Thursday, July 28, 2011

The perils of homework tasks

I received this little joke in an email and thought it was worth sharing...

For homework a grade 3 class in NSW were asked by their teacher, Mrs Jackson, to draw one of their parents at work.
This is young Jessica's drawing about her mum (who features standing next to a 'pole'): 

Here's the letter the teacher received the next day from the artist's mother:

Dear Mrs. Jackson,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Bunnings (hardware store) and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week after the floods hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had and then I found one more in stock and several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last shovel we had in the store. From now on I will remember to check her homework before she hands it in.

Erica Cameron

DIY disasters makes for good TV

Would you pay $250 each for a few pillows?

Maybe it’s more apparent to me because we are building a house at the moment, but everywhere I turn, there seems to be a new renovating or building show popping up on TV.

At the moment there is The Block, The Renovators and Top Design all featuring on free-to-air channels (not including all the home and design-based shows on Foxtel) which is more than enough to choose from to get your renovating fix if you so desire.

It is also apparent to me that these shows are about 50/50 when it comes to the balance between actual building and renovating and drama and contestant diatribe. I must say I am sick to death of hearing Jenna and Josh from The Block b*tch, moan and scream at each other and, frustratingly, see them do so well with their rooms each week (I’d much rather Polly and Waz do better because they are the cutesy/fun couple that even though produce rooms that are lack lustre, you still want them to win).

Josh and Jenna from The Block - constantly bickering and questioning each other, despite winning the most amount of room reveals.

I’d rather watch a show that is just about the renovating – I’m more interesting in seeing designs, hear them talking about the latest trends in furnishings and learn more about tiling techniques.

Instead it seems that these shows are all about the personal perils of each couple or group that are competing and how they can’t figure out how to cut plaster board, they are whinging because they haven’t had their hair or nails done in a month and they are upset because they don’t have enough money to pay their chippy this week because they blew their budget buying two pillows woth $500 that would be the ‘hero’ of the room…

I get that this is why people want to tune in but for me it’s about the end result – I just want to see the room and hear the professional judges’ opinions.

And that's another thing - these contestants who have very little experience compared to the professional building teams they are working with, think they know everything!

I have had feedback from people saying that they can’t stand many of the contestants on these shows, so I say this – let’s bring back Blitz (another Scott Cam-hosted series) where it’s purely about helping a struggling family or couple get the garden and house of their dreams. People just get in and do the work, it’s all about the end result and they are actually giving something to people that deserve it.

It seems like this TV fad is here to stay (thanks to soaring ratings) but next time around, I’d love it if the producers could make it less about the rubbish going on between the personal relationships and more about what they promise viewers – renovating and building.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tips for your big day

With several friends getting engaged and planning their special day, I have been thinking about things I would have liked to have known while I was booking and organising things for our wedding. 

Here are a few tips and some things I learned along the way:   

* Book your cars/transport in advance – we had issues booking our limo to go to the church because we had left it too late (a month and a half out) to book. If you are getting married in Spring, chances are that a majority of couples getting married are also planning a Spring wedding and will also need cars… so plan ahead and book them three months ahead (that way you can also get the exact car that you want).

* Do a trial photo shoot – we were lucky to have chosen a wonderful Gold Coast-based photographer who offered us everything we were looking for as far as the feel of her photos and her ideas. We had an ‘engagement’ shoot with our photographer, Lauren Ladgrove, who took us up to Burleigh Heads for an afternoon shoot. I thought this was a great idea because once we got these photos back we knew for sure that we wanted to secure her to do our wedding photos as well. It pays to look around because photographers can be expensive and charge you an arm and a leg.  Go to for more info on Lauren.

* Don’t skimp when it comes to bridal shoes – you are going to be standing and posing all day – and it is a loooong day! So make sure you wear comfortable shoes and even have a flat pair as back up that you can slip on at the reception (I didn’t do this and regretted it!). There is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable when dancing!
    * Have a ‘reception dress’ as a back up – my wedding dress was raw silk and incredibly heavy, but I wanted to wear it all day as you only get married once! Well, after our photos were done and we were preparing to head into the reception, how I wished I had a back up dress that was light as a feather to put on! Of course it depends on what material your wedding dress is made of, but if you know it’s heavy, it pays to have something much lighter and easier to dance in that you can change in to.

    * Book in for hair and makeup trials – I had three hair trials and one makeup trial. If you have an event to go to, use this as an excuse to get these done – that way you can trial which looks you like and know which ones don’t go so well with your overall wedding vision. I used Mia Connor from the makeup bar for my makeup and she was amazing
      * Don’t drink too much on the day/night – you want to remember every detail of your wedding, so don’t get drunk and sloppy! I had one or two glasses before our church ceremony and then probably only four glasses at the reception (enough to relax and take the edge off while still being able to enjoy yourself). My husband did the same thing too – we were both very well behaved!
        * Don’t stress over the guest list – I agonised over this and I wish that I hadn’t. People understand if they aren’t invited, after all, it is your special day and it’s not like it’s just a casual barbecue that every man and his dog turns up to. We invited 116 people and we had 108 turn up and 20 of those people were friends (we have big families). Remember, don’t feel the pressure to invite your mother-in-law’s BFF or your 13 cousins that you see once every ten years – think about who you really want there and invite them.

        * Boys need help with their suits – don’t just assume that your groom and the groomsmen are on track with their organising (however small their list is compared to yours). I went out with my husband and looked at styles of suits and shirts that were in keeping with our colour scheme and theme of the day. Your opinion is valid and it helps keep the boys on their toes. Even if you call ahead and make a few appointments for them to try on suits at a few department stores, all they have to do is turn up and you can rest assured that you’ve got the ball rolling for them.
          * Make sure your mother’s outfit is secured – my poor mum… she had her amazing George Gross gown, which fit her tiny size 8 frame like a glove, sold by an incompetent sales assistant at David Jones. Mum had it on hold as it had to have some repairs done and the silly cow just went and sold it to someone else. After what felt like a thousand phone calls to track another down (there wasn’t one) the head office said they would tailor make the same dress for my mum, and after she was measured up, her one-of-a-kind dress was delivered only two weeks before the wedding. It all worked out in the end (thank god!).

          * Have your mum or a bridesmaid with you when you go to your final dress fitting. You need to have them there so that they can see exactly how to do your dress up for you on the big day. Get them to ask any questions and be patient if they have to be shown how to do this more than once. I can’t stress this point enough! 
            * A white rose is never as white as you want it. It’s just a fact – don’t get upset over it because if you are having a white dress (like I did) your white roses will look slightly cream against it. There is nothing you can do to avoid this, unless you are wearing an ivory or cream gown. Coloured roses are a good option, but it’s custom for a bride to usually go with white roses.
              * Ask lots of questions and put everything in writing!
                * Go and have a cake tasting – we went with Yenmart on the Gold Coast and they were incredible and gave us so many options. You need to check the dietary requirements of your guests if you plan on serving your cake as dessert (we did this and had gluten free and allergy free options for a couple of guests). Go to for more info. 
                  Our incredible cake - it was amazing!

                  * Consider people travelling from interstate and overseas, as well as elderly guests. You may need to make specific plans for these people so keep them in mind.     
                    * Keep a small clutch bag with a bridesmaid or family member with tissues, lip gloss, blotting paper, pain killers, bobby pins, tampons, bandaids and lollies (to keep your blood sugar up) on hand. Also keep water close by and make sure you eat something (no matter how nervous you feel) before you get ready. You need energy to survive – it’s a long day!
                      * Don’t feel pressured to do the garter routine – I didn’t do it because frankly I think it is tacky and unnecessary. Just because other brides do it doesn’t mean you have to. I don’t regret not doing it one bit!
                        * Remember to thank your guests on the night – take the time to go around to each table and say hi to everyone and thank them personally for being there for you and your new husband.

                        * Prepare a few words to say during speeches, even if you didn’t plan on saying something. I was roped into a last minute speech and didn’t prepare anything (which was okay because I spoke from the heart) but it pays to think of a few things just in case.
                          * Confirm bookings and have final meetings the week of the wedding. It will help you rest peacefully at night!
                            * It goes fast so enjoy every part of your big day. Try not to let nerves get the better of you – remember it is you and your man and it’s a celebration – there is no need to feel stressed!
                              Us having our first dance as wife and husband

                              Tuesday, July 19, 2011

                              Where is the love?

                              With more and more expecting well, more, for their dollar, customer service has never been more important during these harsh economic times.

                              You only have to pick up the daily rag to read that retailers and big companies are putting the pressure on their staff to step up their game and really listen to their customers.

                              As the old line says ‘the customer is never wrong’ and this is the mantra that service providers live by (I have been at both ends of this statement). 

                              Why is it then, that some people who have titles such as Customer Care Manager or Customer Relations Consultant really have jack all skill in the specific area of offering care to their customers? Or do they just not give a shit? Or do they just like bickering with the people that are keeping them in a job?

                              I guess I am a bit jaded – our Customer Care Manager (or whatever her damn title is) who is dealing with us during our building process is being plain and simply, an irritating cow who has not given us a single amount of ‘care’.  

                              I think I have answered all of the questions Ben and I have had about the build myself, as our CCM has been unable to provide any kind of assistance and even when she attempts to, it’s very feeble. Essentially I am doing this woman’s job for her because she is so bad at what she does and I just don’t have the patience to deal with her.

                              I don’t get this. I mean we are building a damn house and giving this company more money that we’ve ever spent on anything… and we can’t even get a woman to return a phone call or email. I know you are busy, but so am I and a little communication wouldn't go astray. It really is frustrating and all I can hope is that it will be worth all the hassle in the end (which I am sure it will be).  

                              I am not going to be one of those customers who send a thank you card and a bunch of flowers or the customary bottle of wine at the conclusion of our dealings. I’ll send her a bag of my dog’s pooh more likely. 

                              What’s sad is that this isn’t the first time I’ve been given slack customer service when it comes to something important.

                              Last year one of the women who was instrumental in organising our wedding at the Sofitel on the Gold Coast (and who I had in charge of all of the minor details for the reception) decided that on the night of the reception, she wouldn’t turn up.

                              Well you could imagine how I felt upon hearing from her substitute that she wouldn’t be there (all I can say is that I had wonderful bridesmaids who were plying me with champagne at that point).

                              It’s like once they get paid, they really just don’t care anymore – there is no follow up and all of their initial promises of being there for you and being only a phone call or an email away are broken. It’s bullshit!

                              When I am at work the clients come first and that’s how it should be. I don’t ignore their requests and I don’t skit over details because I just can’t be bothered getting into explanations.

                              Hell, my husband is so damn dedicated to customer service (he works at a bank) that he is at work at 7:30am and often not home until 7pm because he is trying to sort out issues so that people aren't left in the dark without their questions answered. More people should adapt his work ethic!

                              People, a little care here and there goes a long way!

                              Thursday, July 14, 2011

                              Today I ate a croissant

                              Happy Bastille Day!

                              Bastille Day commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. (Source: Wikipedia).

                              So this post is dedicated to all things French! <3

                              Source: According to nose

                              Source: Crimson-couture
                              Source: French moi
                              Source: House of Design and Style

                              Source: Reintroduction

                              Source: Space for inspiration

                              Source: Tour de Lizzy

                              Source: We love it

                              Source: YS Voice

                              Monday, July 11, 2011

                              Meninga calls for poisoning of league's rats

                              Below is the opinion piece written by Queensland coach Mal Meninga published in the Sunday Mail after his team secured their sixth successful series win last Wednesday night.

                              I agree with Mal and find it sad that despite how well the Maroons play, that NSW players (and their coaching staff and fans alike) always fail to recognise the skill of their opposition and show humility in defeat.

                              The same goes for their fans (sorry!) who don't care for the standout performances of individuals on both sides - it's just about the win for them and blaming the refs for bad calls. It's so pathetic!

                              Queensland's triumph a victory over the dirty rats of Origin - By Mal Meninga

                              ON Friday morning, I celebrated my 51st birthday at breakfast with a couple of friends at the cafe atop the Kangaroo Point cliffs in Brisbane.   

                              As we ate, I took in the panoramic view of Brisbane's central business district beneath a clear winter sky and saw a city that reflected the Queensland State of Origin team.

                              Looking across the river to the gleaming buildings of the CBD, it was easy to forget that not so long ago this was a city with a broken heart.

                              Back in January, that same picturesque river did its best to bring Brisbane to its knees, delivering devastating floods that swamped parts of the city and that added to the agony of Queenslanders across the state in a summer of disaster.

                              But on Friday, I saw a city and a state that have emerged from their darkest hours to once again stand proud and successful.

                              In each building, standing defiantly over the very river that tried to drown them, I saw the reflection of every player who has played for Queensland - especially the team this year in our toughest Origin campaign.

                              Like the city of Brisbane, the Queensland team have managed to restore their glory despite the almost irresistible surge of forces beyond their control, through the commitment and pride of their people.

                              Like the city, the team once again stands triumphant, their success hiding the filth and rats that continue to linger in the sewers and dark corners, and masking the scars left by the menace that tried to cut it down.

                              What the Maroons achieved on Wednesday night was about more than a sixth straight series win, or a fitting farewell for a champion in our captain Darren Lockyer.

                              It was a victory against the very rats and filth that tried to poison a monumental team with lies, personal attacks, arrogance and disrespect.

                              What the Queensland team has been able to achieve in the past six years has been truly remarkable, something never achieved before at State of Origin level.

                              The only other comparable era of success would be that enjoyed by the great St George team, which won 11 premierships between 1956 and 1966.

                              But although the tremendous achievements of the great Dragons team are quite rightly celebrated by the game, it frustrates me that the unequalled success of this Maroons team is not similarly embraced.

                              Like that St George team of years gone by, this Queensland team has transformed mere men into immortals, and footballers into young men their community can be proud of.

                              But rather than be a cause for celebration, the Queensland team this year found itself the victim of a smear campaign so malicious and orchestrated that it tainted the entire code of rugby league.

                              And it came from the enemy within the game itself.

                              They are the faceless men of influence who claim their agenda is to benefit the game. Really, their only agenda is to benefit themselves.

                              For them, what Queensland has achieved in the past six years is detrimental to the health of the game.
                              Rather than celebrating the positive, by marvelling at the skill and achievements of a very special rugby league team - as with St George - they focus on "destroying a dynasty".

                              Let me tell you this for a start: no one in the Queensland camp uses the word dynasty. Dynasties are about personal glory. We are not interested in dynasties, we are concerned with leaving a legacy.
                              Legacies are about leaving the game in a better position than it was before. That is our goal, our mantra.

                              Regardless, the powerbrokers in NSW set about trying to destroy the system, the very same system they themselves copied for their own benefit.

                              No matter that the television ratings were at a record high. No matter that all three games were sold out.

                              They are the ones who dragged the spotlight off the game on the field and on to the judiciary with the citing of Johnathan Thurston, and who found five weeks' worth of difference in the identical tackles of David Taylor and Akuila Uate.

                              They are the ones who criticise Queensland's two closed training sessions as a refusal to promote the game, yet give their blessing to the NSW decision not to name its team until an hour before kick-off - the first time in Origin history.

                              They are the ones who have the hide to label Queensland - a team built on the twin pillars of respect and humility - arrogant in victory and whingers in defeat, but offer nothing when their captain places the loss of the series at the feet of the referees, instead of acknowledging superior opponents.

                              For them, the self-appointed keepers of the game, rugby league's health depended on NSW winning this year. That is what made me and others targets of personal attacks this year, conceived by puppets and driven by smarter people with their own interests at heart.

                              When the attacks were directed at individuals, myself among them, my initial reaction was to treat it like water off a duck's back.

                              But it was only a day or so later that it dawned on me what the powerbrokers were trying to achieve.

                              Rather than trying to unsettle or stress the individuals, what they were trying to do was rot the systems we have put in place for success from the inside out by planting a seed of doubt in the minds of the players and staff. I was one they chose to attack in a sinister and malicious manoeuvre to remove me from my job. It was a disregard and disrespect of what I have worked so hard and so proudly to achieve in my career as a player, and now as a coach, by attacking my reputation, integrity, credibility and abilities, by branding me a dispensable commodity, an easily replaced cog in a machine they controlled.

                              My achievements were reduced to mere collateral damage, "for the good of the game", nothing more than a tactic from a desperate team trying to win a game of football.

                              What they were doing was attacking, and trying to destroy my employment in a job that I love.

                              During the first few days in camp, I asked Major General Mick Slater, the head of the Queensland Government's Flood Recovery Taskforce, to speak to the players. Mick is an impressive and genuine man, who personally saw the devastation caused around the state earlier this year, and comforted those left heartbroken when their world turned on them.

                              Mick talked to the players about Queenslanders dealing with hard times and overcoming adversity. He spoke about why winning means less than the effort you put in, and how you carry yourself; about being gracious in defeat and humble in success. The players hung on his every word.

                              The Queensland team didn't face a flood or a cyclone on Wednesday night, but in the week leading up to the game they faced the sinister elements of a game that should be sheltering them. It was personal. It was malicious, and it was disgraceful.

                              I know the people who were behind it. I know their personal agendas. Some of them I had considered friends. I know I will never forget what they did.

                              They are the rats who, rather than celebrating a remarkable football team, tried to drown it with a flood of lies, half-truths and propaganda.

                              I think if Mick Slater had sat with me at breakfast on Friday, and reflected on the fighting qualities of this state and its football team, he would have joined me in being a very proud man.

                              Friday, July 8, 2011

                              La Dolce Vita

                              Be happy - you're here and have so many blessings. Enjoy every moment of your life.

                              Some amazing photographs that really inspired me today - be happy everyone!

                              Put into words

                              This is a beautiful poem I found online that talks about losing someone you care about. I've struggled with loss in the past, and still do to this day. The words in this poem really resonated with me.

                              Never a Day

                              There is never a day, I open my eyes

                              That I do not think of you someway.

                              The simplest of things, can trigger a thought

                              Make me smile or a teardrop.

                              Each night I look to the sky

                              There is always one star brighter, that is you.

                              Life will never be the same without you

                              Without that hopeful thought, I may see you.

                              One thing I do know is that I love you

                              And will always be proud to be apart of you.

                              So for now its goodnight, not goodbye

                              I will see you again – I promise.

                              C. A. Dobinson

                              Thursday, July 7, 2011

                              The Aromatherapy Co

                              My most recent store find is the range of The Aromatherapy Co products, which are bound to make you and your home smell divine!

                              I was in David Jones (in the cosmetics section) and found the products. They looked nice so I thought I'd try a couple out - I bought the Orange and Jasmine body wash and the room diffuser from the same range.

                              They smell so pretty!

                              The Orange and Jasmine range
                              They also have a Baroque range, which is for the home. I am keen to try these out once our home is built and I want to be rid of paint fumes!

                              So if you like nice smelly things go to their website and check out the full range. I can't wait to try out more products from this beautiful company (based in New Zealand).

                              Tuesday, July 5, 2011

                              Change yourself, not others

                              I think that I am the kind of person who has a pretty open mind and generally speaking, I am pretty keen to try anything.

                              But I have an issue with people who look down upon you because you don’t share their beliefs or in their new found reason for living.

                              For instance, a friend who becomes a born-again Christian after making mistakes in life and then finding the church and the answers to all their problems. I am happy for you, but just because I don’t want to go on a church date with you doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends?!

                              Or the person who decides to give up alcohol forever and go to AA because they have seen the wrongs of their ways. They then lecture you about living soberly and how much better life is in general if you don’t drink. Hey buddy, I don’t have an alcohol problem – I respect you for getting help, but don’t judge me for not joining AA too!

                              Have you ever been in a situation like this? It’s really strange and I feel like it puts you in a position where your personal relationships with these people is changed and usually not for the better.  

                              Instead of people letting others ‘live and let live’ they want to push their new-found mantra on to people and then they react negatively if others don’t share in their enthusiasm. What sucks is that it is usually people that care about them that are the ones that get hurt.

                              It’s like a catch 22 – you are happy that your friend or loved one has found some clarity in life but you feel bad when you have to tell them that you don’t share that particular passion for whatever it is they are trying to achieve in life. It is your life after all, not theirs – why should you feel bad? I know it’s about preservation of a personal relationship but it’s almost like you have to approach situations like this in the most delicate of ways.

                              Like explaining to a child for the first time why their pet goldfish is bobbing motionless upside down in its water bowl.

                              Everyone is different after all and has their own opinions and beliefs. I am happy for friends and family that try new things and find themselves living better than they have their whole life. But please don’t be upset with me if your new commitment to something that means the world to you, doesn’t mean the world to me too.

                              What is worse when people become extremely arrogant and act like they are above everyone else given their new ‘worldly’ outlook and treat everyone else as though they are close-minded and ignorant.

                              A friend of mine who recently told a group of us that we were pretty much stupid for having mortgages and getting married after he pissed off overseas to quote “get rich and become a CEO” sheepishly emailed us with his tail between his legs and apologised for his cutting remarks. Just because we don’t all want to be big-shot business executives doesn’t mean we are lesser human beings.

                              I guess that I just want to say to all my friends and family members that I’ll still love you even if you do become obsessed with some weird cult or believe that we should all be embracing public nudity or even if you think the national anthem should be replaced with Beyonce’s Single Ladies. Just don't expect me to embrace it whole-heartedly.

                              Monday, July 4, 2011

                              Say it with stickers

                              This is something I’ve wanted to blog about for a while now.

                              My Family car stickers.

                              There seems to be a changing trend (you might call it) from the traditional Bad Girl, Magic Happens and frangipani flower car stickers that had previously adorned the back window of many a car, to groupings of ‘My Family’ stickers.

                              An example of the 'My Family' stickers

                              I am not someone who has stuck stickers on my cars to make a statement about personal preferences or to say something about the kind of person I am. I don’t like to stick things on anything for that matter!

                              I am sure you have all seen the My Family stickers I am referring to – little figurines representing husbands, wives, children, grandparents and even pets and they are usually lined up on the bottom LH corner of the back window of a car ranging from tallest person in the family, to smallest *usually the pet goldfish appears at the end.

                              I totally get that you love your family, but it seems that some people are really trying to outdo others in the family sticker stakes. For instance, one morning on my commute to the office, I saw a 4WD with little figures depicting family members covering two lengths of the car’s back window… does this person actually have alllll those people in their immediate family? Or are they just taking the piss?

                              I really have to give it to some people who just put one little lonesome figure on their window suggesting that they are single or just happy on their own, like the man who put a sticker representing himself holding a fishing rod, or the woman holding a shopping bag.

                              Last week when my brother and I were on our way to pick up lunch, we saw a ute with a young guy behind the wheel and the sticker on his car really told everyone what he thought about the whole My Family sticker fad.

                              The sticker that appeared on his back car window was that of a family of four with a noose around each of their necks and a little sentence appearing above them 'F*$k your family!' emblazoned above them (see below pic). Way to take things to extreme mate (although we did have a little giggle after seeing it).

                              The car sticker that we saw on the back of a ute on the Gold Coast last week
                              I don’t think the minute we have a baby that I’ll be rushing out to order a little mummy, daddy and baby sticker for my car. They are kind of cute, but given that every second car on the Gold Coast seems to have them it’s becoming a bit of a joke.

                              Just saying!