Kitchen Contraptions

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Hi,

Thanks for visiting the Lady V blog!

This week I review some new and interesting kitchen gadgets I picked up recently.

Check out my latest post and please feel free to comment and stay tuned for more from Lady V Shopping Spree.

Cheers!

  • Lady V
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Our First Place – Part 4 – Settlement

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Thanks for joining me again for this final post in my Our First Place series.

It details the journey my husband and I took when me made the biggest purchase of our lives – our first home.

It’s a topic that I feel many can relate to despite how difficult it is to buy a house at the moment in this economy.

For those of you who are taking the plunge for the first time I wish you good luck!

I hope this series has given you some encouragement and food for thought. It’s not an easy ride for most and I salute you for going on the journey!

In today’s post I relate my experiences following the acceptance of our offer to buy our first house.

Once our 10-day cooling off period had elapsed and we were well and truly locked into the purchase of this house our days were filled with preparations for the move.

Moving house isn’t fun at the best of times but when you have two young children and few people to help it becomes chaotic.

What followed was 6 weeks of anxiety and stress.

They say the 6 weeks that follow the end of the cooling off period to the settlement date fly by. And they do.

They also say you should expect that the settlement date may be delayed due to unforeseen reasons – which at first, I didn’t believe.

The party that causes the delay is usually penalized for doing so and I for one, was determined that we would not be the perpetrators of such an infraction.

I like to think I had the first few weeks pretty well under control.

Moving boxes and packing gear were ordered, unwanted clutter was disposed of or donated, the landlord was notified and utility services were arranged for transfer.

Everything was going to plan until approx. 2 weeks before the date of settlement my husband was notified by the seller’s real estate agent that a problem had occurred with the swimming pool pump. It had broken down and would take 4 weeks to repair.

The seller had arranged the repair and requested that we settle on the scheduled day and wait for the pool pump to be repaired after we moved in.

Technically we didn’t have to take possession of the house unless it was in the condition that it was when we submitted our offer to buy it.

When we did, the house had a fully functioning pool pump and filter system.

Delaying the settlement date to insist the seller return the property to its original condition prior to this issue would have been deemed acceptable according to our conveyancer.

The problem was, it put all our best laid plans to waste.

Delaying the settlement would have meant asking for an extension of our lease and continuing to pay an additional 4 weeks rent which wasn’t factored into the moving budget.

Also it would mean contacting all of our utility services and delaying the transfer of our accounts. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you’re left waiting on hold with the telephone company, internet provider, insurance companies and the like for up to an hour a day.

With all of our belongings packed up and in boxes we were practically living on takeaways with cushions and mattresses to sit on.

Our conveyancer to her credit tried to insist that the seller either replace the pool pump with a new one or allow us to withhold money from the settlement until the pump was repaired. After all, if the repaired pump still didn’t work who would be liable to rectify the issue then?

To our surprise this request was flatly refused by the seller.

Our conveyancer said we could either delay the settlement on the basis that the house was not in the condition we were expecting and wait until the repair was complete to make sure it was done properly or accept the seller’s terms to take possession of the house on the original settlement date and wait for the pool pump to be repaired.

If we chose the latter, the seller would be released from the transaction after settlement and it would be very difficult to claim money back to rectify an issue should the repair prove ineffective.

We were angry. We couldn’t understand the seller’s stubbornness.

It made sense to us to withhold some money from the settlement to ensure that the repair to the pool was done correctly. We were fully prepared to release it to them if the repair became a success.

But the sellers were steadfast in their refusal to cooperate and it only added to our anxieties about what we would be walking into when they finally handed over the keys.

I had suspicions that the sellers had botched the repair and wanted to hide it until it was too late for us to hold them responsible for it.

I felt a deep-seated mistrust begin to embed itself within me.

If that wasn’t enough the sellers had placed a very large pile of garbage and construction refuse on the front lawn of the property and simply left it there.

Numerous requests to remove it were returned with promises that it would be gone before settlement day but all the seller seemed prepared to do was move the pile from the front lawn to the kerbside for collection.

Fortunately, the council confirmed that an inorganic pick up had been arranged for the pile however the pile turned out to be so large that it equated to almost 3 times the normal load.

Residents in this area are allowed 4 inorganic refuse collections per year so before we even moved in, 3 of our allotted collections had been taken up by the previous owner’s mess!

As anyone who has moved house knows, there is plenty of clean up that follows.

Packaging material needs to be disposed of properly, random junk and clutter needs to be thrown out and a free inorganic collection along with recycling is a good way of getting rid of the mess.

We were faced with not only having to potentially repair the pool pump ourselves but also hiring a skip to take away our moving rubbish.

As far as the pool went, my husband decided to call the pool maintenance company in charge of the repair to get further information about the broken pump.

He was told that it was recommended to the seller that the pump be replaced entirely with a new system because of its age and that a repair would be a temporary fix which, while cheaper would only last a few months at best.

The seller would hear none of buying new pumps and insisted on a repair which was only a fraction of the cost.

It was also recommended that while the pump wasn’t working, extra chemicals should be added in specific measures to the water to maintain its clarity, cleanliness and safety to swim in.

The seller simply bought a giant bottle of chlorine and dumped the whole thing into the water paying little attention to whether it was safe or not.

After hearing our plight the pool maintenance people offered to sell us a new pool pump at a discount by subtracting the cost of the repair of the old pump already paid for by the seller.

They assured us of its effectiveness and would provide us with a warranty. And if we settled on the original date they would come out shortly after to install the new system for us.

We would also have to purchase chemicals for the pool water and take the time to get the levels right before using the pool.

As the costs kept mounting so did my anger and resentment towards the sellers.

To this day, my husband and I are still disgusted by their behaviour.

In the end we settled on the agreed date. We had the pool repair company come out to install the new pool pump shortly after moving in which is still working beautifully almost a year later.

Overall it cost us less to replace the pump than it would have to pay the extra 4 weeks rent if we had delayed the settlement for the repair.

I managed to find a large skip bin at a discount rate which meant we could get rid of all our moving rubbish and clutter in one go.

While the weeks leading up to settlement came with unexpected expenses and stress I am pleased to say we got there in the end. And it was worth it.

We love our new home and hope to be here for many years to come.

We’ve loved being able to put our own stamp on the place and decorating it to our tastes.

Also, no landlord inspections and no rent!

Building equity in our own home feels like money well spent.

We love our first place and are grateful for all the lessons learned along the way however hard they were to take.

I hope to take this journey again someday in the pursuit of an investment property somewhere along the line but for now, I’m bringing my house hunting adventure to a close.

Thanks for coming along.

  • Lady V
*Disclaimer: Please note that all experiences related in this post along with all others are personal to the author and make no claim of offering professional advice of any kind on the subject matter. For further information regarding purchasing property it is recommended that you make enquiries with the relevant professionals in your area.

#FlashbackFriday – SammyDress.com Review

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A while ago I was invited to review the products and service from online clothing vendor, SammyDress.com.

As a tribute to the change of seasons (and the need to get a new winter wardrobe) I give you my review of SammyDress.com, originally reviewed back on 9 March 2014.

I’ll be paying another visit to this merchant’s website shortly in the hopes of buying some winter pieces for my family.

Please note that as this article was originally posted almost 3 years ago, the prices and range will have varied.

The item I reviewed below is still in my winter wardrobe.

I have worn it quite often over the years and it has held up quite well.

The offending scent mentioned below is well and truly gone and amazingly it still fits!

I would recommend visiting the merchant’s website to see what they have available this season.


Originally posted 9 March 2014

I was recently invited to review a product from overseas e-tailer, Sammydress.com

I have heard of this merchant before on various forums relating to online fashion and accessories.

Sammydress.com invited me to pick out a product from their web based store to review and the item I selected was a Single Breasted PU Leather Jacket which they sell for AUD $19.81.

Leather Jacket Front

Now while this item was given to me I want to assure that the following review is a true and accurate description of my experience, the product and service in question. All opinions are my own.

About the E-tailer:

First of all Sammydress.com is a global online fashion e-tail company with their base of operations in Hong Kong.

This e-tailer offers a vast selection of Mens, Womens and Kidswear as well as wedding apparel, lingerie, fashion jewellery/watches, shoes and handbags. They also offer beauty accessories and a range of toys and home décor.

Their product range is vast and the prices are certainly very appealing; some handbags for example start at as little as AUD $5.40 (plus P&H). Be advised that Postage and Handling is calculated based on weight and the total cost of shipping is calculated at checkout.

The style of clothing is modern and youthful; even the blazers and trousers have a hip and trendy edge. Not much perhaps for the office but plenty for day to day and formal occasions.

While the style and range may appeal to almost anybody, those with large or curvaceous figures ought to be advised that the size range appears to be designed for those with a more petite frame.

The XL size which has a bust circumference of approx. 92cm is roughly an AU size 12 and in some cases, some items (like my jacket) only come in one size.

Indeed, many of the models depicted on the website have quite slender frames. That said, if you are on the petite side, you’ll be spoiled for choice at a place like Sammydress.com

In terms of postage and delivery, my item was delivered by Fastways Couriers and took just 9 days to reach me from Hong Kong which I think is amazingly fast. Sammydress.com offer 3 different methods of shipping from standard to expedited, the cost of which is calculated and selected during checkout.

The jacket itself came folded up and wrapped in plastic.

Leather Jacket Back

The outer fabric is soft, black faux leather which was slightly wrinkled from the journey although after a few days in the closet those seem less noticeable.

There’s a strong vinyl-type scent coming from the fabric which hopefully will also fade with time.

There are two zippered pockets in the front. The zippers are a bit stiff but I imagine they will loosen with wear.

There are 2 snaps across the top collar and 5 down the front. All of which are coated in a type of plastic veneer coating which sadly has begun to chip despite the garment not having been worn yet. This will not be noticed however when the jacket is worn with the front ‘opened up’ as depicted in the website pictures.

There is a long zipper down the front which arrived with some small white residue at the top. A little gentle scrubbing removed this however and from a distance it is not noticeable.

Leather Jacket Close up

The only tag on the inside of the jacket is a small white label marked ‘L’ indicating a large size.

The website does list the jacket’s actual measurements so you can compare them with the site’s Size Guide. The measurements of this jacket indicate that size L is approx. size AU/UK 10. I am an AU size 10 and the jacket fits me perfectly and is not too tight.

The jacket is comfortable to wear, looks great, not too heavy and I’m certain will keep me warm with the approaching winter. Overall I’m very happy with this jacket and it will make a nice addition to my winter wardrobe.

Jacket front view

By the way if you’re wondering why I’m not smiling in the pictures it’s because I kept laughing during the “photo shoot” and I was concentrating so hard to look professional! Clearly, I am NOT a natural. haha

For modern fashion and accessories at a bargain price be sure to check out the range SammyDress.com

Happy Shopping!

  • Lady V
As always, shop safely. Please be sure to visit my Caveat Emptor section for further information about safe online shopping. All opinions and experiences are personal. While the item in question was gifted to me, I was not otherwise paid for this review.

 

What’s Your Shopping Style?

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I’m quite a frugal shopper. I always have been since I was young.

I watched my mother clip coupons and shop for discounts throughout my childhood and her habits have become ingrained in my shopping personality.

I’ve been in different positions of financial standing throughout my life but no matter how much or little money I have I can’t help hunting for a bargain.

What often takes some people mere minutes to decide to buy may take me days or weeks.

I love to research a product and shop around for the best price.

I compare details, read reviews and try to find cheaper and more affordable alternatives.

It must be something in the blood?

I have a friend who used to amaze me.

We used to work together and often in her lunch break she would wander around the local stores and mall.

I’d often see her return with shopping bags and was often astounded to note that they often came from distinct luxury brands.

I’m talking about the kinds of brands where even a keyring costs no less than $100.

I knew her well enough to know she wasn’t sitting on piles of cash at home. She was on a modest wage and often complained about having trouble keeping on top of the bills.

One day after she showed me her latest purchase I asked her what compelled her to buy such an expensive luxury item when money was so tight? Her answer was simply “I just wanted it”.

It blew me away.

I’ve always known that people all have a “shopping personality”; an approach to shopping, managing and spending money but I realised later that it is as individual as the person themselves.

I have a relative who is very much afflicted by the “keeping up with the Joneses” persona.

His tendency to spend all of his disposable income along with several lines of credit in order to keep up appearances makes a frugal spender like myself incredibly nervous.

I couldn’t tell you when this type of behaviour first developed but I do recall a fishing trip I took with his family when I was teenager in which we were accompanied by some family friends and their children.

An argument arose between the son of my relative and the son of a friend which was centred around the brand of bicycle each boy had which was better, fancier etc.

The argument rose to a pitch so that the adults decided to intervene and the remark that ended it all came from the son of the friend who said “My bike’s better because it’s more expensive than yours. You can’t afford a bike like mine!”.

(Awkward silence)

Kids, right?

He never said so but I suspect that closing remark affected my relative deeply.

It would only be natural after all. We all want what’s best for our kids.

This declaration of my relative’s apparent inability to offer his family expensive things, while only uttered by a child, was so public and so humiliating I myself have remembered it nearly 2 decades later. (He doesn’t read this blog so I’m in no danger of reminding him).

My relative was always able to afford better experiences than my immediate family so to me he was doing rather well.

Over the following years however I would hear stories from other family members about his extravagant spending, his increasing debt and I would marvel at his social media posts depicting his rather excessive lifestyle.

I have often asked my mother where he found the money for all the expensive overseas trips and luxury brand shopping sprees and she would simply say “credit cards, personal loans and credit charges to his business”.

She also remarked that it made her sad because his children would learn to adopt his spending habits and find themselves in a great deal of financial strife later on in life.

I myself know the feeling of being deeply in debt and barely making ends meet.

My first ever credit card was a disaster.

I remember struggling to breathe from the panic of having overdue credit card bills and collections agents calling in with their incessant reminders.

I recall living on 2 minute noodles and sandwiches for months to try and make headway on the payments only to have a crushing interest charge claw me back into debt.

I don’t know how my relative does it.

It’s not that I’m judging. We all have our own individual ways of approaching money and spending.

Being frugal doesn’t always pay off either.

I’ve often pinched pennies and settled for cheaper items only to be disappointed with what I got.

As the saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for’ and I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes you have to be willing to spend more to achieve the result that you want.

In the bid to save money I decided I would DIY our bathroom wall repair which would have cost us around $240 to have repaired by a tradesman.

Doing this repair myself was found to be a false economy because after buying the tools and materials I had spent close to $300 and 6 months later the job isn’t completely finished.

Clearly the faster and more economical option would have been to part with my $240 in the beginning.

I suppose the aim is to achieve a good balance between being frugal and spendthrift.

It’s easier said than done and for so many it’s a constant struggle to stay on track.

The battle between what the head and the heart wants is a never ending fight.

What is your shopping personality?

Are you a frugal penny pincher or do you like to live large and spend big?

If you’re interested in doing a fun quiz, head over to this post on my other site at www.ladyvshoppingspree.com to do my What’s Your Shopping Style quiz.

Happy shopping!

  • Lady V
DISCLAIMER: Please note that neither the article or the quiz are an in depth personality assessment (yes, I am actually stating that to be clear). The article is based on personal experience and opinions only. The quiz is just for amusement so please have fun with it.

Our First Place – Part 3 – Sealing The Deal

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Thanks for joining me again on this continuation of my series entitled Our First Place which is about the journey my husband and I went on in purchasing our very first home in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia.

I apologize again, like I do at the start of every post for the long gap between new posts on this page.

Again, I put it down to a very demanding family life but I appreciate you bearing with me and listening to my story.

In this post I relate the experiences we had once we finally found the house we wanted to buy and what happened when we placed our offer to buy it.

I reflect with amusement at the point at which we actually made an offer on this house and had it accepted.

I can best describe it as a bizarre mixture of exhilaration and buyer’s remorse.

I remember thinking “Yay! We’re buying a house!” and then “Oh God, what have we done?”

The seller’s real estate agent had made us aware of a few other offers that had come in but which had been declined by the seller.

He also told us of an offer that was initially accepted but where the potential buyer’s finance had fallen through.

He then gave us the minimum amount the seller was willing to accept for the house.

At the time I had no reason to doubt the agent or his insistence on the seller’s minimum price but as time went on I often wondered if this was merely a selling tactic to get the most for his client as possible.

You learn early that very few people in the process are on your side when you’re the buyer.

The seller has their agent whose best interest it is to get as much as they can for the product they’re selling.

As a buyer you’re often left to wander the woods on your own.

It helps if you have family or friends who can hold your hand through the journey.

You can hire professional buyer’s agents to help negotiate the price of a property down for you but these come with their own costs and you really have to decide if the savings they achieve for you outweigh the fees they come with.

My husband and I were left pretty much to our own devices, armed with as much research on the subject of buying houses as we could gather from books and the internet.

There weren’t many properties on the market in the neighbourhood we wanted.

The house we took interest in was in better condition than most we’d seen in the area and in neighbouring suburbs. It had undergone some recent renovation but was priced much higher than most of the properties being sold in what is still seen as a developing neighbourhood.

Going through past sales brought up many houses sold for far less but in much worse shape too.

It was hard to determine if the price for this house was too high given that there wasn’t much to compare it with.

In the end we agreed to offer the minimum the seller was willing to accept, which was still over our initial budget. We took into account the location, proximity to schools, amenities, transport links and plans for future infrastructure improvements and decided it was worth it.

Going through the contract of sale and signing on the dotted line with the agent was daunting.

Stupidly I’d forgotten to get a copy of the contract to send to our conveyancer so while the clock was ticking on our 10 day “cooling off” period, our conveyancer was left twiddling her thumbs waiting for the document to come through for almost 2 days.

Speaking of conveyancers, we had called a couple of them before we actually saw this house and in the end thought that they all seemed very similar by way of pricing and services offered.

We learned the hard way that not all conveyancers are the same despite similarities in pricing schedules.

After making our offer to the sellers and having it accepted we suddenly realised that we needed to decide on a conveyancer asap and in our haste we decided on one that was recommended by a friend.

It was a mistake.

I didn’t feel that our conveyancer had our best interests at heart and I often had to chase up responses to my emails and follow up phone messages days later. Not ideal during a cooling off period of just 10 days and when time is of the essence.

As a first timer you want to know that your legal representative has your back, is willing to explain the finer details of the contract and negotiate the terms of the sale in a way that benefits you.

There were certain aspects of the property and its condition, following our building and pest inspections that I felt warranted a negotiation of the price with the sellers but our conveyancer was reluctant to convey them and had an attitude of “you’re buying the property as is”.

The impression I got was, if we didn’t like the property or the terms of the sale then we should just walk away from the transaction rather than try to negotiate on price.

Maybe she was right? As a first time home buyer I honestly didn’t know what to expect from her.

I had however believed that as our legal representative, who we were paying over $2000 in fees for we’d be getting a little more support?

In hindsight, it would have been far better to have spoken to several different conveyancers and settled on one we were comfortable with well before beginning our house hunt.

If we ever try this again it will be one of the first things I do before even going to an open home.

In the end, we had committed ourselves to this house and this purchase when we decided to make our offer.

Not even the seller’s unwillingness to negotiate or our conveyancer’s indifference was likely to deter us.

The defects in the property weren’t taken into consideration by the sellers and the price didn’t change.

Fortunately none of these defects were major so we still went ahead with the purchase.

I suspect much of this transaction was ruled by the heart.

We fell in love with this house the moment we saw it and were determined to make it our new family home.

Our journey was far from over though.

After the cooling off period is usually a 6 week waiting period before settlement day when we as new owners take possession of the property.

Unfortunately for us our waiting period was fraught with some unexpected surprises but I’ll go into more detail in my next post.

I learned a number of different lessons here about being prepared and asserting my expectations.

I hope you stay tuned for my next post which I will explain in more detail the final stages of our journey from preparing to move to finally taking possession of our new home.

Thanks for sticking with me and I’ll see you again soon!

  • Lady V
*Disclaimer: Please note that all experiences related in this post along with all others are personal to the author and make no claim of offering professional advice of any kind on the subject matter. For further information regarding purchasing property it is recommended that you make enquiries with the relevant professionals in your area.