The year that’s been and the year to come

Let’s get the epic fail out of the way first:

I declared 2014 The Year of the Garden. No. Nothing was done. Well the triffids are gone from around the pool, so that’s a good thing, but nothing much else has happened.

And my ongoing journey to be healthy in eating, exercise, weight control and sleep is still a work in progress. In fact, I could have cut out the last 12 months and would still be where I was: needing more sleep, needing to drink more water, needing more exercise and needing to eat healthier.

What’s been good?

Financially it has been an OK year. We’ve only paid off $13,000 from our mortgage. But Mr S bought a brand new car, using redraw on our mortgage. (This was something I didn’t support but he will be getting some inheritance next year which will pay back the mortgage.) We’ve paid for the airfare to NZ for another January trip and to the UK (three weeks in London) and we’ve paid for the accommodation in London and most of the accommodation in NZ.

We’ve had some great trips: two weeks in NZ in January, twelve days down the snow; a week up the coast to Queensland and back home down through New England. I did a five day school trip to the northwest of the state. And I did a long weekend to Alice Springs.

I do like getting out and about. More of it, I say.

I saw some great shows and read some quite a few books. Not as many books as I would like but as many as I could. Again, more of it I say.

My top three books of the year: Flanagan’s Narrow Road to the Deep North and Denfeld’s The Enchanted will live with me for a long time. Both so moving. I strongly recommend them.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton qwas original and ironically clever while still being a rollicking tale. Loved it.

Hope 2015 brings much reading, theatre, standup comedy, travel.

I spent much of the year, as I have spent previous years, wondering what I should do with my career. I applied for a couple of other jobs without any desire to have them, or any real reason as to why I was applying for them. Needless to say, without the desire, the hunger to get them, I didn’t get them. And, except for my competitive nature hating having someone else beat me, I was actually OK with not getting them. I didn’t really want them.

This year a friend, who knows I was having a dilemma (what to do with myself, move upwards, sideways, into the bureaucracy) posed a question: what do I want my legacy to be? Great question.

Also, I am spoiled. I don’t have to drive far to work, have lovely kids, have most of my own knights in place and like how things are progressing. So why would I move? To compensate for the lost time and cost of travelling I would need to earn a lot more money. I don’t think I want the challenge of new challenges at this point of my life. Every work place has points of difficulties, so while my current place has some, a move may bring the same or different challenges, and not necessarily an easier time.

I think I’ve come to a point in my career and life that I don’t need to keep striving, to keep applying for the next position. I will relax and enjoy doing what I do, and let some time for me outside of work. (Actually, if I had enough savings and investment to live off, I’d quit. I feel the need to potter, to do nothing much. But as I need to earn an income, I will continue to work.)

So next year, what do I want?

1. Travel. Two overseas trips (does NZ count as overseas?) are already planned, booked and largely paid for. I have some local trips in mind.

2. I want my garden done. And a gardener to maintain it.

3. My mortgage under $400,000 by the end of the year, but this is dependent on the inheritance coming through.

4. Continuing my journey to be healthier and more organised.

5. Shhh. *whispering* I want to get my tax done.


New Year’s Resolution: Be a better, more gorgeous, healthier, organised, wealthier, thinner person

Oh yes, and happier, kinder, less whingy, more erudite, calmer person.

Basically I want to make everyone who comes in contact with me say, “Fuck, she’s got her shit together.” Or at the very least, “She’s bloody gorgeous.”

My goals are:

  • Continue to get fit with regular walking, weights and Pilates. OK, December was a bit of a loss with the weights thang but will start again. Tomorrow, maybe?
  • Continue to limit sugary, fatty foods.
  • Continue working on protecting my back with a monthly massage and doing daily stretches. Dang! Haven’t been doing those either and my hip is giving me gyp.
  • Haphazardly and randomly decluttering things.
  • Read down my house.
  • Do my garden.
  • Sleep well. I have worked on this with great focus and improved. For a bit. But easily slipped into bad habits again. Now I am back to being a night owl with insomnia. I am not Margaret Thatcher (heaven forbid) and can’t get by on a few hours a night. So sleep is the thing. Possibly linked to watching less crap on the tele. Why do I think, “Oh, I’ll just watch this informercial again”? Turn the bloody thing off.
  • Get my tax done. I am not setting any other goals until I achieve this. OK, except for all of these here.
  • Get my mortgage down to under half a mil. That’s a reduction of just over $40,000 off the principal.
  • Cleanse my face every night.
  • Remind myself of the Four Agreements.
  • Buy a robotic vacuum cleaner. (I wish I wasn’t a woman of conscience ’cause the thought of a live-in maid of dubious visa credentials is so tempting. I’d give her weekends off and treat her well. A western capitalist pig with a conscience.)
  • Drink less.
  • Have sandal-worthy feet.
  • Go to Bali. Not the bogan, trashy area. A lovely, non-touristy, but-designed-for-tourists-who-don’t-do-crowds area. Sister, are you reading this?
  • Have more picnics.
  • Beat my husband and sons at Miss Fisher Cluedo. Or at least play board games more often than once a year.
  • Make use of my pool.
  • Yep, think that about covers it. No. One more.

  • Eat more fish. Well, try to. Maybe.
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    Boxing Day Sales


    I am still on my year of no clothes buying. Officially there are four days left.

    The Boxing Day sales are on; great bargains to be had. There are a few items I want to buy – casual shirts, work shirts, pair of dress shoes and a pair of joggers.

    So my dilemma! Do it wait four more days or do I go to the sales? Do I tell myself that the money I will potentially save is more important? And that 361 days is good enough and the saved money more important that the four days?


    But it’s not the new year?

    It’s not the new year, and I am still officially on the Great Wardrobe Diet challenge, but I made a start on my new goal!!!

    Yes, true. I did over an hour’s worth of gardening.

    Look, I know I promised before and after photos but I was too focused. And by focused, read embarrassed. It’s like, way too dirty.

    Anyway, I pulled out a dead plant, collateral damage when I sprayed a rose vine. Who puts a rose vine next to a pool? This thing WAS a triffid. Literally. Perhaps the result of convergent evolution, or closely related. It would send up long shoots that would go sky high and then reach over metres away from the plant’s body. And it would try to eat wandering human. Instead of capturing its prey by blinding them, the local variety of triffid would hook them.

    You could be sitting on our verandah and feel a tapping on your head. Goddamn the flies are diving bombing! No, it is the triffid coming in for a taste.

    I used Round-up. Nothing. The plant just laughed and flowered. So I went in for nuclear weaponry. Undiluted Round-up. Most of it died. Unfortunately an attractive azalea went too. Poor thing. Minding its own business, bringing joy and beauty. Civilians die in every war. So sad.

    Notice how I said “most of it died”? Well, I cut a fresh shoot today. What is it with this triffid? I am going have to re-read Wyndham to find out what worked.

    I won’t be planting for a while. Everything will die in the summer heat while I am overseas.

    Now, only positive comments please. Here’s part of the bed I weeded.

    Massive, I know. And the remains of the triffid. Can’t get the roots out as they go under the pool fence and under the retaining walls. I will paint it with more Agent Orange just in case. Needs must and all.

    At the end of January I will put in some fresh soil. And a plant. What do you think I should put in? Right next to a pool. Has to be hardy and cope with neglectful love. I am thinking gardenias? They are my favourite plant of all time.

    The Year of the Garden

    So, I’ve listened, reflected, decided.

    2014 will be the Year of the Garden.

    There will be minor goals throughout the year. And I will continue my journey to healthy and organised living and gorgeousness by exercising, decluttering, eating well, sleeping, maybe definitely even doing my tax.

    But my main goal will be getting the garden to look gorgeous.

    This goal is scarier than not shopping! See, not doing something is easy. But getting off my backside, fitting something into my day/week, and doing it repeatedly…. Gardens need consistency. A gardening binge then nothing for months and months just doesn’t cut it. Poor plants. They want some regular loving.

    Unless you are this:

    Or this:

    These are happy that I am doing nothing. Thriving, they are. Turning into mega-flora, even.

    How will I get this under control?

    I will set little tasks every weekend and once during the working week for my sons and me.

    When I have got it to a level that it is not embarrassing I will hire a landscaper. Much like tidying up before a cleaner comes!

    I will also get a gardener to do regular maintenance.

    It’s a big task – my block is a traditional quarter acre. But not being one for self-flagellation, I am focussing on two areas – around the pool and the front yard.

    It will make such a difference to my emotional well-being and lifestyle.

    I am so excited! But nervous. There’s much to be done.

    Stay tuned for photos. Real ones! Of my garden of good and evil. Not stolen borrowed photos from the net.

    Money goals? Or lifestyle goals?


    My year to get leaner worked some magic on my mortgage. My mortgage isn’t lean but it is definitely leaner.

    At the start of the year my mortgage was in the high $500,000, so the interest is huge. The $38,000 off the principal this year is almost matched by the interest I paid. All of that didn’t come from not not buying clothes! I didn’t buy much of anything – no furniture, no household appliances, no jewellery, no knick-knacks, no magazines. I was careful with groceries – menu planning and only buying what we needed.

    For 2014 I am torn between continuing to throw money at my mortgage and getting it below $500,000 or paying the minimum (or just above the minimum) and using the funds to have some work done around the house.

    The logical, money-wise action would be to pay down the mortgage. Money saved on not paying interest is a huge saving, and would allow me to get work done in the future without having debt.

    But having a nice home is important to me. Mr Sans and I are not handy, and don’t enjoy DIY. I also work long hours in a stressful job, so when I have time off, I need to rest and recuperate, or I would not be able to continue.

    So my choice for goals: do I get my mortgage below $500,000 by the end of 2014, and wait a year for the work I want done – house painted, garden landscaped and maintained, and kitchen renovated.

    Or do I do the work now?

    Which way to go?


    Maybe I can do both?

    I will be getting a small pay rise next year, and I could look to cut some expenses, like electricity and gas. Mmmm. Thinking.

    2013, the year to get lean

    At the start of this year I aimed to get lean: getting leaner in body, getting the house leaner, getting stress leaner, getting my budget leaner. It was this goal that prompted the year of buying no clothes.

    The year has gone by so quickly. Can’t believe that it is time to reflect already.

    Body: leaner than the middle of the year. Is it leaner than January? Not sure. I was 65.5 kilos then but I stronger now, so I may be leaner now as muscles weigh more than fat. In the middle of the year, following the eight weeks of incapacity due to back pain, I was just over 70 kilos. Either way I feel leaner now. And others obviously think I am too. Mr Sans is very happy with the return of my waist.

    House: things have been going out and fewer things coming in. You all know about my success with not buying clothes and decluttering my wardrobe. I have previously written about the room you cannot enter. While it is not totally emptied and I have dreams to decorate it, the junk room has returned to a study. It is usable. You can walk into the room. I am not embarrassed if people go in there. Kitchen drawers and laundry cupboards are sparser and leaner. Lots of paper has left the house. There is still more to be done – at least another two years of slow and steady decluttering. Books are piling up again! But on the whole, my house is leaner too.

    Stress: epic fail here. Though regular walking and massages, book club, menu planning have helped, there is still a long way to go.

    Budget: weeelll…I haven’t done my taxes. But on the up side, I paid off a heap from my mortgage. Just over $38,000 off the principal. Hear that? pretty amazing. And all the money I saved from not buying clothes, meant I could pay off lots (over $38,000 if you missed it the first time) from the mortgage and take holidays. All our bills are up to date, we have no debt beyond the mortgage, and I know roughly how much we spend and when to keep our household running.

    Yeah, I’m pretty happy with the year of lean. Makes me feel lighter just thinking of all the weight that’s left this house!!!

    What do I want?

    After a weekend of reading blogs, I am feeling re-motivated.

    There is so much I want, but conversely, I don’t know what I want to do with my life.

    The last bit will sound strange to people who know me in real life. I have never been overly ambitious, but I have risen to quite a high position in my field. I cannot really go higher without moving away from front line service, which I don’t want to do. My work is important to me, which is good as it takes up a considerable amount of my time. And I don’t want to retire early or take a demotion or down size my house.

    So what’s got me inspired?

    I have always wanted to:

  • have an organised, gorgeous house with a gorgeous garden
  • lead a life filled with pleasurable things such as books and time to read, visits to the theatre, trips to the country for walks and picnics, trips to high tea& restaurants
  • travel
  • have a life, surrounded by family and friends.
  • be super fit and slim
  • And you know, I have some of those. My house and garden were gorgeous when we moved in. But teenage children and the demands of work has meant we have not maintained it to that state. And just lately that has got me down. My family are messy. I don’t use the word lazy because, like me, in other ways they are not. One spends hours studying for uni and keeping fit. Hardly lazy. Just a tidy house is not important to him.

    So I’ve been thinking: what do I want to do? And how can I get it so my house and garden stay gorgeous given our very busy schedule?

    And what I think is my 2013 Year of Lean is the way forward.

  • Decluttering one thing a day and not buying clothes means I will have space to organise and make tidying up easier.
  • Keeping focused on getting healthy through exercise, diet, water consumption and sleep will help my well being.
  • Looking after my back will save me from days of pain.
  • Getting my tax done will take a weight off my shoulders and give us money to do some things around the house
  • So I am back into it. Time to declutter. Time to move that body. Time to hide that chocolate away.

    What’s your goal for 2013? And how will it help you achieve your bigger goals?

    Today’s decluttered item = hair treatment. I have competing inner me-s. My frugal and greenie-no-waste me says use it up. My have-a-nice-life-with-things-you-like me says throw it out – you don’t like its smell and it does nothing for your hair. The declutterer won. This takes up space. Saving pennies is not my goal. Clearing my house is. Out is goes.