Saturday, 12 January 2019

Frugal Tasks Since Christmas

I'm back and it's a brand new year of excitement.  I've had a lovely time at home with Darren pottering around.  I've been decluttering,  sorting,  making,  gardening,  sorting out presents for this year,  reworking the present budget as well as setting up the household budget for 2019.

I'm feeling on top of the world with all this organisation and believe I can travel through 2019 with confidence that I've put the right systems in place.

Here's what else I've been up to since I last blogged -

*  Used lots of Flybuys dollars to purchase Christmas grocery treats and New Years Day BBQ food.

*  Bought a pair of sandals during the post Christmas sales for 50% off.

*  Gratefully received some blood plums from my Dad's neighbour.

*  Picked 19 apricots form our tree and cooked them up to have as a dessert with homemade yoghurt.  This has been our best year for apricots since we planted the tree in 2014.

*  Made jam with plums in the freezer.  I reused the gift tags that one customer returned to me.  Some of the jars of jam will be sold or given as presents.

*  Picked enough strawberries to make smoothies as well as general eating.

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.  The ratio is one part liquid to 4 or 5 parts water.

*  Made lots of gift tags from recycled Christmas cards.  I now have a shoe box especially for Christmas tags and one for general present giving.  I'm feeling quite organised this year.

*  Picked lots of beans,  silverbeet,  raspberries,  lettuce and a few cucumbers from the garden for our meals.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I reused the plastic bread bags and tags.

*  Gave Megan a haircut.  She doesn't like anyone cutting her hair but me.

*  Made 1 kilo of yoghurt using saved yoghurt as a starter from the freezer.

*  Made a batch of olive and coconut oil soap.  Some will be for our use and the rest will be given as presents or sold to a few friends.

*  Bought a new bedroom suite during the Boxing Day sales and saved 30% off the regular price.

*  Repaired and replaced the rope on Princess's  scratching post.

*  Sewed up sets of face washers and burb towels for Megan's baby shower using what I had on hand.

Apricots from our tree

Post Christmas bargain wrapping paper

Plum jam making

Fruit from our garden.

Our garden bounty

Christmas lunch of slow cooker roast beef with veg.  Yummy.

How have you saved time and money since Christmas ?
Have you started planning and organising for the year ahead ?

Saturday, 22 December 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 22nd December 2018

This week has been a week of crafting,  craft sales,  gardening  present sorting,  lots of cleaning work and a little bit of shopping.  No two weeks are ever the same and I'm very grateful for variety in my life.  Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Sold 2 pamper packs to a friend.  He'll be using them for Kris Kringle gifts.

*  Sold  1 dozen eggs.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I hadn't quite run out of bread from my last bake up but wanted to avoid baking around Christmas Day.

*  Made a big batch of pita chips from pita bread.

*  Picked  900 grams of beans and a few handfuls of raspberries from the garden.

*  Used my present cupboard to supply a last minute birthday present and wedding present.  I also recycled a department store gift bag to use for the birthday present.

*  Darren fed the compost bin and worm farm every couple of days with kitchen scraps.

*  Sold 6 hanging tea towels to friends.

*  Completed an extra day of bonus cleaning work and an hour of ironing for a client.

*  Made the most of the Spotlight sale and purchased Christmas fabric at 60% off and really sharp kitchen knives at 30% off.  The knives were $2 each then reduced to $1.40.

*  Decorated lots of department store gift bags at a card making day last Saturday.

*  Gratefully received a tub of margarine from a friend.

*  Made lots of Christmas gift tags from card making scraps.  These will be used next year.

*  Froze lots of singles serves of leftover food.

Our year in review

In Tasmania Jan 2018

Summer garden finds

Soap making

Brisbane holiday August 21018

From the garden

Family photo at Jessica's 21st May 2018

Pretty op shop find

New crafts to make and sell

Birthday cake Jessica made for me  Oct 2018

Afternoon tea in style

Trying to pack for a holiday with Princess helping

This will be my last post for 2018.  Thankyou to all those who read,  comment or lurk around the edges.   Your input,  friendship,  comments and support have helped me get through a very challenging year.

We've  experienced family illnesses,  celebrations ( and cancellations ),   family coming and going from our home,  increases and decreases of work,  fabulous short holidays,  an 18th and 21st birthday celebration and a grandbaby announcement for 2019.

It's been a rollercoaster ride but through it all Darren and I praise God for looking after us and keeping us strong.

I'll be taking a short blogging break to enjoy my family,  to enjoy some much needed rest ( and tv watching ) and to do some crafting ready for 2019's blog shop and present giving.

May you have a blessed and joyous Christmas with those who are close to you.   I'll be back early January 2019  xoxo

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

7 Quick Kris Kringle Gifts

Has a family member come home with a Kris Kringle request out of the blue ?  Gotta love a surprise just before Christmas don't you ?  Here are a few simple yet wonderful gifts to give without looking like it's a last minute gift -

*  A jar of mixed nuts in their shells.  We all have a clean Moccona coffee jar lurking in a cupboard.   Dig it out,  fill and decorated with a printed sticker.  Maybe use one of those black chalkboard stickers as a label.

*  Fill a jar with homemade biscuits.  Tie a ribbon on with a handmade gift tag.If the present is for a male,  tie a tartan ribbon for a more masculine look   This sort of gift would retail for about $20 in the stores.

*  Wrap a box of Dove soap with pretty wrapping / craft paper and tie with a luxurious ribbon.  If you have a glittery brooch or hairpin,  attach to the ribbon or thread it on.

*  Here's my go to Kris Kringle present - A gift bag with a handmade soap,  a jar of homemade jam and a cute note pad or decorated face washer.

*  Re gift an unwanted present.  I know this is a delicate subject but sometimes we can't use what is given to us.  If it would be more suitable as a Kris Kringle gift ,  it's better to re gift than to not use it at all.

*  Looking for a men's present ?  My go to present is a gift bag with Lynx shower gel and Lynx deodorant.  I always have these on hand in the present cupboard and only ever buy on a half price sale.

*  A block of chocolate is always a winner.  Team it up with a jar of homemade hot chocolate drink mix,  add a cute spoon and perhaps a novelty mug.    

Homemade jam nicely decorated

Handmade soaps

A box of Dove Soap Annabel ( The Bluebirds Are Nesting blog ) sent me a few years ago

Soaps my girls wrapped in tissue paper and decorated.

What are your easy Kris Kringle present ideas ?

Saturday, 15 December 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 15th December 2018

Life seems to get busier and busier the closer we get to Christmas.  I'm so thankful I made the effort to get the Christmas shopping done a couple of months ago.  Some nights this week we had really simple meals of ham,  pasta salad and bits and pieces from the fridge.  With the hotter weather we were happy to slap together a few meals.  The freezer meals have come in handy for the days I was out and about until late afternoon.  Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Darren picked hydrangeas from the garden.  Their color is so vibrant.

*  Sold four jars of jam  to a cleaning client.

*  Gratefully received a bunch of rhubarb and some peacharines from my Dad's garden.

*  Filled up my car with petrol at $1.23 per litre near my parents home.  Everywhere else was over $1.30 per litre.

*  Picked lettuce and silverbeet for a couple of meals.  I love to put finely shredded silverbeet in  spag bol.  The green looks great and adds extra nutrition

*  Accepted extra cleaning work from a couple of clients.  People love to have their homes extra clean leading up to Christmas.

*  Gratefully received glass jars from different people.  Some are suitable for use in my spice rack.

*  Picked a small handful of raspberries and Darren was so excited to pick a small bowl of cherries from ' his ' tree.  This is the first year he got more than 3 or 4.  They taste so good too.

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags from a bbq.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Picked just over 500 grams of beans from the garden.

*  Bought Bamboo cleaning sponges ( pack of 3 ) on clearance for 50 cents from Bunnings.  You could say I bought lots and lots.

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker.  I won't have time to make a chunky soup from it so I'll freeze the stock for future use.

Cherries from Darren's tree

From  the garden

The raspberries are growing

Our lemon tree is coming back to life.

What was on your frugal list this week ?
Are you coping with the busy season ?

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Christmas Season Savings

During the month of December money can be tight in most households.  To reign in the spending and to feel like you have some control over the family budget,  try some of these free ideas / activities -

*  Take the kids to see Santa at you local shopping Centre.  No need to pay for the photo opportunity.  Just whip out your phone and take a cheeky snap while the kids are talking to Santa.

*  Start eating some meals out of the freezer.  You know your life is busier during December so lighten your meal time stress.  While you are at it,  you'll be making room in your freezer for Christmas Day leftovers or veggie garden produce.

*  Have a go at making Christmas bon bons from wrapping paper tubes,  scraps of wrapping paper,  ribbon and a few little trinkets you have cluttering up the present cupboard.  Maybe throw in a Coles Little Shop collectable for a giggle.

*  Decorate a few department store bags to use for present giving.  A scrap of wrapping paper over the store name can give the bag an instant lift.

*  On Christmas Day,  save all gift bags,  decent looking wrapping paper ( not the stuff that's been crumpled up ),  Christmas cards and ribbon.  These can all be recycled for next year.  The cards can be cut up to make gift tags.  Wrapping paper can be used to wrap more presents or to line a gift box.

*  Only go to the Boxing Day sales if you really need something and you know it will be on sale.  Go with a plan and go with cash.  Otherwise the temptation is too great to buy stuff.  Have a look at this article I wrote about my Boxing Day Shopping.

*  When someone suggests a Christmas party / breakup function,  look at going to a park with a plate of food instead of a restaurant.

*  Needing to take a plate of food to a gathering ?  Raid your pantry for that packet of biscuits,  lollies or chips you've been hiding ( or saving ).  When time is short,  it doesn't have to be homemade.

*  Make sure you save food leftovers and consume or freeze within two days.


Elegant food platter for Christmas Eve.  We had everything on hand.

Simple platter

Easy gift bag decorating.

How do you save money at Christmas ?

Saturday, 8 December 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 8th December 2018

With all the recent rain and Summer heat,  our veggie garden is almost in full swing.  All the plants are growing by the centimetre each day and so are the weeds.  It's a great joy to get into the garden to see what's happening,  to smell delightful fragrances and to pick fresh produce.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made a whole orange cake using oranges given to me a couple of weeks ago.  At the time I couldn't bake or blitz them into  portions for cakes so I froze the oranges whole.  The cake recipe makes a large cake so this time I divided the batter.  I made one medium cake for eating through the week and nine mini loaf cakes to take to church for morning tea.  The little cakes were frozen so that they didn't spoil in the heat.

*  Fed lots of snails,  weeds and grass to the chicken.  They absolutely love snails and I detest snails in my garden so it was a win, win situation

*  Took up Darren's new jeans for work.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Sold three more decorated hand towels.

*  Topped up my car with petrol just before the price went up.  At the moment Coles petrol stations have been the cheapest in our area so we've been using the discount fuel voucher to get it cheaper and to get Flybuys.

*  Darren converted more Flybuys points into $10 on the card.  We might use some of the saved money / points to buy a few treats for Christmas Eve munching.

*  Sold two pamper packs to a friend.

*  Started picking raspberries a couple of days ago.  As soon as the fruit comes in abundance I'll be freezing them to make jam and muffins.

*  Picked 355 grams of beans from the garden in two days.  I can see heaps more beans coming along so I'm sure I'll be busy freezing them shortly

*  Made 1 kilo of yoghurt using 2 tablespoons of  natural yoghurt I froze a couple of months ago. This is the recipe I used.

*  Cleaned the kettle using citric acid.

*  Hand washed the dishes most nights instead of using the dishwasher.

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

First beans of the season.

                               This year's Christmas cards I've been making.

How frugal was your week ?
Are you growing anything in your veggie garden ?

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

November 2018 ' Use It Up ' Challenge Update

With November coming to an end last week,  so too did our ' Use It Up ' challenge.  I don't think I used up everything on my original post at the start of November but I'm pretty pleased with my effort.   Here's my list of achievements -

*  Used scraps of material to decorated jars of jam I sell or give as presents.  I also cut out extra circles ready for my next batch of jam making.

*  Use a shower moisturiser sample tube.  I even cut the tube in half to get another 4 portions out.  Darren used a travel sized conditioner and shower gel.

*  We ditched the foaming hand soap in the ensuite  ( for now )  and used up two bars of soap I had sitting in the cupboard.

*  Decorated a few more department store gift bags with scraps of decorated paper / cardstock.

*  This year I'm using 8 gift bags from my stash and lots of tissue paper for Christmas present giving.  I'll be on a mission next year to use more gift bags.   They seem to multiply faster than I can use them.

*  Used scraps of card making paper to make lots of gift tags for future use.

*  Made a conscious effort to use quite a few tea light candles and my soy melt burner to have a lovely fragrance in my home.  Just like the gift bags,  I'm sure the tea lights multiply in my home.  During November I used approximately 9 or 10 tea lights.

Pretty hats for the homemade jam.

How did you go with the ' Use It Up ' challenge ?

Did you achieve any of your goals ?

Saturday, 1 December 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 1st December 2018

Once again my week has been super busy.  Work,  baking,  cooking and selling all sorts of goodies has been a feature of my days.  Here's what I got up to -

*  Refilled all the foaming hand wash pumps with diluted shower gel.  I also made up a couple of big refill bottles.

*  Sold a couple of decorated hand towels to a friend.

*  Baked and sold lots of mini quiches and choc chip muffins to a cleaning client.

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags from a charity bbq.  They will be used to scoop the kitty litter or for kitchen rubbish bags.

*  Made a big pot of sausage casserole with sausages leftover from a bbq.  We had the casserole for dinner that night and froze three single serves for later.

*  Sold two pamper packs and a few decorated hand towels to a cleaning client.  She's asked for four jars of homemade jam the next time I come to clean.

*  Picked silverbeet and lettuce for a few meals.

*  Ate freezer meals a couple of nights when my days were crazy busy.

*  Made the most of Spotlight's latest sale to purchase Christmas material at 50% off.  I'll be making hanging tea towels to sell plus a few other projects I'm planning.

*  Used the Wilson carparking app to get a better deal when I took my parents into the city.

*  Kept both the cars topped up with petrol while it's cheap.

Ready for Christmas

Ivory.  The leader of the pack.
Coconut and olive oil soap

Pamper packs

Mini pamper packs.

I'll be putting the soaps,  pamper packs,  fridge magnets and mini pamper packs for sale in my Facebook pages ( My Abundant Life and Wendy Gower ).  Feel free to have a look and perhaps do some Christmas shopping.

Next Wednesday I'll be writing an update  post on the  'Use It Up ' Challenge.  I hope you were able to use up a few things around your home.  If so,  grab your list and share with us next Wednesday. 

How frugal was your week ?

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Easy Christmas Cards To Make

Making your own Christmas cards can be quite easy and cheap to make.  No need  for expensive card making supplies or card making kits.  A hand made card is generally well received and can show lots of love.

Here's a simple list of supplies needed and a few ideas to get you started -

*  Blank cards.  Kmart sells 25 blank cards and envelopes in packs for $3.  Alternatively your local discount store will sell colored cards - 8 in a pack for about $2 - $3.50
*  Scissors.
*  Glue Stick
*  Grey led pencil
*  Ruler
*  Stickers or stars or other Christmas themes
*  Colored pens
*  Twine,  ribbon,  embroidery threads or colored string.
*  Round glass to trace around
*  Merry Christmas stamp or stickers
*  Bling ( embellishments )
*  Christmas wrapping paper
*  Paper doilies

The Christmas trees on this card were cut out with a shape punch.  Alternatively you could cut out triangles to get the same effect.  The ' Merry Christmas ' at the bottom is a sticker I bought on Boxing Day at 50% off.

The Christmas tree is made from a paper doily folded on different angles.  The embossed background could be substituted by wrapping paper

These simple cards were made with strips of patterned paper. and a stamped message.  Alternatively you could use scraps of wrapping paper and a small gift tag ( always bought on clearance after Christmas )

This card features baubles cut from Christmas wrapping paper.  Thin silver ribbon was glued to the back of the baubles then attached to the back of the red background.  Little bows were attached with a hot glue gun

Do you make your own Christmas cards ?

What is your favourite design to use ?

Saturday, 24 November 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 24th November 2018

Rain,  rain and more rain.  That's how our week looked here in Melbourne.  The weather started of in the 30's early in the week and today it's meant to be 16 degrees Celsius.  Summer dress one day,  jeans and jumpers the next.  We do feel very blessed with the amount of rain Melbourne has received.  It's certainly saved me some time I would usually spend watering the veggie garden as well as the new daisy plants I've been nurturing.

Here's how my week looked -

*  Darren activated a Flybuys offer that gave us an extra 6 cents per litre off petrol.  Combined with the 4 cent discount fuel docket and cheaper petrol at the bowser,  it's been a welcome relief to my budget and we've all made the most of the offer.

*  When doing my monthly grocery shop in Coles on Monday,  I found four trays of mince reduced by 15%.  I needed mince so grabbed all four trays and divided it up into 250 gram portions for the freezer.

*  Donated a couple of bags of unwanted items to Savers and received a couple of discount stamps on my card.

*  Saved water in the washing machine,  shower and kitchen to reuse where possible.

*  Thinned out the lettuce seedlings,   I planted them a few weeks ago but didn't know how many seeds fell into the soil.  Thankfully most of them took and we'll have lettuce by the abundance in about 4 weeks.  Within an hour of thinning the seedlings,  the heavens opened up and rain fell for the next few days.

*  Bought a few pairs of track pants at Savers to wear to my cleaning jobs.  I used a 15% off discount stamp to get them cheaper.

*  Gratefully received some mangoes and craft papers from a friend.  The mangoes
will be cut up to freeze for smoothies.

*  Gratefully received muffins leftover from Jessica's work.  We froze some and also blessed others with the yumminess.

*  Purchased chia seeds,  oat bran,  bay leaves,  parsley,  chives,  sunflower seeds and walnuts from Hindustan Imports.  Their prices are much cheaper than supermarkets.

*  Picked lettuce,  our first strawberry of the season and silverbeet from our garden.

*  Fed weeds,  grass and kitchen scraps to the chickens.

*  Gratefully received extra cleaning hours at two cleaning jobs.

First strawberry of the season

Saving water from the washing machine

Lettuce seedlings

How did you save money this week ?

Have you received rain this week ?

Feel free to join my Facebook page called Aussie Bargain ShoppersMembers love to share their latest bargain finds or sales they see advertised.  Click on the name above,  answer the three questions on the page ( so I know you are not a robot ) and we'll add you to the group.