The value of money

Friday, April 30, 2010

Why is it that I'll happily spend $7 on a pint of beer that gives me less than an hour's pleasure (and then a bloated feeling), yet I get cranky that my favourite BONDS undies have gone up from $5 per pair to $7 per pair in the last 2 years? Surely a $7 pair of undies is going to give me more pleasure (and use) than a pint of Carlton Draft??

This battle in my head happens quite frequently, especially when it comes to food/drinks vs anything else. Do I spend $7 on a Hungry Jacks meal or $7 on a second-hand top I'll get a few years wear out of? What about a night out on the town? Back in my young, foolish, carefree, well-paying-job days, I wouldn't be too concerned about spending $100 on a night out including dinner and drinks. Although, back in those days, I also wouldn't think twice about spending $100 on a new pair of shoes.

I suppose my view and value of money has changed in the last couple of years. Hubs and I have been living off only my wage (with monthly bonuses from Hubs' tutoring), putting all of our money aside for overseas holidays, and now a house, so I'm much more aware of where all of our money goes. And this isn't a bad thing - it's good to know that we can budget and prioritise. But we do miss being able to go out to dinner with friends and at the end, saying "this one's on us." Or going to a restaurant and picking a favourite meal instead of the most economical, or going to Woollies and not having to buy home-brand cheese. Gosh my life is hard :-)

I've been everywhere man!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Okay, so not everywhere! But I have been to all the Australian states and capitals now! Yay! Hubs and I headed to Tassie over the weekend and we had a really great time.

More blogging and photos to come...


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hubs and I had a date night last Wednesday evening and after watching an episode of The Black Adder while we ate, we settled on watching Valkyrie. I wasn't overly keen as I didn't really know much about it and it sounded like a movie I'd have to think about while watching it. But it turned out to be a great film.

I actually kept forgetting that I was watching Tom Cruise, (who I'm not entirely hating right now) Eddie Izzard, (I knew I knew him but didn't recognise him without the outrageous clothes and make up!) the old drunk musician, Billy Mack, ("Don't buy drugs kids. Become a rockstar and you get them for freeeee") aka Bill Nighy from Love Actually, and the old, straight guy from The Full Monty. I think this suggests some kind of success and achievement in a movie - for the story to be so engaging, that you forget you're watching one of the most highly-paid actors in Hollywood.

I got so caught up in the story and became immersed in the characters' lives. Although I knew how it was going to end (well, how it wasn't going to end) it kept me in suspense the whole time. And I do love a movie based on (however loosely) a true story. I was also concerned that it would focus on the grotesque nature of war, but it didn't have to - the story was good enough on it's own, that it didn't need that shock value.

I'd give it 4 stars out of 5 and highly recommend it.

Winery tour - Day 2

Friday, April 23, 2010

After a very restful night, a sleep in, bacon and eggs for brekky, and a read of the newspaper about the storm that had hit Melbourne the day before, we set off for Day 2. (I had actually received a couple of texts from friends late in the afternoon asking "are you okay??" and I was like "we're just on a wine tour dude. We're fine!" It wasn't til we got to Sorrento that we heard about the storm and all the damage it did!!) Our first point of call was The Cups Estate, and what an absolute gem that was! We left the camera in the car so I don't have any photos, but their fortified pinot was incredible. We HAD to buy a bottle (or 2!)

Next we headed towards Arthurs Seat, stopping at The Morning Sun Vinyard. This place was a bit ho-hum. The service wasn't great and the most popular wines (the had a Pinot and Guwerzt) weren't on tasting. So we left with a photo instead!

And then it was off to Vidoni Estate which had some rather nice wines. I think we picked a couple up there as well. Nathan was still looking for a good pinot, and it turns out the first one we'd tried at Hickinbotham had been the best by far! So we decided we had to swing by on the way home. But that was later on...

We then started to get a bit hungry so we were on the look out for some foooood. We stopped in at Myrtaceae (again, cos it was there) and they had some special wine tasting glasses:

They only put in wine to fill the neck of the glass, and tell you to give it a smell, and you can't smell much at all. Then, you roll the glass.....

... give it another whiff, and the smells explode in your nostrils! Clearly, the same outcome can be achieved by just swishing the wine around the glass yourself, but the novelty was fun. And the wines were quite lovely! Still hungry though...

We checked our map and found a place that was recommended by another friend of ours, who used to be a winemaker in the Yarra Valley, so we made our way there. It was REALLY packed and when we asked for a seat in the restaurant, I had a look at the prices of the meals and just couldn't do it. Meals were between $30-$40 each and wines were about $12 a glass. Nate had a look and said the only thing he'd be keen on was the duck, and the waitress had told us they'd run out of duck. I'm sure the food would have been amazing, but we just could NOT justify that sort of spending, so we made some excuse and excused ourselves, and just tried the wines instead. Which were lovely! (I can't quite recall, but I think it was Dromana Estate.)

We were getting REALLY hungry at this stage, so we decided to pop in to a bakery and grabbed some pies. There was a duck pie on the menu so Nate settled on that, I grabbed a beef and burgundy and Hubs ordered a steak pie. Mine was really quite delicious and Hubs was raving about his. Nathan was a little disappointed though. As we were almost all finished, I had a bite of Hubs' and told him that he got Nate's pie as there was no WAY that was steak. Hee hee. Poor Nate didn't get his duck after all.

We went to a couple more after this and ended at Darling Park Winery which was really sweet. It was getting late and we had to get back to Hickinbotham for the pinot so we started off home. We arrived around 6:30pm and realised how bad the previous night's storm actually was. There was debris EVERYwhere. I'm kinda glad we weren't around, but also a little disappointed we missed the action! Thankfull though, our roof didn't leak, which it often does.

We headed out to watch Hurt Locker (it was the night of the Academy Awards and we had no idea of it's success. We thought it was totally awesome) and then headed to Papa Gino's (of course) for dinner and the Hickinbotham Pinot.

The verdict? One of the BEST wines I've ever had in my life. Seriously amazing. It actually didn't taste much like a Pinot to me, but the flavours and smells hit me in the face like a Samboy Chip. I just couldn't get enough (although I only had 1 glass) and really wish we'd bought a bottle! Oh well.

It capped off a great weekend of wine-tasting and shennanigans! Next stop? Wangaratta Wine and Jazz festival! Wanna come?

Tassie time!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hubs and I are flying to Tassie tonight (woo hoo!) til Tuesday morning and I'm SO excited. I told Hubs that we cannot live in Melbourne for 2 years and not visit Tasmania! We're not, however, so excited by the weather down there. This week in Melbourne has been atypically amazing! Like today, for instance, we had an overnight low of 18 and it's currently 28 degrees. Oh yes. A-mazing! On Sunday up here, there will be a cool change to 13-19 for the day. But in Tassie? 9-16 degrees. Yes. 16 degrees MAX!! Ha ha. Oh well. To be expected I suppose!

Regardless, we're very excited to be going. I picked up some $49 flights (each, each way) and booked us in to a quaint little B&B in Hobart for 2 nights, then we head up the coast to Swansea to stay with family, then back for 1 more night at the B&B and home in time to be a little late to work on Tuesday. :-)

If you have any suggestions of things we must see, leave me a comment and we'll try and fit it in! 2 hours of work to go!

Another winery tour

Our friend Nate came down a few weeks ago (okay, over a month ago!) and we hired a car and set off for the Mornington Peninsula wineries! We had arranged to stay with Hubs' Dad down at Sorrento Saturday night, and we'd been recommended quite a few wineries to visit! The first one we came across was Hickinbotham of Dromana. Silly name, good wine. I was designate driver (as usual!) so I didn't really try the wines here.

Nate really liked the Pinot Noir, but he knew he was in Pinot territory, so he didn't want to buy the first one he tried, so we moved on, empty handed. We then popped in to Dromana Valley Wines cos, you know, it was there, and we were there, but the wines weren't so great, BUT we bought an $8 bottle of Pinot. We'll see how that goes (haven't tried it yet!)

The next winery was recommended to us - Ten Minutes by Tractor. We should have known what sort of place this would be (fancy-pants) going by the person who recommended it to us (fancy-pants). We had to pay for tastings ($5 per person, taken off the total if you make a purchase) which I'm not a huge fan of, but having said that, they really did provide a great service - were very informative and helpful. Again, I just had a little sip of Hubs' tastings. These wines were gooooood.

Look how professional they are with their tastings!

We didn't buy anything from here, but I think Nate may have. The wines were very nice but also quite pricey, so we just enjoyed the tasting. 

Now I THINK the next place we stumbled upon was Mantons Creek Vineyard, and it was definitely one of our favourites! The place itself was absolutely gorgeous!

The service was personal and helpful and the wine? Oh my gosh. The Tempranillo was incredible. We were enjoying the tasting so much, and the gentleman who was serving us just mentioned off-hand that their duck, pear and rocket pizza goes very well with that wine. We were hungry, we loved the place so we thought "why not?" And he was right. Oh so very right.

I LOVE when they match the food with the wine and this partnership was a success. We sat ourselves down on the veranda and watched a storm roll in. So I mentioned the Tempranillo. Now let me tell you about the Gewurztraminer. I can't recall if I'd ever had that wine before, but Nate was super excited when he saw it on the tasting list. He's been looking for a good Gewurzt for a long time. And he found it here. It is such a beautiful, smooth white wine - I was in love. We bought a couple of those and Nathan got himself a half-case and will no doubt be ordering more! We were sad to leave this winery, but ecstatic that we'd accidentally found it in the first place!

From here, it went downhill for a little bit. We headed to Red Hill Estate and they weren't tasting they're own wines that day - they had a "hurry hurry hurry all stock must go prices SLASHED for this weekend only!!" day. It had started raining by this stage, and as we were given our own little plastic shot glasses to help ourselves, and a list of 50 different wines, we knew we were in dodgy territory.

The faces the boys were pulling were hilarious! They certainly didn't hold back! There were people everywhere, and we felt like we were in a cattle shed - noisy, a bit smelly, and chaotic! We didn't stay long. It was now pouring with rain and our next stop was the Red Hill Brewery which my brother had told us to check out. Unfortunately by this stage, every man and his dog had tried to find somewhere to take cover, so we couldn't even do a tasting. We could, however, buy a pot, so Hubs chose a stout which was really tasty!

And Nate got all fancy with the camera!

After this, we came across Montalto Vineyard and that was actually quite nice. They had basil-infused olive oil which was SO delicious (and which I'm SO going to try and make!) and the wines were lovely too.

The last winery for the day was Tucks, and we certainly ended with a goodie! I think I bought a Shiraz Rose from here that I'm looking forward to cracking open for a special occasion. Here we are at Tucks:
We met some people here who were, you guessed it, down from Brisbane for the weekend! Crazy right? AND they lived in the AUCHENFLOWER/TOOWONG area! Of course we played "who do you know" and came up with some common acquaintances. Small small world.

After this, we headed down to Sorrento for a night of roast lamb, excellent wine, great company, and a good night sleep. Ready for the next day's adventures! To be continued....

Things I believed when I was a kid

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm a fairly gullible person, and my dearest darling father and dearest darling brother used to take advantage of that. Here are some of the more memorable things they convinced me of:

  • If you're sleeping on the beach in a swag on Tryon Island, make sure you keep your mouth closed, otherwise turtles might mistake your mouth for a hole that they can lay their eggs in. 
I spent the whole night with a pillow over my head and hardly got any sleep at all. I was 9 years old! (And not very bright, clearly!)

  • At KFC, they chop the heads off the chickens in the kitchen.  
My brother told me he saw a chicken with it's head cut off running around the kitchen and I totally believed him and started telling other people that. It wasn't until they looked at my strangely that I knew I'd been had.

  • If you stand still in the back yard while you're hanging out your washing, a big lizard might mistake you for a tree and try and run up your leg.
I used to make sure no one was home and I'd hang out the washing while marching on the spot. I'm not sure when I realised that my Dad was joking.

  • There are birds that have a very distinctive call, and it sounds like they're saying "storm" with an up/down/up inflection. Dad convinced me that it was called a "storm bird" and that it was telling us when a storm was coming
I'm still not so sure about this one to be honest, as there often is a storm on the way when I hear them call out. I tell people the same story now :-)

So there you have it. There's a few examples of how my brother and father got their kicks out of messing with my head. I'd like to say I'm a bit more cluey now, but we all know that's not the case. Or maybe I just pretend to be this gullible, just to make them happy :-)

S Flat smells like my childhood

Friday, April 16, 2010

Whenever I walk into S Flat here at College, I'm teleported back to when I was 5-years-old. I think it's the combination of smells from cleaning products. It's so comforting and lovely actually. It reminds me of honey sandwiches and nap time in the middle of the day. And sandpits. Ooooh and the Nativity play.

All good things. In fact, I think I need to pay S Flat a visit right now! You know, just because...

Dad joke

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We all know one. And we all love them! One of my Dad's favourites:

Q: What animals make the best wine?

A: Grey-apes!  ba-ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

This is going to be a fun series...

The final 3

So since I blogged about choosing my own adventure, some new options have been introduced! And I've narrowed it down to these 3. I'm going to make my decision very very soon... Maybe...

Abseilling Forward Run - this sounds CRAZY fun and a little terrifying!!
Day Spa Pampering - a little more indulgent and I am in great need of a massage
Pasta making equipment - now this is a gift that will keep on giving!

Now I REALLY don't know which one to choose, but it will definitely be one of these 3 as they are all so very appealing. Are these any more enticing than the last ones??

Bale & The Frog

Monday, April 12, 2010

Do NOT judge me for reading "CelebrityFix", just enjoy the show...

A numbers game - Melbourne

Friday, April 9, 2010

6 - the number of times I've gotten caught in the rain without an umbrella
4 - the number of times I've been asked by tram inspectors for my ticket
0 - the number of times I've been busted without a ticket (cos I'm a good little girl)
3 - the number of $15 hair cuts I've had at Pivot Point hairdressing school
3 - the number of $15 hair cuts I've LOVED
3 - the number of pairs of Mary Janes I've bought down here
2 - the number of times I've almost been hit by a tram (I felt it was "almost" but I'm sure it wasn't that close)
7 - the number of parmas I've had (not all at once)
12 - (at least) the number of marinara pizzas Hubs and I have consumed at Papa Gino's
6 - the number of times we've vowed we'll try somewhere new to eat, and ended up at Papa Gino's
10+ - the number of places I've been to that I'll never be able to find again, in the maze of alleyways that is the Melbourne CBD
20+ - the number of times I've complained about the weather since moving here
15 - the number of grapes I've eaten while writing this post :-)

And it's back to the grind...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We're back into the swing of things after a great little break down at Sorrento over Easter. We spent our days swimming in the bay (well, I read my book on the beach - the rest of them were crazy enough to go swimming), catching up with family and friends, going for short walks (too lazy to do long walks) and Hubs worked on a contraption to assist him with taking panorama photos. I'll let him tell you about that some time.

All in all, a very relaxing time, though I don't feel as invigorated as I did when we returned last year. It's been a while since I've been this busy, and although I LIKE being busy (especially with social engagements), I'm not used to it anymore, so it's taking me a while to get back into my groove.

I hope everyone else had a super Easter and I'll be filling you in on lots of interesting things very soon. As soon as they happen to me...

Hot Cross Scones

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I LOVE hot cross buns, and I've been so distracted by goodness-knows-what lately that I'd forgotten to buy some for Easter! So on Tuesday night at dinner when we were discussing these delectable delicacies, I decided I was too lazy to walk down to Woolies to buy some, (and too stingey), but I wasn't too lazy to try and bake some! So when I got home, I looked for a recipe on line and they had yeast in them. No yeast in the cupboard. So I googled "yeast free hot cross bun recipe" and it came up with this one. Bingo!

Now I think I'm pretty handy in the kitchen, but really, I should stick to recipes at least when it's the first time. I MAINLY stuck to this recipe, but the end result was not what I expected. I mixed all the ingredients like it told me to: (pardon the yellow tinge to the photos - no idea how to use Hubs' camera...)

And then did some kneading:

Then cutting out with my cookie cutter that I've never used before!

Then I prepared my flour and water mixture for the crosses

Then they were ready to put in the oven! I was pretty excited by this stage!

Hmmmm.... these don't look like hot cross buns. I wonder how they taste?

Very sconny indeed. Oh well. I tried. And I'll take them down to Sorrento to share them around. They are quite lovely as scones I must say! Thankfully we had HCBs for morning tea at work the next day, so I didn't miss out! And maybe Hubs' Dad will have some for us in Sorrento! :-) 3.5 hours to go before I'm on holidays! (yes, again...)



So as you may know, Hubs and I are moving to Wangaratta in July, and we headed up last weekend to have a look around the town and get a feel for the place. And thankfully and fortunately, we love it! It has a lovely feel to it and I can really see us being happy there. We also did a bit of house hunting, as we are keen to buy there instead of renting. Why, you ask? Well, the rental prices per week are comparable to mortgage repayments on a small-ish loan. There are some houses in Wangaratta under the $200,000 mark, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to get into this "market" that I hear grown-ups talking about.

Plus, it'd be REALLY cool to have a place of our own.

Our visit gave us more of an idea of the type of house we are looking for, the areas of Wangaratta we're interested in living in, and an idea of how we'd get around. So we're currently looking at a few different options, doing the sums, and will hopefully come up with something in the next month or 2. It's all very grown up and exciting!

Oh, and we're looking at 3 bedroom homes so we can have house guests! Ever wanted to visit Wang?