Lifestyle Recipe's Vegan

Gluten Free, Vegan protein balls

Today I walked into a indian supermarket and discovered soya chuncks. Now these don’t sound appealing but with 52gm of protein per 100gm I definitly thought they were worth experimenting with.

I open up the packet and try one, it’s dry like a biscuit but otherwise flavourless. Taste like dried soy beans. Funny that. I continue on my way to the supermarket and find some condensed coconut milk. This gives me an idea. Lets make vegan chocolate rumballs with these soya chunks. I’m going to call them soy puffs from here on in. It sounds better.

The Aussie rumballs

We are basically doing a half batch of this recipe (which is a classic aussie recipe and every kid would make these for mothers day in school), minus the rum, subsituting biscuits for soy puffs and adding some hazelnut spread.


  • 100gm of soy puffs
  • 1/2 tin of sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 1/2 jar of Hazelnut chocolate spread (you can substitute your own nut butters for different flavours)
  • 80gm of dissected coconut
  • 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder


grind the soy puffs in a food processer, don’t completely pulverize them if you are like me and like crunchy bits in your rumballs.

Add all of the dry ingrediants (only use half of the coconut), then mix in the wet ingrediants. Form balls with the mixture and roll in the rest of the coconut. Keep your hands wet as you roll them as this helps them not stick to you.

Pop in the fridge and eat after 2 hours. I made 14 balls and one weights 32gm


By my calculations each ball has

  • 670 KJ (160 calories)
  • 9gm of fat
  • 14.5 gm of carbohydrates
    • 10.5gm of sugar
  • 4.8 gm of protein

I didn’t exactly measure stuff out, I think I only used half of the shredded coconut and should adjust the energy/fat but I couldn’t be bothered doing the maths. It’s better to over estimate rather than under anyway.

But compared to regular rumballs they have more protein atleast:

If my rumballs actually had 5gm of fat they would be 520KJ each (124 calories).

Bonus Curry

I also made a curry with the soy puffs.

I used a butter chicken recipe base, oil instead of butter, a little extra salt/MSG, some coconut cream and some japanese curry cubes to thicken up the sauce (I added too much water, shhh don’t tell anyone). The roti was a frozen variety from an indian supermarket. Was super nommy.


You don’t need a lot of super

This is not financial advice and you should seek out a professional if you have any concerns.

The super industry would love to have more of your money and wants to encourage people to save more for retirement. This isn’t a bad thing, BUT it’s easy for people to get stressed and think they don’t have enough saved.

This blog post will go through some projections for a hypothetical person based on today’s information.

Caveat: we can’t tell the future and all of this is educated guessing.

Meet Charlotte

Charlotte is a made up person for this blog post. She’s 45, spent most of her time out of the workplace raising her 2 daughters who are now 21 and 18.

She recently went through a divorce and was able to keep the family home, her ex kept their super which was valued at 420K. Charlotte is receiving some financial support from her ex until their daughters finish their first degrees.

Her daughters are studying and want to live with Charlotte until they finish. It’s a 3 bedroom house in South Morang, Victoria valued at 380K which is all paid off. She also owns outright a 2011 Kia Sportage car valued at 15K. She has no other debts or obligations.

She has no super and is concerned about how she will fund her retirement. She recently started working on 50K a year (including super) as a office receptionist and aims to retire at the age of 70. She gets 40K a year after super and taxes.

Scenario 1: does nothing extra

On 50K a year and working for 25 years, Charlotte with have around 158K in superannuation by the time she gets to 70. She’s considering working part time beyond the age of 70 to help supplement her income as her mum who’s 70 is quiet fit, active and still doing a bit of work (mostly selling cakes at the local market on Sunday’s).

Source: MoneySmart

What is a comfortable retirement?

A modest retirement for a single person is $27,987 per year and a comfortable retirement for a single person is $43,901 per year (source: ASFA Retirement Standard). A comfy retirement involves the occaisional oversees holiday and driving a fairly nice car.

Income replacement rates

A rule of thumb for income in retirement is 70% of your salary before retiring because people don’t need to do things like service a mortgage or save for retirement any more. People can aim for 90% replacement rate if they don’t own their own home and will be renting in retirement.

Renting in retirement

Renting in retirement is one of the biggest financial stresses you can put yourself under in your old age. Atleast Charlotte won’t have to worry about this.

70% replacement rates

If Charlotte was aiming for $28,463.47 per year in retirement (70% of her current take home salary) she would be able to get most of this from the government pension.

Maximum pension

The maximum Age Pension for singles is $944.30 a fortnight or $24,551.80 a year (source: Service Australia). She could continue to work part time (earning up to $7,800 per year before impacting her pension, source: Service Australia) or draw down the remainder ($3,911.67) from her super in her retirement. She would need to drawdown a minimum of $3,950 (2.5%) of her super at the age of 70 (source: ATO). This minimum drawdown is normally 5%.

Infact, assuming 6% returns and 2% indexation she could drawdown $11,900 a year from her super and it would last until she turned 90.

If she did drawdown $11,900 a year ($457 a fortnight) from her super she’d be able to get $803 a fortnight from the pension. Which is an annual income of of 32K.

Source: Noel Whittaker

Moneysmart is projecting $33,591 in annual income from both pension and super drawdown. With part time work, Charlotte could generate the same income she is on now in retirement.

Source: MoneySmart

Scenario 2: contributes $360 per fortnight into super

Charlotte would have 420K in super and could draw an annual income of of 42K per year.

However this would reduce her current take home pay to just under 33K per year. She would still save on some taxes as super is generally taxed less than personal income but her pay is low enough that it might not be the best thing for her. (Source; ATO: Concessional contributions)

If she can live on 33K a year now why would she need 42K a year in retirement?

Scenario 3: Adding inheritance to super

Charlotte might be able to receive some inheritance from her mother later on and makes extra contributions into super. She eventually ends up with 500K in super at the age of 70. Assuming 5% return on her investment, no government pension and it lasting until she was 90, she could drawdown 27K a year from her super.

Source: SugerGuide: is 500k enough to retire on?

However in this situation she could still receive a partial pension from the government. Maybe Charlotte wants to be independant of government hand outs?

Source: Noel Whittaker

She could also make a downsizer contribution into super if she sells her family home at 65. (Source: ATO).

Aged Care

Charlotte is ok with having less income as she gets older and becomes less mobile. If she does need to move into aged care facilities she will sell her home to fund it.

Should Charlotte contribute extra into super?

She would be applicable to receive some government co contributions. If she added an extra $1000 a year she could get an extra $500 from the government (source: ATO).

But it really depends on what Charlotte wants to do with her money. She could have more income in retirement at the expense of current income or she could save what ever she can over the next 5-10 years to help her daughters get into the housing market. Or she may want to go on a holiday with her eldest daughter when she graduates.

She may also get pay rises in the future or start dating someone else and this could all change her projections.


Income in retirement is a beast to project, but I hope the tools I’ve mentioned here can help you. In Australia we are very luck with the support we receive and as long as you own your own home, a reasonable retirement is almost guranteed.

Many people die with a good chunk of their super still intact (Source: Retirement income review). Why spend a good chunk of life saving for retirement if it’s not going to be fully utilized? The government pension can be seen as a safety net if you outlive your super.

The government isn’t likely to get rid of the pension completely but it’ll be interesting to see how it changes over time.

Google Cloud Technology

Converting PDF to Audio

I’m studying financial advice and there’s lots of reading. I like to listen to audio as I walk but using the defaul screen reader technology on a mobile app doesn’t work this way. Once you put the phone to sleep it stops the reader.

So I started google how to convert PDF’s to audio. This blog post is about the extra stuff I had to install to get a script to work.

Converting text books to PDF

I’m using both Epudor Ultimate and VitalSource Downloader to convert my purchased text books into PDF, and then using print to extract each chapter for each week’s reading material.

I’m storing all these files in a google drive folder so I can access them from any device.

This is week 1 reading material for Taxation Planning

Converting PDF to Audio; Python Script

Instructions for python; convert PDF to audio.

from tkinter import Tk
from tkinter.filedialog import askopenfilename
import pdftotext
from gtts import gTTS

Tk().withdraw() # we don't want a full GUI, so keep the root window from appearing
filelocation = askopenfilename() # open the dialog GUI

with open(filelocation, "rb") as f:  # open the file in reading (rb) mode and call it f
    pdf = pdftotext.PDF(f)  # store a text version of the pdf file f in pdf variable

string_of_text = ''
for text in pdf:
    string_of_text += text

final_file = gTTS(text=string_of_text, lang='en')  # store file in variable"Generated Speech.mp3")  # save file to computer

I’m using my Ubuntu v18.04.5 LTS machine.

First I needed to install python3, then a bunch of extra stuff. Here is an extract of my terminal history, hopefully in an order that makes sense.

mkdir python-audio
cd python-audio/

sudo apt-get update -y
sudo apt install python3
sudo apt install vim //I didn't have VIM
sudo apt-get install python3-tk
sudo apt-get install pdftotext //this didn't work
sudo apt install build-essential libpoppler-cpp-dev pkg-config python3-dev
pip install pdftotext //I didn't have pip installed
curl -o // I didn't have curl installed
sudo curl -o
sudo apt install curl
sudo apt-get install -y python3-testresources
sudo apt-get install poppler-utils
//Trying to install pdftotext I didn't have pip on my PATH, I tried fixing it but ended up using the whole path file instead
vim ~/.profile
vim ~/.bash_profile
rm .bash_profile
sudo /home/sammy/.local/bin/pip install pdftotext
sudo /home/sammy/.local/bin/pip install gtts

//checking version
python3 -m tkinter

Links that helped figure this out

There were so many other not as useful links but these were the gold nuggets. Development can be a bit like this, you have a gazillion tabs open to fix 1 or 2 things.

I’ve now hit the Google Text to Speech API limit

I converted the first two chapters and now I get an:

gtts.tts.gTTSError: 429 (Too Many Requests) from TTS API

So now I need to figure out how to authenticate the API requests so I can continue. Good thing Google has this awesome tutorial on using python with text to voice.

Speeding up the file

By default the extract is quiet slow. There appears to be ways to speed up the voice but I need to spend a bit more time figuring it out. I’ve found an android app called music speed changer which speeds up the file. I’ve experimented with SpeedUp and audiPo app’s on iOS but I think I need to add the files to itunes before they will pick up the files.

I’ve used an online tool to speed up the file but it doubled the file size.


I hope this helps you if you are also considering this. I found it very easy to set up, it only took me an hour of googling how to fix things to get something working which is a lot quicker than starting a test automation framework from scratch.

mental health

Schema Therapy; Part V

This week I’ve started imagery rescripting with my psychologist. The idea being to revisit a painful memory but to rescript it in such a way that I’m able to provide the support that I needed in that situation.

Family Reflections

Here are some stories about my family that I’m going over with my psychologist:

Revisiting the money conversation

In today’s session I revisit the conversation where my dad asks to borrow money. I close my eyes and we walk through the scenario. We dig up the emotions I felt, the sense of failure for not being able to help. And then my psychologist steps in and we tell my dad how much of a dick he’s being and how he’s failed as a parent.

Hugging your inner child

Then I’m asked to imagine my inner child and give them a big hug. I struggled to imagine my inner child as me though because I was bullied for being fat as a kid. I have shame associated with that image. I ended up imagining Christopher Robin.

I had bullies at school and in the family, no wonder why I developed some problems.

My next steps is to work on my inner self child image. If I can learn to love and accept an image of me that I have shame in, I will be able to heal more from the experience.