Saturday, 21 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Satyrday 21st October 2017

Frugal tasks can save a few cents or big dollars.  All are important in the grand scheme of saving money.  Here's how we saved this week -

*  Saved the shower warm up water to use on our veggie seedlings.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Continued to stockpile for the Summer months.  I'm only using my usual grocery money and being really wise about what I buy.  I also have the grocery slush fund as a back up.

*  Ate freezer meals ( leftovers ) two nights.

*  Redecorated 10 department store gift bags using card making scraps I had on hand.

*  Dug out a 4 or 5 litre ice cream container to save the water from our drink bottles.  This will be poured on a fruit tree each day.

*   Wrote a menu plan for the next couple of weeks to use up lots of food from the freezer.  By doing this,  I crossed a few items off my grocery list for the month.

*  Took advantage of Priceline's 50% off hair care sale and stocked up on shampoo and conditioner.

*  Turned the heater off at the wall so it doesn't come on automatically in the morning.  We also kept the heater off most of the time during the day and had the curtains open fully to capture the sunlight ( when it wasn't hot ).

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes most nights.

*  Refilled and diluted the dishwashing liquid bottle.  I still have the pump on it which reduces over use.

*  Lined both bathroom bins with lots of bread bags.

*  Megan found four good quality stylish coats at Savers for well under $50.  Jessica found a denim jacket with a fur collar at another Savers for $3.  She can't wait to go back again to see what she finds.

*  Made 10 jars of plum jam and 8 jars of raspberry jam.  All of the fruit and lemon juice used came from the freezer.  The raspberries came from our garden last Summer.  Some of this jam will  be given as presents.             

Homemade plum jam

Re decorated gift bags

Roast lamb dinner

How did you save time,  money and energy this week ?

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Leftover Steak Casserole

A couple of weeks ago we had a bbq on the AFL Grand Final day.  Darren went to the butcher to buy a few trays of bbq steaks on sale for $10.99kg.  We don't usually eat steak due to it's price per kilo so this was a lovely treat.  Not everyone had a full steak so there were two left over.  Wanting to stretch the steaks to feed more than two people,  I came up with my own recipe for a steak casserole.

I must say,  this casserole was a hit.  It's tasty,  has lots of veggies and most importantly,  has enough beef for every mouthful.

2 bbq steaks about 400 - 600 grams
2 large carrots - sliced
1 - 1 1/2 cups of beans
1 cup of corn
1 large stick of celery - diced
500 - 700 mls of liquid beef stock or 2 tablespoons of  stock powder and water
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of mixed herbs
pepper,  onion flakes and garlic granules to taste ( or fresh )
3 tablespoons of corn flour mixed in water to thicken

Lightly brown the steaks in a fry pan or use leftover cooked steaks.
Slice the steaks into longish strips and add to a preheated slow cooker
Add all the veggies,  sauce,  tomato paste,  herbs,  beef stock and seasonings.
Cook on high for 8 - 10 hours for a slow,  slow cooker or 4 - 6 hours for a fast slow cooker.
Mix the corn flour and water together then add to the casserole and stir in well to thicken
Cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve over a bed of mashed potato or with crusty bed on the side.


*  I used two heaped dessert spoons of beef stock powder and water to make liquid stock.

*  Due to the stock powder I did not need to add salt to the casserole.

*  As with most of my recipes,  you can add any veggies you like.

*  The liquid stock needs to be enough to cover all the meat and veggies.  Add extra water if needed.

*  I didn't weigh the leftover bbq steaks I used.  They were thin but largish.

*  This casserole freezes well.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Slow Down Sunday

Life gets far too busy at times.  What have you done today to slow down and enjoy life without spending money ?

New peaches growing.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 14th October 2017

Gosh,  I've had a busy week.  I started off my week by making lots of things from scratch.  Then I became super busy reorganising my blog shop into categories and uploading lots of new items to sell.  Our Spring / Summer veggie garden was planted and more weed pulling was achieved.  Here's what else I got up to -

*  Made 2 x 600 ml bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Gratefully received a top and skirt from Jessica when she was cleaning out her wardrobe.  YAY for a  daughter who is the same size as me.

*  Made lots of pita chips for snacks.

*  Made two bottles of double strength Miracle Spray.

*  Made a quadruple batch of laundry powder.

*  Dried most of  the washing on the line.

*  Ate out of the freezer for most meals.  I'm trying to make room in the freezers for legs of lamb which are starting to come down in price.

*  Only bought milk from the shops. 

*  Planted lettuce,  tomatoes,  cucumber and beans in the veggie garden.

*  Sold three dozen eggs.

*  Sold some crafts in my blog shop.

*  Hand washed the dishes most days.

*  Saved the washing machine water for each next load. 

*  Bought corned silverside for $5.99kg.

*  Froze two singles serves of leftover tuna pasta bake.

*  Gratefully received a bread stick from a friend.  I turned it into mini garlic breads and froze them to go with meals in the future.

Cucumber seedling

Tomato seedling

Peaches growing

Christmas Hand towel for sale in the shop

Christmas coffee cup card for sale in the shop.

Christmas decorations for sale in the shop.

How frugal was your week ?  Did you get lots of tasks done ?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Tomatoes We Grow

Last year Darren came across a punnet of budget friendly tomato plants.   We had an amazing success with them so I thought I'd share the information with others.

They are available at Bunnings Hardware stores for $2.97 per punnet.
There are approximately 6 plus seedling per punnet.
They are called Tall Staking variety

We found them to grow more upwards than out which makes them suitable for smaller veggie gardens.  They are a medium sized tomato and from our experience last year,  nothing seemed to eat them and there was no signs of disease.

When planting the tomatoes,  we added a few timber stakes around each plant to tie the branches to as they grew. We used old cut up socks as garden ties.  These are free and reduce damage to the branches.

Unfortunately Darren didn't keep the information label from last year.  So I went into Bunnings with the words " tall staking " in my mind hoping they'd be available this year.  I found quite a few punnets of them but no variety listed on the label.

 I had a staff member ring the suppler to find out the variety.  They then rang the grower who said they are the Gross Lisse tomato.  We've grown Gross Lisse tomatoes before and found them to be much bigger and prone to bugs / diseases.   The staff member from Bunnings seems to think the parent plant from the ones I bought have better growing characteristics.  I'll go with that.

From the 7 plants we grew last year,  we had enough tomatoes for salad eating,  about 12 jars of relish and 26 x 410 gram tin's worth to freeze.  In other words,  plenty of tomatoes.

The plants did die pretty quickly once the tomatoes started ripening so we kept picking as we needed. Once there seemed no life left in the tomato plants,  Darren picked the rest off whether they'd ripened or not.  The green tomatoes were left outside under the pergola to ripens in the Autumn sun.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 7th October 2017

Four days of birthday celebrations and daylight savings took it toll on both Darren and I early this week. We had a sluggish start to the week but somehow managed to get through with some frugal tasks completed  Here's our frugal list

* Dried most of the washing on the line including bedding.  Darren did throw some things in the dryer on his day of.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.  I used this water to clean the kitchen sink drains with vinegar and bi carb.  Cleaned the dishwasher using bi carb, vinegar and Miracle Spray

*  Made a steak casserole using two bbq steaks leftover from our AFL Grand Final bbq.  I sliced them thinly and cooked the casserole in the slow cooker.   I was able to get 6 generous serves from the two steaks.   I'll post the recipe shortly. 

*  Fed lots of grass and clover to the chicken.

*  Jessica had a small empty bottle of argon oil in her rubbish bag.  She said she couldn't get any more out.  I turned it upside down for a couple of days and got 3 more uses from it. 

*  Picked a few very large leaves of silverbeet and added them to a double batch of spag bol sauce to stretch it further.  I also froze two portions suitable for two people.

*  Saved the washing machine water for each next load.  As the weather warms up I'll start saving the warm up shower water for the garden.

*  Baked a packet mix of " I Quit Sugar " biscuits that was given to me.  I didn't have the fancy syrup needed for the recipe so I used honey and added choc chips ( for extra flavour ).  Something wasn't right with the recipe on the box because I ended up with slop that couldn't be formed into dough balls to bake.  I had to add a fair amount of extra flour to the mix.  Let's just say Darren refuses to eat any more after trying one.  They do have a strange flavour to them.  I will persist and eat the rest over the next few days.  Maybe the chickens can help me get rid of them.

*  Tried to stick to the 2 light rule most of the time.

*  Had the heater off for 3 days during daylight hours.

*  Bought 5 Bolar blade roasts on sale for $6.99kg from Australian Butchers.   This was my first visit there after Cath from the Cheapskates Club posted the specials on Facebook.  I was suprised to learn there is a store nearby in Dandenong.  They also had chicken drumsticks on sale for $1.79kg but I already have plenty in the freezer.

* Used the dry mop on the bamboo floors instead of getting the vacuum cleaner out.

*  Gratefully received lots of card making supplies from Darren for my birthday.  I can't wait to use them.

I Quit Sugar Biscuits

Birthday flowers from Jessica and her boyfriend

Cleaning the kettle

Plum tree in full bloom

Steak casserole - YUM !!!

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Thursday, 5 October 2017

DIY Carpet Deodoriser

Back in the days when my girls were little and our carpets were heavily used,  I bought the carpet deodoriser powders ( it that what they're called ? ).  I loved the way my carpet smelled after using it,  but didn't like the price tag that came with it.

It got me thinking about a way to make it myself.  I knew bi carb was great for absorbing odours and I loved the fragrance of a few essential oils I used in oil burners.  So I put two and two together and came up with my own carpet deodoriser.

1 cup of bi carb of soda .
10 - 12 drops of essential oil
small bowl,
medium / large salt shaker
cling wrap or a small plastic bag

Mix the bi carb and essential oil together in a small bowl.  Use the whisk until well blended.

Spoon the mixture into the salt shaker and cover the holes with cling wrap or a plastic bag

Let the mixture sit over night for the bi carb to absorb the oil fragrance.

Sprinkle over your carpets where needed and let it sit for at least 1/2 hour.

Vacuum up and enjoy the lovely fragrance.


*  I only make up what I need to use.  I don't make big batches because essential oil fragrance can change when left over time.  You'll lose the beautiful top notes and be left with a not so nice smell.

*  Bi carb can be bought in bulk from herb and spice shops, cleaning wholesalers or pool shops.  It's also known as ph Buffer from pool shops and is only safe to use in cleaning or in pools. In other words,  not for baking.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 30th September 2017

There's never a dull moment at the Gower Abundant Cottage.  We've started to get the gardens back into shape after a cold Winter.  Darren moved the strawberry patches to make room for our new grape vines ( to be planted shortly ).  I'm starting to see dirt in the veggie patch after much weed pulling.  Lots of cards and crafts were made and sold.  We de-cluttered a little and completed the usual housework tasks. There's no time to tv watching during the day.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Made up a bottle of diluted shower gel to be used for refilling foaming hand wash pumps.

*  Blanched and froze lots of broccoli.

*  Sold two dozen eggs,  a jar of jam,  a bottle of Miracle Spray and a few Christmas coffee cup cards to a cleaning client.

*  Diluted a bottle of Windex.  I'd already diluted it by 50% but it needed a little more diluting.

*  Darren took a couple of bags to Savers and received a couple of discount stamps on our cards.

*  Sold a few new styles of cards and face washers to a friend and blog reader.

*  Used the $20 voucher from the Good Guys to buy a stick blender at a bargain price.  It comes with a bowl and lid so I can process nuts,  veggies and lots of other things.

*  Picked silverbeet to add to the spag bol sauce. I used the new stick blender to process it until it was fine.  This is a wonderful way to prevent family members from picking it out.  I also added linseed meal to the meat.  No one noticed they were eating extra fibre.

*  Dried some washing on the line,  some on clothes horses and only the sheets went in the dryer.

*  Froze two serves of spag bol, 

*  Avoided the shops for the whole week.  For some reason we still had enough milk,  fruit and veg to keep us going.

*  Sold 1 dozen eggs to a friend. 

*  Darren booked a car space in the city by going online.  This is a much cheaper way to park the car and guarantees you get a car space.

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags which I promptly de - crumbed and lined the bathroom bins with.

*  Fed grass and weeds to the chickens ( as well as their usual feed ).

*  Chopped up lots of broccoli stalks and froze them into portions to use in casseroles. 

The heart of my home.

Pear blossoms on our tree

One of the cards I sold

Now selling in my blog shop.

Cherry blossoms. The hope of fruit to come.

What does your frugal list look like this week ?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Apple Sponge Dessert

This comforting dessert is a great way to use up a few wrinkly apples from the bottom of the fridge.  I prefer to use Granny Smith apples ( cooking apples ) for their tart flavour which is offset by the sugar and cinnamon.

2 - 3 Granny Smith apples
butter for greasing
2 teaspoons of sugar
cinnamon for dusting

! tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 cup of Self Raising flour
1/2 cup of milk  (approximately )

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples

Arrange the apples on the bottom of a greased pie dish.  The apples can be arranged up the sides a little but allow room at the top for the sponge batter.

Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of sugar.

In a bowl mix the melted butter,  1/4 cup of sugar,  egg,  flour and milk until it forms a smooth,  slightly runny batter.

Pour the batter over the apples making sure they are all covered.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 - 40 minutes until golden on top.

Run a knife around the edges to loosen. Place a larger dinner plate on top of the pie dish and flip over so the dessert is now on the dinner plate.

Serve with cream or icecream ( or by itself ).

Serves 5 - 6.

The final product

Arranging the apples

Cinnamon and sugar added 

Adding thr sponge batter

Ready to flip

Ready to slice and eat.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd September 2017

The weather has slightly warmed up here in Melbourne.  I can now start thinking about our Summer veggie garden and pulling out the weeds.  I've had a busy week crafting and with work.  Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Dug down to the bottom of a lipstick to get every last drop ( smidge ) out.  I've been doing this with every lipstick for the last 3 - 4 years and I estimate it's saved me about $24 each year.  The lipsticks cost about $10 but I think there's another $8 worth down below the tube.  I go through about 3 lipsticks a year.

* Mended two pairs of socks.

*  Received lots of ribbon and lace I can use in card making and other crafts.

*  Bought lots of broccoli from Fresh Value Market for 99 cents a kilo.

*  Received a bag of lemons.  I've already frozen the juice,

*  Lifted the last of my eyeliner up so I can keep using it for the next few weeks.  There's so much below the plastic dispenser. 

*  Made lots of decorated hand towel and face washer sets.  They will be for sale in my blog shop next week.

* Due to me being sick over our wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago,  Darren and I had a belated  celebration last Saturday.  We went into the city for dinner then went on the Melbourne Star ( giant Ferris wheel ).  Megan gave us a 2 for 1 voucher for Melbourne Star.  We had a lovely evening out.

*  Picked silverbeet from the garden for two meals.

*  Received another $20 voucher from the Good Guys electrical store.

*  Had the heater turned off for three days this week.  Spring weather has finally hit Melbourne and the sun is shining every now and then.

*  Dried the washing on the line and clothes horses.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Topped up all our cars with petrol just as the price started going up.

*  Darren received a $40 saving on his car service.  Another discount voucher from Megan.

*  Blessed a local mum in need by shopping from my stockpile.  Another wonderful reason to have a healthy stockpile.  A few of my card making friends also shopped from their stockpiles to help too.

Just before baking

Decorated hand towels

In the garden

Princess at home on top of my card making bag

Darren insisted on buying the Melbourne Star coffee mug
because of the color on the inside

Raspberry plants starting to grow again.

A sneak peek of the latest card I'm working on.

How did you save time,  money or energy this week ?

Thursday, 21 September 2017

25 + Ways To Reuse Iceream Containers

Plastic icecream containers are so useful and handy to use around the home. I find it really hard to throw one out.  Instead,  I find a new way to get the most out of this FREE container.  I've listed 25 ways to use icecream containers.  I've personally used 24 of these ideas around the home.  Can you pick which one I haven't used ?

Feel free to add your own ideas and let's see if we can get to 50 or 75 ideas.  Share this post with your friends and help reduce the amount of containers going to landfill.

1.  As biscuit / baking containers.

2. To store Barbie Shoes.

3.  For storing homemade first aid kits

4.  For freezing food

5.  Travel sickness bucket.

6.  For storing bits and pieces for the home like screws,  curtain brackets,  curtain hooks,  washers from furniture etc.

7.  For storing battery packets and loose batteries.

8.  As drawer dividers for socks and underwears.

9  Lego block containers.

10.  To make large ice blocks for Eskys.

11.  Small round icecream containers make great pencil holders.  Have fun decorating the outside.

12.  Long oblong containers from ice cream shops make wonderful fruit storage in the fridge.

13.  Pet water bowl for outside.

14.  A large one with a handle makes a great peg bucket.  I used the same one for 10+ years.

15.  For storing plastic cutlery neatly.  I have one in the pantry

16  For storing coffee,  sugar,  salt and pepper sachets from accommodation

17.  For storing hair ties,  ribbons,  butterfly clips and headbands.  Years of first hand experience with my girls.

18.  As a planter.  Just add a couple of holes in the bottom.

19  For keeping seedlings hydrated.  When we buy a punnet of seedlings,  Darren puts them in an icecream container with 5cm of water in the bottom.

20.  As a mini rubbish bin in the bathroom.

21.  Tea,  coffee and sugar canisters  Decorate the outside to tie in with your kitchen colors.

22.  For storing bin liner packets.  Those bin liners can be hard to keep tidy when they come in a plastic packet.  An icecream container will keep them in place.

23.  For storing bits of ribbon.

24.  Make up storage to prevent the bathroom cupboards from getting dirty.

25.  To prevent food from being damaged when travelling by car.

Different sizes and colors

Household bits and pieces

Battery storage

How do you use icecream containers around your home,  garden  and garage ?

Saturday, 16 September 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 16th September 2017

This week feels like it's been more productive than the last couple of weeks.  I'm now back at work,  made some cards and crafts,  had my card ladies over for a day of card making and did a monthly grocery shop.  Most of the usual housework got done with the help of Darren and i even had a chance to pull a few weeds.  Ahhh, the fresh air.  Here's what else I got up to this week -

*  Sold four dozen eggs.  It looks like 3 of our 4 chicken are now laying again.  During Winter we were down to one chicken laying.

*  Gratefully received lots of card making supplies from a couple of friends.  I've already started using the new supplies to make more cards.

*  Saved the washing machine water for each next load.

* Did my monthly food shopping on Thursday and stuck to the list.  I've started stockpiling for Summer and the holiday season.  Because of the extra buying,  I need to be really careful to stick to the list so I don't over spend my grocery budget of $250 per month.

*  Froze 4 serves of chicken curry.  It was only the three of us home for dinner that night so thee was more than the usual leftovers.  If you're ever after a REALLY budget friendly meal,  chicken curry is certainly cheap to make.

*  Bought 2 trays of sausages marked down by 20%.  I've portioned them into meal sizes and frozen for Spring /Summer bbqs.

*  Recycled a gift bag for a gift  and gave a handmade card for a birthday.

* Fed new Spring grass,  weeds and bread crusts to the chickens.

*  Darren gratefully received three avocados from a friend.

*  Jessica made sugar biscuits for a party she went to.  She also made potato and leek soup to take to Uni for her lunch.

-  Turned lights off around the house.  Some night's Darren and I just had the light from the tv on.
-  Closed the ducted heating vent and doors to the girl's bedrooms when they weren't home.
-  Dried most of the clothes on coat hangers and clothes horses
-  Turned the standby lights off appliances when we finished using them.
-  Put lids on saucepans to reduce gas usage.
-  Closed the curtains when the sun went down ( or just before )
-  Boiled the kettle to make cuppas then used the rest of the water to wash the dishes.
-  Hand washed the dinner dishes when there wasn't enough for the dishwasher.

Flowers Megan bought me two weeks ago.  Still going strong.

Jessica's potato and leek soup.

A new card coming soon to my blog shop.

Christmas coffee up card.

How did you save money this week ?

Thursday, 14 September 2017

10 Favourite Savings Tips

I have lots and lots of saving tips that have become my favourites over the years.  If you are looking to save lots of money for very little effort,  here are my top 10 money saving tips.  Many of them were light bulb moments for me.

Freezing biscuit / cookie dough.  I discovered this concept / savings tip on the Cheapskates Club forum quite a few years ago.  I asked if you can freeze dough and was suprised to learn you can.  It was a huge light bulb moment.   Before this I was making and baking the whole batch of dough to find out after a week, half of the biscuits were still uneaten.  It didn't help that some recipes make 60 biscuits.  I now bake a tray of biscuits and freeze the rest of the dough into log sizes.  Not a scrap of dough is wasted and it's handy to have on standby when visitors pop in or I'm asked to bring a plate.

Making Miracle Spray.  Oh my goodness,  how this has changed my life.  Joy from the Cheapskates Club ( and family member ) mentioned making Miracle Spray.  You could say my ears pricked up and I asked for the recipe.  Now I no longer need to buy spray and wipe,  toilet cleaner,  laundry stain remover, carpet stain remover and shower cleaner.  It's better for my health and I'm no longer breathing in toxic cleaning fumes.  I use Miracle Spray at all of my cleaning jobs too.  I've saved a small fortune over the years.

Turning standby lights off.  I know this is probably an obvious one but it makes me more conscious of our power usage and helps us keep our power bills down.

Making Laundry Powder.  Before I met Cath from the Cheapskates Club, I didn't know you could make laundry powder.  I'm from the generation of just buying what's in the supermarket.  Laundry powder is so easy and cheap to make.  It's been wonderful on my skin and great for my purse too.

Saving shower warm up water.  When water restrictions came into force in Melbourne in 2006,  most people started viewing their water usage in a different light.  I couldn't stand seeing good clean water going down the drain.  So I found a couple of plastic hand washing basins and put them in each shower to collect the water.  I use it to water the garden,  to top up the washing machine,  to clean the car, to wash the kitty litter tray and to mop the floors.

Diluting dishwashing liquid,  vinegar,  window cleaner,  shampoo and conditioner,  foaming hand wash etc etc.  When money was really tight back in 2014 I started looking at our consumption habits to save a few dollars.  Just because I buy a product at a certain strength doesn't mean I have to use it that way. Companies want us to consume products quickly to increase their bottom line.  I'm more interested in my bottom line.

Freezing leftovers.  We've always use the 48 hour rule in our fridge.  Leftover must be consumed within 48 hours or they get tossed out to avoid food poisoning.  By portioning out the leftovers when I serve dinner then freezing them,  no food is wasted.  The bonus is I get a stockpile of freezer meals for emergencies or busy days.  I always view freezer meals as a free meal..

Bulk / batch cooking.  This is really a time and money saver.  It takes no longer to cook four meals of spag bol sauce than what it does to cook one.  The savings are in the reduced power usage and having meals in the freezer to avoid takeaway.

Stockpiling.  My favourite subject.  Having a stockpile saves us so much money.  I don't pay full price for many, many groceries.  For example,  tinned soup comes on sale for $1 a tin during Winter I stock up enough to get me through until the following Winter.  I don't want to pay $2 a tin during Summer to put it in a casserole.

Making dry mixes like hot choc drink mix,  gravy powder,  French onion soup mix.  Once upon a time,  I bought packets of this and that.  Now I just make up my own using ingredients I already have.  I know exactly what's in them and I'm not paying retail prices. 

Stockpiling all year round.

Bulk cooking and freezing leftovers

Making laundry powder
Making dried seasoned bread crumbs.

What is your all time favourite savings tip ?