Thursday, May 29, 2014

May Desktop Wallpaper Freebie

(free for personal use only - not for distribution or sale without written permission from Kitty & Buck.)

Some wise words from Maya Angelou.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Favourite Fonts | On Sale

Since I've been freelancing (for almost a whole year now! How fast does time fly?) I've needed to buy a lot more fonts than I did before. I might even buy too many fonts, because the lure of a fancy new typeface can be really tempting. It's like any job, when I was a bra fitter, I bought too much underwear, when I worked in an art store, I bought home way more art supplies than I ending up using. At least fonts don't take up too much space...

Here are some of my current favourites that are on sale - the best way to buy anything, don't you think?

Display // Sans Serif Fonts

1 | Los Niches (50% off)
2 | Gongo (75% off)
3 | Andes Italic (50% off)
4 | Trend (50% off)

Handmade Fonts

 Script Fonts

1 | Showcase (50% off)
2 | Alek (35% off)
3 | Adorn Collection (included because it's a great value huge collection, but not on sale)
4 | Santis (50% off)

The sales are only available for a limited time, so get 'em before they're gone! I already own Showcase and it's great. I'll probably snag a couple more from this list too, which are your favourites?


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Weekend Links v.05


The truth about careers that your parents didn't tell you. Forget realistic.

Corina of Cocorrina has outdone herself on her new blog design. While you're soaking it up, you can read her tips on creative process too!

Ebony heads to elementary school in Japan for Kyushoku (school lunch) and snaps some gorgeous photos of her day.

I don't normally get too political here, but the past couple of weeks has been fairly unhappy here in Australia after a controversial budget. The things I am most proud about in our country (access to tertiary education for everyone, regardless of wealth; free healthcare; affordable medicine; social welfare for those in need) have been attacked in the recent budget. Here's some clever and poignant signs from a recent protest in Sydney. *there are some swears on the signs in case that offends you.

If you're having a tough day, paint some happy little clouds with Bob Ross.

Jennifer is on the lookout for penpals for a postcard swap!

This Starry Skies Crossbody bag is so pretty.

I'm always tempted by all the outrageous shoes but then I remember, I walk everywhere, and these are hard to walk in...

So tempted by all the snuggly blankets, pillows and throws this week.

Is your lack of confidence killing your creative edge? Here's 6 confidence building tips to get you back on track.

In case you missed it this week on Kitty & Buck:
What's your travel type? Travel tips for any budget and vacation style.
There's still time to join in May's Instagram challenge, here's some inspiration to help you along.
Road Trip Essentials: What you need to bring to make your road trip happen in comfort and style.


Travel Tips | Road Trip Essentials

As I mentioned in my previous Travel Tips post, road trips are my favourite kind of trip. You have the freedom to truly explore a place, and you see so much more along the way, especially if you get off the highways and interstates every now and again! In 2011 we drove around 5000 miles from Buffalo NY to Miami, and then New Orleans (and most everywhere in between). We've also done LA to Seattle via Reno and the Northern California coast, as well as a few road trips around Australian areas such as the Great Ocean Road drive from Melbourne to Adelaide.

My first memorable experience of road tripping was when my parents decided it might be fun to take their three young daughters in a non-air-conditioned 5 seat car on a four day drive to the top of QLD. One of the daughter being only 9 months old. Let's say, it made for interesting times. Of course they didn't choose the coastal route, but the inland route through old mining towns, deserted swathes of country and places with no running water. I certainly learned a few things about patience on that trip, it brought a whole new meaning to "are we there yet?"

As a well-seasoned road-tripper, I've compiled a list of my essentials for you to take on a road trip. These aren't for you adventurous camping types out there, just some things that I have found are great for raising your comfort level in the car during those long drives.

1. Comfortable clothing

This is totally essential. There's nothing worse than being crammed into skinny jeans and a blazer (for example) in a car seat for 8 hours! Being comfortable doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style though. I'd prefer when I stop somewhere to have a poke around, not to look too much like I've just emerged from my car-cave. Think non-structured dresses with room to move, maybe something a little longer so that they keep your legs from getting itchy on the car seat (does this happen to anyone else?!). Soft cotton t-shirts, loose, comfortable skirts or shorts are the order of the day. Comfy shoes are a must as well, even though you're not walking a lot, your feet can swell from sitting for long periods, and when you do get out of the car, chances are you'll want to walk around a bit.
Striped Tunic Dress Floral Romper Striped Dress Blue Tee Pink Tee Striped Overalls Image Map
1 | 2 | 3
4 | 5 | 6

2. Towels, blankets, throws

Whatever your weapon of choice, it's a good idea to choose something that can perform multiple functions. A good beach towel can also be used to sit on outside, or as a regular towel to dry off after eating or washing (or for your hair after diving into a roadside waterfall). A waterproof picnic blanket is ideal in all weather, if the ground is wet, you can still enjoy a meal outside of the car in comfort. Finally I recommend a sarong, scarf, poncho or throw that can be used for shading you outdoors, or pinning to the windows for privacy or sun protection. It's hard to tell what the weather is doing when you're in the car, so this will also be handy if there's a sudden chill in the air to keep you warm!

1 | 2 | 3
4 | 5 | 6

3. Food

What's a road trip without snacks? On my most recent trip in America, I don't know what I would've done without Trader Joes. Well, I do... I would have eaten crap. While it's fun to snack on treats while you're driving, it's great to keep car snacks like berries, nuts and trail mixes on hand for those nibbly moments. They will save you from the dreaded fast food stops and keep you feeling more fresh and energetic than the carb-heavy alternatives. I'm not sure how much has changed, state-budget-wise since I was last in the USA, but generally you can make a stop at a tourist information centre to use the facilities, and grab a free coffee too! Aside from snacks, consider grabbing some convenient meals at a grocery store, they're often more nutritious and tastier than the food on offer at truck stops.
Make sure you always have a good supply of water for drinking and emergencies

4. Practical items

It's not a bad idea to keep some first aid items on hand, even if you're not going too far off the beaten' track. Simple things like hand sanitiser, wet wipes, band aids and sunscreen will take you far! If you're driving a lot, I think you should bring some painkillers in case you get a 'concentration' headache (I definitely got these!). Some kind of massage oil or topical cream for muscle soreness is also handy, since your arms and shoulders will be doing more than they are probably used to. Having some tissues and toilet roll in the car is also important. Think about bringing an umbrella, poncho and other waterproof gear in case you get stuck in a downpour. A good torch is always handy too.
Sunscreen Rinse Free Hand Wash Raincoat Hand Sanitizer Image Map
1 | 2
3 | 4

5. Sun protection

I touched on it above, you should wear sunscreen, not only on your face, but on your hands and arms! Most people forget the hands. I knew a very delicate lady once who wore driving gloves in the height of summer to protect the skin on her hands! Maybe don't go that far, but you'd be surprised how much sun damage can happen while you're in the car. Sunglasses are also a must, protect those peepers and reduce eye-strain from the glare on the road.

6. Tech stuff

I like to have a good GPS. It was actually cheaper to buy one than rent one, and it's been on two more visits to the USA with family and friends since, so it was a good investment. The GPS is not only for finding your way, but also has great information about local attractions, accommodation and eateries. Don't trust your phone to have a data signal at all times, very often it will be a brick when you need it most! As a backup, you should also take old fashioned paper maps, just in case.

What's a road trip without music? Some cars come with a satellite radio, but I found my iPhone/iPod plugged into the cigarette lighter kept it charged and also provided hours of musical entertainment. Once we hired the car and knew what plugs were inside, we just popped into Best Buy and grabbed an adaptor. Easy! Besides that, local radio can be a really great way to hear a local perspective too, so if you're into that, I highly recommend listening to some to get a feeling for a place.

There are probably other things that you might consider essential, let me know in the comments if I missed anything important!


RelayRides inspired this post through their Road Trip Essentials campaign
All opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation from RelayRides for this post.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Found #97

These aerial photographs from Daily Overview remind me of the work of Andreas Gursky. There's something strange in the hyper-real depictions. The website is fascinating, so grab a cup of tea first! You can see truly weird architectural planning, tragedies of industry, natural landscapes and more, from all over the world.

My cats need to be a hamburger. I should get them one each, so they don't hurt each other in a fight over the most awesome pillow(?) blanket(?)... cat-thing, ever.

When I saw the jewellery of Abby Seymour on The Design Files, I was immediately taken by it's beautiful imperfections and rough edges. There are some lovely unique pieces in the collection,

We've been having a spell of toasty weather in Sydney the past week or two, but I'm under no illusions that winter is going to bite soon. Obviously, I'll be needing a ridiculously adorable sweater to keep myself warm, right?

image via: Decor8

Holly had some interesting topics up for discussion on her Future of Blogging post this week. She definitely addressed some issues that I've noticed and been thinking about for awhile. Take a look, especially if you're a blogger, and have a think about what the future of blogging looks like to you.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Instagram Challenge | May Colour Inspiration

Are you participating in the May #kittyandbuckcolor challenge? Share your black/brown snaps this month using the hashtag. I hope you enjoy this inspiration round-up from some talented ig-ers. If you want more info, see the original post here.

1 | Cory Crawford - A Pacific Northwesterner with luscious forests filling his feed (happy sigh)
2 | Jongsun Park - Such a beautiful mix of architecture in Vancouver and the nature of Canada
3 | The Sisters - My favourite Sydney florists, featuring, you guessed it, gorgeous flowers!
4 | Tumbleweeds HC - (best people) wood veneer sunglass-makers with a healthy dose of furry friends
5 | Mija - Crisp, clean collection from an art director and blogger based in Munich
6 | Lloyd Revald - Photographer and Designer based in Denmark sharing pictures of his explorations


Travel Budget Tips | Holiday Ideas For Any Budget

Once you've figured out your budget (planning and saving), and how long you can take away from work, you can start looking at the kind of holiday that is going to work best for your circumstances. It's easy to see holidays as something in a glossy advert, but there are so many options. I remember a great vacation C and I took to the Hunter Valley, which is an expensive winery district north of Sydney. I managed to save up enough points on a grocery store loyalty card to score a free a one night stay at a winery, so we hopped in the car for a little adventure. Aside from gas money and food, the trip was free. It was only one night, but we set out early in the morning and left later in the evening the following day, so we squeezed in 2 full days for our overnight trip. We both felt like we'd had such a good break afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised.

Try to make the most of your holiday time by maximising it in smart ways.

If you are flying overseas, be conscious of jetlag. I try to make sure that I land at my destination in the afternoon or evening, so no matter how many hours I've been awake in transit, I pass out from exhaustion at a fairly 'normal' sleeping hour for where I have landed, and therefore wake up at a 'normal' time to start my day. Let's face it, Australia is really far from anywhere (aside from maybe New Zealand), so we generally have to deal with long flights and this method is incredibly helpful for us!

Weekend Getaway

Whether you work Monday to Friday or irregular hours, the 'weekend' getaway (whenever your weekend falls) is the perfect way to take a trip without needing any time away from work. If you have flexible working hours, consider a mid-week getaway as accommodation is cheaper, and if you're driving, there is probably less traffic heading to the holiday destinations.


Once again, this could be a short term or longer term vacation. If you have your own camping gear, or can borrow some, this is very budget friendly as well. Different campsites have different levels of facilities, so choose somewhere that suits your needs (i.e. do you want a shower/toilet, or are you cool to be a nature child for a few days?). Camping is generally a great option if you love nature and you're on a smaller budget. Even if that's not the case, it's a lovely opportunity to 'switch off' and re-connect with your family/friends (or yourself!) around a nice campfire. Boardgames, anyone?

Road Trip

I think road trips might be my favourite. There's just something about the freedom of an open road. On a road trip, you can find the places less traveled, like the motel we found in Maine with the 'Jesus' pattern in the woodgrain of our bathroom door. If you like adventure, eating car-snacks and discovering new places, a road trip is a brilliant option. Budget will vary depending on if you own or rent a car, and what kind of accommodation you choose. My dear American friends, please don't talk to me about gas money. You guys have it SO good. Trust me. (But don't forget to budget for gas!)

Charity/Volunteer Break

Have you ever considered turning your vacation into a positive experience for you, and for someone else? There are so many charitable options, from volunteering to assist residents in areas damaged by natural disaster, to building homes for people less fortunate. My sister took her first trip out of Australia to build houses in Mexico and she had an amazing time! It can be a really rewarding experience, and one definitely worth considering.

Whatever your budget, consider the kind of activities that you and your travel companions enjoy and make sure you head somewhere that accommodates these. If you love shopping and culture, maybe a city break suits you best. Or if you like nature, somewhere that has great hiking trails. If you have kids to entertain, make sure there are plenty of fun activities to make the experience memorable for them. If you enjoy sightseeing, plan ahead so that you can find the attractions/locations in the area you'll be traveling. There are so many options, all you need to do is head out there into the big wide world!

What's your favourite kind of vacation? Do you have any other tips to share? Tweet me or leave a comment below.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weekend Links v.04

Whoa, what a week. I think I may have overextended myself, having planned a pretty big posting schedule with the travel series, only to have a really awesome job fall in my lap late last Friday. Despite the work day being extended by a 5 hour commute, I loved this job! If you're in Sydney, make sure to head to the Vivid Festival and you may just see some of my animations on The Star in Darling Harbour (!!!) If I owe you an email or a response to a comment, I'm catching up now. And... My work is going to be in VIVID! I'm pretty damn excited. (See my blog posts on Vivid here, here and here).

If I had an iPad, this would be the case I used. For sure.

Studio 404 and Kate from Clear The Way have teamed up to share some advice on accepting guest posts on your blog.

These Lentil-Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Avocado Green Harissa need to get in my belly!

If you ever wondered how folks make gorgeous typography, here's a behind the scenes peek at Pen & Peplum's latest creation.

These flats sum up my indecisiveness in the most perfect way!

Jessie is always talking about tiny homes, so I thought of her when I read this interview. Imagine throwing in your big house in the suburbs and building your own tiny home for $33k?!

Two simple tips for organising your digital photo files.

Is anyone going to an Etsy Craft Party on the 6th June? I hope to see you at the Sydney event!

This vintage fabric strapless dress is divine!

Handpainted folk art mushrooms?! Love.

In case you missed it on Kitty & Buck last week:
Travel Budget Tips | Saving For A Holiday
Travel Budget Tips | Making Time For A Break
Travel Budget Tips | How to Save Money on Your Vacation

I have one or two more travel tips posts coming up, is there anything you'd like me to include? Leave your ideas/questions below if you have any and I'll be sure to address them for you :)


Friday, May 16, 2014

Found #96

Continuing with the travel theme, this week's Found is all about wanderlust. How adorable is this Bon Voyage Card from My Dear Fellow Co?! I'm not sure why I always associate the saying with travelling by ship, it simply means "have a safe trip" or "have a nice journey".

Sometimes it's difficult to keep all of your important papers together. While I've been known in the past to have a random stash throughout random pockets, I think something like this passport case from Kikki-K is a great idea. You can keep your passport, boarding passes, cards, cash and itinerary details (hotel booking sheets, luggage collection tags etc) inside one handy wallet.
via: Kikki-K

I've been looking for a world map to chart my travels for some time, but I never seem to find one I like very much (that doesn't cost the earth). But this one! Maybe I've found a solution. You can choose from a range of colours and you can write on the map too! I love the idea of marking off places I have been, seeing how few places I've seen will definitely motivate me to find new places to visit.
via: Glassnam

Just a cute reminder to go out and see the world.

When I saw this travel box DIY on A Pair and a Spare, I couldn't believe I haven't done something like this. I have a paper drift from my various travels, I just might need to organise it - DIY time over here!

If there's something I can recommend for anyone who is thinking of travelling, it's a decent bag! Once you stash your suitcase and start exploring, you're probably going to have a camera, maps, water bottles etc. While a handbag looks cute, it gets heavy perched on your shoulder. A good quality backpack like this Camera/Laptop Bag from ONA is the best way to carry all that stuff around, plus it keeps your hands free for exploring :)
via: ONA

A cute gift for your explorer friends.

If you're fairly new here, or missed my travel posts in the past, here's some weekend reading for you, perhaps it will inspire your next trip!

USA Summer 2011 - Montana, Toronto, Buffalo to Miami! An epic road trip that I'd love to do again!
(we also visited New Orleans LA and Tucson AZ but I didn't blog about these... I think I ran out of steam - let me know if you're interested!)

Australia - Various trips around Australia including Queensland, the red centre (Northern Territory), the Blue Mountains, Melbourne, Canberra and the Great Ocean Road.

Japan Spring 2013 - Cherry Blossom season in Japan! We started in Tokyo and travelled all the way to Yakushima, an island off the southern tip of Japan's southernmost main island, Kyushu.

Japan Fall 2013 - Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo!

More travel advice tips, including packing light and planning your trip.

Travel Guidebooks - I hope to expand this section, but for now, you can see my Craft Shopping in Tokyo guide if you're heading to Japan (or love craft supplies, it will make you swoon!)


Travel Budget Tips | How to Save Money On Your Vacation

This post has been written in partnership with Southern Cross Travel Insurance, however all opinions and advice are my own, and are in no way influenced by this fact.

Congratulations! You've put a budget plan in place and now you're reaping the rewards by vacationing in Paris. But let's rewind. You've worked hard to save up for your vacation and tourists are easy prey for expensive everything. Let's look at ways to save money on your vacation and get the most out of those savings.

Before you leave

Pay for as much as possible in advance. Even if you like to go with the flow and don't like a structured itinerary, there are some big ticket items that you can factor in before you walk out your front door.

Purchase airfares, train passes, bus tickets or any other transport that can be pre-paid ahead of time. You'll often receive a better deal by booking in advance (especially with airfares). Always check for hidden charges too, sometimes airfare prices don't include things you need like baggage and meals, so be sure to factor those into the cost.

If you need to rent a car, it's definitely worthwhile shopping around. I've been quoted wildly different prices between third party websites and the car rental company direct. For example, when I rented a car in the USA, I received quotes from $1500 - $9000 for the same car from the same car hire company. If I didn't know better I might have ended up paying a lot more than I needed to (not that I'd ever spend $9000 on car rental, sheesh!) There are also community sourced car rental schemes, so explore the options available at your destination.
Top tip: 
If you are browsing travel websites and search a second time, you may notice the price jumps up! This is often accompanied by an urgent flashing message stating that there's only a few seats/vehicles/rooms left. This may be the case, but just for fun, try clearing your cookies or searching again in another browser. You may be surprised to see the price go back down to the original quote. Don't get caught in the travel-buying panic trap!

The options you have for accommodation will vary wildly based on your budget. Regardless of your budget though, here are some budget-friendly tips so you can spend your hard-earned elsewhere.

If you have friends in high places, or just desirable places, consider staying with them (if it's mutually agreeable) and be absolutely sure to show them the same hospitality in return! Always be a good houseguest and consider a generous thank you gift for their kindness.

This may work best if you're a single traveler, but there are websites such as that will hook you up with a couch! Make sure you check the person's reviews and feel comfortable before committing to staying with a stranger - and be prepared to meet some new friends.

It can be cheaper than a hotel to look at community sourced accommodation such as Airbnb. An added benefit is seeing the destination from a more local and personal perspective than you would get at many hotels.

For more luxury accommodation, there are several options to get the most out of your budget and experience. If your hotel is part of a chain, become a member to access exclusive discounts, points, rewards and extras such as included breakfasts and free stays. There are several hotel deal websites. I've personally used Jetsetter, which offers exclusive discounts to a few hotels each week. If you're travelling a lot, the stars may align (or you might snaffle a short getaway close to where you live). We stayed in a few fancy hotels in the USA that we wouldn't have even considered without this site.

I always purchase travel insurance. While it seems like a drag, I think it's essential, especially when you are travelling by plane (or other expensive transport). Also, if you're in an unfamiliar place or foreign country, you get peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you'll be covered. Something I always do when purchasing insurance is throughly read the fine print (boring, I know). It's important to understand exactly what you are covered for, and what the excess charges will be if you need to make a claim. I'll also double check that my belongings I'm taking with me are sufficiently covered, especially my laptop and camera gear. There are often item limits on what you can claim, so make sure nothing you take exceeds these individual limits. At the end of the day, insurance is inexpensive, especially when you weigh it up against the cost of rebooking flights, replacing lost/stolen belongings or paying medical bills. Southern Cross Travel Insurance offer great deals on insurance, you can visit their website to get a quote on your next trip. Most insurance covers you from the date of purchase, so I usually purchase mine as soon as I buy my tickets so that if anything goes wrong before I leave, I am covered.

While You're There

If you don't mind flying by the seat of your pants, try booking at the last minute. Hotels can offer great discounts in order to fill a room when they receive cancellations or are having a quiet night. I think my best coup was scoring an enormous room at a Sheraton Hotel in Japan for just over $100. I think the room was bigger than my house! Much more extravagant than my usual accommodation but a memorable experience created by not having a plan.

It's tempting to treat yourself every day when you're on holiday, but you can save a lot of money by self-catering. If your hotel has a kitchenette, consider making a packed lunch before you head out for the day. I love exploring supermarkets in new places, so it's a good excuse to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere and get supplies at the same time!

Remember, you're on holiday. If you can plan ahead with the big-ticket items, you can save a lot of financial stress while you're trying to enjoy yourself. Even if you're a planner, try to leave a few things up to chance, you might be surprised by a small bed and breakfast that you find when you make a wrong turn, or discover a town you didn't see on the map. If you have too rigid plans, you miss these neat surprises. So don't sweat the small details, cover the big stuff and everything else will fall into place.

Do you have any tips for saving on vacation costs?


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Travel Budget Tips | Making Time For a Break

After finances, the biggest reason people tell me they don't take a holiday is because they don't have time. You may only receive a small amount of time off each year, or if you run your own business, it can be really difficult to make time for vacations.

In Australia, we have a fairly good paid holiday standard. Full time workers get 4 weeks off each year. I remember when I walked from Canada into the USA, I was mercilessly quizzed by border control. After establishing that no, I wasn't trying to illegally enter the U.S. to work, the topic moved onto why I was in the U.S. and how I was paying for it. It took me a good 30 minutes to convince the guy that yes, I was having 6 weeks paid vacation (I didn't have a holiday in over 2 years, so I had leave saved up). He was not surprised, he flat out thought I was lying. I know in the States, most people get one week paid vacation leave (am I right?) This makes travel really tough, so I'll try to consider everyone's circumstances in this advice.

Options for full-time workers

When I worked full time, I was very interested in getting as much vacation time as I could. If you work for a larger company, it may be worth speaking to colleagues who have been there for awhile, or making an appointment with Human Resources to have a chat about your options. For example, I found out as I was working a certain number of Sundays a year, I was entitled to 5 weeks leave instead of the standard four! They did not tell me this (they never would!) I heard it through the grapevine and made an enquiry. I also found out that since I was a supervisor on certain shifts, I could be paid at a higher rate for those shifts. Again, they didn't tell me, I had to do the research myself.

Find out ways that you might be able to get some extra time off. Some companies allow unpaid leave, others have schemes that allow you to take time off for travel if it will be beneficial to your job. You may need to attend a conference while you're away, or do some research, but you might just score some bonus holiday time too! Consider working overtime in exchange for time in lieu, or ask if you can work on public holidays in exchange for an extra day off at a more convenient time (i.e. for when you take a holiday!)

Another company I worked for offered a program where, for four years, they subtracted a small percentage of your income, and you could take the fifth year off work, paid. This was incredible, though a little too much of a long-term commitment for me! But if you love your company and your job, this kind of thing would be perfect. Imagine getting paid for a whole year to travel?! If you don't love your job, you can always make your own scheme, sacrificing a percentage of your pay each year that will eventually be enough to live off for a period of time.

Options for casual (no paid holiday) workers and business owners

First off, how annoying is it when you don't have paid holidays? I know when I worked casually (for years), I avoided holidays because I thought I needed to keep working to get more money for... living. I was once told by a uni teacher that everyone lives 10% above their means. No matter if they earn $5 an hour or $500, they will always overextend their finances by 10%. I'm not sure how scientifically accurate that is, but it is food for thought. I know when I was at uni, I indulged in the pot noodle diet (or the boiled rice with that Chinese hot chilli oil on it?!) and now that I have more extra disposable income, I might choose organic vegetables instead. We make choices that fill out our income, and if we are conscious of it, we can make different choices that will leave us with a little extra in each pay check.

When you know that you are not going to receive paid leave, factor that in to your lifestyle choices. Make it possible to take 2 weeks off work (for example) and not be in financial trouble. When I know I am going away, I start to pay my bills in advance, so that while I am away, and the first month after I get back, I know that everything is in credit and I won't be stressing out trying to get paid or find work in a hurry (now that I freelance full time).

 When you just can't get extra time off

Even if you can only spare a day or two off from your work, use them wisely. Look out for groupings of public holidays. Sometimes you can end up with a string of nearly 2 weeks off while only using 3-4 holiday days. Apply for the leave early though, because others will have the same idea!

If all else fails, take a weekend break. You'd be surprised at how refreshing one night away can be, or even just a day trip outside of your normal surroundings. A short break can be really worthwhile, so don't forget that this can be a perfect solution when you're short on vacation time.

Do you have any insider secrets on scoring extra leave? Or any suggestions on how to maximise the time you have? Let us know in the comments below.

You can read the previous posts on creating a savings plan here (intro) and here (action plan).


Monday, May 12, 2014

Travel Budget Tips | Saving For A Holiday

Kitty & Buck | Easy Budget Tips to Save for a Vacation

If you missed the introductory post on working out your budget, take a look over there first, we'll wait for you, don't worry!

If you ever think that you can't afford a holiday, or you're just after some tips to help you save, this series is for you. We'll be covering budgeting, saving, tricks for spending less when you're on holiday and a bunch more. I hope you join me, and more importantly, I hope you get a nice holiday out of it!

OK, so you have your budget worked out. Do you have any money left over for the month? If you do, you're already ahead of the game! I recommend opening a high interest savings account or a term deposit where you can store your holiday funds. Personally, I prefer the savings account so I can access the funds without penalty in case of emergency, but if you think you'll be tempted to dip into them, perhaps a term deposit where they are 'locked' is safer! Look at the pros/cons of each and see which is best for you.

If you don't have any leftover funds in your budget, or very little, lets look at ways you can save on what you are spending currently. First, look at your monthly budget and organise your expenses into "Essentials", "Nice To Have" and "Totally Unnecessary" (This excellent method comes from Paid To Exist).

Totally Unnecessary

Right away, you can remove the "Totally Unnecessary" expenses. You don't need to spend that money. Trust me. Redirect those funds into your savings plan.

Nice To Have

Can you remove any of these items from your spending? Or reduce the amount you spend on them? I'm always amazed on the street style interviews when they ask someone how much they spend a month on clothes, and often, it's more than my annual budget! Look carefully at your "nice to haves" and pare down your spending where you can. Get creative and figure out how to save on them without killing your social life entirely.
  • Can you reduce your eating out experiences to once a month instead of once a week?
  • Can you have a movie night with your friends at home instead of going to the cinema?
  • Could you try eating at the local noodle house instead of a fancy restaurant?
  • Would you try hiking or a picnic in lieu of a paid leisure activity?
  • Are there free cultural events in your community?
Tweet me or comment below with your cheap/free social activity ideas!

The Essentials

You obviously can't stop spending money on these, and I'm sure they make up the bulk of your spending. Let's look at ways we can reduce the spending on essentials.

1. Rent/Mortgage
While it might seem drastic, are you paying more than you need to on this? Are you willing to sacrifice convenience, location, size or even renting your spare room out to save money? It might be worth considering.

2. Utilities
Look at your consumption. Can you cut back on the amount of hot water you use by showering at the gym or at work? Are you leaving appliances on at night that are sucking extra electricity? Can you offset heating/cooling costs by being a little more energy efficient in your home? Is it possible to downgrade your phone plan or internet plan?

3. Groceries
Look for coupons and shop for things on sale. If you see something that you use often on sale, pick up a couple extra and keep them in storage (like toothpaste, toilet paper, coffee etc).

Plan your shopping and don't impulse buy. Each week I do a meal plan, write a list and buy only what I need (aside from the specials mentioned above).

Try getting your fresh produce at a farmers market, if you go just before closing time, you're likely to get excellent deals as the vendors are packing up for the day.

Buy in bulk and compare prices. You can save a lot of money without sacrificing the quality of food that you're eating.

Make extra for dinner and take leftovers for lunch the following day. Or, prepare your lunch the evening before so that you're not tempted to spend big on a cafe lunch at work.

I try to make recipes that recycle ingredients - so if I need a quarter of a pumpkin for one recipe, I make something else that week that will use the rest of the pumpkin. It saves money and reduces waste too.

4. Medication
I don't recommend trying to save money here, aside from shopping around. Some pharmacies offer much better prices than others. Even prescription medication prices can differ greatly between pharmacies. In Australia we can choose generic brands instead of the name brands. They are cheaper and I'm assured they are exactly the same product.

5. Insurance
This is another thing I wouldn't cut out. When I reduced my spending, I kept my insurances as they were. One thing to do though, is shop around and make sure you are still getting a good price, especially if you've been with one provider for a long time. You may be able to switch companies and get the same level of insurance for less. Or you can get a quote and ask your current provider to match it, you'l find most of the time they will reduce your premium to keep your business.

6. Banking
Make sure you are getting the best rates on any loans that you may have. As with insurance companies, banks will often match prices to keep your business, so shop around and do the research. It's ideal to pay off your credit cards each month, but if that's not possible, you should definitely look at doing a low/no interest balance transfer to pay off your debt. Avoid spending on your credit card unless you can pay it off each month. As with loans, shop around for the best interest rates.

Even more ways to reduce your spending and save!

1. Clothing
Look at your shopping choices carefully. It would be rare, if you really examined the situation, that you NEED a new pair of shoes, lipstick, dress etc. Be strong, and try to avoid any additional spending in this area. If you have to stop visiting online shops or the mall, please do. At the end of the day, a holiday is so much more rewarding than an overflowing wardrobe. I generally only purchase clothing on sale, or I look at secondhand items that might be cheaper (and often better quality than the chain stores) Remember, if you don't need it, dont buy it!

2. Entertainment
I touched on it above, but try to think of cheaper (or free) ways to socialise. You don't need to spend lots to have fun. Consider a gathering at home, have a pot luck dinner with friends or go on a picnic. Visit museums or free cultural events in your city/town. Go for a hike. Build a pillow fort and have homemade popcorn with a bunch of friends. There are tonnes of ideas that won't break the budget.

3. Gym
This is definitely a nice to have and non-essential. I didn't want to give up my gym membership though, so I downgraded it to local clubs instead of it being worldwide/Australia-wide. I also entered a new contract in order to get a health fund discount. While I had to sign on for two more years, it was worth it for the discount, and the fact I wasn't planning on leaving the gym anyway.

4. Work more
This is not ideal, obviously. But if you work fulltime, perhaps you can take on the odd freelance job here and there (I did this and paid for my holidays with a couple of extra hours work a week). If your budget cannot be stretched further, perhaps this is an option. I don't want you to be pulling double shifts. Please. But perhaps a shift once a week at a coffee shop or offering services in your area of expertise may be a way to gather a little extra cash.

5. Sell stuff
If you have a lot of excess 'stuff' perhaps you can sell some. You might be able to get a few hundred dollars together by selling things you have in storage and are not even using, like extra furniture, old sporting equipment, baby supplies you no longer need, books and more!

There are definitely more ideas on how to save money, I'd love to see your tips in the comments.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Weekend Links v.03

The pros and cons of working from home.

How to make yourself work when you just don't want to.

I could definitely use a pair of fox print leggings!

Warning, warning. Chocolate peanut butter shake alert (gluten free and vegan!)

Discover your process - A great post for freelancers or folk trying to come to terms with running a business.

For the bloggers out there: Branding your blog's social media - something we can easily overlook!

I've been doing this 4 week squat challenge, it's pretty good!

I hope you didn't forget Mother's Day today! Quick, here's some printable coupons so you don't look like an ungrateful child ;) If you want to give a belated gift, here's a gift guide for you.

This looks like such a beautiful place to visit!

Whenever I see ceramics, I have the sudden urge to go all Demi Moore in Ghost and throw a pot! It looks like such a therapeutic profession. If only I had a kiln.... Anyone know places in Sydney where I can do this?!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Found #95

This week's Found post has been pushed a day late this week as I announced the May Instagram challenge colour yesterday (I hope to see your pictures in the #kittyandbuckcolor feed)

Things are starting to get chilly in Australia (in Sydney, anyway) so I'm all about blankets, cardigans sweaters and coats right now! I wish we had seasons, but unfortunately we seem to have gone from hot and muggy to freaking freezing overnight. The above blanket looks so perfect and cozy for a movie night, or even a nice campfire warmer.

If you've ever been to Japan, you'll know that Japanese kids are ridiculously adorable. I don't know why, maybe it's something in the water? These photographs by Japanese photographer Nagano Tokyokazu show his daughter in the most adorable scenes, she's quite the play-actor!

I Love Mona is a favourite of Kitty & Buck, and this weekend they are having a sale - $29 tops! There's a few to choose from, handmade and cute! Perfect for all you summer-lovin' ladies in the Northern Hemisphere right now.

This bag reminds me of something you might stumble across in an ancient flea market, buried beneath a pile of old magazines and covered in dust. This Benicio Camel Tote from Moorea Seal saves you the trouble of being incredibly lucky at the flea markets, as it's available in her online store. Gorgeous.

I'm not sure if I'm posting about the graphic design or the product in this one! I was immediately attracted by the simple typography and fantastic colour palette that compliments the brown glass apothecary style bottles. But on second thoughts, the range from Jacqueline Evans Skincare looks delicious, all organic and carefully considered ingredients. I might need to give it a try!

Marianne has been posting about her recent trip to London, it's making me reminisce! This post about her trip to Colombia Road Flower Markets is around my old digs, so I'm feeling extra sentimental!

I hope your weekend is full of good times! Don't forget to enter the Sticky9 giveaway, it's ending soon!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Instagram Challenge | May Colour Announcement

To bring you up to speed, the Instagram challenge is designed to keep our photography flowing throughout the year, in the form of creating a nice collaborative rainbow. Each month will have a different colour theme. I'll announce a new colour monthly and then showcase my favourite shots on the blog at the end of the month.

If all goes according to plan, I think we'll be able to paint a beautiful spectrum on Instagram through the year, which you can watch unfold by searching the hashtag #kittyandbuckcolor

If you'd like to join in, there are no rules, other than using the hashtag #kittyandbuckcolor and taking a snap (or multiple snaps) that predominately features each month's colour. You can create a scene to photograph, or walk around your town and find new places that show off the colour of the month. Just use it as an excuse to exercise your creativity and photography skills!

The color theme for May is {black/brown} - It might seem gloomy at first, but think of all the wonderful things that are in these rich shades... crushed velvet, deep forests, moist earth, chocolate, tree bark and so much more. This month might be a challenge for some but embrace the richness and lets see what you've got!

If you'd like to spread the word, feel free to grab this button to share on your blog. You can resize it to fit your sidebar by changing the width and height values in the code when you copy it to your blog's sidebar. (just keep them the same so it stays square!)

Find me on Instagram @kittyandbuck - I'm looking forward to seeing your beautiful photographs! Remember, if you are private, let me know your username in the comments if you'd like me to see your pictures and I'll follow you.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Make, Eat, Embellish, Think v.07

washi tape box vegan banana nut scones 5 minute hair tutorials for weddings the difference between dreaming and doing Image Map

make // washi tape box
eat // vegan banana nut scones
embellish // 5 minute hair tutorials for weddings and special occasions
think // the difference between dreaming and doing


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Travel Budget Tips | Saving For A Holiday Intro

Does taking a holiday seem like something that you can never afford? I know how you feel, I've been there. You start looking at fancy hotels, beach resorts and flights, and very quickly a short getaway can cost your entire year's spending money, or more. But it doesn't need to be that way! I have some tips for saving for a holiday, no matter what your budget.

Next week, I'll be sharing a series of posts on saving for and planning a vacation. These budgeting tips are useful whether you are saving for a holiday, or just trying to get your finances on track. But a holiday is a good motivation, right?

A lot of people find it hard to justify spending money on a holiday. It can be a large amount of money to spend, and at the end, what do you have to show for it? It's not an investment in a physical 'thing' like a house, or a car. But physical objects can be just as temporary, and the benefits of taking a holiday far outweigh the financial costs. While you are relaxing and rejuvenating your body and mind, you will most likely meet new people, see new places and have new experiences that you wouldn't consider at home. Getting out of your standard environment is a good character building exercise too! The psychological benefits of taking a break are too great to ignore. I know for myself, I'm always thinking back on good times I had on vacation when things get a bit stressful at work!

If you are ready to start a holiday budget, you can complete these steps before next week so that you can be ready to take action on the savings ideas that I'm going to share with you.

1. Look at what you currently spend
If it's complicated, or you just want to keep an accurate record, you could use some budgeting websites or apps like Buxfer, Mint or BudgetTracker. You could also just set up your own spreadsheet using google docs or similar, or use a free online budget service with your bank account.

2. Break down your earnings vs expenses into monthly payments
Remember to take into account the main things like rent/mortgage, utilities (gas, electricity, water, phone, internet, council fees etc), groceries (include food, toiletries and cleaning supplies), medication, transport and other monthly expenses like insurance. Then add in extras like eating out, entertainment, socialising, clothes, vet bills, gifts etc. Things that may not happen every day, week or month, but estimate (or find out) your monthly spending on these items.

That's it! Check back next week, starting Monday I'll be sharing ideas on how to save money for a holiday, and saving while you're on holiday too!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Weekend Links v.02

Sit back and enjoy a new tune from Mazzy Star while you read through the links!

This cafe in Japan makes sure no diner sits alone, pairing single customers with a furry companion.

Why you need an email list and 5 'dos' for your email list.

There is something so beautiful about this delicate porcelain and gold necklace.

Do you have trouble with standard productivity practices? Try these counterintuitive productivity techniques instead.

Illustrations of scenes from one of my favourite films, Kikujiro no natsu.

Have you ever been asked to work for free as a creative?

Five things Instagram should change for a better user experience.

Wow, this is such a clever way to show the effects of internet lag problems occurring in real life. Those Swedish...

Is this the greatest ring holder ever?


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Instagram Challenge - April Recap

March was blue - here are some of my favourites shots from this month's challenge:

◆ @sketchynotions
◆ @allthelivelongday
◆ @aubinthomas207

◆ @juliastrawberry
◆ @melindadiorio
◆ @everydayandrea

◆ @bamboo_blossom
◆ @ddsp
◆ @inwhirlofinspiration

10 ◆ @sunnykoala86
11 ◆ @begoodnatured
12 ◆ @maryandrikus

I'm hosting this Instagram Challenge all through 2014, where the intent is to refresh your view on the world around you by searching for the month's theme colour. Hopefully we have the added bonus of improving our phone photography skills, too. Each month I will announce a new colour, and all you have to do to take part is tag your coloured images with #kittyandbuckcolor. At the end of each month, I'll feature a few favourites on Kitty & Buck and at the end of the year, I imagine we'll have a lovely rainbow streaking through Instagram!

Which shots are your favourites?

Kitty @kittyandbuck

Friday, May 2, 2014

Found #94

via: Polkaros
These hand printed Japanese tea towels, called Tenugui, are made from 100% cotton. The designs are inspired by traditional Japanese patterns and they are printed in Gujo city, Gifu, a gorgeous part of Japan. I wish I could decide which one is my favourite, they're all so gorgeous...

:: Cat lady alert ::
If you're still here, how fantastic is this table? It's so hard to get work done when there is a cat standing on your laptop. Besides being practical, in removing cats from the surface of your desk, it looks like so much fun! I'm not convinced that my cats would exclusively dwell in the 'cat section' of the desk, but one can dream.

Just sometimes, you need silver shoes. These handmade beauties are stunning, and don't worry, there are more colours where these came from, in case you're not brave enough to be shiny. Oh yeah, they're on sale too!

I'm always a fan of Leah Goren's work, and this red cat tank top is no exception. Her prints are always fun, perfect to brighten up a gloomy day! (I know, I know, you're all looking at spring blossoms right now but it's gettin' chilly here, so I needed some summery cheer)

There's nothing quite like a long exposure at night photograph. Except that they've been done to death. This take, by Aaron Durand gives the light a sci-fi feeling reminiscent of 80's kid's films. I really like the solid train light shots like this one here.

via: Booooooom

Another Friday, another weekend. I am not really sure where last week went to be honest. I feel very tired and unproductive lately. Hopefully a relaxing weekend and a new week will help me pick myself up!  I'll be doing my once-every-couple-of-months trek to the Japanese supermarket tomorrow to pick up necessary supplies for my cooking adventures. I'm becoming somewhat of an expert at Japanese comfort foods, so I try to limit my intake to special occasions, such as Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays ;) Would you be interested in seeing any recipes on the blog? I love cooking but it's pretty rare that I share anything. Let me know - I'm thinking it might be fun!

I hope you have a lovely weekend my friends,