Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boxing Day Visit to Harbour Town

We went to many places on Boxing Day. After shopping around the city, we caught the rickety old City Circle Tram to get to Docklands. We saw the ads for Harbour Town on TV and wanted to check out the new factory outlet type shops and to see the big Ferris wheel. No, we didn’t pay for a Ferris wheel ride. It is new and the fare is still very expensive (imo). We didn’t receive any free money to give away. So, we are hoping that there will be some specials by around middle of next year. We might go on a ride then. I don’t feel like we miss out if we don’t because the ride seemed to be terribly slow. Here is a shot of the wheel that I took while M was looking inside Sanity.

Show & Tell: Christmas Pressies

M is not allowed to buy me any surprise pressies. Everything has to be pre-approved by me first. That’s partly because I am fussy but it is also because I have a never ending obsession in proving to the world that I am not a ‘gold digger’. Everything M gives me has to be practical and these days, each item has to be of super value too.

The only item that was bought before Christmas was a puzzle. (I was wrong when I declared in a post before Christmas that I didn’t get myself a single thing.) That, along with the two books on evolution, is an item for my dream classroom and is therefore deemed acceptable. The books: “World Atlas of Dinosaurs” and “Evolving Planet” were bought on Boxing Day at Dymocks. I love the 20% discount on offer for almost everything at the bookstore at this time of the year. Hopefully, the contents of the books will help me in my story telling effort.

The other book: “Wealthier than you think!” is one that I had originally wanted last Christmas. The title is listed in our local library but I don’t think they have actually bought it yet. Since it was only $16 at Target, M got me a copy. I have read bits of it at Reader’s Feast and it is from this book that I first got the OK to be frugal during the silly season. M promised to read it after me.

M also bought me a Tefal Wok from Kmart and two food containers from Big W. Yeah; we went to many places on Boxing Day. The Wok was 50% off its retail price. Along with a recent discovery of a special cooking ingredient at China Town, I am looking forward to using this Wok to make “Drunken Chicken” for Chinese New Year at the end of January. Woks also make it easy for any lousy cook (like me) to make Chahan without spilling anything. My other big Wok died a while ago and I have been using a ‘deepish’ frypan from IKEA in the last year and a half. My wish is to buy another Scanpan but if I managed to ruin one before, I still can’t trust myself to spend so much on another one.

The only ‘non-practical’ item that Moosh bought for me was a tin of Arnott’s biscuits. On Boxing Day, it was reduced to around $3.50 and I agreed to buy it. I don’t think it is entirely ‘non-practical’. There definitely is some use for it in the dream classroom one day. The unique shape is just so adorable. May be I should store teabags in it for when the ‘bikkies’ are all gone.

That’s my show and tell. I hope everyone reading this agreed that I did stick to the goal of receiving practical items only. There will be another show and tell post later. Moosh’s mum bought me something I had considered buying last year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Lonely Little Santa Hat

Merry Christmas Everybody

The picture is of my Guinea Pig's Santa hat sitting on his 'blankie' (which is more like a Winter cover for his cage).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Behaving Like A Green Spoilt Brat

I was behaving like a spoilt brat that was also totally green with envy all weekend. I had originally intended to spend a happy weekend shopping with M but by Friday evening, my Christmas spirit of giving went out the window.

We went shopping for gift cards and food items to make hampers in the city on Saturday. We went to Target to buy Coles Myer gift cards but the only ones available had “Happy Birthday” printed on them and the rest (including Christmas themed ones) were cards useable at Target only. So, we bought only two. M wanted to buy his brother a gift card from Bunnings instead. After stopping by Borders, we went to buy lollipops from Suga and chocolates from Haigh’s. According to M, I was carrying on like something had stuck up my rear end and he suggested that we go buy a plunger!

We went to Highpoint again on Sunday. The place was quite crowded by the time we got there. With his family’s gifts mostly sorted out, except for the Bunnings gift card, I was supposed to enjoy myself but found myself increasingly green with envy. The more shops we entered, the more things I seemed to think I ‘needed’ and was unwilling to part with the cash to buy. I simply did not wish to spend our own hard earned cash. A part of me is hoping that we too are entitled to free money to waste but another part of me is thinking that my parents never raised me to live like that. On the way out of the shopping centre, we suddenly remembered that we had to cross the busy road to buy a gift card from Bunnings. It was warm and we were fed up. So, we changed our mind and headed back to the city. We went back to Target hoping to get another gift card from them but it was already closed. You would think that they would have extended hours at this time of the year!

M is all set for Christmas and New Year. He has got his outfits and a ‘Get Smart – Season 1’ DVD that he has already unsealed and viewed last night. As for me, I haven’t got myself a single thing as yet. Even the mascot has a new outfit. I guess I am still really hoping that some one not related to me would buy me pressies simply because it is a way to prop up the economy. LOL. That is one Christmas wish that will never happen for people like us. LOL.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Can't Help It!

I am not sure if I have any regular visitors to this blog but I hope my readers do not find me pathetic because I post so much about my Guinea Pig. Yes, this is another post about him. He appeared cheerfully in my dream again this morning. In the dream, I was doing something in the living room when I heard noises coming from within his cage. I lifted his 'blankie' to find my Guinea Pig peering back at me with a very cheerful facial expression. He was very excited to see me. I was too. I went up to the side of the cage and blew him multiple kisses. I must have moved in my sleep because the dream was rudely interrupted right after that. Nevertheless I am glad to 'see' him even though it was just a dream.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

‘Frugal’ Christmas

The way M and I celebrate Christmas has always been very commercialised and very different to how I was brought up. We spend so much on the little ones (nephews & nieces). I have been pushing for a different way of celebrating Christmas for a few years now but we both always got swept up by all the excitement and ended up over spending year after year. M finally, albeit reluctantly, decided to give it a go this year.

Of course I am overjoyed at his decision but M prefers that I keep my feelings to myself. I win but I am asked to celebrate privately. LOL. Christmas shopping is now a touchy topic. He is worried that our change is too radical and there might be a dummy spitting episode on Christmas day. We are going to explain that we changed because we are worried about the impact of the current global financial crisis in the coming New Year. The crisis is indeed frightening but there is one other reason and we have decided to keep it private for now. We are also hoping that people are so happy with Santa Rudd’s recent money gifts that they don’t realise that Santa M didn’t cough up a tonne of gifts.

I may have successfully convinced M to change the way we celebrate Christmas this year but I don’t think I am the Grinch. It’s not like I am totally against buying presents. We just buy less. Instead of individual presents, we buy each group a gift card plus a hamper. Gift cards are great because they offer more flexibility and the group can come together to discuss what to purchase. And since M was willing to make the change, I am willing to also make a compromise. M preferred each hamper to be filled with products/junk food from shops like Haigh’s and Suga, and I am ‘happy’ to oblige. Just by changing our ways a little, we are saving at least 40-50% of what we would have normally spent on gifts at Christmas time. If we can keep this up next year and then the year after that, we sure will be on the road to celebrating our future Christmases in less commercialised ways. A permanent change would be really nice. As mentioned before, there is an important reason why we need to achieve this and I wish to share it with the world one day, just not now. Let’s just say that cultivating such a good habit now will make things easier to handle in the near future.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Unsightly Hole Is Gone!

The painter and his apprentice were here today, to fix a hole in the wall and to give that wall a fresh coat of paint. A plumber had made the hole years earlier when he was checking for leakage. To ensure consistency, the painter suggested that we have all the walls on the left side of the living areas repainted (including the little nook where my Guinea Pig used to be). I nearly fainted when I heard this suggestion because that meant that I had to move our furniture and stuff again to make way for the painters. M hasn’t been home these last few days. Before he left for work, he helped me to move some of the larger pieces of furniture to create space for the painters. For some funny reason, last night I felt that the painters might need more space and then proceeded to move our belongings myself, before my bedtime. Then when the painter suggested painting all the walls on the left side this morning, I had to move a lot of the stuff once again! Eager to have the hole mended, I was quite surprise that I handled it without any whingeing.

When the kind painter was fetching some water in the bathroom, he noticed the shoddy work done by the previously mentioned plumber in our shower, to stop a leak. He came out laughing and asked if that was my own handy work. Until I saw what he was referring to, I wondered if he was laughing at our attempts in whitening the grout lines. I ended up telling him about what happened years ago and he kindly offered to fix one tile that was threatening to fall or break off the wall. He went on to explain that the tiles in the shower area should be retiled. He was in a total disbelief that the two lines of ugly tiles were the work of a qualified plumber.

Santa Rudd is not offering people like us any money but these last couple of days has been like my Christmas has come early this year. My hallway light is working again. We also have a brand new fan in the toilet and today, the hole that has been bugging me is gone. On top of that, the walls on the left side have all been given a fresh coat of paint. What more do I want? I am over the moon! M will be home tomorrow. He has promised to move the furniture and our belongings back to their original state. I will make him his favourite Chicken Minestrone soup. It’s nice that it is still cool enough to have soups at this time of the year.
PS. This painter is nice to his apprentice. He was not rude to him. In fact he explained new procedures patiently and also listen to the apprentice's opinions/suggestions.

Let There Be Daylight!

The electrician came yesterday. He was only a few minutes late but that’s OK. I am super happy to tell the whole wide world that our hallway light is fixed and we have a brand new toilet fan. Woo Hoo! In comparison to the old toilet fan, this new one performs like it has been turbo boosted! As for the hallway light, the socket for the light bulb was broken and had to be replaced. We opted again for another energy saver light bulb (Philips Tornado) and were very lucky to find a cool daylight one this time. You won’t believe how hard it is to find cool daylight ones in the CBD area. Now we have a super bright hallway. The electrician also put in a new door seal for our oven but I am still not too sure about it. The seal looks a little flimsy and skinny. I hope it will do the job and not melt while the oven is doing its job. Imagine the toxic fumes! It must be a lot deadlier than the paint I am breathing in right now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rainy Day Project – Christmas Cards 2008

It has been raining all day today. I like the rain because I want the lawn in the common area to stay green for as long as possible. So, instead of heading to the city, I stayed at home to make this year’s Christmas cards. The cards designated for immediate family members are handmade. As in the past few years, this set features our little Guinea Pig. It will be the last time he ‘plays’ a part in our Christmas cards and his role this time is only minor. The cards are not 100% completed yet. I am hoping that the rain will go away by tomorrow so I can pop into Big W to buy some more stickers. A couple of the cards still need a little extra sprucing up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Christmas Star

This morning, my beloved Guinea Pig briefly appeared to me in my dream, just before I woke up. He seemed happy and cheerful. He was in his cage and he had parked himself near his water bottle with his front paws perched on his food bowl. I was of course happy to see him in my dream.

M received a phone call on Monday afternoon. It was a courtesy call from Harvey Norman notifying us that the porcelain ornament we had ordered was ready for pick up. That was a pleasant surprise because it was not meant to be ready until the 15th. We picked it up today and we are very happy with the results. The star will play a part in our Christmas cards this year. It will be the last set of Christmas cards featuring our little Guinea Pig friend.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

7 Months On…

I tried not thinking about today all week. I don’t really want to face up to the fact that my Guinea Pig left us for 7 months already. Yesterday, M requested that we go somewhere different today. Somewhere different meant going somewhere not located within the CBD. We ended up going to Malvern because I wanted to go to the Spotlight store there. It was only when we got there that we learned that the store has been relocated to Carnegie. Bummer!

At the Target store inside Malvern Plaza, we came across a children’s book that consists of a number of well known picture books featuring animals. One of the stories included was “I Love Guinea-Pigs” by Dick King-Smith. We already have a copy of that particular picture book at home. I have been avoiding books on Guinea Pigs in our own collection since he left us. I just felt uncomfortable.

After a phone call to my dad this evening, I dug out the picture book to read it again and I really liked what the author wrote at the end. The author wrote about not being sad of his Guinea Pigs’ departure and was simply happy to remember the pleasure he had gained from all of his Guinea Pigs. The author’s two favourite Guinea Pigs are resting peacefully under an apple tree. They are remembered every time he enjoys the view of the tree. When I sent my Guinea Pig away for cremation, I had intended to remember him by having his ashes in an urn nearby. All that has gone on or didn’t go on has made it so very hard for me to remember him properly. Now, I really know what it feels like to not know exactly where one’s loved ones final resting place is even, though this particular loved one is not human. I probably have already mentioned this before but that’s really how I feel. Fortunately though, getting through each day is getting easier. We, I in particular, are still talking about my Guinea Pig everyday. Qukes are in season again and we saw them at Safeway yesterday. I bet if he could write, our Guinea Pig would have added that to our shopping lists in the past. Little things like Qukes still remind me of him but I was surprised that I handled myself pretty well.

We have ordered a star shaped porcelain Christmas ornament with a picture of our Guinea Pig a little over a week ago. It’s due to be picked up on the 15th. We ordered this one at Harvey Norman hoping that it will be ready on time. If it turns out beautiful, I will take a photo of it and post it here.

My Mum’s Secret Plan

By the time this is posted on my blog, my mum, my brother and SIL must be settling into their new surroundings at a cooking school. The trio, led by my mum, have signed up for a cooking course abroad. I was kept in the dark about the details because a worry wart like me will definitely try to put a stop to their plans. My dad revealed the secret to me on Tuesday. As usual, he did it by pretending to let the cat out of the bag accidentally. I hit the roof no less. It may be too late to persuade them not to go but it is never too late to spend the rest of December worrying. The trio are not returning home until after Christmas! My poor dad will be spending it alone! And instead of sharing a scrumptious dinner with us to celebrate the Chinese Winter festival, a dutiful relative and his wife will stand in for us this year.

According to the lunar calendar, Thursday was my mum’s birthday. She doesn’t celebrate her birthdays, neither do I. We just don’t seem to see the point of it. That’s one of a few things that we do share in common. Otherwise, we are pretty much like chalk and cheese. At 70 now (71 in Chinese years), I have been wishing for my mum to slow down perhaps my entire life. When I was a child, all I wanted was for mum to spend time with me. These days, I just want her to stay put for her own safety. My dad and I are pretty much resigned to the fact that nothing will ever dampen her spirit of adventure. Not even that botched up hip replacement surgery from years ago slowed her down. Come to think of it, she travelled less this year and I suppose I should also be happy that she isn’t dragging my dad along this time. Long distance flying and overindulgence of food and alcohol is not good to his system.