Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Prepping For Winter

Winter and the cold weather it brings is just around the corner.  Have you starting preparing for Winter so you can live comfortably in your home ?

Here are some ideas for warming up your home and getting your outdoor area ready -

*  Clean your outdoor furniture and pack away anything that is light weight.  This could include chairs,  pool toys,  garden tools,  bbq equipment,  rubbish and umbrellas. You don't want to be running around outside in the middle of a storm rescuing flying objects.

*  If your garden sheds or garages leak,  either fix the leaks or move everything away from potential leaks.

*  Get out your extra blanket and give them a wash.  Pick a windy day to dry them on the line or if they are polar fleece,  they'll dry quickly on a clothes horses within a day.

*  Get your door snakes out   Do they need filling up ?  Maybe you need to make new ones.  Scrap bits of material hand sewn or by machine and filled with rice,  sawdust,  old rags or sand make great door snakes.

*  Have your heat packs in an easy to reach location?  Do you need to make more ?

*  Service  your heater if it's due.  If it breaks down,  you could be waiting for up to a week for a repairer to be available ( from past experience ).

*  If you have a portable heater,  get it out of storage and check it over for damage.  If your main heater breaks down,  it's important to have your back up ready to go.

*  Do you have a good supply of hot drinks ?  Tea,  coffee,  hot chocolate,  cuppa soups or even Vegemite and hot water ( not a fan ) are a quick way to heat up your insides.

How do you get ready for Winter ?  

Saturday, 18 May 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th May 2019

Thankyou for all the lovely Mother's Day wishes from last week's post.  I surprised my Mum by appearing on her doorstep at lunchtime ( Dad knew I was coming ).  Jessica popped over to surprise her too and we had a lovely afternoon together.  Megan,  Kurt and Luka came over for dinner and I enjoyed lots of Nana cuddles with Luka.

Here's what else I got up to this week while having cleaning jobs from Monday to Friday -

*  Gratefully received a couple of cauliflower plants from my Mother Inlaw..

*  Made up a bottle of double strength Miracle Spray for around the home ( diluted as I refill the spray bottles ) and two bottles of usual strength Miracle Spray for cleaning jobs.

*  We had Mother's Day dinner at home instead of going out to a noisy restaurant.  For the price of one restaurant meal we fed five adults salmon or steak on a bed of mash and streamed beans,  roasted honey carrots with a citrus butter.  Courtesy of Darren and Jessica.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water to use in the washing machine.

*  Dried most of the washing on clothes horses placed over the ducted heating vents in the floor.

*  Gratefully received lots of glass jars from my Mum and Dad.

*  Stocked up on Cadbury blocks of chocolate on sale for $2.40 a block in Coles.  Some have been put aside to go with birthday presents.

*  Cut up an old dressing gown that Jessica was throwing out.  It had a few holes in it but will be great to line Princess' bed.

*  Picked about 60 - 70 feijoas from the ground under the tree.  They are not as big as they should be but the taste is still the same.

*  Stocked up on deodorants on sale ar half price.  We've been Avon deodorant users for over 20 years.  Due to Avon now not being available in Australia,  we've had to find out what's available to buy in the supermarkets.  There's so much choice that we didn't know which ones to buy. I guess time will tell us if the ones we bought are doing the job.

*  Found a bottles of body spray in the bathroom cupboard so I repurposed it into a toilet spray.

*  Bought a new jacket from Savers op shop and received a 20% discount by using my donation card.

*  Made a few men's greeting cards last Saturday at our monthly Cheapskates Club card making group.  I'm on a mission this year to learn new styles of men's cards and to use supplies I already have without buying new things.

Part of our chocolate stockpile.

Men's greeting cards

Almost finished

Did you stock up on any grocery specials this week ?

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

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Having A Well Stocked Pantry

As the temperature drops outside, I'm finding lots of comfort in hot casseroles , stews and soups. They warm the body and soul. My slow cooker gets used all year round, but in Winter it almost goes into overdrive.

It's great to have a well stocked pantry, fridge and freezer. It makes it so much easier to feed the family or to change the menu around if things arise. My well stocked pantry came in handy a few years ago as I had a slight disaster in the kitchen. I'd gotten up early one morning to make a chicken curry to put in the slow cooker. I'd already put the cooked chicken in, the vegies were getting a head start in the microwave and all I needed to do was make the liquid up. I opened up a tin of cream of chicken soup to find that it was black and mouldy inside. YUCKY, YUCKY !!!!

I was so shocked at the color that I tilted the tin to make sure I had the right soup ( I thought it must have been mushroom soup ) Soup spilled all over the bench and kitchen floor. After cleaning up the mess I realised it was the right soup, but in the wrong condition. Thankfully I had another few tins of the soup in the pantry. I was able to continue making the curry. Phew !!! Later that day I returned the soup to the supermarket for a replacement.

Having spares of the soup meant that nothing was wasted and the meal was not a disaster. Just a slight hiccup in the making.

I've met many people over the years who love to have the bare minimum in their pantries. They have their tins and packages all lined up along the front of the shelves with nothing behind them. Easy to see everything yet so easy to run out. My pantry is not big by any means , but it is tidy, clean, well organised and WELL STOCKED !!!! Ready for any recipe, occasion or disaster. 

Do you keep your pantry well stocked ?  

Have you had a disaster in the kitchen ?

Saturday, 11 May 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 11th May 2019

This week has seen me in the kitchen doing lots of cooking and baking.  It sure does warm my heart and body to have yummy food to eat during the colder weather.  Having the oven on has laso helped to warm our home.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Cut up a cereal packet ( the bag ) into squares to put between crumpets and hamburgers patties when I freeze them.

*  Our feijoa tree is dropping lots of fruit.  Each day for the last week I've been picking up handfuls of fruit from the ground.  I'm not a big fruit eater but I could eat a bucket of feijoas each day.

*  Made a big pot of chunky chicken and veggie soup from the stock I made last weekend.  I also had another chicken carcass on hand so I made another slow cooker full of stock.  I didn't need more soup at the time so the stock has gone into the freezer.

*  Made sausage rolls from the really cheap sausage mince I bought a few weeks ago.  Some sausage rolls were eaten for lunch by the family and the rest went into the freezer for snacks.

*  Made ANZAC biscuits for morning teas this week.  I used a couple of logs of dough I'd frozen a couple of months ago.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Baked pumpkin scones using cooked pumpkin I'd frozen last Summer.  Most of the scones went into the freezer for morning teas.  No wonder I rarely have room in my freezer with things being taken out,  cooked the placed in the freezer again.  It does save us lots of money though.

*  Donated another bag of goodies to Savers and received another discount stamp.  Jessica and I bought a few items of clothing for Luka in the next size up and received 20% off.  When Luka comes to visit or stay with us,  we like to be prepared with some changes of clothing.

*  Fed the compost bins with kitchen scraps almost every day.

*  Fed bread crusts and cauliflower leaves to the chickens.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water to pour into the washing machine for each next load.

*  Froze lots of leftover into single serves.  My stockpile seems to grow so quickly.  I'm thinking I need to write freezer meals into the menu plan for every Sunday night.

*  Mended a cardigan and Jessica took up a few pairs of trousers.

Homemade sausage rolls

ANZAC biscuits

Feijoas from our tree

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

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Cleaning On A Budget

Having a clean home is important to me. When my home is clean and tidy, everything is right in my world. My mind is at peace and I can relax knowing that if anyone showed up unexpectedly I wouldn't be embarrassed or be shoving things in cupboards out of sight.

Having a clean home doesn't have to drain the food budget. Yes, the few cleaning products I buy are included in my small food budget. As a hired domestic cleaner of over 20 years, I've learnt that the fancy cleaning products are not necessary to keep a home clean. More than anything, they are toxic, expensive and a complete waste of space ( and money ).

Microfibre cloths are a great invention. I use the cheap version at home and work. They last for years and reduce the need for chemicals.

Miracle Spray is the best cleaning product I've come by. It's great for cleaning showers, toilets, sinks, floors, stoves, laundry stains and carpet stains. I'll be forever grateful to Joyofquilting  from The Cheapskates Club for sharing her recipe.  It's changed my life, my health and my budget. For about $1 you can make up a large 2 litre bottle.

Bleach is used every few months to keep the shower grout looking clean.

A small dash of disinfectant is used in the washing if the clothes are smelly.

Mirrors only need to be cleaned with water and a microfibre cloth for glass.  

Floors are cleaned with vinegar, detergent and boiling water. Or you can just use boiling water. 

It's worth having a think about the cleaning products you have in your home. Do they really work as well as the advertising claims ? Is it worth the money ?  Could a bar of soap do the same job as the expensive products.

How do you keep your home clean ?

Saturday, 4 May 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 4th May 2019

Our frugal week has mostly consisted of keeping the house running and cooking all our meals.  I've worked five days this week due to the public holidays the previous week and Darren has been getting into his Bible College studies in his free time.  Here's what else we got up to -

*  Used old bread bags to line both our bathroom bins.

*  Decorated department store bags using papers I already had on hand.  They are then reused for gift giving for all occasions.  This week I had three gifts to get ready for giving.  I was able to recycle one gift bag from my stash and reuse two department store bags.  It must be years since I bought gift bags and birthday wrapping paper.

*  Fed bread crusts and old lettuce to the chickens.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Sold one hanging hand towel,  five decorated face washers and a hand towel to a friend.

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.  We've had extra house guests for the last few weeks and they love scented clothes.  My homemade laundry powder doesn't have a scent so this was the next best thing for them.

*  Made up foaming hand wash for some of my cleaning clients when cleaning their homes.  They have the foaming pumps but bought the hand wash gel.  I'm saving them money too.

*  Froze all leftovers into single serves.

*  Made a triple batch of laundry powder.

*  Gratefully received a couple of discount fuel dockets in the mail from a friend.  Thankyou so much Tania.

*  Bought a couple of Lilydale cooked chickens in Coles for just over $7 each.  Darren peeled the meat off the bones to make lots of yummy meals.  The bones went into the slow cooker to make stock.  Over this weekend I'll be making big pots of chicken soup.

*  Donated two bags of goodies to Savers and received a discount stamp for future purchases.

Making laundry powder

Slow cooker chicken stock

Diluting the laundry liquid,

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

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Chocolate Ring Cake

This chocolate cake recipe has been a favourite on our home for over 15 years.  Iced or un iced,  it doesn't really matter.  It seems to disappear before my eyes.  Great for lunchboxes,  gatherings or to freeze for future occasions.

90 g of softened butter
2 eggs
dash of vanilla extract
2/3 cup of white sugar
1 1/4 cup of Self Raising flour
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
3/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of canola oil

Cream the butter,  sugar and vanilla until light. 
Add the eggs and beat in well. 
Add all the other ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.  Add extra milk if mixture looks a little stiff.
Pour into a greased and floured ring tin
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 40 - 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
When the cake is cold,  invert onto a cooling rack.
Ice with chocolate icing and sprinkles ( or coconut ).

 This recipe is easy to double. 

Saturday, 27 April 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 27th April 2019

We hope you had a blessed Easter with your family and friends this week.  Here's what we got up to at the Gower Abundant Cottage -

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.  The ratio is one part Dynamo to four or five parts water.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Ate freezer meals for dinner on two nights

*  Gratefully received lots of card making papers from a friend.

*  For Easter I gave Lindt bunnies and small Easter eggs I bought on clearance after Easter last year.  For Luka I bought a baby book from Savers for $1.99.  It looks new too.

*  Diluted a bottle of dishwashing liquid to clean the shower.  Combined with a microfibre cloth,  it's quite easy to clean the shower if I do it every 4 or 5 days.

*  Fed the compost bins with kitchen scraps.  We've been making chicken and vegetable soup so there's been lots of peeling going into the bin.

*  Cooked all meals from scratch using what we already had on hand.

*  Opened and closed the curtains during the day to make the most of the milder weather.  The heater only came on at night for a very short period of time.

*  Took a plate of chocolate brownies ( from the freezer ) to a card making day last Saturday.  I also gratefully received some fancy patterned scissors from the swap table.

*  Bought a big bag of sausage mince from Australian Butchers for $1.99 kg.  This is a fantastic price and Darren's eyes almost popped out of his head when he saw the big bag.  He can't wait for the first batch of sausage rolls to be made.

Happy Easter

Diluted Dynamo liquid

Cleaning the kettle

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?
Did you grab any Easter bargains during the week ?

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Stockpiling For Winter

As Winter fast approaches, our minds start to think about those hearty meals  we love to eat.   Have you thought about stockpiling your cooking and baking ingredients ?  Being ready for the change of season eating will make menu planning easy.  Having everything on hand for stews,  casseroles,  roasts and baked desserts saves money ( avoiding takeaway ),  time ( no unnecessary trips to the supermarket )  and your sanity.

Here's a list of the ingredients I stockpile as the weather cools down -

*  Corn Flour
*  Sugar - white and brown
*  Cocoa Powder - unsweetened
*  Rolled oats and quick oats
*  Tinned fruit for cobbler and crumble desserts
*  Flour - Self Raising and Plain
*  Tinned Soups -tomato,  cream of chicken and cream of celery for casseroles and slow cooking
*  Tinned Tomatoes
*  Tinned Corn
*  Creamed Corn
*  French Onion Soup Mix
*  Chicken Noodle Soup Mix
*  Curry Powder
*  Coconut Cream
*  Gravy Powder
*  Stock Powder - vegetable,  chicken and beef
*  Custard Powder

What do you stockpile for Winter cooking and baking ?

Saturday, 20 April 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th April 2019

This week's frugal tasks are pretty much non existent due to the continuing challenges we are facing.   We've cooked our meals from scratch most nights.  Freezer meals have been eaten when cooking was impossible.  We've saved water like we usually do and stayed away from the shops.  Yesterday I baked bread and finished making a few cards.  A friend gave me some mini tomatoes which we've eaten with salads when the weather turned warm again.

So this week I thought it would be a fabulous chance for regular commenters and those who lurk around the edges to share their wonderful thrifty ways of the last week or two.

Here's your chance - Share away  

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Your Iron Could Save You Money.

A couple of months ago a friend was telling me she rarely uses her iron due to the easy care clothes they wear.  Her iron makes such a rare appearance that her daughter didn't know what it was or what it does.  She went on to say that I might be one of those few people who irons on a regular basis.  She's right.  I iron once a week or every two weeks if there's very little in the ironing pile.

This got me thinking about living without an iron.  I personally couldn't live without one.  Sure,  an iron helps my family step out into the world looking their very best.  Have you thought about the money saving benefits of using your iron ?

*  Sometimes clothes can dry out of shape.  Instead of throwing a misshapen item of clothing out,  give it an iron.  You'll probably improve it's appearance.

*  Can you sew ?  Even basic hand sewing with a needle and thread or hemming ?  Then an iron can make easy work of hemming.  Cut the jeans or trousers to the right length.  Use your iron to fold up a  neat hem,  then sew it into place.  No need to pay someone to do it for you.

*  Can't sew at all and need to hem something.  You can use hemming tape and an iron to get a neat looking finish.

*  Iron out the wrinkles from saved wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon and brown paper.

*  Remove wax from clothes.    Scrap of excess wax then place  a paper bag over the wax patch.  Use a low heat on your iron and the paper should absorb the rest.

*  Many business clothes can be washed and ironed at home.  No need to go to the dry cleaners unless it's really really necessary..  

What do you use your iron for ?

Saturday, 13 April 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th April 2019

It's been a difficult week to get through.  We've had challenges coming at us left,  right and centre.  Darren and I are fine and we are standing strong in God's love for us.  Please pray for good health,  healing and peace for our loved ones.  Thankyou.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made a double batch of chocolate brownies.  I left a few pieces out for us to eat fresh and the rest went into the freezer for family gatherings.  Chocolate brownies freeze really well.  In fact,  you can't tell they've been frozen.

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker with a chicken frame.  The next day I made a big pot of chunky chicken soup.  We had it for two meals and the rest was divided up into single portions for the freezer.  I gave a few to Megan for easy lunches.

*  Started my first ever bottle of vanilla extract.  It should be ready to use in five weeks.

*  Charged all the laptops,  phones and electric toothbrushes on the weekend when electricity is a little cheaper.

*  Made a one kilo batch of yoghurt using frozen yoghurt as a starter.  This is so yummy with fresh fruit for dessert.

*  Made homemade pizza to curb the takeaway urge.  We used about 100 grams of shredded chicken meat on each pizza with our favourite toppings.  Jessica and I love tomato and bbq sauce mixed together,  mixed herbs,  tomatoes,  pineapple and cheese.  Darren loves the same sauces and meat,  mushrooms,  tomato,  cheese,  olives and  anchovies

*  Gratefully received a bunch of silverbeet from my MIL's garden.  We used it in spag bol sauce and with another meal as our green vegetable.

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

*  Our chicken feed was getting low so Darren mixed in some quick oats to stretch it until he could get to the feed store.

*  Fed the compost bin every couple of days with kitchen scraps.

*  Made lots of cards using what I already had on hand.

Men's cards

Pictures are from rose books

Some still to be finished

Chocolate brownies

Making vanilla extract.

 What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Prices I Pay For Meat

With meat prices ever increasing,  it can be challenging to feed your family on a budget.  I'll admit,  we are not huge meat eaters.  By that I mean we don't eat big portions of meat with our meals.  On the weekends we eat simpler meals like toasted sandwiches,  homemade chunky soups or leftovers.  This does save us money on the food budget and gives us a chance to use things up.

I don't have a hard and fast rule for meat prices,  but I do work to a limit of what I'll pay per kilo.  My current limits are -

*  Beef Mince - I pay no more than $8 a kilo for the Coles mince.  I must admit,  this seems like an expensive price.  Tasman Meats had mince on sale in February for $5.99 kg and I bought four big trays with maybe 1.5 - 2 kilos per tray.  I portioned the mince out into 250 g lots and bagged it up for the freezer.  Some meals I use two portions eg - meat pie.

*  Chicken Fillets - If I can get them down to $3.99 kg then I buy up really big. Maybe 10 kilos worth.  The most I'd pay is $5.99 kg but at this price I'd have to be desperate for chicken and maybe only buy 1 kilo.

*  Legs of Lamb - $7.99 kg is the only price I'll pay for legs of lamb.  If it's any dearer then we go without and wait until next year's season.  At $7.99kg I'll buy 3 or 4 legs and always try to get the smallest.  This is enough to have lamb once a month with each leg giving the three of us 3 or 4 meals.  When I cook up the leg,  all leftovers are frozen in gravy for the following months.

*  Fish - I pay no more than $10 a kilo for frozen fillets and are usually bought from Aldi.  On the rare occasion I buy salmon from the deli section at Coles for $26 a kilo.  As I said,  it's saved for a rare treat.  Buying from the deli section is cheaper than the pre packaged salmon at $44 per kilo.

*  Corned Silverside - If I can get it for $5.99 then I'm happy and will buy 4 or 5.  I'd probably pay $6.99 kg if the cuts looked good and I was running low.

*  Roast Beef - I'll pay $7.99 kg if there is not too much fat on the meat and the cuts look good.

*  Chicken Drumsticks - I'd be in heaven if I could pay $1.99 kg.  I think those days are gone for now so the top price I'd pay is $3.99 kg.

*  Lamb Chops - I'll pay no more than $8 a kilo but to get it at that price it would have to be on clearance in the supermarket.  Regular prices for forequarter chops are now $16 a kilo.  We eat one chop per person and it's now a rare treat.

*  Whole Chickens -  I'd pay $3.99 kilo but I rarely buy whole chickens.  Drumsticks and fillets are quicker to cook and fillets can be stretched a long way in a meal.

*  Diced Beef - $8 or $9 a kilo is my top price but I have to get it on clearance.

*  Beef Steaks - Are rare in our house.  We bought the Drovers pack from Coles for Australia Day and the steaks were delicious.  I think we paid $22 per kilo but cut the steaks in half so our guests didn't eat too much in one hit ( I had other meat on offer ).

*  Sausages - I buy from Coles for just over $5 a kilo.


Saturday, 6 April 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th April 2019

We've had some beautiful Autumn / Mild Summer type weather in Melbourne this week.  Great for drying the washing and great for our energy consumption.  I worked four days this week and did my grocery shopping on my day off.  Of course I spent a fair bit of time at Kurt and Megan's place cuddling Luka.  Megan is getting back onto her feet and able to do small amounts of housework.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made two chocolate cakes and seven little ones.  One cake went to Megan and Kurt,  a smaller one was for us and the little ones went into the freezer for when we are on church morning tea.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Did the grocery shopping for the next five weeks and stuck to the list.  So far I've spent just over $102 with about $17 left from the budget to cover milk and a few fruit and veg for the next five weeks.  Usually I do a monthly shop but I thought I'd see if I can stretch the budget to five weeks.  If it doesn't work i'll go back to monthly.  With fruit and veg increasing in price due to the drought,  I might have to increase our food budget to $150 a month.

*  Stayed away from the shops except for the grocery shopping.  Cuddling Luka is more important than shopping.

*  Fed the compost bin every couple of days with kitchen scraps.

*  Sold one dozen eggs and a jar of jam to a cleaning client.

*  Bought two trays of Lamb Forequarter Chops form Coles at 50% off making them $8 a kilo.  There were six chops on each tray so I'll be freezing them into packs of two for Darren and I.

*  Gratefully received quite a few little tomatoes from a friend.  I'm hoping to use them on homemade pizza on Sunday night.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and poured it into the washing machine each day. I also saved the washing machine rinse water as per usual.

*  Froze 10 single serves of leftovers from our dinners.

Slow cooked lamb on mash and spinach

Leftover Massaman beef for the freezer

My lunches a few times this week

Baking bread

What frugal tasks did your complete this week ?

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

DIY Garlic Bread.

I'm not a fan of store bought garlic breads.  They seem to be very heavy and doughy.  I personally haven't bought a garlic bread for the last two decades but they have been served up at gatherings.  I just couldn't see the point and my budget never really allowed for the extra expense.

Garlic and herb breads can be made with bread sticks,  bread rolls or even a loaf of bread.  Take your pick.  Here's how I make mine -

*  Bread stick
*  Butter
*  Dried mixed herbs
*  Garlic powder or dried garlic granules
*  Salt ( if needed )

Cut the bread stick ( or roll ) into slices.
Lay the pieces flat and spread butter on each piece.
Sprinkle garlic,  mixed herbs and salt on each piece of bread.
Stack the bread pieces together and turn the end piece back to front so the buttered side is facing inwards.
Wrap the bread stick in foil and freeze until needed.

To heat up,  turn the oven on to 180 degrees Celsius and place the bread stick on an oven tray then place in the oven.
Heat for 15 minutes then open the foil up slightly and heat for a further 5 - 7 minutes.  Serve.


*  I portion the bread stick into 6 - 7 pieces which is enough for the three of us.  This reduces or eliminates wastage.

*  Garlic bread can be heated under the grill in the oven without the foil.  This method is quicker but you need to keep an eye on it as it can burn quickly.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 30th March 2019

So much has happened since the last frugal post.  I've been busy taking care of Megan,  Kurt and Luka both at the hospital and at their home. This has given Kurt a chance to get some sleep and much needed fresh air.  It's been an absolute pleasure to cook,  clean and do their washing as well as cuddle Luka every chance I get.  I've also had three day of work and my own home to run ( sort of ). Here's what else I've been up to -

*  Cooked meat pies,  spag bol sauce ( with hidden veggies,  linseed meal and oat bran ),  garlic and herb breads,for Megan and Kurt's freezer.  Not a saving for me but a time, money and sanity saver for them

*  Used old bread bags to line our bathroom bins.

*  After making a big pot of spag bol sauce I spooned the remaining tomato paste into an ice cube tray to freeze.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Fed the compost bin every few days with kitchen scraps.

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

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water to reuse where possible.

*  Saved a few gift bags and ribbons from baby presents.  Megan is also saving gift bags to reuse in the future.

*  Picked a few raspberries and froze them.  It hasn't been a great season this year.  I did manage to make a few jars of jam a couple of weeks ago.  I still have enough raspberries frozen to make muffins later in the year.

*  Cooked all meals from scratch with one exception.  The night after Luka was born,  Darren and I were on a mercy mission to grab some clothes and bedding for Kurt to sleep at the hospital t( to help look after Megan ).  Both Darren and I had been out ALL day.  We were racing against the clock to get to the hospital before visiting hours were up.  The easiest option was to get Subway just down the road from our place.

*  Baked Anzac biscuits for Megan using dough I had in the freezer.  She rang me about 7.30am from the hospital,  14 hours after Luka was born requesting my Anzac biscuits to snack on.

*  Ate freezer meals a couple of nights.  We also gave Kurt a few freezer meals to eat at the hospital to save a bit of money.  Our freezer meal stockpile has just about run out so we'll be making a point of building it up again ASAP.

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps here and at Megan and Kurt's place using diluted shower gel.

Early morning Anzacs for Megan

From our garden

Making garlic / herb bread

How frugal have you been this week ?

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Our Grandson

Our grandson Luka Stephen Mc Ewan was born on Friday 22nd March at 5.48pm.  He weighed 8lb 1oz and has Megan's brown hair.

Luka is doing well and starting to gain weight.  Megan is slowly recovering from an emergency C Section.  She's getting a little better each day  Kurt is doing a wonderful job of looking after Megan and Luka.  He's become an expert in nappy changes and picking out Luka's clothes when they need changing.

Here are a few photos of our beautiful grandson-

4 days old and holding my finger

Hello everyone

Already pondering life

Nana and Poppy just after Luka was born

Proud Auntie Jess

Saturday, 23 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd March 2019

Due to the week long ' Babe Watch " ( as Darren calls it ),  I was unable to do too many frugal tasks.  I've made extra trips out to Megan and Kurt's place to spend time with them while Megan was in early labour ( for 7 days ).  Hopefully I'll have some good news for you all very very shortly.

Here's my little list of frugal tasks -

*  Made a double batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  I baked some biscuits for us,  some as part of a present for my Dad's birthday and the rest of the dough went into the freezer for future baking.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Gratefully received a few card making supplies at our card making day last Saturday.  I also bought some at heavily reduced prices.  I'm very careful about what I bough and only buy what I need for can see a use for.

*  Gratefully received a bunch of silverbeet from my Mother In Law.

*  Made a batch of Miracle Spray for Megan and Kurt.  They love using it on just about anything and my heart swells with pride when they tell others about it.

*  Made a triple batch of laundry powder.

*  Gave Megan a haircut.

*  We all filled up our cars with petrol at $1.21 per litre.  The next day it went up to $1.54 per litre.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear - Emergency Budget

Life can throw unexpected challenges our way.  Being prepared as much as possible is the key to surviving those challenges.

Darren and I have lived with varying work hours our entire married life ( 23 + years ).  We've always had a baseline budget to work with and any extra hours has always been a bonus.

At the start of the year when I was doing all the budgets,  I thought it would be a good idea to write out an emergency budget just in case we are faced with the unexpected like job loss or illness.  When the unexpected  happened in the past,  we've  scrambled as soon a possible to cut our expenses.  Having the emergency budget written out has given us peace of mind.  We feel prepared for anything now.

The emergency budget is a bare bones budget that only includes the day to day expenses like food,  petrol,  chemist, and  haircuts etc etc.

A starting point was to look at our usual budget that includes the above items as well as direct debits for our new car,  Cook Island holiday and  local holidays   As I went through each item / category,  I either cut it out of the budget or cut the alloted amount down to the bare minimum we could survive on.

Of course our holiday and car direct debits could be cut it we need to.  There will always be another chance to go on a holiday.  My new car is not needed for a few years so we'll have the time to save.

The emergency budget included a heavily slashed present / gift budget.  If times were tough,  I'd bake biscuits for presents,  make items from my material stash or make boxed sets of greeting cards from my paper stash.  I've always had an overflowing gift cupboard that could supply presents for a year.  Of course there is my jars of jam and bars of soap I could give.  This is an area I feel in control of.

Our wardrobes have plenty of clean, well looked after clothes and shoes with new socks and  under things bought on sale and stored away.  We could easily go a year without needing new clothes.  If the emergency budget had to be put into action,  clothing would not be included.

Our food budget at the moment is about $120 a month for the three of us.  It sounds impossible,  but if we needed to we could cut it down to $100 a month and grow more food and eat really basic meals and snacks.

Thankfully we are pretty healthy and rarely need to buy anything from the chemist.  Sometimes we have too much money put away for chemist expenses.  So if needed this area could be cut down.

We'd cut pocket money right down to the bare bones.  In other words,  just enough to buy one morning tea per month.

Once I'd written out the emergency budget I'd slashed over $1100 for our monthly budget with a possible extra $200 slashed if it meant the difference between sinking or swimming.

Do you have an emergency budget you can fall back on in hard times ?

Will you consider writing out an emergency budget in the near future ?

Saturday, 16 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 16th March 2019

This week has been a waiting game and our nerves are a little on edge.  Megan's baby is due today and we hope she doesn't have to wait too much longer to meet the little bundle of joy.  I promise I'll share the good news with you all as soon as we have news.  Here's what we've been up to this week -

*  Made a whole orange cake using gifted oranges I'd frozen a few months ago.

*  To avoid the takeaway urge we made pizzas from scratch including the bases.  They were so yummy with leftovers eaten the next day.  We don't crave takeaway as such,  just the thought of something quick and easy to eat.

*  We needed to buy a new teapot for 2 after breaking the spout on our old one.  Darren and I walked all over Fountain Gate Shopping Centre trying to find a white,porcelain one with an infuser insert.  Prices ranged from $20 - $38 and they were either too big and not white.  The last kitchenware store in the centre was Matchbox and we found one on sale for $7.50.  When we got to the register it went through for $6.  At that price we bought 2 ( one is a back up ).

*  Made 4  jars of plum and apple jam.  The plums were from the freezer and the 6 red apples were wrinkly and old in the fridge.  The jam recipe has slightly less sugar than the fruit weight and the juice of one lemon.

*  Dried all washing on the line and clotheshorses outside.

*  Decluttered a cupboard and donated the items to Savers.  Received a discount stamp on my card for future purchases.

*  Gratefully received more magnetic strips from older fridges from a friend.  I'll be researching more way to use it in crafting.

*  Repurposed a gift bag and ribbon for a few presents.

*  Gratefully received a carton of milk from a friend.

*  Picked raspberries and a few tomatoes from the garden.

*  Made 7 jars of raspberry jam using berries we'd picked from our garden and frozen over the season.  Homemade raspberry jam is my absolute favourite.  It's so rich in flavour.

*  Fed the compost bin with lots of kitchen scraps and tea bags / tea leaves.

/raspberry jam

Plum and apple jam

White peach jam.

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

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Massaman Beef Curry

Last year I was given a packet of Massaman Beef Curry recipe mix to use in the slow cooker.  Usually I'm sceptical that a packet mix will taste nice but was pleasantly surprised.

Of course I've adjusted the recipe to suit our tastes and budget.  Here's my version of a super yummy and mouth watering curry -

400 - 500 grams of diced beef.  I've used Oyster Blade or Casserole Beef
1  400ml tin of Coconut Cream or milk
1 packet of McCormick's Massaman Beef Curry  ( Slow Cookers ).
5 medium potatoes cut into large cubes
1 1/2 cups of beans
2 medium carrots peeled and sliced
1 tin of boiling water

Turn the slow cooker on high and spray with olive oil or canola oil

Brown the diced beef in a fry pan then add to the slow cooker

Add the diced potato to the slow cooker next then add the other vegetables

In a medium bowl mix together 1 tin of coconut cream and 2/3 of the packet of Massaman Beef curry mix and 1 tin of boiling water.  A whisk is best used to combine these ingredients.

Pour the liquid into the slow cooker making sure there is enough liquid to almost cover everything.  Add a little more boiling water if needed.

Cook on high for 8 - 10 hours until the potato is soft.

Serve with rice.

Serves 6 - 7


*  Any vegetables can be added or substituted in the slow cooker although I think the potato is a must have.

*  I use the cheapest coconut cream available or you can use coconut milk.

*  I only use 2/3 of the packet because we found the recipe mix to be very strong in flavour and heat.   Keep the opened packet in a sealed container or use a clip to seal it.

*  Leftovers are portioned into takeaway food containers with a serve of rice to make it a complete meal.

*  Can be frozen for 6 + months.  Defrost in the fridge then reheat leftovers in the microwave.  Add a little water if needed during the reheat process.

*  Cut the beef into small cube so that it stretches further. .

*  I paid $1.50 for the packet mix.  I'm sure it will be much cheaper in Winter.


 Sorry,  due to the heat,  I only took a photo of the leftovers the next morning.

This is the packet I used.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 9th March 2019

This week has been quite a busy one.  I've had four days of work,  a couple of visitors in the house for two days and trying to stay on tops of the cleaning and meals.  Here's what else I managed to do -

Made one kilo of yoghurt using two tablespoons of natural yoghurt as a starter.  We've been having it with stewed rhubarb as a delicious dessert.

*  Gratefully received lots of little tomatoes from a friend.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Made a double batch of scones.  Some were taken to church for morning tea and the rest were frozen for our own eating.

*  Made 6 jars of jam from the white peaches I was given 1 1/2 weeks ago.  I had to wait until they were ripe enough to cook up.

*  Cleaned the dishwasher using bi carb and vinegar and ran it on a long hot cycle.

*  Stockpiled lots of choc bits for baking.  They are 1/2 price in Coles at $1.97 this week until next Wednesday.  Mostly I use the white choc bits when baking cranberry hootycreek biscuits.  The milk choc bits are using for choc chip biscuit and muffins.

*  Made a batch of dried gravy mix using plain flour,  beef stock powder and a few other seasonings.

*  Made dried seasoned bread crumbs from scratch.

*  Redeemed another $10 worth of points onto our Flybuys card.  We use this money to buy groceries when we go on holidays.

*  Gratefully received some card making supplies and magnetic strips ( from an old fridge door ) from a friend.

*  Saved and recycled household water as per usual.

*  Picked up a pretty single bed doona cover at Savers for $6.99.  I'm not sure what I'll make from it.  Maybe aprons,  decorated hand towels,  jam jar hats and produce bags.

A stockpile worthy price

Op shop doona cover

The reverse side of the doona cover

What was on your frugal list this week ?