience builder. But then it's like getting a present in the mail, so it's kind of worth it.