Goals Update – July

Every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set.

Financial

$20k $26k target by 22 Decah, maybe this will need to be adjusted again with the move.  I’ll leave it for now, and see how things settke
June: $17,938.69
July: $18,035.56 (+$96.87 thanks to moving costs :()

12 in 2 Adventures: failed: not done any adventures, working on the two long term ones, and no adding to savings
June: $898.81
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)

Grocery spend

I thought I’d add a quick update, seeing my July challenge was no eating out, I figured my grocery spend would go up.  It hasn’t, it’s about the same.  Although, I probably ate at the bf’s more this month, so that might be why?

Volunteering hours
Tue 2nd: 4.25hrs at the co-op
Sun 7: 1hr at church
Sun 14: 2hrs at church

Health

Cook at home twice a weekdefinitely achieved with my ‘no eating out’ month, but records are patchy!

week 1 –
Leek tart(Mon)
Coop food provided (Tue)
Wedding meal (Sat)
no more records?

week 2 –
no record for the rest of this week, except:
Multi course birthday dinner (Sat)
Chinese roast beef with vegies (Sun)

week 3 –
Another forgetful week!
Dinner @ parents (Sat)
Pizzas (ready made from grocery store) (Sun)

week 4 –
Gnocchi with tomatoes (Mon)
Sweet potato chips (Tue)
Fried Rice (Wed)
Sushi (Thu) <- yes bought out
snacks/leftovers (Fri)
Macaroni & cheese (Sat)
Spaghetti bolognese (Sun)

Week 5
Quesadillas (Mon)
Leftovers from Mon (Tue)
Beef with rice noodles (Wed)

Sugar – so so, not commited like I have been, but not entirely a free for all
It started well, but ended poorly, with lots of cakes at work, including me trying a gluten free sponge recipe, making a GF chocolate cake, using a packet mix for brownies (just to use it up). I also made a vegan cheesecake with dates and a touch of sugar. Then I also ate dessert at the fancy friend’s b’day dinner, and we bought ice creams in the past week. Sigh!

Train for polo – Training to run a half marathon: just platueaing! Something I want to achievely work on once I’m settle in my new home
2nd – couldn’t run 3kms to Co-op, so mainly walked with some jogging stints
9th – home to co-op, 2.93kms with some running
12th – 1.23km walk to the bf’s work
13th – 2.83km jog with hills around the bfs, with running
15th – 4.8km run back from dancing, some walking
22nd – 4.4km est, home to pole dancing, more walking than running
23rd – 4.3km mostly walking to/from hair dresser
29th – 1.53km jog/walk to appt

Cultural

2 films a month: failed (though did see two DVDs)
I can hardly believe I’ve not seen a movie in a cinema in a month – that is SO unlike me. I did mention to the BF that perhaps we could see something last night. I did watch two DVDs recently, one based on the IRA (slow burner, not really recommended). The other one was called The Factory and was better than I expected – it stars John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter (from Dexter), and follows serial abductions of prostitutes, until John Cusack’s daughter also get abducted. There’s an awesome twist too!

2 books a month: achieved
I read Bottlemania, which you can read the review of here. Other than that, I finished The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and here’s my review (gosh that seems like a long time ago I read that!). Lastly, I’ve started on a book about called Nice Girl by R.j. Chin about Keli Lane. Keli Lane has been convicted of murder of her second child, who disappeared after an informal adoption. This is one of three children she had in secret, the other two being formally adopted. Her fourth child lives with her. This story is compelling to me, because… Keli was my boss at the school she was employed at during the years much of this drama happened! She was an Olympic water polo hopeful, and recruited me as a casual coach at her school. She left suddenly during my time working at the school. Based on the half of the book I’ve read, most people who knew her, myself included, do not believe she killed her baby. I think it’s rotten you can be convicted of murder when there’s no proof of murder. I’m sure there’s crimes committed, but murder is certainly not one of them! Here’s some more background in wikipedia

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: achieved
YES! A friend I made in Paris, who at the time lived in Wollongong, has been in Sydney since Feb. So I finally had her around for a cuppa, before moving out of my place. I also spoke to a number of school friends with the bad news of a friend’s death. Lastly, I semi spammed my nearest and dearest (but not local) with the link to my new house, so they could ooo and ahhh… So all round, a great month on social connections.

Career

Certification: minimal progress

Seriously, other than three hours spent at talks for continuing professional development (I need 150 hours).  I booked into a pricey course to get another 16 hours.  I’ve also been meeting with both my mentors, I’ve really not moved forward with this one as much as I could have. I need to set some time to get onto this and get it DONE!

Looking for next roleachieved, will remove from goals list

I’m in the new role, and I’m swamped. Let’s say I was under utilised in the last role, and now I hardly can think straight! But I love being busy, just perhaps not at the same time as moving house!!

July Challenge: No eating out

Although it’s not the true end of the month, I thought I would check in with my experience of my self imposed challenge not to eat out for a month!

1. I was innovative, with packing everything for a two day road trip. So I know I can be ‘frugal’ and skip eating out. (I will summarise grocery costs at the true end of the month, and see if there’s been a noticeable increase, and probably update this post with more info).

2. I did cheat. There were a handful of take away coffees (some even in single use take away cups!). There was one breach in the first weekend, and then two breaches the following two weekends. I also went out with my next door neighbour for Vietnamese. I didn’t want to reject her suggestion (it’s our first ‘date’), and cooking at home wasn’t practical with going to open houses on the same night.  Last night I got sushi from the sushi place outside the grocery store – so it’s sort of out, and sort of not?!

3. My boyfriend was on board (but bored!). He encouraged me to stick at it (like last night! He cooked nachos, but I didn’t want nachos). Though it’s become a common placeto say ‘we’ll do that/go there in August’.  Bring on August and some dates!

4. I did buy some ready made meals from the grocery store, such as garlic bread, soups and (freezer) pizzas. I’d like to move away from processed foods, as I’ve mentioned before, but it’s just too hard sometimes to balance all the things you want to do, with LIFE! So I gave myself leave passes.

5. I’ve certainly spent less money, with every week having some of my weekly allowance still in my wallet. That being said, I’ve spent way more than a usual month as I outlined here, and more recently with the rental bond and that sort of thing.

Overall, it was an interesting challenge.  I proved to myself that I can cook at home, and eat at home, and it’s not all that taxing, though I do occasionally take short cuts with ready made meals.  It is a little more socially challenging to not eat out, and my relationship with my colleague seems less strong after missing our weekly lunch date.  Actually, in light of my role change, a few one on one lunches might have been better to keep the relationship strong, even though I’m ‘jumping ship’.

On the whole, I don’t think I’ll re-do this challenge for the sake of it.  It’s good to know I can tighten the belt, but it’s all been a bit too much of a challenge in these later weeks of the month, with all the moving plans.

 

Weekend away without eating out

I did have a super exciting post on retirement savings written. (Australian retirement savings are called ‘super’, so that’s a play on words). So not really ‘super exciting’.  But then, I just spent the weekend in Orange, NSW about 3.5 hours from Sydney.  Given that I challenged myself to no eating ‘out’ for the month, I had to be super organised!!

Firstly, the no eating out challenge is largely a financial exercise, so I didn’t reject the dinner at the wedding reception.  And I gave a gift, just in case anyone thought I might be cheeky enough to truly have a ‘free meal’!

Here's everything I packed for a 'no eating out' weekend road trip

Here’s everything I packed for a ‘no eating out’ weekend road trip

We left Sydney at about 8am Saturday morning.  Knowing the bf, I didn’t make breakfasts for him, but I did expect the need to stop off for coffee, repeatedly!  So, within walking distance from my house, we stopped for his first cappuccino (in a keep cup!).  He’s not really his charming self without a coffee, and he’s not in on the ‘no eating out’ challenge.  Whilst he procured coffee, I munched on my granola parfait.  That’s the fancy name for my layers of muesli (granola), yoghurt, grated carrot and frozen berries.  It was a little dry, but certainly edible.  I may have also sipped from the poisoned chalice of bought coffee too… I am weak.  And coffee is strong!

self catered road trip

Bottom left is a breakfast parfait

For morning tea, I enjoyed a mandarin as I waited at the rest stop.  For those non Australians, this rest stop involved a sturdy, new hut, with two ‘long drop’ toilets (google it for you’re game!). They kindly have picnic tables nearby but I settled for the car due to the biting wind and the smells it carried!  For the bf, there was oven dried salami.  It excreted so much greasy/oily muck, ewww…  But it did crisp up nicely.  I though the bf would enjoy it alone, but mentioned it’d be nice with cheese and crackers, so I happened so have some, and whipped them out!

Somewhere between the middle of the drive, and more open countryside, we stopped for the n’th time at a McDonalds.  Mainly for the bathrooms.  But also for the coffee.  The bf might have broken my ‘no eating out’ rule when I succumbed to a coffee.  I just didn’t want to be a sleepy/crabby lady any longer! But I didn’t pay, so maybe I’m safe on a technicality.  (I did buy the bf a coffee on Friday morning, so maybe that voids the claimed technicality?)

The swanky bedroom in de Russie

The swanky bedroom in de Russie

Lunch happily coincided with our arrival at the hotel.  It was lovely – if anyone wants somewhere swanky but relatively affordable (because it allows you to stay one night, rather than most places with a minimum stay of 2 nights) I’d highly recommend de Russie Suites in Orange (they are also in Mudgee).  We had delicious turkey, cranberry, baby spinach and cream cheese croissants/gluten free wraps.

Turkey croissants for the bf

Turkey croissants for the bf

After the ceremony, there were some delicious hot finger food – like pork belly and gallettes (savoury crepes, which are the specialty of the region the bride is from in France).  Not to be deterred though, on returning to our hotel, we had wine and cheese on crackers. Yes, I’d even made gluten free biscuits for myself!  When that was all munched up, I moved onto some gluten free pear and walnut bread.  And maybe some spiced nuts.  Oh and some cut up carrots and capsicum.

Dried salami, candied nuts and pear and walnut bread to the left

Dried salami, candied nuts and pear and walnut bread to the left

The wedding dinner was lovely, in line with the delicious hors d’oeuvres after the service.  The mains were lamb or pork, which is unusual.  It always seems to be chicken and beef.  In any case, it was tasty! And dessert was also yum – the bf and I diligently split it all down the middle – between a gingery/creamy/jelly topped something, and a caramel and chocolate tart (yes, I also ate sugar… sigh).  We were surprised the wedding didn’t have a menu, so every dish was a surprise.

Sunday saw a repeat of my breakfast parfait, but the hotel provided a little breakfast pack.  So from the pack, I made the bf some coffee and toast.  The coffee was a start, but there were two further McDonald’s coffees on our journey – though none for me!

Sunday snack included walnuts spiced with egg whites and cinnamon, and sliced strawberries which I froze, and then thawed making them a nice soft stewed mess.  There was also an apple too.  Lunch was samosas, which sadly contain ‘the gluten devil’ as the bf calls it.  I’m just not sure making gluten free puff pastry is worth the time!  And that more of less ended the epic menu of DIY road trip food.

Now in list form

Overall, I think we succeeded.  The bf remarked how ‘cheap’ the weekend had been when we were sorting out dinner on Sunday night (with a $2 DVD from the store, yes, they still exist!).  He reckons he spent a grand sum of $15 on coffees, and that was it!  I covered the accommodation and fuel, seeing the wedding was for my friend.  I’m so thankful to the bf and his lovely car, which he did all the driving in – all the way there, between all the wedding components (including in -3.5 C with black ice!), and back to Sydney.  He was also a pretty good sport about eating all my inventions!  I’ll leave you with a less than ideal photo of the married couple:

Alice and Alex

Alice and Alex

So there you have it, a self catered road trip! What’s your go to snack or rest stop meal when you’re on a long car trip (or even flying)?

Goals Update – June

Financial

$20k $26k target by 22 DecOn target to reach it by 21/11!
May: $16,413.13
Jun: $17,938.69 (+$1525.56)

12 in 2 adventures fund

May: $574.32
June: $898.81

Generosity target
Slower month this month, but annualised, I think I’m still doing fine.  Maybe I’ll report on my hours volunteering?

Health

Cook at home twice a weekEasily met, especially with the BF’s cooking mixed in

week 1 –
Dad’s graduation dinner (Sat)
Ceasear salad at BF’s (Sun)
Red Rooster (Mon)
Spag Bol with zuchini (Tue)
Garlic cheese pizza (Wed)
Chicken Ceaser Salad (Thu)
Satay pork pies, Zucchini slice & Pumpkin Pie (Fri)
Malaysian at Mamak and N2 gelato (Sat) <- my go to for out of town visitors!
Curry and Rice at parents (Sun)

week 2 –
nothing… Ice cream at vivid festival (Mon)
Oven roasted cheery tomato gnocchi (Tue) <- can I just say, I didn’t think something so easy could be so tasty! I even skip on the basil and it’s awesome
Chicken with Bombay potatos (Wed)
Zuchini slice? (Thu)
Pepperoni pizza (Fri)
Mamak again, different location and different people (Sat)
Nachoes by BF at my place (Sun)

week 3 –
Ceaser salad at BF’s (Mon)
Gnochhi with slow roasted tomatos(Tue)
McDonalds (I had a freebie) (Wed)
Gnocchi (from ricotta) (Thu)
Salt and pepper squid at the pub (Fri)
Onion tart (Sat)
Pad Se Ew (sp?) at BF’s (Sun)

week 4 –
Onion tart (Mon)
Onion tart (Tue)
Food at Coop Fundraiser (Wed)
Dominos pizza (Thu)
Nothing (some cake?) (Fri)
Gnocchi with oven dried tomatoes at BF’s (Sat) yes again!
Stew at a friends (Sun)

Sugar: Back on a good thing, but only 1 week this month

After a shock on Monday week ago (seeing my whole reflection in the mirror!), I have decided to cut sugar at least til the end of July.  My loop holes are that if I bake it at home, it’s ok (like a great gluten free pear and walnut bread mmmm).  Natural sugars are ok (milk, fruit).  And I won’t be a Nazi – I did nibble a tiny bit of a snack Mars Bar and the BF ate the rest.  Or the super good organic chocolate at the coop that someone kept offering me – with coconut sugar I think.

Train for polo:

Taking the season off.  I am pleased I got a continuous 4km run in on Wednesday and it felt a-ok.  It was relatively flat, and I only walked about 30m at a time before I started running again, so law of averages says I ran!

Cultural

2 films a month: Happily yes!

Definitely! There was the silly This is the end (which we saw with free tickets… which is the only way I’d ever suggest anyone sees this – unless you are a man who likes toilet humour); we also went and saw The Great Gatsby and The Internship which I enjoyed more than I might have expected.  Technically, World War Z also came in during this month too!

2 books a month: Also a yes!

I read The World Without Us and Perfume, click the links if you missed my reviews

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend : Achieved, gold star here

A friend from Victoria visited, so she made all the effort 😉 And is now a reader – yay!  And at the beginning of June I went to the Gold Coast and caught up with a school friend.  So two good activities with two out of town friends! Win!

Career

Certification: Bah, not so much progress :s

I’ve got my mentor to read three of the woeful 16, and updated two of them.  The third one, all about ‘evaluation’ – he said what I wrote doesn’t really prove that I have this skill.  He is, of course, right, but I just don’t know how to fix it!  Maybe start again :s

Looking for next role: Moving along nicely

Interestingly, one has found me.  I spoke to my boss a week or two ago, looking for some growth/learning areas he thought might be useful.  At the same time, i told him about my career goal.  A week later he called me into his office and suggested a lateral move, with the view that it will enhance my skills, and may give me some management ‘practice’.  So, I think it’s a no brainer that i take it!

So the month that was June.  All round, pretty good.  On track with savings (and a HUGE backpay/OT/on call pay supplement this week too!).  Killing it on my cultural goals, and ok on the career and social fronts.  Maybe I should add ‘running’ into the health part – and keep myself a little more accountable, as I had a huge hiatus after this post.