Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Category: Frugal Friday (Page 1 of 5)

Shop smarter and stop wastage.

A few days ago someone asked me if the rising prices that seem to be hitting everything from food to haircuts was the reason why I was picking up so much CRT work. The question took me a little by surprise because this hasn’t been the reason at all.**

The conversation around the table then shifted to sharing sad tales of how our lives have already started to be impacted by things getting more expensive. I kept pretty quiet because no one likes a know-it-all. But I wondered if people might be interested in a post where I share some of the strategies that I’ve used over the years to help us get the most bounce per ounce in our grocery shopping.

I picked groceries because I think this is the main area where people can stretch their dollars. There are so many different ways here to tweak how and where we spend our money to keep more of it in our wallets. I know that once I got the other bills under control, grocery shopping was where I was able to keep finding ways to stretch our dollars further. These strategies have now become habits.

Over the years, as my financial situation improved, I’ve allowed some relaxation in some areas of our grocery spending. But the good thing about knowing how to stretch the dollars is that, if you ever need to, you can immediately tighten your spending up again because you already know how to.

The control lies with you. There’s power in that.

The two main ways to save money on groceries are to:

  1. Shop smarter, and
  2. Stop wastage.

The best way to save money on food is to (obviously) pay as little as possible for it. Shopping the specials and stocking up on items that have a long ‘use-by’ is a winning strategy.

If you’re feeding your family on food that has been purchased at a discount, obviously that means that more dollars stay in your pocket. The way I ramp up this is to have a store of food that I’ve bought cheaply… in bulk.

I’ve always had a store of food and other things that we regularly use at home. The habit of doing this started when I was a stay-at-home parent with many small mouths to feed. I’ve always been a long-term thinker, so it just made sense to stock up on items when they were on special, knowing that it meant that over time, I’d be feeding my family for less money per serve.

Yes, I’m that person who has multiples of the same things in their trolley. My pantry in the kitchen looks like anyone else’s, but open my ‘zombie apocalypse’ cupboard in the laundry and it’s a different story.

Currently, there are around 20 tins of different legumes; 30 tins of sardines for the little woofs; around 6 cartons of UHT milk; 3 boxes of tissues; 3 slabs of diced tinned tomatoes (my home-grown tomatoes were awful this year – normally I’d have heaps bagged up in the freezer); 2 huge bags of rice; around 20kgs of bread flour for bread rolls and pizzas; lots of different sorts of tea bags and dried home-grown herbal tea leaves; lots of toilet paper; dried red lentils, peas, and chickpeas; hand sanitiser; garbage bags and baking paper; red wine; ground coffee and a heap of other things.

When you buy multiples of an item that you’ll eat, you can then spread the savings out to magnify the savings. One tin of diced tomatoes at 50% off will save you, say, 50c. Buying 10 tins will save you $5.****

Over time, and with lots of different grocery items, those savings add up. Given enough time, those savings add up substantially.

I’m guessing that most people who read this post will have enough money to immediately start taking advantage of staples by buying them in bulk when they’re on special. For those of us in that position, then the main inhibitor on the size of our stash of groceries will be the amount of storage that we have available. No point stocking up on 4 slabs of toilet paper if you’ve got nowhere to put them! No one wants to be tripping over stacks of tins and packages in the hallway. as we make our way to the kitchen. So the size of our cupboards/shelves and other spots will be our guide.

If, however, you’re on an income with not much disposable money, storage isn’t usually the main issue. Instead, it’s gathering together the money to actually start buying extras of the groceries that your family uses. A store of extra groceries like this takes a fair bit of time to build up because you might only be able to buy 1 or 2 extra things, instead of 5 or 10. Sometimes, buying even a few extra things can be a real stretch. I know – I’ve definitely been there.

If this is your situation, then it helps to keep in mind that even buying ONE extra item at a great price is helping your overall situation. It might not move the needle much, but every tiny good decision is a step forward. Looking long-term, which is what I tend to do, many tiny good decisions can move you a long way.

And if you’re moving a long way, then as time goes on your position will improve and you can then take larger steps. That’s what happened with me.

An unexpected advantage of having a home ‘supermarket’ came to light during the pandemic. In the lockdowns, especially before the vaccinations came around, having these stores meant that we weren’t forced to go out and mingle with people. We were able to stay at home for far longer without being the slightest bit deprived.

I really loved that unexpected benefit of having a store of staples available.

Now, you can buy cheap food and store it away until the cows come home, but if you’re not actually using it, then you’re deluding yourself. Reducing food waste is the second essential part of stretching our grocery dollars.

I remember when I was at home with the kids, back when they were really little. I saw an ‘Oprah’ show where she had an efficiency expert come in. They were looking at food waste in random people’s houses.

He was going through a woman’s fridge and throwing food from her fridge crisper and pantry shelves into a garbage bag. He said something like, “Every time you don’t use food and have to throw it away, you may as well cut out the middleman and throw $50 notes straight into the trash.”

That made me sit up straight. He was absolutely right.

Due to my little family being on the bare bones of our ar##s anyway, our food waste was already pretty small. I couldn’t afford to waste much. But that remark made me redouble my efforts. Every time I was tempted to throw perfectly good food away, I’d see actual money being scraped into the bin.

It was more than flesh and blood could stand.

A few years later, when I decided I needed to grow some of our own food to help cut down on artificial additives in our food, the anti-waste thing REALLY came into its own.

A definite food chain developed. First humans. Then dogs. Then chooks. Then the worm farm. Then compost. Finally – the garbage bin.

Hardly anything went out the door. Our food stayed here, either nourishing our bodies or nourishing our garden, which in turn produced food to nourish us. It was an almost closed cycle.

That cycle, minus the chooks, continues today, even after we moved to The Best House in Melbourne. It’s extremely rare that the boys and I throw food away. We try and use up everything we buy, grow and make.

As the boys grew and some of them moved away and our household became smaller, sometimes we began to eat the same meal two nights running. The amount of food that would once be used up for one night to feed five of us can easily be stretched to feed three adults over two nights.

Any smaller servings are great to throw in the freezer and be used for a quick lunch a few days later. Today’s lunch of bolognese came straight from last night’s dinner. I think it was even tastier the second time around.

Speaking of small servings, sometimes I have steamed veggies left over from dinner. I have a container in the freezer that I throw them in. Every couple of months I make chicken stock paste and veggie stock paste… SO MUCH TASTIER AND CHEAPER than using the cubes and liquid stock from the supermarket. Each batch uses enough fresh veggies (and chicken, if I’m making a chicken stock paste) to fill up a thermomix jug. Of course, I pull anything that needs using up out of the crisper drawer from the fridge, but having the frozen ‘waste’ veggies from previous meals means that I’m using up ingredients that need to be used and saving some other veggies, that may be fresher, to be included in another meal later on.

Every little bit helps.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the two strategies of buying grocery specials in bulk and reducing food wastage as much as possible are the bedrock of being able to stretch grocery spending further. I know that to me it became almost like a game, where every time I used up something, found a great deal and bought up big, or made something stretch further, it was fun.

Let’s face it, the road to financial independence isn’t quick. It takes many years to get there. Anything that helps to get us closer and is like a game has GOT to be a win!

** Sequence of Return Risk and volunteering to help pay for a wedding are the reasons I’m doing casual relief teaching. 🙂

**** Of course, being me, I was going to keep the maths simple!

Dad joke of the day:

What’s it called when a chameleon can’t change its colours anymore?

A reptile dysfunction.

Frugal Friday: Perennial plants – the gifts that keep on giving.

On Christmas Eve last year, Ryan27 and I drove over to Mt Eliza to his friend’s place. She had some lilies and elephant garlic that she was happy to give away.

I stood and watched while Ryan27 dug them up and we brought them home.

The elephant garlic was planted last week in one of the wicking vegetable beds. The lilies were planted as soon as we got home in the backyard, right near the pizza oven.

The main entertainment up till now has been watching how quickly these plants have been leaping up from the ground.

But two days ago I went out to get some green leaves for dinner and there it was – the first flower.

There are two more flowers quietly growing that will soon be out.

Over time, I’m looking forward to being able to have these as cut flowers in the house. I’ve always loved their shape – so simple and elegant.

Why am I writing about this on Frugal Friday? Because I’ll be enjoying these flowers for (possibly) the rest of my life… and they were free.

Not to mention the elephant garlic – a lifetime’s supply of garlic for free as well.

If you have the space, setting aside spots for perennial flowers and vegetables is a great investment, both financially and for personal satisfaction.

My $7 rhubarb plant I bought from Aldi 3 years ago has provided huge amounts of rhubarb stalks each year – enough to supply our household, my parents and my sister. I think it paid for itself in the first 3 months of being planted. Imagine how much free food it’ll give when I dig it up and divide it into more plants?

I have a lime verbena, 3 lemon verbenas and a lemon myrtle, as well as many different types of peppermint. Free herbal tea, anyone? They’re great either fresh or dried and make great little gifts.

I haven’t bought bean seeds for years – I just let some dry on the vine and then plant the dried beans in the following Spring. Free beans are my favourite type.

I’m not even going to try listing my fruit trees. Once they become well-established I’ll be one happy little gardener.

One piece of advice – only plant what you’ll want to eat!

Do you have any perennial plants that have been absolutely worth it?

Dad joke of the day:

If Satan ever lost his hair, there’d be hell toupee.

Frugal Friday: a day for me.

Today is the last day of the school term and, as I hoped thought, there was no text asking me to come to work. I’ve worked 10 days in the last 2.5 weeks. I need a break!!! LOL.

Yesterday Tom30 worked from home and posted a photo of the walk he took on the beach before 9 AM. I decided that the little woofs have been so patient, putting up with me being gone, that they deserved the same thing. So after breakfast, I strapped on their leads – such hysterical barking! – and off we set.

It was sparkling. There were a few people and dogs there, but we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. Halfway along, I sat down and took the time to gaze out into the bay. The blues of the sea and sky were stunningly beautiful. Three seagulls were swooping low across the water. The white against the blue was amazing.

I was so happy that I wasn’t in a classroom!

The daily yoga has definitely slipped over the last few weeks, but as I sat there I did some breathing exercises and some neck stretches and we walked in the soft sand at the top of the beach on the way back. That wasn’t my choice, by the way. Scout saw an exuberant Doberman puppy and decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

Here’s the photo of the 5,000+ piece quilt, with a 50c piece on it to give an idea of scale. After I go out and water the gardens, I’ll be chipping away at this. I’ve discovered that it’s not so much the sewing together of all the tiny squares that’s time-consuming, (though it’s slow going), it’s the proper ironing of all the seams that will take up a huge amount of time.

Now I know why in the Quilt-a-long, Kellie has allowed 3 weeks for each row. I thought it was a bit too generous, but after working on this bit of the quilt on Tuesday, I’m seeing the logic.

I took home a little over $1,600 in my first pay packet. I’m happy with that, as I’ve been able to cross quite a few things from my list already. Now I settle into working to pay for my share of David28 and Izzy’s wedding costs. It’s a little disheartening to think that a full day’s work will only pay for around 2 places at the reception, but that’s how these things go. As I left school yesterday, I thought, ‘Well, I guess I’ve just paid for Mum and Dad’s places!”

Right now I’m home alone. Tom30 is at work and Ryan27 has gone out for a walk. The dogs are sleeping beside me and there’s total peace and quiet. All I can hear is birdsong, the occasional car and Jeffrey’s snores.

I’m thinking that doing some days of CRT work, even though there was nothing further from my mind than doing it, will give me a nice balance. When I’m at work it’s go!go!go! with every minute scheduled, while being at home is so unstructured and free.

I’m enjoying the challenge of bringing in money to pay for the things I want, while at the same time there’s no stress when the school doesn’t need me. I’m happy to work and I’m happy to stay home.

It’s a nice spot to be in.

Dad joke of the day:

How do you make holy water?

You boil the hell out of it.

Frugal Friday: Make hay while the sun shines.

So far this fortnight, I’ve worked 7 days. It’s been an incredibly busy time for the school, what with a huge year 7 camp, (taking nearly 500 kids away requires a lot of teachers as well), covid absences and a nasty throat bug doing the rounds.

I’m spending the whole day wearing a mask. In fact, probably the most dangerous part of the day is when I eat my lunch. For the rest of the time I keep my mask firmly attached to my face. With the mask, me being triple vaxxed and the students being double-vaxxed, I figure I’m as safe as I’m likely to be.

I’m booked to work a day next week and after that, who knows? That’s the joy and terror of doing casual work. When I was picking up my chromebook and keys from the Daily Organiser, she said that I’d put up my hand to come back at just the right time, because the last two weeks have been awful for staff absences.

She warned me that things will probably calm down and there won’t be as much work on offer, but I said, “That’s fine. I figure I’ll make hay while the sun shines. I’m using this work to help pay for Jordan’s wedding, so any work you can give me is great.”

Yes! Remember that chart I drew up about things I can ‘pay’ for with my CRT earnings? Going on those VERY loose figures, by the end of today… or maybe by the end of the day’s teaching next week, I’ll have “paid for” the first few items on the list and I’ll be up to the first big amount – the wedding.

This sort of stuff is very motivating, at least for me. I won’t lie – this morning when the alarm went off in the wee hours for the fourth straight day, it wasn’t a joyous moment. A couple of possums had galloped over the tin roof at about 2 AM and Scout vehemently objected. It took us both ages to go back to sleep. Dachshunds grumble a lot when they’re unhappy.

But when I thought about being able to cross off the boring stuff on the list and then be able to get started on the wedding, I had a spring in my step that definitely wasn’t there before.

A thing I’ve noticed that I didn’t expect at all was that in the 7 days I’ve been back at work, I’ve been bored far more than during the whole 15 months I was at home, living the retired life.

I think it’s because when you have total freedom over how you spend your time, the instant you even get a slight inkling that you might be getting bored, you can immediately drop whatever it was you were doing and move onto something else. It happens so quickly that, most of the time, the niggling feeling of boredom never gets a chance to eventuate.

Here? A successful day for a CRT means that there are long tracts of nothing much happening. You’ve brought each class in, settled them, set up the lesson and then let them go on their way. Sometimes you’re actually teaching, but more often than not you’re walking around the room making sure they’re staying on track and not watching the basketball or playing games on their chromebooks.

Given this, there have been long minutes of looking out the windows, watching the clock and generally counting down the minutes before the bell. Once every couple of days or so, I might have a therapeutic bellow at a naughty kid, but honestly, even the naughty kids at this school aren’t awful. They respond really well to discipline given with humour, so there’s rarely a need for a raised voice.

Now, it’s not as if I’m bored all the time. Of course I’m not. (I wouldn’t turn up to do CRT again if I was!) The kids are funny and I’m introducing a variety of different lessons that sometimes makes me quietly do some research into something-or-other that sounds interesting that I’d never think to learn about by myself. I just had a lovely chat with a year 10 Lit class about ‘Pygmalion’ vs ‘My Fair Lady’, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

(Pygmalion is the play that the Audrey Hepburn/Rex Harrison movie ‘My Fair Lady’ was based on. It’s fabulous – though when I read it, years after having seen the movie, I was shocked by the ending. Now that I’m older, I think that George Bernard Shaw’s original ending to the story is far better.)

Even though I’m having fun in classes like this, the contrast between my work days and my retirement days is pretty noticeable. Usually, at home I’m surprised by how quickly the day has sped by. At work, I know to the instant when that last bell rings at 3:10 and I can walk outside to my car and start living my ‘real’ life.

To be fair, I was talking just a few minutes ago to a friend who’s also come back to do some CRT. She’s the opposite – she was getting bored at home and she loves the CRT life. It’s her new hobby. We had a laugh about how different we are.

So far, I’m really enjoying being back at school and seeing the kids and staff. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks so I’m definitely in the honeymoon phase. I’m still in the stage of kids getting excited when they see me and being pleased when I turn up to teach their class.

Sadly, this will fade. Soon I’ll be just another ‘sub’ who is part of the furniture. Hopefully, I’ll get enough work to take care of the wedding and beyond that, who knows? I wrote a post a few years ago about the importance of protecting your savings, so maybe I’ll continue to do a day or two a week, paying for outgoings as I go and keeping my savings for the Big Fun expenses, like travel.

(Actually, before I posted that link, I re-read the post. It’s got some pretty good points in it, if I do say so myself.)

I’ve always felt very lucky that I fell into a career that I was good at and I genuinely enjoy. It seems that CRT has most of the good stuff and very little of the bad stuff. I’m interested to see how this all pans out.

Dad joke of the day:

What do you call a pig with laryngitis?

Disgruntled.

(The students are loving this one today!)

Frugal Friday: See you later!

This book just came up on my library holds. When I reserved it, I was number 39 in the queue. I didn’t know if I could stop myself from buying it. After all, I have the previous 8 books in my kindle app. But here we are – frugality for the win. But I had to wait 4 months to dive into it.

Anyone who hasn’t read the “Outlander‘ novels, (or at the very least, seen the series), is missing out big time.

It’s 900 pages – with very small font – of Claire and Jamie magnificence. So much to read!! I’m so happy.

See you on the other side!

Frugal Friday: Devise your own healthcare tests at home.

Ryan27 gave me these tea tins for Christmas but I needed new labels for my label maker.
A trip to Officeworks today— all they had was clear labels so without a thought I grabbed them.
Um… clear labels with black writing on black tins are going to be a FANTASTIC eyesight test for us all going forward…

Dad joke of the day:

Why don’t dolphins make mistakes?

Because they do things on porpoise.

Frugal Friday: Off to the fruit shop!

Last week on the Frogblog I talked about stewing and freezing blocks of plums to use in my breakfast for the rest of the year. It makes sense to buy up big while the fruit is in season and preserve it to last through the rest of the year. Today – it’s apricot time!

As soon as I press ‘publish’, I’ll be jumping in the car and hunting down a box of apricots.

I already grow my own rhubarb – a $7 baby plant for Aldi 2 years ago has been an excellent investment! – so in a little while I’ll be buying a box of apples to make cubes of apple and rhubarb. My breakfasts will be healthy, full of variety and wonderfully easy. Oats, water, 3 cubes of fruit and into the microwave for 2.5 minutes. Couldn’t be simpler!

A couple of days ago I went to Costco while Ryan27 was at a job interview. (Spoiler: he got the job as a myotherapist.) While I was there I saw bags of garlic, so I grabbed a couple. Probably tomorrow, I’ll pop a podcast on the iPad and spend a tedious couple of hours peeling each clove. Then, I’ll freeze them.

I saw a friend of mine pull out ready-to-use cloves of garlic from her freezer and it Changed. My. Life. Sometimes the most obvious hacks are the most brilliant. I love to use fresh garlic but it’s a pain when it starts to sprout. This way – there’s no waste and I always have it on hand.

Along with fresh ginger. I just buy a pack from Costco every 6 months or so, slice it into coins and freeze. Works brilliantly.

Preparing the garlic this way is a perfect representation of delayed gratification and long-term thinking over short-term. Peeling the garlic is a nasty job. It’s boring and smelly and I’d rather be doing almost anything else. But the short-term pain is by FAR outweighed by the long-term pleasure of always having such a staple ingredient on hand whenever I want it. No rushed trips to the supermarket to get some more garlic for this little black duck!

Summer is the time when crops ripen and cooks all over the world start to frantically preserve the abundance for the leaner times. Usually by this time, I’m being overrun by tomatoes, but for the second year in a row, it looks like tomatoes are going to be a failure. Damn this El Ninâ weather pattern!

So, if I can’t save money on growing my own tomatoes, I’ll make use of whatever I can to fill the space in the freezers. It’s really a no-brainer. I save money, I save time and it gives me peace of mind. Why wouldn’t I do it?

Dad joke of the day:

Welcome to the plastic surgery addiction group. I see a lot of new faces here.

Frugal Friday: Prepare to celebrate!

Helloooo!

I’ve had a blog-break while I was waiting for my blog to migrate to another host. Back in April when I had a blog meet-up in Adelaide, I asked who people were getting to host their blogs, because Siteground was costing me a FORTUNE. The consensus was that Panthur, an Australian company, was great and far cheaper.

I’ve switched and it’s costing me a third of the price I was paying before.

omg. bargain.

Now I have more money to spend on things that I value – like champagne. (More on that later.) Like travel. Like Operation Beautify.

Last year on my Goodreads page I decided to try and read 70 books. I may have overshot slightly… I ended up reading 128 books instead. Oops.

I read some terrific books this year. I have a couple of friends on Facebook who used to be bloggers, back in the Golden Age of craft blogs, and they’re avid readers. I’ve been following their recommendations. I’m also following a few authors on Twitter. They get advance copies of people’s books, so when they tweet about something that sounds interesting, I’ve tracked it down.

Would you be interested in a post giving a recap of the best books? It’s be a shame if I didn’t use the Power of Time to Read for goodness, instead of evil. (That’s a ‘Get Smart’ quote, just slightly changed.)

Anyway, shoot me a comment and let me know. 🙂

But why the meme at the top of this post?

To kick the new year off, I’m sharing one of the best pieces of advice I ever received.

Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge. You never know when something will happen that you’ll want to celebrate.

It’s a tiny piece of joy, just waiting to happen. I always have a bottla bubbly ready and waiting. Sometimes it sits there for months, but that’s ok. As long as it’s unopened, it’s not going to go off.

But when someone arrives with good news or success to share, that bubbly GOES OFF!!!!

Then, in the next day or so, I quietly go to replenish the supply. It’s weirdly satisfying to be prepared to be spontaneous.

But who doesn’t want to be ready to be joyful?

Dad joke of the day:

What do Italian children like to play at parties?

Pasta parcel.

Frugal Friday: The no-spend week.

screenshot of a chart.

After my mammoth 61 week streak on the No Spend Days chart which ended when Jeffrey had to go to the vet on a Friday, I had a 14-week stint before I had to keep going to the hardware to buy things that David28 needed when he was building frames over the wicking beds. Now I’ve started again…

If you look at the chart, I’ve technically already performed a 7-day in-a-row streak of not spending any money, but I’m holding off so that there’s a full line of colour on the chart. It looks far more like a full week when it’s all in the one line.

These are the stupid ways that make this chart work so well for me. By far the best idea was making each week that I spend money on 3 days or less a ‘silver’ week. Once you start to get a continuous streak going it’s hard to break the chain.

This all serves to make my spending intentional. I still spend money – but I now do it in blocks, rather than just let dollars dribble from my wallet without realising.

meme

Another bonus to having this chart is that it makes it very easy to track spending in various categories. This came in very handy when a friend at work and then a neighbour told me about a very good – and far cheaper – vet in the next suburb over. Of course, I had to check him out.

The vet that the Little Woofs have been going to since we moved here is literally around the corner. Over the 5 years we’ve been living here I’ve spent thousands there, what with Scout swallowing a pip and getting an intestinal blockage; Poppy and Jeff having teeth extractions left, right and centre, as well as the usual injections and stuff.

When Jeff put his back out a few weeks ago I was able to easily compare prices by quickly scanning last year’s chart. Again, this isn’t earth-shattering, but it’s nice to have an easily-accessible way to look things up.

And yes; this vet is cheaper and I got a good vibe from him. We’ve swapped over.

Poppy the cavalier.

It helps that this week has been a quiet one, where I pretty much stayed home and puddled around. This is where I’m really reaping the benefits of preparing The Best House in Melbourne for retirement, while I was still working. There have been a couple of days in the garden, a few more reading and sewing days, while at night I have Netflix, Stan or Apple+.

I had a few self-sown silverbeet plants that after a year or so were going to seed themselves, so I chopped off all of the good leaves, added some water and ground them down to a paste in the thermomix. I’ve frozen them in ice cubes and I’ll add them to soups, stews and bologneses in the winter. Just like a green vitamin pill!

I’m a ‘chop and drop’ gardener, so the rest of the stalks and leaves were chopped into small pieces and left to lie on the wicking beds as a mulch. This adds so much goodness to the soil – for free! It takes a lot more time to do this, rather than just ripping them out and throwing them in the green bin, but the improvement in the soil over time is absolutely worth it. Plus – I’m retired! I have the time.

I don’t switch the tv on during the day, unless it’s 45C outside and all anyone wants to do is sit under the air-con and zone out, so my days are spent doing whatever I feel like doing, while at night I chip away at whatever series I’m watching at the time.

Today, in order to make sure that I don’t accidentally rush out in a frenzy and spend money, I’ve taken the dogs out to post a letter to Vanguard – (how ANYONE can fill in that stupid US taxation form is beyond me… this is my second go at it) – and then we took a detour home and went for a walk beside the river.

On the way home I went and had a look at a house that was sold recently for what seemed like a LOT of money for what looked like a bit of a dogbox. It was even worse than it looked online. Oof.

Then I wrote this post. After this, will I go and have a nap? Or will I keep working on David28’s quilt? Or will I go out and do some more ‘chopping and dropping’ in the veggie garden? Or maybe I should go out to the front garden and tidy up the weeds in the garden bed near the apple trees? Hmmm, there’s that book Tom29 bought me for my birthday that I haven’t yet picked up. The Colour of Money – maybe I should crack that open and dive in? I loved the writing in The Queen’s Gambit, so this one should be good too.

So many options. All able to be done here, without having to race off elsewhere.

I’m really enjoying this new phase in my life, eleven months in. I have yet to be bored, which I think is pretty special.

Dad joke of the day:

Did you hear about the maths teacher that was afraid of negative numbers?

He would stop at nothing to avoid them.

Frugal Friday: When life gives you lemons…

Lemons in a bowl.

Ryan26 has had a friend, Marcus, ever since they met in Prep at primary school. Every now and then a group of ‘The Boys’ meets up for a night of gaming and other frivolity and they catch up on what’s been going on in their lives.

A week or so ago Ryan26 stayed over at Marcus’ parents’ house and he came back with 2 massive bags full of lemons. These lemons were as big as my head.

Well, almost.

Emily, who like me has raised a houseful of boys, is so generous when it comes to sharing the produce from her garden. I still have HEAPS of chillies in the freezer that we’re slowly making our way through. Like me, she hates to see things go to waste.

So how did I deal with the lemons?

Lemon juice cubes in a bag. Very exciting.

Simple!

I put on “Mum’s Boppin’ Bangers” on Spotify and went to work juicing them up. I poured the juice into icecube trays and then, a day later, popped them out and into a bag.

That’s the lemon sorted for my summer gin and tonics!

Dachshund on couch.

Scout approves.

Dad joke of the day:

 I thought about going on an all-almond diet. But that’s just nuts. 

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