Coffee Catch Up: September 2018

castorboard

It’s been a few months since I’ve shared various random thoughts in my head. I managed to sit back this weekend, take stock of things and write up what’s been going on around here.

1) Imma just cruising, thanks!

I wish I could share some HUGE, EXCITING NEWS and be all SUPER INSPIRATIONAL — but I got none of that haha!

Life is simple, life is good, life is just cruising along at a good speed.

With all the crazy shit happening in the world right now, I just want to hug my husband and kids and be grateful for stability, good health and a roof over our heads. Super happy about that.

2) Travel plans

After travelling overseas for 4 weeks, the general consensus of our household: No more overseas holidays! We just want to stay home and get shit done!

Having said that, last weekend we travelled out of town and went camping with friends. We spent another  weekend out of town with friends. My husband went on a “Boy’s Trip”. And we have an interstate trip coming up. We are blessed!

2) I’m learning how to skateboard

Three new families have moved into our street and there’s been an explosion of kids outside our house almost every day. It’s been great. I love the sound of kids NOT on their devices!

(Plus there’s a little girl who changes her outfit 3 times a day?! She’s such a cutie.)

I’m teaching some boys across the street how to ride a castor board (pictured above)… and they are teaching me how to skateboard. It’s super fun. But I’m not very good, because I’m too afraid of falling and breaking my teeth.

Once I’ve mastered basic skateboarding, I’d love to try a longboard… and then eventually try surfing :)

2) My body shape is changing!

While it’s easy to think that this is an age thing, I believe other factors might be at play here.

I’m the same weight as I have been for the last 10 years. I eat well. I exercise well. But I’m just not fitting my clothes the same way. I guess it means that I get to buy new clothes, haha!

But seriously, it’s interesting to see how my exercise routine has changed over the years. I used to do more long distance activities: 4 -5 hours of cycling, or 2-3 hours of running once a week.

Now I do more short, sporadic, high-intensity workouts, mixed up with gentle stretching and yoga, more often.

I’d love to get back into long distance running again.

(And it’s much cheaper than gym classes.)

3) Budgeting household spendings

My husband and I sat down one day, we looked at our last 3 credit card statements and put it all into a spreadsheet. It was really interesting to see the distribution of our combined income.

We spend about $350 per week on groceries and household consumables for a family of 5.

I’ve been trying sooo hard to bring that figure down. I’ve been buying in bulk. Buying on sale. Buying cheaper cuts of meat. Buying less processed foods (our weakness is chicken nuggets and frozen pizzas, they are so convenient to bulk up my teenager’s school lunch boxes. Works out much cheaper than them to buy from the canteen). Buying home-brand items. Buying from cheaper places like markets, independent grocers, in-season produce. I bake a lot of treats and desserts (instead of buying). And we don’t eat out very much.

But despite everything, my weekly bill is always about the same.

Nuts are a killer. Almonds are about $20/kg and peacans are $28/kg.

(Good grief! Just listen to me! First world problems here. Haha sorry! We eat a lot of nuts.)

On the other hand, we still manage to put 10% – 15% into savings each month and it’s very satisfying to see our savings creep up and up.

4) Health Insurance

Our other big + regular spend each month – would you believe it – is health insurance!?

We spend $280 per month on health insurance for a family of five.

I have in the past tried to cut it back (delete things off our plan that we don’t use). But after sitting down to crunch the numbers… it turns out that we actually get back ALL that amount from our kid’s dental bills, orthodontic bills, plus my husband has ongoing check ups with medical specialists and optical work.

Sooo it doesn’t “cost” us anything in the end. And if we have an actual emergency, we’re covered, so it’s all good right? I have no idea.

5) Pointless wasting of money

On the topic of money. My kids have been sooooo careless and infuriating.

We have an outside freezer. I freeze all my bulk-bought meats, bread, berries, frozen foods etc. One evening, my son went outside to grab a smoothie bar and didn’t close the freezer properly… so the next morning my freezer was beeping (too softly!) with its door WIDE OPEN. $300 worth of food was soft and mushy! I was so mad!

It took me a lot of slow breathing (and a bit of shouting) to get over it.

Ugh…. at least I cooked up a whole lot of dinners and gave it to some mum friends.

6) Teenage boys and online shopping

Also on the topic of wasting money… (just joking!)

My two older boys, who are 15 and 13year old, prefer online shopping to actual shopping.

This is amazing, because I don’t have to drag them around the shops for hours. They simply browse and buy their own clothes. To me, this is a godsend.

I always remind them to check things like: Well-known online shop? Ships to Australia? Shipping fee? Refund policy? Shop around? Read reviews. Check sizing. Sign up to newsletters to get sale updates and a discount code!

They like to compile a list, email it to me and I will send back some feedback. I’m pretty brutal though. Such as: Don’t you already have 5 plain black t-shirts?? You’re way too short to wear that style. That’ll look pretty bad in real life.

They make the purchase and they sort out the refund or exchange if it doesn’t fit.

They are excellent and very careful shoppers. Not impulsive at all. I’m very proud haha!

(They like to buy from The Iconic, ASOS, Nike AU and Adidas AU).

7) Teenage boys and saving money

The downside of possibly getting my kids hooked on online shopping (let’s face it, this is ALL my fault) is trying to teach my kids about saving money too.

I made them read “The Barefoot Investor” and they thought it was pretty good.

They’ve set up their multiple bank accounts, they’ve committed to saving over 50% of any money they receive, and they are already planning how to be millionaires. Ah to be young!

Anyway, that’s all from me now.

xxx

My Sale Picks from Shopbop

Hey hey! Shopbop are having their biggest sale of the year right now!

It’s only open to Loyalty Members today, but it’s super simple and free to join in, just sign up here with your email to get early access to the sale, birthday discounts, mystery discounts and more.

You can enjoy:
20% off orders under $500
25% off orders of $500 or more
Use Promotion Code: STOCKUP18

Sale ends: 29th September 2018 11:59 PST

(Just watch out, as some brands are excluded. All items noted with “Key Style” label are included in the sale.)

These are my top picks from the sale…

Shopbop Stock Up Sale

SUNDRY Boy Tee – A grey graphic tee that doesn’t look so try hard.

A.P.C. Half Moon Bag – I have this bag and I love it!

Elizabeth Cole Linden Earrings – So drama.

Alexander Wang Rina Slingback Heels – Yikes. I need these.

Edition10 Satin Skirt – Lovely burgundy colour. I’m totally lusting after this skirt!

 

Shopbop Stock Up Sale

Les Girls, Les Boys T-Shirt – I have this tee and I wear it all. The. Time.

Cult Gaia Bamboo Circle Bag – The coolest bag ever. I use it as a clutch though.

BaubleBar Torrie Resin Hoop Earrings – On trend. But not over the top.

Levi’s Wedgie Straight Jeans – These look sooo good!

Happy shopping and I hope you find find something you like!

xxx

Hello Colour My Old Friend

Ale by Alessandra

It’s about time I started to wear a bit more colour!

When I saw this print, I knew I had to have this dress. I loved the pink + red colour combo… and everything about it screamed spring celebrations. Colour! Flowers! Ruffles! If yo wonder what’s my colour?, just hit the link to get some professional advice.

The dress is the Miranda Dress by Ale by Alessandra via Revolve.

The brand has a “Brazil-bohemia meets Malibu chic” kind of feel, featuring lots of colourful resort-style wear.

The print comes in two other dress styles: the Xiomara Dress, the Marcella Dress (on sale) and a Carmela Blouse.

The fit of the dress was a bit tricky though.

This dress is a size XS. I’m a size AU 6 and this dress fit on the lower end of my usual size 6. It was a good, tight fit on me… but I still managed to wear it to a fashion show and go dancing after!

The chest section of the dress was a bit awkward – in that, I don’t think my boobs were big enough?! The top of the dress (with the silicone grip-strip) kept curling and flipping forward. So I had to put a bit of extra padding in my bra to “fill the cups” to make the chest panel sit right.

Haha sorry, I know this is too much information, but I thought I might share some tips!

Here are some fit tips: I have 2 different silicone, stick-on, adhesive cups. I don’t usually use them on their own. I mainly only use them with other bras, because I find they don’t sit quite right when I use them on their own.

I have one I bought from Bras and Things (link is not safe for work!) and one I bought from Big W (Hollywood brand), which I bought 2 sizes up, so it actually cups over my boobs and looks natural, as opposed to making my chest look weird and lumpy. Funnily enough I use the Big W one more, because it looks more natural under my dress. I don’t really like to wear them, and only do if the dress looks wrong/loose because it’s an awkward cut across my chest.

For this dress I wore a bra similar to this one, which features a slim (not wide) connector between the cups.

Another fit tip: After wearing the dress once, I’ve decided that I love it and I plan to take it to my seamstress to sew in some moulded cups (much like in a swimsuit)? Or maybe she can suggest some tailoring magic to make it fit better on me!

On the product page, there are a few reviews about the awkward fit at the chest, so I knew it wasn’t just me.

Anyway, other than that, I love the high split, the ruffles, the sheer layer and the gorgeous quality of the dress.

I seriously felt like I was in my 20s again haha!

(If you’re not willing to risk the sizing issue, I found some very similar dresses here and here.)

Also wearing:

3.1 Phillip Lim Alix Clutch

Schutz Cadey Lee Heels

Mezi Gold Tassel Earrings (old)

Sketching: A Little Childhood Story

Sketching

When I was 11 years old, I wanted to get into a specialised art program for high school, which meant I had to create a portfolio of work.

I spent months drawing what I drew best: plants.

Plants were everywhere; they were free; and they stood still!

After a few months, I had a thick scrapbook filled with my drawings of twigs, leaves, branches, trees, close up studies and landscapes.

However, my aunt was really sick with bowel cancer. She was living in our house and there were carers going in and out on a daily basis. Someone found my scrapbook and gave it to her so she could write words to communicate. She scribbled all over my drawings, and then when the pages were all used up, someone simply threw the whole book in the bin.

I felt pretty crappy! I wasn’t angry at my aunt, it wasn’t her fault. I was angry at the carers and how they regarded a kid’s drawing to be of little importance; to them, art was just “pointless and silly” which made me so mad! Ahhh I was a pre-teen!

I didn’t dwell on it too much though. I just got on with it and I rushed ONE plant drawing for my portfolio.

I got into my art program in the end!

And then I kind of stopped drawing plants for a while – haha.

So this one is for my 11 year old self.

(It’s also to reassure myself that I can still draw after all these years!)

Hunting for a Floral Dress for Spring

I’ve been following New York Fashion Week, seeing an explosion of colour and florals and I’m inspired!

While I’m not quite ready for my own explosion of colour or florals… I AM looking for two floral dresses – one for a wedding in October (5 weeks away) and one in November (9 weeks away). Yay!

I do have this Azaelea Lace Dress from Self Portrait, and I’m looking for another…

Shopbop Spring Dresses

Ruffles have got me good this season.

Yumi Kim Waterfront Dress

How pretty is this dress?! How many wrap dresses do I really need? Will pastel yellow really look good on my olive skin tone? Is my chest perky enough for this dress? These are the big questions.

Fame and Partners Schalice Dress

I really like this structured ruffle dress. The pattern is just lovely. It looks very “Self Portrait” without the “Self Portrait” price tag.

But I could probably only wear it 3 times before my own photographs confuse my concept of time, date and event. Was that September 2002 when I broke my shoe and had to walk 2 kms in sand to get to the car? Or December 2003 when the bride’s dad fell into the swimming pool after the kid vomited in it?

Shopbop Spring Dresses

Zimmermann Tempest Cascade Wrap Dress

Ahh Zimmermann seems to do no wrong! ​Especially when it comes to girly floral dresses.

I looove the pattern: the dark floral colours with a hint of purple and grey.

I like that this dress looks suitable for both summer and winter. And I like the look of the fit.

The price tag does make me gasp, but the fact that I could sell it secondhand makes me feel a bit better haha.

Rebecca Taylor Emilia Tank Dress

​Ok this is more my price range and it helps that it’s super cute. Again I love the grey purple colour and the hint of floral pattern, that’s less in your face.

And again I’m thinking I could wear this dress many ways, even with sneakers. I guess I could wear sneakers with the Zimmermann dress, but honestly I don’t feel cool enough.

I’ll let you know how I go! :)

xxx