Monday 25 November 2013

to talk about good times..

I was recently asked about the last time I felt truly excited about something.

Instantly thoughts of my overseas travels came to mind. I have been lucky to have been overseas on several occasions and always look forward to the next trip.

I had gone to New Zealand in High School as part of a Netball sports trip but it took some 10 years before I ventured overseas again. I had always thought of travelling overseas but something always stopped me and if truth be known, I was probably just chicken. So, in 2005 when a friend of mine from Canada invited me to her wedding, it was the kick up the butt I needed to make the trip - no excuses now! I took 6 months leave from work, got myself a work visa and off I went!
Katie and I met when she did a Uni Exchange Year in Australia and came to Mt Isa on a teaching practicum and worked in my classroom.
After the wedding I went on to explore Canada on my own for a few weeks before getting some work at a diner in Banff.
Joe Btfsplk's Diner in the main street of Banff.... no longer there apparently :(

Some happy snaps...
Canada is such an amazing country and I loved every minute - except when I had to leave!
That year I also spent a few weeks discovering the UK. As it was my first time overseas and I was travelling solo, I stuck to English speaking countries!.

I didn't have a digital camera back in those days so my digital pics are limited! Loved the UK but got a glimpse as to why they are so miserable all the time....They never see the sun!

Sadly it took some time before I travelled again, I had settled back in Toowoomba, bought a house so money was often tight. It was only that I had enough frequent flyer points from my previous overseas trip that earnt me a free flight to NZ. So, in 2009 I did my first (and last) Contiki tour. This time travelling with some close friends of mine..

2011 was a big travel year for me! I had been working out west, living in teacher accommodation and working a job that had extra financial benefits due to the amount of time I spent away from home. In January I spent about a week in Vanuatu! Such a beautiful beautiful country, and so cheap to get there! Seriously, I think a week in Vanuatu is cheaper than a week at the Gold Coast! Vanuatu has been twice voted the happiest people in the world! As a tourist sometimes it's easy to forget that it's a third world country. The resorts and tourist attractions are so well maintained and the people seriously are SO NICE! My friend who was meant to come with me was sadly caught up in the massive floods that were engulfing so much of QLD at the time and I look back now and think that I was even lucky to make it to the airport and out of the country. Luckily I was also able to find another friend to take her place, as I'm not sure it would be somewhere I would want to travel on my own.
Was SUCH a hard time - Sunset Bungalows (Left) was where we stayed... I think you can see why! On the Right was the Day Spa where I spent the morning being pampered by a gorgeous little local lady who I swore was reading my mind!

The children performed traditional dances for us! They were so cute I wanted to bring one home! On the right is a local man who cooked us a traditional meal.
Later in 2011 I took some long service leave and travelled to the UAE and then onto Europe. A close friend of mine teaching in Abu Dhabi prompted me to venture overseas again. It also gave me an excuse to travel to a country I probably would not have travelled to solo!
So much money in this country it's ridiculous!!! Such beauty!
After a few days there I headed off to England solo for a few days, caught up with a few friends and then on a tour around Italy, Switzerland and France!

Some of the main highlights of the trip was spending my 32nd birthday at Wimbledon! Love tennis and during the rain delay of 3 hours got to see many of my favourite players! Nice was one of my all time favourite spots, possibly due to the cocktails on the private beach with our own personal waiter and the remnants at Pompeii were just crazy! Was determined to drink Champagne in France and do something reckless and out of character - parasailing over the Swiss Alps seemed to be appropriate! We were in Monaco the day Prince Albert of Monaco almost didn't get married to Charlene but saw them driving along the streets on their way to the Casino for the reception.

Now since that time overseas holidays have again come to a halt. This January I had hoped to travel to Vietnam but sadly that will only happen if the house sells but after 3 weeks on the market and not even a sniff of a sale, it's not looking likely!

A definite on the bucket list after Vietnam is the USA! Just a shame it's soooo far away! One day.....

Linking up with Kirsty at My Home Truths this week for I Must Confess... this week's prompt was to talk about time... seems appropriate that I link up given the title of my blog!

Friday 22 November 2013

for another edition of things I know..

It's been a while since I did a things I know post so here goes.....

Here's what I know lately....

*I have reignited my passion for reading - since I got my iphone and ipad a few years ago I had pretty much totally given up reading before bed each night. I would traipse to bed with iphone and ipad in hand and would spend the next hour or so scrolling through FB, Twitter, playing games etc etc and then be too tired to read anything. Before long the pile of unread books gracing my bedside table grew more and more dust and were left unread. A few weeks ago I decided that I was a bit over FB and all the wasted hours spent scrolling through mind numbing posts, pics and status updates, so now I leave my phone and ipad downstairs, head to bed with a trusty old alarm clock (you may remember them, in case you are unsure, mine is similar to the one shown below.), curl up and enjoy a few chapters of a good ol' fashioned book! I am actually reading a book at the moment that I have read previously. I got the sequel to the book and realised I didn't really remember what happened in the first book so decided to re-read it. Something I have never done before, I am usually a 'read a book once and throw it on the shelf' type of person, but I got to say, I am actually enjoying it and had forgotten a lot of the storyline.

Image Source

 *I cannot walk past Chicos in the supermarket if they are on sale! Today they were on sale and the packet is nearly all gone :(

*That with the latest artists annoucement for CMC Rocks the Hunter next year I really really really want to go! 

*I am still patiently waiting to hear about my job for next year. I have been told that 'in pencil' I am remaining where I am, but with the Government these days, 'in pencil' doesn't sit so well with me!

* I have 10 work days left of the year!! But that all depends on when my twin nephews decide to grace the world with their presence! Any day now boys...

*I am still patiently waiting for someone to buy my house! I have never experienced the house selling side of things and whilst I want the best possible price I can get for it, I also want it gone!

*I thought Aroha at Colours of Sunset was so brave for doing Ocsober and thought I could never do that, but here we are 22 days into November and I have not had a drink! (must do something about that!)

*I have not really started Christmas shopping yet. This is unusual for me as I am usually super organised and start in June when the end of financial year sales are on...this year there just seems to be too much going on and I know Christmas will sneak up and bite me in the butt and I'll be one of those mad shoppers out at 10:30pm on that night when they have 24 hour shopping still trying to think of things to buy!

*that hearing my godson say "Hello Maunty Zita" on the phone is guaranteed to bring a smile to my face every time!!! 

*that I seem to have lost who is hosting the Things I Know linkup!? If any one can enlighten me, that'd be great!

*that I'm linking up with With Some Grace for FYBF!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

for new nails..

This fortnight's nails. Decided to go for something a little different!

Linking up with other Wordless Wednesdayers!

Twinkle In The Eye                          

Monday 18 November 2013

to make another confession

This week's prompt over at My Home Truths...

how do you really feel about yourself? How do you see yourself right now?

now there's a thought provoking prompt and a little too close to home right now for me to make too much of a confession!

and then I saw this on Facebook....

So between both of those, it got me thinking about what I did want to 'be when I grew up', and I must confess, all I did want to be was a wife and a mother. At each point throughout my life when that did not happen I fluffed my way through one decision after another that has left me where I am today. I have so much to be proud of in my life and for all of that I am thankful, and thankful to those that have supported me along the way... My life not being what I anticipated it to be now, at 34, is not something I need or should dwell on, especially on my blog (don't want to bore you all senseless!) but I guess I am not the person I thought I would be by now.

At work our year 12's have just left, I attended the valedictory ceremony on Friday which was such a special and emotional event for them. I have not known them long, or know them very well, but I did find myself tearing up. I am one of those suckers who can't watch someone else cry without crying myself.

Over the past few weeks I did have a few of them through my office for career and post schooling advice and did have to laugh (on the inside of course, not to their faces!) at the number of them that wanted "to be rich and travel the world"...if it were only that easy!!! There were so many of them that thought they would take a GAP year and travel. I really really do hope that it works out for them, and it's good to have those dreams but for most of them the naivety of them that thinks it's just so easy kind of cracks me up, but also concerns me somewhat.

If there is anyone out there who's life has turned out exactly like they planned or exactly how they thought it would, then I envy you. I think we all go through moments of complete and utter happiness and moments where we wish and hope that things were different. But we have what we have and we do what we do and life goes on....

Wednesday 6 November 2013

for some pampering.

My little treat to myself is getting my nails done! This time it's pink all ready to attend a Pretty in Pink party this weekend!

Linking up with Twinkle in the Eye and My Little Drummer Boy for Wordless Wednesday! Check 'em out!

Tuesday 5 November 2013

for a night out

Last Thursday night my sister and I headed out to see Anh Do. He is currently touring Australia with his Happiest Refugee Show.

As it was a Thursday night and we were both so exhausted from work and it didn't start til 8pm, we joked that he better be funny or we'd fall asleep!

There was no way we could have, we laughed, we cried, we gasp, we covered our eyes. Saying it was a great show is an understatement. A lot of the show was real life stories, accompanied by photos and videos from work he has done.

When it comes to all things political, I'll be the person sitting on the fence. I don't like to get involved and am not passionate about one political party over another. I don't usually get involved in conversations around political matters or policy so writing about it on my blog is not really something I thought I would do (unless of course it effects me personally).

Having said all that you can't help but think about Boat People as you sit and listen to Anh speak. He is/was a Boat Person. When you hear the stories on the news about another boat load of people on its way it is easy to remain a bit detached as you don't know them. I find people are quick to judge, comment and criticise the people heading our way. So many people seem to have the opinion that we should just turn them back, send them home...

But when one of them is standing right in front of you telling their story, you can't help but be touched and get a lump in your throat. He cried several times during the show. Especially as he tells of being attacked by Thai Pirates, his baby brothers life almost taken, and near dying of starvation and dehydration before they were eventually rescued, I would challenge anyone to listen to Anh's story and not be affected by it and question your beliefs about boat people. The desperation and horrific nature of the lives of these people that lead them to getting on a rickertty old boat in the hope of making it across the seas is something I we could never possible imagine.

I'm not sure what the answer is or how to possibly help these people but treating them like criminals, I believe, is certainly not the answer.

Image Source

Image Source

The show, as I said was full of ups and days, laughter and tears and I walked away feeling glad that I had made the effort to go. Anh speaks with such passion, love and his story is quite inspirational and of course he has the humour twist. One thing that has remained with me is some advice his father gave to him....

'There are 2 times in and too late.'

Usually followed by "Give it a crack son, what have you got to lose"... definitely some words of wisdom that have hit home for me. If you do get the opportunity to read his book or see the show, please do.
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT!

Monday 4 November 2013

to confess my hatred of insurance companies

Am confessing off topic this week over at My Home Truths... Kirsty had asked us to confess what makes us happy but at the moment, I'm just not feeling the love!

So this week's confession...... I HATE INSURANCE COMPANIES!!! (yep, am lumping them all in together!!)

Mention the word insurance company to just about anyone and they are bound to have a story of hatred and disappointment.

For me, insurance is one of those necessary evils! Can't be without it, hardly ever use it and when you need it, they are beyond frustrating and make it damn near impossible for you to get any of YOUR money! Each year we pay 100's, no 1000's of dollars to these companies in case something goes wrong!!!

So here is my story....

A few weeks back (about the 10th of September to be more exact) I had to evict the tenants from my rental property. After almost 4 years of them getting behind in rent I had had a gutfull. My real estate agent had been less than helpful and I had had thoughts of selling so I thought now was my chance. I had them evicted. A few days after they left I went to inspect the property..... Words cannot describe how I felt walking through what was once MY home...

I had bought the house about 7 years ago with money I had saved but also money my parents had given me from my sisters life insurance policy after she passed away. I still remember the first time I looked at the didn't tick many of my boxes that I had been looking for but for some reason that didn't matter, there was something that drew me to the house and I was determined to make it mine. I only moved out and let it become a rental when I left town for a new job 4 hours away..

Standing in the house now I felt all sorts of emotions...sick...angry...disappointed...disgusted...

Broken light

Stove that used to have a glass cover that acted as the splash back

Ripped curtains

Holes behind every door obviously from the door handles, even though there are door stoppers, that they have tried to patch up themselves

Mould and water damage

Broken shower head

Cupboard door broken off it's hinges

Used to be a towel rail attached to that

Mould everywhere, and later I discovered that the sink was clogged - even the plumber said it was gross! 

Bath tub..

Marks, drawing and holes all over the walls

Have no idea what they have done here but it used to be a phone plug.

Needless to say the Real Estate and I have had stern words about how the property was left to get in such a state.

I was covered with Landlords Insurance for malicious damage and loss of rent. Now, with an excess of $1000 and not being able to class this damage as 'malicious' I have been left to foot the bill on all the repairs. Leaving just my claim of loss of rent. When they were evicted the tenants were about 2 weeks behind in rent, it has taken me a number of weeks to repair all the damage and get the house back to a rentable or sellable state. It needed to be fully repainted internally and this was only finished on Thursday.

In this time I have spent a ridiculous amount of time on the phone to the Insurance Company, who advertise that they are available 24/7, and each time I speak to them I get told something different. Several times I have been told that I have to call back during business hours to speak to a supervisor! Here's a tip....


So finally last Monday I left work early and got to call during business hours and speak to a supervisor who informed me that they were considering not approving my claim as I had not been actively seeking a new tenant! ummmm....How could I when the house was SO disgusting and the WHOLE interior needed to be repainted!!! It wasn't fit to be rented or sold! I think hope he got the picture, he apologised for taking so long in getting back to me (ummm I rang you idiot!) and explained that there were only 2 people who could handle my type of claim and he had been on holidays....WTF???? Are you serious!?

So he now told me he would have to take the matter to his supervisor for approval and that he would call me back within 24 hours..... THAT WAS 144 HOURS AGO!!!!

So here's how I figure the time I have had my insurance with them I have paid them somewhere around the $4000 mark..... I am out of pocket somewhere around the $5000 mark (not to mention the time it has taken to do all the work, with the help of some AMAZING friends and their husbands!, the phonecalls, driving all over town to buy stuff etc etc) and they are disputing my claim which is for (maximum) around $2500.... is it really too much to ask?? I guess I will have to wait and see....if he ever calls me back!

Do you have a confession to make? An insurance success story? or have your experiences been similar to mine?