by Debbie Alford
I really should have called this post “the art of the surprise weekend away” because that is what it is about.
I know how hard you both work and how difficult it is to spend time together, let alone have a holiday. Hard work and neglect of each other can really damage your relationship and it’s one of the causes of some professional couples breaking up.
Relationships can get lost in the demands of dual careers and that is sad.
The time when you both have the same weekend free is probably rare so why not schedule it ahead of time? Book it out in your diaries and commit that weekend to yourselves.
Now that you know your dates, surprise your love by taking them away for the weekend. Can you imagine their face when you pick them up but don’t head home? Gradually the smile will spread across their face as they realise what is happening.
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful gift to your partner and to yourself?
I know you are busy so I can do the organising for you. All I need to know is where you’d like to go and what kind of weekend you would love to have. Do you like to laze around or do you prefer action? Do you like the beach or the hills? Do you prefer city or rural places?
I will find the perfect place and book it for you. I can arrange for champagne and flowers on arrival, or perhaps you’d enjoy chocolates. I can research local restaurants and book you a place for dinner. I will book you a hire car or, if you don’t want to drive, arrange a driver for you.
All you have to do is pack your bag (and one for your partner) and run away from the world for a magic couple of days.
Refresh your bodies and minds and rejuvenate your relationship. Weekends together are rare so make them memorable.
by Debbie Alford
It’s great to be organised at the office, having your calendar in front of you, your to do list meticulously planned to fit in with your daily goings on and your diary neatly filled out.
What do you do, though, when you walk away from your desk or you are out of the office for longer than your coffee break? When you can finally squeeze in a night away with your partner, how do you keep an eye on things?
We often blame technology for the breakdown of our relationships but if it is used properly, technology is a wonderful thing. It gives you the best of both worlds – time with your partner as well as the ability to check in with your work.
You can do amazing things with your Smartphone to ensure you stay on track, turn up to every appointment on time and don’t double book yourself.
Starting with the basics, there is your Google calendar which can be synced to various accounts (your co-workers or your partner, for example) and can easily be set up on your phone. Reminders can be readily set, and you have the capacity to display not only your own calendar, but other’s calendars as well, as necessary.
There are some great desktop tools that also have associated iPhone and Smartphone apps, such as:
Then you have those that are suited to the phone itself:
There you have it, your day organised and secured neatly in your pocket, ready for use whenever you need it. You can book your night away and relax, knowing that everything is under control.
What is your favourite tool?
by Debbie Alford
I know a science professor who has commented that in the past, if her young son was invited to a birthday party, the present had to be bought from Safeway or 7eleven or it just didn’t happen.
You can’t get away with that for very long and you certainly won’t get away with it at Christmas time.
For all the fun that Christmas can be it brings with it a lot of stress. It is hard to find time to shop for food, and even harder to spare time for things which aren’t necessities. The problem is that Christmas gifts are necessities but they are troublesome about it.
I know that when I choose a gift I like to put a lot of thought into it so that I select something that is meaningful and that the recipient will love. When you have a long list of people to buy for it can take up a lot of time.
You probably have some idea of what you would like to buy your friends and family. Just give me your list. I will find prices, shop for the gifts, buy them, wrap them and even arrange their delivery.
You don’t have to battle with queues or fight over the last product on the display. You won’t have the sore feet and blisters that you usually end up with, nor will you have the huge headache when you get home.
Instead you can go home and mix yourself a Christmas cocktail and relax knowing that everything is being taken care of.
Just to make it even better, here is a little cocktail you might like to try. It is called the Chocolate Raspberry Martini and you are going to love it.
Chocolate Raspberry Martini
Chill your ingredients beforehand. Rub the rim of your chilled martini glass with cocoa then pour in the liquids and enjoy. Drop a fresh raspberry into the bottom of the glass, too, if you like. It will look as good as it tastes.
So what will it be? Queues, headaches and stress or home with your shoes off and chilled cocktail in hand? I know what I would choose.
Merry shopping–free Christmas to you!
by Debbie Alford
Packing the kids in the car and driving off to see the countryside can be a wonderful experience or a nightmare and it all depends on the preparation that you do beforehand.
Kids love to go places and explore new things. They are excited at the idea. Do you remember how it used to feel? Your breath would come faster and you’d feel tingles up and down your spine as you piled into the car. The problem is that excitement and impatience work in inverse proportion. The more excited you were the less patient you became. Your kids are no different.
It doesn’t matter whether you are driving or flying, the best thing to do is to keep your children amused and comfortable on the way.
Here are some great tips that will make your next family outing more pleasant.
1. Make a simple map and mark on it some of the things you will see along the way. It gives your children something to watch out for and lets them track their progress.
2. Scour the internet and your memory for some games that you can play along the way. You can only play “I Spy” for so long!
3. Take a stash of little travel games and puzzles. If the only time your children are allowed to play with these it makes them seem very special and adds a novelty value.
4. Pack a picnic lunch and stop somewhere along the way so they can use up their energy with some running and play.
5. Keep a snack pack with you as you travel. A drink, a piece of fruit or even a lolly will distract them for a while.
6. Go high tech. Some cars have built in DVD players so your kids can watch a movie on the way. You can also buy portable DVD players or download movies onto your smartphones.
7. If your child is really young, make sure he or she has their favourite toy or cuddly to snuggle up to. They are more likely to settle in and even sleep part of the way.
8. Take your child’s favourite CD’s and have a sing-along.
9. Buy a backseat desk. It’s a plastic desk that attaches to the headrest in front and when opened, can be used to rest colouring books and pencils. Some come with built in activities.
10. Camera’s are cheap now. Let your kids take photos of interesting things along the way. You can try disposable cameras or even play ones if they are too young for the real thing.
With all these ideas up your sleeve, travel will be fun.
If there is anything I can do for you around the home while you are away, call me!
by Debbie Alford
Americans take note. You may think you are familiar with our way of life thanks to Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) and Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter), or familiar with our diet courtesy of the Outback Steakhouse (Bloomin’ Onion anyone?) but we offer much more to American holiday makers. Australia is a country with a great many varied travel destinations from the outback to the beaches through to the multicultural cities offering a wide variety of entertainment and dishes to eat ranging from spicy Thai to tasty Lebanese.
However there are some things to know before you visit, especially to do with our language. We don’t all speak like Crocodile Dundee and some of our phrases tend to be a little unusual. Here are some which may be helpful to you during your visit:
A shout – Your turn to buy usually referring to drinks as in “your shout” or “my shout”
Cuppa – A cup of tea or coffee
Chook – Chicken
Maccas – McDonalds
Footy – Australian Rules Football
Barrack – To support as in a particular team
Snag – A sausage
Tomato Sauce (or sauce) – ketchup
We love our meat pies at sporting events and vegemite on toast is a breakfast favourite. We rarely say “Gidday” opting for the more universally accepted welcome of “Hello”. And we NEVER EVER use the term fanny pack preferring bum bag or belt bag instead. In Australia the word ‘fanny’ refers to a part of the female anatomy. Use of the word and the anatomy can both lead to trouble!
Our currency is dollar and cent-based although you may notice the absence of the one cent coin and the quarter. Our lowest coin is 5 cents and we have a 20 cent coin as opposed to a quarter.
One important fact to remember is that Australians drive on the left side of the road. To counteract this make sure you look both left and right before crossing a street. Speeds and distances are measured in kilometres not miles and this can add to confusion.
Stay safe but most of all have fun!
Looking forward to meeting you!
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