Ian’s quilt.

So now the second promised quilt from my dinner party in February is done!

This one was made from the rest of the 3 packs of charm squares that I bought from the quilting shop in Victor Harbour on my holiday. Plus the white from my stash and a mix of b/w polka dots and grey, also from the stash. The back is from a thrifted doona cover. I wish I’d bought another charm pack – this quilt is a lap-sized quilt and I would’ve liked it to have been a bit bigger.

Every time I use HSTs (half square triangles) I hate getting the points aligning. Especially when I have to unpick part of a seam and try again. MANY expletives come out of my mouth when actually sewing these quilt tops and I vow – never again.

But once they’re done they look so effective.

Ian requested blues, but I like the way the bits of green add contrast. I think they make the quilt pop.

Yesterday I started work on a baby quilt for Jack29.

No, he’s not expecting! One of his close friends is, so he requested a quilt. In my wisdom, I’ve picked a design with around 450 pieces.

Maybe lockdown #4 has affected me more than I think…

The BEE Positive Quilt.

Before I went away on my little holiday, I finished a quilt for Patricia, the principal at my school. When she was introducing me for my farewell speech last year, she mentioned that I made her daughter ” the most beautiful quilt, and I think I need one too!”

She was only joking but I thought, “She probably DOES deserve a quilt. She kept giving me contract after contract in the early days – it saved our bacon.” I’ve been to her place so I knew she likes greens, so I raided the stash and off I went.

This is such a simple design, but I’ve always wanted to try it. The squares were 6.5 inches so it came together pretty quickly. The only fabric I bought was the backing fabric.

I’m on a quest to use up the fabric I already have.

Why is it called BEE Positive?

I used a strip of the grey fabric that Evan24 chose for the backing on his quilt.

As you can see, it has bees on it. When I gave it to her I said, “Whenever the kids, the parents or – god forbid – the teachers start to annoy you, think of this quilt!”

I popped into work last week to give it to her and she loved it.

It’s funny going into work. It’s lovely to see everyone… well; most people… LOL. Faces light up as I come through the door and we chat away, but I don’t miss it at all. I treasure the way that I have total control over my time.

Great Ocean Road -last day.

The man in the motel in Portland told me to back-track a little and to go and see the Petrified Forest. After I checked out, I raced down to have a look.

You park your car and walk along the cliffs to see it. On the way, there’s a fork… right to see the Blowhole and left to see the petrified forest. I decided to save the Blowhole for the way back.

I was a bit sad to read the explanation of how these tubes formed. It’s much more romantic to think of trees being slowly buried, rather than being all drippy and watery things making these strange tubes.

It was an eerie sort of place. I was the only one there and it was blustery and cold.

It was definitely the perfect place for a wind farm!

Looking out towards Antarctica again…

I walked around for a fair while, feeling all broody and mysterious, and then I walked back to see the Blowhole. I was so glad I did.

This was taken from the lookout. The waves smash into the cliffs and they rise up. Every now and then I could feel light spray on my face if the wind happened to be blowing in the right direction. The sound was amazing and it felt so wild and free.

I glanced at my phone and saw that it was morning recess time at school, so I texted a few people at work with this photo. The contrast between the crowded staffroom and this isolated place was huge.

I stopped the car to take this photo. The fence was hung with shoes for hundreds of metres.

Then I headed into Port Fairy for lunch. Found a nice little bakery and had a lovely lunch. Then I went out to explore.

I was in two minds about how long I should stay here. I was looking forward to seeing this place. Everyone says how pretty Port Fairy is and I was keen to have a squiz. I was going to book a lace for the night so I could really have a good look around.

But honestly, it was really boring.

Sure, there are plenty of pretty little cottages but most of them are privately owned. The lighthouse walk was closed because they were resurfacing the path, so I drove around for a bit, looking at the picture-postcard cottages, then yawned and headed off to Warrnambool.

I was meeting a blog reader for coffee there!

Loretta has been reading the Frogblog for years and was also a member of Simple Savings, so we knew we’d have a lot in common. We met at a cafĂ© by the beach and talked our heads off and then went for a walk along the boardwalk.

“Now that we’ve met each other and we know we get along, would you like to come back to our place for dinner?” she asked as I was huffing and puffing along beside her. I’m slowly getting fitter but it’s clear I need to make more of an effort!

So off we drove. On the way, I rang Ryan26 and told him where I was going – safety first! (I could see that Loretta was ok, but what if her husband was an axe murderer??? ) Only joking, but as a single woman travelling alone, I sent Ryan26 texts everywhere I went. He must have loved being in so much contact with his Mum…

I had the loveliest evening with Loretta and her family. When we got there I met the dogs – it was so good to see some waggly tails again. Her husband made dinner for us all and he cooked the most tender steaks I’ve eaten in years. Paired with home-grown potatoes, which, when I got home, made me start harvesting mine. It’s too easy to forget them when they’re under the ground.

When it was time for me to go, she walked me down their driveway to the car parked on the street outside. You forget just how dark it is out in the country. She said that she and a friend take walks in the evening all the time. I’m sure I’d fall down a hole and break my leg in the first 5 minutes if I tried that. It was pitch-black. She’s an intrepid woman.

The next morning I was on the road again, heading back to the Port Campbell area to see the 2 sights I didn’t see on the way up, due to rain. Here’s the Bay of Islands.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

The sun was shining over me and in the bay, but the grey clouds were gathering behind me. I stayed savouring the view for quite a long while, then jumped back in the car to go and have a look at the Bay of Martyrs.

By the time I got there, the sun had moved on.

So had the rain. Towards me.

I ran back to the car. I didn’t get too wet.

Then I drove on.

The rest of the day was me basically driving juuuust ahead of the rain. The Great Ocean Road ducked inland for a bit and I suddenly realised that I was getting low on fuel. There was a tiny dot on the map in the middle of nowhere that had this petrol bowser outside a shop. I thought for sure that it wouldn’t be operational but thank goodness it was. Saved my bacon!

They’d just filled the bird feeder out the back before I arrived. We get lorikeets at home but we don’t get rosellas. Pretty, aren’t they?

Lots of twists and turns but I was listening to a shockingly bad audiobook, (Hamish McBeth – don’t even go there) so it helped take my mind off the awfulness.

By the time I reached Apollo Bay I’d pulled ahead of the rainclouds a bit.

WHAT a beautiful place!

I tried to capture the turquoise water but my iPhone camera doesn’t do it justice. There’s a lovely beach so I took the chance to walk along it.

I met the beautiful Heidi. She made me miss my snag, Scout. Heidi was just as tiny as my girl.

By the time I’d finished my walk, the sky was beginning to darken. Time to push on.

The drive along the Great Ocean Road was so weird, because the sea was 2 different colours. I’ve caught it here. Right where I was driving was the line between the rain and the sun. The left is bluer than the right, can you see?

Then I came to Lorne and I as I was driving through, I passed a place that I haven’t seen since I was 18. I did a u-ey and drove back.

There’s a caravan park beside a bridge on the foreshore. It has a creek going through it.

At the end of year 12, back in 1981, we all drove down here and camped for a week in tents by the creek. This is exactly where we were.

Nowadays they’ve got cute little cabins, but back in the day it was just our tents, then caravans further back. We had such a good time!

I took a short walk along the creek bank, being mindful of the rain chasing me. All I could hear was the sound of the water and birdsong. It was beautifully calm and peaceful.

One thing that I found out about when I was doing my all-too-quick research about what to do on this trip was the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento. Rather than driving through Geelong and then battling peak hour traffic all the way through Melbourne and then around to the bayside suburb where The Best House in Melbourne is; I could drive to Queenscliff and take a short ferry ride to the Mornington Peninsula, then have a 30 minute drive home.

I was excited to try it. Every ferry ride I’ve had has been fun. What an exciting way to end the holiday!

I was lucky enough to arrive 5 minutes before it was due to leave, so I drove straight on. I went up to the deck to get the full experience of what was sure to be a dashing ride across the bay.

Here’s a photo of the most boring ferry ride ever. Honestly, I think I could’ve swum quicker than the ferry. It slowly chugged chugged chugged its way through the water while I gave up and turned to the book in my bag. It was far more interesting.

And then home I drove. The dogs were ecstatic to see me and so was Ryan26.

“The dogs are SO ANNOYING!” he said. “They’re so clingy. They’ve got to be with you 24/7. I never thought I’d say this, but when I leave home I think I’ll get a cat before I get a dog. At least the cat will come up and want a pat, but then it’ll leave me alone!”

But that’s the best part of being home again. 🙂

Costs of the Trip:

Running total: $2,096

Costs of Day 9 :

$108 accomodation. (No bowl supplied here either.)

$12 lunch

Total for Day 9: $120

Costs of Day 10:

$88 fuel

$5 lunch

$69 ferry

Total for Day 10: $162

Total for the trip: $2,378

That’s not too bad for a getaway like this. (Though as Dave from Strong Money Australia asked me on Twitter, “What are you getting away from?” LOL.)

If you take away the $1,100 painting I bought, it’s only $1,278, which equates to an average of $127.80/day.

These figures are slightly smudged by the fact I used my timeshare for 5 nights’ accomodation. I pay 1K/year for costs for the timeshare, but because it is calculated by points rather than by weeks it’s been used for a fair few holidays by the kids and now me. The points blend into each other year by year.

In fact, I’ve just booked a 2 night break (from what?!?) up in the mountains to use up 280 points that are due to expire on June 30. In previous years they’d just have to expire, but now I’ve go the time, by God I’m going to use them up!!

This is when the extroverted part of the holiday starts happening.

I’ve had 4 or 5 people contact me to ask whether I’d died in a fiery car crash on my holiday – some asked it more tactfully than others! – so I thought I’d better get back into the zone to write. I’ve been busy finishing off a quilt, reading, having a rapturous reunion with the dogs (and with the boys, of course!)

LOOK at this beautiful painting. After I finished looking at the Antarctica exhibition at the Adelaide Art Gallery I walked into the next room, just in time to join an hour-long tour, looking at 10 Australian works of art. Exactly the amount of time I needed to kill before I walked back to the restaurant to meet up with the FIRE bloggers for lunch.

This painting wasn’t one of the 10, but it was hanging on the wall near the UGLIEST cabinet I’ve ever seen – which was one of the 10. So while the tour guide was waxing lyrically about the ugly 1930’s cabinet, I was gazing at this. If it was in a different art gallery – one where you could actually buy the paintings – I’d buy it in a shot. I’ve been looking for a painting to hang near my dining table for the last 5 years. And here it was – unattainable. Still, I thought, at least now I know the colours I’m looking for. (More on this later…)

Nolan’s ‘Narcissus.’

This next one made me chuckle. It was in the Surrealism room and is Sidney Nolan’s take on the greek legend of Narcissus – the boy who was so good looking that he fell in love with his own reflection and starved to death beside a pool of water, because he couldn’t bear to leave the beautiful face he saw in the water.

This was the most beautiful sculpture. It’s called ‘Kathleen’ and was made by Marjorie Fletcher in the 1930’s. There’s all this talk about women’s art not being appreciated in their lifetimes, but sometimes not even THEY appreciated it. She worked in sculpture for around 10 years, then got married and had a family and shoved all of her artwork into a cupboard under the stairs. Over time, her work was given away, left out in the hard rubbish and generally spread far and wide. This one was found by her son, who’s made it his life’s work to track down his mother’s art and bring her the recognition she should have received. I loved this figure.

Nora Heysen’s ‘Ruth.’

Nora Heysen had a way famous artist father – Hans Heysen – but in the end she won the Archibald prize while he never did. I can’t remember the woman’s name in this picture, but she used to sit for Nora quite a lot and they became good friends. One day Nora asked her if she would let Nora paint her in the nude. The woman got up, left and never came back.

I saw this fine fellow on the walk back towards lunch. There’s something distinctive about a well-defined chin, don’t you think?

A couple of weeks before, I’d let Michelle from Frugality and Freedom know that I was coming to Adelaide. She’s exploring the boundaries of what FIRE really means, by freelancing and travelling the world, basically living life on her own terms. Ahhh, the freedom! Covid clipped her wings, so she’s biding her time in her hometown of Adelaide until things open up again.

She put the word out and three more bloggers joined us for lunch.

Captain FI is a pilot who’s normally in Sydney but he happened to be in Adelaide visiting family, so we got to meet him. He’s MUCH more numbers-based than I am, though I suppose you have to have that sort of brain to understand what all the dials and gadgets on the aircrafts’ dashboards are all about. You definitely wouldn’t want someone like me behind the controls of a jet.

He’s just done a post on payday lenders and I really liked this paragraph – “This is why the grassroots Financial Independence movement is so important, and can be so powerful. If we can spread the message of financial health and wellbeing, then gradually these unethical pay-day-lending companies will go out of business.”

The other two bloggers were Sarah and Laura from Keepin’ it Frugal and the booming food blog Wandercooks – I’ve linked to the recipe that we went shopping for after lunch to buy the essential ingredient that I’d never heard of – nduja.

Blog-meets are always a success. You all have things in common, otherwise we wouldn’t be reading each others’ blogs, and so the conversation flows right from the start, with very little of the whole awkward “getting to know you” stuff. After 3 days on my own, otherwise known as indulging my introvert side, I was ready for a few days of talking and laughing with other humans.

After lunch I drove to Jenna’s parents’ place. She and Evan24 have been going out for 3 years now and I was going to stay at her folks’ place that night, after going out to dinner with Simone, an old school friend that I haven’t seen for FORTY YEARS.

omg.

I can’t be that old, surely?

It was either going to be a great night – we were really close back in the day – or incredibly uncomfortable with lots of pauses and dull questions about our children and how they were going, just to fill in the space of the silence. You know the sort of thing.

Fortunately, it was great! We actually walked past each other on the street. To be fair, 40 years is a long time. But once we turned around at the same time and started laughing, the evening just flew.

She lives in Melbourne, like me, after having spent most of the intervening years living in Japan, South Korea and the US. She just happened to be in Adelaide for work and so we caught up there. It’s lovely when you meet up with someone you haven’t seen for ages and it’s almost as if no time has gone by.

The next day I drove to Victor Harbor to meet up with yet another person I’ve never met in real life. Extrovert Frogdancer was 2 days into a 3-day people-fest. This time I was meeting with Lara and her husband. We both belong to a couple of investment groups on FaceBook.

Again, I didn’t know who I was looking for, as she doesn’t have her real photo online, but I recognised her dog, so all was well. We had a really pleasant lunch at a cafĂ© on the foreshore and then after lunch we walked back to my car so I could show them the sculpture I bought. I was in a bit of a tizz because my car was refusing to lock itself. The battery in the cha-ching thing that opens the door was dead and my car door handles don’t have keyholes.

Lara suggested calling around to see if any local locksmiths were still open on a Saturday afternoon. Talk about good old fashioned country service! The locksmith I talked to suggested I drive to Repco and get a battery there. Took 5 minutes for them to replace the battery for only $7 – and a spare battery. The place at home that I’ve been going to charges $10 per battery.

I’ve never enjoyed locking and unlocking my car more.

A whopping big tree.

After I sorted out the battery problem – thanks Lara! – I headed to the little beach outside of town to look around. On the way I saw a quilting shop so I popped in and bought some fabric for a quilt I’m going to make for another old school friend. Simone and Cathy and I were all close, back in the day.

It was a cool, quiet afternoon. I walked along this little jetty and watched people fishing. The waves were lapping against the rocks…

… which were clearly popular with the local seagull population.

Then, after wandering around there for a while, I jumped in the car and followed my nose in a vaguely southerly direction.

Anywhere that looked interesting, I’d stop the car and have a look.

Then I decided that I’d go down to the bottom of the peninsula to Cape Jervis, which is where you catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island. I wasn’t going to go to the island this time around, but hey! I’ve got all the time in the world now. I’ll come back here sometime.

So I drove through winding roads wth cows, sheep and, once, a herd of goats dotted around the countryside. The area had had a bit of rain so, unusually for Australia, the paddocks were green and lush. I was listening to a really good audiobook ($20 off my challenge!) and all was right with the world.

I got to Cape Jervis just as the sun was going down. There was only one other car at the lookout. The man behind the wheel was looking at the view without getting out of his car, but Frogdancer Jones is made of sterner stuff.

Besides, I wanted to get a shot of these two.

I stayed here for quite a while. It was beautiful. So still and clear.

Then I jumped in the car and drove back to the timeshare in Normanville. Tomorrow I was off to a vintage car rally with Jenna’s parents!

Costs of the trip:

Day 1 cost: $272

Day 2 cost: $67 fuel.

(That’s it. I ate my food I brought from home and basically just drove all day to get to the timeshare.)

Day 3 cost: $70 sculpture. (I’m so happy I bought him. I absolutely love him.)

$9 lunch. (A bagel from the local bakery.)

$33 food for dinners and breakfast in my room.

Total for Day 3 – $112

Day 4 cost- $35 gifts. (For Michelle and for Jenna’s parents.)

$31 parking. (Ouch. Missed the earlybird parking at the market by 15 minutes.)

$12 lunch (Frugal FIRE bloggers lunch.)

$50 dinner (Non-FIRE friend dinner.) 🙂

Total for Day 4 – $128.

Day 5 cost – $7 car lock batteries.

$79 quilting fabric for Cathy.

Total for Day 5 – $86

Running total for the trip- $665

Loving lockdown!

A rounded pic for my rounded sourdough!

It’s been a while since I wrote here but the truth is I’ve been so busy. You know how retirees always say with a smirk, “I don’t know how I ever found the time to go to work!” Well, I think I’m getting a taste for how that feels.

Not that it’s really the same. For the last 4 weeks I’ve been remote teaching. For anyone interested in what teaching from home is like, I wrote a post on the other blog about it.

Two weeks after writing that post, I’ve learned to keep out of my work emails during my days off. I have a quick look at breakfast, just in case a kid submitted something late on the day before, then I sneak a very quick look in the late afternoon, but that’s IT! Otherwise, I was working right through the week, working 6 or 7 days but only getting paid for 3. Frogdancer Jones is not a charity!

I thought I’d be reading heaps of books, but I haven’t been. I mean, I’m still reading but not every day. I think that because I’m reading so much on the screen when I’m working that when I have free time, my eyes want a rest from print.

First coat almost done!

One of the jobs I wanted to have done by the end of iso was to get my fences painted, particularly the front fence. One of my ‘panic buys’ at Bunnings was a 10L tin of ‘Monument’ coloured fence paint, along with a redgum stain for the uprights.

Monument is a very ‘Melbourne’ colour. Melbournians tend to wear a lot of black, and I think there must be an unwritten rule that says that every house in Melbourne has to have a touch of this colour somewhere. I don’t care if it’s popular – I love it.

At first I wasn’t all that fussed about getting it done, as we were told that school would be out for the whole term. But now, just in case, I’ve decided that every sunny day that I’m not working, I’ll be out there waving a paintbrush around. If we go back earlier, I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t have the fence done.

I decided to use a brush and not a spray gun for a couple of reasons. One was that I think you get a better coverage with a brush. The second was when the woman over the road told me about when she hired a guy to spray paint her fence in her previous home and the wind took it and covered the neighbour’s cars with droplets of paint. The guy had to pay to get the cars completely resprayed!

Dammit!

So yesterday, I finished the 10L tin of paint. The street side would have been completely finished except for this last little scrap. I was scraping that tin, trying to find just a little more paint…

The fence palings are really thirsty, so what I thought would be enough paint to finish the job hasn’t even finished the first coat on the front fence I still have to paint behind the gate, which will be a bugger of a job because of all the metal posts there. I can see a trip to Bunnings in my future on Thursday. I can’t go after teaching today because I have an English meeting after school hours. *sigh*

Even in a pandemic, there’s no escape.

A couple of days ago I found this handwritten, posted-with-a-stamp letter in the mail. It’s from our local Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even having a padlock on the front gate can’t keep them out!

It needs some pleats at the side.

Who says face masks have to be boring? I made a couple of masks for when I go shopping. I think the chickens add a jaunty air to my appearance, don’t you? The good thing about these is that they’re reusable – I just threw it into a bleach solution when I got home and put it through the wash.

Obviously it’s not going to totally save me from the virus, but for a quick shopping trip to the supermarket, it reminds me not to touch my face and it’s a barrier to breathing in any germs. Plus it was a novelty for me to make something that wasn’t a quilt.

Evan23’s quilt… and mine.

So speaking about quilts, I finally began Evan23’s yellow and grey quilt. We bought the fabric way back in January, so it was past time for me to get onto it. I guesstimated the number of squares I’d need and spent a few days cutting and sewing them together.

He wants a queen-sized quilt, which is a sizeable project. When I laid them out on my bed (also queen-sized) to work out the layout – I discovered that I’d made DOUBLE what I needed. What an idiot! So now Evan23 and I will have mother-son matching quilts. Not exactly what I intended to have happen…

Another quilt.

I’ve also pieced together a lap-quilt for a friend. I had some fabric left over from the ‘Outlander’ quilt, so waste not, want not!

I love my Golf. 8 chairs fitted inside!

At the end of January I ordered 8 teak chairs from Schotts in Moorabbin to go with my teak outdoor table. My verandah out the back is finished and the chairs were one of the final things I needed to make it all ready.

The woman who served me said that they’d have to order them in from China. At that stage China had shut down lots of things because of the virus. She said that they were due in at the end of April, but with the virus, who knew?

I shrugged, thinking that it would be getting colder by then, so if the chairs didn’t arrive for months it wouldn’t make that much difference anyway.

Well knock me down with a feather if the chairs didn’t arrive on time! I had a week to collect them. I hadn’t left the house (except to walk the dogs) for a couple of weeks and it felt strange getting into the car and driving to get them.

I also took the chance to visit Mum and Dad. We sat on their back verandah, appropriately socially distanced of course! I hadn’t seen them in around 5 weeks. Tom28 brings them their groceries every Saturday and they talk to him in the front garden, but apart from that they don’t see too many people.

The chairs in their new home.

To my shame, the veggie garden has been left it its own devices. Once I get the fence finished I’ll be very busy cutting and dropping the old tomato and celery plants and dragging away the old zucchini, squash and pumpkin vines. It looks like a squalid dump at the moment.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. I’ve already picked 2 pumpkins and there are another 3 or 4 still out there. I’ve never been able to grow pumpkins before, so it’s a little bit exciting.

Tiny butternut pumpkin.

This wee little pumpkin grew, like all of the others, out of the compost materials that I was bringing home from work. It only had 300g worth of pumpkin, which was perfect for adding to the mashed potato on the top of a shepherd’s pie. It’s so satisfying to eat things that you’ve grown yourself.

Doll quilts for the next-door neighbours.

After I made the lap quilt for my friend, I had a few leftover blocks so I made these for the kids next door. They have 4 kids under 5 and honestly… lockdown is a struggle for them. I hear lots of tantrums and arguments from the kids so I figured that if they had something new, it would at least distract them for a while. (And hopefully won’t give them something else to argue about!!)

Plain flour loaf of sourdough.

A blogging friend put me onto a terrific website for sourdough bread. The guy who runs it is a whizz at putting up recipes that are simple to understand and which actually work. He’s also incredibly attentive to the comments, where people ask questions and offer suggestions, which makes his blog an absolute treasure-trove for sourdough baking! The loves at the top of this post are from the simple weekday sourdough recipe, which I’m excited about because it means I can keep the sourdough loaves going even when I’m back at school.

This loaf is from a new recipe he just posted, which is a sourdough bread made with 100% plain flour/all-purpose flour. When David26 and I went to Costco on that crazy day, we bought 2 big bags of plain four. I was actually wanting baker’s flour but there was none to be had. I’ve been eking out my last remaining bakers flour in the Simple Weekday recipe by using plain flour for most of it, and substituting bakers flour when the recipe calls for whole-wheat flour.

This new recipe is a really good way to use the abundant plain flour I’ve got. I put some pepita seeds on top, just for fun. I was rapt at how high it rose. It doesn’t taste like sourdough but it’s a beautiful loaf of bread just the same. I had the first slice – the crust – just now for breakfast. Bloody beautiful!

Jeffrey.

So yeah – lockdown is going really well. I really hope they keep the schools closed for the whole term because I really don’t want to get sick. But in the meantime, there’s plenty to do to keep occupied!

Some links you may be interested in. (Or not – who am I to judge??)

This garden may be pretty awful, but at least we’re getting heaps of beans and zucchini. I have 35 bags of chopped zucchini in the freezer at last count, with 8 monster zuccs still on the vine. It makes me hopeful for the future when I’ve nourished the soil and plants have a sporting chance of producing.

The weekend is over and a full work week commences. *sigh*

I’ve been blogging on the other blog and there are a few posts that long-term readers might be interested in.  I have no idea if there’s any crossover between the two blogs and it seemed almost rude that I’d write about these things somewhere else and not include you guys.  So here they are. Grab a cuppa…

Remember when we would drive to the bakery for free bread when the kids were little? Saved us thousands of dollars over the years. Here’s something that happened a couple of weeks ago that made me come full circle.

Here’s one for those who want to see how the backyard veggie garden looks. It’s a fun piece comparing the path to financial independence with gardening, but if you don’t give a tinker’s cuss about that, just look at the photos. 🙂

Here’s the honest-to-God Secret to Happiness.  I’ve learned this week that it’s now called ‘mindfulness’, but I call it ‘noticing the little things.’

For those of you who’ve been following the boys as they grow up, we had some news about David25’s girlfriend.

It’s not all bad news!  Evan22 has been living and studying away from home in the country. Here’s an account of how he’s going.

When I went nuts and spent $1500 on clothes. I won’t lie – so much fun.

And this is the post I was scrolling back to find – The Scariest Financial Decision of All. This is a post I’m really proud of and I hope it helps people who are wrestling with the same decision I did – do I leave my marriage or not? I made my decision 21 years ago, but some moments in life stay as vivid as the day they happened.

Anyway, I thought I’d post these links here because these posts might be of interest to my Dancing With Frogs readers. They have to do with my life and they deal with things that I’ve written about previously,  so I thought I’d bring those who are interested up to speed.

Back to regular programming next week!

 

Skinflint Sunday: see a musical for less than half the price!

I’ve never seen ‘Wicked’. It was playing when I was in London in 2015, but we chose to see ‘Elephant Man’ and ‘Book of Morman’ instead. Well, Scott chose, as those who were reading the blog back then would be more than aware. But to be honest, ‘Wicked’ was never really on my radar anyway. But still… as a Theatre teacher it was a gap in my knowledge.

Just before term ended last year, a couple of people in my staff room were talking about going to see ‘Wicked’ because a few of our students, both past and present, were in it. One of these kids is in my 2018 Theatre class, while another was from my gorgeous 2015 class who threw me the surprise going away dinner before my trip.

The show was in the summer holidays, the other teachers were taking their kids so they wanted to do the matinee, that sounded ok to me so I was in. The ticket was $45.

The show was FANTASTIC. The performers ranged from a few 10-year-olds up to 21-year-olds and there were about 40 of them. Imagine the sound of that many people singing in 3 and 4 part harmonies? It was amazing. Even the orchestra was all under 21 years old. The leads were incredibly good, despite their ages. Seriously, if we had’ve seen the same show in Her Majesty’s Theatre in town it would have been just as good as a professional show. We had an amazing time.

A little side note for me: The National Theatre in St Kilda is where I took my first drama lessons back when I was doing year 12. It started my whole career in teaching Drama and English. This is the first time I’ve been back since then. When we were standing in the upper foyer I was looking around, remembering learning Tai Chi there, running around doing warm-up exercises, making up our plays and thinking that this was something I wanted to do forever. It was a nice feeling to be back.

 

Skinflint Sunday: Where the hell did that year go?

My sister and her husband have rented out their house on Stayz for the next 2 weeks, so they’ve moved in here. The photo is of Gus and Tilly, 12-year-old mini schnauzers who get along really well with my dogs, especially Scout. I think the bearded ones like to stick together.

The Christmas tree is down, the tinsel packed away and Kate and Francis have moved into the Man Cave for the duration. The Man Cave is the second living room at the other end of the house. Normally it doesn’t get much use unless the boys decide to play a game on the tv together, so it’s nice to see it get some love.

New Year’s Eve today. David24 is going to see the stage show ‘Aladdin’ with his girlfriend’s family, my sister Kate and brother-in-law Francis are off to Port Melbourne to spend the night partying with friends, Evan21 is house-sitting in the city and Ryan23 has a night of drinking with mates planned. Me? I’m going to see The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda with a friend in St Kilda. Should be a good night.

Yesterday Kate and I went to Chadstone to see ‘The Greatest Showman’ at the LUX cinema. Evan21 had free tickets that were due to expire today and he wasn’t going to be able to use them in time so he gave them to us. After the movie, (which I didn’t mind but Kate didn’t like) she dragged me out clothes shopping. I now have my summer and autumn clothes sorted. That’s one holiday job ticked off the list.

What has 2017 been like for the Frogdancer household?

Financially stressful for the first 8 months, while we were paying the bridging finance and inching ever closer to building the units. I absolutely hated being back in debt and I was mentally bracing myself through all of 2016 and most of 2017, waiting for something to go wrong. It all ended up ok, however, it really took a lot out of me. I was exhausted, so getting to the end of the year was a bit of a marathon. This summer holiday is going to be Frogdancer not straying too far from the couch where her books and Netflix are.

Financially rewarding. I knew that when I decided to sell my lovely little cottage with its food forest that it was opportunity knocking. We lived in a highly desirable high school zone in the Bayside area of Melbourne, where property values were inflated a further 15% in an already ridiculously inflated Melbourne property market. I knew that the chances were that it would end up being a good financial move, but of course, these things are never guaranteed.When I decided to sell the block with plans, instead of going through the building process, the weight of the financial burden was lifted… thank God! I was able to catch up with my work colleagues’ superannuations with the amount I could sock away into super… those 10 years spent at home raising kids had cost me dearly. It also brought the possibility of being able to retire a decade earlier than I ever thought I’d be able to. Barring a zombie apocalypse or a deadly meteor hit, doing this has set me up financially to look forward to a reasonable retirement. Long-time readers of the blog who were with me when I was stressing over child support issues and money dramas… who would’ve guessed???

Frugal but social. Having no money to be able to spend on extras means that you learn very quickly to be happy with what you’ve got. I decided when we moved here that I’d subscribe to Netflix. I figured that $18/month was a tiny sum to pay for entertainment. I discovered the joys of borrowing ebooks from the local library and the school library, while I’m LOVING the world of podcasts. I commute just under 2 hours a day and I listen to those free podcasts every single trip. I was reluctant to spend money going out to restaurants and bars with friends, so I started throwing dinner parties. For pretty much what I’d pay for just my meal and drinks, I could feed 6 of us and my guests would bring the wine. During the school holidays I now have the ‘tradition’ of hosting a massive potluck with the women at work. I send out a google doc with a table on it, people put down whether they’re bringing a savoury or sweet dish, while I supply the champagne. It’s a great way to catch up with work friends outside of the pressures of the school term, with as few as 6 or as many as 20 people turning up, depending on their holiday plans. (You also get to hear a lot of gossip… I love a good goss session!)

Early rising. When we lived 2 minute’s drive from school, I’d get up at 7AM, puddle around until 8:36AM and then drive to work, always skating into the classroom bang on 8:50, when period 1 started. I had it down to a fine art. This last term, I’ve been getting up at 5:30AM, leaving the house at 6:20AM and getting to work just before 7:30AM. Why? When my car was damaged and it cost a lot to get it fixed, I decided that going to work by train suddenly became a lot more attractive. Then I remembered that if you travel by train in the morning and touch off with your Myki before 7:15AM, you get the trip for free. That would mean that I’d be paying only $2.80/day to commute to work and back. Each trip also includes a 10-minute walk from the station to the school, which gives me around 3,000 steps on my fitbit. I’ve been keeping a tally of how much I’ve been saving. So far, it’s up to $160. That’s not bad. When I get to work I put the kettles on, have a cuppa and eat my breakfast. Then I read blogs, write posts, look at Facebook and generally ease into my day. By the time everyone else arrives I’ve done any photocopying that I needed to do for the day, any correction has been started and I’m ready for the day. I’ve had some really good talks with the other early arrivers and all in all, it’s a pretty good way to start the day.

My appearance changed. I lost 15KGs in the middle of the year and I dyed my hair 4 different colours when I sold the block and the money came through. I kept it up throughout the rest of the year, despite my principal’s vociferous disapproval. I really enjoyed the compliments, but it started to get a bit tiresome. Every time I had it re-done I’d have to sleep with a towel over my pillow for 2 weeks, while any hair that landed in the bathroom had to be picked up immediately before it dyed the shower or vanity basin. Just after Christmas I went and has my hair dyed back to (almost) normal. I’ve got brown and VERY blonde hair now, with some vestiges of pink that survived the bleaching. I’m going overseas again next year and I need to look normal for the visa photo. I may do the 4 colour thing again later in the year, or maybe not.

No more cats. I bought Daphne and Maris for David24 for Christmas when he was 12 or so. When poor little Daph was hit by a car earlier this year I thought long and hard about getting another couple of kittens. Cornish Rex cats are so deliciously ugly… But in the end I decided that I wanted leather lounge suites, which don’t do terribly well with cats’ claws. The Frogdancer house will have to rely on mouse traps from now on in, should there ever be a need. (I hope not. Hate mice.)

All in all, it was a peaceful kind of year. Evan21, who has been out of school for 3 years and has been working, has successfully applied for Acting at Federation Uni in Ballarat. He’ll be out of home for 3 years while he does that. It’s an excellent course and I’m really proud of him for making it through the auditions, but by gum, I’m going to miss him. He makes me laugh all the time. I won’t miss the mess he leaves in the kitchen, though.

Ryan23 is enjoying his course in remedial massage, while David24 has one more year to go in his Music course. Tom25 finally found an accounting job, so he no longer has to pay the rent by driving for Uber Eats. We’re all pretty happy at the moment. The dogs are a joy and a delight and today is a glorious summer’s day as I sit on the verandah writing this. Who could ask for more?

I hope that everyone has a lovely new year’s eve and that 2018 is a good one for us all. See you next year!

 

 

Skinflint Sunday: Protect your investments.

This will be the last time I dye my hair like this. I have travel plans next year and I don’t want to risk getting denied entry because I look different to my passport photo. The hair dye I use is just a vivid dye from the supermarket. It’s semi-permanent so every time I wash it the colour runs, so it gets progressively lighter as time goes on.

A couple of weeks ago Blogless Sandy, her blogless husband Andrew and I went to see Midnight Oil at the Myer Music Bowl. For those non-Melbournites, it’s an outdoor venue in the Botanic Gardens. Unfortunately, the weather forecast wasn’t good. A week of heat was going to be broken that evening by thunderstorms. A quick look at the rules and regulations of the venue showed that I couldn’t bring an umbrella with me.  So what was I going to do? If it rained, I’d end up with purple, green and blue hair dye running down my face.

Then I had a brilliant idea.

I brought my shower cap. Now I had absolutely no worries if it started to rain. When the first raindrops started to fall and the grey clouds overhead showed that rain was imminent, I whipped it out of my bag and put it on.

However, you can’t wander around at a rock concert with a shower cap on your head, no matter how practical it might be. So I rather brilliantly also packed a beanie to cover it. (See that woman behind me breaking the rules?)

Blogless Andrew had also packed ponchos, so I was set. I paid $130 for this hairdo… damned if I was going to let some rain steal some of the colour from it!

Finance post: How to retire in your 30’s. I really liked how this post lays out a strategy to purposefully plan for retirement. It has Maths in it, but he makes the Maths easy.

Podcast: 36 Questions. This is a 3 part musical about a married couple who have to grapple with honesty, love and their life together. Oddly fascinating – I particularly like her singing voice.