Even the most organised person at work may still have
challenges with getting their personal and household finances sorted. They may
have their to do lists tweaked within an inch of their lives, but would rather
take 20 kids filled with red cordial to a theme park than declutter their
Given the end of financial year is racing up on us faster
than a horde of teenagers when you say the word "pizza”, here are a few tips to
get your finances prepared and organised.
1) Sort The Shoebox of Receipts
Hands up who has a shoebox crammed to overflowing with
receipts that possibly, maybe, potentially relate to your tax return?
The most expensive way to handle this is to deliver it to
your accountant or bookkeeper to sort and do their thing with. It takes them
hours to comb through your receipts to try and work out what is valid. They
then have a few days of backwards and forwards emails or calls trying to answer
questions with you. All of this work is billed in 15 minute increments at
premium rates – especially during peak times of the year. Yes, it works, but
there are other options.
If you are super busy and can’t tackle this yourself, you
could hire a VA, temp agency admin person or personal concierge to tackle this
task for you instead of your accountant.
There are even technical solutions on the market. Shoeboxed www.shoeboxed.com.au is an innovative
business that has been around for a number of years. You just send your
receipts away to them in one of their magic envelopes or via snapping a photo
of your receipt, and they sort them out and digitise them ready for you to
import into your preferred accounting software.
Whichever option you choose, now is the time to get that
shoebox sorted. Handing anyone a massive shoebox in a month’s time and
expecting a fast turnaround in readiness for your tax return is a recipe for
voodoo dolls being created in your image. Get in now before the rush!
2) The Bulldog Clip of Relevance
Not all receipts are tax related. Clothes, shoes, electronic
games etc., all may need to be returned if they are faulty within their
warranty period. For receipts for items with a shorter warranty period, just
clip the receipts you may need as proof of purchase into one big bulldog clip.
Every few months go through and throw out receipts that are no longer needed.
3) Build a Bill Station
Over 25% of people admit to being late in paying a bill
because they misplaced it somewhere in the home. With bills hitting us via
paper, email, and BPay view, it is easy to lose track of what is due when.
Late payments create problems with your credit rating and
can attract late fees. A little bit of organising can make the difference.
Set up a bill station in one part of your house. It can be a
large magnetic bulldog clip on the fridge, a plastic envelope type folder (so
things don’t drop out), an old fashioned spike or a ring binder. Just don’t
throw your bills loose into an in-tray as they will get mixed with other things
– whatever solution you choose, it needs to keep your bills together.
As a new bill comes in – print it (if it isn’t in hard copy)
and add it to the bill station. Keep your bills sorted by due date, with the
closest due date at the top, so you know which bill has to be paid next.
The easiest location for your bill station is right near
your computer and printer. That way there is less distance for you to travel
and you are more likely to add the bill to your Bill Station.
4) Create a Mega Bills Calendar
Most fixed bills such as electricity, rates, rent/mortgage
are not a surprise. They come around regularly each month or every few months.
One way to keep track of what is coming up is to create a
mega bills calendar. This can be a hard copy calendar which means you need to
create it each year.
The easiest solution is to simply set up your bills as a recurring
event in your Outlook/Google/Other digital calendar and colour code the events
with a special colour that you only use for bills.
You can build your calendar over the year as you receive
your bills, or you can invest some time into building it once for the whole
year by combing back through your past bills for the previous year.
Whichever way you create your bills calendar, you make your
future financial years easier as you can see at a glance what bills you will be
receiving and how much each bill is likely to be.
5) Get into a Routine
Routines are essential for busy people. Carve out a set time
each week or fortnight to pay bills, update your account balances, plan for the
coming week, work out your budget, empty your purse of receipts, write notes
and file those receipts that are tax related and shred receipts that are no
Link your routine to a particular event to make the habit
more likely to stick: The evening of payday; The first day of the month when
you change the calendar over; Sunday nights when you prepare for the week
ahead. Set it as an appointment in your own calendar and stick to it.
Fixing your financial clutter is the perfect new financial
year resolution. It doesn’t need massive filing cabinets and thousands of Kikki
K folders and planners (unless you want it to). It can be as simple as a few
bulldog clips and a simple routine.
You are not a true Brisbanite if you don't have fond
memories of strawberry sundaes and overpriced show bags from the Ekka. So how
to do create these same fabulous memories for your children and not go crazy in
Here are our top Ekka tips to help you not only survive, but
actually enjoy your day at the Ekka.
Top Ten Things To Do
With Younger Kids
1. Wander through the animal pavilions to see cows
and other animals up close and smelly.
2. Eat at least one Strawberry Sundae (suitably
photographed for posterity).
3. Watch a woodchop event and then hide anything
that looks like an axe at home.
4. If your kid is dinosaur mad, take in the
animatronic Dinosaur Adventures in the John Reid Pavilion.
5. Younger kids get a kick out of the Hoot &
Hootabelle show at the Entertainment and Fashion Stage at 10am, 11am and 12
noon daily. (You on the other hand may not be so thrilled and may take the
chance to upload some photos to Facebook during the performance).
6. Have your kids milked a cow before? The Milking
Barn has hands-on presentations on the hour between 10.30am and 3.30pm daily.
7. The RACQ Animal Nursery is always popular. Try to
get in early to avoid the queues and fights over the fluffiest lamb to feed.
8. Admire the fruit and vegetable district exhibits
and wonder at the giant vegetables in the Royal International Convention Centre
- Ground Floor.
9. Appreciate the amazing cake displays at the QLD
Cake Decorators exhibition in the Royal International Convention Centre -
Ground Floor (and then remind your kids that lopsided birthday cakes made by
mum taste twice as good).
the fireworks and evening ring performances (if your kids can stay awake that
long and are not terrified of loud explosions).
Things To Do With Older Kids
1. Check out the FMX Freestyle Kings - some of the
best FMX riders will push themselves and the machines to the limits 12-45-1pm
each day at the Energex Community Arena. Know that whatever you see will be
replicated in your backyard, so think carefully about this one!
2. X-Treme Action Monster Trucks featuring the
Transformers are on at 7.10-7.30pm each night at the Energex Community Arena.
More explosions, loud machinery and pyrotechnics to set off your headache.
3. Stand holding the bags while they tackle all the
Thrill Rides at Sideshow Alley.
4. Watch things explode at the Big Bang Education
science shows at the Education Stage upstairs at the Royal International
Convention Centre. (Can you sense a theme here about explosions?)
Rides at the Ekka are split between Sideshow Alley (up near
the RNA Showground) and the Children's Outdoor Carnival over at the other end
of the show near St Paul's Terrace. Sideshow Alley is more designed for the
older kids, while the Outdoor Carnival is perfect for the pre-school and early
primary aged kid set.
Some showbags have discount ride coupons included, so if
your goal is loads of rides, check out the showbag inclusions carefully.
Crowds plus kids over-awed with all the new sights is a
recipe for challenge.
Start by dressing your kids in super bright
colours to make them easier to spot in the crowd. Some mums dress their kids in
matching rainbow or red t-shirts and neon bright hats so make a separated child
easier to track down. We have even seen parents consider hi-vis vests (not that
we would judge you if went that far!)
Remember to take a fun happy snap on your phone
before you head out the door of your kids on their way to the Ekka. If you have
a great day, it will be a nice memory, if your child gets lost, then it is
easier to say, "Here is a photo of my child and what they were wearing."
Measuring current heights and taking fingerprints are optional extras.
Pick up child identification wristbands from QLD
Police. They are usually available just inside most gates or at the Gregory
Terrace Police Station just inside Gate 1.
If you do lose your child or partner, there's a
Lost Person's Station at the Gregory Terrace Police Station.
Parents' rooms at the Ekka
Having a toilet map is super handy for those "I have to
go NOW" moments. Download and print the map and highlight the toilets (it
was so much easier when they had an app!)
Parents' rooms are located next to the Woodchop Bar; in
Sideshow Alley; near the Beef Cattle Pavilion; across the road from the animal
nursery and at the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion.
Showbags at the Ekka
There are two very different approaches to buying showbags.
1) Get in early.As the pavilion gets extremely crowded as the day progresses, some people buy
showbags as their first task for the day. This means they either have to carry
them all day (yay - NOT!) or they may hire one of the lockers outside the
Showbag Pavilion for $8 for the day. This works well as long as your showbags
are not heavily chocolate based.
2) Scout early - Buy
Late. The other school of thought is to do a wander through the showbag
hall early so the kids know exactly where the bags they want are located. You
then do a targeted attack run on your way out of the show. This means you have
bargaining leverage during the day (not that any parent at the Ekka ever needs
It also helps to give the kids a set budget for showbags,
and then let them browse the showbag section of the Ekka website. They will do
this for hours trying to work out what they want, and how to make their $
stretch the furthest possible. Showbag maths is the ultimate way to teach kids
Food at the Ekka
Many parents on a budget bring their own snacks and
sandwiches to enjoy. If you are looking for budget friendly kid food check out
the $2 cheese toasties at the Woolworths Pavilion.
One other hidden gem tip: The CWA has an old-school eatery
under the John McDonald stand near the Beef Cattle. That's where you pick up
the best scones, jam and cream at the Ekka.
Avoid People's Day and weekends if you are not a
fan of crowds. Seriously. Don't do it! Take a day off work if you have to - You
will have a much more enjoyable day!
If you want to see the animals and fruit
exhibits, go early in the 10 days the Ekka is open, as many leave part of the
way through the show.
If discounted showbags are your thing, go to the
Ekka on the last day. Sure, the popular bags will be sold out, but you will
pick up heaps of two or three for the price of one deals.
If you want to catch the night shows and
fireworks, grab your spots by 5pm as the seats fill early. This can create
problems for kids sitting nicely in one place from 5pm - 8pm without having to
duck out for wee breaks. If you are doing to do the Ekkanites thing, have at
least 2 adults to tag team with the kids and the seats.
Go to the earliest possible kids' shows each day
and get to each show at least 15 minutes early to have a chance of getting
Bring a stroller. It is an awfully long way to
carry little people!
Pre-purchase your tickets online or at RACQ offices to avoid the queues.
If you are travelling by public transport, you can buy a combined travel and entry ticket from any attended Queensland railway stations.
Public transport is the easiest option but
remember to avoid travelling home during peak hour if going midweek so your
over-tired kids are not crushed up against business commuters.
Parking is limited in the area. Your best options are the old Royal Children's Hospital car park or the Royal Brisbane Hospital Car Park, Parking for the day will set you back between $25 - $32.
Wear comfortable shoes designed for walking and tops that cover the shoulders to minimise sunburn lines. Yes, I know this is mum type advice, but 3-inch heels and strapless tops still make their regular appearance at the showgrounds.
Go in with the right mindset. The younger your kids the less you will see - make peace with that! Some kids are happy with one ride, a cuddle of a lamb and an ice cream and then want to go home. Other kids only want to ride the one ride over and over and over and …. Forget trying to tick off the "must see everything" box and go for the" whatever your kids enjoy" box.
Take loads of photos. Photos of your kids
patting animals, riding ponies, enjoying events and eating carnival food are
some of the best you can get for the family album. Just don't be so much behind
the camera that you miss fully experiencing the Ekka with them.
Things to Pack
Remember to pack
Panadol & bandaids
Water bottles to stay hydrated. There are water
fountains across from the animal nursery at Expo Place One; near the dog
pavilion; up near the Wood Chop bar as well as near the goat and cattle
Hand sanitiser & baby wipes (for the inevitable
Changes of undies for younger children
Phone battery charger pack
To find out more
Go to the Ekka website to download maps, get timetables of
events and to plan your day
The last week of school holidays can be tricky for everyone. That first term flies by and it often leaves us wondering if we’re even due for holidays, let alone having been given a chance to plan for them. If you’re running short of ideas, and your sanity is at an all-time low, here’s 6 things you can do to keep everyone happy.
Number 1: Get out into nature.
Kids have far more energy than parents that’s for sure, and unless you’re planning on some extreme sport, you’re not likely to use it all up. Getting outside, if only for a couple of hours helps. Nature has such a wonderful way of energising, refreshing and wearing you out, which makes it the perfect school holiday antidote. If you have some walking trails near you, this is the time to make use of them all, either on foot, scooter or bike. Alternatively you can hit the beach for a few hours if the weather agrees, or even head to a park. Older kids might scoff at the initial idea, but in my experience it doesn’t take long for them to start having fun. The getting out of the house gives everyone a break, and you can even organise it with a friend and a coffee, so the kids occupy themselves and you get adult conversation. Score!
Number 2: Have an at home movie day.
If you’re not into the outdoors, or the weather turns for the worse, an at home movie day is a great alternative. Sure it won’t use up huge amounts of energy, but it will occupy everyone’s minds for a little while and is a great way of winding the whole family down and giving everyone an opportunity for relaxation before getting back into the next school term. Whilst hitting the cinema is a great outing, it can be crazy and crowded over the school holidays. Pull the curtains closed, throw pillows and blankets everywhere and stock up on some special treats. A bag of popcorn, some ice cream in a cone and ice-magic, and you can keep everyone happy for about a quarter of the price the movies will charge you (plus you don't have to queue up for the loo).
Better yet, the arrival of Netflix means you can download the free trial, and have access to a whole range of movies you might not have at home. Sure they aren’t new releases, but if you haven’t seen them, it doesn’t matter.
Number 3: Have a loose routine.
One of the great things about school holidays is the break from routine. However for some kids, especially little ones who have a pretty detailed school schedule, the haphazard nature can get a bit overwhelming, leading to frustration and tantrums. Even a very simple holiday routine can help bring order for everyone; something as easy as having morning tea at the same time, or always having ‘outside play’in the afternoon before watching TV. The bonus of that, is it gives you something to look forward to, or to have a break; they watch Ben and Holly and you get an uninterrupted cuppa. Bliss.
Number 4: Go out for lunch.
Making lunch can be tedious, and sometimes sandwiches at home just don't quite cut it. Find a family-friendly restaurant or cafe and let someone else cook and clean up for a change. If you're stuck for ideas Eat out with Kidshave got a great list of family-friendly cafes and restaurants in and around Brisbane and other Australian capital cities.
Number 5: Have a dance party.
Dancing is one of those great mood changers and even if you do feel like a uncoordinated giraffe while doing it, it can be a lot of fun with the kids. And let's face it, the kids don’t care how you look, so long as you're having fun and they get to join in. Granted, this isn't an activity that’s going to take up a whole day, or even half a day, but when stress levels are high and everyone is ratty, play that funky music and just cut loose for half an hour. It’s guaranteed to make you feel better or at least give you a good laugh.
Bonus Number 6: Enjoy it.
School holidays can be a real juggle with some days spent wishing they'd end sooner rather than later. But in amongst the mayhem try and take a moment just to enjoy it. The days are long, but the years go by quick, and you before you know it, school holidays won't even be a bullet point on your agenda.
Tips for Transitioning Back to School Without the Craziness
Posted in 'Tips' on January 14, 2015
Sending the kids back to school for the start of a new year is an exciting time. But it can be a terrifying time too. For kids, because it's a change in their relaxed holiday routine. For parents, because they have to get the kids out of that relaxed holiday routine! So seeing as we still have less than a couple of weeks to go, here's some tips to save your sanity in transitioning the kids back into the school routine:
1. Sort your school calendar/diary NOW
Juggling work or business and family is busy enough but throw in school requirements and it's mayhem. Add a little organisation and planning ahead and it can certainly alleviate a little stress. Whether you run a paper diary, online diary, calendar or whatever, get access to important school dates and start writing/typing them in NOW. And make sure your partner's calendar is synced (or copied if you're that way inclined) so everyone know's what's going on. Be sure to include term dates, public holidays, student free days, school sports and any other relevant stuff that's important to your family.
2. Buy school shoes before they run out
Lots of parents tend to leave the school shoes purchases to the very last minute, because let's face it, kids' feet grow like weeds and we don't want them to grow out of shoes before the first day of school. But at this time of year, school shoes are a hot commodity. Head down and get your kids shod ASAP, otherwise you might find yourself cat-fighting with a bunch of crazy women over the last pair of black size 4 lace-ups. Heck, grab two pairs because chances are the first pair will only last one or two terms anyway!
3. Start the routine sooner rather than later
Whilst the relaxed school holiday mornings and late nights are nice for a while, they can make getting the kids back into a school routine a nightmare. Use the week before school starts to get the kids back into a bedtime routine and a morning routine to get ready, refreshed and prepared for the school morning craziness.
4. Check their lunchboxes
The start of the year usually means shiny new lunchboxes and to be honest I don't know who's usually more excited about them, the Mums or the kids. But it's worth taking a minute to check whether your children can manage opening their lunchboxes. The last thing you (and the teachers) need is a sobbing child on day one because they can't get to the sultanas and cheese tucked away in an ergo-enviro lunchbox in a thermo-sealed bag.
5. Label, label, label
Experienced school mums will chuckle at this one because as if you wouldn't label your child's things. But consider this, if you have a child starting prep, do they recognise their own name yet? If not, stick something else identifiable on things they use daily like water bottles, lunch boxes, hats and shoes. Lots of school labels have little icons that you can include when you order them making it more easily identifiable for little ones.
6. Check the school bag (just in case)
If you're using last years school bag for your child, best to hold your nose and open it now. Just in case. Enough said.
7. Set up a school filing box for each child
Before the kids start school, set up a filing box for each of them. Make it large enough to fit readers, homework books and anything else that needs to go to and from school regularly. Make this the first stop the kids make when they get home from school (before they raid the fridge) to unload any important documents, homework and notes.
Before you know it, we'll be back into the school year making lunches and ironing uniforms and happily waving our kids off at the school gate, hoorah!
So the tinsels already draped, the fake Santas litter the shelves and Christmas trees seem to be popping up like weeds. Yes we're well and truly into the Christmas seasons. But, have you started your shopping yet? Before you know it, Santa will be hauling his chunky backside into town so here's some tips to get you through the Christmas shopping shenanigans if you haven't already started.
Make a list and check it twice
Before you hit the shops (or your laptop), it's important to nail down a list of who's on your gift list, some gift ideas and most importantly a budget for each person. Drafting a list gives you clear direction, keeps you on task and not-to-mention helps to prevent missing anyone important. Oops, awkward!
Research If you're keen on nabbing a bargain or equally can't stand paying full price for Christmas presents, it's worth spending some time researching. Either grab a cuppa and trawl through the junk mail to mark out any relevant specials or alternatively scan websites like Lasoo which collate all the latest catalogues of most of the major department stores in one place. There's a lot of money to be saved if you're happy to research and then shop around for specials.
If you're a little crafty or don't mind hanging out in the kitchen from time to time, offering home-made gifts for friends and family is a great way of showing-up everyone else's gifts (as long as you nail it). Homemade jams or cookies (there's a nice recipe below), candles or crafts are nice. And there's more than 1000 things you can cram into pretty jars to give as gifts this year. Bling it up with ribbons and pretty labels and you've nailed it!
Buying gift vouchers for Christmas gifts can be a bit of a contentious issue. Some would argue that a voucher is an impersonal and thoughtless gift idea. I disagree. In fact, like anything, it's all in the pitch. Buying a voucher means taking the time to select the right store for the right person and then giving them the opportunity to buy something they really want. Buying Nanna a Spotlight voucher because she's so fond of scrapbooking, presenting your brother with a BCF voucher because he's an avid fisherman, presenting your niece with an iTunes voucher so she can download her own music on her iPod, or giving Mum a massage voucher (because what mum doesn't need a massage) is actually both thoughtful and personal.
Every year as soon as the Shopping Centre Santas start their Christmas photo gigs we also start to see the crowds gathering at our local stores. And the closer it gets to Christmas, the crazier things seem to become with people seemingly materialising from every nook and cranny. If you're not crowd-lover at the best of times then it's probably best to avoid the shops altogether if you can help it.
Thankfully there's plenty of online stores that offer a variety of options for Christmas gifts. If you're looking for handmade gifts then Etsy is one of your options. There's also eBay, Latest Buy, Gift Australia plus most of the major department stores offer online shopping as well. Some of them even offer a gift-wrapping service - ka-ching!
There's nothing quite like doing all your Christmas shopping in your pajamas whilst simultaneously drinking wine and watching re-runs of Grey's Anatomy! It's a win for everyone!
If you're finding yourself with less and less to do simple things like Christmas shopping and organising your Christmas parties, then it might be time to call in the big guns. Master of all things organisation, Kay can bring you one gift you just can't buy - time.
Between homework with the kids, client appointments, meetings, managing your business/work schedule, keeping your house clean and your fridge stocked, it's easy to get to the point of burnout before even realising. Busy women tend to put themselves at the bottom of the list when it comes to self-care but at the end of the day, if you crash and burn there's a lot of people relying on you to get things done.
It's important to put preventative strategies in place to manage your work/life-load before you hit the point of 'crash and burn'. Here's a couple of tips to help you maintain some semblance of balance between work (or business) and life. It's all things you know, but every now and then it's nice to get a little reminder.
Schedule some downtime
Having a bit of 'down-time' is a bit of a no-brainer but sometimes we just don't make the time for it. Plan for it. Schedule it. And made sure you do it. Down time might be a date-night with your partner in front of the TV, coffee with friends, a pampering session, heading to a sporting event or a picnic with the kids. Anything that drags you from 'work mode' gives you the opportunity to recharge the batteries. Know what is a guaranteed destresser for you and schedule it in at least once a week.
Exercise is one of those things we know we need to do but is always put on the backburner when other things come up. Funny thing is, we know how good we feel after we do some exercise. When it comes to finding the time to get your heart-rate up, think outside the square a little. You don't need to be spending hours at the gym or going for 10km jogs every day but certainly walking the long way home from the bus stop to get an extra 10 minutes fast walking in here and there all contributes.
Learn to say no
As busy women we try to do everything for everyone but the reality is, sometimes we just can't. Over-committing to committees, community groups, P&Cs, charities, work events, functions, parties.....oh it's exhausting just thinking about trying to fit it all in. Learning to say 'no' to things that you realistically just can't do is both empowering and a great way of gaining back some valuable time. You can't be everything to everyone. Full stop.
Some of those tasks within your life and business or work are tedious and time-consuming but are have-to-be-done kind of jobs. However ask yourself, do you personally have to do them? Do you have to do the mail run, the book-keeping, the ordering, shopping, the ironing/cleaning/mowing?? Consider any of the jobs that can be outsourced and buy yourself back some time to do other things.
We all try (often in earnest) to maintain some semblance of work-life balance and the reality is, that life is constantly changing and it's a real juggling act. However sometimes it's the small things that make all the difference. Schedule a little time out, keep active, say no when you can and outsource anything that you don't personally need to be doing. Every little bit helps.
If you've succumbed to the 'please, please, pleases' of the kids and have decided you're going to brave the Ekka this year here's three things you might want to consider when taking children with you:
Have a plan
If your children are old enough create a plan if you happen to lose each other in the crowd. Include in your plan where they should go, what they should (and shouldn't) do and who they can speak to if they become lost.
Before you enter the Ekka grounds, take a clear photo of each of your children. If they happen to get lost, this is the best and most up-to-date information you can provide to police and might be critical to them being located quickly.
Write your number on them
Whether you have a specific safety wristband or you write on their backpack or write in biro/niko pen along their forearm, write your contact number on your child. Show them the number so that if they do get lost, they can ask a police officer or security officer to call you.
Note: Free safety wristbands are available from the Exhibition Police Station off Gregory Tce (opposite the Strawberry Sundae stall).
This week is the start of Toy Sale week! Mothers across the country are scouring catalogues and making lists for birthdays, Christmas and just because. Here's what's on where and when....
Big W starts their online sale from 9pm Wednesday night. The catalogue is here The sale starts in store from Thursday. Christmas Layby is available. On sale till July 10
Kmart is not running a "Toy Sale" this year. Instead they are offering their Endless Days of Play catalogue. These "non sale" prices are available online now and in store from Thursday. The catalogue is here They are not offering Christmas Layby this year but they do still have their regular 8 week layby available. Their biggest selling point is that these prices are available until Christmas Eve. They don't end after a 2 or 3 week sale period.
Myer has also joined the others and have started their sale online already. Their catalogue is available here. The sale starts instore on Thursday (about a week later than they usually do) and goes till 28th July.
Target as usual is hanging back and not starting till a week after the others. Last year they released their catalogue early, but didn't put pricing on until the last minute. It mustn't have been too successful for them because it is available online now. With pricing. You can find it here Their sale runs from 26th June till 17th July. Christmas layby is available.
ToysRus start their sale in store tomorrow through till the 9th July. You can take a look at their catalogue here
PS In case you didn't know, we can do your Toy Sales shopping for you if you don't have the time or the inclination. Just ask us !
Fruit flies are the bain of my existence at the moment. They seem to be everywhere. And from some Facebook conversations I've recently had, I'm not alone.
According to an article in the news yesterday it has something to do with the wet weather and high humidity we have been having. Regardless of what has caused it, everyone wants to know how to get rid of them. I asked a Pest Control expert at my Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning and there is no magic answer.
Below are a few tips (some of which I have tried) that may help reduce the numbers.
1. A bowl of red wine vinegar with a teaspoon of salt and a couple of drops of washing detergent. Apparently apple cider vinegar also works.
2. A bowl of soy sauce with a couple of drops of detergent.
3. A plastic water bottle with the lid cut off. put some red wine vinegar in the bottom, then take the top that you cut off and turn it upside down into the base. The fruit flies will fly down but then struggle to find the hole to fly back out again.
4. Put your fruit in the fridge. Don't leave a food source out for them.
5. At night put the plug in the sink. They like to fly down and sit near the water in your drain.
6. Keep the dishwasher door closed. Again, they like to be near the water.
Yes I know it just seems like yesterday that we were Christmas shopping, but it's that time of year - Toy Sales time!
Here are my Top 5 tips to help keep you sane and get the most out of the Toy Sales
1. Be prepared - don't just go in and grab what looks good. You'll end up taking half of it back because it's not appropriate.
2. Spend some time going through the catalogues and comparing prices, quality etc. If you are buying 90% of your things in one place but there are one or two things on sale somewhere else, you need to ask yourself if the $5 saving is worth the extra trip and line up at the registers.
3. Make a list - If you are buying gifts, make a list of who you need to buy for and then write what you are planning on getting them (include the name of the store, brand, size and price)
4. If you can, get in early. It is surprising how much stock runs out on the first day.
5. If you can't get there, or don't want to fight the crowds, contact us about our Toy Sale Shopping Service. We can take your list and fight the crowds for you. There are limited spots available for this service.
If you are friends with your neighbours, give them a set of your house keys
to keep in a safe place. A lot of people do that already, but also give your
neighbours a copy of emergency contact names and numbers. Just in case.
If you have ironed something and the fabric has gone shiny, spray a tea
towel with some white vinegar until it is slightly damp, lay it over the shiny
place and press with a cool iron. Respray as necessary.
I was pleased to be intereviewed by the Courier Mail last week regarding the Toy Sales. If you missed it, it was on Page 18/19 of Saturday's Courier Mail. If you don't have a copy of the paper, an edited version can be found here There are some great bargains to be had out there at the moment, so make sure you do your research and you can save some big bucks!
How often have you come home
and "filed" a piece of paperwork or a gift somewhere "safe"
and then when you needed it, have absolutely no idea where to even begin
searching?? Next time you do that, make a note on your calender (in a day later
in the year) of where you have put it. When you need it, check the calender and
no more searching. Obviously I'm not suggesting you bring home a wad of cash
and write where it is stashed for the world to see. You can make it a bit
cryptic if you want (but not too cryptic that you won't remember what it
Thanks Karen for this Tip!
Do you have any time saving tips to share? I'd love to hear them!
Hang a tennis ball from the ceiling of your garage so that when
you drive in, you know when to stop. Attach it to a piece of string in a
position where it touches your windscreen when your car is in enough to close
the garage door, but not touching the front wall of the garage.
No more having to do little paint touch ups when your car bumps
How often have you sworn at the sticky tape because you can't find the
end of it? Next time, save your breath and get some talcum powder or
cornflour on your finger and run it around the tape. The edge of it will
Have you ever opened the top off your boiled egg to discover that it's
not quite cooked enough yet? There is nothing worse than boiling eggs for a soldiers and finding the white isn't even set yet (and not a chance in the world the kids will eat it!)
Put the top back on and stick it in the
microwave on high for a few seconds to cook it a bit more. Phew, safe from another tantrum!
As the year progresses and kids grow, we inevitably reach the stage where school uniforms are too short. When you let the hem down, you are left with a crease that just never seems to go away and doesn't look the best. Next time, moisten a cloth with white vinegar, place it under the hem and iron it. The crease will disappear.
How is it that when you need to give an animal a tablet, they are worse than kids? Trying to get antibiotics down my cat's throat requires wearing a pair of gardening gloves to avoid red scratches up and down my arms.
Try this next time - get the tablet and crush it in a garlic press and then mix it through some of their favourite food. No large lumps means it will get eaten.
We have a lovely outdoor area at our house, complete with outdoor setting. We love sitting out there. Unfortunately, when we aren't home, the crows also like to sit out there and leave a lovely reminder of their visit all down the front of our chairs.
A couple of months ago, I got sick of having to clean the chairs every week and I took a tip from the cyclists I see riding around in spring with cable ties sticking out of their helmets and tied some cable ties along the tops of our chairs. Although it doesn't look the most glamorous, we don't have crow droppings on our chairs anymore.
Glow sticks seem to be in abundance at this time of year. My kids are constantly asking for them at night time. Unfortunately they usually only get to use them for an hour or two before they have to go to bed and it seems like a bit of a waste.
To make them last longer, put them in the freezer till you want to use them again - they will come out still glowing! You can get 2-3 uses out of them before they stop working.
If you have cut flowers too short for the vase you want to put them in, use plastic drinking straws to extend the length of the stems. Obviously this won't work so well if you are using a clear glass vase. If that's the case, try dropping some marbles or glass beads in the bottom of the vase to raise the height.
Keep a couple of plastic shopping bags in your glovebox so on rainy days when you get back into your car with your umbrella, you can put the end of the umbrella into a bag to catch the water and stop the water from pooling on your car mats
All those shower caps the hotels leave for you when you are travelling will make a great portable water bowl for your dog when you are out walking. Fill it with water and hold it for your pooch to take a drink.
If you need to search for something within your excel spreadsheet, you don't need to search sheet by sheet. When you CTRL F to bring up Find and Replace, click on Options, then click on the dropdown menu for Within and change it from Sheet to Workbook. It will now search your entire workbook for you and list all of the places your searched item can be found.
Moving a piece of furniture can have a lasting impression on your carpet - We moved into our house 4 years ago and there is still a kink in the carpet from where their TV unit used to sit.
You can get rid of the indent quite easily by holding a steam iron over the top of where the indent is. Don't let it touch the carpet or it will melt, but the steam should penetrate the fibres, allowing them to spring back into place.
Then fluff them up with a brush and the indent should have disappeared!
Have you ever gone somewhere important and looked down and realised that half of your hem is hanging down? Slide a paperclip or two on the hem (preferably a similar colour) and it will hold the hem up till you have a chance to get it mended.
Next time you buy a carton of eggs and a few of them are stuck on the bottom, don't resign yourself to breaking them to get them out. Soak the carton in the sink for a few minutes. This will loosen the eggs and you will be able to remove them safely from the carton.
This Thursday is April 1, and apart from being April Fools Day and my cat Fudge's birthday, it is also the day that you should be changing the batteries in your smoke detector. Silence can kill. Don't risk your loved one's lives. For more information about this visit www.changeyourbattery.com.au
Picking cling wrap off the roll can be fiddly. Removing and using the cling wrap is easier if you store it in the fridge beforehand. This is because the majority of cling wraps have a component in them which adds to the "clingability" of the film and is heat affected. If your wrap is kept cool, it is much easier to peel off.
When kids rip open their presents at a party, it is almost impossible to know who gave which present. Have a parent on standby to write on the back of each card as the present is opened so you will know who to thank.
When kids are painting, use a moistened sponge to clean their brushes, rather than water. It avoids spills and drippy paint all over the table. It can also be used to clean messy fingers after the budding artists are finished.
Each time you change the photo in your photo frame, leave the old photo in there behind the new one. When you go to change it the time after that, it will be a lovely trip down memory lane for you (plus it saves having to find somewhere for the old photo to be kept once you remove it). I've been doing this since my kids were babies and it's a lovely reminder of how much they have grown.
If you are a regular reader, you would be familiar with our Tip of the Week. Each week I send a tip to my subscribers inbox as well as posting it here on my blog. I try to keep the tips short and sweet and it takes no effort to start using the tip.
I am always hearing from people about how much they love the tips and how they are quick and easy to implement into their lives. Thank you, I really appreciate and love the feedback.
It's time to turn the tables a bit and open it up to you. I would like to know who has a time saving, handy tip that they would like to share?
Until the 28th February, I would like to hear from you with your favourite tips.
Email me with your tip and at the end of the month, The winning tip which will be used as the following week's Tip of the Week.
I will also send the winner a waterproof notepad and pencil from My Aqua Notes. I wrote about these awesome notepads a couple of weeks ago - they come with suction caps and you stick them onto the shower wall. The paper is waterproof. So if you are like me and do your best thinking in the shower, these are fantastic!
So put your thinking caps on and let me know what you come up with!
I'm not sure why they do it, but 9 times out of 10, toy companies don't put a volume switch or quiet mode on toys. Half the time there isn't even an off switch. If you can see where the sound comes out of the toy, cover the little vents with some sticky tape and this will reduce the noise level considerably.
Lots of people I"ve met have curtains that look good, but when you close them, they don't quite meet so there is a strip of light that comes in as soon as the sun peers over the horizon. To fix this, buy some velcro (you need both hook and loop) and attach pieces of hook on the edge of one side of the curtain and loop on the other side (at the same height so they meet up) and then when you close your curtains, they will keep the pesky light out.
If you are like most people, you would have received at least one gift card for Christmas. I love them. Especially because you can take them shopping during the sales and receive more bang for your buck.
The problem I find though, is that I spend part of the $ amount on the card and then put it back in my wallet and forget that it is there. 2 months later I will be shopping and find something in that store that I want to buy. I'll pull out the gift card and have absolutely no idea how much is on there. It's a lovely surprise if there is lots on there, but pretty disappointing if I find out there is only 28 cents left on there.
Recently I was in a shop and the sales assistant processed my gift card and then before handing it back to me, took a nikko pen and wrote the balance on the card for me. Next time I am shopping I will know exactly how much is left on the card.
I thought this was a great idea and will be doing that from now on! Try it and see....
Next time you are eating an icecream or sucking on a slurpie and get that unmistakable headache that is brain freeze, don't suffer with it. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. It warms your mouth up and stops the brain freeze in a second or two.
I don't usually do beauty tips because they aren't my area of expertise, but I felt this one was appropriate.
With most people spending a lot of time in the pool over the Summer months, we end up with dry and stringy hair from all of that chlorine. Mix a teaspoon of bicarb soda into your shampoo before you put it in you hair and you will be able to feel the chlorine coming out as you wash it.
Imagine this, you are writing your Christmas card to Grandma who lives in Spain. You finish writing, get the kids to write their names, seal the envelope and put the stamp on. All done.
You forgot to put the photos in from your last holiday so she can see how much the kids have grown. You don't want to rip open the envelope, because you have already put the stamp on and that would be a waste. So what do you do?
Stick it in the freezer. Yes you read right. Stick the envelope in the freezer for an hour or two and then the envelope will unseal without tearing. Pop your photos in, seal it up, and drop it in the mail box.
Do you end up throwing out banana's at the end of the week because they are over ripe? When you get them home from the shops, break the bunch apart so that you have single banana's. This will stop them ripening so quickly.
Ironing can be a chore at the best of times. To make it easier, put your silk or linen clothes in the freezer for 30 minutes and when you remove, a single pass of the iron should do the trick! Of course, an even better tip is to get someone else to do your ironing for you :)
Do you have a rug on your floor that keeps sliding around when you walk on it? Lift up the corners and place some blutack on there. It will stop it sliding and won't leave a sticky residue when you want to move the rug.
My husband is always complaining that when I take the rubbish out, I forget to put a new liner in the bin. So now I keep half a dozen liners in the bottom of the bin so that when I take the full bag out, I can immediately reline the bin.
Next time you break a glass, grab a couple of slices of bread and press them into the floor to pick up all of the little fragments that you can’t see. This should help stop those pesky little fragments ending up in your foot.
To stop the ends of your drawstrings from fraying, tie a
knot in the end of each side and then get a lighter and give the ends a slight
singe. Doing this will melt the ends of the string together so that they don’t
Toy Sale Update: For those of you that
aren’t aware, the Kmart and Big W Toy Sales start on Thursday 2nd
July (less than 2 weeks) with Target and Myer following closely behind them.
Some of you will be excited by this news, some of you won’t be really
interested, and the rest of you will be cringing at the thought of fighting the
crowds to get the toys you are after. Never fear, Hectic Helpers is here! We’ll
be attending the sales already for some of our clients, why not get us to do
your shopping as well. Click here for
Have you ever bought some shoes or a belt with some bling on it and one day pulled them out of the cupboard only to discover that some of the jewels are missing?
When you first buy them, take some time and give the bling a shot with some clear spray glue to set the stones a bit better or get a little pair of pliers and give them all a little tighten.
Have you signed up to get free entry to Movie World, Sea World or Wet & Wild for your kids on their birthday’s yet? You only have till June 30 to register at http://www.myfun.com.au au You can also purchase tickets for up to 4 people at a 50% discount to be used with the free kids ticket.
This week’s tip will be good timing for those of us who are starting to make big batches of soup and pasta sauce and freezing them for later use.
To stop your Tupperware and plastic containers from being stained by tomato based sauces and soups, give the container a spray with oil before filling and you will find that the container will remain stain free!
After last week’s tip on cleaning your jewellery with toothpaste, I had an email from Andrea from Mummys’ Little Helpers who’s husband is a jeweller and he advised the following information:
Apparently toothpaste is abrasive and wears away at precious metals. He suggests that as another low cost option to buying actual jewellery cleaning fluid, is to use a mix of - Household cloudy ammonia, any regular dishwashing detergent and hot water. Simply leave the jewellery to soak for 10 minutes and then clean with an old toothbrush. This will remove any dirt and other standard daily buildup. Please note that certain gems should only ever be cleaned professionally, such as, (but not limited to) natural emeralds, pearls and opals. He also recommends that everyone should remember to take their most precious items (such as engagement rings etc) in for regular inspections (6-12 mths) to ensure that general wear has not compromised the security of the stone in its setting. The majority of purchases these days include a warranty period whereby such inspections are free, but most customers simply do not get around to it due to other commitments. Having the checks done can save losing a treasured possession – and lots of money too!
Now for some shameless promotion of Hectic Helpers, I have had my profile featured on the Babes in Business site this month if you’d like to check me out
Does your chopping board always slide around when you are trying to cut things? Grab a couple of slices of paper towel and dampen them. Then lay them flat under your chopping board. No more slipping and sliding!
As the weather starts to turn cold, and the doonas come out of the cupboard, my first tip for this week is to wash your doona or get it dry cleaned to get rid of the musty smell from being in the cupboard for so long.
My second tip was suggested by my friend Deb.
Sew bits of velcro on each corner of your doona and then the inside corners of the doona cover. The doona will now stay in place and you won’t find yourself battling to stay warm in the middle of the night.
Before throwing out old birthday and Christmas cards, check the address on the back of the envelope and compare it against your address book to keep it up to date. Then, instead of throwing them out, why not put them in the craft box for the kids. They will get hours of fun out of them. If you don't have kids or they have outgrown doing craft, why not donate them to your local kindy or daycare?
Speaking of birthday and Christmas cards, are you always late in sending your cards, or just never get around to it at all? What if all you had to do was supply the names, addresses and birthday’s of all your friends and relatives and cards would magically get sent for you? Why not contact us today to find out how we can wave our magic wand and make it happen!
Have you opened a cupboard or walked into a room lately and it's been a bit stinky? Grab some cotton balls and put a drop or two of vanilla on them and put them in the stinky area to get rid of the smell.
This tip will take a while to do, but will be well worth it when you are done. If you look underneath your desk or behind your TV cabinet, do you see cables and cords running everywhere and all tangled up? If you were moving house tomorrow, would you have any idea what goes into where? Could you put them all back together again without losing it or needing a medicinal Chardy to calm your nerves?
Go behind your desk and grab the first cord you see and follow it up to the top. What does it come out of? Let's say it comes out of your computer monitor. Grab a pen and a sticky label and write "Back of Monitor", then wrap the label around the cord. Now follow the cord to the other end. In this case, it goes into the back of the hard drive. Do another label that says "Back of hard drive" Continue doing this with each of your cords till they are all labelled. You should also use this time to detangled the cords so they are a bit more organised.
Now you will always know what cord plugs into where and if you need to unplug something, all you need to look at is the labels on the cords in the power plugs and you won't accidentally unplug the TV when you meant to unplug the DVD Player.
On another note – Last week I talked about a client of mine who had 3000 items in her deleted box. I must apologise because I was inaccurate in my quote. She actually has 8500!!! I saw them with my own eyes! Of course, she and I are going to spend some time working on this electronic clutter in the NEAR future.
The clutter on your computer is just as stifling as the clutter in your house. I was talking to a client the other day (yes you know who you are) and she told me that she has over 3000 items in her deleted folder in outlook. 3000! It is called a deleted folder because you have decided you no longer need the email so you delete it. It is not just another folder to store electronic clutter. If there is a chance you might need the email in the future, file it in another folder. If you won't need it. Delete it. Set up Outlook so that everytime you close down, your deleted folder gets emptied. If you aren't sure how to do this. Go to Tools, Options, Other, then place a tick next to the box that says Empty the Deleted Items folder upon exiting. There, doesn't that feel better??
A friend of mine asked me last week how she could keep the inside of her car clean when the kids spend so much time in there and make such a mess.
Clean Car Tip: Do like the hire car companies do and always keep a plastic bag in the car. Once a week when you get the kids out, grab the bag and put the rubbish in the bag and throw it in the bin. If your kids are old enough, get them to grab the rubbish each day as they get out. If they are still quite young, and the mess is food mashed into car seats, grab the wipes and give the seat a wipe over once a week. It is a quick 2 minute job, but if you do it each week, your car will be cleaner and you will be happier. Don't try and eliminate food from the car, you might have a cleaner car, but your stress levels will go through the roof with screaming fighting kids.
I think I have mentioned before that I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old, and they go to pre-prep and kindy 3 days a week. On these days, I used to really struggle to get out the door with any sanity left and most days, some sort of yelling would be involved. Even though we were doing the same things over and over again each day, I would spend the whole morning barking orders like a drill sergeant. This was not a great start to my day!
I had tried typing up reward charts for them before (I realise that the 2 year old really didn't have a concept about it, but had to do it for him because he likes to do what his big sister is doing). In doing this each morning I would still have to tell them what had to be done, the only difference was that they would then get a sticker when they did their jobs. So after a few days, the novelty would wear off, stuff would get forgotten and I would start yelling like a fish wife again.
Just before Christmas, we went to a friend's place for dinner and I noticed that their daughter had a chore chart, but it was different than the one's I had done before. It had pictures on it. Why had I never thought of that before?? That weekend, I made a simple chore chart up using clip art that had pictures of each job that I wanted the kids to do each morning. Then I sat down with the kids on Sunday afternoon and explained that we had a new list of jobs to do each morning, and when all of the jobs were completed, they could have a sticker and watch ABC kids before we went to kindy if we had time.
Why did I not think if this earlier?? Each morning now, the kids get up check their charts for the next jobs that they have to do. They go off and do them and they know that they won't get ABC kids if all jobs aren't done. I've even introduced new jobs for them to do. And they are doing them (woo hoo). It's been 4 weeks now that we have been doing the picture charts, and although we still have some raised voices and tears, our mornings are a lot more pleasant and organised.
Now if only I could get the toilet training of Master 2 to go as smoothly......
Every time I sit down to write a post on my blog, I check to see if anyone has left a comment form my previous blog. So far no one has posted a comment. I was beginning to think that I was writing this, hitting publish post and it was going off into cyberspace where there was so much other information that no one ever read it. I was getting a little discouraged.That was until I went to a networking lunch a couple of weeks ago and someone came up to me and told me that they enjoy reading my blog. I also realised that if I don't pose any questions on my blog, I'm not really likely to get any answers.
Now, on to the real blog post.....
I was at a morning tea today where we got onto the subject of emails. Mainly those that you receive after you have been at a networking function where a generic email is sent out to all those people who handed over business cards. The general concensus was that it if you are going to send an email like this out, please consider the wording that you use. If you didn't personally speak to everyone who gave you a card, don't start the email by saying "it was lovely chatting to you" This is more likely to turn people off from doing business with you. Perhaps you could break your list up into people that you did speak to and use that line and the people that you didn't speak to you could say something along the lines of "I'm sorry we didn't get the chance to chat at the ABC function, I found the speaker very interesting didn't you etc.
The other area that people seem to either not know about, or forget is BCC. When you are sending an email to a group of people that don't necessarily know each other ie your database, don't list all of their email addresses for everyone to see. Put them in the BCC box (which is located below the CC box) When your email is sent, their emails will be hidden and their privacy will be respected. If your BCC box doesn't automatically open in a new email, you can click on the To or CC buttons and this will open up a box to select names from your address book. There will also be a BCC box to put your names in.
I'd like to ask now if anyone has any other tips for email etiquette that they would like to share.
I cleaned out my chest freezer on the weekend - something that was long overdue. Mixed in with all the ice down the bottom were all these little packets of sausages and chops that I had painstakingly separated into kid sized portions and put them into the freezer for those nights when I am making something they won't eat. Each time I went searching for them, I couldn't find them. It's easy to lose a packet of 2 chops or sausages in a 250 litre chest freezer.
I decided that something needed to be done about it. So I grabbed all of these little packets and put them inside a Tupperware container and put the lid on. Now I have all of the kids meals in one place and they won't be lost.
This will also work well for breaking packets of meals up into single sized portions. You could have a container for chicken and one for lamb etc.
I am so tired of getting the Yellow pages out only to discover that I have pulled out A-K when I really need L-Z. Seriously, I think that there must be some sort of jinx or something on my copies of Yellow Pages, I don't think I ever pull the correct one out first. I know the sensible thing to do would be to have them sitting on the shelf with the spine facing out, but I don't. I have then end facing out. But....I came across a very easy to implement tip though that has eliminated this problem....
Get a nikko pen and write either A-K or L-Z on the end that is facing out. That way you always know which is the one you need.
Now if I could just work out how to magically know what everything is listed under........
This week's tip comes as I have just finished doing the floors...
Special mops for wooden floors or 'static' types are very expensive. You can modify your old broom by fitting a stocking over the bristle part and then simply sweep the floors as usual. Animal hair will stick to the stocking like a magnet and dust and dirt will collect far better than using a broom alone.
How exciting! My very first blog. Setting this up has been on my 'to do' list for months now and I haven't made the time to do it. Yesterday I went to a Mums In Business Business Building Session and we talked about blogs. That was just the motivation I needed to get started!
As a personal concierge, my job is to make my client's lives easier and give them back some of the valuable time they spend doing everyday tasks. My aim for this blog is to post some useful tips for people to use in everyday life to save time and money. I'd love to hear from you once you've used my tip. I'd also love to hear about any tips you have.
So let's get this started....
Today's tip is:
Does your pantry have sauce packets and dried pasta & sauce packets just laying around in a pile and you never know what you have because it's too hard to go looking through it all? Get one of those large plastic containers that has been sitting in the plastic cupboard with nothing to do (you know the one that is too big for leftovers, but too small for cakes) and place all of your packets in there standing up. That way when you need a sauce packet or pasta packet, you just need to flick through to see what is there. You'll also find you have a lot more space in your pantry.