Gathering the straws of life together

Recent Posts

Waste not want not!

Waste not want not!

Waste not want not is a saying that dates back to 1772. There are two meanings. The first is “do not waste as you might need it in the future”. Secondly, the “less we waste the less we will lack in the future”. It is […]

Walk on water

Walk on water

This week when delivering the 2018-19 Queensland State Budget, the treasurer Jackie Trad took a walk on water. Nothing would deter her delivering a budget full of billions of promises. All the treasurer, premier and the Labor government must do now is to follow her […]

In your interest

In your interest

It is in your interest to know what is going on with your bank accounts. Not only bank accounts but all your financial interests. While some people trust financial advisers and accountants it is always in your interest to check any documents they give you or ask you to sign. Take your time and if necessary take them away and sign another day!

In early May I wrote a post about The Royal Commission into the Financial Services Industry. I notice that it is now called The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. This is the royal commission that almost did not happen until the Liberal National Coalition under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull changed their mind. I wondered whether Malcolm Turnbull, once a merchant banker, had a view that the banks could be trusted. If that was the case, he has had a surprise, given the bad behaviour of the banks and other parts of the financial industry that is being uncovered.

As of the 3rd May 2018 the commission had received 4501 public submissions, now there are 6320 (banking 64%; financial advice 10%; superannuation 10%). There are considerable concerns about the financial services industry, but mostly about the banks. People have entrusted their life savings with the banks and these have then disappeared into the ether. Take the couple who sold their property for $2.7m. They invested it all with Macquarie Bank who carelessly managed their money. Today, all they have left is $400,000. Where did it all go? Some of it went into the pocket of financial advisers and the rest through bad investment decisions their capital kept disappearing and disappearing. Did the bank care? Probably, the financial adviser has moved overseas or now lives in Bali and eating the cream that was skimmed off the top of each investment move.

In is in your interest to take a walk out of debt.

When you are investing money, you must make sure, it is in your interest first and foremost. It is important to diversify. Don’t put all your money into the one investment option, like the couple who had $2.7m to invest. Many of us are not sophisticated investors, including me. But as I have researched the area I may be more informed than others who blindly trust the banker or financial adviser with that nice smile or welcoming handshake. That is not enough!

I always found it annoying that it was much easier to find the minimum monthly payment amount on my credit card than the total amount due for the month. I was pleased to see this month that the ANZ Bank is providing more information on their credit card statements. They give a minimum payment warning. This is now an Australian Government requirement.

Say you have a balance of $2,500 on your credit card. The monthly minimum payment is about $51. If you no longer use your credit card and continue to pay only the minimum amount each month, it will take a very long time to pay down the debt. Yes, around 23 years and 11 months before you are out of debt! Interest charges are around $6,800. This is, NOT in your interest. That little minimum monthly payment can get you deeper and deeper into debt. If you can’t pay off the monthly amount, then maybe it is time to cut up that credit card. It is time to reshape your thinking about what is important in life. Repair instead of replacing. Reuse instead of disposing. Repurpose – for example use a 2-litre milk container to store your home-made washing detergent liquid. Think about it! We all live in a happier space if we don’t have debt hanging over our head.

If you have fallen on tough times, then talk to the bank. It is time to work out the best payment plan and reduce the amount you will pay in the long-term – it is in your interest!

Pass the word about passwords

Pass the word about passwords

With the technology of today, we all have passwords, passwords for this, passwords for that! We can end up with a hundred or more passwords and how do we keep a track of it all? Then there is the backup that google will do and […]

Cutting your own hair at home

Cutting your own hair at home

Have you ever thought about cutting your own hair at home? One of my aversion’s is going to the hairdresser. I have had some experiences that I don’t want to repeat. There are some great hairdressers but then they charge a great price! I know […]

Learn Plan Live

Learn Plan Live

Life is full of lessons as we LEARN, PLAN AND LIVE. Some lessons I have learnt quickly, others I have taken a while to learn. It has been a busy week at our small castle – our home, this week. Every home should be a castle, our place of refuge, a place where we are warm, comfortable and happy. Our home is where we learn. We learn to take our first steps, we plan our dreams and goals, we live our life. We may go out to work, we visit friends, we go on holidays, but then we always come home to our castle – our home.

This past week my One&Only and I have worked on a project to update our chicken coop – Cluckingham Palace. I will take photos once the project is complete!

This weekend it is all about the royal family and Windsor Castle with the marriage of Prince Harry & Meghan. What an extravaganza. Royal wedding fever is taking over our lives. Over two Billion people will be watching! Yes, I will be one of them! I would not like to disappoint! I got out my tiara, the one I bought years ago, the fake one, when I was designing the Princess Chickens egg carton label. The tiara was used as the focal point. Even with its fake gems it looked quite good. The image below is the one I designed when we lived in Maleny (since updated). This is how I amuse myself in retirement! However, there will be nothing fake about the tiara and jewellery that will be worn by Meghan Markle for her wedding in about seven hours time. The royal family are taking care of the wedding bill. Prince William and Kate’s wedding cost $34m. My nieces wedding, 2 weeks ago, was very elaborate but did not cost even $1m. How much will Prince Harry’s and Meghan’s wedding cost? A right royal penny!

I came across the verse below during the week. Some good advice there. I only hope Meghan does not forget to return her borrowed jewels once the wedding is over. I think her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has taken a shine to Meghan so she may even get to keep her tiara!

In the meantime, I have to get ready for the wedding. Food to prepare, flowers for the table, crystal glasses, polish the silverware! The champagne is chilled! Tonight is not the night for living beneath our means!

Thoughts for Life

Live beneath your means

Return everything you borrow

Stop blaming other people

Admit it when you make a mistake

Give clothes not worn to charity

Do something nice and try not to get caught

Listen more; talk less

Take a 30-minute walk everyday

Strive for excellence, not perfection

Be on time. Don’t make excuses

Don’t argue

Get Organised

Be kind to unkind people

Let Someone cut ahead of you in line

Take time to be alone

Cultivate good manners

Be humble

Realise and accept that life isn’t fair

Know when to keep your mouth shut

Go an entire day without criticising anyone

Learn from the past

Plan for the future

Live in the present

Don’t sweat the small stuff

It’s all small stuff!

(Thoughts for Life – author unknown)

 

Feeding the chooks

Feeding the chooks

Do you know the politician who referred to news conferences as “feeding the chooks”? Yes, it was Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, former Premier of Queensland (1968-1987), and the longest-serving. Sir Joh had a simple view of the world as a farmer and he took his observations […]

Royal commission into the financial services industry

Royal commission into the financial services industry

The Royal Commission into the financial services industry has uncovered serious dishonest behaviour by the banks, financial planners and other financial institutions. The fraudulent behaviour in the financial services industry is very disturbing. Charging people a few years after they have died; poor advice from […]

Caring for backyard chickens

Caring for backyard chickens

More and more people these days have backyard chickens. I believe there are at least two reasons for this. Firstly, chickens give a valuable food source – eggs; and secondly, they are entertaining. Caring for backyard chickens is a great way to teach children about responsible pet management. While it is fun collecting the eggs, there is more to owning chickens than eating a great egg.

One of the downsides of introducing chickens into your backyard is not thinking ahead about the chicken’s welfare. I have heard of people having chickens that roost at night in a tree in the backyard. Chickens are vulnerable to predators and a responsible chicken owner will make sure that they have clean and safe accommodation.

As animal owners we must give proper care to our pets. This includes providing food and water; accommodation or living conditions; understanding your pets normal behavioural patterns; treating disease and injury and handling the chicken appropriately. Read more here.

If you buy eggs from the supermarket you may have noticed a sign explaining that there is an egg shortage. Such is the demand for eggs that the commercial production of eggs has given us the “battery hen”. With this comes many welfare compromises. The RSPCA and I believe that “hens deserve better”.

Yesterday the Federal Government introduced the start of a new national standard for hen density. For eggs to be labelled free-range there must be 10,000 hens or fewer per hectare (one square metre per hen). The hen density must be displayed on all egg cartons. The hens must have meaningful and regular access to the outdoors. More room, the happier the hen.

My backyard hens are happy with the amount of space in their coop and run. Their coop is big enough to take 12 hens, with a daily run outdoors. For four hens it is an ideal space. From around 7am in the morning they spend most of their day in the run with infrequent trips into the coop for a pellet snack or going into the nesting box to lay.

They have fresh food and water on demand; a clean and safe coop; kale (most days); grains scattered in the run early morning; treats such as veggies and/or meat morsels (leftovers from a roast) and dried meal worms – but not all at once or all on the same day!

Princess Carmella is in charge of our flock of four hens. The pecking order is well established, and she insists on having the best of everything for herself. When I put food such as the grain in several places she runs from one place to another to get her favourite grain “corn”. The two chickens I introduced 11 weeks ago know their place and step aside if Carmella moves in! However, as Golda and Melba are growing physically they are also growing in courage. It is the only way they will get their share of treats!

Carmella with Golda and Melba. Lucy’s tail just made it into the photo!

Carmella is an interesting hen. Every now and again she will make a sound like a duck. I wonder whether she grew up in those early months of her life with ducks in a nearby pen! Also, when she sees me during the day she will squawk continually, her way of asking for a treat. When this behaviour does not produce a treat, she soon accepts the situation and quietens down.

Golda has grown a lot in the past few months. You can see that the hedge at the bottom is bare. All four girls love Lilli-Pilli leaves and berries.
Melba is a lovely girl – such great shiny feathers and more importantly a fluffy rear!

Right now, Lucy is moulting. It can happen at any time and it is important that she has more protein in her diet. The dried meal worms are good for this. Throughout the moult hens stop laying eggs. As Golda and Melba have not started their laying career our backyard eggs are few right now.

Golda and Melba 9 weeks ago. My oh my how these wee girls have grown in comparison to the photos above!

Caring for backyard chickens is rewarding, but it does take effort to be a responsible chicken owner. What I like about it is that it gets me outside. Every now and again my One&Only and I stop and stare, take a few minutes out of our day and watch their antics. Caring for chickens, like other pets, is good for our mental health. Read a short story about a man whose life was saved by caring for ex-battery hens.

Do it yourself (DIY) Projects

Do it yourself (DIY) Projects

There are so many Do It Yourself (DIY) projects we can do around the home. This time of the year, heading for winter (in Australia), many of us are looking at our garden and planning a few DIY projects. My One&Only (O&O) however is doing […]


My Diary

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There are so many Do It Yourself (DIY) projects we can do around the home. This time of the year, heading for winter (in Australia), many of us are looking at our garden and planning a few DIY projects. My One&Only (O&O) however is doing more than looking and planning he has begun the autumn/winter pruning. We also reinvigorated a corner of our lawn and bought in some palmetto buffalo grass that does well in the shade. I even helped with shovelling the soil! Maybe you are like others I know and are now working out where to place that outdoor fire pit – a cosy way to enjoy the outdoors even when the weather is cooler.

A rejuvenated part of our lawn taking shape!

DIY projects can range from home improvements to DIY gifts. The benefit of a DIY project is that you do not have to rely on others and it is less costly. If we had employed a person to lay our turf we would be looking at hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Now we can use those extra dollars for a few days get-a-way. A DIY project also gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

I have thought about making my laundry liquid and this past week I took the plunge! I know exactly what is in the detergent and it cleans the clothes well. If you like to see the suds in your washing machine you may not like the DIY laundry liquid. The recipe I used has one cup of soap (grated) or you can use Lux Flakes. I used the flakes. Half cup of washing soda and half cup of borax. It is easy to make and makes around 10 litres – low-cost!

A few simple ingredients and I had home-made DIY laundry liquid.

I was not sure my ingredients had properly dissolved, however, I had a solution! I got out my electric hand blender and blended the 10 litres in the 12 litre container. My laundry liquid recipe came from Rhonda’s blog at Down-to-Earth. If you are worried about the use of borax read more here. You can always leave out the borax. If your use the grey water for your plants you will have to leave it out! Not good for the plants. My DIY laundry liquid project is saving on packaging – no recycling and it has less chemicals than the bought product.

I invested in a few new containers for my laundry liquid. They can be reused time and time again!

This past week I planted five tomato plants. I hope they do better than the last lot. To help them along I took soil along with the chicken manure out of the chicken run and forked it into the soil before planting. Then I gave them a dose of seasol. Our last lot of french beans did well so I planted more. In about 8 weeks we will be picking fresh french beans from the garden. Also, the kale I planted a few weeks ago is doing well – food for the chickens, their favourite greens! However, the five plants will not go far, as my chickens like to enjoy a few leaves of kale every day. Note to self: buy more kale seedlings this week.

Now I am planning my next DIY project….stay tuned!

By the way – don’t just stop and smell the roses, plant a rose bush!


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