Skinflint Sunday: The bachelor pad.


I thought I’d start off with this shot today. Seems appropriate. Deana gave me this wall hanging (for want of a better word) when I stayed at her place last year when I was in England. I went to visit Evan20 at the old house a couple of days ago and I picked it up. Even though I work so close to the house, I haven’t been there for weeks because I’m now taking the train to work and the station is in the other direction. But on Friday I had a meeting with my accountant about the build so I took the car in. Once that was finished, I still had a couple of hours to kill before I had to be back at work, so I went over and inspected the old house and took some more things away with me from the garage.


It’s full of whimsical touches. This is one of Evan20’s friends. When he moved in, I said that the plaster could be drawn on, but nothing else.


He and his friends have taken me up on that. At first it was confined to the back of the house, but there’s been a fair few parties here and now I think every wall is pretty well covered.


The one with the googly eyes is my baby.


Unfortunately a few extra things have also been drawn on, which didn’t gladden my heart as much. Still, it’s still whimsical. And there’s no point weeping and wailing about what’s already been done. I just made it very clear that more artwork was NOT in his future.


Here’s the rampant growth that wicking boxes can sustain. I haven’t touched these in 6 months. Incidentally, see how the suburb is changing? The new townhouses next door have really changed the skyline. Of course, so will the ones we’re building.


This is the orchard. I spent a whole weekend a couple of years ago building up the soil, sheet mulching and then happily planting about 10 trees in here, visualising feeding the family from the trees for decades to come. A month ago I came around with a friend and her husband and they dug up about 15 trees from the property and took them off to their place in Ashwood. I was really happy that my babies would live to feed another family. But look at the nasturtiums! Anyone with nasturtiums in their garden, take note. They’ll swamp just about anything.


The wicking beds in the sideway are also going strong; so is the clover that grows in the cracks of the concrete. Gardening clearly isn’t Evan20’s first love.


The huge calendula made me happy. When I was doing the gardening club in Bentleigh, before I started doing thermomix, Shane from Ground to Ground Gave me calendula seeds from his garden. When I planted them they struggled a bit, but look at them now! I’m hoping they’ll go to seed before the bulldozers move in so I can start them again in the new house.


And the fire pit, scene of many a convivial gathering, I’m sure.

Up until now I haven’t missed having a garden. I’ve popped around the corner and bought salad greens from Aldi without a qualm. But after 6 months… I’m starting to miss it. I planted some seeds in some wicking boxes yesterday…

Finance post: The 10 smartest things ever said about debt. I lOVE number 3! I think about Future Frogdancer a lot – she’s a great old bird. However, in Australia’s property market, number 8 isn’t possible. Melbourne’s median house price is over $700,000 now…

Thermomix Recipe: Golden Syrup I saw this on a FB page. Apparently a slice of lemon = a 5mm slice across the whole lemon, skin and all.

Posted in Children., Flowers, Fruit trees, gardening, Skinflint, wicking beds | 4 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: Poached eggs will never be the same again.


Life is pretty good at the moment. Only one week to go till the September holidays, when we can do this all the time if we want to.


I had a birthday last week. Yes, 25 (again). Tom24 turned up at school before period 1 and gave me this book. I was stoked. I saw that it had been released a week or so ago and I was seconds away from putting it on my kindle app, but then I remembered I was having a ‘no spend’ day; plus I have about 20 books on my ipad that I haven’t read yet. I decided to buy it in the future. SO happy that I don’t have to wait.

The crocheted snowman was given to me by one of my year 9 EAL girls from China. When I came into the classroom announcing it was my birthday and giving them all vegan lollies I’d made, (my theatre class has 3 vegans in it, so I have to keep them happy and I wasn’t going to make different things for all my classes… I am but one woman), she raced back to her locker and brought back the keychain. I’ve put it on my lanyard for work keys, which means that I’ll never lose track of them again. That snowman is HUGE.


That night Ryan21 came over from Brunswick to spend the evening with me. I put this on Facebook but I’ll pop it here as well:

You know how sometimes you spend time with someone and you come away from it feeling so fortunate to know them? Had dinner tonight with my 3rd son, Ryan21.
We spend time one on one infrequently… one of the few downsides of having a big family.
Anyway, we took the dogs to the beach, he saw Poppy’s hysterical devotion to the Tennis Ball, we came home and cooked the cauliflower cheese he was craving, we just sat and gas bagged and told stories and laughed…
Honestly, he is one of the smartest, most emotionally intelligent, sweetest, funniest people I know. True… I made him so I’m biased, but I’d willingly spend time with him anywhere/anytime.
This was one of the best birthday nights I’ve had, just spending time with my son and eating cauliflower and macaroni cheese and drinking wine. I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet. 🙂


In other news, we finally got town planning permission for the townhouses we’re putting up on the old block. Evan19 is planning one big birthday bash at the house, then he’ll be moving back here because apparently it’s so expensive to move out and be responsible for all the bills, etc. Wow… who knew?

It’s a sparkling spring morning here today, so the plan is to hit ‘publish’ on this post and then get out of these pjs, get ready for the day and take the dogs for a good long walk on the beach. I have a couple of people coming to pick up furniture they’ve bought from me on Gumtree and then the boys will be down for Family Fun Night tonight. I’m thinking of making Turkish bread and lots of dips, just for something a little different.

Yep, life’s good. (Though it’d be better if Poppy didn’t insist on barking like a maniac every time a dog walks past the house…)

Thermomix post: Those of you with the ‘Everyday Cooking for Thermomix Families’ book, it has the best zucchini slice recipe I’ve come across. Finally I can make a delicious zucchini slice that people actually want to eat.

Finance post: The Packet Drawer PERFECT for Skinflint Sunday! Plus, strategy #1 has changed my life. OMG! Tried it and so did David22 and breakfasts in the Frogdancer house have been revolutionised. I’m one happy camper.🙂

Posted in backyard beach, books, Children., cooking, family., pets, Skinflint | 2 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: Poppy’s puppies.


A couple of weeks ago I went down to Mooroopna to pick up Mrs Popplesfield. Jenny said that she was getting a bit sick of her puppies and that they were now old enough to not need their mother. Whoopee! I jumped in the car and brought her back, but not before taking some shots of Dottie and Debbie.


They were 9 or 10 weeks old here… can’t remember.


Two little chubby bundles of fluff.


Poppy was silly enough to let the pups swing from her ears all the time, so no wonder she got sick of them. HER Mum, however, is like any doting nanna…. she loves them. Elizabeth is in wth the pups now, taking over.


Meanwhile, Poppy was in the car, waiting to go back to her usual life.


This is Poppy at the beach yesterday.


Thermomix recipe: Tahini I’m making this tonight for Family Fun Night. Sunday evenings the boys all visit and we have dinner and usually play a board game, so some hummus would go down a treat. It’s the Sunday before my birthday so I may even get presents!!!!

Finance post: Back to the Future: Money and Time Travel.


Posted in backyard beach, pets, Skinflint | 2 Comments

Book Review: The Simple Path to Wealth

Sorry for the small visual of the cover, but this was all I had to work with.🙂

A while ago, I was fortunate enough to be offered a copy of this book in return for writing a review about it. I gobbled it down and then posted a review on Amazon, but it kept niggling at me that it was so good that I wanted to let people here know about it too.

The Simple Path to Wealth: Your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life

Since I got back from Europe a year ago today I’ve been doing one heck of a lot of reading of blogs and books that deal with financial independence. Since then I’ve also made massive changes in where we live, I’ve entered into a plan to knock down our old house and put up townhouses thus accelerating my FIRE plans, I’m back to extreme budgeting due to the joys of bridging finance and I’ve found it all very fascinating.

(For those who are unfamiliar with the acronym, ‘FIRE’ simply means Financial Independence Early Retirement.)

One of the best blogs I’ve so far come across is a blog written by this book’s author. Simply titled, this blog is an extremely well-written, intelligent look at investing with a view to the long term. In its niche, the blog is famous for its ‘Stock Series’, which is a series of posts breaking down the arcane mysteries of the stock market in simple, easy to understand language, which I found invaluable as I was trying to get my head around things.

The premise of the blog and book is that the author, James Collins, starting writing a set of articles to explain investing to his daughter. She was in her late teens (I think) and wasn’t all that interested in sitting down with her Dad and talking all things share market (imagine that!?!) and so he put the things he’d learned over the years down on paper/the blog so when she was ready, the answers would be there for her. Fortunately for the rest of us, the blog’s settings were public and so the word started to spread.

Although written for the American market, there are more than enough similarities between the American and Australian markets to make this series a ‘must read’ for anyone just starting on this path and wanting a clear, concise explanation about how these things all work.

The book is an extension of the blog. The thing I appreciated most about it is that the author didn’t loftily ignore the rest of the world as he was explaining things, as so many American authors seem to do. When, towards the end of the book, he comes to topics that are peculiar to the US, he states this and offers alternative sources for international readers. A nice courtesy and it saves people from learning things that aren’t applicable to their situation.

In short, if investing for the future interests you and you’d like to become more informed on the subject, the blog and book are a great place to start. I’ve been a member of the Barefoot Investor’s Blueprint for around 3 years now, but this book and other reading I’ve done has started me looking at Index funds as something I’ll be adding to my portfolio.

Once the bridging finance gets paid, of course. (I also listen to Dave Ramsey!)

Buy a copy! Why not? It can’t hurt and it might help….🙂


Posted in books | 7 Comments

Backyard beach.


David22 coined a phrase on Facebook for our beach that I really like. It’s not literally over the back fence but it’s so close that it may as well be.

I took this photo a couple of days ago, when I took the dogs down to the beach. Mum and Dad’s dog, Murphy the chicken killer, is here while they went first to Europe and now to Bali, so I’ve had 3 on the go. This all worked really well, until a few minutes after this shot was taken Murphy sniffed some rubbish bins on the beach, got spun out on the euphoria of the scents and started trotting off in the opposite direction to Poppy, Jeff and me. Murphy’s deaf. He went for miles before he finally woke up to what was going on. My fitbit read at 6K steps before we went down to the beach. By the time we got home it was at 15K. We all slept well that night.

Finance Post: Secrets of ‘Supersavers’.

Thermomix post: Fruit-less Muesli bars Just cut down on the amount of sugar.

Posted in backyard beach | Leave a comment

Skinflint Sunday: Long-term goals keep you going.


Look at Jeffrey in the corner. He’s airborne!


He loves his David22.

We’re now in our fifth month at the new place and I’m loving it. I used to say nothing short of dynamite would get me from my old place, but as it turns out I haven’t missed it a bit. I was thinking a bit about it yesterday and I think (I hope) that I’ve reached a new stage in my life… the stage where it’s all about ME.

Well, not totally, but you know what I mean. The kids are pretty much off my hands, I’ve stepped back from running a team for thermomix so my time is much freer, and all of this means that I can take a few deep breaths, look around and ask myself, “What do I want to do?”

I’m looking forward to it. To be honest, I’m a bit sick of having other people’s agenda and timetables dictate how my life is run. I’m looking forward to being a bit more self-indulgent with my time. So what if I choose to loll around and waste a weekend? Or what if I decide to not set foot outside my gate and spend the weekend reading and gardening? Should it matter to anyone but myself? NO!

To this end, I’ve started looking further ahead, realising that if I don’t want anyone telling me what to do, I have to have the finances in place to enable me to live exactly how I please. My next goal? To retire early(er) than the age when the government decides that people should get the pension.

I want to travel while I’m still young enough not to worry about falling and breaking a hip, or dither about how to get my zimmer frame on and off the bus. I want to wake up and have every day free for me to decide how and where I want to spend it.

Thankfully, I still love teaching, so it’s not as if I spend my days in seething rage at having to earn a living. However, there’s nothing wrong with setting a stretch target of when I’ll be able to choose to pull the pin, if I so desire.

Starting next year… 7 years. Game on!

More on this later.🙂

Thermomix recipe: I can’t believe it’s not chocolate I’ve posted this recipe before I think, but I made it last week for my year 12 Theatre Studies class to eat while they were doing a SAC and it was a big hit. There are a couple of vegans in the class, so it ticked all the boxes for everyone.

Finance Post: 10 Core principles of ‘The Simple Dollar’

Posted in pets, Quality of life | 1 Comment

Setting a (slightly) new course.

IMG_7976I know I haven’t been posting here a lot, but there’s been a fair bit going on behind the scenes. I’ve come to a few decisions, re-set some major goals and now I’m heading forth to conquer them.

The biggest decision I’ve made is to leave my position as a Group Leader for Thermomix. Basically, I was a consultant for almost a year and then for the last 4 years I’ve been running 2 full-time jobs; as a teacher and as a thermomix Group Leader. For 3 years it was financially rewarding, but for this year it hasn’t. So , much as I enjoy working with the team, I’m not a charity so I’ve left the job and dropped back to being ‘just’ a consultant again. In other words, I’m still selling them, so feel free to put up your hand!🙂  I’m looking forward to getting my evenings and weekends back, as well as rediscovering that thing called a social life…


In other news, I’ve become a Public Transport User. This is unprecedented in my life. I’ve spent my time actively avoiding travelling with the General Public… you know…. those people. But with a train station literally 2 minutes walk away and a station 10 minutes walk from school, the time management part of me couldn’t resist. You mean in the same time it takes me to drive to work while listening to a podcast I can podcast, knit or read AND get 3,000 steps for my FitBit???? OMG!!! Cost-wise it’s pretty much a wash, so the added extras have tipped the scales.

This morning I got a bit more exercise than I bargained on. There’s a member of staff who also takes the train, who’s about a foot taller than me with incredibly long legs. He walked with me from the station to school. I was exhausted by the time we made it there. Not to be unsocial, but I hope this doesn’t turn into a daily occurrence. I’ll never survive it.

Scary Legs

I’ve set a goal for myself that I won’t buy any new items of furniture for the house. It all has to be second-hand, both from financial and environmental factors. Plus I like the challenge of sourcing things that I need. I picked up this cabinet a few weeks ago from Gumtree but it was only put in place on Saturday. The legs were wobbly, so my brother-in-law Francis who’s doing work around the place for me took them off and then glued and screwed them back in position. I love this cabinet because I know without a doubt if I lived in a horror movie, those legs would chase me around the room. Nearly every item of furniture I now own has these curvy legs.

As regards my new major goal, read the finance link below. It’ll give you a hint. I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the last few months and I love this article because it explains the concept so clearly.

Thermomix Recipe: How to make your own Halloumi Because, why wouldn’t you?

Finance Article: What is your retirement number? The 4% rule.

Posted in balance, Quality of life, thermomix | Leave a comment

Skinflint Sunday: Pets Edition

IMG_7904This is the photos of Poppy’s daughter that I took last weekend. Meet Dottie and Debbie.


I took Jeff down to the beach a couple of days ago. This is him realising that I wasn’t going to hang around waiting for him to finish sniffing the bins.


And here he is, back with me.


Since Poppy’s been gone, Jeffrey is getting away with all sorts of things. He’s discovered that he can keep an eye on me in the kitchen and still stay comfy.


Daphne just puts up with him…

Thermomix recipe: Healthy Pear and Berry Nut Crumble

Finance Article: The Index Card Challenge

Posted in pets, Skinflint | 1 Comment

Skinflint Sunday: Days filled with little achievements.


It’s been over a month since I last posted and a lot has gone on. I’m about to have lunch and then whip down to the beach with Jeffrey before I insult him with with a bath, but I thought I’d catch you up. It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and all’s well.


Jeff has slid into the position of Only Dog pretty well, though David22 tells me that he cries after I leave for work each day. My new house has a hallway that virtually runs from one end of the house to the other, so we now have a routine for when I come home from work that means that we have a rapturous reunion in the middle of the house when I open the hall door, then he runs to the front door while I run to the end of the hall. Then he runs full pelt up the hallway and jumps all over me again. He looks hilarious as he’s running towards me… his ears flap and his shaggy coat galumphs everywhere. I wonder if this will continue when Poppy comes back.


Here’s a photo of the girl on the way to her breeders, to be dropped off in order to give birth and raise her puppies. You’d swear she knew she was going to be left, judging by that face.


Here’s Poppy and Jeff’s mother and grandmother, leading an arduous afternoon in Jenny’s lounge room. Sometimes it’s tough being a pet.

Poppy ended up having 3 girls, but one was very prem and died a few days later, despite Jenny giving her feeds every 2 hours around the clock. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. But her other daughters are strong and healthy and doing fine. They’re 4 weeks old now and staggering around and discovering the world of their whelping box. Jeff and I drove up there yesterday to see them all. I have photos, but my phone isn’t uploading them to the cloud yet, for some reason. You’ll have to wait to see Dottie and Debbie another time.

Pop was really glad to see us and to show off her babies, but she was less than pleased when Jeff ventured near her food bowl. Jenny says that she’s never seen a bitch with only two puppies to feed to eat so much. Poppy’s always been enthusiastic about her tucker. I sat and talked with Jenny for about half an hour next to the pen. Poppy curled up on my lap, where she could still see her puppies and we had together time. That was, however, until Jeff couldn’t stand it any longer and leaped up on my lap as well.

Poppy still has at least another month there, to raise her babies and teach them how to be dogs. Then she’ll come back home.🙂


I’ve been knitting gifts for Scott and Mark and Ryan 21. I’m also knitting cotton dishcloths for my new house, but they’re not as interesting.


I just put this one in because I liked it. A wintery day.


I’ve gone mad for making sourdough bread. A couple of months ago Evan19 and I went to a sourdough class run by one of my thermomix customers and I’ve been making our own bread ever since.


Here’s one of my early ones. I’m now using a proper bread tin and I’m really happy with (most of) the results. I’ve found that it helps to use the timer on your phone once it’s in the oven… cooking a loaf for two hours means that it is so hard and burnt that if you threw it at someone it could kill them. Oops.


The old house is now at this stage. Evan19 and his friends will soon get their marching orders and then the bulldozers will move in.


David22 bought a new (to him) car. We’re calling it The Banana. It’s a huge step up from the 1994 Ford stationwagon he was driving and he’s loving it. Gotta love Gumtree!


Speaking of Gumtree, I’ve been buying and selling furniture on here and I’m loving it. My house is slowly looking more and more elegant and I’ve made the decision that I want to only furnish this place with second-hand pieces that I love. I’m selling off the things i don’t want anymore and keeping an eye out for bits and bobs that I like the look of. I’m in no hurry, but it’s amazing how things just seem to pop up out of nowhere. This is a set of chairs I brought back in the Golf, while the GORGEOUS table they come with was being delivered a few days later.


There’s so many pretty little things around, like this chair, for example. $100 on Gumtree. I drove into Fitzroy to get it and although it fits with the decor now, when I have a bit more cash I’ll get it reupholstered in a more eye-catching colour. But for now, it’s all good.


It’s been a year since I was in Europe. I’m loving the Facebook ‘memories’ feature – apparently a year ago I was in Wales. That was where I first saw a miniature wire-haired dachshund and fell in love. (I’m next in line for a puppy from a breeder on Queensland!! Audrey may soon be here!)

This was one of the luckiest things… I bought this chain-mail necklace at the Richard III exhibit in Leicester with Scott. The clasp was loose and I lost it. I was so upset, but I was going here, there and everywhere that day and there was no way of telling where it could be. Three days later I found it – in the front yard.  Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again!


Here’s another Gumtree find. The old wardrobe was only $30. This is my front verandah – you can rest your coffee cups on top of the cupboard, while inside are old towels to dry your feet after being at the beach, gum boots and watering cans and old shoes for beach walking. PLUS it hides the bins behind it. Love it.


Thermomix Recipe: 9 Thermomix Recipes that make it worth the cost. (Contact me if it sways you… this is still my business.)🙂

Finance article: The Ginger Principle: When Buying in Bulk is a Mistake.


Posted in balance, Children., knitting, memories, pets, Quality of life, Skinflint | 3 Comments

Paleo for dogs.


So here’s what I feed Poppy and Jeff. It’s meant to stand for Bones And Raw Food patties. It’s an approximation of what they’d eat if they were left out in the wild and they hunted and dragged down a moose (or something). Except it’s packaged up into individual patties and frozen.

Poppy’s now really Quite Pregnant. On Sunday I’m driving her down to her breeder’s place, where she’ll stay for the next week, lolling around being pregnant, and then for the next 8 weeks raising her brood. Much to the disgust of Ange at work, who’s in the 7th month of pregnancy, dogs are only pregnant for 9 weeks.

Jeff is going to be like a lost soul. He’s never lived as an Only Dog, except when Poppy was away being ….um… defiled. He’s not going to be a happy chappy.

Thermomix Recipe: Chicken and Peanut Yoghurt Curry I’m putting this here because I want to try it and this way I’ll remember where the recipe is.






Posted in pets | 4 Comments