Monday, 27 February 2017

Core Values - Home

Lasagne cooked from scratch
with a fresh garden salad....oh and
a ice cold glass of Moscato/Chardonnay.

Of all my core values, the value of HOME would have to be the strongest.  I love being at home, I love returning home, I love not having to leave home and I love coming home at the end of a day and hearing the tall front gate latch click decisively behind me.

Even as a child I loved home, it was my all time favourite place to be. Now as an adult, home represents the antithesis of my time outside of home. In a fast paced and highly people-focused career complete with all the inherent challenges of co-leading 100's of staff, home shines as a beacon of stillness and surety at the end of long days of frenetic and emotionally demanding activity. Home is that place which my heart belongs to.

Cutting up soap into bars

Home also is a place of productivity - meals are cooked from scratch, gardens are grown, budgets are contrived, DIY is alive and well, cleaners and soap are made, stockpiling occurs and the dollar is stretched till it screams.

Home is a place of peace - not always, if ever, physically peaceful (Heck - there is just too much going on with Ma, Pa and five grown daughters for it ever to be truly quiet and serene!). The peace comes from it being a place of comfort, welcoming familiarity, safety, inclusiveness, knowing where you fit in, being loved, hugs, smiles, inside jokes and loads of good food.

A watering can full of liquid fertiliser for the potted veggies

Home is a place of welcoming - where folks can come and be fed, listened to, appreciated - a place to crash, a place to feel included, a place to discuss and chat, a place to bed-down for the night (there is always a mattress on the floor housing an extra body!) and a place of good nourishing, tasty food and a decent drop of wine.....and a good cup-of-tea.

Home is where you hang your hat. Home is where the heart is.  Home does not have to be expensive, classy or even tidy. Homes are made of personal emotional investment not built of bricks and mortar.  Home just has to be a place that we yearn to return to at the end of a day.

If we have managed to create a place where we and others truly want to be - then that's home.

Meals cooked in bulk ahead of time
bound for the freezer.

Home - a place to produce, a place to welcome others, a place to be ourselves, a place to be content and a place to create a palpable sense of  'family'.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Who can deny the delights of freshly laid eggs?!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

My New Blog

Hi folks

I have had a big wave of interest in the last post - you dear folk and many others from elsewhere asking for updates on the reed organ restoration.

As this topic does not neatly fit into the purpose of this blog, I have decided to start another blog just on my work, restoration, interest and recording of reed organs.  I have called it Harp Aeolienne - click HERE to visit if it interests you.

I started the blog by re-posting the previous post here and have now posted another post today which shows the process of dismantling the organ bit by bit.  I have also popped a link in my blogroll on the left hand side and also on the page bar if you ever want to visit it randomly.

I love how these old instruments require no electricity, are all hand made, made of real wood, steel, cast iron, cellulite, Bakelite and brass - zero plastic.  I love how restoring them is a true and glorious act of recycling.  A proper and full restoration should last nearly a century if done correctly and the instrument cared for in the interim. Hopefully one of my great grandchildren will be up for restoring it again in their lifetime (wait!  I'm really getting ahead of myself there!)

They are pretty much carbon neutral (as far as I can figure it) and can play any type of keyboard music both ancient and modern. There is a real increase world wide in the restoration of these instruments, so I have good company it seems.

Anyway - we had better get back to topic here at Mr Home Maker and we will leave all thing 'reed organ-ish' to happen over at Harp Aeolienne.

Take care folks and stay nice!


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

It's Come Home!

My 'girl' got delivered home late Tuesday
night.....can't sleep now.

This following story, whilst true, is not really about simple living or frugality per se ..... however I think you will see many dotted lines to both these concepts as the story unfolds.

For many years I was a busy church organist. I started playing for Sunday school at the age of eight. Over the years I played for countless weddings (always gratis), usually always played for at least one service a week and helped out other congregations when their organist was away or sick. I also had a deep love of old reed organs (pump organs). I loved that no electricity was needed and that the sound was produced purely by wind being pumped over cleverly voiced brass reeds. I loved the intricate craftsmanship of these old reed organs too.  With technique practice, these old organs can sound amazing.

The Harp Aeoline is a beautiful ethereal stop which melts
the hearts of every listener.

Back in the late 1990's I was on the search for a big reed organ to buy - not the small specification parlour reed organs that are a dime-a-dozen, but the ones with many ranks that were designed to be played in churches and for an audience. These rare large reed organs had a wonderful variety of tonal voicing and in the hands of a passionate organist could muster up any emotion required in a congregation.  So, it ended up that a lovely South African couple that I knew had a small collection of reed organs and offered me a rare 1910 Artist's model Estey reed organ for a very generous price of $1000.00.  I took out a bank loan and bought the thing (!).  It was simply tonally stunning. Friends often used to joke that it was me versus the preacher.....did the congregation come to hear the sermon or the organ?!

For a few years I used this beautiful organ for weddings, lent it to churches who needed a replacement organ whilst theirs was being repaired or replaced....and of course it spent plenty of time being played for countless hours in our home too. I loved it - truly.  At the same time I bought other old reed organs, stripped them down, learned all about them, repaired them, on-sold them and without knowing it developed a deeply satisfying and creative hobby that went hand-in-hand with my love of music.

Cobwebs trailing thickly out of the swell shutters

At a very low point in our life I decided that I should sell the beautiful Estey Artist's model reed organ to pay for bills that were piling up.  I rashly sold it on eBay for $800.00.  I remember having a rather wobbly bottom lip as it got hauled onto the freight truck and taken away to its new owner up in tropical QLD (Queensland). I remember looking at the back of the freight truck as it disappeared down the road and feeling my heart quietly breaking - I knew I had sold an irretrievably unique instrument all because I had not managed my money situation well. I was angry with myself and sorrowful too.

Time passed, in fact years passed...many, many years.  In the ensuing years, musical tastes inevitably changed within churches and my passion for beautiful classical organ music and hymnody quickly had no useful or meaningful purpose or outlet and thus I became redundant. I eventually just stopped playing at all, even at home. My world quietly shrunk and became a greyer place somehow.  Also, over the course of years my faith changed (as it does) and eventually slowly rolled to a quiet, passionless, purposeless, outdated and lifeless. Never mind - there was a fabulous career to feed, a houseful of teenage daughters to continue 'dadding', goals to be achieved, purchases to be made...blah, blah, blah, busy, busy, busy.

Yet another decade passed by.

Then about a month ago, I was idly scrolling through eBay nostalgically looking at all the old antique reed organs for sale (all in various states of decay!) and there it was......was it truly it?  I enlarged the image holding my breath looking for the unique markings I knew and remembered.....yes, it really was my old Estey Artist's reed organ for sale on eBay again after so many years. It had clearly been treated poorly - broken pieces, splits in the wood, ruined polish, cobwebs, dings and scrapes - in truly parlous condition.  I bid and won the Ebay auction for $100.

She got delivered by freightliner this Tuesday evening at 11:11pm. The tears flowed a little...just sayin'.  My once beautiful organ is in a terrible state from years of neglect and abuse. She reluctantly managed to whisper a few tired, excruciatingly sad breathy notes for me before the mouse-chewed bellows collapsed completely and she fell silent......but she is home now, never, never to be sold again.

One of many repairs to do.

She will be lovingly dismantled, every piece carefully labeled and catalogued as I go, bellows will be recovered, every brass screw polished, every crack glued, every lever repaired, every reed tuned, each felt renewed, every ivory buffed, the case work will be repaired and re French-polished .... she will live again. It will take a couple of years of diligent repetitive restorative work on my behalf....and then she will again sing out clear her songs of love and faith again.

Who knows, I might even find a better and more meaningful version of my lost faith again in the process of resurrecting this beautiful instrument back to life again.

Take care folks...and stay nice.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Core Values - Kindness

The simple delight of freshly laid eggs.

It has been a while since I wrote about some of my core values - I think we were up to kindness next.

In my daytime world of boardrooms, cut and thrust, policies and regulations, one-upmanship, goals, KPI's, results focus, audits, bottom line analysis, the almighty dollar and bureaucratic political correctness....kindness seems an odd fit.  The core value of kindness is an odd fit, in fact it does not fit much at all (to be brutally honest) - such is the growing disconnect between my career and my relatively newly uncovered core values.

The satisfaction of an orderly pantry

Kindness should never be understood as weakness or the easy way out. Kindness takes much more courage and commitment than any tough business decision that I have ever had to achieve. Kindness can sometimes mean a lifetime commitment. Kindness covers a multi-faceted array of scenarios from planet care, community care, self care (I'm not real good at this yet), purpose over profit, people over politics, patience with people, patience with community, encouraging others to be their best, setting boundaries (yep, this is a type of kindness) and generally moving away from measuring others by their weaknesses.

Using the syrup from canned fruit
as a cordial base. Frugal and

I find kindness takes a great deal of courage, time, patience and cognitive calm. The benefits of being kind also seem to fly in the face of being seen to be influential, cutting edge, efficient and up to date.....not so.  I have found kindness (thus far) to pay profound dividends, engender loyalty, develop unusual friendships, calm internal frustration and exponentially grow a sense of inclusiveness and trust.  I never knew this could be the case until I started honouring this core value of kindness - how much I have missed over the years.

Sough dough bread from scratch.

Kindness helps simplify our lives, eases the need to have trendy friends, engenders gratefulness, eases non-specific anxiety, adds a dimension of purpose to life and allows others to grow and blossom around us in the most surprising ways.

Our daily bread.
It is a fight to stop it getting
eaten when still hot

Kindness has helped me move away from regret too. Kindness has also helped me lean into new habits without feeling silly AND kindness has made me a kinder person simply in the practice thereof.

Eggs and bacon for breakfast - yes?

Take care folks and stay nice


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Old Money

A delicious Laksa cooked up by
our family friend Gail

Hi Folks

The phrase "old money" generally conjures up thoughts and images of generationally wealthy folk eschewing people with new money as 'naff' and undesirable. Sometimes it talks of money that is inherited rather than earned coupled with powerfully, formidable, hyphenated surnames....the vieux riche.

However, that is NOT what I want to chat about with you today.  The old money  I am referring to is OUR old money.  How old is our money?  How long has it been untouched for?  I referred to this concept here and labeled it as self-insurance savings.

I spy pie in the fridge!

The older our money is, the more self reliant we can feel. Let's be realistic however, not touching our money and letting it age can be a daunting task - it can feel nearly impossible sometimes.  The end result is to have at least six months worth of expenses socked away so that in effect we are spending money that is already six months old (or more).

Our lovely oil lamps out on the deck lounge room.

Be Patient.
It can take significant amounts of time to build up some old money - five years is reasonable. Put a little away without fail every time we get paid...even if it is a tiny bit. It will add up over time.

Lock It
The greatest nemesis for the accumulation of old money is its ease of accessibility. Have an account that requires a double sign or a notice-of-withdrawal policy.  Either or both of these things will robustly keep our old money from the sweaty grasping fingers of convenience.

Automate It
If we have to manually allocate money to our old money account then that habit will probably dwindle or, automate it. Talking to our pay office to get a small amount sent directly from our pay packet into the old money account before it hits our normal bank account will ensure old money continues to grow and age. The less attention we give it, the more likelihood there is of our old money not to be touched and to quietly grow.

Give Ourselves A Pay Cut
I had to create a faux demotion to trick myself into putting away money to create my old money account. I pretended that I got a small pay cut, reorganised my budget accordingly (much pencil chewing occurred!) and then automated that amount to flow into a separate interest bearing account. It can be very surprising how small amounts can grow.

Tithe Other Windfalls
Take 10% of an unexpected or non-standard windfall of money. Take 10% of that profit we made selling that car, take 10% of that birthday money, take 10% of that tax return, take 10% of any unexpected cash and pop it straight into the old money account - that still leaves us 90% do with as we see fit.

The banoffee pie has been well and truly  tucked into

Old money can be a great blessing, a measure of personal integrity, a self-created insurance policy, a tangible indicator of self discipline, a calm generator and an insomnia blaster.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Defrosting the $50 freezer.
It is still cheaper to do this every
three months than fork out for
a new one.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Why Isn't Frugality Normal?

Hi again folks

I wonder why frugality hasn't gone viral?

I mean, it's got all the right triggers to go viral right?  It really is the ultimate get-rich scheme, the perfect meaning-to-life revelation, the most profound life-changer.....and yet it has not gone viral, in fact (when the chips are down) it is openly scorned and privately mocked.

Soaking in plain ol' water loosens most stains

Again I wonder why?  Wait, I know's why:

Frugality requires effort, patience, integrity, discipline and realism - all character-building virtues. Oh yeah, that's right - depth of character never goes viral. Conversely, depth of character (or the willingness to give it a shot) remains fairly elusive it seems.

Cooking in bulk and freezing into separate meals ahead
of time.

Humans seem to historically have a proclivity for ignoring the powerful basic truths about wealth, influence, emotional intelligence, love, work, creativity, faith and  relationships. Instead humans as far back as history records seem to be overwhelmingly influenced by the way they happen to feel, by those who can manipulate those feelings and by the feelings attached to physical objects and socially manipulated belief structures......meanwhile, the powerful basic truths about wealth, influence, emotional intelligence, love, work, creativity, faith and  relationships remain quietly held by a very small number of disparate folk through the ages.

Go back a generation in men's shaving
ans save a motza.

Admittedly, now in the age where knowledge runs to and fro throughout the earth with great ease and speed, more folk have access to these truths. Nevertheless, those who truly embrace these truths (meaning, more seriously than posting Facebook memes about them) invariably reap the benefits in part or full and yet are still viewed as a curios amongst the standard cultural norms in society. These folk are deemed an enigmatic subculture....different somehow.

The fry pan is our best kitchen friend at our place

Are you different somehow?  I'm leaning into being different.

A huge slow cooker also puts in a sterling effort too....

Take care folks and stay nice.


Sunrise with poached eggs on toast with fruit and homemade yoghurt.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Frugality By Stealth

Hey folks

In the same spirit of anonymous charitable giving and being the anonymous benefactor, we too can gain deep satisfaction from being a stealth frugalista. Frugality by stealth may well be the most mature form of frugality.

In the same way that cashed-up-bogans can be utterly obnoxious when they squawk on ad nauseum about all their expensive purchases and possessions, so can the lean-mean-and-terrific tightwad when they ceaselessly preach about their free or super-cheap bargains.....ever admonishing all and sundry on others' errant spending habits like a pious pompous ass. Even worse is when said tightwad lives in a unkempt, dreary state of 'secondhandness' complete with a Scroogian scowl.

Fine dining for pennies.

The trick to living frugally is to do it by stealth - it is the most satisfying that way. Other people will wonder how we can afford this-that-and-the-other when we earn the same wage as them. We'll be smiling and it'll keep everyone so:

  •   How can THEY afford that new car? (...we saved up for five years for it and bought the current model at a repossession auction - that's how)
  •   Did you hear that THEY paid off their mortgage - how can that be? THEY are only on the same wage as us?! (....we lived well on 50% of our income and shovelled the rest into the mortgage and paid it off in 9 years - that's how)
  •   How come SHE has such nice stuff and we can only afford this stuff (...she buys quality secondhand furniture cheaply off gumtree and restores it herself and her house looks amazing - that's how)
  •   You should see HIS shed mate! He has every tool known to man - his folks must be loaded. (...nope, he saves up, buys the best quality he can afford, looks after things, repairs them when they break down. All those tools also save him sacks of money because he DIY's everything he can)
  •   They have one of the nicest houses on the street.  ( use not to be. We bought it as a fixer-upper and transformed it over a period of 10 years as we had saved the funds.  That's how)
  •   They always dress so smartly!  (....yep, we shop at secondhand shops and specifically look for good quality brands with little or no wear. Effective secondhand shopping takes patience, purpose and persistence)

Buying bulk and then diluting

Enjoy being an enigma....

  •   SHE doesn't have a credit card! (, "she" just has six months worth of expenses put away instead)
  •   HE pays cash for everything, have you noticed that?  (...yeah, funny that. This approach is also what has made him 10 x as monetarily wealthy as his friends)
  •   Have you noticed THEY get a new car every five years? (....yep and it is debt free every time as they have a share portfolio that they draw the dividends from only once every five years instead of  reinvesting the dividends like they normally do)
  •   I never realised before but apparently THEY have a small farm out west too - that's where they go to every second weekend and they also share it out to friends too. (....yes, those handful of acres where bought very cheaply and have been a source of extreme enjoyment for family and friends ever since by providing young families and teens with a cheap and fascinating holiday alternative to the debt-inducing coastal rentals)
  •   Someone just donated 100's of cans of food to our Christmas appeal - I'd love to know who it was! (...ha, you'll never find out that it was us. We donated generously from our stockpile all bought on special, which means we were able to give twice as much)

Buying on special and stockpiling

Wealth via frugality is best served incognito.

So, being frugal; if other people find out -  then it does not count. 

Think about it.

Having beautiful and memorable holidays on a budget.

Take care folks and stay enigmatically nice.


Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Little Picture Post

I saw these 3 litre jugs on sale at HM
reduced from $50 to $15.  I should have got
two me thinks.....

Hi dear folk

I'm in a bit of a quiet, reflective mood at the a little post with just a handful of pictures is what today's post will be.....enjoy.

Dinner is on. Spicy chippolata
and vegetable hot pot in the
slow cooker.

Dear daughter number 4 cooked banana bread this morning.
I'm amazed it is still untouched.  It toasts up wonderfully
with melted butter on top and a cuppa.

Lemon meringue pie made with condensed milk (I am not a fan
of the geletin version) 

...there was a mouse....a big mouse
that took a nibble. No, no - it
weren't me! Promise! (wipes
traces of meringue off laptop)
Hee hee.

A book scored by a friend new for $1.
Jammed pack full of beautiful recipes
from pre-WW2.

OK, so I'm off to keep counsel with myself - I'll emerge like Mr Badger eventually.

In the meantime, stay nice and take care.


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