Monday
Feb172014

Think Once Before You Shop, Think Twice Before You Buy

Life has become a vicious circle for many. We want more ‘things’ so we work harder to pay for those things, which means we have less time to enjoy those ‘things’ and end up feeling frustrated that we have no time and no money! It doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to find out how to get off the out of control ‘merry go round’ and start saving money, finding happiness and regaining your health and time.

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Tuesday
Feb112014

Organise Your Way To a Better Grade - Tips for Highschool Students

Life is hard when you’re a teen. There’s just so much to deal with. School. Parents. Siblings. Friends. Sport. The list goes on. It can be tough getting assignments done on time, dealing with the latest crisis from your friend who lives for drama and keeping your parents happy and satisfied. How do you juggle it all and stay sane?

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Thursday
Feb062014

How To Use Gumtree Effectively

Do you have unwanted items that you want to sell or give away but think the hassle isn’t worth it? What if you knew how to efficiently list an ad so that your junk could be sold in a couple of hours or days? Learning a new skill can seem overwhelming but donating or selling stuff is super easy with Gumtree. On Gumtree you can list ads for free and with their handy Apps you can list your ads within minutes! Whether you’re a newbie or wanting to make the most out of your Gumtree Account, this blog post is for you!

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Thursday
Feb062014

The Secret World of Donations

In the last couple of years there have been many exposès on Charity Shops and the overwhelming amount of donations they receive annually. So much, that many of the donations are binned. It is frustrating to know that donations are lovingly packed up and dropped off, only to end up in the trash. There are hundreds of people in your area just waiting to be on the receiving end of those free things. People who will give the items a new life and a new home instead of ending up on a pile where they may get wet and ruined. So how do you find these people to get rid of your stuff?

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Friday
Oct042013

Collecting vs. Hoarding

There is a fine line between collecting and hoarding. Some people use ‘collecting’ as an excuse to dismiss their problem of hoarding and holding onto items. Are you a Collector or are you a Hoarder? How do you tell the difference?

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Wednesday
Aug212013

The Spanish Robbery

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia - One for the bucket list!I have a reputation to uphold. Once I started calling myself a Professional Organiser (January 2011) people began asking me if I’m like the plumber who has leaky taps at home.

I am not.

Not because I want to look good for prospective clients, but because I can’t live with clutter. It messes up my brain and I can’t function properly. I am an organised person because I choose to be, but also because I have to be. So you would expect that during our travels around Europe I had a system in place for backing up photos. Of course I did. For my camera at least.

I was using my iPhone for pictures (to upload to Facebook) so all the pics were saved to the Cloud. I also had a small waterproof digital Panasonic Lumix, which I’d brought along for shots in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas. 3 days into our trip my husband dropped it while trying to cycle away from an oncoming Farm Vehicle (the big kind) in Brugge and it stopped being waterproof… 

My husband had bought a new digital camera, quite a good one. He’d bought some good lenses, borrowed other accessories from family and was set with a large SD card. He loved photography so much that he learnt about aperture and all these nifty features of the camera. He took the backpack everywhere with him and it barely left his side while we ate, and was always the most important piece of luggage to be safely stored in our apartments.

Of course, it got stolen.

We were in Valencia, Spain and after a fairly average day (attractions closed, unexpected rain & no parking near our apartment) we drove to a recommended restaurant for Paella. We had just come from a Nail Salon where the operators had taken three hours to complete a job that usually took 60 minutes. It was late, we were tired and hungry and it was raining. We parked and went to the restaurant and had some fabulous Paella before walking into the historic centre of the city for a stroll. It was near midnight as we were unpacking the car near our apartment that He noticed it was gone. He thought I’d put somewhere else as a joke. We freaked out, checked the entire car three times, retraced our driving steps, and checked the apartment.

The backpack was gone. 

We assumed we’d left the car open and frantically checked for other essentials. Our passports (which had been in that backpack just hours earlier), my wallet and Kindle were still safe. It was only the next morning we found the screwdriver marks on the driver’s door. They must have watched us go to the restaurant, broken in and pinched the backpack behind the driver’s seat. It had been hidden under a black jacket – of course they left that and took the backpack instead.

Being such an organised person you’d assume the loss of the camera was merely a minor annoyance. A Professional Organiser would have the photos backed up! But did we? Nope.

A month of glorious shots of France, Belgium, Holland, Croatia and Italy were gone. A police report was filed (that’s another story) but the items were never recovered and travel insurance didn’t cover our $2000+ of items as the bag wasn’t in the boot.

The moral of the story? BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS WHILE TRAVELLING!

Wednesday
May012013

The Ride of My Life!

I am the first to admit I get easily frustrated on our roads. I travel every day, to clients, meetings, etc. It astounds me the number of drivers on the road who don’t seem to have a clue how to drive. They can’t read the traffic, the indicate right when they’re going straight off a roundabout (you only need to indicate left as you’re exiting!) and they think that driving on the second right lane means they are “keeping left unless overtaking”. But after driving on some European roads, perhaps our roads (and drivers) aren’t so bad after all.

Take Croatia, for example. This was our first trip to Croatia (it’s a beautiful country, but don’t tell anyone!), which is so untouched and precious. Many people spoke excellent English and were lovely natured, plus the food was healthy and plentiful - which is always welcome! But on the roads, I was a little scared. So much in fact that for the 3 days we had a hire car, I drove once, for just 20 minutes. 

But before you assume the drivers were aggressive and abusive let me clarify that half the problem was the road, not the drivers. We drove from Rijeka to Plitvice National Park, and then down the coast from Split to Dubrovnik. An absolutely glorious view was seen for most of the coastal route, which I would have loved to enjoy, but I couldn’t. I was too worried about driving along the edge of the cliffs without a barrier! That’s right, for a couple of hours there was nothing more than a small (foot high) concrete block every couple of meters. I’m sure the bottom of the car would have cleared the block easily. 

What added to my unease was there was only one lane. Almost the entire drive from Split to Dubrovnik, there was just one lane. With a cliff’s edge on one side (they drive on the right side of the road remember), there was only one way for impatient drivers to overtake. Over the double lines as we wove around the mountains of the coastline. They would weave around the car in front, nearly hit oncoming cars before swerving back into the lane. It was like being stuck in a rally car track. It brought back horrible memories of a friend driving up to Mt Tamborine on the wrong side of the road in the middle of the night as teens (needless to say I protested the whole way & never drove with him again).

Croatia - A breathtaking drive south along the coast

Then there’s the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Where the cliff edged lanes are so narrow that a bus takes up both as it corners. So the entire trip is spent with the bus driver honking to warn oncoming cars that he’ll be in their lane. The buses are packed like sardines and although it wasn’t even peak season, the traffic was heavy.

I spent the 2-hour bus trip from Salerno to Positano gripping the seat and thinking “What if you were a tourist driving the opposite way from the bus?” Of course a few days later, that was us. We stayed in Nocelle, high in the hills above Positano. The road is 1.5 cars wide. So as a car you are honking consistently to warn drivers you are coming. And before you ask; yes – the bus does drive up there. Passing oncoming vehicles sometimes meant a start/stop shuffle and my dear mum spent the 20-minute drive with her hands over her eyes.

This was one time I was happy to be driven around!

Positano - Amalfi Coast, Italy

 

Wednesday
Apr172013

Weather Predictions in Foreign Lands

 

One of the most difficult things about travelling is how to pack for the expected (and unexpected weather). In the lead up to our trip we had been watching the Spring temperatures remain almost the same as the Winter temperatures. For a summer-loving Queenslander this was a scary thought. We hoped and prayed the weather would turn a corner and keep us warm.

Well my prayers were answered. And then brutally reversed. But the happy news should be shared first. We touched down in Paris early on a Sunday morning expecting an overcast sky and a top of 11°C. When we stepped out of the plane I had to blink several times to adjust to the blinding sunshine. The sky was bright blue and the only clouds in sight were white, fluffy and stolen from a Disney movie. I was still doubtful as to whether this was a temporary illusion or not.

We dumped our bags the apartment, got the rundown of the place and decided to go exploring. We were reasonably well rested and we only had 2 nights in Paris this time. We headed into the sunshine and bought our first croissants. We were in Paris and it was sunny! We walked around and stumbled across a beautiful garden, which was bustling with people. They were everywhere. Partially clad most of them too. Everywhere we looked there were people with shoes, socks and shirts off, soaking up the warm sun. Speaking to a local we found out this was the first warm day of spring, and they were 6 weeks in! This warm weather made us doubt all the thermals, beanies and gloves we’re packed last minute. Perhaps we had been over prepared? A couple of days later the tables turned and we were glad we had ‘packed for all weather’.

After travelling through Belgium and into Holland (meeting up with siblings along the way), the weather in Amsterdam was icy. Highs of 7-12 degrees were the norm and our Sunny Queensland butts nearly froze when the wind picked up. But the beauty around us was astonishing, and our time spent with family made it all worthwhile. Over the following 8 weeks the weather changed from warm to hot to cool several times over. When people asked where we were from I almost said ‘Melbourne’ because I became so used to layering. Luckily I stopped myself first!

Wednesday
Apr102013

Lost in Paris - Not as Dreamy as it Sounds

Notre Dame - Paris

We set out to find our way to our apartment. We’d been to Paris about 18 months before and knew the metro and RER system so after getting our tickets we were on our way. I pulled out the trusty iPhone to see our directions for getting to our apartment. I’d been so organised and meticulous about putting all our itinerary in the iCal app and sharing it with our family (many of whom were travelling with us for parts of the trip). I pressed the button and got nothing. I tried again and that silly little symbol popped up. You know the one I mean. That infuriating symbol which basically tells you that without plugging into power, you’re not getting anything! I’d been so careful to ensure the battery lasted the travel time (not knowing our plane had a plug outlet in every chair!) as the charger was in the belly of the plane. I realised in my sleep-deprived state I had forgotten to turn the phone off during the last leg of the flight and the battery had drained away.

So here we were heading into Paris and not knowing which way to go. It didn’t help that we speak very little French either. We know enough to be polite travellers who attempt to have a go, rather than some rude English-speaking tourists who demand that the French speak English to them. I remembered the name of our metro stop (Maubert Mutualite) and we disembarked on a quiet Sunday morning to look for an Internet café. After a few bumbled attempts trying to find our way a pleasant hotel manager took pity on us and pointed us in the right direction. We found the connection to the outside world and got our bearings. We were less than 2 blocks away and had been wandering in circles very close to our destination. We set off again, got lost again, and eventually got to the apartment door. 1 hour late. Thankfully our host was very kind and considerate and forgave us without a thought.

Even the most organised person in the world gets it wrong sometimes. It’s Murphy’s law – when you think you’ve got it all under control a curve ball gets thrown your way. This trip is going to be like therapy for my perfectionistic soul. It’s going to hurt at first but ultimately it’ll be good for me. We’re going to get lost (again), run late and make mistakes. I guess that’s the fun of travelling J

Monday
Apr082013

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane...

Tulips at Zaanse Schans - Zandam, The Netherlands

This weekend we’re heading off on a European holiday. Being the ultimate organised freak that I am, I’ve been packing and planning for weeks. Months even. There is so much to think about when going on an 8-week holiday to several countries with different climates. We are going into every type of scenario – bushwalking in Cinque Terre & Croatia, to visiting the rich areas of Monaco and Southern France and everything in between.

Our plan, like last time, is to take less over and bring home more. We try to limit our clothes and items to a carry-on sized bag each, which goes inside a much larger suitcase. On the way home all of these should be full of souvenirs and goodies for our family and friends, and of course, us.

We’ve had a bit of a hiccup in our planning and preparation for this holiday in the form of the weather. We fly first into Paris then make our way north (by car) to visit the relatives in Amsterdam. It’s the first week of spring there and by the time we reach Holland, the tulips should be in full bloom. It will be glorious!

The problem we’re now facing is the temperatures Europe is currently having. It’s a lot colder than it should be at this time of year. We’ve been watching the temperatures for the last month or so and they have barely moved. At this stage we’re flying into maximums of 8°C and minimums of 1°C or 2°C. Brrr! For a summer-loving girl from Sunny Queensland, this does not sit well with me. Or with my packing plan. Which did not include thermal underwear! We were excited about escaping the oncoming Brisbane winter and getting an extra long dose of warmer weather. Ha!

Of course now I am rethinking my packing and adding in those extra layers of warm clothes, the scarves and the thick winter coat. I do not cope with the cold weather very well. I am a frog. The colder the weather gets the less I move. I’ve spent winter holidays in years gone by in a prostrate state in my bed trying to stay warm. If only a fireplace was mandatory in every home.

So I am praying that the weather turns warm in Europe, magically before we arrive. That’s not too much to ask is it? But in the meantime I must finish my packing and update my packing lists…