Friday, July 30, 2010

Retirement planning!

The Bank sent me a brochure about retirement planning! Just because I have reached a magic number in the computer's data bank -a number related to my age of course -apparently I am now a customer for all sorts of 'financial planning' advice and products.

The truth is, of course, that we all need to think of our financial health into the future.

I am sorry I was so slow to pick up on this in years past. We spent everything we earned. We had no savings, and no plans beyond wishes for a home of our own.

It was some time later that we came around to the need to get smarter about money.

I can remember a system which worked a simple budget out on a Cash Book with columns. We wrote down what we spent, divided it among categories in the book, and when there was a balance we bought something we needed or wanted. We saved up for clothes -a budget of $5 or $10 per week added up to a nice pair of leather shoes which lasted for a lot longer than the pair bought 'on impulse' as we walked by them in the shop window.

The children (as they were then) had columns of their own, and when they were quite young teenagers we gave them full control of their clothes money. They could buy anything they wanted, but there would be no more than what was in the column balance. One bought chain store value, one bought name brands, but both learned the value of money.

I can remember both my husband and I having 'an allowance' - a little bit of our own money to be spent as we chose, without question -just for sanity's sake.

Over the years we have had variants on this system, some more labour intensive than others, but all of it about making informed choices which accorded with the priorities we set together in discussion, each year.

One of the major challenges for us was the purchase of our home. We lived in homes which belonged to others, and went with our employment, for 20 years. We 'lost' those years, in terms of paying off a mortgage, although we gained a lot of other things which money could not buy.

When we finally took out our mortgage we had meagre savings which we supplemented by cashing in the long service leave we were due when leaving one place of work. The early years of the mortgage were very tough, with growing teenagers at private schools and my husband suffering 18 months of unemployment after being retrenched.

So, this week we are celebrating a certain milestone of life, and one which is a significant one on the road to a sustainable life after our retirement age. We paid off the mortgage!

I'm counting my blessings this week! Hope you are too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What a lovely weekend

Lovely new curtains for my bedroom.

I picked up my "East Meets West" quilt from the professional quilter's house, where it had been quilted on the large computerised quilting machine. I am delighted with the result. I now just need to bind the quilt and it is ready for my bed. This is the first queen size quilt I have made, and I learned a lot in the process.

We have put together yet another raised garden bed, again in the wicking syle.

The idea is that you develop an impermeable layer at the bottom of the bed, and then water down a pipe to that layer, so that your plants always have water to draw on. It works well in our dry climate.

Winter gardening -the weeds are growing faster than I can pull them out, and it is so dark in the mornings that not a lot gets done. It will wait, however. Spring can't be too far away.

We also went to the Playhouse for a production of Twelfth Night -a lovely rendition of the Bard's comic work.

So - some decorating, some gardening, some crafting, and some entertainment. Great weekend, really.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

First pics of the sewing room

First a marathon unpacking of a certain kind of flat pack furniture, with my darling Husband and Dear Daughter hard at work.

Then, once everything was in-and it fitted! (WHEW) it was my turn to move all my stuff in, and begin the arranging. Of course not everything is as it should be yet!

This is a height adjustable desk for my computer and household management.

I fell in love with these lamps -and ended up with two!

This is my sewing desk.

The curtains are being hung and measured so that they fit exactly. I wanted to hang them for a few days before cutting anything! Do you like them?

I have a set of shelves, so I have room for all my craft books and patterns as well as the household files, and of course some friends!

This is another shot of my desk. The wardrobe has been fitted with shelving and baskets. The doors are not fitted as yet -they need to be painted.

Dinky little table top ironing board for those block seams.

How do you like it so far?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What to do on a very wet weekend

Over 75mls in the rain gauge since Friday morning makes this a very wet weekend. June left us with only one quarter of our normal rainfall, for what is traditionally the wettest month of the year, so this rain is most welcome. I have not emptied the gauge yet -after so many days of dry weather I am really enjoying seeing the column of water.

It hasn't made much of an improvement to the temperature however. Perhaps it is slightly warmer overnight, so we have not had the ice on the cars, but the days are quite chilly.

Our DS has been learning about living in his rental accommodation. It seems quite a chilly house, even with the wood stove. It is a great pity that the idea that the Federal government had, to subsidise the placement of ceiling insulation in rental accommodation, turned out to be spoiled by tricksters and conmen, who did such a bad job that there were lots of house fires and the whole scheme was abandoned. It is also a pity that the programme of legislating for each house rented or sold from July 1 2010 to have an energy efficiency rating, has now been put on hold for two years. It is the renters who struggle trying to keep warm in houses without ceiling insulation.

My lovely DH has painted the ceiling, and started on the first coat of the sewing room. As you can see, we are going to be much lighter and brighter than before. My DS chose this lovely honey colour because it was close to the colour of his lovely old violin, but I want a neutral canvas so that my quilting colour choices can be seen without competition, on my design board. I will also need good bright light to work in here.
Our lovely ancient Lady (next month she will be 20) has spent the weekend seeking out the warmest places in the house. Without the winter sun streaming in, this turned out to be the best option for her old bones.

I have been reading Penguin classics. They had a three for the price of two sale recently, so I have enjoyed George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" and am now into Isabelle Allende's "Eva Luna".
I have made a bottle of preserved cumquats in a very heavy syrup, which I am told will be nice on a cheese board, or served with icecream. We have been on the look out for more uses for cumquats as the yummy marmalade that DH makes is rather fiddly and you can only eat so much marmalade in a year.

The other jar is fresh ginger, which I have pickled in a brine/vinegar/sugar solution. I also have some grated and frozen -will compare the two methods to see how I like the result. Both methods were recommended by my friends on the Aussies Living Simply website -if you click on the button on the right you will be taken to a wonderful repository of wisdom.

Tonight's dinner for DH and I is a mushroom braise -winter fare! I got these from the Midland grower's market this morning, along with the ginger.

I guess this weekend has been just one of those quiet, productive, happy kind of winter weekends. Hoping you, dear readers, have had a lovely quiet weekend too.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf said a woman needed 500 pounds a year and a room of her own -with a lock on the door -in order to write.

Rick Rutherford in his classic magazine "Australian Country Collections" once had several feature articles on the creative spaces some lucky women had -and got me thinking then how wonderful it would be.

This weekend my DS moved into his first ever rental home -in preparation for the Wedding to his beautiful girl in September.

AND ...."TAA DAA" -I am now in possession of a Room of My Own. A Sewing Room, no less.

My DH is planning to paint it for me just as soon as he can -thank you darling. We are painting it Antique White USA. I will put up some curtains and furnish it with a desk for my computer and household files, a sewing table with cutting board, small iron, and permanent place for my sewing table with its lovely Bernina on it.

I have already put my craft supplies on shelves in the wardrobe, as you can see. These things used to be stashed under my bed, on the top of my wardrobe and anywhere else I could possibly fit them.

I plan to take up the carpet and replace it with bamboo flooring, which will be just right for the messy business of sewing -threads and wadding can make quite a lot of stuff on any floor, and the bamboo will be easy to sweep.

This is a lovely room, facing north, towards my glorious front garden.

Am I excited ? What do you think?

PS you might be wondering where the pictures of my new carport are -well, apparently the workshop has prefabricated it, but it won't be delivered until the construction gang are ready. So we are all still waiting.