Category Archives: shopping

Urgent! I need a toilet! (Just not in the way you might think)

Those who follow me on Twitter will know that toilets have been on my mind lately. You see, the next stage of the Curse’s after-effects has been the demolition of much of our bathroom floor. It’s rotten under the shower … AGAIN.

Unfortunately, the rot had spread to under the toilet as well. Our lovely builder Alberto warned us last week that the toilet was going to have to go, maybe for as much as a week.

Cue panic.

Then it was all OK and we were only going to be without a toilet on Monday night.

Which sounds reasonable until you think about the words. Without. A. Toilet. Family of Four. Ugh.

And so every day since about last Thursday, I have wondered whether I would have a toilet that night. And I have been oh so very thankful when I did.

And then the Bigster realised that her exams were at the start of this week. No proper shower (only hand-held over bath). No toilet. Actually, half a bathroom missing. And Exams. Yikes.

So we hatched a little plan that involved me and Bigster going to a hotel for Monday night, leaving Fraser and Otto to wizz in a bucket manage on their own. And then we considered getting a family room or something so that we could all go. And then our builder said today, “Oh by the way, you won’t have a toilet tomorrow either.”

Which he clearly meant to be reassuring. Or, at the least, informative.

But you see, “no toilet” and “reassuring” do not really go together. And I started to add numbers in my head, because we were already way over “budget” on, well, everything, but especially on the unbudgeted “hotel” item. And I flung myself in my car and drove to Aldi, because some of my friends thought that MAYBEJUSTMAYBE they might have seen camping toilets at Aldi.

And of all the things that were bad about having OMG NO TOILET, that one was the least bad. Because it would mean that the inspection camera was no longer the strangest thing that I had bought at Aldi. I was able to go to a happy place inside my head. A toilet-free happy place, admittedly, but an only slightly less happy place for it.

Until the woman at my local Aldi smashed my dreams. “Yeah, we had those. About three months ago. But they didn’t sell so we sent all our stock to the rural stores.”

Grrr. I drove home again, thoroughly subdued. Then: Brainwave! Camping Stores!

I rang the “local” camping store, which is about 15 minutes’ drive away. It was 5:13. They had camping toilets in stock, but closed at 5:30. It was a challenge I was determined to make; I was out the door before we were even off the phone.  (I rang my family while I was on the way, to tell them I had gone out).

I made good time to the camping store, until … disaster. A train. Ding, ding, ding, boomgates down, no chance to cross.

Thoroughly desperate for my toilet, I rang them. “I’m on my way to pick up a camping toilet but I am at the boomgates and now I will be late. Could I possibly pay by credit card or something, just to speed it up?” I was ready to offer any staff member willing to WAIT OUTSIDE THE STORE WITH MY TOILET $20 cash. Things were down to the wire.

Fortunately, the assistant manager was lovely and helpful and reassuring. After establishing that I really WAS just up the road, she promised to keep the till open for me, even past 5:30 if need be.

And so it was that I got there, and ran through the doors, and was greeted with one sweet sweet word: “Toilet?”

And it was 5:33 and all was good.


I bought the special toilet paper which “hindert Verstopfungen” (stops blockages) which made me giggle because I will swear that Verstopfung is German for constipation. Trust me, by that time I would have giggled at anything. And then I bought the special tank chemicals, only it turns out that you aren’t supposed to use them in the regular sewers, so I didn’t. And then I over-filled the tank (the clean water for flushing, people, minds out of the gutter) and it started leaking and there may or may not have been some al-fresco wizzing and some argufying with Fraser about how much water should be going into the waste tank anyway because there is a PROPER WAY to use a camping toilet and I might have missed it. And then we demonstrated how to flush the toilet to the girls and there was much hilarity except from them and Fraser, who all think it is a little revolting. So from me, really.

And the best part of all, is that I got to buy something completely weird, and actually genuinely put it on the “saving money” side of the ledger.

And also, I have just topped my Best Toilet Ever story.


The Perils of Online Shopping

As regular readers will know, I have a small habit of online shopping. Some (coughFrasercough) might call it a problem, but there are many instances where it has brought joy into our lives. Well, my life.

Like OMG and WTF self-inking stamps, which maybe aren’t used terribly often, but are often in my thoughts. Sometimes. But now that they ARE in my thoughts, I realise that they apply to some of the articles I have been reading for Uni. Useful AND Fun – look at that!

And the many, MANY parcels from the Book Depository that arrive on my doorstep (often literally – the postie doesn’t usually put them in the mailbox, for some reason) singing their sweet songs of happiness and delight.

And the Digital USB Microscope. OK, it doesn’t get much use, but just those three words are beautiful together.

And various t-shirts.

And then there are the things I have SEEN online but bought in person. Like the Inspection Camera. And many pairs of shoes.

And then there are the duds.

Let’s start with that new “Pern” book. Or the series of Piers Anthony books that I thought was not bad, so I ordered the whole lot, and then read the first one and where is that OMG WTF stamp when I need it, the series is such a shocker I didn’t even finish the first book and am seriously contemplating ceremonial incineration.

And the electronic mozzie bite relief thing. In a 2-pack.

And a solar house number, which really is SUCH a good idea because it is ILLUMINATED AT NIGHT so people can see your house number. But Fraser gives it a week before it is stolen and refuses to have it hung outside for that reason. So instead, it is inside where most people know our house number already. Not so useful after all.

And the mince pies.

Actually, they were part of a bread order. You get this enormous box full of bread and bread products and in theory you sink happily into carbohydrate heaven. In practice, you end up throwing out moldy bread because there is just too much of it and it’s not terribly nice, but the kids like the slices and the doughnuts and the muffins.

And there is this delicious little pack of mince pies that they sneak in there … except that when you go to open it, you notice that they were use by some time in January. And this went on for three of the four weeks that we had the standing bread product order, so Fraser sent them a little email saying I know mince pies live for ever, but presumably you took that into account when you created the use by dates, so – just maybe – it would be a good idea to stick to them, and they apologised. Yay!

And today, we had a new delivery. With mince pies. Except, they had TAKEN THEM OUT OF THE PACKAGING (but left them in the same tray).

And I think my food shopping on the Internet might be stopping right there.


Posted by on March 14, 2013 in shopping


Conversations with my husband (from late last year)

Almost verbatim. But edited.

Me: You know how we can’t find our satnav? And I thought maybe we should get another one but you said OVER YOUR DEAD BODY? And we are driving to South Australia? Well there’s a TomTom app that runs on an iphone.

Fraser: Ah ha

me: so you would not crack the shits if I got it?

Fraser: No. But I might ban you from Ikea for 6 months

me: lol << (“as if”)
I’m going to buy this sucker so I can wear it in a bit

Several minutes later …

Me: omg

Fraser: wot?

me: you can buy a YODA VOICE
for the TomTom

Fraser: no

me: Turn left, you must.
A roundabout, there will be.

Fraser: NO

me: Follow the third path, you should
I am not going to
but I am cracking up thinking about it
there is a lot of fun to be had there for $6.49

and, as it turns out, there is a lot of fun to be had wondering about what else Yoda might say.

  • The urge to speed, resist, you must.
  • An accident, there has been.
  • USE the brakes.



Posted by on March 8, 2013 in movies, shopping, travel


This week in my life

There was a trip to the dentist. Resulting in a bruised jaw and droopy anaesthetised eyelid. Very attractive, me.

Also two trips to the Children’s Hospital, involving four vials of blood and a chest x-ray.

There was a trip to my accountant to do OMGTAX. And, if I manage to squeeze it in, a trip to the local council offices to view and photocopy the plans for our house.

There were traffic lights on Facebook that made it into my blog. And a bad friend who quoted the Traffic Light song and now I have an earworm.

There was a Diagram of Cheese, which did not. Until now. I don’t think it’s very complete.

There was an ill-advised Trip to IKEA (if I count last Sunday as part of this week).

Two gifts were bought for Fraser. He does not know what they are so I cannot tell you, Dear Reader. But they are awesome. And one might be for Sharing. Tragically, though, neither of them is Spy Cufflinks.

There was lots of work, jammed in between driving the Bigster around and hangin’ at the hospital.

And Nigerian Spam, addressed to Dearest One. Which made me feel happy even though it was from the Bad People.

There were no games at all, and only one very mediocre book. (See my slightly ranty review of the latest Pern novel, Todd & Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon’s Time at Goodreads – warning, SPOILERS sweetie!)

But there were TWO purple vegetables. Neither of which is usually purple.

And there was excitement about the upcoming Doctor Who card game by Martin Wallace.

As weeks go, I’d give it a 7.5/10.


Decluttering many things. A bit. Also, rambling. And some shopping.

With the amount of work I have done in the last 12 months, I’ve not had a lot of time to myself. Too many long days and late nights have not only sent my stress levels soaring, they’ve also seen our (always cluttered and messy) house really deteriorate.

Last Friday, I made a stand. But instead of cleaning THEIR rooms, I cleaned mine. I dragged things out of cupboards, put shoes back on shelves, made room for some of Fraser’s shirts in the cupboard (first time in years). There’s more to do, and the funky layout of our bedroom coughTooMuchFurniturecough doesn’t help, but it’s better than it was. And one more Friday should get it to where I want it to be.

My side of the room, that is. While I feel strongly that we should share the blame responsibility for the rest of the house, there is a clear demarcation line in the bedroom.

I have a history of trying to declutter. A few years ago, I hired a Professional Organiser to help me and I learned some stuff about how to throw things out. And then she spent a session working with Fraser and I really think it is a miracle that they didn’t come to blows. But that was expensive and really I need to be able to do this stuff myself.

The best attempt I ever made at decluttering was when we refurbished the study. By which I mean, got rid of the old crappy bookshelves and moved things around to make room for my desk and Fraser’s poker machine. And an armchair. The good part was that we paid a couple of students to come over and just pack everything in the room into boxes. No matter what it was. The boxes all went into the Bigster’s room, we cleaned the carpet and put in the new shelves, then we started unpacking. And we threw out (or gave away) roughly a third of what had been in the old study. It was time-consuming, but everything had a place. And when we renovate, I am going to do the same thing. And then give myself a month off to unpack everything!

Anyway. After last week’s bedroom decluttering, yesterday, on that day off where we ended up going ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE (and enjoying it), I sorted some of my tax stuff, opened some mail that had been frightening me (our accountant is lovely, but show me anything related to tax and I am completely paralysed), updated some of my accounts and logged some expenses and OMG MADE AN APPOINTMENT TO DO MY TAX. Which is just a huge thing because see my note about paralysis? I really mean it. Tax and dentists. And heights. Not things I can think about without serious, terrifying terror.

And then Fraser and I sat down and had a conversation about money. Which I think is hugely productive and helpful because we have such different attitudes to money – he is much more cautious and anxious than I am. And he wants me to tell him EVERY SINGLE TIME I use our joint credit card which drives me batty because it is like he is CHECKING UP ON ME and WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS MY DAD OR SOMETHING and it all goes downhill from there. And I don’t reply to his emails about it because to me they are a low priority and then he gets more annoyed because I am being IRRESPONSIBLE and I get annoyed because he is being UNTRUSTING and – yeah. Downhill. On wheels. So instead, I suggested that we sit down every two weeks to talk about Money Stuff and he can go through the VISA card statement then if he wants to. It’s how we found out that Otto had somehow signed up for Club Penguin. She doesn’t quite understand that the bit about “ask your parents” isn’t just for children who can’t read yet. And that was a useful session and I think quite productive. And next week we will talk about Family Stuff. I have even scheduled time in our calendars for this.

ANYWAY. I did more Accounts Stuff today to try to get ready for our accountant meeting next week. And then I cleaned under my desk AGAIN which was annoying because (a) there was lots of stuff that Fraser & the kids had kicked through from under his desk AGAIN and (b) there was some of my stuff that was hiding under my desk which probably means that Otto had got it down there to play with and (c) I discovered (EWWWW) that I was not in fact Incorrect and Imagining Things in thinking that the cats had been wizzing somewhere in the Study and it is in fact just under where our desks meet (but on Fraser’s side – ha!) and then I had to clean up catwizz and carpet and it really was more than just a little bit disgusting.

And now I have cleared my desk (well mostly). Suffice it to say, my next trip to IKEA involves much-needed cable trunking.

So that was my two big (OK medium-sized) decluttering efforts in the last week or so. Three, if I count the accounts and invoicing and stuff – which is definitely mental clutter.

And now I want to make Sweeping Grand Plans like “I will declutter the whole house, watch me, I can do this” – but common sense and the voice of experience suggest that this plan is Doomed. So instead I have a short-term goal: This week, I am going to do a little bit of decluttering Every Single Day. That feels like enough of a challenge for now.


Posted by on May 27, 2012 in decluttering, grand plans, shopping, tax


First World Shopping Problems

I want to buy shoes, underoos, plane tickets and stationery. I need to buy onions and rubbish bags.

Not a lot of overlap here.


Posted by on May 25, 2012 in shopping


Inspection Required

My love affair with Aldi continues apace.

Visiting on Thursday, I discovered this unique concept:

Gravy Warmer: Keeps Gravy warm

It’s a Gravy Warmer. As one friend pointed out, it could only be more fabulously useless if it were a USB Gravy Warmer.

Picking up their catalogue at the same time, I discovered that Saturday’s specials included something called an Inspection Camera. Which is a still/video camera with a long bendy flex attached to a hand-held unit with a screen. The camera – and a fairly strong LED light – are on the end of the flex – so you can poke it into places and see what is going on. Read the rest of this entry »


Shoes – parte deux

I’m feeling a little shoe love over in the comments on my last post. Thank you to everyone who has shared their shoe stories 🙂

Until about five years ago, I had almost no shoes. My feet are broad and hard to fit, and all the shoes they made in my size were made for nannas who liked bowling. Or The Queen, who may not have broad and hard-to-fit feet but who likes the kind of shoe that is made for them. Beige with buckles is really not my thing – although apparently just about everything else is.

(Having typed that, I Googled “shoes beige buckles” to look at the images. And there are no Nanna-shoes there! Even when I added “Grandma” on the end, I still didn’t see the sort I was thinking of. “Old lady shoes” works, though.)

And – well – then I discovered that there were a couple of local shoe shops that sold shoes in my size! PRETTY shoes in my size!

And along the way, I may have got a little carried away.

Casual, Rubber-soled Flat, dressy Heels Boots Sandals
White 1 1
Pink. Or Purple.
1 1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1
Beige. Or Brown. Or Taupe.
1 1 2 1
Black. Or Grey. 2 2 4 2
Navy blue.
1 1

The really awesome thing about that matrix? Is that I have something in EVERY COLUMN for pink or purple (and I only have one pair of purple shoes). And I also have a pair of pink fluffy slippers, as of Wednesday night.

And oh phew. Because I mis-counted when I scrawled this matrix on the tram, and I thought I had 31 pairs of shoes. And then I found one I’d missed and I was a little embarassed, thinking I had more than enough shoes to wear a different pair every day of the month. And Fraser was giving me not a little grief about it. But I don’t.

Also, many of my shoes come with AWESOME STORIES. Like:

  • The $350+ pair I got OMG FOR FREE. Because they were on sale at $49 and I had a $50 off voucher and thought I would be cheeky and ask if I could use it and the woman said ONLY FOR ONE PAIR so of course I went and bought another pair for $49. Because, $350 shoes! For $49! And for free! That was $700 of shoes for $49! Even better than $350 of shoes for free, apparently.
  • And the boots that are not Yuck after all. Even though the sales woman kept telling me they were. Eventually I realised that she just had a very thick accent and was trying to tell me they were made of YAK. They are furry on the inside and when I wear them, I speak to them with a thick central European accent.
  • And the fuchsia snakeskin patent leather shoes which are just amazing because FUCHSIA. And SNAKESKIN. and PATENT. I’m on my second pair and they were the last pair left in that style and they were IN MY SIZE AND REDUCED TO $49. Which is apparently my Magic Shoe-Shopping Price.
  • And the grey suede boots that are so awesome that a woman felt me up in Kmart the one and only time I wore them. There is no more to this story. It was surreal. She complimented me on my shoes then grabbed my bum. (They are actually the aforementioned FREE PAIR which has two stories about it. I can DINE OUT ON THESE SHOES.)

It’s time to accept that I have a shoe problem.

I noticed last week that my go-to pair of slate grey work shoes is looking a bit ratty. It must be time for a replacement.


Posted by on May 3, 2012 in be happy, shopping



I surveyed my Facebook friends this week, about how many pairs of shoes might be considered “too many”. The verdict was that most are too disinterested to respond.

Of those that did, however, the general consensus was FIVE.

That’s right. Five pairs of shoes is too many.

I think even Fraser has five pairs of shoes. See diagram below. Almost.

In fairness Kathy went to 10, and Mousey even allowed up to 15. But that was the highest anyone went, even though I tried to skew things by offering increments up to forty.

Dear Friends,

You suck at validating my shoe fetish.

Love, Melissa xxx

I got excited and drew some Matrices. To represent the Need For Shoes.

Here is Fraser’s:

Casual, Rubber-soled Flat, dressy Heels Boots Sandals
White Runners
Black Work shoes Crappy sandals
Brown Hiking boots

4 pairs.

OK let’s try the kids.


Casual, Rubber-soled Flat, dressy Heels Boots Sandals
White Runners
Black Dressy shoes
And another more casual pair on order
Ugg boot style things. She wears them as slippers. Bought in Albury last year when she was hideously sick & couldn’t keep warm.
Brown Everyday shoes. Kind of groovy. A pair my mum bought her that probably don’t fit any more
Green Everyday shoes. Soft and fairly worn.

Note please the count: 7 pairs of shoes. Owned by one of the people who said 5 pairs was too many. QED.


Casual, Rubber-soled Flat, dressy Heels Boots Sandals
White Runners (they are purple too)
Black School shoes
And another pair with gold bits
Purple Last year’s boots. Tragically, probably outgrown.
Gold and silver Can I count 2 pairs of Jiffys here? She wears them as slippers at school and everything.

Yah. Not so great. Not really breaking any records there.

My matrix – once created – turned out to be a really good way to keep a log of all my shoes. A LOG OF MY SHOES. Which is itself one of those statements that suggests that the two shoe shops and I should perhaps have a parting of ways – for a time, anyway.

It is also a pretty fabulous way to frighten Fraser.

But I may never live it down.

And so – having set the scene – I will try my poll again.


Posted by on May 2, 2012 in be happy, shopping


Shoes. Another flowchart.

Melissa wants new shoes but her family do not share that wish

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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in flowcharts, shopping