The dance continues.


Poppy and Jeff are the naughtiest, most indulged dogs I’ve ever owned. I’ve never had dogs allowed up on the furniture before, or being allowed to sleep inside and get up on the beds. But it’s hard to resist those little faces looking at you through the window when you leave for work in the morning.

I would never have thought that after writing about my trip to Europe every day for 9 weeks this blog would be so neglected after getting back. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, culminating in the auction yesterday of the house next door. They were desperate to sell, having bought a place for 1.4 a couple of blocks away. I, on the other hand, have no debts and no pressing need to sell, so the Frogdancer family are in a different situation.

The house next door went for $1,250,000. An absolute STEAL. Tom23 and I were observing the auction, but standing in different spots. He rang me later in the afternoon and said, “Mum”, (because that’s what he calls me),”Don’t you dare let this place go for less than 1.4. Did you see his face when he went into the house after the auction to negotiate. He was smiling.” No wonder. He got an absolute bargain.

Yes, so I’ve had an offer from the developer for the same amount as the next door. I’ve laughed at it and knocked it back. He and my real estate agent are still negotiating. Honestly, I’m happy to sell now if I get a decent price for the developer being able to purchase two blocks of land side by side. I don’t want an insane amount of money, but on the other hand I know darned well what it’s worth and I won’t let it go for less. However, if he won’t come to the party I’m also happy to spend the summer landscaping and painting, then putting it up for sale sometime in the new year. I’m loose like a goose.

It’s been fun looking at houses. So far I see The Perfect House For Us about once a week. The people at work are laughing at me, saying, “You’re easy to please!” How ridiculous. Of course I’m not. I’m a reasonable woman. I merely require the TPHFU to be:

1.within walking distance of a station (for Ryan21, Even19 and possible peak oil doomage situations). *nods to foodnstuff*

2. 4 bedrooms.

3. 2 living areas.

4. It should have a lemon tree. LOL. This was a joke at work… now they ask me “Does it have a lemon tree?” whenever I find a new TPHFU.  A surprising number of them do. What I really want is enough space around the place to have a working garden to feed us. Space for water tanks etc. (I saw a place with a lap pool… now that’d be good. I’d be as fit as a fiddle in no time, assuming I’d actually use it. But sadly, this feature is not essential.)

5. Wooden floorboards. Real ones, not those nasty floating floors. And no tiled living areas. Hate that.

6. Room for chickens and dogs and cats. And a lemon tree.

7. I’d really like a walk in robe and ensuite, but I’ve lived without these all my life so this isn’t essential. I like the storage you could have in a WIR though… I could play hide and seek with Poppy and Jeff and they’d never find me.

8. To not be too far away from work. I’m used to a 2-minute commute by car and a 12-minute commute by walking so any ‘normal’ commute is going to come as a shock to the system. I drove down Nepean Highway to go to a Thermomix business meeting in Mt Eliza and decided that if we move down that way, then Edithvale would be the furthest point. Chelsea just started to feel like I’d driven too damned far. Huntingdale/Clayton/Oakleigh East…. seeing as we don’t have a firm preference I’m casting my net wide. Requirement number 1 is limiting my options somewhat, though. Stupid boys not wanting to get their licences! There are lots of places that would be reasonably affordable but are too far away from trains. *sigh* People are telling me to throw my parasitic children out and go and get something that just suits me, but sadly… I’m pretty sure they’d find me and just move straight back in with me so I may as well get a place that suits us now, as well as suits me later.

Imagine a 4 bedroom house once the boys leave… 1 for me; 1 for an office (god I’d kill for an office!); 1 for a craft room, (imagine being able to have a sewing machine (if I ever track down mine) all set up on a table and never having to pack it away to eat dinner??); and 1 for guests. By “guests” I’m thinking further down the track when the boys start having kids. It’s hard to imagine, but I presume I’d be somewhat fond of them and they’d come to stay sometimes. At least that’s what people at work tell me. Blogless Sandy is now a Gran and she seems crazily in love with the baby. Babies aren’t really my thing, but people assure me that when they belong to your kids you feel differently. So I’d better have somewhere to house the little rapscallions.

9. Speaking of small children, the house really needs a bath. We removed ours when we renovated and added an extra toilet, which has been brilliant, but you can’t really clean a messy toddler off in the extra loo. Something just doesn’t sound right about that.

So we’ve been looking at houses. During the auction yesterday David22 drove off and looked at a house I liked the look of and he came back all excited. IT EVEN HAS A CHOOK RUN!!!! And a lemon tree. What more do we need?

So I’m going to have a look at the place sometime next week. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned already, is that there’s always another house coming along. So if this current place has to be tizzied up to sell next year sometime and I can’t seriously look at houses till then, that’s ok.

I tell you though, is seriously addictive. It’s worse than Facebook for gobbling up time.


Here’s my cherry crop for this year. It was delicious. Filled me right up, it did.



Posted in Fruit trees, pets, Quality of life | 4 Comments

Now it’s in the lap of the Gods. (In other words, the real estate agents.)


Well it’s certainly been a hectic couple of weeks.

The house is on the market, with a view to selling it in a couple of weeks if a developer likes the thought of two housing blocks side-by-side in the McKinnon zone. I’m hoping it goes quickly… it was a difficult decision to make as I’ve invested so much emotional energy into buying the place, paying it off and raising my boys here. I always said that I’d be carried  out of here in a pine box when I was 120. But at the same time, I’m a typical example of what happens to a woman’s superannuation when she takes 10 years out of the workforce to raise children. Mine was made worse by the fact that before kids, my then husband and I used what I’d accumulated in super to pay off a building block we’d bought. In other words… stupid. When I began work again once Evan19 was in prep, I was starting from scratch.

Ever since I paid off my house 2 years ago, I’ve been looking towards retirement with grim foreboding. Much as I love teaching, I REALLY don’t want to still be doing it when I’m 70. Or 75. I want to be travelling and reading and playing with the dogs. But the $$$ weren’t stacking up. I’ve been salary sacrificing like a demon, but that doesn’t leave much money left over for living. Thermomix certainly makes it do-able, but I’m working 7 days a week.

Two weeks ago I went to an auction 2 streets away, with a house on the same sized block as mine, with a house that was comparable. It went for over one million dollars. This sounds like a lot for anyone not living in Melbourne’s overheated property market, but the amount didn’t really surprise me. Living in the zone, our property prices are even more inflated.

It was when I came home and stared at the “For Sale’ board in front of my next-door neighbour’s house that I started thinking. I always said that this little house would look after me in my old age. I’d visualised it housing me until I was too old to look after myself, then selling it to pay for the old ladies home with the Happy Hour and the pets. But maybe I was right about it looking after Old Lady Frogdancer; just maybe it wasn’t in the way that I’d envisaged. After all, no one’s looking after me except me.

So after a very stressful weekend weighing up the pros and cons, I decided to let the house go, with the view that I’d move a bit further out and get a cheaper house and put the money left over into my super. Old Lady Frogdancer is a demanding woman and wants her quality of life to increase in her declining years. I figure that the boys and I will be happy anywhere, but I have to allow enough time for the cash to compound in super to make a difference to how I live my life in the next decade.

So that’s the plan. The neighbour’s house sells soon, so the real estate agents have been hitting the phones and the emails, letting developers know that this opportunity is here.

Fingers crossed that it’ll be worth it…

Thermomix Recipe: Banana, Raspberry and Coconut Loaf. The teachers at work loved it.

Posted in balance, books, chickens, Children., cooking, dehydrating food, family., Flowers, friends, Fruit trees, gardening, holidays, Independence Days challenge, Just for fun., knitting, pets, Quality of life, quilting, reading, renovating, soap making, solar cooking, thermomix, vegetables, wicking beds | 5 Comments

But I love my little house…

Just poking my head in…. almost certainly putting my house on the market.

Big decision that has to be made in a hurry…. Not at all what I ever thought would decide to do. But this looks like a great opportunity. I’ll update when things have been decided. *gulp*

Thermomix Recipe: Risotto Frittata I made these yesterday because I’m looking for tasty, nutritious snacks for the boys. These are like baked arancini, but with more veggies. Very tasty, though the texture is definitely NOT like a muffin! I had one for breakfast… very filling and it’s full of good food.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The calm before the storm.


Ahhh, the first Monday morning after the year 12 classes have finished. I’m sitting in the lecture theatre foyer with one girl beside me who’s making some minor alterations to her costume, while a boy is on the stage running through his monologue. They do their final performance on Wednesday morning and so we were here all weekend while they worked on their pieces. Nothing like that surge of last-minute adrenaline to get things done! I brought Poppy and Jeff with me as well and they loved being in the thick of it. I brought Sheldon, my thermomix, and the kids had soup and bread to keep their strength up. We’re on the home stretch now.

Tonight we trek into Crown for their Valedictory dinner. This is the celebratory evening where parents finally get to see their child graduate secondary school and know that 13 years of hard slog is over. Well, apart from the exams. I’ll be sitting at the teacher’s table which, to be honest, is far more entertaining than sitting at the regular tables with your child and a bunch of other random parents that you don’t know. I’m looking forward to seeing the kids in their glad rags.


Maris doesn’t often make it onto the blog. Here she is just chillin’ on a Sunday night.

My fitbit challenge is going well. I’m currently 7,000 steps ahead of the nearest competitor, though when one of our group gets back from her trek to Nepal then that may change. Can you imagine how fit and strong she’ll be?


Well, the bell has gone for period 3. Off I go!

Thermomix Recipe: Coconut Spice and Roasted Strawberry Chia Puddings I made these on the weekend and still have one left for breakfast tomorrow. They’re really good.

Posted in pets, work | 1 Comment

Lots of activity; not much blogging.

IMG_7249Morning all!

I bought a Fitbit a week ago and its changed my life. The other Thermomix Group Leaders and I have decided to do a Fitbit challenge to keep ourselves trim, taut and terrific, so while are some are still waiting for theirs to be sent to them, Kimmy is still waiting for her Garmin to sync, (she hasn’t been walking backwards for 51,000 steps), Chonny and I have been walking ourselves silly. In 6 days I’ve walked 104,682 steps.

I blame the Europe trip. I never walked anywhere where I could drive to, but my phone told me that while I was over there I was walking an average of 18,000 steps a day. I was doing that rain, hail or shine. Well, there was no hail but you know what I mean. So I thought that there was no reason I couldn’t get a bit fitter here. After all, I want to be scampering around on my next holiday, so I’d better get prepared.

Chonny is much younger than me and is one of these people who do everything really well. I love her to bits, but I have a faint tinge of a competitive streak in me and when I saw that on the first morning of the challenge she’d already amassed 10,000 steps due to her early morning walking group, I saw the words “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED” rise up before me.

I’m at a disadvantage because I work during the day, so I knew I had to be creative.


No more driving to the leash-free. (That’s a loss of 2,000 steps.) No more only walking twice around the football field. Now it’s 3 or 4 times. (Extra 1,000 or so.)

I’m walking to work. Which isn’t as impressive as it sounds because I’m only a 2-minute drive to work, but still. That’s around 4,000 – 5,000 steps in a day. Yesterday I was at work for 1 period and then ripped my lovely dress I bought in Venice really badly. I mean REALLY badly… my behind was literally on show for the world to see. The dress is ruined. But you know what? Fortunate Frogdancer had period 2 off, so I could walk home, get changed and then walk back. That was an extra 5,000 steps. How good is that?!?

A couple of nights ago I was 6,000 steps behind Chonny. I was on the couch, glass of red wine in hand, when I realised I was missing a golden opportunity. ‘The Walking Dead’ was on the tv and there I was doing nothing. I walked in circles around the rug, keeping my eyes glued to the screen. When the show finished I knew that all that movement had woken me up. I had 1.5 hours till midnight struck. I could DO this….

I started walking around and around my house. I would sometimes go into the boys’ rooms and talk to them while marching on the spot. I kept going, every now and then checking the status on the fitbit. Poppy and Jeff followed me around for a while, then for some inexplicable reason they got bored and wandered off to Ryan20’s room to sleep on his bed. David22 came home from work at 11PM and there I was, marching around the house. He looked at me.

“I know this is insane,” I said. “But I’ve just got 1,500 steps to go.”

My schoolkids are involved too. The texts we’re doing are movies at the moment, so I’ve been showing the movies and moving around the room. They love it. “Drive Chonny into the dust, Miss!” One of my year 9 boys also has a Fitbit, so every class we compare notes. I tend to beat him, except when they’ve been doing PE.


On Staurday I lifted the lid of the egg-laying part of the coop to see this. For those of you unfamiliar with chickens, this isn’t a good sign. It changed my Saturday morning. Instead of doing other things, I drove to Bunnings to get compost and pea straw. I now have another garden bed with a chook-sized patch of blood and bone buried in it.


As hot air balloons go, this one wasn’t too bad. Jeff didn’t like it much though.


Remember my Staffordshire dogs that Scott bought for me in England that cracked when they came over here? My Dad did an incredible job of gluing them back together. I was certain I’d have to throw them out and get Scott to find me another set, but now I think that the cracks around the base will just add to their history. In 200 year’s time, the tale will be told of great-great-great Gran bringing these back in a plane from England and …. blah blah. Naturally I’m intending to still be alive then so maybe I’ll be telling it myself. This Fitbit stuff should be adding decades to my life.


My year 12s have finished their regular classes for the year. We don’t do a muck-up day; instead we do a dress-up day. Here’s some of my kids in their Mat Hatter, Daphne from Scoobie-Doo, Hippy, Hunger Games, Dorothy and Shrek costumes. Some of the kids go to enormous trouble.


Look at those eyelashes! It took her over an hour to get them on, plus she made her dress from scratch. All those butterflies meant that it was impossible for her to sit down. But she looked spectacular.

Thermomix is heating up, with 24 months interest-free starting from today for a limited time. It means that for $20/week you can have a thermomix in your kitchen. What with all of the new technology heading our way, I’m looking forward to a busy lead-up to Christmas.

By the way… why did no-one tell me how expensive plantation shutters are? I’m getting quotes and they’re scary. Anyway, I’m off to work now. Have to earn money to pay for the shutters, clearly. I have my heart set on them…

Thermomix recipe: Lots of free recipes from Alyce Alexandra. Go and have a browse… it won’t disappoint.


Posted in chickens, friends, Quality of life, work | 3 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: Another project finished.


On Friday the painter came back and finished the fence. I’m absolutely loving the look.

The next step is to get the front garden landscaped. In December I had Karen from Edible Eden  come and design a suburban food forest for my yard. I didn’t want it to look like a little farm, but I’m suburban enough to want it to look reasonable neat and pretty and not overtly ‘foody’. I’ve been waving the plan in front of everyone’s face for the last 9 months and now… depending on how much the quote is… it’s time to get this thing implemented. The beauty of it is that once I get the infrastructure like paths, garden beds and the watering system put in, the rest can be done by stages as I cash flow it. After having struggled so hard to pay off this Beautiful Blue House, I’m not borrowing money again.

I also need to get plantation shutters for the front windows. THEN the house will look fabulous from the street and I’ll be a very pleased Frogdancer.


This is what the front garden looks like at present. The cherry and plum trees are bravely blossoming, there’s bulbs and roses trying to fight off the weeds and all in all it has a lovely air of feral desperation. Unfortunately that’s not the look I’m going for, so I’m eager for change.

I just wish that the Euro and the Pound had a better exchange rate when I was over there; then I would have had more money to play with now.


Remember the rule that the dogs weren’t allowed on the couch? It seems that things were allowed to slide a little while I was gone…


In the end it was impossible to fight it. (By the way, quilters will understand how glad I am that Evan19 still loves and uses that quilt I made for his birthday all those years ago.)


Apparently it’s still very snuggly.


David22 has been working for the last couple of years in a kitchen in a pub in Melbourne. A couple of nights ago he wanted to make us all dinner. Well, R was coming so that may have influenced his decision a bit. He didn’t realise that the thermomix could steam chicken, then take 4 seconds to shred it perfectly. I was rapt that that was the only thing I had to do to contribute to dinner. I like having a night off now and then. :)


Late September is seed planting time! Before I left for Europe… did I mention that I’ve been there?… :P  I bought a bucketload of different seeds from all of these on-line companies. Now I have to get my proverbial into gear and get them into pots and into the ground.




I planted a whole heap of tomatoes (hope I’m not too late) and beans, celery, capsicum, mangel wurzels (whatever they are) and some other bits and bobs. I asked Ryan20 what he wanted me to plant and among the selections were popcorn, cucumber, pumpkin and beans. I’ve put these ones all in a bed together. I’ll be trying the Three Sisters thing.

Thermomix Recipe: Skinnymixer’s Nyonya Chicken Curry This is for dinner tonight for two reasons. One is that it has heaps of comments and everyone raves about it. The second is that I’ve discovered that clotted cream is NOT my friend and I want to lose some extra poundage that has crept on my delicate frame while I’ve been away. Clean eating for the Frogdancer household!

Posted in Children., gardening, pets, Quality of life, quilting, Skinflint, vegetables | 7 Comments



Hi everyone! I think the pressure of blogging the Europe trip every day meant that I needed a blog break. I’ve been puddling around here for the last 3 weeks, getting over jet lag, putting (some of) the garden to rights and starting to organise my next project.

The chooks are glad I’m back, because they’ve been enjoying all the weeds that I’ve been throwing to them over the chook run fence. They love their Mum.


I was amazed to see the asparagus so tall. I chopped it down to the ground a week or so before I left. I wasn’t expecting it to have taken off as it did. Next year I eat!


The right-hand-side veggie beds were almost completely taken over by weeds from the sheep manure and warrigal greens. Seriously, if you have a patch of warrigal greens in your garden you’ll never want for food.


Jeffrey enjoys some added greens almost as much as the chooks. His coat was a disgrace when I got back, so I took the dogs up to see my sister and her clippers.


He looks awful, but at least there are no more knots and he doesn’t look obese. He’s anxiously awaiting warmer weather to arrive, though.


My freezer worm farm has fallen off its bricks and collapsed onto the ground. It’s incredibly heavy with all of the gravel inside it for drainage, so I’ve organised for my brother-in-law to come and pour a little concrete slab so it’ll have a secure footing to stand on, then to come back with a lifting thing and set it up again. I miss my worm wee…


The dogs are still shadowing my every move.


This was a good afternoon’s work. I didn’t have the heart to pull up the brave silver beet who planted itself on the outside of the garden bed in a crack between it and the paving. Might use it for dinner tonight, come to think of it. :)


This is the garlic bed, with weeds choking the pot on the back left with a mandarin tree in it. I love the idea of using natural fertiliser like the sheep manure, but the weeds it contained were crazy.

I don’t think the garlic will be very successful this year. The beds looked dry and I’m not sure they’ll be able to catch up. Still, I wasn’t going to miss out on Europe because a patch of garlic needed watering…


This is the wicking bed under Evan19’s window. I’m not sure what this thing is that’s gone to seed – probably parsnip. I’ve had parsnip in this bed constantly reseeding itself since foodnstuff visited me about 3 or 4 or 5 years ago and gave me the seeds.


This photo makes me very happy. This is David22 and his girlfriend R. She organised a surprise birthday party for him and included friends from high school, uni , the band and also family. I love the way they’re looking at each other in this shot. She’s a good organiser as he had absolutely no idea that this was all happening. The look on his face as he looked up and saw us all was priceless.

I caught up with the ex-husband and had a lovely long conversation with him, (long-term blog readers would appreciate the irony in that!), and I got to see the boys engage with their little sister, who’s now 6. Evan19, in particular, was fabulous in the way he mucked around with her and made sure she was having fun. It was beautiful to be able to see that side of the boys.


I got back too late to spray the nectarine tree with copper. It’s absolutely COVERED with leaf curl. I’m going to pretend that I left the spraying off so that I could see if it affects the amount of fruit that sets. It’ll make the revolting way that it looks from my kitchen window seem as if it’s for Science, instead of just bad luck in the timing.

Only a week to go and then I’m back into the hectic routine again. ARGH! So much to do and so little time…!


Posted in chickens, gardening, pets, vegetables, wicking beds | 4 Comments

What to do on a beautiful Spring day?


I went out to do some much-needed gardening this afternoon, then glanced back to see Jeffrey looking at me. This is the reason that I’ll be getting quotes for plantation shutters shortly…

It was too good a day not to spend it making a little memory, especially as I’d normally be teaching year 8 English at this time, so I went inside, grabbed Ryan20 and Evan 18 and said to them, “Give me half an hour. We’ll grab the dogs and I’ll take you somewhere…”

They were mystified but complied.


We went down to the end of North Road to Brighton beach to have a quick gallop along the walking track.


Murphy the chicken killer is here for a month while Mum and Dad are in Bali, so we set off with Poppy and Jeff in front with Evan18, while Ryan20, Murphy and I brought up the rear. Of course, that was after they all got tangled up here.


A few beachside cottages.


Every now and then Evan18 and the kidlets would stop and wait for us. Murphy was a little slower, but then again, he’s 12.


We walked as far as this concrete jutty-outy thing. It was a glorious day.


Jeff smiling for the camera. Next week we’re driving to my sister’s place and she’s going to use the clippers on him. That flyaway coat gets knotty.


Untangling leads while Poppy looks out of the doggy-sized windows at the water.




Poppy decided she liked walking on the seawall. Just like a little kid.

It was only 45 minutes out of our day, but it was the highlight.


Posted in Children., holidays, memories, pets | 3 Comments



think the jet lag is over…

Though I find I’m still saying stupid things to people that I don’t mean. Maybe it might need another day.

This is a bunch of flowers sent to me by Thermomix to celebrate the auspicious day of my birth. It’s nice to work for a company that does things like this.


On my first morning back I had a cuppa with my new Mr Darcy mug that I bought from Jane Austen’s house, while I waited for Evan18 to put my UK sim card in the bin and reconnect me back to the hive in Australia. The first text I received was from someone reminding me that in 2 days time I’d booked a demo. Ok. Right back into it!


But look at this. I bought Christmas tree ornaments as I made my way across the length and breadth of Europe the few countries I visited.

This Christmas tree is going to be EPIC.


An angel from the Vatican. Her wings have fallen off but I’ll get Dad to glue them back on.


Some places didn’t have actual Christmas tree ornaments. This keyring will do just fine.


So will this one.


I bought Napolean’s hat from his tomb. This is the first excursion I made by myself in Paris, before Scott and his superior map-reading skills came to join me. I’m proud of this one.


This is from Stratford-on-Avon. Hamlet holding Yorrick’s skull.

“Alas, poor Yorrick. I knew him well…”

What Christmas tree is complete without this?


Dracula from the Paris Opera House and Mary Queen of Scots.


Anne Boleyn from Hever Castle.


This is just a small sample of the wonder that will be Christmas at the Frogdancer house this year, and every coming year.

Happy days.





Posted in holidays, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

My last day in England.


Stuffing a hat into a handbag for 9 weeks doesn’t do great things for it. I didn’t want to get a new hat on my trip because i knew the same thing would happen to it, but now the trip is just about over so:

IMG_7061It went.


It was a pretty cruisy last day, all things considered. The boys let me know that the washing machine at home wasn’t draining, so I made sure that all my washing was done at Scott’s place. I packed my case and did a blog post, made sure my check-in for the flight was don and basically took things easy. We went to a lovely tea room for a Last Lunch.


I said goodbye to clotted cream.


I shot this from the window of the car that took me to the airport.


After buying dinner at the airport I had 15GBP and a few pence left. This made the airport game of ‘get rid of your currency’ very easy.

Fortunate Frogdancer left her toothbrush and toothpaste at Scott’s… but was given a free set with her seat on the airplane. On the Singapore to Melbourne leg I had a spare seat next to me. Not only did that mean I could lie flat, (though with bent up knees) it also meant that when I realised the tv screen for my seat didn’t work properly, I could watch ‘Mad Max’ on the seat beside me. :)


Everyone was very happy to see me, as I was to see them.

Home again!

Posted in holidays | 6 Comments