28 September 2010

How to survive a budget flight!

I've read a few blog posts about coping with long flights but they have all been about your fancy pants airlines where you get luxuries like leg room and power plugs for all your electronic devices and... I dunno, foot massages and free food.

That's fine, if you can afford it but some of us don't have the money to splurge on those kind of things. I am a cheapskate so I fly on budget airlines like Jetstar and Air Asia.  We have to rough it in conditions worse than the pets down in the cargo hold.

I'm a terrible flier. I don't get scared, I get grumpy, and bored and pretty much annoying to everyone around me. I'm going to try to fix that though and learn to survive the hard times.

These are my handy survival tips:

1. Pack your own amusements.

The airline isn't going to supply them for you, not without charging you a pretty penny -- and what's the point of flying Cheapo-Air if you spend all your dollars on this kind of crap. Make sure your ipod is charged and full of your favourite videos to watch.

The flight is probably going to last longer than your battery though so use it only when essential (ie. when the baby behind you starts screaming or the drunks down the back start singing Nickelback).

Pack a book to read but make it a good one (unlike the time when the only book I had was Twilight... I thought it couldn't be that bad - I was so WRONG!)

If you are going to a non-English speaking country, practice your language skills by translating the in-flight magazine.

If all else fails, you can play my favourite in-flight game: "Who would you eat first if the plane crashes?"

2. Pack your own food also.

It's very tempting to break up the boredom of the flight by ordering an array of delicious snacks from the hostie but that'll just get you pepped up on sugar with no way of working off your excess energy. Not good. Also you will feel sick in the belly. Save money and your sanity by packing your own food.

3. Don't drink.

Not advice I often give but drinking in the air is expensive and makes you look and feel like crap. Don't get to your destination with a hangover and ruin your holiday. Drink after you land - in a nice bar.

4. Walk.

This can be hard on a cheapo airline - but, with minimal leg space at your seat, even more important. The aisles are tiny full of people's legs and other body parts. You might wake them up with all your walking but screw 'em. I think it could actually be illegal not to have clear aisles on a flight and you don't want to get DVT or any other nasties.

Also, if you take your shoes off during the flight, your feet can swell up and you can't get them back on! I know that from personal experience.

I do laps of the plane then go to the toilet area where there is more space and stretch loads. I might look like a dick but who cares? I need to be able to wear my shoes when I land.

5. Drink water.

Lots and lots of water. You get awfully dehyrated in the air. You don't want to land looking like a prune. This also helps with the walking - you're getting up to get water then getting up to go to the loo!

6. Establish your boundaries early.

There's no need to be a princess but it's so much better to death-scare the kid behind you early rather than exploding after hours of seat-kicking torture. If your neighbour wants to make friends and you don't, tell them you want to listen to your music rather than endure hours of chit-chat.

7. Get over yourself.

It can be annoying being squished into a tiny space with a screaming baby across the aisle but everyone on the flight is in the same boat (so to speak). Have a bit of empathy. If the screaming baby annoys you, imagine how much worse it is for the mum who has to deal with that plus death stares from fellow passengers. Offer a hand instead of bitching.

This might sound like it's contradicting the advice in #6 but realise there are some things you can't change (babies cry - deal with it) and some you can.

Being nice never hurts - smile and chat to people in the toilet queue. Offer a snack to the person sitting next to you. And especially, be nice to the hosties. It's a tough job and you don't want to be the horrible, demanding passenger (even though I'm sure you never would be).

8. Think how much money you are saving.

Better to have a shit flight and a great holiday than spend up big on a fancy airline and have to cut back on the important stuff -- like food and shoe shopping -- at your destination. You don't really need an in-flight movie that much!

I'm going to be very zen and calm when I fly on Sunday. I might even enjoy it. Well apart from the bit where I find out someone has done the sukudo in my in-flight magazine (always happens to me!)

15 August 2010

How to knit easy slippers - pattern

Some slippers I prepared earlier...
This is the pattern for the not yet finished slippers in the photo below.  They are the easiest slippers to knit and, if you are just starting out with knitting, I really recommend them.

Most people learn to knit by making scarves.  That's a good idea in theory, you are getting plenty of practice with plain and purl... but boring!  You feel like you are knitting and knitting and getting nowhere.  Then you never want to knit again and end up with a half-done scarf.

Slippers are so quick to make - only 1 or 2 nights in front of the telly and then you can wear them!  Yahs!  And you are really getting to master some of the basics.  The only tricky bit is knitting with 4 strands of wool but that it's so hard.

You need 4 different balls of wool - cheap acrylic from K-mart is fine because you need it to be tough.  Also a pair of 7mm knitting needles. 

Okay - cast on 20 stitches (for small size - and trust me, you want them on the small side because they stretch like buggery.  If you are wise in the ways of knitting, you can resize by going up or down 3 stitches and adjusting the pattern accordingly.

1st row - knit (too easy)
2nd row - knit 6, purl 1, knit 6, purl 1, knit 6 - this shapes the heel
repeat until you've done 12 rows.

Foot bit:
Then Knit 1, purl 1 for one row.
Purl 1, knit 1 for the next.  (I actually always make the end stitch a knit not a purl cos that's what my nan told me to do - dunno why).

Do this until it measures to the start of your little toe.

Row 1 - knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 3...
Row 2 - knit
Row 3 - K2, K2tog to end
Row 4 - knit
Row 5 - K2, K2tog to end
Row 6 - knit.

Get a BIG wool needle,  cut off the wool leaving the ends long and thread through the stitches left on the needle.  Pull the needle out then pull the wool tight to draw it in (ie. like a drawstring).  Sew a couple of stitches to hold it tight then sew up the foot bit.  The slipper should be nicely shaped.  Put it on and then make the second one (unless you only have one leg, then you have half the work).

Once you master the slipper, you can play around with it.  I made my sister some with 4 different shades of green then made knitted flowers to sew on them and added some button bees = super cute!  I've also made the heel bit extended up the leg for extra warmth - and was going to add laces but laziness prevented me.

08 July 2010

How to Avoid Impulse Shopping

I pretty much love shopping. Who doesn't? Buying stuff is awesome. What I don't like though is having no money. Even worse, having no money and a wardrobe full of clothes I don't wear.

Since I'm on a mega-tight budget and saving like buggery, I thought I'd post up my tough love tips on how to stop impulse buying (and have an awesome wardrobe full of things you actually wear).

#1 Most important ever tip: Don't go near the shops.

At all. Ever. Harsh but fair. If you have BIG plans and BIG savings goals, then why put temptation in your own way. If you don't know about it, you don't want it. Shopping isn't hobby - well I guess it is but, if you want to travel or pay off your mortgage super early or build a mini-golf course in your backyard, then get a cheaper hobby.

Nobody ever just window shops. Companies spend zillions of dollars a year to ensure we don't ever just window shop. They know how your mind works and you are powerless to resist it.

This includes online shopping.

This also includes reading catalogues.

So, okay, you've slipped. You've got an hour to kill in the city and can't help yourself or maybe you've stayed away from the shops for so long your clothes are in rags to the point where you can't work and therefore this whole money saving scheme is becoming counter-productive.

Here's how to have control and save yourself:

1. If you can't decide if you want something or not, you don't want it. Put the dress down, walk away.

2. If you really want it, leave it and come back tomorrow. If it's still there, you were meant to have it. If you sit up all night obsessing that someone else might buy it before you get back to the shop, you were meant to have it.

3. If you really want it, and it's the last one in the shop in your size, put it on layby. If you don't obsess about paying that layby off stat, go back and cancel it. You obviously don't care that much. Sure you might lose a few bucks in processing fees but you should get your deposit back - and save the money you might have spent.

4. If you can't find what you need for a special occasion, don't settle for "this will do". You'll hate that outfit forever and never wear it again. Take another look through your wardrobe and if you still have nothing appropriate, beg or borrow from friends -- or friends of friends.

5. Don't buy anything on sale that you wouldn't pay full price for. Otherwise it's not a bargain, it's just an expensive duster.

6. Nothing you buy will change your personality -- or make you more popular or more loved. At best, it will help you feel confident and happy. For a brief while.

06 July 2010

The Trunk of Broken Dreams

For those who weren't readers of my previous blog, some background.  All my life I've been overweight then, about 4-5 years ago, because of health problems and being fed up with being fat, I lost weight.  Over about a year, I dropped 40 kgs.  I became the girl in the "after" picture.

Life was good and I lived happily ever after.

Except I didn't.

I hit the golden moment.  I won the prize.  I even stayed there for a while.  I ran a half marathon and attended reunions.  Lots of kudos, lots of compliments.  I was bullet-proof

Then I slacked off.  All the lessons I'd learnt, all the smarts I had disappeared.  I kept telling myself - I'll lose weight soon.  Oh that top must have shrunk in the wash.  Those jeans never fit right.  Lies and self deceptions.

On the weekend, as part of my ebay clean out, I sorted through my trunk of clothes.  Outfits I'd forgotten mocked me with their smallness.  They fit me once but that time was long, long ago.  Maybe this is shallow, maybe this is weak, but I felt like crying looking at those clothes.  The size 11 jeans, the tiny little mini skirt and my absolute favourite red and white polka dot dress.

They are just clothes.  Just clothes.  I can buy more and I have bought more but it feelslike giving up.  Laying down and meeting defeat.

When I started losing weight, I kept things very simple.  But, as time went on, I read more about weight lose, about running, about fitness.  My head got filling to overflowing with a glut of information, most of it conflicting.  I had to do more - eat more protein, eat less carbs; train with intervals, lift more, blah, blah, blah.  I felt guilty if I went to the gym and only did ONE class.  Some days I spent 3 hours or more at the gym.

My head nearly exploded with all the 'coulds' and 'shoulds' and trying to reach pefection.

I want to get back to where I was when I started losing weight. Back then, I had a few simple rules:

  • Log everything I eat.  I didn't count calories, I didn't analyse, I just tracked.
  • Exercise every day.  It can be pilates or yoga or a walk.  Those types of things are good too.
  • Water.  Drink it.  All the time.
  • Before I eat something, think about if I want it.  If I REALLY want it.  Most of the time, I don't.
That's it.  No bullshit.  Keeping it simple.  Keeping it real, kids.

    10 May 2010

    5 Things I Love About Japan:

    There are many, many things I love about Japan but these may possibly be my top five.

    1. Sakurai Sho

    Not just sexy but smart and incredibly funny.  I love this guy.  I love that he is a rapper and an idol and a newscaster.  Not just that but he can go from being all smart and sexy reading the news on one tv show to having the nipples cut out of his tee-shirt in a punishment game half hour later.

    I love that he fails so often but always wins.  I love his really bad puns. He makes me think that if being a fan girl is wrong, I never want to be right.

    2. Trains

    When I'm in Japan, I can see why people become train nerds.  Japanese trains are so much superior to Australian trains.  For starters, they are on time.  OMG yes!

    Also people STFU on the trains.  They don't jibber-jabber on, talking on their mobile phones about what they are going to cook for dinner and other crap that fills your ears up to bursting point.  People send texts or just general be quiet.  They do that so that other people can sleep.

    3. Ramen

    Ramen is like the greatest food known to man.  If you are sad, it makes you happy.  If you are tired, it comforts you.  It is like a big blanket of yummy warmth to grab around yourself.  I've tried to make ramen at home but never quite succeeded.  I will keep on trying though.

    The absolute best bit about ramen is the eggs.  I don't know what they do to the eggs - I think they hard boil them then marinate them in soy and mirin - but they are super extra good.

    4. Karaoke

    Sure there is karaoke in Australia but it's crap karaoke.  You go to a bar full of strangers and get given a ratty, dog-eared, torn list of songs to pick from.  Then you have to wait around all night for your turn while you are listening to other shit singers. 

    In Japan, you have a private room.  There's no waiting for a turn (well except if your friends hog it), there's a modernified electronic song selecting touch pad thingo and, best of all, there's an intercom where you can holler for more drinks! 

    Sometimes you even get a tamborine.

    5. Random Adventures

    Sure you can have random adventures anywhere but I seem to have more than my fair share in Japan.  Maybe because I talk to more random stangers, maybe because I go out more.  Who knows?

    So what is your favourite place in the world and what do you love about it?