Passions (no, not the tv show)

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What are you passionate about?

Things I am currently passionate about… (but probably shouldn’t be?!):

Finding marked down kids smurf t-shirts in Big W. I skip around all day when I find them and get disproportionate amounts of satisfaction from it.
Friend: “Hey you are happy, did you win Lotto?”.
Me: “No way, better! I just saved $3 off a smurf shirt”.
Checking my Garmin gps obsessively when I am jogging.
Check 5:30 pace, [5 seconds pass]
Check 5:30 pace, [2 seconds pass]
Check 5:30 pace, [3 seconds passes]
Oh my god I had better check my pace time again!
Checking the Sass and Bide website for new season pieces even though I cannot afford any of it. That black and white jacket – drool!
Combusting with internalised rage at people who walk 3 across on the footpaths that I like to jog on.
Teaching Miss 2 how to curtsey properly at the end of each dance. The same goes for teaching her how to end a gymnastics routine properly (note I have never done gymnastics to really know, so am freestyling on this one).
Talking in different accents every time I phone my friend E (note I have never been outside Aus and NZ to really know a good accent, so once again freestyling on these).
Spending the day talking in quotes from the movie Fired Up. I know how annoying this must be for everyone else but it is just so damn enjoyable. One day I hope to Chair a whole work meeting talking just in FU. Panthers Out.
Trawling through the sleepmonsters adventure racing website looking for the ‘perfect’ adventure race for hubby and I to debut together as a team. And by ‘perfect race’ I mean one that we don’t want to get divorced and chase after each other with axes by the 5th hour kind of race.
Winning back my imaginary lost $900 to hubby that I owe him. We bet on random stupid things every week. Really important things like how many blades a fan has, or if the voice of Doc in Cars is the same as the voice of the Clown in Toy Story. Wager is always $100 and lately I am losing big time.
Dreaming up new professions I could do where a driver/chauffeur would be provided in said work role.
Planning a trip to New York to run the New York Marathon each year when lottery entry opens, when:
(a) I cannot yet run the time required for automatic entry;
(b) never win anything so really have no chance of winning the 3% lottery entry for internationals. I have even picked hotels and activities for each day and even what I will wear in the marathon. Sad hey, Please still be my friend despite this; and
(c) can’t really afford it anyway.
Planning hinterland road rides with my friends K and L. And most importantly which cafe we will ride by along the way for coffee stops.
Planning the next kids room redecoration to accommodate a toddler boy and girl. Their nursery was a sweet-as animal theme, but has slowly been pulled apart by them and by me as I remove all the pieces one by one to prevent the night-time parties in there (yes at the moment it is just beds and a locked wardrobe, no toys or anything, call DOCS). They are a bit old now for the theme and wall stickers etc so heavy into planning the next one. How does one best combine interest in tractors, cars, ballerinas, purple anything, dinosaurs, rainbows and bikes into the one room without it looking like a Toy World vomit? I think I need to outsource this one to Kirsty, my fab designer friend.
Literally naming all the kids toys. They don’t have any dolls or toys named Bruce, Chloe, Max or Lola. Instead they have cat, dog, other dog, baby, big baby, bad hair baby, elephant, little elephant, pink bunny and blue bunny.
Taking my twins to a certain street with a hotel that has a certain waterfall where I live, telling them we are at Dream World, and letting them frolic about while I suck back a hot coffee.

Christmas Gift Ideas To Get You In The Holiday Season Mood

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As the Christmas holiday season ascends on us very rapidly, it is time once again to turn our mind to buying presents for family and friends. As always coming up with Christmas gift ideas for your dear ones can be a bit tiring and time-consuming. But there is no need to despair because help is at hand.

When looking for Christmas gift ideas, one thing you need to decide is how you are going to go about doing your shopping. Are you going to buy on the Internet or would you prefer to browse around the shops, looking at the decorations and soaking up the festive atmosphere? One you get that sorted then you can get down to the real business of sorting out the gift ideas.

One of the most popular Christmas gift ideas nowadays is to get a gift basket. There is a variety of baskets to choose from. You can get gift baskets for a baby in the family to grandparents. The best thing about these baskets is that they can be very easily found and ordered online.

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If you have a bit of time on your hands and are good at making things then maybe you should consider homemade Christmas gifts. These gift ideas give more satisfaction and are by far more special and appreciated by all who receive them because they will realize the time and effort that you have taken to create the special gift.

One more, very popular Christmas gift ideas are experience gifts. They may include something that the recipient has wanted to do for a long time, such as going up in a hot air balloon or driving a race car. Adventure packs are popular with people wanting a challenge. There is even one for going down in a cage to observe sharks! For the less adventurous, a day at a health spa would probably be more welcome.

If you are stuck for a good gift idea, then you can not go wrong with a gift certificate. These can make the perfect last-minute gift for those people that you do not know too well and therefore are not sure about their preferences.

Well, I hope that some of these ideas will kick-start your holiday shopping. Whatever gift you decide to get for your dear ones, I hope that they will enjoy and appreciate it and have a happy and harmonious holiday season.

How to Choose the Best Dehumidifier for a Basement

Looking for the best dehumidifier for a basement needs? Most people use the basement as their storage space and ensure that unused stuff remains undamaged. However, when not properly maintained, a basement could cause more harm than good. This is why most people choose to use a dehumidifier to lower the moisture level in their basement. Moisture or the presence of water vapors could seriously damage items regardless of what type of material they are made of.

When choosing the best dehumidifier for basement, it is essential to consider the size of the basement and the type of moisture problem. There are small, medium and large models capable of carrying as much as 75 pints of moisture. Hence, large basements would necessitate a bigger dehumidifier especially if the area is prone to wetness. Even small basements may need medium sized units if a leak is present and leaves the carpet damp. Regular moisture levels in the basement should be easily accommodated by a small unit.

Maintenance refers to the frequency of emptying the dehumidifier to make room for moisture collections. The best basement dehumidifier would usually have a hose connection so that manually emptying the unit would no longer be necessary. This means that the collected moisture would exit through the hose and conveniently out of the house. Of course, if this isn’t possible, larger units would do as it would take longer for them to fill out.
basement dehumidifier

A dehumidifier can be very noisy when being used. Hence, when choosing the best dehumidifier for a basement, it would be nice to find out the level of noise the unit would make. This is negligible if the basement is soundproof or far from the living area. However, if this is not the case, then a quieter unit would be necessary.

Related: How to Install a Basement Dehumidifier

The best dehumidifier for basement would be the one that doesn’t burn as much electricity as most units. The good news is that some dehumidifiers today are energy efficient so owners wouldn’t have to worry about spending too much on power. Normally, the size of the unit should also play a part in its energy consumption. Bigger units burn more electricity, making it important to choose a size that is just right for a basement.

Obviously, the best basement dehumidifiers would be the ones that are expensive. However, this isn’t always the case as some of the best basement dehumidifiers are reasonably priced. The trick is to settle on a budget and start searching from there. Some brands manufacture excellent units without charging too much for it so try searching for them online.

A Christmas gift for her

For being a writer, I too often forget to write things down. I definitely should have been keeping a Christmas gifts for her list. I did not and Christmas crept up quickly last year. I had forgotten to take note of things she pointed out at the mall or during commercials.

So, by early December, I was without a single clue on what I would get her. I waited a little longer hoping it would come to me as an ‘Ah-ha!’ moment, but it did not.
I began my late-stage panic-mode around December 13th and tried hinting to her to let me know what she wanted for Christmas. Of course, she equivocated, said she didn’t mind, or would just ignore me. I pointed out jewelry, concerts and sporting events she might be interested in, books, clothes, a new bike, but nothing seemed to change her aloof attitude.

christmas gift idea

I finally decided I couldn’t ask her anymore because I wasn’t going to find out that way. So when I finally sat down to think about it, I went to my talents.
I began writing. I wrote everything down I thought she might like, then I wrote down everything I thought she would dislike. I wrote down her her favorite color, food, movie, and her least favorite insect, dirty word, and memory. I kept writing and writing, until I knew what I was finally getting her.

I began editing what I wrote, cutting here and embellishing there. I removed inaccuracies and irrelevancies, then replaced them with concrete and vivid language. I wrote about our troubles and our bonds. I broke the lines in segments where the words evoked the most emotion. When I finished it all, I had written the longest, most beautiful poem I had ever written.

What I eventually gave her for Christmas, was tears, laughs, and tear-filled kisses.

You might be interested: Ideas for exchanging Christmas gift

Check out this video for some interesting Christmas gift ideas:

Owning the best espresso maker within my budget

Live within your means! This has been one of my principles for like forever. Each time I am purchasing an appliance or anything else for that matter, this policy applies. You might as well want to try it out and see how it takes you – then you can thank me later. Speaking of shopping, are you planning to invest in best espresso maker 2016, yet feel like your finances are a big let down? You must agree with me that nothing is impossible in this world, and this includes owning a great espresso maker that is within your budget.

Here, I let you in on three espresso makers 2016 that costs less than $100. Brace yourself up for as much espresso. You needn’t have to wait until you get to the office to enjoy your favorite drink.

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Delonghi Pump Espresso Machine $95 – If you label this as the best espresso maker 2016 under $100, it couldn’t be far from the truth. It is designed to make just the right brew. A semi-automatic cappuccino and espresso maker, this machine provides the precision needed in espressos. Consistency is guaranteed, thanks to the independent thermostats that permit separate regulation of water and steam pressure. The water reservoir is sufficiently spacious, allowing you to make up to 10 shots before a refill is needed.

Mr. Coffee steam espresso machine $30 – Let not the price tag of this machine make you doubt its incredible potential. It is an ideal choice for someone who is in search of a machine that offers straightforward performance without digging deep into his or her pocket. If noisy machines aren’t your thing, you will be glad to experience unmatchable quietness with this one.

Original Bialetti Moka Express $18 – People, who have used this machine, love it for its beautiful design, value for money, as well as simplicity. Besides, who wants to spend a whole two weeks trying to get acquainted with a coffee maker? It represents not only an Italian design but also the culture. It comes in a range of sizes with a patented safety valve. It is incredibly easy to clean and disassemble. Of course, I needn’t remind you that it is incredibly pocket-friendly.

I hope you won’t have to spend yet another day or week without a coffee machine sitting in your kitchen.

The real milestones

Baby milestones… here is what I think of them… BLEUGHHH.

I am a data girl by profession, so usually get disproportionately excited about data and stats and tracking and trends. So one would think tracking baby milestones would be something I would be into. But no, I think they suck. I think they are just another thing that can head feck even the most cruisy of new mamas.

One of the best things having twins has taught me is that babies and toddlers are all different and do things in their own time. My two kids were born within 3 minutes, and have been raised exactly the same (I do everything for them at the same time, even changing nappies), and they are chalk and cheese. One of my kids races milestones, and the other sits back and waits and waits and waits and then waits some more. Just when I get stressed out and book beb in for a checkup ’BAM’, beb cartwheels across the lawn in front of me while playing the recorder and signing the words to a Wilson Philips song. Well not quite, but you get the picture. I think when they do things it is more about their personalities rather than anything I could do to ensure they dance on cue to a milestone printed in some shiz raising toddlers book. And really, if they get too behind, I know a completely random stranger standing behind me in the check out at Coles will be vocal and let me know.

Instead, here are the real milestones for you to look forward to – as compiled by Sit Down Mummy:

The day you first hear the saying ’double trouble’ and actually laugh.
The day you hear ‘double trouble’ for the 5,239,349,278th time and are so over fake laughing in response that you punch someone.
The day your baby does a mack so big you have to wash beb’s hair.
The day you go shopping with your dad and your boob leaks through your tshirt and onto the floor in the line up at Subway. Good times.
The day when beb can put their own dummy back in their mouth.
The day when beb stops the milk voms and you can chuck all your bibs in the bin.
The day you discover ‘pouches’ of yoghurt.
The day someone tells you that ‘pouches’ slows down future hand/mouth/crumping coordination techniques, so you stop using them.
The day you think, feck it, they are just so damn handy and start using the yoghurt pouches again (usually 1 hour after prior milestone).
The day when you leave your double pram in the car and walk into the shops with the kids.
The day you buy your first Wiggles DVD. Closely followed by the day you throw your first Wiggles DVD in the bin (for some this is known to occur on the same day).
The day when you head out sans HUGE nappy bag with just 2 nappies chucked in a normal sized handbag. You wild thing you.
The day you get your makeup done by a 2 year old, and head out to the Post Office forgetting to wipe it off.
The day you have the time to sit down and start reading fiction again.
The day you have to say “Please don’t let your sister give you any medicine. Only let mummy give you medicine ok”.
Any others to add?
What else do we have to look forward to?

The Best Brands of Air Mattresses for You

Air mattresses are now very popular, as more people have realized the comfort and convenience that comes with them. Whether you are camping or you need additional accommodation for visitors or even as an everyday bed, this is the best alternative. A good air mattress should be easy to use and durable. Don’t miss out on the best air mattress reviews of 2016.

Intex Pillow Twin Bed

This is among the best Intex air mattresses. It comes with a built in electric pump. Within 3 minutes, the pump the air bed is inflated. The pump is also used to deflate it also. Its features include 20.8 gauge, 15-gauge vinyl beams, water flocked top and 16-gauge sides and bottom. If the mattress feels too firm or soft, you can customize the comfort with the touch of the button. This bed is raised 17.5 inches from the floor. It comes with AC power cord, a duffel bag and a shoulder strap.

Wenzel Insta- Bed

This bed is 22 inches above the floor. It weighs up to 700 pounds. Its size is 80 inches by 6o inches. It almost feels like an ordinary bed. Its built in pump inflates the mattress fast, and the tight bottom prevents it from sliding. It stays inflated and feels comfortable lying in it. It also comes with a carrying bag that users find convenient for storing and transporting. It is very sturdy and resistant to tearing. It has a one-year warranty. It is easy to store and transport.

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Coleman Single High Quickbed

This mattress is available in twin and king sizes. It is best suited for camping. It does not have an in built pump though it is easy to fill with air and deflate. It stays inflated overnight to ensure you have a good sleep. It comes with an attachable carrying bag, making it easy to carry and transport. It is 8 inches above the floor. Its size is 73 by 38 inches for twin size and 78 by 75 inches for king size. It has a 1-year warranty.

The Best Air Bed That I Bought

I purchased the best air bed since it is ideal for festivals, camping and for home use when I have guests. I love travelling and hiking therefore I needed a long term solution for my adventure. Getting a good one in stores was not a hard task for me since I used these tips that I am going to share with you.

I needed something that is waterproof with a non-slip surface that would prevent sheets from slipping when I sleep. This bed is just the best due its soft velvety feel that gives me more comfort. A long day of bush walks and hiking I just need a comfortable place to sleep. Furthermore, it came with a blue color and I loved it since blue is my favorite color. I bought it at a fair price since my local store was offering offers- how lucky I was.

When buying a queen air bed, be sure of what you want and how you will be using it. This is one of the products with several models and thus you have to understand what you really want. In my case, I use a big tent thus a queen size would well fit in my tent. Thus, the size of your air mattress is something you should address at the beginning.

Related information: The benefits of using an air mattress

Now, I have no sleepless nights due to the common deflating issues of bad air mattresses. I am impressed with my queen air bed and my days of disappointments are over. I have the freedom of adjustability. In addition, it is the best Intex air mattress for everyday use and came with top quality pumps, and air chambers and am able to adjust the pressure to my desired settings. Of importance, when using this mattress know what type of sleeper you are. I am a back sleeper and thus I adjust it to firm. If you are a side sleeper, I suggest a not too firm setting is good for you. That is my story about the best full air bed, get one and enjoy comfort and undisturbed sleep.

Running a half marathon… with a pram

Hubby and I ran a half marathon the other weekend… with a pram… and 2 x two-year-olds.
As usual, we had delusions about “how great” and “how easy” it would be.
Would we run a half marathon with a pram again? You bet!
Would we run a half marathon with a pram filled with 2 two-year-old twins? Probably not! Haha. How is that for honesty for you?! I love half marathons, and I love my kids, but I don’t know if I love them together. Kind of like vegemite and lettuce sandwiches*. Some combos of things just don’t fly the way you think they might.

There were some really fun moments, but there were also some hard moments in the race.

Here are my tips if you are thinking about partaking in half marathon racing with prams:

Ignore your time.
We had delusions about a good race time. Hubby had calculated my PB half marathon time plus 6 minutes extra for possible stops. This was way off. We ended up finishing at my PB time plus just over a half hour. There was lots of stops. Especially in the second half of the race. In the last 5km we were stopped for more time than we were running. We clock watched for the first 14km as it looked like we could still make our initial goal if we pushed on. But then the kids went a bit loco and we both essentially ignored the race time and just concentrated on having fun.
You do not need a ‘running’ pram.
We have a Mountain Buggy ‘Duo’ double pram. It is not a proper running pram, although it has pump tyres. It is excellent to run with and did the job well on the day.

Remember it is a pram and not a ram.
Don’t forget that P. We started at the very back of the field and were the last competitors to cross the start line. We did our absolute best to stay out of other competitors way. People train for months and months for these races and we both went into the race agreeing that we did not want beast pram and our motley crew to get in the way of anyone else competing. We saw ourselves as ‘secondary’ competitors and often came to a stop or ran on the grass to avoid the pram creating bottlenecks on the course. Not everyone will agree with this approach, but it worked for us. All the other competitors were LOVELY. We had so many conversations on the course with other runners. The pram was a big conversation starter. As were the headless dolls, toy cars, and colouring-in books pegged out of the pram at random intervals.

Bribery FTW.
It was essentially a morning of solid bribery. Prior to the race I did a big shop at the $2 stores and bought random toys and put together ‘show bags’ for the kids. We chucked these into the pram at random intervals during the race. A bag of cars, a bag of colouring-in and stickers, a bag of unicorns, a bag of fake not-quite-look-alikes of all the Pixar characters… you get the idea. This was a winner and prevented all-out pram tantrums (for the most part). Don’t go too cheap however in the toy selection like I did… I bought a bag of 5 dolls for $1… their heads came off and baby-girl lost it. Whoops. Maybe go for the bag of 5 dolls for $2 instead ;)

Snacking.
Like the show bags of toys, we took little packs of snacks for the kids. They normally eat quite healthy, but for the race we gave them lots of little treats they do not normally have, just to keep them a bit more entertained. Bags of tiny teddies, lollies, and jatz biscuits were winners, along with their favourite yoghurt squeezy packs.

Easiest bag drop of an event EVER.
None of the usual pre-race bag drop chaos was experienced in the race. The fact that we had a pram with us to jam all our gear was a real highlight. It also meant we could run with water and food for us, without having to jam it into running belts or wait for set water stops along the course for a drink.

Kids go loco.
As mentioned our kids went a bit loco in the second half of the race. They were doing well until we had to run past a park. Oh dear. Then they just wanted to get out and play. Unfortunately for us/them, we had to run past that park 4 times in the race. Ouch. Our son did well, mainly due to the ongoing supply for sugary food treats and views of the motorbikes out on the course. Our daughter however was totally over it by the end. We made a decision to keep them in the pram and just stop along the way chatting to them and playing with them, as we knew if we took them out of the pram on course we would have no chance of getting them back in the pram – pair of plankers. Towards the end of the race we were doing whatever we could think of to entertain the kids. That included hubby pulling the pram backwards behind him while I ran after him (and the kids) being a monster/dinosaur/shark chasing them with big chomping arms. It also included flinging my new lip balms into the pram in the last 2km to entertain baby girl. The sacrifices mothers make ;) ha.
You might have to separate on course.
Hubby is a much faster runner than I am, about twice as fast actually (this race was over an hour ten longer than he usually finishes a half marathon in). We used this to our benefit, and when we knew the kids needed a stop, he would run ahead with the pram and stop, while I (more slowly) ran up to where they had stopped. That way a ten minute stop would only add about 5 minutes to our overall race time. We also did this trick the other way too. At times when the kids needed a quick stop, I would run ahead while hubby stopped with them, and then he would sprint up to me with the pram. As a result hubby did most of the pram pushing.
Enjoy the finish.
About 100 metres before the finish line, we stopped and got the twins out of the pram, wiped all the lipbalm/chocolate/boogers off their faces, checked their nappies, and let them both run across the finish line. They loved this sick, and it was a moment that both hubby and I adored and will probably remember forever. All the tears from the race were forgotten as they said “look meeeeeeee mummy” and galloped across the finish line. Baby girl loved the medal she got for finishing “look my prippy race necklace”. Baby boy did not care so much for his race necklace, but he did think the all-you-can-eat watermelon was the bomb.
There were some amazing fathers who were out on course running the full marathon with single running prams that we saw a few times. They were inspiring and had decorated their prams and were running in costumes. Their kids looked a bit older (and happier) than our 2 year olds, and they were flying along. Seeing them out there was a highlight of the day for me.
So yeah, that was our race. It wasn’t the perfect race we had imagined, but it was what it was. I am still really glad we did it as a family. I don’t think I would do another half marathon with a pram and two-year-olds. Maybe when they are a bit older and I can give them an ipad each to entertain themselves it might work better. Or maybe another pram race while they are young, but a shorter distance like a 10km.

Best Air Mattresses I Have in My Home

Air mattresses are not only revered for providing unmatched comfort, but they are also lauded for their unrivaled durability as compared to other types of mattresses. There are different types of air mattresses and all of them come with different features. Here are some of the best air bed 2016 that will guarantee you quality sleep during the night.

Intex Vinyl Twin

  • The twin air mattress is the best choice for outdoor enthusiasts and house guests. It can easily be inflated or deflated using either manual or electric-powered pumps. It boasts of being an ultimate bedding solution for outdoor enthusiasts and overweight guests, since it is the best camping air mattress. It features a spectacular waterproof top that is not only easy to clean but also offer superb comfort and hold the bedding properly during the night.

Intex Pillow Rest Twin

  • There are a host of reasons why this Intex twin air mattress is a great value for your money, despite it being sold at a relatively higher price compared to other types of Intex twin mattresses. The first one is that, it can fit in every bed since it can be adjusted to a variety of measurements. It also comes with a highly-powered pump that can easily deflate and inflate it in approximately 3 minutes. It features a water proof flocked top and vinyl beams that are designed to give it the much needed extra support. Its sturdy construction doesn’t only make it a good choice for outdoor camping but also makes it highly durable.

Setra Raised Airbed

  • This air mattress is portable, convenient and also offers an ultimate inflatable comfort. It is perfect for indoor use. It features a powerful AC pump and a soft-touch flocked top that is tailored at holding bedding in place and providing extra comfort. It also features circular coils which allow the air mattress to maintain firmness and shape throughout the night. It comes with a 5-year warranty.

I Found the Ideal Office Space Just Right for Me

I have always dreamed of working for myself. I wanted to do so in an environment that would help me work better. The initial plan was to start off by working by myself and then as things picked up, hire an assistant. And even further down the road, hire even more people as the need arose.

I initially drew up a business plan and debated whether or not to rent an office space. In the end I decided not to rent a physical space. My finances would not allow it. Instead, I decided to use a section of my home as a virtual office. I am pleased that I did. The benefits definitely out weigh the disadvantages. And the additional assistants I had considered hiring also work from their homes.
The major advantage of having a virtual office is the money saved from not having to pay rent.

Some of the other benefits of having a virtual office, as I have found, include having zero commute time. I wake up and my virtual office is only feet from my bedroom. In addition, there is no rush hour traffic to worry about. I don’t have to fill up the gas tank in my car and as result I save on fuel costs.

Another benefit of this type of setup is that I don’t have to put on any particular type of clothes to begin work. If I want to work for an hour or two in my pajamas then that is just fine.

I am able to take breaks and I can set my own hours. Yes, I still time myself and pay attention to the clock but I do so in order to get work done in a timely fashion.
When I have tasks that I don’t want to do or tasks that I am unable to do I have assistants across the globe that handle those tasks for me. They are virtual assistants. They are qualified, reliable and they get the job done.

So far it has been a win win situation. If I need to interact with clients or assistants I can do so through one of the many popular softwares out there that provide conference calls via cam or audio. Luckily, the type of work that I need to have done can be done from the comfort of my home by me and the rest can be outsourced to virtual assistants. The money I save, by having a virtual office, can be reinvested to grow the business.