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Category Archives: Shopping

Nesting and carving now … timber gifts for Christmas

Two of our clients have interesting natural last-minute gift ideas for people in or near Brisbane.

Kelly Matthews of Melomys environmental consultancy in the western suburb of Moggill hand-makes and sells these nest boxes for kookaburras, native gliders, bats, parrots and possums.

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I held one and they’re quite substantial … made of 18mm marine-grade plywood to exacting international standards.

Kelly (who holds two Masters degrees in environmental science) told me that while the boxes are similar designs for these species, there are important differences.

Gliders like their entry door at the back because they’re secretive creatures but parrots like theirs at the front (with a doorstep pole as well) so they can stand there and strut their stuff.

The boxes are priced at less than $100 and are currently on sale for Christmas. So check out her website to finalise your order: www.melomys.net.au.

Next, talented woodworker Bevan Blackshaw hand makes a wide range of useful Australian native timber gadgets and furniture.

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I was captivated (and purchased) one of these top-selling “book birds”. Try this … insert thumb in hole and place inside spine of opened paperback or hardcover printed book. Voila! Book stays open, single-handedly. $12.35 + shipping.

 

 

 

foldingchairsAnd these beautiful stools are $245 each + shipping. They fold up flat for easy carrying and storage. I reckon they might be ideal for the caravan generation.

 

 

 

 

foldingchair1See a whole lot more here and here or phone Bevan in Wavell Heights on 0419 689 723, email timberdimensions@ymail.com.

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Business advisory event this month – fully government funded, no more to pay

Set aside November 23 after work (6-8pm)

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Starting, or want to expand, your small business?

This is for small-business owners who run a shop, cafe, service or office in the Moreton Bay Regional Council area (that’s a big circle around the Redcliffe Peninsula: north to Bribie Island, south to the Brisbane River). It’s part of our fully government funded professional mentoring and small-business service where we offer five-six hours of qualified, experienced advice designed to target your business needs. We ask only for a “Gold Coin” contribution (which we then donate to charity).

These sessions focus on providing practical advice to your business in the following five streams:

  1. Funding avenues and financial analysis (guidance on available banking and finance products, how to present finance bids, effective cash flow management processes and financial data interpretation and referrals to accounting advice);
  2. Building your business (diagnostic assessment of current business operations, followed by business planning advice that meets identified needs; assistance in preparing marketing plans on promotional opportunities and advertising options; guidance on entering new markets and the feasibility of new business ideas, including exporting products or services);
  3. Making the most of your talent and team (guidance on human resource strategies, including recruitment, employment and occupational health and safety (OH&S) requirements; advisory service meetings and networking opportunities; talent recruitment and retention tools; training programmes to inform enterprising people about significant new regulations and/or relevant Australian Government business initiatives);
  4. Management capabilities (assistance with creating, reviewing and implementing business plans, assessing and improving supply-chain management, succession planning and creating security over leased premises or intellectual property; assistance to access appropriate legal advice, including on licencing, retail tenancy, intellectual property and credit management); and
  5. Digital engagement implementation (advice and assistance on e-commerce take-up; advice and assistance with information technology and broadband services issues; advice on adopting technology concepts to assist with marketing, managing and growing ideas)

This project supports a range of service delivery mechanisms including:

  • one-on-one tailored business advisory services
  • face-to-face or virtual/online meetings
  • small group training for up to 10 people at a time. Call me now on 0413 004 138 or visit our site: http://www.edupreneurservicesinternational.com/

Closing in on Dad’s Day

Sponsored content supplied by Fatjoe.

With Fathers’ Day fast approaching, it’s time to get those brains in gear and decide what to get the special man in your life.

Of course, most of us are on a budget, so we want something that is personal, fun and not too expensive. But buying gifts can be a pricey business, so to remain on target with your spending check out these budget-friendly gifts.

Dads Day

Personalised gifts  

One of the best things about a good Fathers’ Day gift is that you can personalise it. You can do this by getting a reasonable price gift with his name or initials on it, such as a wallet or pen.

Or how about theming the gift along the lines of his favorite sport or hobby.

You can get Boxt Father’s Day hampers with chocolate rugby balls for the sports fanatic Dad.

Or if you have a little more to spend, why not try a personalised bobble head with vehicle, for those dads that are into cars or motor bikes?

Something to do

They say that a great gift keeps on giving, and if you get your dad an activity that is certainly the case.

Perhaps he has always harboured the desire to be an artist?

Then why not get him an easel and paint set like this? Or a charcoal sketching set?

Or even a cool Zentangle book and some fine-line pens for some artistic meditation?

These aren’t too expensive, and a creative dad will definitely get a lot of use and joy from a gift like that.

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Relaxing

If your dad has a stressful job or even if it’s just the kids that are giving him the runaround, why not treat him to something relaxing for Fathers’ Day?

You could try a massage, although some of the more traditionally macho dads might balk at this. They might appreciate a trip to the steam room and sauna instead though?

If you dad likes to relax in front of the telly, a subscription to a media provider like Netflix can be an awesome choice.

If you have siblings, you can split the fee to make the costs more reasonable.

Then not only does Dad get to watch all his favorite shows, but you can also bond, by binge watching your favourite shows together!

Fun

Fun presents can be a bit tricky.  If you pick something fun, it should also have some long-term value as well. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money that could have gone on something that they would have really enjoyed.

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Some popular and fun presents for gamers include controllers or the latest Xbox or PS4 titles like No Man’s Sky or Saints Row.

If you want to give him a fun surprise, why not get a jumper from a charity shop.

Then wrap the game up in the jumper and wrap the jumper up. His face will be a picture when he thinks that the ugly sweater is his real gift!

Just in time for Father’s Day

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It had to happen! Son Liam enters the retail game with these six-pack holders three-and-a-half weeks out from Father’s Day. He’s only imported 500 and they’re $20 each including postage. Take your pick, as long as you want green, blue, hi-viz orange, red or black … I’ve held them in my hand and they look and feel great. Here’s his EBay page. OMG, I’ll have to help with the packing and shipping 🙂

Joy takes over in marketing

Everyone feels. In 2012 my research with my friend and colleague Lyn McDonald PhD demonstrated how everyone’s life is made up of feelings and how understanding these feelings is essential for marketing (on the one hand) and purchasing (on the other). These feelings range from Anger, followed in decreasing strength by Fear, Sadness, Joy, Surprise, and Love.

Now it seems some big name brands are cottoning on.

Take a look at this new television commercial from scotch maker Johnnie Walker, which features a hero character named Joy.

So I looked through our video archives (oh all right, they’re called “the Internet”) and discovered it’s been a quiet trend for some time …

BMW

Cadbury
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Cadbury Feel The Joy Advert from JustCuriousTV on Vimeo.

There’s even an advertising agency called Joy

If you have a favourite Joy advertisement, please link it in a comment (below) or email me the link and I’ll publish it here with your name.

And be joyful today — it doesn’t hurt a bit!

In the swim for Summer …

Coola Cozzies

Our friend and former Small Business Management student (now graduate!) grazier Julie Brown of Ilfracombe, has launched her new business (above) just in time for Christmas.

Coola Cozzies is Julie’s way of earning valuable off-farm income during the drought but this is no charity … have a look at these wow designs (all created by Julie).

Julie describes them as “Cool, colourful, comfortable women’s and men’s board shorts and UPF50+ rashies, swim shirts and sun shirts.”

Cunningly, Julie has also catered for people at my end of the market (generously composed) and sells men’s and women’s board shorts, men’s and women’s UPF50+ short-sleeve and long-sleeve rashies, and women’s swim tops in sizes to fit women’s sizes 10 to 24 and men’s sizes L to 4XL.

Coola pics 1

Coola pics 2

Score for Drought Central

LG mainWho would have thought that we could buy a major consumer durable item like a washing machine cheaper from a Longreach shop in drought-stricken Western Queensland than from a bigger town or a major capital city? But today we proved it and here’s how it went.

We needed a new front-loading washing machine because our old one (at least 10 years old) was showing strong and certain signs of conking out. As managing director Pip had pointed out during the old machine’s descent, the washing machine ranks alongside the oven and cooktop as the most important appliances in the modern home.

So up the main street of Longreach we went to Leading Appliances and they had two on offer: a Simpson and an LG. After dutifully inspecting the merchandise and the product guides, and quizzing the staff, we chose the LG and arranged delivery for this afternoon (it would be about 500 metres’ drive in their little truck). Total price: $799 + $20 delivery = $819.

Now, because I run this shopping blog, I couldn’t resist the urge to test the market and see how much more or less we might have paid shopping either online or in Brisbane. So here are the results, based on identical products, real-time online shopping and delivery prices tested today:

LG offered the machine we bought, the WD12021D6, on their website for $969, not including delivery. That was a pretty clear result.

Harvey Norman, $749 + $199 delivery (nearest shop is in Emerald, four hours east) = $948.

Good Guys, $698 + $550 delivery (looks like the nearest location is in Rockhampton, eight hours east) = $1,248

BiRite (nearest shop is in Blackall, two hours south-east), $798 + $49 delivery = $847.

So there you go, little old Longreach and Leading Appliances … score for you today! Now if only they sold wine? 😦

Here’s a taste of Shopping News: global launch tomorrow at the Merino Markets, Longreach

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The 13th century Basilica of St-Urbain, opposite the Restaurant de l’Etoile in Troyes

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M. Mignot, notre boucher aux les halles de Troyes

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At les halles, Troyes

In my new book Shopping News I visit les halles (markets) in the small city of Troyes (pronounced Trois) east of Paris and discover its range of meat, fruit and vegetables, seafood, cheese, wine and bread, as well as knick-knacks galore. My friends, guides and translators Matthieu Lardeau PhD and his wife Hind El Feghaly, introduce me to the butchers, the fish mongers, the bakers and the vegetable sellers they know from their weekly shopping trips. They tell me about a regional delicacy invented right there centuries ago. It’s a sausage called andouillette made from pigs’ intestines, the lower tract.

So I say: ‘Oh yes, I’ll have some of that.’

‘And you must have tête de veau?’ they urge.

‘Oh, sure, what’s that?’ Well, translated it’s ‘veal head’ but in practice they refer to it as the ‘face of the calf’.

So off we go to the centre of Troyes and in the shadow of the 13th century Basilica of St-Urbain come to the Restaurant de l’Etoile which specialises in these two dishes, and plough right in. The andouillette is served barbecued and alone on a plate, accompanied on a separate platter with a mountain of frites (French fries). The tête de veau, ordered by our colleague Laure Muselli PhD, but for me also to taste, is served as a casserole in a bowl with a very creamy, noticeably fatty sauce, and a side dish of steamed vegetables.

No ‘label’ accompanies either of these dishes: it’s unwritten tradition and word of mouth, mainly via my companions. The sign outside the restaurant is in French and if I need any more information, I can always ask the waiter … in French. But everyone in the region knows that andouillette is a ‘coarse-grained smoked tripe sausage made with pork (or occasionally veal) chitterlings, pepper, wine, onions, and seasonings (and if you want the details and pictures, visit Wikipedia). Food writer Jill Dupleix has written that it’s a ‘pale, lumpy sausage made from pigs’ intestines that smells like a pissoir (a urinal)’. Other, more brutal commentators, say it smells like poo. Fortunately I disagree with both and thoroughly enjoy the sausages which arrive on my plate, perhaps not least because I have a glass of genuine local brut Champagne (for Troyes is in the heart of the Champagne region) to accompany my meal. The tête de veau is, if anything, a little more challenging, because of the image it conveys … the little calf’s face peering up from the bowl. But it’s a tender, melt-in-your-mouth morsel, very fatty as Laure had pointed out.

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Hind El Feghaly in les halles, Troyes

Both andouillette and tête de veau, along with the alluring boudin noir (blood sausage, which is exactly what it says it is) are sold fresh in butchers’ shops in the Troyes halles, such as our provedore that day, ‘M. Mignot, votre boucher’.

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My guides, Matthieu Lardeau and Hind El Feghaly

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Right now Right now in New York New York

Intrepid Eat-Drink-Sleep-Shoppers Erin and Pip are in the audience at Matilda the Musical right now at the Schubert Theatre on Broadway, New York City … and this is what they see!

Earlier they visited the famous Brill Building, which in its heyday was home to some of the great singer-songwriters of the 20th century.

 

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Inside, now (Picture: Erin Cokley)

matilda stage

Pictures: Erin Cokley

At the Brill Building, New York, yesterday

At the Brill Building, New York, yesterday

 

16 sleeps

It’s a little bit scary but a lot more fun … Christmas present buying steps up today with some new specials from Spinifex Collections in Longreach. When you live this far out, you need something naughty and nice. Happy shopping to all our viewers!

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