Saturday, 15 May 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 15th May 2021

 Being frugal does not mean being stingy.  Both Darren and I try to be wise with what we have and what we use.  Now that the weather is much cooler,  keeping warm without blowing the budget is our priority.  

Here's how we saved money this week -

*  Picked the first of many broccoli heads we have growing in the garden.  I should be picking another one next week.

*  Gratefully received a bag of feijoas from a friend.  She moved to Geelong last year and found strange looking fruit under one of the trees in her backyard.  After messaging Darren to find out what they were and how to eat them,  she dropped of the bag on Mother's Day as a treat.  So delicious.

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Enjoyed an afternoon tea at our place for my extended family.  So much nicer,  cheaper and quieter than going to a restaurant.  My antique cups and saucers came out for use and the men were really good sports sipping their tea oh so daintily.

*  Picked white roses and yellow chrysanthemums from our garden to place in vases around our home for Mother's Day prettiness.

*  Fed the compost bin with kitchen scraps and garden clippings.  Darren is so proud of all the compost he makes.  For many years we bought mushroom compost every couple of years to top up our veggie garden beds.  Now that we make our own we save about $40 - $50 a year and it's better quality.

*  Baked ANZAC biscuits and scones for the Mother's Day afternoon tea.  I also used my homemade plum jam on the scones.

*  Ate meals from the freezer a few nights as well as fried rice which fed us two nights.  Fried rice is a super cheap meal to make and doesn't need too much meat ( if at all ).   I add about 100 grams of roast chicken finely chopped and it seems to go a long way.

*  With the cooler weather I've been drying the washing on clotheshorses over the ducted heating vents.  One clotheshorse is in the main bathroom over the vent with the door closed.  The washing dries in less than 24 hours. 

*  Now that we use the ducted heater often,  the two spare bedrooms,  laundry,  toilet and alcove area to the laundry is closed off.  This prevents unused areas being heated and reduces our heating bill.

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags.  We reuse them as the second layer when freezing meat.  We also use then as bin liners and to cover bowls in the fridge.

*  Stuck to the two light rule at night but mostly only had one light on.

*  Used blankets to keep warm in our chairs when watching tv at night.  Our ducted heating turns off at 9pm.  With blankets close by we are not tempted to turn the heater back on.

Getting out the pretties for Mother's Day

Getting ready for afternoon tea

Almost ready to pick

Sunshine from the garden

Mother's Day flowers

Sleeping over at Nana and Poppy's

How have you saved money this week ?


Saturday, 8 May 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 8th May 2021

 We have had beautiful Autumn weather here in Melbourne this week.  Our fruit trees are gradually losing their leaves and I've started feeding them into the compost bin.

Here's what else we've been up to - 

*  Dried all the washing on the line and clothes horses.

*  Made a bottle of double strength Miracle Spray.

*  Decanted a large batch of homemade laundry liquid into 2 litre bottles and diluted it ready for use.  I have a couple of people saving their vinegar bottles for this use.  It makes it so much easier to use the smaller bottles than going outside to the large bucket,  stirring it,  getting my hands all soapy then decanting.  If I get enough bottles I should be able to decant it all the next time I make it.

*  Picked silverbeet for quite a few meals as well as lettuce from our garden.  I also found another 3 feijoas on the ground.  You can bet I really enjoyed eating them and will have to wait another 11 - 12 months to taste them again.

*  Saved the shower warm up water,  washing machine water and drink bottle water to reuse around the house and garden.

*  Mended a pair of rubber gloves I use for my cleaning jobs.  They developed a small hole that was letting water in ( not good for toilet cleaning ).  I turned them inside out and placed a couple of pieces of duct / electrical tape over the hole.  So far it's worked really well.

*  Gratefully received cherry tomatoes and limes from a couple of friends.

*  Turned our landline phone handset off at the power point overnight.  It was fully charged anyway and doesn't need to be plugged 24 / 7 to work.

*  Dug up the last of the potatoes in our veggie garden.  We didn't get as many as expected but are very grateful for the 2.1 kg.  We haven't needed to buy potatoes since December last year and this latest lot will last until the end of the month. We can't wait to plant many more next Spring.

*  Poured the contents of travel sized shampoo and conditioner bottles into our large ones.  These little bottles were from our trip to Tasmania last December.

*  Fed lots of weeds,  old bread and a very deformed pear to the chickens.  They've are a little on the fussy side when it comes to kitchen scraps but they have taken a liking to pears.

*  Cooked a double portion of tuna pasta bake which usually serves 8 people.  The plan was to eat one meal for the 2 of us that night and put 3 meals ( 6 portions ) into the freezer.  I added a couple of finely grated carrots and 3 large silverbeet leaves to make it a more well rounded meal.  When I portioned it all out, I ended up with 11 serves,  9 of which went into the freezer.  I guess I won't need to cook tuna pasta bake for a while.

*  Darren emptied a compost bin into the veggie garden and also placed some around the base of a few fruit trees.

Here are a few photos from our garden

Growing kale for the first time

Broccoli almost ready to pick

Drying the washing one rack at a time

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Just Add Water

 A very quick and easy way to save lots of money is to add water to many items around your home.  Just because the manufacturer says you need to use X amount,  doesn't mean you have to.  Of course they want you to use more than really needed.  You'll buy the product more often and boost their profits.

Just add water to these items and keep more money in your bank account.

Shampoo -  This can be diluted by up to 50%.  Even better,  add a pump to the bottle for portion control. 

Conditioner -   The better the quality,  the more you can dilute it.  Add up to 50% water  

Shower gel -  Thick shower gel can be hard to spread over the body and many times falls to the bottom of the shower.  Add 25 - 50% water and also add a pump or pour it into a pump bottle.  

Laundry liquid - Adding too much laundry liquid to the wash can leave residue on your clothes.  Not to mention the extremely strong smelling perfume they add to the liquid.  Laundry liquid can be diluted by 80% and still give you clean,  fresh smelling clothes.  Give it a go.  It really works.

Tinned soup - Chunky tinned soups can be diluted up to 50%.  Even better,  add a handful of small pasta shapes to stretch the soup further.  I find these soups to be too rich in flavour and salt.  Diluting them gives you more serves and lessens the salt intake.  Of course homemade is better for you and cheaper. 

 Liquid hand soap - Dilute it by 75 - 80% and use it as foaming hand wash for a fraction of the store bought variety. 

 Fabric softener - We all know fabric softener is not good to use and certainly not good for the washing machine.  If you need to use it to help remove smells,  dilute it by at least 50%.  Maybe the clothes won't smell like perfume when they are dry,  but they will still have a fresh fragrance. For a cheaper alternative to remove bad smells,  spray the offending odours with white vinegar before washing.

 Kitchen detergent -  If you are heavy handed with the kitchen detergent,  dilute it by 50% and add a pump to the bottle.  I've been doing this for years and my dishes are still clean and sparkling. Some of the Aldi kitchen detergents are really thick and can be diluted by 75%.

Is there something you add water to ?

Has your family noticed anything different ?

Saturday, 1 May 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 1st May 2021

 To be honest,  I'm not sure where my week has gone.  I worked a few days,  have all my housework up to date and spent some time in the garden.  I know I've been as thrifty as possible but maybe those tasks have become routine without really thinking about it.

Here is my smaller than usual list -

*  Used a saved and recycled spray bottle to replace one I was using around our home for the cleaning spray I make up.  I save all spray bottles we have and collect a few from cleaning jobs when the contents are used up.  I  just never know when I'll need a new one.

*  Refilled my herb and spice jars from big packets I bought at Hindustan Imports at bargain prices.

*  Darren picked one feijoa off the ground.  We have two trees growing  in our backyard. One was pruned last year so no fruit this year.  The other tree gave us lots of little fruit last year.  You can bet I savoured that one feijoa.  I also picked silverbeet,  lettuce,  pears and  raspberries from our garden.

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  All crusts are saved in the freezer for when it's time to make dried bread crumbs.

*  Made chunky chicken and veggie soup in the slow cooker while we were at church last Sunday.  The soup was enough for two dinners and one lunch for the two of us.  A super cheap meal.

*  Saved water around the home when possible and used it to fill up the washing machine and watering cans outside.

*  Donated a couple of bags of unwanted items to Savers.  Gratefully received a 20% off discount coupon  which I used straight away to buy some cutlery for Jessica.  She was running low on forks.  They just seem to magically disappear.

*  Ate lots of leftover dinners from the freezer.  This made it an easy week for meal prep.

One of our garden beds

Darren and Luka feeding the chickens

Luka and Bryson - our little sweethearts

Poppy entertaining the boys

How did you spend your week ?

Have you tried any new thrifty ideas ?

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

The Top 10 Items I Buy At Op Shops

As always,  I love a great bargain and op shops have saved us a fortune over the years.  Whether  it be a much needed household item or a birthday present,  op shops are the first place I look.  I quite often have a 'watch ' list in my purse ready for a planned or unplanned trip to a local op shop.  Sometimes the hunt can take a year or two and sometimes I can find the needed item straight away.  Either way,  a trip to the op shop is enjoyable and if nothing is purchased,  it becomes a free outing.

Here are the top 10 items I've purchased from op shops that have saved us so much money.  Of course there are many other things I've purchased over the years. The ones below are the best ones.

*  Jeans.  Op shops offer such a large variety of jeans.  They have racks and racks of jeans that come in all shapes,  sizes,  colors and quality.    I can always find a pair of jeans that fit really well for under $10 and generally they are brand names I can't afford to pay retail for.  When our girls were primary school age we were able to complete their wardrobes with jeans for going out and jeans for around the home.  Our girls were ( and still are ) very different shapes and both on the small side.  Retail shops just didn't offer well fitting jeans for them.

*  Small kitchen appliances.  I've bought slow cookers for under $15,  an iron for $14 that retails for about $70,  an electric knife for $5,  a toaster for $3 and a George Foreman grill / hotplate for $20.  All were as new and tested by the op shop's electrical tester.  As with all things but especially electrical items,  I always keep the receipt until I've tried it out at home.

*  Casserole dishes.  I've fitted out Jessica and Megan's kitchens with new or near new casserole dishes,  pie plates and serving platters.  Most items only cost about $3 or $4 each compared to $10 plus in the shops.  I bought the dishes in classic white or Tiffany blue ( and variations ) as these are the colors they like.  Classic white never dates and goes with anything.  When I've needed a particular dish for my kitchen,  I always look in the op shops.  Sometimes I need to look for a few months but the savings is worth the wait.   

*  Pasta bowls.  Over the years our 25 year old pasta bowls have chipped or cracked due to heavy use.  I've bought sets of 4 or 6 bowls for $4 that look new.  Jessica and Megan have bought pasta bowls from the op shops for their kitchens too.  

*  Cook books.  Although I don't usually buy the cook books for myself,  I have bought many for presents.  Usually I can find them in fantastic condition for $3 - $5.

*  Kitchen utensils.  I've bought good quality stainless steel potato mashers for $2,  Tupperware hamburger presses with lots of containers for $3,  knives and forks for Jessica's kitchen for a few dollars and dumpling moulds for $2.  These are just some of the items I've found over the years.

*  Baby clothes and nursery accessories.   Both Megan and I have bought so many clothes for Luka and Bryson and dirt cheap prices.  Wraps,  cot blankets / doonas,  bibs,  a baby bath and feeding items have all been purchased for just a couple of dollars each.  

*  Kids licenced doona covers.  I've bought Bob The Builder,  Thomas The Tank and Elmo doona covers for Luka and Bryson.  Some were still in the original packaging and cost $7 and under.

*  Silicon cake moulds.  I use these when I make soap and have found lots of great shaped moulds for a fraction of retail prices.  Usually I pay $2 - $3 at the op shop compared to $10 + retail.

*  Home décor.  Although I'm not one to fill my home with things,  I've gradually updated our home with modern country farmhouse décor.  Items I've bought include picture frames,  old bottling jars ( used as vases ),  porcelain jugs,  flowers,  candle holders ( old saucers ),  lampshades and cushions.  All these items cost $5 or under.    

Op shopped home decor

Silicon cake moulds for soap making

Country farmhouse decor

Kitchenware and a cook book for a present.

Utensil and cookie jar from the op shop

Items for Jessica and Megan's kitchen

Baby shower items.  Most are from op shops

What do you love to buy from op shops ?

What has been your biggest op shop bargain ?

Saturday, 24 April 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 24th April 2021

 The days are getting cooler and gradually shorter yet we try to stay as productive as possible.  Autumn planting is finished in our veggie garden and we look forward to a bountiful crop of blessings  Each day we are grateful for the small home we live in that allows us to have a decent sized backyard for a garden.  We are grateful  for our careful planning all those years ago when we thought a veggie garden and fruit trees would be fun to have.  

Here are some of the frugal tasks we've completed this week -

*  I gratefully received TVP ( textured vegetable protein ) from a friend a couple of months ago.  We've been adding it to our mince meat meals like lasagne and spag bol to help stretch the meat further.  With meat prices almost too dear for our budget,  the TVP has been a real blessing.

*  Made a batch of pumpkin scones using pumpkin I bought for 99 cents a kilo ( which is cheap for this time of the year ).  We are hoping to grow our own pumpkins next Summer.

*  Darren picked bunches of flowers from our garden to brighten up our home.  

*  I planted out broccoli and mini cauliflower seedlings I'd grown from seed.

*  Froze lots of leftovers from our dinners.  When we get too many in the freezer we write them into the menu plan for easy nights and very little cleaning up.

*  I did my monthly grocery shopping on Monday and had $40 worth of vouchers from completed online surveys.  Combining these with the 10% off offer at Woolworths ( from our insurance ),  my total shop was reduced to $19.95.  This included a $12 tray of sausages.

*  Enjoyed two dinners out this week.  One at Megan's place and the next night at Jessica's.  Gotta love it when our grown daughters offer to feed us.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and the grandbabies bath water.  All of it was poured into the washing machine.

*  Made a jar of gravy powder using flour,  beef stock powder,  herbs and a little bit of store bought gravy powder I'm trying to use up.

*  I forgot to mention last week that we received some meat leftover from Luka and Bryson's birthday party.  Some of the meat we received were 4 bbq sausages.  I turned them into a sausage casserole in the slow cooker.  I was able to get 6 generous serves by slicing the sausages thinly.

Darren loves color under the pergola

From the garden

Making pumpkin scones

Pumpkin scones for afternoon tea.

Have you increased the amount of veggies you are growing since or during 2020 ?

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Our Money Saving Autumn Garden

With most gardens winding down after a productive Summer,  ours continues to save us quite a bit of money.

Silverbeet grows all year round and our two plants provide us with greens on our dinner plate at least twice a week.  When broccoli is too dear to buy at the supermarket,  silverbeet is a nutricious  alternative.

Our lemon tree still has fruit from last season  as well as new fruit growing that we will be picking in a couple of months.  All fruit we cannot use straight away is juiced and frozen for year round savings.  Lemon chicken,  lemon butter,  lemon on fish and lemon drinks for sore throats are some of the ways we enjoy our lemons.  At 80 cents a lemon in the supermarket,  we are saving a small fortune.

The raspberry bushes are almost at the end of it's picking season.  Since early December we've picked over 4.5 kilos.  All fruit has been frozen as picked and turned into delicious jam a few times a year.  I also make a couple of batches of raspberry and white chocolate muffins for afternoon teas and snacks on the go. The cheapest raspberries to buy are $10 a kilo in the supermarket,  so our bounty would retail for a minimum of $45.  WINNING  !!

The last of our potatoes will be dug up in a week or two.  I'm hoping the latest crop will provide us with free potatoes for another six weeks.  The last time I bought potatoes was mid December last year.

The $4 punnet of lettuce seedlings I planted a few months ago is still growing well.  We've enjoyed many salads during the warm weather we had.  Now that it's cooled,  we like to add lettuce to our lunches of dry biscuits and tuna.  Just another way to get nutrients from  green vegetables.

In a months time I will be picking the first head of broccoli with more to follow shortly. I have many plants at various stages of growing.  If all goes to plan I'll be blanching and freezing lots of broccoli with the hope of not having to buy any for a long time ( if at all ).

We have beautiful displays of vibrant chrysanthemums growing in our flower gardens.  Not only are they enjoyed out in the garden.  We pick punches of flowers to brighten up our home and to add a pop of color.    We love to spread the joy around by taking punches of flowers to our daughter's homes when visiting. 

The chicken have enjoyed many meals of weeds and old veggie plants.  This in turn reduces the amount of chicken feed they eat.

Our labours of 2020

Our chrysanthemum display 

Enjoying flowers in the home

Darren is growing kale ( not for me )

Tiny broccoli seedling

Our bigger broccoli plants

Our lettuce patch

Lots of flowers

Our entertainment

Just coming into bloom

Silverbeet for another meal

There are always lemons.

Are you still picking anything from your garden ?

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Our Latest Frugal Tasks Saturday 17th April 2021

It's been a while since I've been able to post on my blog.    We've had so much sickness go through our family over the last 4 - 5 weeks.  I was sick for 3 weeks with a sore throat that turned into a chest infection and sinus infection.  A week into my sickness,  Megan and both her babies got gastro.  Megan ended up in hospital and Darren and I looked after the boys at different times as needed.  This was over the weekend Megan was meant to have the boys combined birthday party.  It was postponed for a month.

Then Darren got a touch of gastro but recovered quickly.  Just as I was starting to feel a little better Jessica took me away for a weekend to Daylesford.  We had a wonderful time away and enjoyed the beautiful countryside,  good food and fresh air.  

Five days after our weekend away,  Jessica was admitted to hospital with appendicitis.  She spent most of Easter in hospital after having her appendix removed then the next five days recovering at our place ( back in her old bedroom ).  Then we had the boys birthday party last weekend.

Throughout this challenging time we've tried to stay as frugal as possible.  There were a few times when we bought Subway for lunches on the run when we physically couldn't be at home to eat.  We've also stayed away from the shops..  I've been quite content to stay at home and sit in front of the tv.

Here are some of the frugal tasks we've completed lately ( that I can remember ) -

*  Collected the free flower and veggie seeds from the Woolworths promotion.  Darren has made plans to plant them out..

*  Picked flowers from the garden to brighten our day.  When we were preparing Jessica's room for her stay,  Darren picked a bouquet of flowers from our garden for her to enjoy.

*  Made a  couple of batches of chunky chicken soup from scratch.  We enjoyed this over many meals and it was just what we needed.

*  We have been trying to eat smaller serves at dinnertime each night.  My homemade meat pie usually serves 4 - 5 people.  The last one I made gave us six serves.  Two eaten that night and four went into the freezer.

*  Went to Hindustan Imports on the way home from a cleaning job and purchased herbs,  spices and baking ingredients in bulk at cheap prices.

*  I continue to pick raspberries almost every day.  We've also picked tomatoes,  zucchinis,  strawberries,  lettuce,  silverbeet,  pears,  lemons and beans from the garden.  Shortly we'll be digging up the last of our potatoes before Winter.

*  Used recycled bread bags as bin liners in the bathrooms.

*  Made up bottles of diluted dishwashing detergent to clean things around our home.

*  Took snacks with us to Daylesford to save a little money.

*  Bought chocolate Easter bunnies at half price after Easter.  They have been put away for next Easter.

*  Took cuttings from a few plants in our garden.  Hopefully they'll take and we can plant them out next Spring.  

*  Made a big batch of pita chips for munching on.

*  Continued to cook meals for 4 - 6 people like I've always done.  All leftovers are carefully portioned out and frozen for future no fuss nights.  


Freshly picked beans

From the garden

Jessica holding a large pear from our tree.

Flowers Darren and Luka picked for me.

How have you been frugal lately ?

Saturday, 13 March 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th March 2021

We continue to make the most of the produce we are picking from our backyard. Over the last four weeks the only fruit and veggies we've bought from the shops are carrots,  cucumber and a few bags of lettuce ( our seeds weren't growing.  We now have seedlings we can harvest from ).  This has been a big saving and blessing for us.

Here's what else we've been up to -

*  Made 4 jars of pear butter in the slow cooker using pears from our little tree.  Two jars went into the fridge and two into the freezer.   From my research,  pear butter only lasts two weeks in the fridge.  By freezing some it means it will all be used up within a good time.

*  Descaled the kettle using citric acid.

*  Darren used the compost from one of the bins on the veggie garden and one flower bed.  The other bin now needs to mature ( bake ) for a couple of months while we start filling up the newly emptied one.

*  Turned a couple of sauce bottles upside down to get the last of the contents out.  

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Added crushed up wheat bix and corn flakes to the dried seasoned bread crumbs to make it stretch further.

*  Made and sold a  double batch of raspberry and white chocolate muffins to a friend who had ordered them.  The profit I made has been put aside to go towards presents for next year.

*  Made plain dried bread crumbs from saved bread crusts.  I like to keep a jar of plain bread crumbs to add to meatloaves etc without the seasoning.

*  Picked zucchini,  pears,  tomatoes,  silverbeet and raspberries from our garden.  The zucchini was planted as seeds in mid January so it's only taken 7 weeks from seed to picking.  

*  Sold a dozen eggs to a friend.

*  Made a 10 litre bucket of laundry liquid from scratch.  As I pour it into smaller containers it's diluted down with water 50 / 50.

*  Made zucchini fritters and added zucchini to a tuna pasta bake to stretch it further.

Lettuce now ready to pick

Broccoli seedlings growing

Zucchini growing

Our latest potato crop

One mandarin tree is in bloom

Muffins from my kitchen.

What frugal things did you do this week ?

Have you tried making laundry liquid ?