Saturday, 12 June 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 12th June 2021

 It's been way too cold here in Melbourne over the last week or two.  Too cold to spend much time outside.  We did manage to get the bare essentials done like watering pot plants, feeding the chickens and picking broccoli.

Our lockdown ended yesterday and although we can now travel 25 km from home,  the weather is too cold and we are not allowed to visit anyone.  So home it is,  with the heater on and at times under a blanket.  Maybe I could do a little tidying in the craft room or here's a thought - start crafting again.

Here's what else we got up to this week -

*  Picked lots of lemons.  I like to bring them inside and let them rest for a week before juicing.  I do tend to get more juice by doing this.  I did juice lemons that were a few weeks old and froze the juice.  Darren and I also pruned the tree after discovering a few small patches of gall wasp.

*  A couple of silverbeet seeds finally germinated after weeks of waiting.  To protect them from snails,  pests and the wild storm Melbourne experience this week,  I placed a plastic drink bottle over the seedlings.

*  While in the city with my parents last week I made quite a few apron cards.  It was a wonderful way to spend all the spare hours I had on Wednesday.  It also kept my mind off the news and further lockdown announcements.

*  Made homemade pizza for dinner one night.  Leftovers were eaten for lunch the next day.  Although we rarely eat takeaway,  I'll be honest,  I've been craving it during lockdown.  I'm only human  !!

*  Gratefully received a cooked chicken from a family member.  From the chicken I made enough stock to make 16 single serves of chunky chicken soup.  I also made potato, chicken and veg pasta bake that serves 4.  There was enough meat to go into the freezer for another 3 meals that will give us another 6 - 8 serves.

*  My mascara was getting a little dry.  So I put one drop of water in the bottle ( is that what they call it ? ) and gave the brush a good swish around.  I've done this two weeks running and it's like the mascara has been given a new lease on life.

*  Baked ANZAC biscuits from dough I had in the freezer.  I baked them while I was cooking a chicken, potato pasta bake one night.

*  Darren picked kale to put in the chicken potato pasta bake.  Our silverbeet needs a little rest and time to regrow more leaves.

*  Gave the washing machine a deep clean with Epsom salts and very hot water.  It's amazing how much gunk comes out.

*  Saved shower water and washing machine water as per usual.

*  I only opened the curtains a small amount on the cold days to keep the house warmer.

*  Got 6 serves from the family meat pie I made the other night.  Usually I get 4 - 5 serves but we've reduced our serving sizes just a little and added more veg to the plate. 


Here are the apron cards I made.  I'm hoping to make gardening and bbq ones soon.

Lemons from the garden.

Are you still thrifty even when the weather is cold ? 

If you are in Summer,  do you keep up your money saving ways ?

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

My Best Broccoli Growing Tips

 Broccoli is one of the few vegetables we grow during the Winter months.  On the occasional year our broccoli plants have bolted and gone to flower before we can pick the heads.  Other than that,  broccoli is so cheap to grow,  fairly easy to maintain and a super food to boot.

Here are some of the tips and tricks Darren and I have learnt along the way.  We hope this helps you grow a bountiful crop to enjoy. 

*  Broccoli is generally a Winter vegetable that tolerates colder weather.  There are newer varieties that  can be grown all year round but we stick to growing in Winter.

*  I plant seeds in punnets during late Summer / early Autumn.  If the seeds fail to germinate I have been known to buy a punnet of seedlings from Bunnings.  With 8 - 10 plants per punnet,  it still works out to be more economical than buying broccoli from the supermarket.

 *  We've found if we plant out broccoli seedlings too early in Autumn we run the risk of a cabbage moth invasion.  Cabbage moths lay their eggs on the underside of the plant leaves.  Once the eggs hatch you have a hungry family of caterpillars who will eat the leaves and decimate the plant.

*  Daily inspection of the plants is necessary if you see white butterflies ( cabbage moth ) fluttering around the garden.  Squishing the cabbage moth eggs or caterpillars is a natural way to keep them under control.

*  This year we planted our first crop of broccoli plants a little too early.  To combat the cabbage moth invasion, Darren made his own cabbage moths out of icecream container lids and attached them to wire.  They have been placed at random heights in the garden.  Cabbage moths are territorial so when they see the artificial ones they soon fly away without landing on the plants.

*  Broccoli plants grow much better in well composted soil.  Darren adds our own compost to the bed about a week or two before planting.  Once the plants are growing I feed them with liquid seaweed fertiliser every week to top up the nutrients.

*  Once the main broccoli head has been picked,  smaller broccoli florets appear on the plant that can be picked and eaten.

Smaller florets from the plant.

Artificial cabbage moths

Made from icecream container lids.

Do you have any broccoli growing tips to share ?

Saturday, 5 June 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 5th June 2021

 As our lockdown continues in Victoria,   I've stayed away from the shops for another week.   I feel blessed to have the knowledge and foresight to constantly have a stockpile we can live off for quite a long time.

On Monday my Dad was granted permission from the government for his scheduled eye surgery to still go ahead on Wednesday.  Mum,  Dad and myself stayed in the city for two nights while Dad had his surgery and check ups.   Everything went smoothly with the surgery,  accommodation and travelling.  It was a bit eerie to see the city so quiet yet it gave us a sense of calm.

Here's what else we managed to fit into our unusual week -

*  Picked,  blanched and froze 4 broccoli heads from our garden.  There are another 3 - 4 heads I'll be picking in the next couple of days and more to follow shortly after.

*  Planted 3 potatoes that were sprouting in my pantry.  I'm not sure if they'll grow into productive plants due to the time of the year.  At least they were free and too soft to peel and cook.

*  Darren pruned our raspberry plants.  This might not sound like a frugal task but 2 years ago we didn't get a chance to prune due to family traumas we were going through at the time.  Later that year our plants didn't produce as much as they usually do.  I rely on these plants for enough fruit to make lots of raspberry jam. 

*  Made a bottle of surface spray using dishwashing liquid and water.  I use this all around our home for cleaning.

*  Made and sold a 2 litre bottle of Miracle Spray for a friend.

*  Picked silverbeet,  lettuce and kale from our garden to eat at mealtimes.

*  Packed all the food I needed for my 2 days in the city.  Dinners were freezer meals of leftovers.

*  Saved shower water and washing machine water as per usual.

*  Made another 4 litres of laundry liquid from the big bucket I made a few months ago.  

*  Decanted and diluted a couple of bottles of shower gel into a large pump bottle.  Pump bottles make it much easier to ' portion control '.

*  Darren picked more mandarins and oranges from Megan's tree.       

Daisies in the garden

We love color.

Decanting homemade laundry liquid.

The view from our apartment in the city

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Has anyone had a stockpile to help them during a lockdown ?

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Save The Power, Feel The Power - Part 3

 Sometimes we waste electricity without realising it.   I'm hoping these tips will get you thinking about ways to use less and keep more money in your pocket.

*  Turn your dishwasher off when the cycle has finished.  Even better,  give your plates and saucepans a quick scour then use the quick wash cycle which usually takes about 30 minutes to clean everything.  I've cleaned many homes over the years and either see dishwashers on a 120 minute cycle or they are left turned on all day.

*  Use one lamp in the lounge areas when the family is gathered to watch tv.  Even better,  have no lights on and pretend you are at the movies.

*  When and where possible,  replace old energy saving light globes for LED globes.  They do cost a little more but last so much longer and use far less electricity.

*  Defrost meat in the fridge instead of using the microwave.  The fridge is already on so you may as well make the most of it.  A large roast generally takes 2 days in the fridge to defrost.  Pieces of meat like chicken drumsticks,  steak or single serves of meals take1 day to defrost so plan accordingly.  This is also a food safety tip that reduces the risk of food poisoning if you defrost your food on a kitchen bench.  

*  Turn your washing machine and dryer off at the wall when the cycle has finished.  Even better,  invest in a clothes horse / rack and dry your clothes for free.

Have you thought of new ways to save electricity ?

Saturday, 29 May 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 29th May 2021

At this point in time,  Melbourne is in the middle of a 7 day lockdown.  Supermarket shelves were stripped bare yet again as people went into panic mode.  I chose to stay away from the shops and enjoy my very healthy stockpile of food,  toiletries and cleaning ingredients.  

We have a garden that supplies some of our veggie needs as well as last Summer's haul stored in our freezers.  This has been a real source of comfort during times of uncertainty and a huge help for our grocery budget.  Plans are already in place for a bigger veggie garden next Summer and we look forward to warmer days of Spring planting.

Here's how we saved money this week -

*  Replanted 7 self sown snap dragon seedlings Darren found in a garden bed.  They were growing in the oddest places so I've planted them in another bed as a mass planting.  Hopefully we'll get a good showing of flowers in the next couple of months.  Gotta love free plants.

*  Made 15 jars of raspberry jam using fruit I'd picked and frozen over Summer.

*  Made lots of dried bread crumbs using saved bread crusts I'd been storing in the freezer.

*  Fed the compost bin every second day with kitchen scraps.  Darren said he's almost ready to empty one of the bins out into our veggie garden.

*  Fed lots of weeds to the chickens.

*  Saved and washed the snap lock bags I used to store the raspberries in the freezer.  They are now ready to use for next season's raspberry haul.   

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made 8 jars of plum jam using fruit my Dad gave me last Summer that I froze.  With all this jam making I now have a fair bit of room in the freezer in readiness for our Spring / Summer garden haul.

*  Decanted and diluted 8 litres of laundry liquid into saved vinegar bottles. The laundry liquid is from the big bucket I made a few months ago.  As I get vinegar bottles given to me I keep decanting then storing the liquid in my shed.  By the time I'm ready to make my next batch I should have enough vinegar bottles to decant it all at the same time eliminating the need to blitz and stir the liquid getting my hands all soapy in the process.

*  Froze 5 single serves of Massaman beef curry that was leftover from our dinner one night.

*  Picked broccoli,  lemons,  lettuce and silverbeet from our garden.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and  bath water ( from our grandbabies ) to pour into our washing machine.  We also saved lots of kitchen water that was used to water lots of pot plants.

*  Blanched and froze the broccoli from our garden.


Bread and jam making

Princess joining Darren for a workout.

Broccoli ready to flash freeze.

If you live in Melbourne,  were you ready for the lockdown ?

How thrifty have you been this week ?

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Save The Power, Feel The Power - Part 2

 Following on from last week's electricity savings tips,  here are another 5.  Some are so simple and easy you'll wonder why you hadn't thought of it before.

*  Charge your mobile phone in the car while driving to and from work.  If possible, charge it as work too.

*  Try to time your shower during daylight hours ( if possible ).  No need to turn the bathroom light on if there's enough light coming through the bathroom window.

*  Ask for a better deal from your electricity supplier.  This should be done once a year to make the most of the current deal being offered.

*  When possible,  try to squeeze in your housework and hobbies ( like crafting ) during the daytime.  This can avoid lights being turned on.  If you work and others are in the house during the day,  ask them to run the vacuum around or to give the bathroom sinks a wipe.  Another alternative is to do all your housework on your days off.

*  Check that your outside porch lights haven't been left on by accident.  We have quite a few neighbours in our street who have outside lights on ALL night. Usually they get turned off well into the day.  If you are expecting someone to come home at a certain time at night,  turn the porch light on 10 minutes before they arrive.  Even better,  get them to ring you when they are on their way home. 


Stay tuned for Part 3 of Save The Power,  Feel The Power next week.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 22nd May 2021

 Lots of gardening,  cooking,  baking and blessings has filled our week.   We try to make the most of the blessings and use them as wisely as we can.  Winter is just around the corner and our busyness has kept us warm.  At times we've had to turn the heater off when our frugal tasks keep us active.

Here's what we've been up to -

*  Baked a double batch of chocolate choc chip muffins for a cleaning client who placed an order.  Her grand daughters love to eat them when they visit.

*  Darren picked lettuce to have with his lunches.

*  Gratefully received a big tub of margarine from a friend.

*  Picked up 12 packets of chocolate wafer biscuits on clearance for 50 cents each down from $2.50.  The previous week they were on clearance for 95 cents and I thought that was a bargain.  I don't usually buy packets of biscuits but I can't make any batch of biscuits that cheap.

*  Made a pot of egg custard to use up some milk that was 2 days past its use by date.  We rarely have dessert after our main meal so we really enjoyed this treat.  It saved us throwing the milk out.

*  Made a big pot of soup using chicken stock from the freezer,  our potatoes and broccoli stalks as well as a few other veggies.    We got 6 hearty serves from the saucepan and cost about 20 cents a serve.

*  Made a menu plan for the next 4 weeks.  With meat being so expensive it took some creative thinking to keep variety in our menu with only chicken drumsticks,  sausages,  beef mince,  frozen fish fillets and tinned tuna / salmon on hand.

*  Darren picked a few mandarins and lots of oranges from the fruit trees at Megan's place.  I've already blitzed quite a few and frozen them in portions for future baking.  I also baked lots of little whole orange cakes.  Some will be frozen and the others will be eaten fresh.  With just the two of us,  I try to  bake smaller cakes so we can eat them within a few days without gorging ourselves.

* Made a triple batch of sausage casserole using sausages that were gifted to us.  The sausages had already been frozen then defrosted when we received them so they needed to be used up quickly.  We had some of the casserole that night and the rest was portioned and frozen.

*  Planted lots of broccoli and a few mini cauliflower seeds into little punnets for future planting.  The broccoli seeds came up within 4 days.

*  Bought chrysanthemum plants on clearance at our local fruit and veg shop for $2 a plant.  We'll be planting them out in the front garden for some much needed color.

*  Took a few cuttings from our Hebe plants and daisy plants.  If they all take some with be given as presents and the rest will go into the garden to fill in the gaps.

Oranges from Megan's place

$2 chrysanthemums

Broccoli seedlings

Hebe cuttings

Daisy cuttings and broccoli seedlings

Are you planting more veggie seedlings to fill in the gaps ?

How have you saved time,  money or energy this week ?

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Save The Power, Feel The Power - Part 1

 Are your electricity bills getting higher and higher each year ? Do you feel like you can't do much to reduce your usage ?  

With Winter fast approaching in the Southern Hemisphere,  everyone tends to use more electricity for heating and lighting as the weather cools and daylight hours disappear.

Take back ( some ) control of your electricity bill with these tips.  The POWER is in your hands.

*  Doorbell - If you have a plug in doorbell,  turn if off at the wall overnight.  We do this just before we go to bed and turn it back on again at breakfast time.  This stops us being woken up by other doorbells in the area who are on the same frequency.  We've changed the frequency a few times but it's amazing how many people have visitors in our area at 3am.

*  Landline handsets -  If you have multiple plug in phone handsets,  turn the extra ones off overnight.  They don't need to charge 24 / 7.

*  Alarm clock -  Switch it over for a battery operated one.  You can get travel ones for just a few dollars. They take 1 x AA battery that lasts almost a year.

*  Cooking vegetables - Instead of steaming your vegetables in the microwave,  use a multi level steamer on the stovetop.  I put potato and corn on the cob down the bottom in the water and put beans,  broccoli and carrot in the top to steam. 

*  Power boards - If you have electronics like tvs and dvd players plugged into a power board,  turn it off when not in use or at least overnight.  I purchased a power board that has a switch to turn everything off at once.  

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing another 10 tips on how to save electricity.  

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 ?