Thursday, 10 January 2019

War on Straw! No more plastic straws!

My new aim for reducing waste was the using less plastic straws. The kids were on board and we still wanted our slushies/frozen cokes on Mondays, so I bought some stainless steel spoons from Ebay.

I kept them in my car - the challenge was to remember to ask them for NO lids and NO straws at the Drive Thru!

Then, when we were out for dinner at Saint Peter, they served us our drinks with Bamboo Straws. I thought that was awesome.

I found them on a cool shopping website, Flora and Fauna.

There are so many things there! I actually bought some stainless steel straws for the car, so we can drink our slushies/frozen drinks.

So I dare you to make the challenge - try and go plastic straw free! The environment will thank you!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Retiring at 55 - How to reach your goals financially

I was reading an interesting article on about a millennial who wanted to retire at 35. I thought to myself, how is this guy going to do it when he's hardly been working long enough to get a decent super fund going?

However, when I read it, it made heaps of sense.

Home ownership seems to be the goal for many young people, or young families. They save up for a deposit then work their asses off to be able to make the mortgage repayments, and at the end of 30 years, they should own their own home.

But the interest you pay is not an insignificant amount! Let's take this $500,000 home for example, with a 20% deposit of $100,000.

After 30 years, you would have paid over $752k for your $500k house. You HOPE that your house is worth more than that so that when it comes to selling time, you will make your money back.

In this article, Pat (the millenial) said:

My colleague Matt nearly choked on his coffee when I told him I had $250,000 in the share market. "That's crazy," he said. But I'll tell you what I think is crazy: spending 30 years of servitude paying off a mortgage, just to own a very expensive material possession, when I could be doing other things like spending time with my friends and family.

His aim was to have 1 million put into shares by the time he was 35 and then live off the earnings of that for the rest of his life, which was a modest 40k a year.

It sounds like very little, but it really depends on the lifestyle you want to lead.

For that 500k house, 2k rent a month is probably not unreasonable. That approximates the interest repayments. But throw in a person to share it with and suddenly you only have to pay 1k a month. And that 1k you can put aside for investment.

Pat was going to avoid big city living and live in more affordable areas, like country towns. Watching his budget is what impresses me. Most young people these days want to keep up with the Jones' and have the latest tech, clothes and go out and live the city lifestyle, which is expensive!

Pat blogs at Long Life Shuffle about how he goes about getting to his financial goal. Check it out if you want to see if you want to retire early!

Obviously, my situation is different. My goal is to retire at 55, and I think I would need about 60k a year to feel comfortable. If I live to 90 then that's 35x60k = 2.1 million. I need to have 2.1 million saved up to be able to retire at 55. I am a high income professional married to another high income professional and we have 2 children.

So how I distribute my money for savings go:
1) kids saving funds
2) Superannuation
3) Property
3) Managed funds/Bonds/Shares

I'll go into each of these in a later post. But I think everyone should stop and think about how they would like to live their lives - do they want to work till they die? Or do you want to retire early? If you decide the latter, then you need to be organised and start a saving plan NOW.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Chicken Diaries - New chickens that weren't what I expected

After the trauma of the previous day, I thought the best thing was to distract them with a new chicken. Not so they thought that Snowy was easily replaceable, nor was it to make them cheapen death, but I asked them if they would like another chicken and they said they did.

I responded to an ad on Gumtree which was selling a cheap chicken, but it turned out that they wanted all 3 to go together.  Oops, that wasn't part of the plan. Lose one and come home with 3? Now I havae 8 chickens!

These new chickens were all Isa Browns, good egg layers. However, I was surprised when I saw them because I saw something I hadn't seen before.


It just meant that the sharp bit of their beak was cut off, but it still looked weird. Short little beaks.  At first I baulked, thinking these were mistreated chickens, but they seemed happy enough, just funny beaks.

So this is a sad picture of debeaked chicks. It's done with a hot iron/laser so it's cauterised at the end. Some say the beak grows back, but I don't really think it does.

These are my chickens. You can see their short beaks. Some are shorter than others...


Beaker has the shortest beak - she belongs to my daughter. Peckachu is my husband's chicken, and has white feathers around the neck, and Puffy is my son's chicken, and has a longer beak and is slightly more red than the others.

The good thing about having three is that the bullying is not as bad and they hang around together. They figured out food and water pretty quickly. I was naughty and didn't isolate them, but I did a lice check and didn't see anything. On the first night they slept separately but the second night I tried to get them to go up the coop and they slept on the ground of the coop instead. On the third night I manually put them up there and now they've figured out where home is.

They laid eggs the next day but they didn't know where to lay. I found eggs on the ground the day after I brought them home and also out in the garden the day after that. But once they figured out that the coop was home, they laid in the nesting box.

I can't tell whose eggs they are so it doesn't help me with my egg calendar. It's easy when there are 3 eggs! However they do lay quite big eggs compared to my other chickens, so that's one way to tell.

Welcome to the family, ladies!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Chicken Diaries - A sad case of chicken cannabalism

Poor Snowy. She had a prolapsed cloaca again but this time I wasn't home and she was pecked to death by the other chickens. The worst part was, my daughter had gone out to check the chickens and found her droopy and dying, and went over to pick her up and the chickens came and mauled the chicken in front of her whilst she was holding her. I had dropped the kids home for a few minutes and gone to pick something up but when I got back both kids were screaming and in tears, the poor things, clutching a dead chicken, with her intestines all pulled out.

Anyway, I buried the chicken and comforted the teary kids, and talked about death and dying. The kids kinda knew about that already, but now they had seen it first hand. They were upset at the other chickens, but I told them that the chickens can't help it, it's instinct to peck at red things.

I buried Snowy in the front yard. I hope no dog comes digging her up in the middle of the night.

I also saw she had laid an egg today. That fateful egg. The egg that killed her. The kids wanted to keep the egg as a memory, and I will have to go find a syringe and needle so I can keep the egg for them.

Thinking of you, Snowy! You weren't the most friendly chicken (so I'm surprised the kids were so sad) but you were loved by everyone.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Tesla Model X - Sparrowgal review

My car is finally here! Just in time for Christmas, making it a wonderful Christmas present for myself.

There are many things about the Tesla which I didn't know (but thought I did) but I'll go through every little thing that surprised me about this car.

1. Range

The first thing people ask me is about how far it can go. Officially, it's 420km. BUT, in reality it's more like 300+ km. Why the great difference?

Think back to The Martian (one of my fave movies by the way!)

In the movie, Watney (Matt Damon) takes the Rover out and finds that it has a range of 35km fully charged. However, he could double it when he didn't have the heater on.

I may not need a heater on in the car, but I do need air conditioning in this sweltering 35+ degrees celsius heat this summer. Having that on does cut my car energy a bit!

2. The Enhanced Autopilot

I have driven a friend's car (HK's Ford Mondeo) and it has adaptive cruise control. I really liked it - it meant I could follow people and not worry about my car getting too close because the car senses the car in front and slows down to accommodate and speeds up as well to your max speed limit you have set.

But, when you turn on the auto-steering and lane change assist, suddenly long distance driving became a whole lot easier.

The car now not only keeps the speed and following distance right, but it will also stay between the lines of the lanes by itself. You can feel the car turning under your grip on the wheel and a medium amount of force to take control back is required. Even the lane changing - which I thought was just pure laziness, because how hard is it to change a lane - is cool. The car accelerates sometimes to get into the lane and then inserts itself nicely after checking for obstacles. Just turn on your indicator to change the lane and the car does the rest. Turn off the indicator to stop it.  Seriously, this is the cruise control I've always wanted that I never knew that I needed.

3. That Christmas Easter Egg

I didn't know it had these fun things, but this Christmas dance is absolutely hilarious. One of friends told me about it, so I went home to look for it and found it.  I played it for my parents and they were embarrassed by the noise, but the neighbours clapped when the show was over. Here's someone else's video of the Christmas thing.

4. Headrests which are convex... not a fan

You don't realise it until you drive (or try to sleep), but these headrests are uncomfortable. When you lean on it, your head tends to roll to the side because they're slightly convex. Now, if they were a little concave (or had the side wings like aeroplane headrests) then your head wouldn't roll off the seat.

5. Supercharging whilst on long trips

One thing I noticed when I was at the dealership picking up my car, was all the hire cars parked in the charging bays. I thought that was clever. Never have to pay for petrol or for servicing and you get free charging so you can drive around. However, that's about to change - I saw that in 2018 cars registered for business can no longer use the superchargers for free, to allow the superchargers to be used for personal travel.

I did a drive to Canberra on Sunday and we had to stop at Goulburn to charge the car for half an hour.

It wasn't so bad. We stopped at Macca's just before the charger, told the kids they can't eat it until we get to the charging place, and then they could get out of the car to eat. By the time we had finished eating, gone to the toilet/washed hands, it was half an hour.

So, the drawback is that it now takes half an hour longer to get to Canberra than it used to. But, it's for free. My hubby told me to look at it like a toll - because using a petrol car, the petrol cost would be about $80 return to go to and from Canberra from Sydney. Would you pay a $40 toll to save half an hour of travel?

6. Speedy? Yes!

The pickup is impressive. As I am used to a non powerful car, putting my foot on the accelerator with the same force leads to some stomach sinking acceleration, which my hubby found uncomfortable (my driving, that is). However, I can set "Chill" mode on my car and the acceleration is gentler, and much more to my liking.

The Chill mode caused a bit of an uproar earlier in the year because people started complaining their car was going too slow, and some articles suggested that people who had it on were "boring". Well, I'm boring and I have it on, and I like it.

This is funny because I knew they had a "ludicrous" mode on the P100D which made it go EVEN faster - this Chill mode is the exact opposite of that!

7. I use Tidal not Spotify - not a problem!

I noticed that the car can choose music, as it comes with a premium Spotify account (though, the Spotify account isn't working for me. Apparently this is a common problem, popping up on Tesla forums all over the place).

I have a Tidal subscription, and the cool thing is that the music starts all by itself once my phone connects to Bluetooth. My fave playlist pops up and it works perfectly. I can even navigate the songs from the car with the forward/backwards buttons.

Reports on the internet say that it doesn't work with Apple Car Play or Android Auto, which could be annoying for people using those streaming services.

8. The doors are not as annoying as I thought

I didn't really want falcon wing doors. I thought they were gimmicky. However, they really are good for getting out of tight spots. I park close to the passenger side wall in my garage to allow people room to get out, and you can still activate the falcon wing door to get into the car, which is great considering you can't get in the passenger side front door on that side in that same space (about 40cm).

I have closed the door on myself once or twice as I rushed to get something out of the seat after I pressed the close button and the door hardly hurts me as it taps me on the back. It LOOKS terrifying to others (like I'm about to be chopped in half) but it's about as uncomfortable as a thump on the back.

9. Door Unlock with Key Fob issues

I like the idea of having the car unlock as I approach it. However, when the car was sitting in the garage and the key was just next to the door on the table, the car would be unlocked and be ON, which was annoying me.

With the car on, the fan would be running because the music would be playing as my phone would connect to the car and then the garage would be insanely hot because of the fan and whatever it was the car was doing. In the end, I had to turn it all off, and have to manually unlock my car with the key. At least it stopped the car turning on in the garage and playing music because my key was nearby. I wish that wouldn't happen though.

10. No storage for back seat passengers

With falcon wing doors you can't have door storage anymore, as everything would fall out, and there are no back seat pockets to slip things into - as a parent, I find that a rather restrictive thing in the middle seats. Emergency drink bottles, school hats, pencils to do homework - these are the kinds of things I'd be looking to be storing for the kids in the back seat.

I will have to reinstall their mini desks into the back of the seat again from my old car so we can do homework whilst we wait for Taekwondo class to start.

There is however ample boot space, but it just means getting out of the car to access it.

11. NO more Car Services

I found this hard to get my head around. No car service? Really? What about all the electrics and stuff? Well, you do have car services but not for the engine. Just all the maintenance stuff like wheels, alignments, wipers, brakes etc... and you do it once a year. However, the guy at Tesla told me there are some people who have never brought their cars back for service!

So I am still going to get my car serviced, just once a year though. Probably save me $1000 because every service I had on my old car was about $800-1000 every time!

But this is the best....

I never have to care about THIS ever again. No more petrol. No more worrying about when to fill my car when the prices are low. People ask me if I worry about running out of battery when I'm driving but who runs out of petrol when they're driving? And there are lots of chargers around, and I can always go home

However, what excuse do I have now to stop at 7-Eleven to get a slurpie?

Monday, 11 December 2017

A surprise in my humane rat trap

So you know that rat problem I was having with the chickens? And that I caught 2 rodents in it - one mouse and one small rat?

Well, I hadn't caught anything for weeks (nor had I seen any rodents around) except for a Sunday a couple of weeks ago, where the kids started yelling "Mum, mum there's something in the rat trap!"

Oh great, I thought. Now I have to drown another rat. Depressing.

But, when I went outside, that's not what was in the trap at all!

Hard to see in this picture, but it's a small black kitten with white paws!

Anyway, I was worried that it was going to be unwell as I had no idea how long it had been in there, so I took it straight to the RSPCA who said that they were full on kittens but they took it in anyway. I had a few of them saying "I've never seen a kitten in a rat trap before..."

Mind you, the trap was unbaited. The kitten must just have been exploring.

I put the trap back in its spot and a few hours later, there was ANOTHER thing in the trap!

It looked so cute when I took it out!

So I was going to take this one to the RSPCA the next day as it was too late in the day to go. However, that evening I saw a mother cat with another kitten prowling around  my garden, who was a long haired tabby of some sort with a pale coloured kitten. Oh dear, I thought to myself, poor mother cat.

But as the night went on, I found myself wanting to let the kitten go back to it's mother. What if it wasn't weaned? What if it was cold? I had put water and fish out for it but I don't know what kittens eat! And to top it all off, the poor kitten was crying non stop. I felt bad and at 9pm I went out and let it out. I even managed to pick it up, and it felt solid, not starving. Maybe someone was looking after them. However, it's very irresponsible to let kittens walk around with their mother!

I thought that was the end of my story. But, 3 days later, the final kitten walked into the trap (also unbaited!)

And it was SOO CUTE!

I was going to home this one, but because I only saw it 5 mins before I went to work, and I quickly put it in the hutch, I forgot to lock it properly and the kitten escaped. I had even found it a home on Gumtree and then had to tell them I had lost the kitty. Awww.

Now here was my dilemma - do I let these cats roam around? I really wanted those kittens homed and the mother desexed. I tried contacting various agencies and nobody was willing to come and trap stray animals - not the RSPCA, not the pound, not the council. The Cat protection society recommended I hire a trap from Kennards - which I thought was a good idea. But they were $60 for 3 days! And it was less than that to buy one. So I bought one and thought about how I could catch the mother and have her desexed then release her back, because maybe the reason I had no mice problems was because of the cats.

But, the cats did not visit anymore. Hopefully they found a good home somewhere, or their owner decided to be more pro-active in looking after them. Whatever happened, the next time I catch kittens, I'm rehoming them!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Chicken Diaries - Dealing with A Prolapsed Vent

I had my first encounter with a prolapsed vent, and it was ugly. Fortunately, being a doctor, means that I know what needs to be done, and am not fully grossed out by it.

Warning, there are some rather gross pictures coming up.

Snowy was wandering around the yard and hubby noticed that her bottom was "very dirty" and looked like it was bleeding. I peeked out the window and saw that it was very soiled... and then she turned and I saw a big red mass protruding from her cloaca. A quick google search to confirm what I thought it was and what I should do, and I was outside, washing my poor chicken's sore looking protrusion and gently putting my finger into her cloaca to make sure there was no impacted egg or faeces in there.

Ouch! So what they say is to make sure your gloved fingers are well lubricated - they used haemorrhoid cream, but I washed the area gently with warm water, and then applied slow pressure to reduce the prolapse. Unfortunately, as I was examining her, she tried to push my finger out, making the prolapse HUGE!

I could not feel an egg stuck inside, and I held her and applied slow pressure to the prolapse. The problem was, that I was sure it could happen again and I was worried about that. I hoped she wasn't constipated - though she had a lot of vegetables the day before.

There is the vent, prolapse reduced. I needed to clean all those dirty feathers, and keep her isolated, so I have put her on a one day fast with just water and multivitamins so that she doesn't make so much poo and give her cloaca a rest, as well as discourage her from laying eggs. If she lays another egg, it would happen again.

The causes of vent prolapse include:
- obesity
- large eggs
- malnourishment
- low magnesium/calcium

Snowy is not a prolific egg layer, as she goes broody so often, but she does lay large eggs. She lays the largest eggs of all the chickens, and she is not the largest chicken. She is also not overweight, and has plenty of free range room. Could she be malnourished? She is often bullied by the other chickens, but she always looks like she is eating well. Calcium insufficiency seems unlikely since her food has adequate calcium for egg layers (and she doesn't lay all the time), so I am putting it down to large eggs.

I am hoping that she recovers well. I wish she would go broody right now so she can have a break from egg laying!

The next morning the prolapse was back but to a milder degree and I again washed her bottom and I was afraid she would start getting vent gleet. I hope that she recovers well so that I don't have to euthanase her. Fingers crossed for a good recovery!