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It’s true. Aussies sure love to stitch up the perfect outdoor event and we’re very good at it. We’re masters at cooking the perfect steak and chilling our beer ‘just so’ while we relax outside on the outdoor furniture we’ve worked hard for. We’re also great at whipping up cheese platters and starting witty conversations about every topic imaginable. We’ll spill those stories until the early hours of the morning. We love to laugh, live large and let it all out.
Australia sure is a great place to live, especially on a hot summer’s night with a whole evening to relax and in the company of our “besties.”
But here’s the thing:
Some Aussies let their show down by forgetting a few simple aesthetics that can really make the difference between a ‘great night’ and an ‘unforgettable’ night. And, if you’ve ever been to or held such a party, you’ll know you nailed it because people will continue to talk about your party for many years to come. Others will ‘take a leaf out of your book’ at their next party. They’ll thank you for the great party ideas such as the marshmallow skewers or the inspirational creative costumes you wore at your last themed party. Parties are great how they give back like that.
There are some things I believe are key to the perfect summer outdoor party. Here’s a list from my own private ‘list of party essentials’ that have made our parties popular over the years.

1. Create a quirky, interesting twist on normal food

I love to skewer things and people have loved this idea at my parties. I skewer all kinds of food items like marshmallows (and place them around the house in vases), fruit, vegetables, meat and much more. What I love about skewers – is that they look great even if you are putting super cheap ingredients on the skewer. People also love them because they’re hygienic and easy to carry while at an event. They also don’t get their fingers too sticky. These are always a hit at my parties.

2. Make your outdoor zone both comfortable and stylish

Invest in gorgeous outdoor furniture that will last the test of time. Make sure the furniture is durable and comfortable as well as stylish. Consider a great outdoor settee (think ‘The Block TV Show’) as well a beautiful outdoor table. Comfortable guests who feel treated in terms of ‘style’ and ‘comfort’ will thoroughly enjoy their night. It’s nice to make guests feel as though they’re dining out in a hotel lobby or a city bar. It’s great to be able to create that kind of ambience without leaving home.
Think cool furniture like this:

Dining Table

Image Source: Freedom Furniture

Outdoor Sofa

Image Source: Freedom Furniture

5. White Fairy Lights

One of my super cheap and cute tricks at a party are white fairy lights. I will throw fairy lights on the dining table to give the evening an instant feel of glamour and style. IMPORTANT: Use the BATTERY OPERATED kind – so guests don’t electrocute themselves if they spill a drink!

6. Create ambience with music

I can’t believe the number of gatherings I’ve been to where the gift of music is simply forgotten. Please don’t forget music. Start the evening off with some light, easy listening (lounge or jazz etc) and then move into heavier dancing music later on. Make sure music is playing when your guests arrive. Do not make music an ‘afterthought’ and always create a playlist ahead of time. If you don’t have time consider using a digital radio attached to speakers tuned to a cool station like Koffee.com.au. Such stations offer awesome music you can play all night long that will surely impress your guests.

7. Invite the right people

In terms of people, I’ve always believed quality is better than quantity. People really make a party. I’d rather sit around that lovely dining table I invested good money in with people who matter. Pick people you love to hang out with, who make you laugh and offer you good advice and kindness. Ditch anyone who has ever put you down, laughed at you, turned out to be false, stolen your ideas and are only self-interested. These kinds of people are not friends and not worth the time or money you’re spending on them. Be strict with this. Life is far too short to suffer friends who are not on your side.

8. Pot-luck party food and BYO alcohol

If you are on a low budget but would like to treat your friends to a great party consider a pot-luck party. People are usually happy (and would prefer) to bring something along so don’t be afraid to ask. Aside from the offering of a slab of beer or some Champagne for the ladies, make your party BYO. This way you won’t break the bank. If you’re event is hosting families (including kids) definitely go pot-luck – as kids really ramp up the numbers and parties can become very expensive if you have to feed all adults and their kids.

9. Photo booth

With social media being so popular Photo Booth’s are becoming increasingly well liked at parties and weddings. It’s easy to create a cool photo booth with a simple piece of cardboard with a rectangle cut out in the middle of it. You can even buy Photo Booth kits at $2 shops or online these days that include cool masks and hats for your guests to pick out of.
Here’s the kind of fun I’m talking about:

Image Source: WeddingFriends.co.za


Got great party tips? Be sure to leave them on my Facebook page.
 

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If you’ve dreamt of owning a boat you might be surprised by the many unusual reasons people decide to captain a boat and venture into the big blue ocean. If you own a boat the world really is your oyster and the experiences on offer are unlimited from roaring up rivers with friends, to fishing with your mates or taking the family out on regular memory-making adventures.

Here are 20 surprising reasons people dream of owning a boat

1. They discover they’re quite affordable

Some people think buying a boat is off-limits because it costs loads, but you don’t have to be a millionaire to own a boat. There are a huge range of boats for all budgets from cabin cruisers, sailboats, ski boats, jet boats and fishing boats. The list is endless and if your goal is to hit the water, you can find a fabulous hobby on water that is within your means. Many boats are financed for under $200 a month and banks will finance them for longer periods of time, which make them more affordable in the interim.

2. People get sick of hanging out on land

It’s not hard to figure out that people like water and enjoy a ride on or splash in the ocean. Just visit any seaside town in summer and you’ll get an instant picture of the wicked ways water tugs on people’s moods and emotions. Then consider the amount of cruise ships out on the water at any one time. These places are like small cities now; with enough entertainment people never need to come home. Even retirees are living on the water for good and some have discovered that it costs just $15,000 more to live forever on water than on land while they see the world. (I’m considering this when I get old – seriously. Sounds like great fun!) Plus there’s something thrilling about salt on your face and the wind in your hair. This just puts grins on chins.

3. To meet unusual and interesting people

Like land, the ocean is a vast body of sea full of interesting people who also like boats. Many people join their local yacht club and enjoy endless summer evenings and weekends socialising while they spend time on their boat. Fishermen rise early and get out on the ocean to enjoy quality time with their mates. Finally, many people who buy boats are unusual and interesting. They’ve usually led exciting, adventurous lives and have many a tale to tell.

4. To escape the house and cope with life better

There’s nothing better than leaving the house to then hop on a boat. Whether your boat is a yacht or a small sailing boat, you still get the same sensation of ‘living in the moment’ that a boat brings. If you are looking for escape, a boat is one of the most positive ways a person can spend time. Time on a boat gives a person thinking time and a moment to reflect on what’s happening back on land. Perspective is a wonderful thing. Cheaper than a few hours at the mall!

5. To go on adventures

Life is short and you never know what is going to happen. Whether you are just going for a little skip around the bay or planning longer trips with friends, boating is a sure-fire way to maximise the adventure in your life. Every trip on a boat offers a unique experience and is thrilling to the core for the many boat lovers who head out on the ocean each year.

6. To bond with family and friends

If you are looking for one of the fastest ways to bond with friends and family, take them out on a boat. Some of the worst relationships have been repaired on a boat. Firstly, there’s nowhere for your relatives to go (but over the side) and you’ll all be forced to talk and hang out with each other. Not like Christmas – when people can escape into the garden, up the street or the park next door. Boats are a lock-in and can really work to one’s advantage in terms of spending never-to-be-forgotten ‘quality time’ together.

7. To get the kids off digital

I don’t know a kid on the planet, nor their parents, who would risk taking a phone or tablet on a boat. (Note: Make sure one parent takes one in a waterproof case!) If you want to build a kid’s confidence, spend quality time with the kids or teach them a sense of adventure then boating is an awesome way to do this. Plus – going out on a boat takes all day and everyone comes home exhausted. The kids will be so invigorated they won’t even think about digital when they get home.

8. To experience cheaper more frequent holidays

Boats are a cheap way to holiday compared to booking a hotel room or flying off to remote locations in the world. You can get on a boat over a short period of time like after work or on a weekend or plan more lengthy adventures. When you consider the cost of owning a sailing boat for example over a year, you’ll be surprised how affordable this can be compared to buying flights and hotels for an annual holiday.

9. To experience the euphoria exercise brings

Finally, you don’t have to go spend silly money on gym memberships when you can enjoy boats for all the glorious reasons above while you have a workout. Depending on the boat you buy you’ll feel stronger and more invigorated. If you’ve ever been on a run and experienced the joy afterwards, you’ll get the same euphoria when stepping off a boat.

10. To make friends fast without much effort

Boats are fun, period and they attract people into your life without you having to do much. Think about people who own swimming pools in summer. Their houses are always full of people. If you want to make friends and you don’t have the energy to build friendships from scratch, buy a boat. People will rally around you like flies.

10 more surprising reasons people want to own a boat

  1. To take awesome selfies
  2. To escape people
  3. To get a great tan
  4. To feel rich
  5. To get an awesome view of the sky
  6. To hang with the fish
  7. To show off their cozzie
  8. To impress people
  9. To show off
  10. To smell the ocean up clost

How to get your hands on a boat faster

If you’re looking to buy a boat there are lots of ways you can go about it. You can shop online, look for a dealer, or even buy from a private seller. Whatever you do, be sure to compare prices online first. Even if you’re buying a used boat, you’ll at least get an idea of how much you should pay for it. If you are short on cash but your heart needs to hit the ocean faster, you might consider financing a boat so you can get your adventure started. With a little research online you’ll be able to find the best boat loan offers. Look for a loan, which offers one hundred percent finance, fixed rates, and a flexible repayment schedule. Look for companies that respond to applications fast and don’t mind if your credit history is lacking lustre.
Did you know you could even decide to buy a boat for business purposes? If you plan to use the boat for business purposes for more than half of the time, you’ll reap some big tax benefits, as the boat would be a business asset.

Other quick tips for the prospective boat buyer

  • Simple interest loans are good, as the interest rate remains the same over the life of the loan. (Note: Some lenders are moving away from these to reap bigger commissions.)
  • Find the exact value of the boat you want. A loan broker can help you get a good surveyor.
  • Use your prospective boat valuation to figure to estimate how much you’ll need for your loan. It may be tempting, but don’t inflate values to get a bigger loan.
  • Providing a down payment will get you more benefits. While most institutions don’t explicitly require collateral, you’ll get better terms if you do.
  • Make sure you research as much as possible before you buy your dream boat. Remember that knowledge is power.

Do you have a surprising reason for wanting to own a boat? Leave your thoughts in comments below.
 

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Takeaway these eating out tips – Save $520 this year

Eating out is becoming quite a luxury. But if you do love a little grease on occasion, be sure to check out these quick tips on how to save money on takeaways. Did you know that if you regularly eat takeaways and you actioned the tips in this post, you could save up to $520 or more each year on eating out?

Here are my super quick tips on how to save money on takeaways

Add the following to your shopping list

  1. 1 x bulk packet of battered fish ($5)
  2. 1 x packet of oven fries ($2.50)
  3. 1 x bottle of fizzy drink ($0.70)
  4. Keep oil for deep-frying in the pantry ($3).

Now when family members hanker for some grease, whip out your fish and chip arsenal! Also save money on petrol by not heading out to grab takeaways!

Approximate costs and savings

  • Approximate cost of making it yourself: $10
  • Approximate cost if you bought the family takeaways: $35
  • Savings from making fish and chips yourself: $20

Total annual savings on eating out: $520!

If you normally buy takeaway food (roughly once a fortnight) you stand to save $520 this year. This sure looks like a nice chunk towards a house deposit or a beaut little holiday to me!

Flaming hot tip

Every time you make your own takeaway food transfer the difference (i.e the $20) into your online savings account or pop the cash in your piggy bank. Now you can enjoy a delicious and guilt-free takeaway dinner!
Feed Shark

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Takeaway these eating out tips – Save $520 this year

Eating out is becoming quite a luxury. But if you do love a little grease on occasion, be sure to check out these quick tips on how to save money on takeaways. Did you know that if you regularly eat takeaways and you actioned the tips in this post, you could save up to $520 or more each year on eating out?

Here are my super quick tips on how to save money on takeaways

Add the following to your shopping list

  1. 1 x bulk packet of battered fish ($5)
  2. 1 x packet of oven fries ($2.50)
  3. 1 x bottle of fizzy drink ($0.70)
  4. Keep oil for deep-frying in the pantry ($3).

Now when family members hanker for some grease, whip out your fish and chip arsenal! Also save money on petrol by not heading out to grab takeaways!

Approximate costs and savings

  • Approximate cost of making it yourself: $10
  • Approximate cost if you bought the family takeaways: $35
  • Savings from making fish and chips yourself: $20

Total annual savings on eating out: $520!

If you normally buy takeaway food (roughly once a fortnight) you stand to save $520 this year. This sure looks like a nice chunk towards a house deposit or a beaut little holiday to me!

Flaming hot tip

Every time you make your own takeaway food transfer the difference (i.e the $20) into your online savings account or pop the cash in your piggy bank. Now you can enjoy a delicious and guilt-free takeaway dinner!
Feed Shark

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Summer is a fantastic time of year and my calendar is filling up quickly. People around me are getting ‘sneaky with it’ and while I’m busy writing in the Savings Room, they are getting their social lives organised. My more savvy friends are ‘getting in quick’ and luring me in with quirky and interesting invitations in snail mail, sneaking in late night SMS messages and calling me at odd hours (like around dinner time) so they can lock in dates and events. I had better get organised and fast if I want to hold the little Christmas soiree I have in mind, but I fear my mates have beaten me to it.
Yes – summer is here and the game is ON!
Let the fun begin….

But in terms of relaxation (as opposed to partying!) here’s a little of what summer means to me

  • Sitting on the beach with a fabulous novel
  • Hanging out on my banana lounge in the garden with a book while the kids play
  • Going camping with friends with an intriguing autobiography
  • Reading wonderful stories to my children in our spare time
  • Sharing my favourite books and authors with friends and family
  • Reading self-help books to build a more awesome me
  • Learning new skills via DIY books, blogs, videos and magazines
  • Soaking up inspiration for my own passion, which is writing!

But reading a novel or great book is not only good for relaxing and learning. Did you know that reading has long lasting effects on your brainpower too? According to a recent report by the ABC, reading is saving your brain in many ways.

Here’s how reading is saving your brain

  • Reading is a very complex task that requires several different regions of the brain to work together.
  • We don’t use the same neural circuits to read as we grow from infants to adults. So our brains are constantly changing throughout our lives.
  • Reading can improve the “connectivity” between the various brain circuits that are essential to understanding the written word.
  • Reading a good novel can keep that enhanced “connectivity” working for days, and possibly longer, after we have finished the book.

(Source: ABC Report)

Here’s an interesting fact that might surprise you in our digital age

According to recent research the Daily Telegraph recently reported that 95 per cent of Australians under 30 said they preferred the hard copy book format over their digital versions. Apparently while Gen Y’s are still hooked up to their digital devices, they are actually the highest percentage of those surveyed to prefer physical books over reading a book on digital. The 2014 survey, which canvassed the opinions of almost 20,000 Australians, found that overall 92 per cent of respondents in all age groups preferred print books to e-books.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
If you are looking to do the same this summer and invest your time in a great book here’s my list:

8 fabulous books to save your brain and kick off your summer reading list!

Book 1: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

BOOK1
Winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize
AC Grayling, the chair of the prestigious literary prize said The Narrow Road to the Deep North was ‘profound and often harrowing’ and that it is an ‘extremely powerful book’.
August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.
(Synopsis Source: Bookworld)
Read more

Book 2: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’ by Lena Dunham

BOOK2
Lena Durham delivers an insightful, smart and at times outrageous book of essays of her experiences growing up. Not that kind of girl is everything you expect from Lena and more, it will have you gawking (‘did she really say that?!’) and laughing out loud.
For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, poignant, and extremely frank collection of personal essays confirms Lena Dunham – the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls – as one of the brightest and most original writers working today. “Not That Kind of Girl is hilarious, artful, and staggeringly intimate; I read it shivering with recognition.” – Miranda July From the acclaimed creator, producer and star of HBO’s Girls comes a hilarious, wise and fiercely candid collection of personal essays that establishes Lena Dunham as one of the most original young talents writing today. In Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself to a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.
(Synopsis & Image Source: Bookworld)
Read more

Book 3: I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai

BOOK3
*Winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize* In 2009 Malala Yousafzai began writing a blog on BBC Urdu about life in the Swat Valley as the Taliban gained control, at times banning girls from attending school. When her identity was discovered, Malala began to appear in both Pakistani and international media, advocating the freedom to pursue education for all. In October 2012, gunmen boarded Malala’s school bus and shot her in the face, a bullet passing through her head and into her shoulder. Remarkably, Malala survived the shooting. At a very young age, Malala Yousafzai has become a worldwide symbol of courage and hope. Her shooting has sparked a wave of solidarity across Pakistan, not to mention globally, for the right to education, freedom from terror and female emancipation.
(Synopsis & Image Source: Bookworld)
Read more

Book 4: Amnesia by Peter Carey

BOOK4
Amnesia, Peter Carey’s first Australian novel since True History of the Kelly Gang, moves between the critical dates of 2010, 1943 and 1975 to ask the most vital question of the past seventy years: Has America taken us over? How did a young woman from suburban Melbourne become America’s Public Enemy number one? When Gaby Baillieux releases the Angel Worm into the computers of Australia’s prison system, hundreds of asylum seekers walk free. Worse: an American corporation runs prison security, so the malware infects some 5000 American places of incarceration. Doors spring open. Both countries’ secrets threaten to pour out. Was this American intrusion a mistake, or had Gaby declared cyberwar on the US? Felix Moore – known to himself as ‘Australia’s last serving left-wing journalist’ – has no doubt. Her act was part of the covert conflict between Australia and America.
(Synopsis & Image Source: Bookworld)
Read more

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

BOOK5
We’ve got something to celebrate,’ Rosie said. I am not fond of surprises, especially if they disrupt plans already in place. I assumed that she had achieved some important milestone with her thesis. Or perhaps she had been offered a place in the psychiatry-training programme. This would be extremely good news, and I estimated the probability of sex at greater than 80%. ‘We’re pregnant,’ she said. The Rosie Project was an international publishing phenomenon, with more than a million copies sold in over forty countries around the world. Now Graeme Simsion returns with the highly anticipated sequel, The Rosie Effect. Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are now married and living in New York. Don has been teaching while Rosie completes her second year at Columbia Medical School. Just as Don is about to announce that Gene, his philandering best friend from Australia, is coming to stay,
(Synopsis & Image Source: Bookworld)
Read more
If you love summer be sure to become a citizen at Bookworld to receive major discounts and get the Cheapest price in Australia on books! Reap the benefits of saving your brain and your wallet while grabbing some fabulous summer relaxation!
Do you have a great book you’d like to add to our reading list? Be sure to submit your ideas in the comments below.
Happy reading!

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If you love a good comedy and you once enjoyed Rocky or Raging Bull movie, you might enjoy De Niro and Stallone in their latest comedy “Grudge Match”  a Warner Bros release about a ‘rivalry 30 years in the making.’ De Niro, in his Kelly green shorts gives a spirited performance in this movie and offers a nice dose of light entertainment. Sly, who dons a black and white silk ensemble for the match, continues to ‘play the hero’ even at 67. Just for Sly’s – Grudge Match is worth a watch.

Two former boxers become enemies

The Grudge Match features two geriatric boxers from Pittsburgh, Henry “Razor” sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) who become rivals 30 years prior where both boxers defeat each other, but don’t have a rematch because Razor retires and costs them both a large sum of money. This infuriates “Kid” who wants payback.

The boxers cross paths again 30 years later

Fast forward to the future where Razor is approached by promoter Dante Slate to help create a video game involving a motion capture feature. “Kid” who wants payback is keen but Razor isn’t. But Razor is broke and working in a shipyard and finally agrees to the offer of $15k, which he needs to care for his former trainer Lightening Conlon and to help him get out of debt. Lightening moves in and experiences frustrations like the fact there is no TV to watch his favourite show “Dancing with the Stars.”

“Grudgement Day” is born

Friction increases when Razor and Kid get into a fight and get arrested after damaging the studio. The footage is leaked on YouTube, which goes viral and Slate’s idea for a ‘Grudgement Day’ is born. The bad guy “Kid” is keen to get payback and Razor has to accept because he is fired from the shipyard and won’t now get his $15k as promised.

The love interest

After announcing “Grudgement Day” via a press conference, Razor’s ex-girlfriend Sally Rose (Kim Basinger) tries to reconnect with him after becoming a widow. But he’s reluctant since she once cheated on him with Kid and got pregnant to him.

Getting in shape

Razor starts to get in shape with the help of his old trainer “Lightning.” Kid is mocked by his potential gym owner and trainer “Frankie” (LL Cool J) over the fight, who doesn’t help him. Instead, Kid starts a bond with his estranged son BJ (Jon Bernthal), against Sally’s wishes, after BJ helps him