More random musings as kids write. Or do grammar. Or read.

  • A couple of days ago I went to the auction of one of the townhouses that were built on my old property. It was a real ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. I was able to see if I’d made the right decision to sell the block with fully approved plans instead of going ahead with the build. Turns out I did. The auction had only one bid – a vendor bid of 1.525 Million, so it was passed in without selling. As I drove away I was so thankful that I’d sold when I did. Imagine the stress if I’d had to pay another 15 months of bridging finance at 3K/month, only to fail to sell at the last minute? Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again! Here’s the link to the post I wrote about it on the other blog, complete with photos of the townhouse. The builders did a really good job and I’m sure it’ll sell soon. I’m just not sure that they’ll get the price they clearly want for it.
  • I’ve let my year 8’s listen to music as they do their grammar. It’s amazing how quieter they are with headphones stuffed into their ears.
  • I received a text from the landscaper yesterday as I was having lunch at a wnery on the Mornington Peninsula. He’s starting work back at the house today, paving with reclaimed bricks around each side of the house, digging drainage underneath so that there’ll be no flooding problems later on. The garden beds in the back that are not wicking beds will have a watering system attached. This will mean that the rest of the money that I saved from the sale of the house will be finished, so the roof over the lower level in the backyard will have to wait until I can cash-flow it.
  • To add to the expenses, the new next-door neighbours want to put in a new side fence. After I heard about their Staffy that hates small dogs, I wanted a sturdy fence put in, too! It’s going to be the tallest we can have, running the entire length of the property. $1,200. The thing that I like about having both jobs done at the same time is that the landscaper will pave directly up to the new fence, meaning that no one will be able to dig in or out. My dogs wouldn’t stand a chance against a staffy.
  • Every now and then I look up from my keyboard and I see a kid grooving to the funky beat in total silence. It’s pretty funny.
  • Two minutes till the bell. Better get ready for the next lesson in the double period – Letters to the Editor.
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Posted in work | 2 Comments

Random musings as kids write.

  • I’m sitting here in front of my docile year 9 class while they’re writing an essay. It’s silent, the only sounds being the noise from the class next door, the click of my nails hitting the keyboard and papers rustling. It’s a fairly hard task that they’re doing and there’s been lots of apprehension. The kids at this school are really diligent and want to do well, so they’ve been stressing over how to do this properly. Even the lazy ones have been asking questions in the week leading up to this.
  • I’ve just finished the most fabulous book by Richard Glover. ‘The Land Before Avocado’ is a look at Australia in the 1960’s and 70’s. As someone who grew up in this time, it brought back so many memories. Things were pretty insane back then – sometimes in a good way (the music) but often in a bad way (the sexism and racism – along with all the smoking and crime.) I highly recommend it – it’s a funny and extremely interesting read.
  • Poppy and Jeff have just come back from a visit to the vet to have their teeth cleaned and quite a few extractions. They’re only 5 years old, yet they’ve had a heap of teeth out already. I’ve been 30 years in this breed and I’ve never seen teeth this bad. The vet said that they’re seeing this more and more in the smaller breeds – the bone under the gums gets eaten away and then abscesses form under the teeth in the gaps that are left. He said that he thinks that in 20 years time they’ll find that this problem is genetic. $1400 later I left the surgery with my two little gummy-mouthed people in tow. Yikes!
  • Do you know how much I like teaching when the kids are deathly silent and I can write what I want?
  • Do you know how much I’ll dislike reading their essays for hours on end once they hand them in?
  • David25 told me that he’ll be moving out soon. In a couple of months, probably. Of all the boys, he’s the only one that hasn’t yet had a stint of independent living. Poverty has prevented him from doing so, but we get along beautifully so it hasn’t been a drag having him around. The thing I’m most excited about – apart from the joy of seeing him finally become an adult, of course- is that when he moves out, I’ll make Ryan23 move across into David25’s room and then I WILL FINALLY HAVE A STUDY OF MY OWN! With a door that leads directly out into the backyard. I’ll be able to leave my sewing machine out and I’ll finally get to finish the quilt I started last year at the retreat. I can clear out all the piles of papers from my room and have actual space in my walk-in-robe once I get all of the craft supplies out from the shelves. I’m so excited.
  • I’ve been adding fertiliser and compost juice to the crappy soil in the wicking beds and this, as well as the warmer weather, seems to be taking effect. Leaves are turning green and plants are starting to actually grow. Maybe I’ll have some things to harvest in the summer holidays, after all.
  • I joined twitter a couple of months ago, @frogdancer3  I didn’t think I’d like it but I’ve really warmed up to the whole thing.
  • The kids are finishing in about 5 minutes, so I’ll press ‘publish’ on this and go and start collecting their papers. Thanks for listening!

 

 

 

Posted in books, pets, reading, work | 3 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: Free compost materials!! Why wouldn’t you?

I’m pretty sure I showed you guys a picture of my sons assembling a tumbling compost bin a few weeks ago. I’ve never owned one of these before. In the old place, I just had a couple of those huge, open-bottomed bins that you place on the ground, take about a year to fill up and then wait for another 2 years before the stuff inside becomes usable.

I wasn’t a fan. I’m not getting any younger and with the soil turning my plants yellow in the wicking beds, I don’t have years to waste.

I did my research and it seems that with the tumbling part of the tumbling bins, compost can be ready in weeks instead of months or years. Imagine how delighted I was when I saw that some genius has invented a tumbling bin with TWO drums!?! You fill up one drum and then continue tumbling it, while filling up the other one with your veggie scraps and old newspapers. When one drum is full of compost, you empty it and then start tumbling the other bin while you’re filling up the first one again.

It’s a never-ending circle. Of life. Of compost. It’s a beautiful concept.

At first, I had the bin in the backyard on the new brick paving, but I didn’t think of the ‘compost tea’ that leaks from the bins. It was going to stain my paving!!! Argh!!! What could I do? The bin was too heavy to move.

Then Ryan23 said, “Why don’t you empty out the bins and then move it?” Sometimes people need to state the obvious to me. I’m not terribly practical.

 

 

 

So I emptied out the stuff in the bins. Not the most pleasant job. Poppy and Scout started stealing things to eat from them as I was moving the bins and in the end, they got into a squabble over an aromatic morsel of banana peel or melon peel. So I locked them both in the garage away from temptation. Stupid dogs.

So I began again. I still had to keep an eye on the worm farm so that I didn’t starve them in my quest to get compost for the garden, but after a couple of weeks, I realised that even filling up one drum was going to take a fair amount of time with just our household scraps. That’s when I had a Brilliant Idea.

At heart, teachers all want to save the planet and be wonderful. You couldn’t be a teacher for more than 5 minutes unless you feel this way. So I introduced the Staffroom 2 compost bin. It sits on the end of my desk, just above the bin, and people drop their banana peels, apple cores and tea bags into it.

Everyone loves it! They get to feel the glow of doing the right thing by Mother Earth, while I get to accelerate the amount of compost I can make. It’s a win/win.

After a week or so, I started to think outside the box of staffroom 2. Just down the hall is the Food Tech room, full of stoves and chopping boards and kids cooking their little hearts out. Maybe they’d like to donate their scraps instead of giving them away?

The Food Tech ladies were into the idea. Such a good teaching tool for the kids. They suggested I bring in a little bin that can sit on the bench and the kids can throw their scraps in. Then, just as I was about to leave, Raeleen uttered the remark that has turned into being a game-changer:

“Why don’t you go down to the canteen and ask them if they’d put a bin in there for you?”

OMG. Genius!

Our school has 2,300 students and around 200 teachers. The canteen services hundreds of people every day. There’s a goodly amount of chips, nuggets and potato cakes that are sold, but there’s also a huge amount of salads, meals, soups and fruit salads that are sold as well. Imagine the scraps???

Fast forward to today. I have a 27Litre bin in the canteen kitchen and twice a week I collect the contents and take them home. I drive on those days… I somehow suspect that I wouldn’t be too popular on the train with a bag of food scraps on my lap…

I’ve had to buy another tumbling compost bin. Can you see the trays underneath? I’ve been harvesting the compost tea, diluting it and using it as fertiliser. I’ve just started filling up the 4th bin in the system, so soon I’ll be using homegrown compost on the garden.

Happy days!

 

Posted in gardening, School, vegetables, wicking beds | 5 Comments

Snippets from schooling.

    • My year 8’s didn’t settle down to work yesterday. We were supposed to be watching little portions of ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ and discussing film techniques, but they were restless and noisy. I cracked it and made them write “I will not be disruptive’ 100 times. Seriously, I don’t think they’ve ever had to write lines before. It kept them quiet, almost shell-shocked, for the rest of the lesson and I got to do some writing. Would it be unprofessional if I made them do this every lesson…?
    • The next lesson after that was my year 7’s. At the start of each English lesson, I allow the kids 10 minutes to either read what they want or write what they want. It’s a silent part of the lesson because they’re not allowed to interfere with anyone else’s private time. Ethan spent the first 6 minutes dancing silently in a corner. He was quiet and didn’t try and disrupt anyone else – he was just dancing, seeing if I’d say anything to him. I just pretended I didn’t see him; I wanted to see if he’d last the full 10 minutes. Made me laugh, though.
    • Evan22 sent me a video of his end of year assessment piece for his acting course. The students had to film someone telling a story, then they had to duplicate the delivery. Evan22 deliberately chose someone very different to himself – a sporty guy telling a story about a brawl on the sidelines of a footy match. I’m so proud of him because his delivery is so completely unlike how he is IRL. I’m feeling relieved… Maybe this acting course IS the right course for him…?
    • It’s the year 12’s last day of classes today. They’ve had their dress-up day, their shirt/uniform signing day and we’ve just come back from their assembly where they show short videos they’ve made, they sing and dance and generally leap around and celebrate their freedom. (Of course, with exams starting in 12 days, freedom is still an illusion…) To celebrate OUR illusory freedom, the year 12 teachers are having a sausage sizzle at the Bowls Club after school today. Can’t wait!
Posted in Children., School | Leave a comment

Skinflint Sunday: Buy yourself hundreds of new friends.

In my last gardening post I think I mentioned that I’m not overly impressed with the soil that the landscaper bought for the garden beds. My plants are yellowing and not growing well. I’m composting like a mad woman (more on that in another post), but another way to improve soil is to get some worm action happening.

So I ordered 6 mini worm feeding stations and a bag of 1,000 worms. The feeding stations also come with a ‘worm bomb’ which is coir and worm eggs. I had them delivered to work, which freaked out a few people – one woman in particular who is scared of worms.

“Are they going to escape?” she asked.

“They’ve come from 2,000 miles away. If they were going to make a break for it they would’ve done it long before now!” I said.

It’s a very simple idea. The feeding stations are just plastic bins with a flip-top roof, with 9 holes drilled in the bottom. You place the feeders on the soil, put the worm bombs and worms in, water them and put some food in. Then leave them to it. The worms are able to leave the feeding station through the holes in the bottom. They roam around the garden bed, doing whatever it is that worms do, then they return to the feeding station when they’re hungry. If the weather is too hot or cold, they retreat to the soil for comfort, so they don’t boil themselves alive.

The idea I have is that every 6 months or so I can move them to another section so that over 18 months the whole bed will have worm castings through it. The entire wicking beds are one big container – the dividing timbers that split them into 3 are only along the top to strengthen the walls. So the worms would easily be able to find their food when I move them.

The worm company said that these feeding stations can also be used for dog droppings, so I’ve decided to give it a go. I’ve put the bin in one of the original garden beds at the back of the yard, where (hopefully) the poor unfortunate worms will learn to feast on poo. So far, after a month or so, it doesn’t look like they are that desperate, but I’ll leave it go a little while longer and see what happens.

At first things went along swimmingly. The worms were eating the food and appeared to be multiplying, the plants were yellowing but surviving and the days grew warmer.

But in the last week, we’ve had a few days of mid 20’s and the black feeding stations are cooking up. What will they be like when temperatures reach the 30’s or 40’s? I decided to make an experiment.

 

After I recorded a podcast, (which was exciting. It’s my first podcast interview), I grabbed my bean seeds and some bamboo stakes and I headed outside. My ‘halpers’ positioned themselves strategically, so that I couldn’t try and sneak past them without them knowing, and I built my first ever tripods.

 

My thinking is that as the beans grow, they’ll shield the feeding stations from the sun and make the environment within seem slightly less steamy than a Turkish sauna. There are no strings across the front because that’s where the lid flips open.

The first one has Lazy Housewife beans planted. These never did well for me in the old house but I’m going to give them another try. Blogless Sandy always had good crops from them.

The other 4 feeding stations have Berlotti beans planted. Hopefully, we’ll have some dried beans to eat over winter that we grew ourselves! (I say ‘we’. Remember my ‘halpers’? It’s not as if the boys ever do anything out here!)

It was about this time that I realised I had mismatched shoes.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like podcasts? A world of information and entertainment for free. I started off listening to UK FI Pod’s interview with Ken from The Humble Penny, which I enjoyed, then moved on to finishing up Casefile’s ‘The Toy Box’, which was horrific, then finished with the latest from ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’. Financial independence to true crime to comedy. Lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Then I got wildly excited. See this fake cabbage moth thing? Cabbage moths are very territorial. They are supposed to see these things and fly away, thinking that the garden bed is already taken.

OMG. As I stood not 2 feet away, a cabbage moth fluttered over, hovered near the fake one and then flew off, over the back fence and over the church, away to wreak havoc somewhere else. I truly didn’t think this would work, but maybe it does. I don’t have chooks to feed the caterpillars to anymore, so I really hope this does the trick.

Snow peas! These were from some of the very old seeds that I planted last month as an experiment.

Two weeks ago, when my friends and I went to Heronswood nursery in Dromana, I bought a few seedlings. These are the Tromboncino zucchini seedlings. This garden bed will be planted with shade-loving plants when the roof over the lower level goes up, so I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity and plant some veggies down there for this year. The plastic container is grabbing the water from the outlet from the wicking bed above.

Here’s why it was dripping. I was watering in the cucumber and beans I planted. Bev from Foodnstuff gave me some Purple King bean seeds years ago. I kept sowing them and saving seed. These ones are 6 years old, but I’ll bet some of them germinate.

All up, I planted 4 cucumber, 4 chillies, 4 capsicum and about a million beans. The last few photos have been for Angela, who likes gardening too.

By the time I came in, Jeff was out cold. I’ve just finished a refreshing chardonnay before I go out and water. He’ll probably still be there, blissfully ignorant that he’s been on his own.

 

Posted in gardening, Quality of life, Skinflint, vegetables, wicking beds | 4 Comments

What happened after the landscaper left?

Lots!

I got Francis, my chippie brother-in-law, to continue the side deck around to the door that will one day be my study, but is now Ryan23’s room.

I got him to put the step all the way around. One day, when I get the roof done, I can see people using these steps to sit and have a chat.

One thing that I didn’t foresee about putting wicking boxes on paving is that the water that spills from the outlet pipe pools has nowhere to go. Instead of being soaked into the grass it just sits there. I didn’t want moss to start to grow, so I went to Bunnings and bought these tubs. They catch any overflow – and the bonus is that I can then recycle that water back into the garden the next day. So my free tank water is going even further. Love that.

To be honest, I’m not that happy with the soil that the landscaper used for the veggie beds. It’s very nitrogen deficient, I think, as the plants that I’ve put in are all turning yellowy. I’m working on producing lots of compost, (more on that in another post – very exciting stuff), but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t be getting great results for a year or two until I sort things out with the soil.

So what do you do when you are pretty much just mucking around? You see some potato starters in Aldi and bung them in, of course!

I don’t feel that these wicking beds are deep enough to really make the most of potatoes. But old-time gardeners call them a good soil conditioning crop, so what the hell? I brought home the starters, let them harden off and sprout a little more in the laundry and then whacked them in. I’m a little bit dubious about the quality of Aldi veggie plants, but that’s just probably me being elitist. Time will tell.

OMG I love this. What do you do with a thin strip of garden bed that’s in front of the screen for the clothesline and is slap bang in your line of sight as you come into the backyard? You plant apple trees and lavender to bring the bees to pollinate the apples, that’s what!

I had Ballerina apples in the old garden in the garden bed next to the chook run. Without a word of a lie, those apples were the best tasting things I have ever put in my mouth. (Except for Haribo gummy bears. Obviously.)

I bought these at Gardenworld and asked where the lavender bushes were. When I got there the table was attracting contented bees like you wouldn’t believe. Exactly what I wanted! I planted them the next day and as I was watering them in, a bee was already starting to collect pollen. Such a little thing to make me so happy.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the trees are all covered in blossoms. They look pretty happy, too.

Last week a couple of friends and I went to Heronswwod, the Diggers nursery in Dromana. These are the seeds I bought. Love the names.

This is the dwarf apricot tree that my beautiful Theatre Studies class from 4 years ago gave me as their ‘thank you’ on the performance on the last night of their play. Fortunately, I didn’t get around to planting it at the old house, so when we moved it came with us. The Best House in Melbourne already has an apricot tree in the front yard, but it’s scraggly and feeds the possums and lorikeets, so this one will be for us. I planted it in the garden bed next to the apples, along the side fence.

I’ve decided to continue the recycled brick paving along the sides of the house. The previous owners laid black plastic down and put pebbles on top, but weeds are starting to come through and it looks messy. Old Lady Frogdancer doesn’t want to deal with that.

However, bluebells are coming up as well. I decided to try and save some of them. It’s the wrong time to be digging them up but I figured that they’re going to die anyway when the landscaper comes back, so I might as well give them a chance. I’ve put them in the same garden bed as the apricot tree. If they survive and spread, I think it’ll look very pretty along the fence.

I’ve put this in there as well. Spiky plant! Hopefully the possums will leave it alone. I’ve never tasted a finger lime, so that’s something to look forward to.

Finally, a Bird of Paradise plant that some dinner guests brought as a house-warming present 2 years ago has finally gone into the ground. I’m not sure if I’ve put it in the right spot though. Mum and Dad have one in their front yard – it’s been there for as long as I can remember, and Dad says that eventually it’ll push the fence and the retaining wall over. It’ll take a couple of decades though…

I don’t know. Maybe I should dig it up, pop it back in a bigger pot and use it as a houseplant?

No gardening post would be complete without a shot of my “helpers”. Poppy and Scout are waiting for me to kick the tennis ball for them to chase. Jeffrey doesn’t hold with those shenanigans.

Funny little people.

Posted in Flowers, Fruit trees, gardening, Quality of life, vegetables, wicking beds | 7 Comments

Revisiting the past – I made soap again!

Now that I’m knitting and gardening again, I’m rediscovering the simple pleasures of crafts that I used to do when I had more time, before my side-hustle of being a Thermomix consultant and Team Leader came along. Now that I’m on school holidays and no longer running a team, I have some time to spare. I decided to revisit soap making.

The header image of this blog is actually a shot of blocks of soap I made, years and years ago.

This blog is turning into an invaluable resource. I selected ‘soap making’ from the categories bar at the side and it took me straight back to 2010. Eight years ago! That’s when I first started making soap. I did it for 2 or 3 years, even selling it at work, until thermomix came along. I noticed a comment I made in 2012 here I said that I kept going back to a particular recipe, so I jumped onto it. Then I went shopping.

We don’t cook with canola oil any more, so that was on the list. It’s much harder to find lye/caustic soda now – I eventually tracked it down in the Plumbers section at my local hardware store. I didn’t have a stick blender, so I had to buy one of these as well.

I decided that I wanted to add oatmeal to the soap – it sounds so earthy and gentle. We always have rolled oats here – David25 loves his granola on the morning.

I also read that I liked the shape of using long-life milk containers as moulds. Here is the soap after I unwrapped it the next day. One of them obviously had a bit of a volcanic eruption after I’d wrapped it up!

I got 1.5 milk container’s worth of soap mixture from this recipe.

It doesn’t look too bad, does it? These bars will cure for around 6 weeks before they can be used, so I’ve popped them in my laundry, out of the way. I knew there was a reason I put a lovely long bench in there instead of filling the whole room with cupboards!

I’m thinking I’ll make another couple of batches of soap today. They’ll make nice Christmas presents for people at work, and also Evan22 said when I told him I was going to make soap again, “Do some with poppy seeds in. They’re nice and scratchy.” He clearly craves some to take back to Ballarat.

It’s funny what kids remember. I’d forgotten that when you take the soap out of the moulds you need to touch your tongue to it to see if it’s saponified correctly. He was telling his girlfriend, “… and if it zaps your tongue like a little electric shock it means that the batch didn’t work and you have to melt it down and try again…”

I wonder what else the boys have picked up along the way? To be fair, Evan22 was always the one most interested in all my little projects. His mind was like a sponge.

I decided to save the Frankenstein-looking end as soap for me.

Waste not, want not!

Posted in soap making | 3 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: When every day’s a bad hair day.

Every day is a bad hair day when you live in my body. Over the last month or so I’ve been pulling up cowls over my head and wearing them like a snood. One of my students asked me why I was wearing a sock on my head, but apart from that everyone’s either been complimentary, or maintained a tactful silence.

Long-term readers might remember when I paid off my little weatherboard house and ran amock buying yarn on the internet to celebrate. Since then, I’ve decided that I have to use up what I’ve got here before I buy anything else.

I don’t know if you know, but skeins of yarn that have been hand-dyed in antique kettles by Peruvian virgins are very expensive. These designer yarns are gorgeous to work with but at around $35 a pop they’re certainly not something that you want to waste. The two small balls of wool are the remnants of a couple of hats I knitted. I decided to combine them to make myself a snood.

As I went along, it became clear that there probably wouldn’t be quiiite enough wool, so I grabbed the last of the Malabrigo sock yarn from my stash and I’m easing that into it as well to eke out the supply. Once I finish this snood, I’ll knit a slouchy hat for one of the boys, probably Ryan23, and then I’ll be happy.

I used the Sockhead Slouch hat pattern to get the number of stitches to cast on and I knitted the same rib as in the pattern.

Then I switched to a 2X2 moss stitch, changing colours from ball to ball randomly and I’m LOVING how it’s looking. I also love the fact that this is definitely a one-of-a-kind project. There’s definitely no one else on the planet who is making or has made a snood like this one.

This is moving pretty slowly, due to the thinness of the yarn and the fact that I’m using moss stitch, but that’s ok. I’m not going anywhere and it’s a good school holiday knit.

 

Posted in knitting, Quality of life | 3 Comments

Want to see what 40K buys nowadays?

When we moved here to The Best House in Melbourne, there were improvements I wanted to make. However, when I had 18 months of bridging finance to get through until the old house was sold, (running at 3K/month- yikes!), things had to go on the back-burner until all of that was sorted.

Last August the deal was finally struck and the money was paid to my account. It was the end of a VERY stressful time – I defy anybody to borrow 750K to buy a house and feel totally ok with it. Seriously – I had to do this to swing the deal, but it was a huge gamble that the property market wouldn’t tank and now that it’s over – I will NEVER go into debt again. It worked beautifully for us, but I don’t want to push my luck.

I invested most of the money I received into my super and the share market, but I’ve kept around 50K to get the backyard landscaping done. It’s a huge job and while most of it has been done, I’m still not finished yet.

The original backyard was so scrappy and awful, I didn’t even take any photos of it the whole time we’ve been here. I took the following ones once work had actually commenced.

The yard is split into 2 zones – an upper and a lower. It was full of weeds; a gall-wasp-ridden lemon tree and a squat fig tree; UGLY pink pavers (why?!?), and a general air of desolation. I only went out there to hang clothes on the line.

But I had big plans for this space.

Half of the lower brick paving will be covered by a roof to make an outdoor room so I can snooze outside during school holiday times in Spring and Autumn. I haven’t built this yet. Here’s what has happened so far:

This was taken after most of the plants had been ripped out. Honestly, look at those pavers… how could anyone have thought they were a beautiful design choice? The house was built in the 80’s, but even so…!

The shed was located in the sunniest corner of the yard, which put it slap-bang into the best spot for veggie growing. It cost an extra 4 or 5K to take it apart, lay a new concrete slab and flip it onto the shady part of the yard, but it was so worth it.

We also recycled the old clothesline. I found some new clothesline cord at the local hardware marked down at $2 for the roll, so Guy, my landscaper, put it up in front of the old shed and restrung it for me.

Some genius planted a massively spiky agave tree right where people walk, so I had Guy get rid of it. It was too big to dig out so I’ll have to keep an eye on it in case it thinks about coming back to life.

One night I came home from work and the pavers were gone and the shed was in pieces. Progress!

About a week further on and things were really moving. On the last day of term 2 I came home and Guy was finishing filling up the wicking beds. He’d never made any before this job. He looked at me and said, “Frogdancer, you’re the first and the lucky last to get wicking beds from me. They take too bloody long to build!”

I laughed. I put the wicking beds together back at the old house and it was a huge job. I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Here’s the bottom level, though now the screening plant, a very old and unlovely Grevillia, has since been cut down. I’m waiting till Francis, my brother-in-law, puts the roof up before I start thinking about planting things down here. I need to see where the shade will go.

This space used to flood when it rained heavily, so Guy has put in a huge drain at the front of the steps. I love it.

The upper level. No weeds for Old Lady Frogdancer to contend with.

A couple of months later and this is what it all looks like at the moment. The screen to the right is hiding the clothesline. I’ve started planting the permanent garden bed to the right, while veggies have been going into the wicking beds. I took a chance and planted my tomatoes before Cup Day weekend – I’m gambling that the frosty mornings have passed.

Against the fence, you can just make out the mini greenhouse that I got David25 to assemble for me.

Here’s the other angle.

You know, I’d forgotten about the excitement of gardening, when things start to reward you by popping up. I put some asparagus against the back fence. Completely forgot that I’d bought purple asparagus until I saw these little beauties a couple of days ago.

I’ve already spent more time in the backyard in 2 months than I spent in 2 years before the yard was remodelled. Once the roof goes in and I can go out there without fearing sunburn, I’ll be spending even more time out there. Christmases, birthdays, Mother’s Days… we’ll be using this space a lot.

I haven’t told you yet about all the little projects I have going on with this space, but I will. My brain is buzzing with ways to make this garden sing.

Forty Thousand dollars is a lot of money. But when it’s contributing to the lifestyle you dream of, then I believe it’s money well spent. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fruit trees, gardening, Independence Days challenge, Quality of life, vegetables, wicking beds | 4 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: on a Monday!

Phew! I finally finished blogging about North Korea on the other blog, so now it’s time to get back to regular programming around here. I’ve missed writing about the day-to-day, and I’ve got so much to tell you!

So, in the 5 months since I returned from North Korea, what’s been going on around here?

Everything. And nothing. I’ve set myself a target on Goodreads to read 80 books this year. As of this morning, I’m 6 books behind schedule. I’m only up to 52. I’ll be having a few ‘Reading Days’ these school holidays.

Did I mention it’s school holidays? if it wasn’t, I’d be in front of my year 9’s at the moment. They’re not my favourite class, if you get my drift, so that makes me sitting on the couch in my PJs at 12:20PM seem even sweeter.

There’s been a HUGE project that I’ve still not finished.

I’ve been getting my hands dirty again.

Life’s been good. Can’t wait to tell you all I’ve been doing.

 

Posted in backyard beach, balance, books, family., gardening, holidays, knitting, pets, Skinflint, vegetables, wicking beds | 2 Comments