Things I DID Buy June

I received $500 in birthday money and here is some of the items which I purchased with it –

We needed new sheets for the bed. We’d bought some sateen sheets at Aldi in mid 2017 and they were fantastic, until one of the seams on the fitted sheet broke in February or so this year. Now it was still useable, and we loved those sheets so much we kept using them for a while but I was always on the lookout for a bargain set.

I found them at Harris Scarfe for $19.95. Can you guess what colour we bought?

The first clothes I bought were these – 1 longline chenille cardigan (24.99) & 1 chenille scarf (20) from Rivers. I love chenille, but I once owned one chenille item and I killed it with washing, mainly I think because I did not wash it in a garment bag, and I had a top load washer way back then. Hopefully with our Miele front load washer. I will not murder these clothes with washing.

I was only going to get the cardigan – which finishes about the knee on me, it is a good long length – because I felt $20 for the scarf was up money, but then The Other Half said to me – you deserve the scarf, you have been so good all these months not buying any clothes. Little did he know of the spending spree about to occur this month. I have worn them both once and I have to say they are toasty warm, soft, fluffy and perfect for this very cold weather we are having.

2 pairs of new leggings – one with “sueded” lining @29.95 and one houndstooth pair $34.95. Seriously the sueded lining has spoiled me. Now I want all my clothes lined this way.

2 pairs of fleece lined leggings @ 24.95 each. All 4 of these are from TK Maxx. If you are looking for workout leggings with any kind of lining this would be #1 on my list to search. These are super stretchy and incredibly warm without being too hot if you are running.

3 ponchos $29 each from a local store that was having a sale. I had been looking for a poncho for some time but every one I saw was so boring, these at least had some personality and almost give the impression of being gold and silver.

I also got some wool scarves $29 each these are chunky and can be used as a wrap as well.

1 set of SOLIDASTER curtains @ $89. You may recall these appearing in the what I did not buy at IKEA post. They were one of the first things I thought of when I knew I had birthday money, because I had made the mistake of washing the blockout curtains in the lounge room and the block out part stuck together, meaning I have sections where light comes streaming through as an unpleasant surprise.

Unfortunately one of the Aspergers sensory problems I suffer with is “sensory sensitivities” – everyone has slightly different sensitivities. Light around the periphery of my vision is a big one for me, and these holes in the blockout curtains are right in the wrong place for me. If the sun is shining, I find it difficult to focus on my laptop or the tv screen.

We had to hem these, and we also hemmed the ruined blockout curtains so they could replace the blockout curtain in the bedroom. Most of the stuck together parts are right on the sides of the curtains and with a little creative cutting and thought, the lounge room curtains may be able to be repurposed as we do not need length or the same kind of width in the bedroom.

The Solidaster have now been hung and I am delighted with them. They are incredibly gorgeous, photos do not do them proper justice at all.

The final item I purchased in June was a replacement rug for my recliner. The current rug was just not bringing enough warm this winter and while I will keep it and use it again in spring, I’m switching to a warmer rug for the rest of winter. It cost me $42.50 as I am a rewards member and I got a discount on top of the sale price.

There are two creatures in the house who are extremely pleased with this purchase. Grumpy sits on my legs as I type this, and I have put together a montage of her happiness. If we covered every surface in the house with these rugs, we would have to change her name to Happy.

But we already have a Happy, and despite not being a lap cat at all, she too enjoys this rug. My lap is now The Place To Be. With a cat on ones lap, this rug is almost too warm. I’ve had to take my indoor beanie off most nights since we got this rug.

The total money spent in June = 485.24.

The kitties might say, you could have bought us 10 fluffy rugs with that birthday money.

My question to you – does birthday money count as spending? I’m going with no myself, though I have counted June as a spend month because technically I did spend money on clothes and stuff for the house.

2018yobn, Things I Did Buy 2018

Will You Like To Know More Part 2

More Decathlon!

The goggles start from $3.50 and they have an enormous range of them. If you can’t find a pair here I would be very surprised. They also have corrective lenses for same goggles at very reasonable prices.

There is a huge choice of swimming outfits.

When it is time to pay, you place your items in this box and it reads the RFID chip. Also Decathlon is a membership warehouse though membership is free. You can sign up on arrival and scan the membership card on your phone into the Stocard app, so that you can use it when you check out.

That was the first time I ever saw the Stocard app but you can be sure I am now making great use of it – I have scanned in 15 membership/loyalty/rewards cards which I used to carry with me everywhere – which is MADNESS if you think about it. Madness! And I am going to check my special hiding place because I took out a lot of cards I don’t use a while ago.

The app has an option to turn on the “card assistant” so when you approach a store your phone will pop up a notification to easily access the card for that nearby store. This does not seem to work for Coles, though, at least for me.

After we bought the rollerblades, we wandered back over to IKEA for afternoon coffee and a wander, and to get my curtains. They had this little setup which looked like perhaps Harry Potter or Indiana Jones might have just walked away from.

Our favourite KALAS is now available in a new colour. I’m not such a fan of it – I prefer the rainbow set – and apparently The Other Half is banning me from buying any more of these anyway. I feel like you can never have enough KALAS bowls and plates. Microwave and dishwasher safe, unbreakable, so useful.

We did not buy this even though both of us really wanted to. We flipped it over and stood there and watched the gorgeous gold “sand” melt through the hourglass, and then we did it again, and yet another time, while we debated whether we could/would/should buy it.

What would we use it for? Did we need it, or did we just really want it? In the end we chose not to buy it, but will it be like Indiana Jones choosing the holy grail? Did we choose poorly, or wisely?

We left IKEA around 3pm and headed back down the coast. We had a destination in mind – Eat Street is on every Thursday night in Wollongong and the weather was perfect for it – cold but not windy. We have been once before and apparently I did not blog about it here, which surprises me but then again there is a lot of stuff I don’t post about.

I got Poutine from La Poutine food truck. Mine had bacon and ground beef on top with the cheese curds and gravy. It was awesome. Perfect for a cold night.

The other half got some loaded fries – they had cheese and a spicy chipotle aioli – from Norma’s Burger Bar plus a burger.

He chose the same stall last time and when he enjoys something he tends to stick with it.

Soon after we finished our food, we were on our way home, after a very long day out. We planned to head out for a run & rollerblade (I run, he rollerblades) the next day, and a bushwalk sometime over the weekend, too. But that is a story for another day.

Decathlon, food, IKEA

Will You Like To Know More

I ask this question a lot to the great annoyance of people around me. Sometimes *I* will like to know more, and finding this new building in the carpark of IKEA Tempe was one such occasion.

It was recently my birthday – no, I don’t tell people and I don’t celebrate them for the most part – but I was asked by The Other Half where would I like to go for dinner, and I chose the Korean BBQ that we have visited a few times in Campsie, a couple of hours drive away.

My parents were most unthrilled by this concept – a 4 hour return trip just to eat dinner? But they did not understand, this is two hours of all you can eat Korean BBQ with a sushi buffet, a hot food bar, and desserts. It is like the old days of all you can eat Pizza Hut, only more healthy.

But when I told them our nephew would be meeting us, they got on board. Well, mostly, there was still some grumbling and “I can’t believe we’re going all that way“. I mean these are people that complain about going 7km to eat dinner, so I was expecting this. I was also expecting the end result – which is they go, they eat, they LOVE it, and they demand to go back.

I did not take any photos as we were too busy eating, drinking, cooking on those little charcoal BBQs in the middle of the table, and me personally I was peeling a lot of prawns, who wants to pick up their phone in the middle of that with prawny fingers? Oh, the prawns, you guys. They are so delicious cooked on that bbq. I set a target of eating 19. I failed. Mainly thanks to the sushi, which was also great.

Here is a lovely blog post with photos – Se Jong Korean Bbq Buffet, Campsie. Since that post they have installed extractor fans inside which make things a lot less smoky.

On the way home we stopped in at IKEA so Mother could get some small side tables for her guest rooms, and just so we could wander the halls happily. This is when we discovered the Decathlon building. We resisted the HUGE slices of cheesecake because we’d just eaten for 2 solid hours but we did get coffee before the long drive home.

How do I find out more? Usually via my phone. I went to the Decathlon website and the very first thing to appear was a set of rollerblades – a secret message to us that we needed to return soonest – as The Other Half has been looking for rollerblades for some time now after his wheels biodegraded as a surprise to us. We decided we would return the next weekend, BUT..

The following week, it turned out that The Other Half had little work to do at work, and instead of wander about trying to make work or create work, he arranged to take 2 days of his 5 weeks of holidays which he has been collecting up for some time now. And thus we found ourselves in the Polo on a Thursday, heading up to Sydney. We ate the Swedish Meatballs overlooking the store, and when we finished lunch we strolled across the carpark to check out Decathlon.

It turns out this place is bizarre. A sports warehouse, you would expect all the usual brands, Nike, Adidas, maybe Reebok, etc. But there was not a single known brand to be found. The brands here are all brands I had never seen before. They are all specially made for this company.

Even so the range of items is incredible, and the sports they have specific equipment for are many not well represented sports in “regular” sports stores in Australia. When have you seen a horse riding aisle at your local Rebel Sports? I was so stunned to see it I did not even take a photo! But I might have to go back for some jodhpurs and riding boots – both starting at $28.

Would you like to know more? Here is the Wikipedia page, here is their Tempe website where you can take a 360 degree tour of the store, here is their regular website where you can search for items, and here are some of my photos from inside the store.

These are jumpers suitable for golf, and walking. I liked the teal one.

I took this photo to send to Sephyroth – cricket bats are not exciting to me but he is a fan. ;)

Look at all these socks especially sent to tempt me, but I did not buy any. Good Snoskred!

This is part of the camouflage section, for hunting, fishing, and various other hiding yourself in plain sight sports.

I just really liked this photo but I also thought the camo shorts $29 and trousers $36 were very good value. The Other Half will like to try some, at some point.

Most of these skate shoes were between $30-49. This would be excellent value when you have teenagers, I suspect. In fact I saw a lot of great value kids stuff, it felt like they cater very well for kids here.

Ah, finally the section we are looking for.

But our day out was by no means over yet, and this day was so full of awesomeness, I will need to make another post to tell you more. If you’d like to know more tune in next Wednesday! :)

Never fear those in Melbourne, Decathlon will be opening in Box Hill in November. As usual Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Tasmania, you are SOL. Jump on a plane, Tempe is right next to the airport though it is a bit of a hike from either terminal, mainly because there is a large container terminal in the way and no access road. I would recommend a taxi, if you are in urgent need of reasonably priced sports equipment.

Decathlon, food, IKEA

Black Box Number Two

The box inspectors hard at work.

This month we have some definite keepers and some very definite never buy again for me products. And the kitties get in on the act as well!

There is a small packet of kitty food in this box.

I think someone can smell it, and maybe almost taste it already. So what do we have here?

Bic Flex5 razor, Vitasoy Coconut Milky, Korma paste pots, Kewpie sesame soy Japanese dressing, Heinz classic barbecue sauce, Jordans low sugar granola, Fairy Platinum, Hills Science Diet sachet, Urbane Mess resurfacing face scrub, Blessed by Nature tinted moisturiser, Harvest Snaps baked pea crisps.

Was anyone reading this a fan of the D-Gen on ABC? They had a spoof ad about razors once where the razor had 16 blades. I feel like we are on track to get to that amount of blades one day in the not so distant future. The Other Half does not like to use a razor but he might give this a try.

The Vitasoy Coconut Milky and Korma paste pots will be teamed together with some chicken and plenty of vegetables for a future meal. We don’t really eat much Indian style food but we’ll give it a try.

Aldi had avocado on special the week after this box arrived, so I bought one to try out the Kewpie dressing. This was too savoury for me and yet it contained over 5 grams of sugar per serving. Not a fan.

The Heinz BBQ sauce was a good chance to plan Sticky Chicken for dinner, the recipe is so simple it is not funny but it is incredibly delicious. Just put BBQ sauce, soy sauce and honey together in a bowl, marinade the chicken breast in it, then bake in the oven. I like to slow bake now, so cover the dish with alfoil and cook for a couple of hours at 160C. You won’t even need a knife to cut this chicken.

Our family has been using ETA Barbecue sauce for the sticky chicken recipe since I was a child. That sauce is made in Australia – the Heinz one is made in the Netherlands. While it was super delicious and added a smokey element not normally found in this meal, I would prefer to buy and use Australian made where I can.

OMG the cherry in this granola. OMG OMG OMG. So GOOD! I wish I could just get a huge bag of these freeze dried cherries. They are crunchy and delicious. I had this sprinkled over the top of some Aldi Hi Protein Yogurt. This is a product I will be buying again. The almonds were great too. LOVE.

The Jordans Low Sugar Granola is now $3.50 on half price special at Coles until Tuesday the 26th June, if you would like to experience the awesomeness of freeze dried cherries for yourself.

The Urbane Mess resurfacing face scrub is a product designed for use by men and I deeply appreciate that it uses crushed walnut shells instead of plastic beads. It smells fantastic but very man flavoured – I personally love that – and contains lavender and rosemary essential oils. We both gave it a try and loved it. We will both use this and we will buy it again.

In fact we may well buy other products from their range based on how much we liked this. It turns out my Dad already uses their hair wax and loves it. It is really good value – the photo is the price at Priceline.

When I read about the upcoming box on Facebook and learned what might be in it, there were three different possible moisturisers (Sensitive Moisturiser, Pure Balance Matter Moisturiser or Multi Effect Tinted Moisturiser) from Blessed by Nature and I hoped they would not send me the tinted one. Of course they did.

I tried it and wiped it straight off again with a cleansing cloth. I am just not someone who likes makeup, even if it is “hidden” in a moisturiser. It is Up Money, too.

Saving the best for last, these Harvest Snaps.. wow. I was not sure when I ate the first one. When I ate the second one, I decided these are pretty awesome. Like a more healthy twistie. When I looked at their website and discovered they do a Wasabi flavour, that went to the top of my must try list. I *love* wasabi. Only I have not been able to find that flavour at all, not anywhere.

I don’t know how they make these, I have no idea how a pea goes from being a pea to being this crunchy and awesome. If you stumble upon them I do recommend giving them a try. I have tried lightly salted – great, highlights the pea flavour. Chicken – tastes like a much better Chicken Twistie. Chili – not too spicy, just a nice amount of heat. Salt and vinegar – they did not bring the salt or the vinegar.

The Texas BBQ flavour was interesting and a little bit spicy, so the recommended serving size of 18.5 grams was actually perfect for me. The Other Half really loved these too. We will be buying more – Coles now stock three of the flavours and luckily Chili which has been my favourite is there.. :)

Black Box, reviews

Things I Did Not Buy May

Nothing over $40 at W.Lane was interesting to me. I’d been in there a couple of weeks ago and I saw a peacock themed tunic. I was not able to find it on the website sadly. I choose to take that as a sign I should not buy it – and I took a photo the next time I was there. Finally I did find it on the website in case you want it.

Now that I have the photo I realise I don’t love it as much as I thought. I love the blue and green parts but not so much the olive and brown parts. This leads me to think once the Year Of Buying Nothing is over, I might try a policy of photograph and consider before purchasing.

While looking through the website, I did find this which looked quite nice. Unfortunately in the store there was not one in my size and the one that was closest to my size had a pull in it. Another message from the universe to me? :) They do have this in a range of colours.

I saw a lady walk past wearing this while getting my nails done, it was very tempting to me. You can’t see on the website but there are gold zips on the sides. It seems like they may have sold out of the green one now.

I love a good ombre. This ombre top from Rockmans was somewhat tempting.

At the local cheap shop I was shocked to find this piece of merchandise. I had never heard of the Milwaukee Bucks however I grabbed a shot and sent it to Sephyroth. I like their colours, I love a hoodie with pockets in that exact spot especially at this time of year and $9.95 was quite tempting. I did not buy it because #yobn but let me make it very clear, I would have. This is exactly the kind of impulse purchase my challenge is saving me from.

In the same cheap shop, this lovely display of candle holders was tempting to me. Prices started around $9.99. But I chose not to buy.

These candle lanterns were more pricy starting around $44.95 and very beautiful. Exactly the kind of thing that would have tempted me last year. But not this year.

On a visit to Berry I saw these crystals and thought $14.99 was quite reasonable, but declined a trip to the magical forest at this time. Next year. :)

Things I Did Not Buy

The Label Maker

I bought Mother a gift voucher to have her nails done for Mothers Day. She wasn’t sure about it – she thinks she is not a person who has their nails done. I used to think that, before I learned I am actually someone who likes to have their nails done.

With Mother it takes 5-10 years to convince her I am right about anything. Then she tries the thing I suggested, and raves about it constantly forever. I can give endless examples of this. My current favourite is putting a screen door on the house. I suggested it when they first bought the house which is over 10 years ago. They finally put a screen door on last year and now all you hear is how awesome it is.

I gave her the voucher and said think about it, if you don’t want to have them done you can give the voucher back and I will use it. The next time I saw her I asked if she had decided and she wanted to give the voucher back to me. Well now what present should I get you?

She told me about a reed diffuser which was given to her for Christmas that she really liked but she had no idea where to get it. I had been given the same one, so I did some googling and found it at Bed, Bath & Table. We do not have one of these stores nearby.

The Other Half was to go to Shellharbour (120km/75miles or so round trip) that next weekend to get potatoes. I was staying home, because he planned to drop in on his best friend who lives up that way and do man cave things. The conversation went like this –

Me : Could you pick up a present for Mother at Shellharbour.

Him : How about we go together on Sunday instead and you can get it.

Me : That would not fit in with my planned no-spend days.

Him : Well, your no spend days are going to be screwed up anyway because of Tuesday (Gruen filming). So suck it up.

Me : Why don’t YOU put your big man pants on and suck it up? Surely you can purchase an item from a store, it will be no different to buying the potatoes.

Him : Won’t I have to spend my money?

Me : I’ll transfer the amount across to you.

Him : How will I know what to buy?

Me : I have one right here, why don’t I put it on your desk so you can look at it?

Him : You have one right here, unopened? Why are we going to buy another one then?

Me : blank stare, total silence, pause, much laughter.

WHY INDEED. Why had this concept not even occurred to me? Was I so anti regifting that I could not even comprehend this?

I was given the exact same one by the same person, but we are still using the Tahitian Lime reed diffusers we got from Costco, so our gift has been sitting on the shelf waiting for those to run out. So I have an unopened one which I will now re-gift, *and* I have a nail voucher which I already bought, which means my next nail visit was a no-spend day. I am now officially a re-gifter.

If you are unfamiliar with the term regifter, here is a quick one minute rundown of the Seinfeld episode. Featuring a young and much less wrinkled Bryan Cranston.

I love how Elaine says the word, just the level of anger and spite there, it kills me every time. Elaine is my favourite Seinfeld character. Mother was very happy with her reed diffuser, and I saved $39.95.

Bonus gift, now Mother knows where she can buy them in the future. I fully expect she will go on a reed diffuser spree next time she is near that shop. Mother is like me, she likes to stock up on things she loves, especially when they are not easily purchased nearby.

Now if only she could become like me in knowing I am always right and trusting me when I say things. :) Hasn’t she learned by now, after my many stellar years of always being right?

family, Manicures

The Grocery Spending Spreadsheet

This is month 5 of The Year Of Buying Nothing. Inspired by An Exacting Life, I’ve now been tracking our grocery spending via spreadsheet for four months. It is past time to give you an update. I wrote about it initially here.

Line Items

Each item we purchase gets a line. Aldi gives each of their items a 4-6 digit number which appears on the receipt, that makes life SO easy for us. We’ve had to make up our own numbers for the Coles items. After 4 months of shopping, I can now say how many lines we buy from each of these stores. It is far less than I imagined it would be, especially from Coles.

It is important to note that this number is constantly changing – each shop may add up to 10 new items at Aldi or 3-4 at Coles. Also we keep note of identical items and the price we paid for those. When an item is the same brand just a different size, that gets a new line, eg Manning Valley eggs account for 3 Coles line items because they are available in 3 different sizes (600g, 700g, 800g) at 3 different prices.

Line Items Coles = 55

Of the 55 items we buy from Coles, 9 of these are non-food eg patty pans, deodorant when it was on super special, or baking paper in a size we cannot buy at Aldi.

I can now state that 16 of the items are “junk” foods. When I say that I specifically mean highly processed bad foods that we really should not eat like “twisties” and “french fries”. Some of those are items I personally do not eat, like Cinnamon Doughnuts. The Other Half likes those, it is his fortnightly treat, some of them go to work with him the days after we shop which gives me a couple of days to bake his cinnamon muffins or his from-scratch low sodium biscuits.

2 of the line items from Coles are potatoes when they were cheaper at Coles. 4 of the line items from Coles are tea or coffee related. 2 of the line items are chicken treats – yoghurt and mealworms. 3 of the line items are Manning Valley eggs.

Line Items Aldi = 143

Of the 143 items, 18 are non food eg deodorant, shampoo, toilet roll, tissues, even reed diffusers. Aldi make a fantastic reed diffuser FYI – we love the coconut and mango one, it smells amazing.

Only 14 of the 143 items are things I would consider to be “junk” foods.

32 of the line items are fresh fruits and vegetables.

18 items are dairy eg cheese, butter, cream. 8 of the items are meat/chicken/fish.

How Does It Work?

Each week before we shop, I create the new pages for that shopping trip. Each shop at each store gets a page in the spreadsheet.

It is fairly simple – you have to copy the blank spreadsheet page and give it a new name. But I have from time to time messed it up and left it on move instead of copy. Lesson has been learned, I am very strict about selecting copy now!

Once we have done the shopping, I sit down with the receipt and enter in all the item numbers first, when I hit enter it pulls the description from the lookup sheet then goes to the next line so I can put in the next item number.

Once all the items have been entered, I move across and add in the prices, then the quantities. Most of the time the quantity will be 1, but in cases where it is $ per kg, I enter the amount purchased and the spreadsheet does the maths for me.

When I’m done listing the items we purchased, I add in the CC surcharge in and make sure the total amount matches the receipt. I have the Coles Mastercard and thus anything I spend earns me flybuys points. It does add up over the course of the year, so that is the main card I use now.

The Coles spreadsheet is slightly different – as I do not get charged a surcharge for credit card there, we have added a field where I can minus the $10 flybuys discount we use from time to time. This will allow me to track when we do this and how much it saves us over the course of the year.

How Does This Spreadsheet Help Me?

I am more familiar with the pricing of items overall thanks to this spreadsheet. That is mainly because I am the one entering all the data. We were out at dinner recently and someone was talking about an item and I was able to name what we last paid for it off the top of my head.

I can spot mistakes easily and go back for a refund, as I did in month three – “Aldi had weighed our one lot of sweet potatoes twice, and charged us twice for them. We only bought one lot of sweet potatoes. I am not normally someone who asks for a refund but it was nearly $10, so I took the receipt in and explained what happened. They gave me a refund.”

That event taught me to stand in a particular spot and watch as we check out, so I can spot any mis-keys and prevent us buying 2.5kg of red capsicum when I purposely chose green because it was cheaper, or accidental double ups like above.

We are far more conscious about how much we buy and how much we use. We have a good idea of the base number of items we need each fortnight so that we do not run out of essentials like milk or toilet paper.

There is less food wastage than ever before in our kitchen. Part of that is due to freezing more items – in particular mushrooms.

We are better able to purchase items on special and bulk process and freeze them. Last fortnight I bought 2kg of mushrooms on special at $3.99, part cooked them and froze 7 packets, which will give me 7 weeks of pizza mushrooms. If they are on special again in the meantime, I will buy more and process them. In the meantime I can enjoy not having to buy them for $4.99.

This spreadsheet has been extremely useful for us and I cannot imagine we would stop doing this.

What Next?

The Spreadsheet Maestro has already begun creating useful ways to look at the data we are collecting. At the end of the year we will have a lot of data to play with and it will be interesting to see exactly where our grocery shopping dollar goes.

Aldi keep adding more products to their range meaning we have less to buy at Coles – just recently they added lactose free yoghurt. It would be fantastic to be able to do all our shopping in one place, however I think the reality will always be as it is now, most of the shop at Aldi with just a few items from Coles.

If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet with all the Aldi line items let me know in the comments and I will email it to you. I will take out all the Coles data and also all our shops.

2018yobn, spreadsheets

Things I Did Not Buy April

In April I did not buy an item of food. At Christmas we had family and friends over, and one of them brought a double cream Brie by Castello. I’d not eaten any cheese at all in over 6 months but planned to cheese board it up on Christmas Day, so I had heaps of cheese already available.

The brie went into the fridge where it stayed until mid-February, when we had family and friends around again and I thought I would use up the left over cheese. And wow. WOW. That cheese was amazing, probably the best cheese I have ever eaten in my lifetime.

So at our second April shop, I thought maybe I would buy one of these. I went to pick it up from the fridge but was stopped by the price – it was $7.40 at the time. Err, no thanks, that will blow our budget and it is a tiny amount of cheese for that price. I gave the cheaper Aldi version ($4.99 for 200g) a try at our first May shop. I think it tastes just as good.

The one reason I was going to break my self enforced cheese abstinence was that I had some Beerenberg quince paste to go along with it. I am only a recent soft cheese and quince paste convert and I think it is lucky that I have given up cheese for the most part, with only an occasional cheese eating, otherwise I would like this for a snack every day. I’d like to do a brie & quince paste chicken kiev sometime. Maybe with the strawberry and champagne paste pot.

If this were not cold shoulder I might have been tempted, just look at that gorgeous print! They are lovely and long, too. Why, designers, WHY?

Last winter I got very cold due to my thyroid issues. I mostly survived thanks to hoodies, beanies, gloves, scarves and these Ghanda crew neck long sleeve fleece jumpers. I had one in this same shade of pink and one in blue for around the house wear, and they are looking pretty ratty. I am thinking about replacing them but I might have to go in store and see if they have anything different this year. Sometimes they do not put everything on the website.

OMG TVSN WTFBBQ!!!!Q!QQ!! This is the worst thing you have ever done to me. Long sleeve tops that have some sparkle, length and a decent neck line? If this was not The Year Of Buying Nothing, I would have been tempted to purchase this top in all four colours.

And I would purchase this top in both colours. While I am not a big fan of the V-neck, I do love a stripe, plus it has sequins. If you have been looking for this kind of top maybe you can head over and grab it if they have it in your size.

2018yobn, Things I Did Not Buy, TVSN

Black Box Review

For those of us who like receiving free samples of things, Black Box is a new FREE sample box service. I first heard about it via Sydney Shop Girl, and I signed up right away. It was not long before my first box arrived.

It was super exciting to unpack everything and see what is inside. I find I tend to get into a rut of using the same products over and over and it is awesome to try new things without having to lay out any $$. We have found some of our most favourite products thanks to samples – most notably my deodorant and Fairy Platinum which we are die hard fans of these days but never would have tried without a sample.

So what do we have here? Lavazza instant coffee, Vitasoy Coconut Milky, Mist Wood Gin with orange and bitters, Twinings Morning Tea, Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets, Ryvita thins in cheddar and black pepper flavour.

We’re not instant coffee users for the most part but The Other Half does use it when camping and at work. We LOVE Lavazza coffee beans but they are Up Money so we don’t tend to buy them very often. This coffee is a nice compromise and they did not send a sample size. This is the full size product you can buy for $10.99 at Coles though it was $4.99 on special there last week. That is when I would likely buy it..

This coffee has a great flavour, very dark and intense which is how I love my coffee. I like this better than any instant coffee I have tried before and I have tried a lot of them. We buy 1kg of dark coffee beans from Aldi for $11.49 and that keeps us going coffee wise for quite some time – we get 100 cups of coffee out of 1kg of beans. If you instant and you like it dark, I think you would like this, especially if you can get it on special.

I’m already a big buyer of Vitasoy products – in general we buy something like 5 litres of soy milk and 3-4 litres of almond milk each fortnight – overall I prefer using the products that one keeps in the fridge. It is very handy to have things like this UHT version in the cupboard as long as I remember to use them every now and then. I tend to use these UHT milks for cooking if we are running low on fridge milk.

It is unusual for me to receive alcohol products in a box like this, but to be honest this is the only way a product like this has a chance of getting on my radar. I am not a big drinker of alcohol at all and I have never tried gin before. I may have an occasional lemon, lime and bitters if we go out – mainly because I like the bitters – and once in a blue moon I might drink a vodka cruiser of some kind, usually a cheaper Aldi version.

I made sure to open this when The Other Half was here firstly because I have no idea how to open this kind of bottle and secondly so he could try it. The verdict was surprising to both of us. We quite liked it. I’m not especially surprised that I liked it – except gin – because on reading the label the number one ingredient is my most favourite thing – sparkling mineral water. But that The Other Half liked it? That was a shock.

The best thing about this drink was that it was very “dry” and not sweet at all to my tastebuds. I mostly drink mineral water because I find everything else far too sweet now. I will sometimes drink ginger beer, maybe once a month or so.

I found the Nivea firming body oil to be fantastic and I will definitely be buying this when I see it on a decent special because $16.45 is up money BUT having said that I got several applications from the 8g sample size so I suspect value for money is high here. I hated trying to use it out of these sachets. I made a heck of a mess each time.

If I’m going to have tuna for dinner it will likely be a pasta bake or tuna mornay. This was tasty but not something I would be likely to buy on the regular.

During winter we usually have a cup of tea around 9pm. We usually drink Twinings for that cup of tea – Assam Bold is our choice. But I also sometimes have Nerada Chai. I wasn’t a huge fan of this new morning tea flavour but I could not put my finger on exactly why. I’m glad to have tried it and now I know it is not for me.

The Fairy Platinum went straight into the dishwasher tablets container, joining 100 or so of their friends. Why do I like them so much? Not only do they clean the dishes beautifully but they clean the dishwasher as well. Squeaky clean. Like it will actually squeak.

I like the idea of a flatbread so I was excited to receive these Ryvita ones. However the execution was far too peppery for me. And I LIKE pepper a lot.

I have already received an email from Black Box saying my next box is on the way, so I will be excited to see what arrives! Everybody likes free samples so if you are in Australia or New Zealand you might want to sign up to receive your own box.

I used to be a member of PinchME and I received quite a lot of samples via that format. However that site now does not exist in the format that it once did, and I have no idea what it is meant to be now.

Black Box, reviews

Dip Nails

On Wednesday the 28th of March I got my first set of dip nails, also known as SNS nails. It was an interesting experience. This is an acrylic powder which bonds to the nail. It is not acrylic nails as you know them, though. They feel a lot lighter and you don’t do infills, the powder is removed and completely replaced on your next visit, similar to how gel nails are removed.

First of all the manicure overall is less “invasive” – they do not do all the filing, buffing and cuticle paring they normally would. This may be better for the natural nails underneath long term.

After the previous nail polish is removed, a base coat is put on but not your normal base coat, then the nails are dipped into a container full of powder. Surprisingly the powder does not stick to the finger, just to the nails. The finger is tapped gently to remove excess powder. The powder may be coloured and even in some cases sparkly.

Because I chose to have french tips, the white you see here is also powder in a different colour. Only the tips of the nail are dipped in the white powder. Underneath the powder are my own natural nails.

Some thoughts on this manicure –

Thursday 29th – After 24 hours – My nails are a LOT stronger with dip powder on them. Over time having gel nails I have identified times of the day where I have to be more careful – number one being after getting out of the shower. Time in the water does tend to soften both my real nails and the gel polish. That is not the case for dip nails.

Saturday 31st – I am loving this manicure. The one possible downside is if you look very closely you can see dots in the clear area of the nails – so you can actually see the powder. But that is far outweighed by the strength of the nails.

On Sunday the 1st of April planned life changed somewhat with the illness of BeeGee. This actually changed how I live life for the next two weeks. Anytime I touched the chicken, there was a handwashing. I’m a bit more handwashing orientated than your normal person but even I do not usually wash my hands several times an hour unless I am cooking.

Dip nails may work great for people who have their hands in water a lot.

I thought this would be an excellent test of the dip nails and I was right. The best thing about them – during the BeeGee time, I did not even have to think about them, or be concerned that I would break one. I did not baby them at all like I usually might with a normal gel manicure.

They grow out just like the normal gel nails do. This pic is the day before I got them redone, so you can see the gap of regular nail between the dip manicure and the cuticle. This photo does show the dots a little bit better than the previous pic too. You can also see that the white tips have grown out and you can see the normal nail underneath.

When we usually do a french tip manicure, my nail artist will paint the tips artificially a lot lower than they really are, so as the nail grows out you don’t see as much of the normal nail underneath.

I did manage to crack one approximately two weeks into the mani but unlike a regular manicure, this did not mean I had to run off and get it fixed right away. It was only the dip coating that I cracked and not the nail underneath, and the crack did not seem to have any effect on the strength of the nail at all..

After this great experience I decided to get another dip manicure and this time I decided to keep all the length my nails had grown in the past 3 weeks. Removal is done exactly the same way as gel nails – cotton wool soaked in nail polish remover is placed on top of the nail and aluminium foil placed over the top. I found that the powder comes off a lot easier than the gel does, so there is a lot less grinding and scraping.

Two days after having this done I am still on the fence about whether the length is a good decision for me. A week after having this done I am having some trouble doing some things with this length of nail. I’m worried I might not get my full 3-4 weeks out of this manicure due to the length – lesson learned for next time.

I am not especially worried that I will break one – dip nails are pretty incredible strength wise. I’m starting to wonder if it is possible to break them. I think if it could be done I would have managed it by now. I am wondering if one may be more likely to rip ones own nail out of the nail bed rather than break one of these.

I chose to go with a full colour rather than just tips this time. I’m still on the fence about the length of this mani, but we will see how it goes. :)

Manicures, Nail Art