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Archive for the ‘Blog Posts Written In The Hope Of Getting Free Stuff’ Category

Today is my cousin K’s 30th birthday.

Having a birthday in that No Man’s Land between Christmas and New Year’s for thirty years can’t have been easy for him.

It’s a little like receiving a big box from Nokia the day before the night before Christmas. Well, actually it’s not at all like receiving a big box from Nokia the day before the night before Christmas, but I had to bring up the big box from Nokia somehow and, since I’m in that No-Man’s Land between Christmas and New Year’s, I’m struggling to find an elegant way to do it.

In the interests of full disclosure, the big box from Nokia contained a gorgeous case. And that gorgeous case contained a beautiful pop-up book. And that beautiful pop-up book contained a shiny new Nokia handset for yours truly. Apparently, Nokia have sent all me this because they really really want me to try out their new personalised satnav app ‘Own Voice‘, where you can record your own voice to give the instructions. My plan, of course, is to get my husband to do his bad Sean Connery impersonation so that when I’m trying to do a hook turn in the middle of heavy city traffic and the SatNav tells me to “Turn right here, Misshhhh Moneypenny”, I have full license to use the ‘C’ word in the car. And for the record, that C word is not ‘Connery’.

Anyways, Nokia is now to be officially known on this blog as ‘The Only Finnish Communications Corporation To Give The NDM Free Stuff This Christmas So Far’. Just in case you were wondering.

But I digress.

Last night, I went to my cousin K’s surprise 30th birthday party. In lieu of an actual gift, I arrived bearing a photo of my husband with K’s name written on his flexed bicep in dark red lipstick, with a heart with an arrow drawn through it.

Yes, my husband is all class.

Of course, I chose to show my cousin K this photo just as he was having a little emotional moment post-discovering the fact his sister, brother and parents had all flown interstate just to be at the party. It’s amazing how quickly tears will dry up when faced with such a vision.

Later in the evening, after one or two drinks, K’s siblings (and my cousins) encouraged me to text a copy of the photo to K, which I did with one single accompanying word: “Hot!”.

My, how I laughed. But it’s amazing how quickly that laughter dried up when I discovered that my cousin K hadn’t received the aforementioned text two hours later and I became struck with fear that I’d keyed his number incorrectly into my phone and had therefore just emailed a photo of my semi-naked husband with a man’s name written on his bare skin in Cherry Desirable lipstick to a complete and utter stranger.

Luckily, it turns out I hadn’t. The number I had in my phone for K was correct and the photo was just taking the scenic route through the ether to get to him. And so, an awkward conversation with my husband where I had to explain how such a photo got out into the public realm was avoided. Just as the arrival of The Silent Red Ninja on Christmas Eve over four weeks late got me out of another awkward conversation with my post-vasectomy husband (“Darling! It’s a Christmas Miracle!”).

And no, I’m not sure what this blog post is really about, where it is supposed to be going or how I’m going to end it. I think I need my so-called-husband-as-Sean-Connery to come to the rescue, quite frankly.

PS. In case you were wondering, this is what happens when you try to write a post from scratch after only four and a half hours sleep.

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I have to admit that I went on my recent Ikea junket with a hidden agenda: find the rudest sounding Ikea product name.

After fifteen minutes of being led through the story by my charming guide Mark, I blurted out my agenda.

“Oh, great!” he said, rubbing his hands together with glee. “My favourite one is just around the corner…”

And he led me to a DUMBASS wardrobe – although it was ostensibly spelt DOMBÅS. I knew then that I was in good hands.

I was there to learn about the Ikea Family, the loyalty program recently launched here in Australia. Oh, and to receive my Ikea goody bag, which didn’t disappoint, not least because it contained a complimentary bottle of Glügg. Yes, Glügg! For the record: I’m still unsure of what, exactly, Glügg is, but I expect that there will be a Glügg Occasion at my 40th birthday party, some time after 4am when the wine’s run out.

A few things I learnt about the Ikea Family:

  • It’s free to join and you can join online from the comfort of your own home or in-store at your next visit.
  • If you forget your card or your small child has played 52 pick-up with the contents of your wallet back in the car, you can print yourself out a temporary one in-store.
  • Swiping your card at the checkout earns you savings on a host of different products throughout the store – most are ongoing and with a few “limited time only” offers thrown in for good measure.
  • Every time you use or swipe your card in-store, Ikea donates 10c to charity and somewhere someone opens another bottle of Glügg (OK, so I made that last bit up).
  • Your purchase is insured from store to home which is good news for people who do things like drive into a low multi-storey carparks, completely forgetting they have new roof racks on their car – should such people exist.
  • Ikea’s usual 90 day return policy is extended to 365 days for Ikea Family members. Ikea’s policy is generous, according to my guide Mark. You can return something as long as it is in “re-sellable” condition and with its original packaging.

“So!” I piped up, when Mark shared this last point with me. “Let’s just say someone who was about to turn 40 – don’t know who – bought a whole heap of garden furniture and party lights – for example – and then discovered a few days after they’d turned 40 that they actually need it any more?”

Mark, thinking I wasn’t serious, laughed and told me a story about once selling a man 148 folding chairs and then seeing him the following week trying to return them, each with a little bit of grass on the bottom of their legs.

That chair-returning man was a loser. I totally would have crocheted little booties for the chairs to protect them from the grass. You know, with my non-existent crocheting skills – the same non-existent crocheting skills that I plan to use one day to crochet my friend Mrs Woog a merkin. What’s more, I would have given those crocheted chair booties a fabulous Ikea name like KNUBBIG (which is actually the name of an Ikea table lamp and looks a little like BIG KNOB, tee hee hee. I hope it comes with ANSLUTA power cord connection. A SLUTTER, geddit?).

Anyway, Mark, if you ever see someone trying to return 148 folding chairs and the Ikea Dodgy Returns Crime Lab picks up acrylic wool fibers on the base of their legs, it’s fair to say that the perpetrator got the idea here.

Also, if there’s a sudden rush on Glügg, you’ll know who to thank.

Glügg!

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It goes without saying that I’m extremely popular. I get a lot of emails. Like a lot a lot. And increasingly, more and more of them are like this:

Hi there,
I came across your site and thought it was neat! I was wondering if you
offer any advertising opportunities? Please let me know if you do, I have a
client that might like to advertise on your site.
Thanks,
Lindsay

I like to respond to such emails in the following way:

Dear Lindsay

I’m thrilled that someone finds my site ‘neat’. Most people use words
like ‘appalling’, ‘slovenly’ and ‘extremely alarming’.

I’m curious to know what kind of advertiser would want to associate
itself with a site in which an inflatable Brad Pitt wears a beard made
of pubic hair, topics such as anal grooming are discussed openly and
grown women wearing half a bird on their head attempt to
prostitute themselves at the races in order to get free drinks.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

The NDM

Funnily enough, I have yet to hear back from Lindsay – or any others of her ‘ilk’.

Then the other day I got a personal email from a PR chick at Ikea Australia, making me an “offer I couldn’t refuse” regarding their recently launched loyalty scheme called “The Ikea Family”. It’s the kind of thing that makes you worry you’ll wake to find a horse’s head in your bed upholstered in ‘Snöa Flinga’ fabric.

Turns out it really was an offer I couldn’t – or rather, didn’t want to – refuse.

In the interests of full disclosure, I know this PR chick well – I like the cut of her jib. I have gone drinking with her. I let her beat me at online Scrabble. I even gave our mutual friend JS an inadvertent vibrator in her presence.

However, this is not a good enough reason for me to ‘sell out’. After all, I generally don’t play the ‘blogger game’. I don’t run giveaways (although I’m making an exception for the lovely ladies at Cocktails At Naptime in a week or so), I don’t do product reviews or even take part in blogging memes. I just keep writing away in my little ivory blogging tower – although it’s more brown than ivory because I’ve failed to clean it for a few years.

The fact was there is something about Ikea that I really like. There’s the promise of cheerful livable storage solutions in extremely small spaces. My house is currently small and cheerful. But there is nothing livable about it. And most of our storage solutions involve shoving things under the bed.

Also, the words ‘goody bag’ may (or may not) have been mentioned.

“How big is the goody bag?” was my first question when I spoke directly to my Ikea-based friend. “Can it, say, fit a flat-packed kitchen??”

Apparently not. Still, a girl can dream.

So here’s the deal: Ikea are sending a car to drive me and my three children to Ikea where they’ll give me a personalised tour of the store while my children play it up big in SMÅLAND. We will then dine together in the Ikea restaurant on meatballs, mash and (my personal fave) lingonberry sauce (I don’t know what a lingonberry is, exactly, but I like its work) before being returned home. With my goody bag.

The kids are particularly excited about ‘SMÅLAND’. And so am I. One friend said her son absolutely loved going there but that she, herself, was a bit suspicious about the fact that they made her check him in at one desk and then pick him up from another. She suspected they might “process” him in some way between the two desks.

“They probably flat-pack him and then reconstruct him with an Allen key,” I remarked. “I bet he’s returned to you better than ever, though – you know, he probably has that serene feeling you get after you’ve had a spinal readjustment at the chiropractor.”

So yes, I’m extremely excited at the prospect of my children being serene.

And to be frank, I’m extremely excited about my goody bag (did I mention there was going to be a goody bag?). I particularly look forward to watching Sven, the handsome Swedish handyman who will obviously be one of the ‘goodies’, construct my brand new kitchen in a single evening while I sit back and drink lingonberry Schnapps. (Again, a girl can dream, right?).

Anyhoo, I just thought I should warn you all  that I’ll be writing about my initiation into the “Ikea Family” one day soon. If anyone has any objections to me pimping my blog this way, please let me know and I’ll reassess the situation – after I’ve digested my meatballs, that is.  Oh, and seen how handy Sven is with that Allen key of his…

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My husband and I spent our honeymoon treading water outside a swim-up bar in a resort. Fact.

We’d never had a holiday like it and we’ve never had one since. It was pure R&R – we ambled lazily between bed, buffet, beach, bar and back to bed and were left wanting for nothing. It was the perfect way to de-stress after our wedding – at least for me, that is. My husband had himself a bad case of scabies and spent all day and night itching like fuck, but that’s neither here or there. *I* had a great time and, as we all know, it’s All About Me.

At the time, I remember thinking the resort would be the perfect place to come for a family holiday. But now that I’ve been initiated into the Parent Hood, I’m not so sure.

For one thing, while I haven’t seen anything formally in writing, I expect Social Services frowns upon tying your children’s swimming rings in a row behind you (like so many ducklings) at the swim-up bar, while you knock back absinthe-based cocktails with names like ‘Monkey Gland’ and ‘Sweaty Bollocks’.

For another thing, something like the ‘Kids Club’ might seem an ideal way of claiming some ‘Me Time’, but the cost of sending three kids for the day? You might as well be sending them to a Swiss Finishing School. Although I have to say that I’ve long-since been planning to sew a special suit for my kids so that they look like conjoined triplets and get in for the cost of one child. The age differences would take some explaining but I could probably say I was in labour for over six years and squeezed them out in two year intervals… which, now that I really think about it, might garner me some sympathy over at the Sunset Bar in the form of a complimentary cocktail served in an ice bucket with an extra long swirly straw and half a pineapple stuck on the side. Yes, I’m an Ideas Person.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “A family holiday isn’t about the selfish pursuit of relaxation (i.e. drinking) but about creating special family ‘together time’ away from the stresses and strains of everyday living.”

Sure, I love spending time with my family without living in the shadow of the undone dishes, dirty washing and cooking. But as a notorious tight-arse who smuggles her own home-made popcorn into the cinema, I balk at the idea of buying three meals out a day as you invariably do on holiday. When you’re an adult, you can always substitute real food with more alcohol,  but kids need feeding – especially when you have a teenage boy-in-training  like Mr Justice who can work a buffet better than his mother can work a free bar. Of course, if we only paid for one meal a day at the resort buffet, I could get turn all Fagen-esque and train the kids to stuff bread, cold meats and salads into their Conjoined Triplet Suit… Ideas. Always with the ideas…

In any case, the bottom line is this: almost every family holiday we have ever taken has ended with severe car failure, acute vomiting and/or friction burns from swiping our credit card too much. It hardly seems worth it.

Which is why my holiday of choice is getting all three kids asleep in their beds before 9PM and beating a clear path to my arm chair with a large box of Cadbury’s Roses tucked under my arm.

Of course, I’m happy to be proved wrong…

This post is my submission to the Kidspot’s Top 50 Blog Your Way To Dunk Island competition (which you might have guessed by its title). You can vote for me here and help me win a family holiday where I’ll get to jump up and down on a beach in a crocheted bikini, punching the air and alarming innocent onlookers.

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In an attempt to be the Healthiest Me I could be, I decided earlier this year that it was time for me to join a gym. Yes, I was going to become a Gym Person. Just like that!

Of course, four months later, I hadn’t even managed to get to the gym to pick up their application form, let alone do any exercise.

In the end, I was forced to concede that a gym membership might not be the smartest way for me to spend my money. So instead I went out and bought myself a Wii Fit Plus pack. This way I could do exercise in the comfort of my own home without having to purchase an AbTronic SuperPro 2000 or some other ‘as seen on TV’ home fitness solution that utilises NASA technology and is only used by people with impossibly white teeth.

To begin my Wii Fit journey, I first had to do a fitness assessment – with mixed results. After declaring me to be ‘overweight’ and having my Wii avatar (my ‘Mii’) literally inflate like a balloon in front of my eyes, it then assessed my ‘Physical Age’ as being that of a 31 year old. And since that was the age I was before three successive pregnancies laid complete waste to my body, I was pretty happy with that. A couple of days later, however, I saw my Wii Fit Age fluctuate from 22 years (in the morning) to 39 years (just shortly before ‘wine o’clock’). Although, that may have had more to do with the fact that I’d had all three kids home all day with a vomiting bug than any inconsistencies in the Wii Fit program.

But ‘Wii Fit’ is more than a Biggest Loser-style weigh in. There are dozens and dozens of games for you to play in the name of fitness on the ‘Wii Fit Plus’ disk. Personally, I love anything with the word ‘Plus’ in it because it gives me the sense of getting something extra, even when I’m not entirely sure what that something is.

One of my favourite Wii Fit Plus games is where a guy right out of a Guy Ritchie film teaches me ‘Rhythm Boxing’. Man, is that grumpy geezer hard to please! At the end of each session, he always and says “I know you can do better than that.” Perhaps he’s training me up for a jewel heist? Other favourites include the Kung Fu Rhythm (I am the Karate Kid – except with Kung Fu instead) and Super Hula Hoop (it’s all in the hips, people!). However, I’m yet to be convinced of the health benefits of dressing in a penguin suit and sliding along ice on your stomach in the imaginatively named ‘Penguin Slide’. Still, the kiddies love it and that’s got to be a good thing, right?

The kids’ favourite is the ‘Zazen’ (Zen meditation) game, which involves sitting on the Wii Balance Board in contemplative mediation while a candle burns on the screen in front of you. When you finish your mediation and move, the candle blows out. Mr Justice loves it because it’s a serious challenge for him to sit completely still for more than 15 seconds and the boy seriously likes a challenge. The Pixie, in contrast, thinks the purpose of the game is to get the candle blown out as soon as possible and so is always punching the air and shouting “YES!” whenever the flame is extinguished.

Of course when I sat down to try it and had Tiddles McGee immediately jump on my back, the program gave me a one-star rating and declared me to be ‘Unbalanced’. I guess someone had to say it…

Anyway, I just realised that this blog post is as close to a Product Review as I’ve ever got. And no, Nintendo have not asked me to write this, nor have they crossed my palm with gold and/or other games compatible with the Wii Fit program (hint, hint). Nor have they sent round the Wii Fit limo, replete with a magnum of low-joule low-alcohol champagne and a handsome personal trainer called Pablo who offered to massage my feet. In the low-joule low-alcohol champagne. While I drank vodka shots lined up along his back…

But I digress. I guess if this really is a product review, I need to end with a summary.

PROS: You can wear your pyjamas while exercising.

CONS: My ‘Mii’ needs bigger breasts.

Yep, that should do it. Let the Product Review requests and the free stuff roll in. Woo hoo! (*punches air*).

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