Skinflint Sunday: is it time for another nanna nap?


Well, Christmas has come and gone, and it was as wonderful as always. In the week between it and new year’s I’ve read 9 novels, slept many nanna naps and seen quite a few Dr Phil shows. I also discovered that the school has thousands of movies I can access from the library website, so I’ve caught up on heaps of movies I either haven’t seen for years (hello ‘Romper Stomper’) or I was always going to get around to seeing. My fitbit steps have gone to hell, but I’m feeling really well-rested and happy. Time for a new year!


The love that Scout feels for Daphne has only become deeper with time. The level of tolerance that Daphne exhibits towards Scout has deepened too. A bit.


In the final month of the school year, Scout was coming into work with me on the days that David23 had work and couldn’t feed her lunch. Which, working in a kitchen in the lead-up to Christmas, was almost every day. We’d ride in on the train together, we’d walk I’d carry her up the road to the school and then she’d come to all my classes with me.


The kids loved her! Especially the naughty year 9 boys, which was a bit of a bonus for me. I’d agree to let them hold her if they sat still and did their work. Considering everyone in that equation was a wriggly puppy, it worked a treat. She’s the most well-socialised puppy in Melbourne, because with over 2,000 kids wanting to pat her, she’s certainly not afraid of strangers.


Morale in my staff room has never been higher. She didn’t put a foot wrong the whole time she was there… thank goodness. Then at the end of the day we’d ride the train on the way home, then off we’d go to the beach.


I love this shot. Poppy was mesmerised.

Next year I go back to work full-time, so I’m soaking up these holidays.

This financial post says it all. I read it a few days ago and it encapsulates exactly how I live my life.

Thermomix Recipe: Coconut Chia pudding I really like having a healthy breakfast ready to go, especially on work days.

Posted in backyard beach, holidays, pets, Quality of life, Skinflint | 5 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: in Scout’s own words.


My Mum said that the council website (whatever that is) says that after Nov 1 each year until March 31, dogs are only allowed on the beach leash-free (wherever that is) from sunrise until 7AM. This morning, Poppy woke me at 5:30, so after breakfast my Mum grabbed us all, put the very exciting leads on us, (my brother Jeff tries to bite his and my Mum tells him off. I try to do it too…), and we went down to the beach for a half-hour’s stroll. It was heaven.img_8246

So many new things to explore!


Sometimes my brother and sister would race off without me…


…but they always came back.

img_8271There were lots of crunchy shells to walk on…


… as well as some washed-up dead fish. Smells terrific! For some reason my Mum wouldn’t let us eat them.


Sometimes it all got to be so HUGE, that I just had to take some time to take it all in.img_8269

But then we were off again.


I love my big sister and brother. Poppy and Jeff know everything, and life is really good now that they’re finally talking to me. Jeff didn’t like me for the longest time,  but he lets me sleep next to him now.


Sometimes if I’m lucky, my sister Poppy will let me swing from her ears. My Mum says that Poppy will never have long ears again if she lets me do this, but I don’t care.


Mum said we were only having a short walk, because we had to be off the beach by 7AM. It didn’t seem like a short walk to me… everyone’s legs are so much longer than mine.


Then once we were on our way home, my Mum saw a sign that seemed to make her Very Happy. She said, “This place just keeps getting better and better!” We can have lots of walks on the beach and we don’t have to get up too early for them.

This may be a problem for Poppy. She likes jumping onto my Mum’s bed at what I think is called, “this ungodly hour.” Poppy loves to get her breakfast as soon as possible.


As soon as we got home this awful THING started moving around and making noise. It didn’t listen to my brave barking. My Mum calls it Dobby and she said I have to get over it because she loves it.


It was all a bit tiring. My brother Jeff and I watched my Mum stack the dishwasher before Tom24 came over for a visit. She says he’s my big brother too. But my big brother Jeff is soft and cuddly.

Posted in backyard beach, pets | 7 Comments

So this happened…


Read this post to see where it all started. Milly has a lot to answer for, though anyone who ever thinks I won’t attain a goal once I set it… is an idiot.

Once I met Milly I asked her owners about her breeding. For those readers new to the blog, before I had kids I used to breed and show Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. In other words, I know how the game works. Milly’s owners said “Drakesleat… they’re the best in the UK.”

I emailed Jenny… Poppy and Jeff’s breeder… to ask her who she’d recommend. As a serious breeder, she knows lots of people in the dog world. She said a woman who was friends with Bertie’s breeder (pictured below) was the person to go through.

Turns out… it was the same person. Lucky Lisa strikes again!


Dear old Bertie with short ears.

I contacted the breeder in the UK and asked if she’d exported any stock to Australia. I didn’t want to import a bitch from the UK because they have to be at least 6 months old and I wanted a puppy. Fortunately, she put me onto a breeder in Brisbane who has based his kennels on her Drakesleat lines. So before I even got back to Australia I had a pup on order.

Only took a year.


So meet Scout. She’s 12 weeks old and has been with us for 3 days. She flew down from Brisbane on Saturday, met all of the boys on Sunday and now as I’m typing this she’s asleep under my desk at work on Monday. I have permission to bring her in when David23 is working and won’t be there to give her lunch. The tennis ball is there for scale.


Poppy and Jeff are still at the stage of loftily ignoring her, hoping that she’ll go back to wherever she came from. The cat is a different matter.

img_8215Daphne has seen many a puppy arrive, so she knows exactly how to get the upper hand and keep it.

img_8213She’s double Scout’s size. So far, she’s the only animal that will speak to her, so Scout is falling in love with Daphne.

I’ll leave you with some photos that seem to capture Poppy and Jeff’s feelings at this unexpected turn of events in their lives. Feel free to comment with what you think they may be thinking…





Poppy and Jeff.


Posted in pets, Quality of life | 3 Comments

Not bad for a 13 year old cat.


You know the feeling that you get when you wake up one morning and think, “I must beautify myself. I’m going to the hairdresser!!”

I decided to try one closer to home, as up until now I’ve just kept going to my old hairdresser at Southland. $90 for a cut and colour… though for the last year it was a bit hit and miss. I’ll never forget my horror when I realised I’d have to see the UK and Europe as a redhead!!!

Honestly, this new place just gets better and better. For the same price as my old hairdresser I got a better cut and colour and it’s only a 2 minute drive from my house. Happy days.

On Saturday morning I rounded the corner into the laundry with an armful of clothes, innocently singing the chorus to Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’… (though I always change it to ‘It DOES make a difference if we make it or not”… because Oh My Lordy yes it does), and then suddenly my song changed from Bon Jovi to an operatic note, held at a high pitch and at great volume.


Poppy cornered a rat the afternoon before, at dusk, so I put Daphne out to deal with it. I let her back in at around 9 and I didn’t think she’d done anything.

I guess it was nice of her to want to share.

img_7917She’s the only cat here now, since Maris died. She’s loving being the only cat and she’s become so much more sociable. She was always the more affable of the two of them, but now she’s positively vivacious.


This is the Backyard Beach at about 6:15AM. So far I’ve only taken them once… it’s a VERY early start to the day! But until March 1, this is the only time they can run leash-free at the beach. I have to admit, it was a beautiful start to the day.

Finance post: The 4% Rule, withdrawal rates and how much can I spend anyway?

Thermomix recipe: Ohhh Emmm Geee I Love Your Caramel Slice I’m probably going to make this for our next morning tea in the staff room.

Posted in backyard beach, cleaning, pets | 3 Comments

Making the most of it.


The leash-free beach ceases on Nov 1 for dogs during the day and picks up again in March. We’re making the most of it while we can.


There are certain things that Jeff will miss more than Poppy and I will.


Ryan21 visits every 2 weeks for Family Fun Night on Sundays. The animals LOVE to see him… he was the one who spent the most time with them when they were puppies.


My year 12 Theatre Studies class has finished for the year. It’s nice when teacher gifts are done right!


Happy days!

Finance post: The Longest Night

Thermomix Recipe: Low carb breakfast bars

Posted in backyard beach, family., work | 3 Comments

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.

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