Friday, August 30, 2013

Sunscreen for summer.

I have to rave about fruitybeauty. Elsie put me onto it. This is a useful and amusing beauty blog. Now, I am not a high-maintenance beauty person. I have makeup, I wear it occasionally, but on the beauty spectrum I'm pretty much down the end that wears lip balm, sunscreen and moisturiser, washes hair every second or third day, and that's about it. So fruitybeauty is for me. She talks about products like BB cream and foundation, which doesn't go over my head, but she spends as much time talking about actually useful things like what makes a good lip balm and how to get maximum days out of washing your hair. These things have changed my life. Also, by happy coincidence I'm pretty much the same hair type as her and have the same skin problems, so following her rules actually works for me and has made my life easier. And it is great to hear someone talk about pigmentation. Oh how I hate pigmentation.

I'm plugging this because we're going into summer and she's written a helpful post on sunscreen. I think sunscreen and moisturiser are the only anti-aging products that work. Especially sunscreen. This is a true fact. So I reckon it's worth spending money on a sunscreen that works and which doesn't feel gross on your face so that you wear it every day. Also, your face is a fairly small surface area so a small bottle will last a long long time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why I like my rules.

Rules make life easier. If I have rules, I don't have to spend as much brainpower evaluating every situation. Cos decisions are hard. Having a rule for a situation doesn't mean that I can never vary my behaviour, but I have a default I stick to.

So I have a rule that I never buy lunch at work. I sometimes buy lunch, when I eat with my colleagues, or there is something new to try, but it's pretty rare. My default is to bring lunch.

And I have a "bedtime". And when it's about that time I go to bed. I don't go to bed when I've finished watching TV, or when I feel tired, or any other arbitrary thing, a different time each night and a specific decision each night. My default is, bedtime. No discipline or thought required.

So that's how I see rules. I'm free to do what I want, eat what I want, go to bed what I want, but all that choice is exhausting. A good habit is a huge relief. And rules help me prop my behaviour until good habits are set.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Update: Stopping Snacking.

I'm still obsessed with this.

So basically I'm eating the food I normally eat, but I've shifted it to mealtimes only. Which doesn't sound that radical, cos still eating M&Ms is still being unhealthy. It's not really a "diet", as such. Which is fine, I'm not looking for a "diet", I want to challenge my eating habits. So M&Ms at lunchtime. However. Something happens when you eat snack foods only with your meals instead of when you get bored/hungry at 9.30 am. The meal has already filled you up, so you don't eat M&Ms like a pig who has just been given a trough full of M&Ms. You just eat a dainty number, and then go and clean your teeth and that's it.

Last Monday, first official day, was a little unsuccessful, because after I scooted to work I didn't eat enough for lunch, which meant I was calorie deficient and I got seriously hungry in mid afternoon, so I ate almonds. Cos the aim isn't to starve in between meals. The next day I counted calories to make sure I ate enough for lunch. I haven't had hunger problems at all today. My body is used to it.

I've switched boredom eating into boredom drinking. Like tea. I also got Miso soup sachets. Technically probably a food, but I think of it as salty tea.

Anyway, it's been really good. I prefer not-snacking to snacking. I snacked heavily on the weekend and I'm glad to be back at work in no-snack land.

Envelope recycling.

Work had a pile of C5 envelopes to get rid of. I took them and thought I'd spend a day thinking about what I could use them for. If nothing comes to mind, I'll bin them. I have thought of something! Sandwich bags. Paper sandwich bags. Instead of gladwrap. I have to trial one.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Subject: Dishwasher announcement!

(This is an email I sent to some of my colleagues today. I feel so much better after making this decision. So many annoyances are now outside of my area of responsibility!)

Hello! Relax, this is not a rant, you can all go on using the dishwasher as you were before.

I am no longer going to use the dishwasher. I will not

1) put things in the dishwasher,
2) turn the dishwasher on,
3) empty the dishwasher, or
4) handwash everything the dishwasher didn't clean (which is now happening every day).

I am going to go back to the pre-dishwasher days and I will wash and dry my own cup and plate and put them away.

Just letting you all know. Dishwasher Club no longer includes me. As you were.


(I really don't like the dishwasher. I don't like any part of it. Grovelling inside it amongst the stinky old coffee cups, unpacking it, trying to solve the mystery of why things come out completely dirty. It constantly undermines my tranquility and godliness. And then I realised that I don't HAVE to use it. Why is the obvious solution sometimes the hardest to see?)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bank accounts.

So I'm going to be supremely boring and talk about banking. Actually, money is one of my favourite topics, I'm just shy.

Due to my own triplicate stupidity* earlier this year I went a week without any access to my money and then another 3 weeks without a PIN for cash withdrawals. That was a really inconvenient month. I cancel my card about every 18 months and during that time I'm always kicking myself for only having one accessible bank account, because when that's unaccessible I'm totally stuck. And then I forget about it. I just hate having more than 3 cards in my wallet—ID, Visa, medicare.

Last week one of the Spotify ads for ING finally sunk in. You get 5% back on all paywave transactions <$100 for 6 months. I use paywave! I love it. So it sounds like easy money to me. That's finally the incentive I needed to open another bank account.

I've also overcome my hatred of cards and signed up for Flybuys. This is a big ideological breakdown for me. Of all cards, loyalty cards like this annoy me the most. They track your spending and clog your wallet. But I'm going to try and make money out of it. We'll see.

Here is my new card. I opened the account on Friday and it came on Wednesday and I used it at the chemist today.

Look! I've cut the barcode off my temporary paper flybuys card and taped it to the back of my new card. So I don't have THAT piece of plastic in my wallet!

* (First stupid thing: I like to keep my wallet slim, and minimise the number of cards I have, so I only have one card to access money. Second stupid thing: I stuck my only card into an ATM one night and it didn't suck in, so instead of taking a step to the left and trying the other ATM, I kept pushing my card in, and then when it was all the way inside but nothing was happening on the screen I got my drivers license out and stuck that in the crack to give it an extra deep poke. That ATM broke. I had to cancel the card. And due to the first stupid thing I had zero access to my money. Third stupid thing, I then destroyed my new PIN before I memorised it accurately. That cost $10 for a replacement PIN and another new card.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


This guy is like me. Except instead of calling things "challenges" he calls them "everyday systems". And instead of doing something for a while he seems to sustain it. So we are quite different I guess.

I like old things.

I just always have. Maybe because I read a lot of books set in long ago places, I like things that look like they are from long ago places. I like things that have a history. I also like the look of them and the make of them. Made from wood, rather than plastic, say.

I noticed, the last time I caught the bus from the east to the inner west, a whole heap of new vintage shops. A HEAP of them. And they seem to have fairly ordinary things in them. Not fancy antique polished hall stands, more like beaten-up kitchen tables and old suitcases and wooden crates and random industrial things. I thought how interesting it is that all the old stuff from the houses of my grandparent's generation are now being expensively traded up to inner-city young people. Example: a photo I took of my grandparent's back verandah (recording it for posterity). Arrows to all the things worth money in Alexandria or Newtown.

If you chart the value ($$$ and desirability) of an object over time it's basically a U-curve.

It starts out expensive and new, and the owner is proud of it. Then it gets a bit dated but it's still good and the owner doesn't really think about it one way or another… the value declines. Then it starts to get a bit embarrassing. Maybe it goes to a room in the back of the house, or it gets given to the kids when they move out. Then it hits the bottom of the chart, it has no monetary value at all, it's ugly and worn out and it probably goes to Vinnies or the dump or just sits forgotten somewhere. Then all of a sudden, it's retro! The value swoops back up the chart and it's worth money and people who buy it are proud of it because they had something just like it when they were a kid. I'm looking at YOU, cyclops scooter for $750. I put the turnaround at the 30-year mark. Which means junk from the early 80s is now worth not throwing out. But who knows.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stopping Snacking.

Last week I decided to stop snacking. I read something about the fasting fad and I thought "hmm, maybe I don't need to put food into my stomach every couple of hours". Snacking is just a normal part of modern life but not so common in past generations. So I'm going to eat 3 meals a day but no snacks. And turns out that's not an original thought (I don't think it's possible to have an original thought about food, it's such an anxious topic in our society). "No pleasure is denied, just unobtrusively delayed and contained. Served up on the platter of limited opportunity, each pleasure becomes even more enjoyable than it was before." I like that. But I mainly like the simplicity. So I want to just have 3 meals a day. It's going to be better for my teeth as well, cos after each meal I'll clean my teeth and then that's it for the next 6 hours. Although I do still want to have fruit and I haven't decided whether to not count fruit as a snack or be consistent and incorporate it into meals. I'll aim for the meal thing I think.

Every challenge needs an end so that you can opt out without shame, so I'm working on this challenge until the end of the month. If I'm too hungry in between meals, I'll snack again next month.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ben appearing

Jelssie has long been fans of Vanishing Point but neither of us have had the opportunity to meet the illustrious author and illustrator, Ben McLaughlin. Until now. Until today. You see, Ben and I work in the same neck of the woods and one of his colleagues is a friend of mine and today! today! I met Ben randomly at the local pub!

So dear Ben, the big question Jessica wants to know is: were you as excited to meet me???

Diary bought.

Me, with my new 2014 diary and a lot of trepidation.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My best year yet???????????

So I think I want this diary, it's just the right size and has the layout I want, but I find "My Best Year Yet" deeply disturbing. Deeply, deeply, disturbingly disturbing. I am not joking about this, I've literally written a list of things that could make a year really really good, but I'm not optimistic about the reality of them happening. On the other hand, someone could die, and that that would be the worst thing to happen. I want to hope for the best, but I don't want to be taunted by this hope if I end up with the worst or the meh. THIS IS ALL THE ANGST OF TURNING #) THAT I WAS WORRIED ABOUT. #) is 30 in caps lock. I probably should buy this diary after all the emotional effort I've already invested in it. Why is my life so hard.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Diary indecision.

The Kikki K email came today announcing that 2014 diaries are instore. I rushed off at lunchtime to look at them. I spent 20 minutes agonising with 3 different sales women, and finally decided to go away and think about it. Diary-buying is one of the most difficult purchases, every year. I like the paper at KK. And the fonts. I like A6, week to a spread. But after that it gets hard. One style has an elastic, but it has lines to write on and costs $5 more. Another style has nice spaces to write in, but no elastic, and too many cutesy pictures of cherries and ice-creams. Another style is cloth-bound and has nice writing spaces, it's almost my favourite, but the front cover says "2014 My Best Year Yet", which just feels like a lot to live up to, a lot of pressure on me. It'll be a sad joke if it turns out to be a mediocre or worse year. What to do!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Frugal tip: rag bag.

When something cotton wears out, ie a towel, a piece of clothing, or a sheet, don't throw it in the bin. Chop or tear it up into hanky-sized squares and keep them in a bag or box. Obviously, then, you can use them for cleaning. We haven't bought paper towels for the kitchen for ages, because we just use these scraps of cotton for cleaning the sandwich press and everything. They're disposable single-use cleaning cloths, for free!

The other thing I've just discovered is that when you are sick, this giant supply of old cotton squares serves as free giant stash of disposable hankies, saving you from buying tissues or washing a pile of gross hankies.

Monday, August 12, 2013


My mum is so lovely and thoughtful. It was sunny yesterday and I'd been out all day in nothing more than a t-shirt and flimsy cardigan. But it turned chilly in the afternoon and I was feeling the cold.

I'd come straight out of evening church and we were making plans for dinner on the phone. She had a hunch that I wouldn't have time to pop home to grab a jacket. "Are you cold?" she asked. "Do you want me to bring a coat for you?"

"Yes, I'm cold! Yes I'd love a coat!"

My mum is the best :) She knows me too well.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ugly furniture.

Frugal decorating tip!

There is plenty of old furniture for free or for very cheap. I get minutes of joy from standing in my loungeroom and pointing at everything and saying "free, op shop, op shop, free, free, op shop, free, free, free, free." Free usually depends on luck: like driving past a hard rubbish pile, or knowing someone getting rid of stuff when they leave town. Cheap means you know a good op shop and check regularly, or you can access a trailer and can collect things off Ebay or Gumtree.

The hazard of frugality, however, is ugliness. That's usually why nobody else wants it. They are replacing 90s pine with IKEA, for example. Or getting rid of something they bought while at uni. But you don't HAVE to keep the 90s pine look. It can be cunningly disguised!

Example of actual cheap bookshelf on Gumtree

Think about how much work you are willing to put in. Stripping and sanding pine so that you can revarnish it, for example, is hard work. I've done it. Do that if you REALLY care about having a nice wood finish or matching it to an existing piece of furniture. It's really hard to match wood, though. I totally failed. But it still looks nice.

But the fastest and easiest way is to just paint it white. My bookshelves, which were free by the way, started out as 1 raw pine book shelf and 2 matching dirty white particle-board office bookshelves. 1 tin of paint made 3 clean white bookshelves. It just takes one or two messy weekends. Flatmate and I took turns doing coats.

You don't have to do boring white, you could do something distressed, or coloured on the inside. But simplicity always looks nice. Plenty of ideas on the internet if you're clever.

Be aware that a lot of furniture isn't solid wood or wood-product, it's chipboard with plastic laminate. Stuff like IKEA Expedit or Billy. It is possible to paint laminate, with the right surface prep products. Maybe it's worth it, but I don't bother with it. But if it's wood you pretty much give it a quick sand and just slap paint on it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jelssievision episode 3!

 This episode features some introductions, because the 3rd episode isn't too late to introduce ourselves. We assumed all the viewers were our friends, forgetting that a) not all our friends are mutual and b) Bec tweets the videos so some viewers know neither of us. So here we are. Us.

Speaking of Bec, she does such a fabulous job. I go away from a fun brunch with Elsie and the camera feeling all stupid about all the stupid things I said which I've already forgotten, and thinking this will be a dull stupid episode, and then a week later she has magically cut out all the chewing and the boring bits so it's 10 minutes of jelssie goldish. Gold-panning, or sieving, you might say. This is really her idea and her project, Elsie and I just two opinionated gals who don't mind eating on camera. So thanks Bec. This is a match made in heaven.

Back to episode 3.
  • What is the definition of toast? 
  • Are strawberries as great as everyone thinks? 
  • What are the limits of friendship? 
  • Is there one perfect beauty routine? 
  • How is Elsie similar to a Tim Tam but not a Gaiety? 
  • What are the dangers of napkin etiquette? 
  • How much money COULD you make from an avocado tree? 
  • With bonus Jess!


Jelssievision episode 3 from Bec Jee on Vimeo.

Single anthems

A conversation between me and Jess:

E: Do you know John Mayer’s song Perfectly Lonely? It’s my singles anthem.

J: I don't know it. Actually it sounds a bit familiar (spotify hooray!) My singles anthem is The Carpenters' Goodbye to Love. It's very melodramatic. Not as cool. Yours is good.

E: You’d think Single Ladies by Beyonce would be an obvious one, but I think our choices reflect our personalities and musical preferences.

The lyrics I love from Perfectly Lonely are:

Nothing to do
Nowhere to be
A simple little kind of free
Nothing to do
No one but me
And that's all I need

I'm perfectly lonely
I'm perfectly lonely
I'm perfectly lonely (Yeah)
'Cause I don't belong to anyone
Nobody belongs to me 

Edit from Jess:
Here is my song! How awesome is this karaoke version. All the lyrics you need. But here's the first verse to give you a taster.

I'll say goodbye to love. 
No one every cared if I should live or die.
Time and time again the chance for love has passed me by
and all I know of love is how to live without it
I just can't seem to find it.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Snacks at work.

I'm a big fan of snacks at work. I have a banana, some almonds, maybe a biscuit or 2, each day. Sometimes there's chocolate or muffins or something in the kitchen to share, but when there hasn't been junk food for a while I get a bit bored of banana, almonds, biscuit. And of course cups of tea.

I've added Miso soup to the mix. Cheap, compact, easy to make, salty broth. Sachets are in the Asian section of the supermarket. Add boiling water. Tasty savoury alternative to tea and biscuits.

DIY ugboot refurbish.

The sad thing about old ugboots is that the wool on the inner sole wears out but the top of the foot and ankle are still thick and fluffy. Your feet are no longer cushioned by delightful fleece, they are simply standing on a balding foam sole. But you still have warm ankles. It is really a waste to buy new ugboots just for the sole.

You can actually buy new sheepskin inner soles. I've seen them at that sheepskin shop on the side of the highway in the blue mountains. Which gave me an idea. I can be frugal, and cut up some old ugboots to make my own sets of inner soles for my newer ugboots!

I finally got to do that this week. I've been keeping my old ugboots for years, waiting for the moment of need. Their time has come!

I made a template by drawing around new ugboot sole. I then drew a line inside it a bit smaller so that it would fit inside. (I just fished a cereal box out of the recycling for my template material.)

Then I cut the sole off my old ugboot. Sheepskin is a bit hard to cut, I suggest doing little snips through just the skin, not through the wool as well. The wool pulls apart once you've snipped through the skin.

Drew around my template on one side of the boot, using a texta.

Then I flipped the template over and drew around it on the other side of the boot. You have to flip the template over so that you get a left and a right foot.

Here they are! They are a perfect fit and my feet are happy.

Not much left over from the old boot. I'll cut a spare pair from the other boot and put them away somewhere for when I need to replace again. If you have a family of ugboot wearers, you could do this all the time and share out new inner soles whenever a pair gets holes in it.