28 Feb 2013

Rome Half Day Walking Tour

You can't go to Rome and not (literally) see the Collosseo. It's in the heart of the city and it's not only until you see it with your own eyes do you realise the size and magnitude of this structure. I recall someone once warned me 'In Rome you will really feel the term "high tourist spot."' The whole city is very busy with tourist and locals especially the Colosseum. I strongly, strongly, strongly, suggest booking a tour group in advance to avoid the long queues for this place. I was so surprised how long the lines were for the general admission area and personally, wouldn't want to be disappointed wasting my holiday time queuing. There are also tour companies that scout the queues to see if people would like to join their tours and I've had friends who taken this option and weren't disappointed. 

We booked a walking half day tour with Viator and it cost us 30E per person. The tour we selected not only took us to the Colosseum but through Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, Panthelon and Piazza Navona, which was great however meant we were doing more walking between sites then enjoying the sites itself. 

We meet the tour group close by the Colosseum. Once everyone arrived and checked in we by passed the massive queues and entered the Colosseum. We walked up to the upper level, probably walked 1/4 of the area then walked down to the lower level then exited the Colosseum. Don't get me wrong the tour guide provided a lot of history and facts about the Colosseum and the city itself and no I don't think I would have wanted to spend hours in there either but I would have liked to have walked a loop around and had the opportunity to take photos of the other levels. 

After we exited the Colosseum we walked over to Palatine Hill which contains many ruins of ancient Rome. They are constantly refurbishing and digging up artifacts. Something I learnt during the tour, ancient Rome is literally buried underneath itself. Whenever the city wanted to rebuild it would literally bury the old and build over it. It's prevent throughout the city. There would be rock cliff sides where there seems to be layers of different material and parts sticking out and you wonder why, its because its probably some artifact. There's so much history literally under your feet and the leaders of the city doesn't know where to start but ironically can't due to the infrastructure that now sits on top of it. 

After walking through Palatine Hill we walked about 2km to the Trevi Fountain. Once we reached the fountain we were given 10 minutes free time. By this time (lunch time) area was packed and very mindful of pick pocketers and dodgy people trying to sell you something.

One "trick" I was told to avoid was agreeing to let someone take a photo of you (and your partner or group) for you. I was told this trick is used by scammers to get money off you once they've taken the photo. This was my constant fear that whenever someone, usually another tourist asked me if I could take a photo of them, I turned and ignored these people. 

Note: to ensure a return to the city again one day one must hold a coin on their right hand and thrown over their the left shoulder. 

They believe roughly 3,000E is thrown into the fountain daily and coins are collected regularly and donated to charities or to fund the maintenance of the site. 

From here we walked over to the Pantheon and entered the temple. Inside we learned more history and facts about the building. Anyone can enter into the Pantheon, anytime and it's free.

Afterwards we headed over to the Piazza Navona. This place is really pretty, surrounded by lots of restaurants, a little market perfect spot for people watching. When you look around the place looks very familiar, that's because they Piazza layout has been duplicated by The Venetian Casino chain.  

25 Feb 2013

Social Media

I've decided to open a Pinterest and Twitter account.

I had avoided these other forms of social media mediums as I felt I had no need for them. Twitter, well I barely post "updates" on Facebook so I doubt I would be inclined to do so on another forum. Pinterest, I didn't really think the concept was ... interesting enough for me to sign up despite the craze it had created online and amongst friends.

Regardless, late one night last week I set up an account for both and I found the process very ...  intrusive. For both Pinterest and Twitter, post creating an account I had to link with someone. What if I just wanted to create an account with the intention of keeping it private? During the account creation process on Twitter you're asked to follow someone and forced to follow a minimum number of people before account creation is complete. They have suggested  celebrities for you based on your interest but again what if I don't want to see what Helen has to say and would rather just follow my real friends? 

On Pinterest they also suggest people to follow based on your interests then force you to pin stuff on your wall ... why? 

I actually thought I didn't successfully create either accounts because I was feeling so forced into actioning things, that I stopped. However I soon received emails that I had my own followers so I guess my accounts were created.

During the past few days when I have a few minutes, I have been surfing around on Pinterest. I've come to the conclusion that the tool fuels you're urge to spend money. As I created boards, liked and repined things that I liked all I wanted to do was buy that dress, desire to go on a holiday (something we shouldn't consider now), decorate the home with cute stuff when we don't even have key furniture pieces yet and shop for a whole winter wardrobe for Eli ... it's not inspiring me it's making me want to buy stuff that I may not necessarily need.

Yes there are other categories that may not stir the pockets like Architecture, Science and Humor but they're categories that I don't particularly like and looking through the things people I follow pin and like I guess they don't either.

Anyways that's my rant ... now I'm going to shop online for some A1 size photo frames to decorate in my home.

Feel free to follow me
Pinterest: campints
Twitter: campints
Trying to come up with usernames that haven't been already taken was another reason why the process was so tedious.

Happy Monday!

Do you have a Twitter or Pinterest account, let me know I'll follow you

20 Feb 2013


Some people say avoid staying too long in the city of Rome because it's so busy and touristy. Agree, however the moment it sunk in that I really was in Europe was when I was in Rome, when I was standing in front of the famous Trevi Fountain. I remember standing there taking it all in and saying to Ian with a massive smile "We're in Rome!" I never felt that urge in Paris or London.

Again in Rome we stayed in a self contained apartment. We booked the room via RomeLoft.com here you can see pictures provided by the apartment in addition to the photos I've uploaded. 

  • The apartment itself is very big for Europe standards. It was the biggest apartment we stayed at through out our trip. 
  • It had a fully equipped kitchen, large fridge, gas stove, oven, microwave and dishwasher. 
  • Was surprised to find a washing machine as it was advertised as not having one. This was perfect as it allowed us to do some washing. There are towel warmers which we used to help speed dry our washing.
  • The apartment location although surrounded by restaurants and a bar was surprisingly very quiet even at night. It also felt very safe as there was a security door at the front and our room was in the first floor.
  • Apartment was very modern and had many creature comforts such as air conditioning in both the living room and bedrooms, wifi which was free or included with the cost of the room, a big flat screen tv with cable and english channels.
  • Walking distance to key landmarks such as Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. 
  • The retail district Via Del Corso is also a minute walk away. Very dangerous considering shops close at 8pm in summer.

  • The person who was meeting us to check in was over an hour late and only after we called and complained to the booking company and they contacted the gentlemen, did he made his way to the apartment. When he arrived he didn't even apologised and was very unhelpful when showing us the apartment. 
  • The front door is very tricky to open and was not explained to us when we checked in. 
  • Apartment very dark and not enough lighting although there are windows. However when we opened the blinds we noticed other apartments could see into our apartment so kept blinds shut. 
  • The washing machine was in italian so we were guessing what functions did what. 
Door step outside our apartment block 

 Separate living room space 

The bedroom

 Kitchen and dining

 The bathroom and washing machine that saved the day

16 Feb 2013

Budget P3 - Mointoring your budget

So you've identified all your income, expenses and you've determined and documented how much your life style costs you. Congratulations, you have established a blue print of where your money is being spent. No more wondering where your money goes to every month, you now have the answer.

But life likes to throw us curve balls and no matter how well we predict potential costs, our lives and circumstances may change. You may move to a new job/role and your income changes, you have an accident and need to purchase a new car, you decided to renovate that old bathroom, you start a business and is in its infant stages and have no financial backing therefore all costs are coming out of your own pocket, a medical situation occurs in your household and results in a large medical bill you need to pay for. Whatever those changes are you need to update your budget or blue print to reflect those changes.

So how do you track those changes onto your budget? As I mentioned previously a budget is only as good as the amount of detail it contains and needs to be reviewed regularly. I also mentioned in our household we review our budget on a weekly basis. We review what we spent the previous week, we do this using our online banking tools. We always opt to pay for all transactions electronically so we don't need to remember every exchange of money, our banks have done that work for us. So every week we review and document the transaction into our budget.

For every month we create a new spreadsheet (worksheet) with the same categories and items as we identified at the start of the budget process but we keep items blank until that transaction occurs. For example for the Car Liabilities category insurance, registration, green slip, pink slip and servicing would be empty until renewal period approaches. However a category that usually has a transaction every month (at least in our household) are Groceries, Transport, Entertainment and items such as petrol, health insurance, mortgage repayments etc.   

By regularly tracking what you have spent and comparing it to the budget you created at the start will allows you to monitor whether or not you are sticking to you budget, identify any regular spending you didn't account for at the start therefore may need to update your original budget and ultimately know where your money is going. 

So that's my tips on creating and monitoring your home budget. I know it can be very overwhelming and tedious especially at the start but once that initial process is over, as in you've gathered all the information together, the ongoing "monitoring" process gets easier.

I challenge you to really start understanding and tracking your spending via a budget and soon you'll notice how much better you get at saving it. Good luck and if you have any questions about any of the information I've provided, if you're stuck with putting your budget together and would like some help or would like an electronic spreadsheet / template to help you with your budget feel free to email me on gen.y.mum@gmail.com

8 Feb 2013

I Hate Crying

Eli is going through his first round of sicknesses. As I mentioned in a previous post he first got sick with gastro during the Australia long weekend and now he has caught our cold and flu. I say our's because I first had it, then Ian and now the little man. 

And because he is sick he is so needy. He wants me (and only me) to be physically close to him at all times and he wants to be held constantly. That's fine .... for the first couple of days but two weeks later I reached my boiling point. 

He cries the moment you leave the room, he wont sleep unless you're next to him and the amount of nurturing he's demanding ... it's over whelming. Add to that a boy who's unwell and unable to tell you what's bothering him, I just had enough.

There's no use in yelling at him cause one, he yells back at me and two, it just upsets him even more. There's no point in disciplining him cause it's not completely his fault. So when I was trying to cook dinner tonight and he screamed at my feet for him to pick him up I just ignored him. I let him cry and scream at me while I got on with it. 

I hate hearing my son cry. Not cause I don't want him to cry but they sound of my own child crying annoys me. I do whatever it takes to shut that noise down. So to just let him scream his lungs out and in such close proximity to my ears ... it tested my patience. 

But you know what, 10 minutes later he stopped crying. He realised mum's busy right now and he got on with it too. He stopped screaming, then stopped crying and moved onto something new. And when I was ready to play again he forgot about how I ignored him and we played. 

What an eye opener. Why didn't I do this before? I get so caught up in not wanting to upset him that it was upsetting me. I need to get comfortable with hearing my children cry cause there is still several years of that to come and I need to be able to stand my ground and say "No". I'm such a softy (or push over as Ian calls it) to my son at times.

6 Feb 2013

Four Year Anniversary

Last week was Ian and I's four year wedding anniversary. Like every year we spent the day pampering ourselves and then treating ourselves to a fancy shmancy dinner. Ian also surprised me with some lovely T&C pearl ear rings and necklace. I felt horrible cause I didn't get him a gift. Sucks not working in town and having lunch breaks to peruse the many retail stores in town. 

We got massages done at Endota Spa at Crows Nest, recommended by a friend. Afterwards we walked around our old neighborhood and saw how much it had change in the twenty months since we last lived there. We even checked out this new burger joint called Moo Gourmet Burgers. Burgers were pretty good especially their onion rings but probably not the best idea to have burgers two hours shy of our dinner booking. 

For dinner I was able to get a booking at Momofuku Seiobo. I didn't realise it was a degustation meal so we were very pleased to learn we were going to have twelve courses of food. 

Smoked eel with frozen apple

Ian enjoying the steamed bun and pork belly

Striped trumpeter celery and mustard

Potato caviar and chicken tail

Beef with radish, fermented black bean

 Tongue with black garlic and zucchini

  Squab with eggplant and cherry

 Marron with broccoli and lemon

 Congee with ham and yolk

 Blackcurrant and mint curd

Raspberry and cucumber sorbet 

 Pineapple with lime and sesame

 Honey beef shoulder

Happy 4 Years my Sweetheart. I love you and love sharing this life with you, I don't know how I could have faced or experienced this life without you. You complete me and because of you I am a better person today. Thank you for being my bestest friend and biggest supporter, know that I hang on to your ever advice, word and approval, that is why your opinion means (and at times hurts) so much. Thank you for never changing despite me at times trying to change you. Thank you for our son, being an awesome father and provider. To our forever ... I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds our future, I love you.

2 Feb 2013

Go get your flu shot

Last weekend was our little long weekend getaway with my old basketball team, The Juggernauts. That's right, we had a pretty awesome team name and we were a pretty awesome team too. 

We went north of Sydney about 1.5hrs away, near Gosford staying two streets away from the lovely Avoca beach. The property was this cosy three story home big enough to cater for the 11 adults and 2 children who was staying there fore the weekend. 

The Saturday was hot although became overcast by 1pm but stayed relatively humid. I'm actually still sun burnt from Saturday despite putting on sunscreen and staying under our beach tent most of the time. The Sunday and Monday however the weather had turned. It was miserable, constantly rained, windy and so many parts of the country was bracing for the worst. 

By Sunday Eli had developed gastro for the first time. His stools were runny, yellow and disgusting! However he didn't seem to be bothered by it. He wasn't upset, moody or acting different while he was going through it.
Monday afternoon we returned back home. I remember walking through the front door, unloading a few items, taking a shower and going to bed around 3ish and waking up at 7:30pm - I was that knackered. 

The next day I had a cough, fever, the flu and a little guy with gastro to look after. My body ached. I remember waking up and feeling weak at the joints of my knees like I had been running on it really hard the day before. My back felt sore making it hard to lift Eli when I needed to. I felt so nauseous and light headed that I limited all movement. It got to the point where I had to call my mum to cook me some food and help watch over Eli while I rested. Mum's are the best and so is their cooking! 

By Wednesday I had picked up Eli's gastro. Worst experience ever! I never knew I could go to the toilet so much. The consistency, the amount (considering I'd barely eaten), the smell, the burn - I had not known such torture existed. I then became very conscious of passing it on to other people so I washed my hands after I've touched something slightly grimy and I refused to handle food.

On Thursday went to the doctors got some drugs and its now under control. I also learnt that day 3 other people who went away with us last weekend also experienced the same serve episode as I did. Same symptoms and experiences, apparently a bug is doing the rounds. A doctor one of the girls saw said it's probably a mutation of the super bug that hit last year and another wave is expected this winter. 

After going through the mini hell I had this week, (child birth was less of a torture) I strongly suggest getting your flu shots done prior to the arrival of the winter months. Yes, its true getting the flu shot wont mean you're 100% immune from getting the flu however it decreases your chances if you take a form of vaccine. Also wash your hands and your children's hands as much as you possibly can, you just don't know where they've been. 

Funny and disgusting story (you have been warned). This week Eli was on the floor saying "poo poo hmmm." He knows and can now tell us when he's done one. He's scratching his bum so I stop him by grabbing his hand away. I wash his hands thoroughly first before I change his diaper so that his hands we clean. After I changed him I took him to bed. While in bed I could smell something I turned to look at him and he's got sh!t squished through his fingers. I freak out thinking he's done another one and has managed to get his hand right in there this time. I wash his hands (for several minutes) again and attempt to change his nappy but there's nothing in there. Where the hell did that sh!t come from I'm still yet to figure it out.

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