Friday, December 27, 2013

Data is important! How to recover lost files


There are two types of people in this world. People who have lost information and people who are about to lose information.

This statement could not be truer!

It's most important as a parent.  I've spoken about it before, that the last thing you want is to lose are your children's baby photos. With everything digital these days, data in the form of all your photos can be so easily lost!

It's the best idea to have backup external hard drives and also backups of those!  Seriously.. that's what I do!

But there are also some pretty cool software out there that are very useful.

I was contacted by the folks at ReclaiMe.com to review their software! ReclaiMe File Recovery can undelete a single file or multiple files, unformat a hard drive (internal and external, desktop and laptop) or a memory card, plus more.

I whacked the program on the computer and the install looks fantastically professional.  This is one thing I often worry about, when the installer tries to install other programs or doesn't allow you to change the install location.  If it tries these things, it's often buggy or malware, but this software looks really good.

My problem is though, to truly test it, I'd need a hard drive to unformat!  Tempted to get an old laptop out and have a go, but *sigh* too much effort (fyi - I hate the god damn laptop, hence why I can't be bothered with it!).

I gave it a go in little, smaller methods, looks really simple and easy to use! But I can also let you know of a wicked review I found on the big boy website Cnet's Download.com:

"Saved me losing 15tb of data!"

Are you kidding me?  I don't understand how anyone can lose that amount of data and then also be able to easily recover it!

To put that amount of info into perspective for you guys, 15tb of data would be equal to approx 150 million half an hour YouTube videos..  at a quick maths check.  My calculator couldn't take the amount of numbers! hehehe.

My only downfall isn't anything to do with the software.  The website could look a bit flashier and less use of complex syntax for the dull minded like myself.

Very happy though to have a bit of software like this, just in case I do happen to lose those important baby photos and videos somehow.

So give it a look guys.  Grab yourself a just in case copy for the day that you might need it too!

Visit http://www.reclaime.com for a free to try version.

- tork

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Biggest Loser Husband Wife Weight Loss Off - Week 6 Finale


Last week!  It's all over!

My Biggest Loser Weight Loss has come to a close with today being the end of Week 6.

Lost another kilo, making a grand, glorious total of 85kgs.  That is 3kgs weight loss in total. Can't believe I lost it, even around the Christmas holidays!

The question is though, did I beat my wife in our weight loss battle?

Pffft.. no where near.  My wife lost herself 5kgs.  She is the master!  Yeah, I admit it.  Her stamina to ignore unhealthy foods has been amazing and she is addicted to working out and doing better than her husband.  Funny how those things work!

On the subject of winners, the other important announcement!

the winners of a 3 month membership to the Biggest Loser Club Online are....

Congratulations:
Jacky B
Julia M

Well done to the two winners! You'll each receive an email from me ASAP.

So let me summarize the last 6 weeks.  It's been disappointing but informative.  Nothing to do with the site though, disappointing from the fact that I had a couple of weight increases.  I put it down to over exercising for muscle build or perhaps more of the latter, stupid Tork at stupid Christmas parties.

God damn cheesecake.. *sigh*

But, the Biggest Loser program is great.  I could not recommend it more than I have.  It's my second time on their program with my second weight loss result. Not too shabby!

Just a point though to the male readers out there, please don't buy your significant other a Biggest Loser membership.  Suggesting your partner to lose weight with that sort of membership, or gym membership, not smart!  Unless you are game to send your wife/partner to become a whirlwind of batshit crazy!

Anyway, I don't want to harp on about how useful the site can be.  Their record of over 211,000kgs lost by all their users speaks for itself.

I am just happy I lost some more kilos. I'm looking forward to keeping at it with a few golf games over the holidays as well as keeping an eye on my wife's dwindling figure *wink wink*

nuff said.. enjoy your holidays everyone and good luck on our own weight loss goals!

- tork

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Job Worth Waking Up For: Tips for Finding Your Perfect Career


This is a guest post from Axcelerate, established in 1989 and has offered both accredited and non-accredited training since the early 1990s


Being a parent involves worrying about money and work. It involves wondering whether it's time to find a new, better job that suits you.

Every little kid gets asked what they want to be when they grow up. I bet you can remember (c’mon it wasn’t that long ago.) With starry eyes and a grin on your face you said something along the lines of I want to be an astronaut/doctor/actor. Then you would imagine living in a mega mansion, lazing around on your pool toy while the butler hands you a glass of soda. Then you grew up and became something along the lines of a marketer/cremator/Lindsay Lohans personal assistant.

A far cry from your original idea. However, if you are unhappy in your current career, it’s not too late to change nor is it ever too late to change – there’s eighty year olds going back to college to study! So if they can do it, you can too. Discovering your passion and finding your dream job is something millions of people have accomplished. With a bit of hard work and a positive attitude, you could be next. At the end of the day, who wants to have a gravestone reading – lived and died for the man. Not me.

Take the Time to Learn about Yourself

Free Stock Images: Ready For The Note Picture. Image: 192479
© Photographer: Olga Vasilkova
Agency: Dreamstime.com
Remember, you are not your name nor your job title. You are a human with real aspirations, passions, skills and ideas. Really take the time to find out what inspires you and gets you going in the morning. Do you like busting out the chainsaw every week and making cool wooden projects for your kids? Do you write creatively in a journal every night? Do you love going out of your way to provide care packages for your friends and family who are sick? All of these things can lead to careers as an architect, writer or elderly carer. Spend an hour or however long you like, writing about the things you do that make you truly happy. When you’ve finished, analyse them and see if you can string together an idea.

Don’t Be Deterred by Lack of Experience

No one is ever really fully qualified for a new job, so don’t let that deter you from reaching your career dreams. Developing skills for your new job may take time, it could be anything from going back to school or completing a short course via axcelerate.com.au. When it comes to your career, nothing should be put in the too hard box. It might mean that budgets have to be tighter, or you opt for part-time work while you study. Find what works for you and do it.

Grow your network

The best thing you do to work towards your future goals is to surround yourself in positive people who already work within the industry. Social media is now making it really easy to get in contact with these markets and stay in touch with everyone you have met. You’ll find that people are always willing to share their story or their advice with anyone – all you have to do is ask. Remember, the worst that can happen is a no.

Are you currently in your dream job? What were the steps you took to land it? Let us know your story in the comments below.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

5 Things to Look for When Buying a Used Family Car


This is a guest post from Diff Lapping Qld, with over 30 years experience in the differential and manual gearbox industry.


Deciding to buy a used car over a new car will save you money at the outset, but it’s important to choose wisely so your purchase doesn’t end up costing your family in the long term. A good used car can serve you well and save you from having to suffer the initial depreciation of a new car, which may devalue by thousands simply by taking it off the showroom floor.

So, if you are a little cash-strapped a used car can make very good sense, providing you do your research before parting with your hard earned dollars.

Here are some tips for used car shoppers to help you get the ‘most car for your money’.

Reliability

Stock Images: Toy Car Picture. Image: 88404
© Photographer: Ryan Pike | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Reliability is probably the most important factor in purchasing a new car. You need your used car to be dependable and not to cost you a small fortune in repairs. There are a number of ways to determine reliability. Firstly, do your research. Check on the internet for reliability ratings of different models, talk to mechanics and read reports from consumer groups.

If you have done your research and found a car you like, it is always a good idea to have it checked over by a mechanic. If you are buying a second hand four wheel drive it may be an idea to get the diff checked out by a diff lapping expert. The small outlay for a thorough examination is well worth it; ask anyone who has bought a lemon!

Safety

Safety is a very important factor to consider on today’s busy roads. Again, research is imperative. Cars are crash tested and given a safety rating. Go online and find out what the experts have to say about different makes and models you are looking at.

 

Performance

One of the best ways to assess performance of used cars is to check out performance reviews on the internet. Used car buyers who have had a bad experience will be happy to talk about it, so check out used car blog sites too. A thorough test drive will also help you evaluate the performance of a used vehicle. Take it for a good long drive and put the car through its paces.

 

Interior

The condition of the interior determines how comfortable your driving experience will be. It is also an indicator of how well the car has been looked after. If the car has seat covers installed, be sure to remove them to check the condition of the upholstery – seat covers are often used to cover up cigarette burns and other damage.

 

Running Costs

If you are purchasing a second hand car you are most likely looking to save money, so don’t overlook this important point. Research fuel, maintenance and repair costs for the model you are looking at. Finding the best used car should depend on running costs as much as initial price. Don’t be seduced by a fancy interior, sporty appearance or even excellent safety ratings. You must be sure you can afford to run the car. If it’s expensive to run, maintain or insure then it is probably not the right car for you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Biggest Loser Husband Wife Weight Loss Off - Week 5


Read my previous post where you can enter to win a Biggest Loser Club 3 month membership.

Cha-ching! Lost 1kg this week.  Thank god for that.

After the last week's poor result, I'm glad there is a loss to put down in the online diary.

Had some great encouragement too from you lovely readers, including this great one from Jeff:


Really glad I can inspire others! 14 kgs is mental!  Well done Jeff you brilliant bastard and thanks for the encouragement.

I am only 2 kgs down after 5 weeks with one more to go.  The Biggest Loser Club definitely helps to set you up for your goals.  If you follow everything they say, you honestly can't go wrong.

Little bit dissappointing. My weight loss would be much better if I followed their exercise tips.  I run around, playing with my boy with play & exercise all rolled into one. Even though running around playing chasey in constant circles helps, it doesn't compare to things that my wife does.

She has a personal trainer, gym membership and will power to prevent inserting chocolates into her face. She herself has been doing the Biggest Loser tips and is another 1 kg down this week.

Doing so very well!

Unbelievably well because I think that now makes her about 22kgs down overall!

She's definitely beating me on this challenge.  I think I need to lose about two kilos this week just to catch up on her.  Tough, but not impossible!

On my bike riding more methinks, as I have a fair bit of chasing to do!  One more week left, so wish me luck.


If you are thinking about heading towards your own weight loss, give yourself a Christmas gift early and check out The Biggest Loser Club. They really help to do the job.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to Protect your Home from Flood Season


This is a guest post from Fabric Solutions, an All-Australian company with expertise in custom design, fabrication and installation of liquid containment systems and fabric products.

Stock Photo: Mud, Flood And Fog Picture. Image: 158310
© Photographer: Alan Heartfield | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Australia is a country of strange weather patterns. Flooding one day and drought the next, this means that every eventuality has to be planned for. Whether we like it or not we have to have irrigation and water supplies for droughts, and preparatory measures for floods. This needs to be done for the sake of saving money, preventing damage to crops and the infrastructure of the house. Here are some possible steps.

Sealants

Houses are full of little cracks and problems. Doors, windows, cracks in the walls and floor and things of that nature can let damp and water through. With a quick purchase of waterproof sealant you can run it across the windows and doors, you can also seal the floors and any cracks in the walls. This will stop accidental seepage that can lead to mould and mildew.

Prepare your Property

Keep your TV at least a metre off floor level and keep valuable items on high shelves. Use water resistant skirting boards and lay the floor with tiles and rugs rather than carpet. Anything wooden close to the ground in a flooding area will be a real problem.

Drains and Pipes

Fit non return valves onto any and all drains and pipes on your property, this will allow waste water to flow out of your house without risking it flowing back in through the sewage and the drains. Any inlet and outlet pipes need to be fitted like this.

Pumps

If you have a large outdoor property at risk of flooding you will need top put in a pump. Methods like sandbags and dams will be inefficient if it comes up through the ground. Ideally you should have a pump with a diesel generator outside any enclosed property, so you don't risk fumes. A good quality pump should give you a good decade of flood free living.

Small Dams or Water Tanks

Dams and water tanks are a simple solution to a large problem. Have too much water landing on your house? Build something to take the water. On large properties you can quite easily set up a small dam with a spillway that can pour down into the nearest body of water, or simply out into a place that will do no harm. If you have a smaller property then you can simply pick up a rainwater tank and keep it in your backyard. These are a good way to deal with changing climates, saving it in the winter to use it in the summer, and all the maintenance it takes is a little lining and protection from fabric solutions and you've got a flood barrier you can count on.

If you take a few simple steps even a large property can be mostly protected from the dangers of the weather. Nothing can withstand nature entirely, but these and a few other things can keep it at bay.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Biggest Loser Husband Wife Weight Loss Off - Week 4


Read my previous post where you can enter to win a Biggest Loser Club 3 month membership.

I was trying to think about how I would write this week's post on my weight loss.  Should I lie or should I tell the truth.

Well, the truth shall set you free!

I put on weight this week, again.  I weighed in at 87kg.  That's a 1.5kg weight gain.

I looked at the scales this morning and just thought, "oh no, you god damned idiot".

I'm just trying to pin point where exactly I did go wrong.  My portions are probably too big, my current addiction to Bubble Teas now summer is back is probably not helping.

The thing is, I don't feel like I've put weight on.  This was super cool though after I did the official Biggest Loser weigh-in online:


The Biggest Loser site acknowledges the little things that are really important!

So, could it possibly be that my working out is putting on more muscle than weight is lost?  I doubt it.

I bought myself a helmet today to fix the problem (no, it's not a motorbike helmet to hide the shame).  I have this old bike whimpering in my shed "ride me, ride me".

I don't think it's my new neighbours making that noise, I'm pretty sure it's my bike (I shudder to envision those thought's, if you knew my actual neighbours).

So my bike will be seeing the light of day, enjoying it's freedom from my shed, hitting fresh air whilst my backside adorns it's uncomfortable, dusty seat.

I will be persistently popping in foods to calorie count and ignoring anything Christmas food wise.

I still don't know how I gained the weight.  I was super proud of my exercise when I was installing my son's new car booster seat.  If you've never done it before, you wouldn't understand the desperate heat that falls upon you, when you are completely useless at it, in a boiling hot car, with a wife over your shoulder yelling "you're doing it wrong!"

That reminds me, almost forgot to say how much my wife is beating me.  Fourth week in and 3kgs down.  She's great with exercise and portions of food.  I cook her meals at night. She doesn't even finish them and offers them to me...

I FIGURED IT OUT!!  She's totally been over feeding me her leftovers!!!

GRRR!

This means war...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

3 Cars Fit For Your Family


This is a guest post from Jaguar, cars with a rich history for eighty years.


While no two families are alike, one thing that most have in common is the need for car space. Choosing one that suits your family’s needs is by no means easy; not only do you need to look at efficiency but you also need to consider practicality. It stop being about style and becomes more about what you actually need to get from A to B without having two people cram the boot down. You want your new car to be pack with features that keeps you and your family safe without breaking the bank. One that has strong consumer ratings and an impressive cost proprietorship status. Here are three cars that do just that.

Jaguar XF Luxury Sedan

Free Stock Image: Strong Picture. Image: 166496
© Photographer: Eleandra | Agency: Dreamstime.com
If you’re looking for that WOW factor that’s also practical, then say hello to Jaguar’s XF Luxury Sedan. In the past, Jaguar have been known as the kitty cat of the car industry: self-absorbed and untrainable. These days the cat has been tamed and the latest Jaguar XF is better equipped with families in mind. It boasts a five seater that comfortably fits five large sized adults and has plenty of junk in the trunk with a large 500 litre boot. The entry point price of $70,000 is attractive enough to lure anyone away from the more expensive luxury models, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the features department. Including leather faced seats, woodgrain and metal cabin trim, 17-inch alloys, touchscreen control, a pleasant 10 speaker audio, six airbags, graphics park display, dusk sensitive bi-xenon headlights with wipers, brake electronics and all the high end tech to keep the teenagers happy.

Kia Rondo

Combing the practicality of an SUV with the look and feel of a car, the Kia Rondo is perfect for those on a tight budget who are looking for a discrete model that packs a punch in the cargo section. It blurs the lines between a car, minivan and crossover utility vehicle. It comes in at a low price of $17,395 which is surprising for a car that holds seven seats and contains all the safety features of a luxury model.

Mazda 5

The increasing price of petrol has forced a lot of drivers to size down to smaller cars with more efficient tanks. Unfortunately, if you have more than three kids you can’t just run down to your nearest car dealer and buy a Yaris; it’s not going to be practical for your needs. But what if I told you, that you could have it all? A minivan with a fuel friendly solution? That is what the Mazda5 range is offering for larger families. There’s room for six in this mid-sized package with sliding doors that are beneficial for parents needing to get babies into their car seats. It doesn’t make you feel like you’re driving a small bus and it is reasonably priced starting at $18,000 right up to $28,000

Have you recently purchased a car for your family? What did you choose?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Creative Ideas for Sprucing Up Your Otherwise Drab Prom Outfit


This is a guest post for those at their school Graduation from BowlingShoes.com, who are dedicated to providing enthusiastic customer service and support to bowlers who demand the best performing, name brand products, at reasonable prices.


It’s that special time of year, the time of high school prom. And you have your main squeeze lined up as your date, your group of friends and the limo. It’s going to be a night you will always remember, theoretically, so you might as well go all out on the style and the fashion. Don’t cheap out on the look – you may think you’re going to remember it forever, but really you’ll just have the pictures and the rest will be a blur. So it’s how you look that is clearly the most important. Here are some tips for sprucing up your prom night look, so that you and your date will remember this special night forever and ever, even if you don’t end up getting married (which you probably won’t).

1. Come up with a Cute Theme

Sure you can wear a tux and she can wear a dress, but even more special is when you get a theme for your outfits. I’m not saying dress up as Disney characters or your favorite movie. It’s got to be something timeless. The theme can be something simple like a color scheme – obviously you match the flowers, but you can have a purple vest and she a purple-trimmed dress. Or reverse colors works well too – like if she has a dominant blue and a hint of white, and you have a suit that’s prominently white with a hint of blue. It’s nice to have a cohesive look to show that you not only are together tonight, but intend to be together forever (even if that’s unlikely).

2. Fancy Footwear

You can still look classy on the top, but with a subtle unique footwear option you can really spruce up your outfit nicely. For example, wearing a pair of bowling shoes for men is a fun way to accent your style. These shoes are distinctly bowling shoes, but also seem kind of fancy in a unique way. They won’t be out of place like sneakers would be, but they’ll be eye catching nonetheless. The older folks at the prom may raise their eyebrows, but your contemporaries will think you a beacon of trendy fashion. See what I mean here: http://bowlingshoes.com.


3. Funky Vest

Most guys wear a tuxedo, as well they should. It’s pretty much industry standard. But you can have a lot of fun with a cool vest. It’s a great way to express your personality without doing something so unconventional that you will be seen as a social pariah. You don’t want to stand out as kind of disrespecting the event, but you don’t want simply to conform to what everyone else is doing, like all the football players and squares. You want to be your own man, and a cool printed or designed vest is just what the doctor ordered.

4. Corduroy Suit

If you don’t want to wear a tuxedo, but don’t want to go all square and dressed down with slacks and a jacket, you could go all in on a cool vintage corduroy suit. That’s the jam, an off-beige three-piece corduroy suit. If I had to do it all again, that’s exactly what I would do. It’s timeless, your photos will be great for all of eternity, and you’ll stand out at the time without being a jerk. That’s what I want you to do – go right out to the second hand store and find the coolest corduroy suit you can. That’s the pro tip for sprucing up your prom night look.


Monday, December 2, 2013

How to Save for the Car of your Dreams


This is a guest post from the folks at Ford Melbourne, who offer a range of vehicles to suit every lifestyle.


The kids are driving you crazy.  You feel like all your stress at home and work isn't helping you move on from your current rust bucket of a car.

Free Stock Images: Little Duce Coupe Picture. Image: 42709
© Photographer: Cheryl Kunde | Agency: Dreamstime.com
You walked past the shop window and there it was, looking like something out of a centre spread of Motor magazine; your dream car. You combed through the car deals in Melbourne and although it’s not entirely in your price range, it’s do-able…. Just… In ten years’ time maybe. It’s not like you're trying to throw ol’ Betsey to the tips, but let’s be honest, she’s now struggling to get up a slight incline and she splutters for a good five minutes when you start her up. It’s time you got a new car; you deserve it. The only problem is, you barely have enough money at the end of the week let alone enough to put into savings. Don’t despair, here is a few ideas on how to pinch pennies and save for your dream car.

Do your homework

No one likes getting a raw deal or feeling like they got hustled by the dealer with the handle bar moustache. Before you head into the showroom, do some comprehensive research on your car via some good magazines and websites that offer reviews, pricing and comparison of similar models. The more informed you are, the better choice you’ll make. And when Jerry (that’s the dealer) tells you a price $5,000 more than what it’s worth, you will have confidence to knock it back and negotiate a realistic deal.

Sacrifice your spending

The most important thing to do when finding ways to save money is to cut down on your spending habits. Sure, the occasional take-away or night out with friends is essential to your sanity, but if you’ve been calling up your local Chinese take-away more than your mother, it’s a pretty good sign that you need to limit your splurges. The most effective way to figure out where you are blowing money each week is to write it down. You’d be surprised to see where all that extra change is being disbursed. Those daily coffee trips and $10 lunch deals really start to add up. Be ruthless with your spending but not to the point where you’re a living off mashed potato.

Open a special savings account

Stock Image: Sportscar. Picture Image: 100661
© Photographer: James Hearn | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Its two days until your next pay comes in and you’ve found yourself this must have item that’s a little bit of the pricy side. You know you have enough in your account, but that money is set aside for your car. You think that it won’t hurt to use a little bit of your savings, however after a while those impulse buys start to accumulate and you’re no longer seeing any progress. It’s for this reason that you should set up a separate online savings account with a high interest rate. Each week, automatically transfer a set amount of money from your regular account and make a pact with yourself that these funds cannot be used.

Sell everything you don’t need

Haven’t touched that guitar in a while? Got a pile of books just collecting dust? Perhaps you’ve got one too many lava lamps? If so, it’s time to have a garage sale. You may be selling clothes or books for $1, but all of that starts to tally up if you’ve got plenty of buyers. Remember, you’re saving for your car, if you don’t need things of relative value, then sell them and add that money to owning your new set of wheels.

Got any saving tips you swear by? Tell us in the comments below.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Biggest Loser Husband Wife Weight Loss Off - Week 3


Another week down and it's an "oops" week.  Yeah, I've put on 0.5kgs and the wife is keeping hush hush on her weight loss.

Christmas parties! Worst ideas when trying to lose weight.  Good times though, great times!

I do have good news for you though.  It's giveaway time!!

The folks at The Biggest Loser Club are kindly offering all you lovely readers out there the chance to win a 3 month membership to the Biggest Loser Club.

I have got two of them to give away!  Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But let's talk about more on the weight loss scene.  I knew it was coming, the weight gain.  There was less exercise done this week.  Seems it's usually a pattern for me after a two week consecutive weight loss result.

I get a bit cocky perhaps, showing how it easy it is and just do a bit less exercise. I sweated it out Saturday though, running after the wee lad, kicking footy with mates.

I sweated more than Kevin Pietersen, facing his home media after losing the first Ashes Test.

(that's a lot of sweating!)

If I didn't put a big effort in on Saturday, it probably would have been worse.

My wife on the other hand has been eating better then me, but just feeling a bit crook over the week. Poor thing! Kind of doesn't help exercise wise.

Excuses excuses though.  I shouldn't have excuses!

The Biggest Loser Club is all set up to avoid this sort of weight gain, albeit very small.  They give you weekly recipes and on top of that, a shopping list of all the ingredients required.  Makes it really easy if you're able to abide by their suggested meals.

Inserting a big kick up the arse this week.  I promise to lose a bunch of kgs.  Tweet me and Facebook me to make sure I don't slip up! (and good luck if you are entering the giveaway)

How's your weight looking after your Christmas parties?  Do you have issues denying a plate of lamb on the spit like I did? Or is there another Christmas goody that has you beat?

Love to hear about it!

- tork


Thursday, November 28, 2013

5 Gift Ideas for Mum and Dad this Christmas


This is a guest post from the folks at Cruiseabout, Australia's only national retail cruise agency, with stores located in most states and territories. 

Free Stock Photography: I'll Keep This One For Me Picture. Image: 246577
© Photographer: Phil Date | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Your mum and dad may like a joint present so they can enjoy doing something together. Do your parents have specific hobbies or interests? Perhaps you have a techy Dad and a mum who loves to cook. Decide which category your parents fall into before deciding upon the right gift. May be you would like to take them out of their comfortable mum and dad roles and give them an exhilarating experience. Before choosing the gift, it is important that you work out your budget!

Joint gifts

If your parents see them themselves as coffee connoisseurs, maybe a luxe coffee machine might be just the thing to induce a caffeine inspired evening. For movie lovers a Gold Class gift package might be perfect and for dedicated theatre goers, tickets to an opening night or a gift voucher would be enthusiastically welcomed.

Short cruise

For mums and dads short on time, but in desperate need of a little rest and recreation, a short cruise is ideal. These cruises usually go from A to B up the coastline, usually only last two or three days, but will submit your parents to all the absolute luxury that longer length cruises have. They can relax, enjoy world class dining, be pampered or take in a show.

Adventure package

Are your mum and dad thrill seekers or do they dare to do something that will give them both an adrenalin rush? If so, why not give them a skydiving, shark swimming, bungee jumping or hot air ballooning adventure encounter? If they wish to soar through the clouds, race or drift around a track at breakneck speeds or embrace their deepest darkest terrifying challenge, put in place a gift that will take them out of their comfort zone!

Mum gifts

If you have a girly mum, a day spa voucher, a classic bottle of expensive perfume or retail vouchers might be just the thing. Perhaps your mum loves to cook. Many of the master chefs have a wide range of cookbooks published. If your mum is an avid gardener, a hardware store voucher or something ornamental for the garden would make her embrace you with pure delight. If your mum loves adventure or is comfortable with a hammer and nails, there are many gift vouchers that would satiate her greatest indulgence.

Dad gifts

Stock Photo: Santa Nutcracker On Pine Picture. Image: 128510
© Photographer: Lisa F. Young | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Does your dad love to cook? Is he a dedicated handyman? Does he have a passion for motorcars or motorbikes or is he a dad who likes up to the minute anything techy? Encourage your dads open talents with a gift suitable to his passion. Visit the tech department of a large electronic store for advice, look at cookbooks by well-known chefs or find out when race days are on at the motorsport tracks and give him tickets. If you are really stumped for a gift idea, why not a night away at a luxurious hotel? A night away to a mum and dad, can be as good as a holiday. Parents rarely splurge on themselves, so this would be a lovely treat. Short holidays can give as much enjoyment as a longer holiday, so have a look at what Cruiseabout has to offer for some unique short breaks that come with all the trimmings.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

3 Australian sporting events you need a big TV to watch


This is a guest post from LG, whose Smart TVs allow you to view your favourite content in one place. Wirelessly connect to your smartphone, view media stored on your PC and access an endless array of online content.


Stock Image: Channel Surfing Picture. Image: 56771
© Photographer: Andrew Taylor | Agency: Dreamstime.com
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of a big game on a bigger screen; short of cinema tickets to view the Grand Finals season on the silver displays, the best seats in the house are often those in your own lounge room, where you can move about as you need to, without disturbing anyone else in the process. Beer, popcorn and scantily clad babes during the half-time show, all you need now is a couple of pizzas and a fresh pint in your hands to cool your fingertips and calm your spirits. It’s not over until it’s over and these five Australian sporting events should be entered into your spectator calendar in 2014. Get your mates together, pick up a couple of kegs, order a feed and get ready to witness a modern legend, as national greats take the stage and make your wallet a few dollars heavier.

The State of Origin

Contact football is a staple of the eastern sea-board, the ultimate contact sport played out of the green as two teams determined to be the best of a the bunch, by trial and birth, battle it out for tradition and a trophy. Sure to get your blood boiling, the game attracts a manifold of fan types, from avid lovers to random punters, it’s a fine way to spend a night or three, spurning your opposition and flying the Blue or Maroon loudly and proudly, though not too assuredly, if you’re surrounded by competing team supporters. Don’t take it too seriously and enjoy the athleticism and showmanship of some of the League’s best players.

Bathurst

Nothing beats the lingering odour of burned rubber flying through the long, sweeping Chase chicanes, as engines rumble and drivers prepare themselves to conquer the Mountain in the Bathurst 1000. Mount Panorama is a test of wills and endurance, as drivers chase the privilege of possessing the Peter Brock Trophy and the eponymous title of King of the Mountain, a honorific bestowed on those who nimbly navigate Hell Corner, the brutal Cutting bend and a variety of straights designed to test wits and driving of those who dare to challenge the circuit. Settle in with friends and family, turn the air conditioner on and feel free to yell at the television; it’s an Australian tradition.

The Melbourne Cup

Running horses and racing jockeys, the Melbourne Cup is the day that stops at least half the nation, as workers and leisure seekers line up at the TAB, enjoying a lucky punt and a shot at guessing the trifecta. Some insist there’s a science to the form guide, and while the formulas have yet to be faithfully tested beyond the whims of doubtful bookies, every event is subject to its own urban legends and rituals. Instead of braving the crowds and battling your way to the bar, crowd around your LG Smart TV for the best picture possible, jumping up and down with a few mates as your horse strides into first place and wins by a nose.

Do you have a favourite Australian event we’ve skipped over here? Let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grab yourself $5 from the Cheesecake Shop Naughty or Nice survey


Giveaway time!

So an opportunity arose for me to talk about the lovely people at The Cheesecake Shop.

Licking your screen doesn't help, just fyi
That place has the better of me. I can still remember one night in my younger days, 2am and hungry. Driving around the Adelaide streets, head out the window yelling “Cheesecake shop!! Cheesecake shop!!”. Cravings make you just a little bit stupid sometimes..

I still don’t think they are open in the wee hours of the morning though. It’s probably for the best.

But when this opportunity arose to talk about them, there was no way I was going to let my current diet get in the way.

One day having cake isn’t the end of the world! If there is one thing in this life that is great, it is cake. When the world yells at you, remember, there will always be cake!

Cake is fantastic (ohh man I love cake).

But enough about cake, oh wait, that’s what I’m meant to be talking about isn’t it?

The Cheesecake Shop is spreading the word this Christmas about their Naughty or Nice survey. It’s a fun, few minutes for everyone and at the end you will receive a $5 voucher.

Each participant simply needs to log on at www.facebook.com/thecheesecakeshop and answer a series of questions via the Naughty or Nice Barometer.

Have a go! I’m certain that voucher will be handy, I know it will be in my house, WHOOP WHOOP!


Delish!
Totally stealing that idea :)


Have you been Naughty or Nice in the lead up to Christmas? Tell me your stories!  Let me know what score you get too (I'm 35% naughty tsk tsk tsk).

- tork

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Biggest Loser Husband Wife Weight Loss Off - Week 2


Trying to lose weight again.. blergh!  Think I'd rather lick a playground to catch the flu.  That helps you lose weight right? haha!

Ohh dear, this exercising thing has gotten hard again already.  It is our second week into the Husband/Wife Weight Loss Off and I have lost another 1 kg! So that makes it 3kgs total so far.

My wife has also lost 3 kilos!  But she has a person trainer, gym membership and a repugnance to soft drinks. Not fair!

But it's cool we are both on track to the same weight loss. So far so good!

The wife and I should be referring more to the Biggest Loser Club recipes though.  They have a bunch of daily recipes that look pretty good.  My cooking a breakfast this morning of bacon and eggs with Chirizo sausage and Cafe style toast probably isn't the world's best idea to keep doing. I swear I've seen Shannan Ponton have it for brekkie though, in moderation.

Also this week, the wife and I have been spreading The Biggest Loser word and talking to people at her gym.  There are so many people proud to state their weight loss numbers.  So many folks just trying to get in shape.  It's good to be around these sorts of people!  Very inspiring, which the Biggest Loser have plenty of inspirational folk.

Here's just an example, and maybe some inspiration for your own possible weight loss!



Cathy Whitehead’s life-long dream of winning a gold medal is now within her reach after her amazing weight loss achievement. Shedding an impressive 62kg with the help of The Biggest Loser Club, Cathy is currently training for the World Masters Modern Pentathlon Championships and she is determined to win. The 43 year old mum, and IT and Management Consultant from WA, woke up over a year ago and decided she wanted to win the next World Masters Pentathlon to be held in Germany in 2014. However, at 131kg Cathy knew that in order to undertake the gruelling training required she had to lose the weight. Pentathlon combines show jumping, fencing, shooting, swimming and running. She had to lose 20kg just to get on a horse, then learn to ride and show jump at 42 years of age.

An avid fan of the Biggest Loser TV Show, she joined the online weight loss program the contestants of the TV Show use, and felt the whole plan was geared towards success. Within 15 months Cathy dropped to 69kg and now her sights are set on glory next year.

However, Cathy didn’t always have a winning attitude. When she was a teenager, Cathy dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal in sailing. That dream slipped from her grasp, largely due to her struggles with weight gain – something she never conquered until she discovered The Biggest Loser Club.

“I was overweight most of my life. My parents actually nicknamed me Benny the Ball from the cartoon show ‘Top Cat’. I was huge,” Cathy says. “I tried to control it. Mum and Dad are doctors so we ate healthy food, but I remember thinking it was so unfair. On both sides of my parents’ families – we are not small people. Some body types are predisposed to holding onto weight and some aren’t.”

In her early 20’s, Cathy managed to keep her weight in check. “I was around 65kg when I met my husband at 21, but by my late 20’s I was heavy again, nearly 100kg after my daughter was born.” When she was growing up, her daughter was heavily involved in youth modern pentathlon, which meant Cathy had to juggle work and daily training sessions.

“I wouldn’t eat breakfast or lunch, then I’d have a packet of chips around 3pm and dinner was often takeaway food,” she says.

“In the first week of joining the Biggest Loser Club I lost several kilos. That was incredibly motivating.” She used the online diary for the calorie counter and vigilantly monitored her charts to ensure she kept to the recommended guidelines.

“I started eating the right foods at last, keeping my protein high, carbohydrates moderate and saturated fats low. By sticking to the correct percentages on the charts, I managed to lose the weight within 15 months.”

“The guidelines and resources the Club provides are substantial. All the tools are there for success, if you want to use them!”

However, when it came to exercise, Cathy had to overcome major obstacles. “I have fibromyalgia, an auto-immune disease which causes all my joints and muscles to hurt,” she says. She was using a walking stick when she first started training. “I get up and train for the pentathlon every day, even though it hurts. The medications I take cause weight gain and my immunologist is amazed that I can lose weight at all, but I can because I’m passionate. “Now that I have lost the weight, the biggest change for me is being able to compete. It’s been my life’s dream. I’m going to win. There is no alternative.”




Cathy is a champ! Goes to show how easy it can be if you can just be bothered to all the right things, and keep on being bothered!  It's hard and probably my biggest hurdle.  Perhaps it is something I'll get the Biggest Loser folk to answer!

Stay tuned for next weeks post to the answer as well as a possibly give away! *hint hint*

- tork


Thursday, November 21, 2013

How to get the Lush Green Grass you've Always Wanted


This is a guest post from Fabric Solutions Australia, an ‘All-Australian’ company with expertise in custom design, fabrication and installation of liquid containment systems and fabric products


Free Stock Photos: Grass Picture. Image: 221498
© Photographer: Monkie | Agency: Dreamstime.com
The grass always seems greener on someone else’s yard. Don’t worry, just follow these few simple tips, and you’ll soon have a lawn worth envying.

Tip #1: Not too short

The biggest mistake people make is cutting their grass too short! Lawns that are kept quite short are vulnerable to weeds and discourage the establishment of helpful microbes in the soil. A helpful guide is to only cut a third of the grass height at one time, to make sure your lawn has the best chance of growing strong and healthy. You can change the height of your lawnmower blades to a healthier height (check the manual to change this safely).

Tip # 2: Put down the fertiliser

It can be tempting to keep fertilising your lawn expecting it to grow faster with more food, but this can cause more harm than good. Over-fertilising runs the risk of changing the chemical balance of the soil too greatly, making it a less than comfortable place for your grass to live. A good alternative is to spread the grass clippings back over the top of your lawn. This provides an organic fertiliser that will break down and feed your lawn gradually without overwhelming the soil.

Tip#3: Water right

Most people will tell you to water at sunrise or sunset, but are actually missing out on an important principle to make your lawn more resilient. When watered less frequently, but soaking heavily when you do, the grass will grow deeper roots to collect water from deeper in the soil. This deeper water will then wick upwards as the top layers dry, ensuring that the roots find enough water even if they have very shallow roots to start with. Deep roots also mean that the grass will be able to draw more water even when you don’t water it yourself. With water restrictions and cost becoming bigger factors in some areas, you can also consider watering from a rainwater tank. Using a tank can help you avoid council water restrictions and keep your grass lush and green all year round. Click here to find out more.

Tip #4: Do it yourself

They say if you want something done right, do it yourself. This is especially true of lawn care. Wherever possible, try to pull weeds by hand or a small gardening tool (dandelion weeders are a cheap and effective option). The less you interfere with the natural growth of your lawn by the use of pesticides, the healthier your lawn will be. Avoiding pesticides (where possible) along with allowing the grass clippings to act as a slow release fertiliser will keep your lawn in great health for the coming summer.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Clearing Tips That Will Get You Your Shed Back


This is a guest post care of Fort Knox Storage, an Australian owned and operated company that has set the highest standard in storage.


Free Stock Photography: Shed Reflection Picture. Image: 203207
© Photographer: Eli Burak | Agency: Dreamstime.com
If your shed is like a lot of peoples then it is probably filled with junk and cluttered up with stuff that you might rarely use. Your space might not be available for you when you need to use it to build something or work on a project. It’s time to have a clean-up, and sort out the shed, so that you can go back to using it for more than just a junk yard. Here are 5 clearing tips that will get you your shed back.

Purge

A lot of us become hoarders without even realising it and end up having a lot of useless junk sitting in there waiting for us to do something with it. Have a purge! Go through everything and work out what things you need and what things you can let go of. Take whatever you no longer need to the dump, a friend or give it to a second hand store and you will feel a lot lighter and have a lot more space in your shed.

Have a Garage Sale

One way to make a few bucks and create some space for yourself in the shed is to have a garage sale. After you have worked out all the stuff that you don’t need anymore, advertise in your local paper to have a garage sale. Either lay everything out on the front lawn, or let people go into the shed and choose for themselves and pretty soon you will be sitting pretty with a few extra bucks in your pocket and a shed that you can now use!

Get a Storage Unit

If there is a lot of stuff that you think you might need again, or aren’t sure about what you want to do with it, then why not hire a storage unit in the meantime. It can be a valuable place to store tools, furniture and pretty much anything that you don’t need to use right now, and it will be well worth it for the space that you now have in your shed. There are a few different types of storage units available so check out http://www.fortknoxstorage.com.au/ for the one that is in your area.

Organise It

Free Stock Photography: Barn Door Picture. Image: 18707
© Photographer: Winterberg | Agency: Dreamstime.com
One way to make more room in the shed is to organise everything a bit better. One main reason that our stuff feels like it is taking up too much room is that we are unable to actually see what we have got and therefore miss out on using stuff that might be really useful. Assess the situation and have a look at ways that you can organise the stuff so that it can be used.

Use Wall and Roof Space

The wall and roof space are often areas where there is a lot of room that is not being used. Having some shelving put in and hooks on the wall will mean that some of the stuff (especially tools) can be on display, and you will be able to easily find it when you need it again!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Biggest Loser Husband Wife Weight Loss Off - Week 1


It's back again!  Time for me to lose some more weight.  I saw a photo of myself and even though I'm more than comfortable with my weight, the photo wasn't the most flattering..

88kgs!!!

That is what I let myself get to. Disappointing! I want to get back under the 80's. I want to get healthier and look healthier.

Last time I worked with the folks at The Biggest Loser Club I lost heaps of weight and got down to 81kgs.  That was over 8 weeks though, this time I am working for 6 weeks.

I think my problem with my weight is because I lost the weight, I thought "all good now", I didn't have to exercise and that I could eat the same old crap again and get away with it. Does that make any sense? It doesn't hey..

(fyi my local Fish & Chips shop does one hell of a smashing Fish Burger.  God give me strength to lose the weight and ignore temptations!)

So this time, I am back with the Biggest Loser Club to make sure I lose the weight and lose it for good.  I'm not going to do it myself though this time.  My wife has joined up too and is going to be the nagger helpful, nice gal that she always is.

But seriously, the wife has lost 15kgs this year!  I am very proud of her and she is also my push to inspire my own weight loss. Hopefully I will lose more than her in 6 weeks in a little side competition hehehe!

Saying that, I have already started my first week with the Biggest Loser folks.  I am 86kg already after week one!

What's my secret? My two year old boy.  Often he'd tire me out playing games. He is a non-stop ball of energy.  I decided to not stop playing until he is tired out.  Exercise and fun!  It really is a great push.

But Week 1 is always the easiest to lose weight.  We shall see how we go!

If you have any exercise and eating tips for me, please share in the comments!


If you are keen to lose weight, you can find info on the Biggest Loser Club below.   And even better, be on the look out over the next few weeks for your chance to win yourself Biggest Loser Club membership! More to come!

Here is the following from the Biggest Loser guys:

So, Who is The Biggest Loser Club?


The Biggest Loser Club is one of Australia’s leading online weight loss programs. It provides all the weight loss tools and diet tips you need to achieve your goals, including expert advice, step-by-step tutorials, delicious menu plans, healthy low-fat recipes, exercise plans and our highly regarded food and exercise diary to track everything you eat and drink. The diet plan is 100% online so you can lose weight from the convenience of your own home, work or even your mobile phone.

On joining The Club, you will receive an individualised menu plan, exercise program and daily calorie target each week.

One of the key reasons people give up on diets is that they’re too restrictive and can often leave you feeling hungry. This is why The Club has opted for a more realistic daily calorie target that will allow you to lose weight at a steady pace, about half to a kilo a week, without feeling deprived. You will also learn about nutrition and making healthier food choices in your day to day life along the way.

And if you need support, advice, or just a place to share your own weight loss journey, jump into our online forums.

What do you get with The Biggest Loser Club weight loss program?


An interactive food and exercise diary that automatically calculates the calories you eat and how much you burn through exercise and daily activity, so that you can see if your weight loss is on track.

• A weekly menu and exercise plan to ensure steady and consistent weight loss.

• Weekly features providing weight loss tips and advice.

• Dynamic graphs and charts to track your weight loss.

• Online forums where you can learn and share weight loss tips with other Club members.

• Delicious, easy-to-cook, low-fat recipes.

• A resource of weight loss articles, providing guidance on how to manage your weight loss program with the daily stress and pressures of work and family.

On The Club program you can expect to lose 0.5 to 1kg per week in order to achieve your healthy weight. A steady weight loss offers you the best chance of getting rid of those kilos for good.

No food is forbidden – you can still eat the things you love, provided you stick to your daily calorie target. That means you’ll need to eat healthy, nutritious foods most of the time and high calorie foods less frequently if you want to lose weight and maintain your weight loss over the long term.

We have 2 payment plans on offer – $39.95 per month for 3 months or $19.95 per month for 12 months. Or if you prefer you can do one upfront payment of $99 for 3 months or $199 for 12 months.

To read more about The Club and the tools we have to offer, please visit www.biggestloserclub.com.au

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Three Easy DIY Projects Your Children Will Love


This is a guest post from STIHL, who are situated in more than 160 countries with products helping people at work and are the world's leading chain saw brand.


Stock Photography: Toy Hammer Picture. Image: 237722
© Photographer: Kitsen | Agency: Dreamstime.com
If you think back to your finest childhood memories, most of us can say that helping our parents build something from scratch is way up there on the list. They mostly did the hard work, but our toy hammers always put on the finishing touches. Now that we are a bit older and hopefully wiser, we realise how superhuman it was for them to create a tree house with nothing but a bit of wood and nails. If you’re anything like me, the thought of creating something fun out of a plank seems like something to put in the too hard box. That’s why we've created these super easy DIY projects. They’re simple to make and won’t cost you an arm and a leg; and I should also mention that they guarantee hours of fun.

Tyre See Saw

Why throw out your old tyre when you could make it into a seesaw? To start, grab your old tyre and cut it in half with a hacksaw. It will require a bit of muscle as the rims are lined with metal. Next step is to paint the two halves in a colour of your choice; your kids can help you out with this one. While they are drying, it’s time to make the seat. For this you need a long piece of ply wood that’s wide enough to cover the tyres when they are side by side. The ply might be too wide for the average kid’s legs so this is where you need to get crafty and saw a section where they can rest them. The next part to attach is the handles; make these out of the left over ply and attach them to structural cleats with an electric screwdriver. Once you've completed this step, give the seat a paint making sure you coat it with a primer first. The final stage is to connect it all together; for this to happen you’ll need to screw some wooden blocks into the edges of the tyres so that the seat has a fixing point. That’s it! It should only take you half the day, but it will mean years of enjoyment for the little ones.

Slip ‘n’ Slide

This is a favourite for both adults and kids alike; you can make it as steep as you like depending on how adventurous you are. All you need is painters’ tarp, garden pegs, duct tape, water and liquid soap. The first thing to do is decide on a location and remove any rocks and twigs that may hurt when sliding over. Then roll out your tarp, secure it down with garden pegs and cover it with duct tape so that they don’t rise out of the ground. The final step is to wet the slide with your hose, add the soap and get into your swimmers.

Sandpit

Free Stock Image: Toy Rake And Shovel Picture. Image: 17496
© Photographer: Winterberg | Agency: Dreamstime.com
When we envision building a sandbox, it usually involves putting a permanent wooden fixture into the ground. But what happens when your child grows out of it? Removing it will be hard work, so why not try a stone pit? They’re straightforward to put together and even simpler to take apart. The first step is to excavate the site buy digging a small trench and lining it with the bricks. Then cover with a weed barrier fabric to prevent the dirt and sand mixing too much. Finally, grab 10 bags of sand from your local home improvement store and unload it into the pit. Tip: You may want to use a bug repellent around the sides of the area to discourage ants and bugs.

These projects are a great way to encourage your child’s imagination and creative play. For any tools you might need, we found that stihl.com.au is perfect for the DIYer or fixer upper. Happy building!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

5 Sports to Keep Your Kids Active and in the Backyard These Summer Holidays


This is a Guest Post from Mick Simmons Sport, a place where you can find clothing and equipment from many different sports around the world.


Free Stock Image: Boy Ball Beach3 Picture. Image: 211276
© Photographer: Sandy Matzen | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Kids are getting overweight and in Australia the epidemic is more and more evident as time goes on. It’s not getting better and with the internet becoming more and more useful it’s hard to get the kids out into the backyard. Here are a few fun things you can suggest to get them out on the town.

Backyard Cricket

Over the fence is six runs and out! If you’re going to set out and play a game together cricket is a pretty worthwhile choice. Pick up some wickets and a couple of bats and it’s time to have some fun. It’s a game that has some structure, the ability to encourage teamwork and it’s not too athletically demanding or exhausting. Have fun, though you can pick up some pads at Mick Simmons Sport AUS or any other sports retailing website if safety is a concern.

Backyard Soccer

Keep in mind for this one that you’re going to need something to stand in for goals, preferably something you can afford to lose or break without any problems. Someone is going to run into it or slam the ball there and everyone has one story about when they broke something important. This is pretty similar to any other kind of soccer and it should be relaxed fun for everyone.

Croquet

This is a much more relaxed game that the entire family can get involved in. As it’s a game that requires only basic skills and not a lot of strength kids and old people can get involved without any handicaps. This is a great sport for taking the time to bond together and play the game without straining yourself too hard. Besides, it’ll make you feel classy, croquet is a game classy people play, and everyone knows this.

Football

From low to high energy, as Australians a love of football is almost built into our DNA. Some families live and breathe it and it’s easy to see why. Its recommended you go down to a park if you don’t have a big back yard and you want to play two hand touch to prevent injuries and allow everyone to play unless you’re certain there’s going to be problems. It’s a fun fast paced game that’s going to give everyone a bit of fun.

Lawn Bowls

A simple sport that gives coordination, depth perception, tests your arm and your aim and doesn't involve any risk of running yourself ragged or getting hurt in hot weather it’s good to play a sport that doesn't involve you catching sunstroke or stumbling and running into someone’s elbow. This can help your kids and entertain them all at once.

Summer days are a time for fun, for going outside, relaxing, having fun. Sitting in front of the screen feels like wasting a summer once you've really been outside. It’s time for kids to go back to basics, go outside, and play.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Save on your Childrens Education Expenses


This is a guest post from Fox Symes, Australia's largest provider of debt solutions.

School is an exciting prospect for many children, as they enter those first independent years and start testing the boundaries of your authority. It may be a bit heart-wrenching, to watch them patter up the path and out of the realm of kindy-hood forever; it will be predictably quite expensive, the sudden influx of school fees and demands, from books, to time, to lamington drives, there’s a ream of hidden extras associated with schooling, even the cost effective public system hide a caveat of unexpected outlays – Excursions, anyone? Though it might sound a bit extreme, readying yourself for your child’s education through the different age groups will allow you an insight into what you have to save, what is achievable and if you should look around now for a better price, before they become too invested. Being new with thirty other students is a giddy experience; being the new kid half way through term is incredibly difficult!

Primary School: Shop Around

Stock Photo: Pink Piggy Picture. Image: 35120
© Photographer: Johanna Goodyear | Agency: Dreamstime.com
How much will be due and when? Even if your child has yet to start school, asking around to potential campuses will assist you in matching the right institution to your means, without sacrificing other fundamentals, like small classes, religion (if applicable) and engaged teachers. Take the collated numbers chart and work it against your current income, allowing for inflation and fee increases over the set number of years until your child starts school. Do you have another little one coming up the ranks? Is it important that your kids attend the same campus? Do they have different talents and focuses that will be better served by different schools? Be honest about your income and only enrol when you’re certain you can meet the financial outcomes of the institution, even if your debts require consolidation and the expert eye of a company like Fox Symes.

Secondary Education: Be Prepared

Though primary education is highly important and essentially formative, high school gears budding students achieving an optimal University entrance score, securing their future livelihoods and building their self-confidence to handle real world situations. You want to invest in their schooling. Creating a savings plan now, even if they've only just entered second form, will open up a range of closed doors, as your frugality and perseverance pays off and admission into a highly sort after grammar school is well within your reach. The benefits of saving are unimaginable, as a positive management practice facilitates discussions between child and parent, emphasising the importance and value of a dollar earned. They will be grateful, when they mature and their lives are just that little bit easier thanks to your influence and sacrifice.

Create a Trust: University Daze

University can be an expensive jaunt, even with the added bonus of FEE-HELP and other assistance schemes; though financial pressures are alleviated now, they will come back to haunt your child after they make over a certain amount. If you want your kids to be free from the debilitating effects of student loans and subsequent repayments, setting up a trust will allow you to deposit and manage funds for the purposes of education, while still granting access to your child. Trusts are fantastic when it comes to crunch time and union fees roll in on top of new text books and costly accommodation.

Do you need advice? Who doesn’t? While nobody has all of the answers, and no, not even Google, financial bodies like the FSA Group can be a guiding light when planning for the future.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tips to make your child’s first sleepover a memorable one


This is a guest post from Bunkers, Australia's specialist in bunk beds & clever bedroom furniture.


For the majority of people their first sleepover was memorable for all the wrong reasons. A night away from home is a big deal at a young age. There are few simple steps that you can take as a parent to insure that your child’s first sleepover is a blast. All you need to do is read this article.

Ready?

Stock Photo: Mr Moon Picture. Image: 208820
© Photographer: Ng | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Is your child actually ready for a sleepover? You may want to test the water with a cousin or family friend. This goes for hosting a sleepover and attending. Is your child ready to entertain a friend for a long period of time? Is your child ready to spend a night away from home? These are the kinds of questions you will have to ask yourself.

Know the parents and children

You keep your mind at peace you want to know the parents. Talking to them will get you any important information you need to know to insure the sleepover runs smoothly. This means finding about allergies, phone numbers and sleeping habits. Every child’s sleeping habits are different. Some like to sleep with a light on, the door open or music playing. As the host you need to be able to cater for this.

The rules

This is a new house and therefore there are new rules. Don’t assume the child has to follow the same rules you enforce at home. You’ll need to explain that some rules may be different to what they are used to. Rules may not seem fun but they insure that everyone gets along fairly.

Entertainment

Don’t let the name ‘sleepover’ fool you. The last thing these children want to do is sleep. There is no such thing as too many activities. It’s better to over schedule. You want to keep them busy and entertained. This will insure they remain happy.

Disasters

It’s clich├ęd but expect the unexpected. You can’t plan for everything. It could be as simple as the child has never seen a bunk bed in real life before, only on www.bunkers.com.au If a disaster does occur then don’t be afraid to end the sleepover, the parents will understand. Know when to throw in your cards. If all things are going swimmingly don’t be shocked to find wet sleeping bags in the morning. Try to be discrete; you don’t want to embarrass your child’s friend. Finally, keep the next day low key. A night away from home has probably insured that the children have not had much sleep. They may appear a little cranky. All you can do at this point is provide them with a healthy breakfast and send them on their way. You’ll know you've done a great job when your child asks if they can have another friend over.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

5 Ideal Locations for a Family Adventure


This is a guest post by the folks from My Adventure Store, where you compare, select and book the right travel experience from the world’s leading adventure operators and airlines.


Having a family does not mean the end of adventure holidays. Obviously you will need to research your destinations a little more carefully if you have a family, but there are many ideal locations for a family to have a whole lot of off-the-beaten-track fun. In fact, adventure holidays are one of the fastest growing trends in family travel. Kids, just like adults, enjoy getting away from the busy humdrum of daily life and setting of into the wilds.
An adventure holiday is a great way for you and your family to enjoy discovering the amazing world we live in. Adventure holidays cater for complete family involvement, so you and the kids can have a shared experience of exploring your destination. Companies that specialise in family adventure holidays have done their homework; they ensure trips are kid-friendly and safe. And there are loads of choices. Check out My Advenutre Store website to begin the hunt for your next family adventure.

The Land of Smiles


The people of Thailand love children and they will love getting to know yours. A Thailand holiday offers the perfect combination of culture, historical sites, outdoor activities and yummy food. Your family will experience unforgettable sights – riding elephants in the far north, busy and colourful markets almost everywhere, magnificent temples and the ancient ruins of Ayuthaya. You can take easy one day treks to the hill tribe villages in the far north and give your children the invaluable experience of seeing families who live an almost subsistence lifestyle where children help with farming, weaving and sewing. Visit the stunning beaches in the south and canoe through amazing ocean caves. The country is safe and the physical demands of exploring Thailand and well within the abilities of most families.

Ancient Turkey

Turkey provides an amazing mix of exquisite natural beauty and ancient history. And there are lots of adventurous activities to keep you busy. You can take the family sea kayaking over amazing ruins or scuba diving or snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of Turkey. Another great adventure is to sail a gulet, an all wooden handcrafted motor sailing yacht, along the picturesque Turquoise Coast. And the family are sure to love the kebabs!

Have Christmas in Lapland

Why not take the family for a Christmas adventure in the traditional homeland of Christmas. Complete with snow, Finnish traditional Christmas fare and Santa and his elves, your kids will be in Christmas heaven.



Serengeti, Tanzia

Discover the raw beauty of Africa. Go on safari by day and relax in comfortable lodges by night. Your family will get to see a bounty of wildlife – elephants, lions, hippos, cheetahs, antelope and more. This is a truly unforgettable adventure.

The Tropics of Costa Rica

This destination has an abundance of national parks. You can check out the Arenal Volcano, go wildlife spotting and just take in the natural beauty of the place. A visit to the cloud forests, highland rainforests with 100% humidity will amaze – literally a forest of fog.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

5 Australian Thrill Rides You Must Try


This is a guest post from MyFun.com.au, where Australia's favourite theme parks, attractions and experiences come together under one banner.


Do you dream about hair-raising, stomach-dropping adventure, passing another nine to five wishing to be somewhere else more exciting, possibly plotting your escape early Friday morning or finally landing on Australian soil, without a kangaroo escort? Thrills are well within your grasp. If you’ve taken a few moments out of your busy life to explore the visual spoils of the Gold Coast, you are well situated to exploit the mecca of theme parks an hour above its borders – a short car trip or scenic bus ride will soon deliver you to the gates of summer fun, and to the teeth chattering experiences you’ve been craving.

The Superman Escape

Ride alongside Supes and save Movie World from certain disaster. Pulling out of the landing bay into a smoke filled chute will be the final peaceful moment you’ll have all day, as flashing lights and voiceovers build a sense of urgency and THWAK! You’re hurtling toward a vertical climb, punching the pedal from 0-100km in exactly two seconds. The twists, the turns and incisive loops will have you clutching at your chest support, as your body struggles to catch up with the G-Force corners and weightless drops. Don’t forget to breathe!

The Green Lantern Coaster

Though Ryan Reynolds has taken his leave of the man in the green suit (for now), his legacy lives on in the confines of an Australian wonder park. The Green Lantern Coaster is track of surprises and screams. Do you love steep, air-crushing dives? Us too. Strap into this coaster and prepare yourself for bone jarring corners at 66km/h, speedy climbs and the steepest drop in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Buzzsaw

Scary stories and terrifying rides are harmonious bedfellows, teasing the imaginations and sweaty palms of would-be thrill seekers as they line up, twisting through an abandoned woodshed. Hopping into a carriage, you’ll discover only a waist harness between you and a 46m climb; with nothing to cling to, how will you deal with 360 degree rolls, speeds of 105km/h and dangling with fingers tips free, chilling in the air before flipping over into a death drop? Rip it up.

The Claw

A velociraptor claw doesn’t sound particularly spine-tingling, unless Jurassic Park has come to life and you’re stuck in the cellar, trying to turn the lights on. Imagine though, you’re strapped into said claw, swinging nine storeys into the blue, rushing head-first against the sky at 75km/h. Has your stomach rebelled yet? No? Wait until it starts spinning. The Claw is the first pendulum thrill ride in Australia, making friends and frenemies in their droves; after all, who doesn’t love a collapsing floor and the delighted shrieks of less than courageous riders?

The Batwing Space Shot

The black bat is back and rearing to prevent disaster befalling Gotham once more; after battling Bane in the last instalment of the Dark Knight, Alfred has devised an ejection system, in case Bruce ever needs to shoot out of a pitted prison in a hurry. Secure your shoulders and nerves, you’ll need to be cool, calm and ready to pull 4.5G’s of pure inertia as you shoot 60m into the sky. It’s heart thumping and adrenaline crumping ride to the top with the Caped Crusader. Who would have thought the Australian Gold Coast held so many ways to lose your lunch or discover a dormant courage, all without lifting a finger?

What are some of your favourite thrill rides? Tell us in the comments.