Saturday, 24 September 2022

You'll Find Me In The Garden

Hi everyone.  Just letting you know I'll be taking a short break from blogging.  I'm behind in my Spring planting and need to get out into the veggie garden.  

Since my Dad passed away in April both Darren and I have been helping Mum keep her garden in order. The garden was generally Dad's domain so we've been transforming the garden with new flowers and plants to bring joy to Mum.  We've battled cold and very wet weather since April as well as working long hours at our day jobs and transforming our OWN front garden.  

Now that Spring is really here ( weather wise ) I'll be spending my free time planting seeds and doing some maintenance.  

Thankyou for understanding and I hope to just post a few photos from the garden over the coming weeks.  
Please feel free to read some of my older blog posts.  You'll find them in the heading section near the top of my blog.  There are over 900 posts I've written since 2014.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 17th September 2022

 This week Darren and I enjoyed a trip to Gardenworld with my Mum.  We had lots of fun admiring ( and buying ) the wide variety of shrubs and Spring flower seedlings. We planted some of them for Mum in her garden,  then later that day I planted our own purchases.  

Slowly we are filling in the gaps in our front garden from when we did a makeover during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.  Back then we had to make do with plants we already had and took cuttings as well as digging up volunteer seedlings and replanting in gaps.  It sure is a delight to buy new varieties.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Filled up both our cars when petrol was cheap and used a discount fuel docket.  I think we paid just under $1.50 a litre.

*  I've been busy booking accommodation for a holiday later this year ( from a cancelled one last year ).  I found it cheaper to ring the accommodation instead of booking through the online websites.  

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Fed dinner plate scraps,  weeds,  crusts and new spring grass to the chickens.

*  Filled in a spot in our garden with volunteer forget me not seedlings.

*  Made up a jar of gravy powder mix using ingredients I had on hand in the pantry.

*  Baked a double batch of chocolate brownies from scratch.  Some was divided into a container for the pantry and the rest was frozen.  If I need to take a plate to a function then I can just pull out what I need.  Chocolate brownies defrost really well and taste like they are fresh out of the oven.

*  Printed off a photo and put it in a beautiful timber frame I found at an op shop.  This was given with a forget me not seedling from our garden as a birthday gift.

*  Used our thermos every morning to store extra boiled water from the kettle.

*  Gathered the freshest flowers from 2 bouquets we've had in our home for the last 2 weeks to make another fresh bouquet.  I'm also changing the water every day and have trimmed the stems.

*  Filled all the herb and spice jars using bulk packets I've bought from Hindustan Imports.

*  Gratefully received some flower and veggie seeds in the mail from a blog reader.  

*  Saved all leftover water from drink bottles and glasses of water.  All is used to water pot plants and seedlings.

*  Added the crumbs from a weet bix packet to the jar of dried seasoned bread crumbs ( homemade )


Chocolate brownies

Gravy Powder

Wholemeal bread with extra goodness

Dried seasoned bread crumbs

Saved flowers from 2 bouquets

Adding weet bix crumbs to bread crumbs

Making gravy powder.

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Can You Spare 5 Minutes To Save Money ?

 I have another 20 quick and easy money saving tips to add to last week's 20 I shared.  If you can spare 5 minutes you'll be able to fit in one of these really simple tasks and save some money along the way.  Maybe make it a goal to do one each day.

Can you spare 5 minutes to -

*  make a bottle of Miracle Spray.

*  put a bucket in the shower to save the warm up water.

*  cut up an empty cereal packet to use as go between for meat,  muffins and crumpets for freezing.

*  save and reuse your bread bags around the home instead of using bin liners and plastic wrap.

*  close your curtains on a cold day / hot day to help with temperature control.

*   put a chicken carcass in the slow cooker with water and herbs to make chicken stock,  then soup.

*  write a menu plan for the week using what you have on hand.

*  hang washing on a clothes horse instead of using the dryer.

*  cut up old holey socks for garden ties or use whole as dusters.

*  transfer old towels,  hand towels and face washers to the kitchen or laundry for further use.

*  make up your own herb blends ( taco,  Italian etc ) in bulk then store in a container.

*  make up an extra batch of biscuit dough to freeze for further baking.

*  take cuttings of plants in your garden to eventually fill in gaps or give as presents.

*  plant a few veggie seeds in your garden or a plant pot.

*  dig around in the garden looking for volunteer seedlings.  When found, dig up and plant to fill a gap.

*  grate a 1 kilo block of cheese yourself.  Add corn flour,  shake and freeze excess.

*  spray paint and old item to give it a new look.  Vases,  frames,  jars and jugs are quick to do.

*  portion out bulk buys of meat before freezing.

*  put shopping bags in the car for the next grocery run.  No need to buy bags ever.

*  juice and freeze those lemons you grow or were given.

Making the most of lemons.

Cut up cereal packets

Freezing biscuit dough

What's old.......

is new again.

Can you think of anything that takes just 5 minutes and saves money ?

Thursday, 8 September 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 10th September 2022

 It's been a busy week for both Darren and I with our jobs.  We are grateful for the work and equally grateful for times of rest.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Darren fed the compost bins with our kitchen scraps

*  Made a batch of cranberry hootycreek biscuits.  Darren requested them for a Father's Day treat.  I didn't have many cranberries left so I added some sultanas and cut up dried apricots.  Darren was still pleased with the flavour.  I baked some of the biscuits and the rest of the dough went into the freezer,

*  Used the leftover roast veggies and a little lamb from the Father's Day dinner and turned it into a flan ( impossible pie ).  I'll put a link below for a chicken flan I make that's similar.

*  Cleaned the washing machine by putting it on a long,  hot cycle.  I added Epsom salts to the wash cycle and citric acid to the rinse cycle.  I'd watch a YouTube video where a repairman cleaned a machine using citric acid.  It works for kettles so I thought I'd give it a go.

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Took a couple of lavender cuttings and cuttings from another plant that has silvery green foliage and white flowers.  Hopefully the cuttings will take.

*  Made a spray bottle of surface spray with cooled boiled water and kitchen detergent.

*  Sold our excess cat food and accessories on Marketplace.

*  Made a bread pudding in the slow cooker using bread crusts ( saved ends of loaves of bread ),  eggs from our chickens and my jam ( as well as other ingredients ).

*  Used the thermos each day to store excess boiling water.

*  Picked the last of the mandarins from our tree.

*  Bought a tray of strawberries ( 18 punnets x 250 g ) for $10.  So far I've made 11 1/2 jars of strawberry and apple jam.  The rest of the strawberries have been cut up and frozen for future jam making or for desserts.

*  One of my Mum's local fruit and veg shop had trays of 20 avocados for $10.  Darren wouldn't be able to eat that many in a week so another customer said she'd go halves with me.  So I go 10 avocados for $5.  I gave a few to my Mum to enjoy.

*  Collected 4 eggs from our laying chicken.  The other chicken is a freeloader.


Strawberry And Apple Jam     

Chicken Flan

Cranberry Hootycreek Biscuits

Wholemeal Bread With Extra Goodness

My strawberry haul

Cooking strawberries and apples to make jam

Flowers from Luka and Bryson

Cranberry Hootycreek biscuits

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Can You Spare 1 Minute To Save Money ?

When I talk to people about saving money and being thrifty,  the most common reply I get is "  I don't have time to do that ".  Guess what ?  We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  What we choose to do with those 24 hours heavily impacts our lives.

I've chosen to stay off my phone ( it isn't a smart phone ).  I've chosen not to sign up to Instagram and  Twitter.  I've chosen not to check Facebook every five minutes.  Instead I've chosen a purposeful life that allows time for me to do so many money saving tricks every day.  These choices mean I don't have to work full time.  While none of the 20 frugal tips below singlehandedly paid off our mortgage 12 years ago,  they did help stretch our low income and freed up extra money to make extra payments.

Can you spare 1 minute to -

*   stick a sliver of soap to the next bar of soap.

*   turn a near empty bottle of sauce,  shampoo,  shower gel etc etc upside down to get every last drop out.

*   pour leftover water from a drink bottle into a bucket.

*   put a lid on a saucepan when cooking.

*   double wrap meat and meals for freezing to prevent freezer burn   

*   fill a thermos with the remaining boiling water from the kettle.

*   use a bread bag as a bin liner.

*   cut a flower or small green branch from the garden instead of buying flowers.

*   turn off a standby light on an electronic item.

*   buy 2 half price grocery items instead of 1.

*   grab a blanket for your chair or bed instead of turning the heater on or turning it up.

*   turn a light off in a room not being used.

*   save a gift bag and reuse it again.

*  ring family / friends to invite them over for a cuppa instead of going out.

*  pour a glass of water from the tap instead of drinking soft drink,  juice or alcohol.

*  buy a generic grocery item instead of the dearer branded item.

*  pop your leftovers in the freezer instead of letting it be pushed to the back of the fridge and spoiling.

*  choosing to be happy with what you have and not buying the latest ' trend '.

*  weigh / measure out your pasta and rice for each meal instead of always cooking too much.

*  use a squirt of dishwashing liquid in your mop bucket instead of using floor cleaner.     

Blankets for warmth

Freezing leftovers

Buying generic branded food.

Using bread bags as bin liners

What little jobs take you 1 minute and helps save you money ?   

Saturday, 3 September 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 3rd September 2022

 Due to Darren and I being out all day yesterday ( Friday ) with our cleaning work and trip to the city,  my list is a  little shorter this week.  I typed up my frugal tasks Thursday night making my week a little shorter.  Still,  we did manage to make the most of what we have here at the Gower Abundant Cottage.

*  Cut up 3 old socks that had holes in the heel.  These will be used as garden ties.

*  Gratefully received some chicken and roast potatoes leftover from a lunch meeting.

*  Gratefully received some card making supplies,  a couple of pillowcases and steel wool pads from a swap table at my card making group.  The pillow case material will be used in a few crafts ( maybe apron pockets ) and the steel wool will be used to clean my oven racks.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Cut more broccoli from our garden.  I've blanched and flash frozen it for future meals.

*  Fed broccoli plants, a lettuce plant,  bread crusts and weeds to the chickens.

*  Made up a bottle of Miracle Spray to sell to a friend.

*  Used a Gold Class movie gift card ( given as a present in 2019 ) to watch a movie in the city for our wedding anniversary on Friday. 

*  Mended my reusable shopping bags.  I bought them about 10 years ago and they are made from a nylon type of material ( like rain parkas ).  They are lightweight and I keep them in my handbag for department store type purchases.  Occasionally the seams start to split so I run the sewing machine over them before the hole gets too big.

*  Oiled our wooden chopping boards with olive oil and a paper towel.  They've come up looking like new.

Darren's flower display on the deck

Plum tree in full bloom

An oiled chicken chopping board.

How did you save money this week ?

Do you have fruit trees in blossom or bearing fruit ?

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

5 Tricks To Help Keep Your Oven Clean.

 Cleaning ovens would have to be one of the most dreaded housework jobs for most people.  No one likes the scrubbing or the fumes that comes with harsh chemicals needed to bring a crusty oven back to it's former glory.

I have two ovens that are used on a regular basis for baking bread,  biscuits and cakes as well as cooking casseroles and pasta bakes to name a few.  When my ovens were installed 6 years ago I vowed I'd keep them clean and never use harsh oven cleaners again.

Having new ovens was like I'd been given another chance to look after them.  To this day they still look new and it's because of these 5 tricks I use.

*  Wipe out your oven including the door after every couple of uses ( unless there's a big mess ).  This helps prevent grime build up which can be hard to remove or requires harsh chemicals.  Use a damp microfibre cloth to wipe your oven out.  For slightly tougher marks,  a little detergent on a scourer will do the trick.

*  Use Magic Eraser to remove the little splatter marks.  I've found this works really well when nothing else does.  Try to wipe them off on a regular basis before they are baked on hard.

*  Use the correct sized dish,  pan or tray for cooking and baking to prevent spill overs.  

*  Put a baking tray on the next shelf down from whatever you are baking / cooking to catch any spills if there is liquid involved.  I do this when baking a self saucing pudding.

*  Use a lidded roasting dish or a piece of foil over your roast when cooking.  This will help prevent the fatty splatters that seem to go everywhere.  Use a lidded casserole dish for meals that contain liquid.

I'm not suggesting the use of oven liners at the bottom of the oven.   Some manufacturers do not recommend this in their instruction booklets. 

Have you used any of these tips to help keep your oven clean ?

Saturday, 27 August 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 27th August 2022

 In our part of the world it has rained just about every day and sometimes many times during the day ( and night ) for many weeks,  if not months.  My trips out to the chicken coop and garden are done with extra caution as the ground under foot is very wet and squishy.  Thankfully we live on the high side of the street and almost at the top of a small hill so the water has a chance to drain away somewhat.

With all this rain I've concentrated on indoor jobs to keep me busy ( when I'm not out at my cleaning jobs ).  I've been decluttering the contents of boxes we once stored in our roof.   I came across my old high school uniform,  student diaries,  Year 12 assignments and many childhood knick knacks.  Such fun to see them again,  but time to let most of them go.

Here's what else I've been up to this week -

*  Picked another few heads of broccoli from the garden.  I've also blanched and frozen them for future meals.

*  Made shepherd's pie in bulk and froze 7 serves.  It was bulked out with TVP and lots of veggies.

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I also baked 2 bread sticks to have with our dinners occasionally.

*  Made up a bottle of surface spray with cooled boiled water and kitchen detergent.

*  Fed the compost bin with kitchen scraps every couple of days.  I've been ripping up any odd bits of paper I find and adding it to the compost bin as well.

*  Fed crusts,  scraps from dinner plates,  weeds and grass to our chickens.

*  Dried most of the washing on clothes horses over our ducted heating vents.

*  Our 6 year old Dyson vacuum cleaner died last week.  We were able to sell the two vacuum heads to a cleaning client who needed them on their vacuum.  I'm thinking of putting the rest of the vacuum up for sale as parts.  Thankfully we have a handheld cordless vacuum as a back up while we research buying another one.

*  Kept unused bedroom and bathroom doors and their ducted heating vents closed.

*  Used the thermos every morning to store extra hot water from the kettle.

*  Only turned the dishwasher on when it was super full.  This worked out to every 1 1/2 days.

*  Charged everything we could during daylight hours or on the weekend to make the most of the solar panels and cheaper electricity rates.

*  Stuck to our 2 light rule.  Many times we only had one light on.


From our garden

Drying clothes for free

As some of you might have read on Facebook,  this week we said goodbye to our much loved cat Princess.  She came to us as a stray kitten struggling to climb up our front steps 12 1/2 years ago.  She gave us much joy,  laughs and love.  My garden companion and night time leg warmer. 

What was on your thrifty list this week ?

Saturday, 20 August 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th August 2022

It was wonderful to get out in the garden a couple of times this week.  Thankfully the sun was shining during these times although it was windy.  Spring is just around the corner and I can almost taste the tomatoes we'll be growing.

Here's how we saved money this week - 

*  Darren and Luka dug up 1.5 kilos of potatoes from our garden.  Luka was thrilled to be outside with his Poppy digging in the dirt and watching the worms wriggle away.

*  Filled up the thermos each morning with boiled water from the kettle.  We fill the kettle to the full mark,  boil then make our breakfast cuppas.  The rest of the water goes straight into the thermos.

*  A family member helped us out with some computer work.  As a thankyou I was able to give him a gift bag of homemade / handmade goodies ( jam,  dish cloth etc ).

*  Filled up the foaming hand wash pumps with diluted shower gel.

*  Picked another 3 heads of broccoli and a few florets from our garden.

*  Collected 4 eggs from our chicken.

*  Found a cheese board with cutting wire from the op shop for $3.20.  This will be used to cut soap accurately

*  Made a double meal of tuna pasta bake and got more serves than what I usually do.  Normally I get 4 - 5 serves from a single meal so a double would give me 8 - 10.  This time I got 12 and a tiny lunch serve.  I did add a couple of large grated carrots and shredded spinach from our garden.  Combining that with portion control must have given me more.  I was a bit like Jesus feeding the loaves and fishes to the thousands.  I did cook 2 serves for dinner that night and the rest went into the freezer

*  I did my monthly shop this week and used the 10% off offer and $20 I had on the Everyday Rewards card at Woolworths.  This effectively gave me a leg of lamb for about $10 ( bought ahead for Father's Day ).

*  Gratefully received lemons and some vegetables from a couple of people.

*  Darren filled up our cars with petrol at $1.48 a litre using a couple of apps to get this great price.

*  Charged up electronics,  a shaver and handheld vacuum on the weekend when the sun was shining to make the most of cheaper electricity and the solar panels.  

*  Darren planted quite a few sprouting potatoes in the garden.


Tuna Pasta Bake

Growing Potatoes For Free

Gifted lemons

Cheese cutting board for cutting soap

Father's Day treat 

Sprouting potatoes ready to plant.

How did you save money this week ?

Saturday, 13 August 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th August 2022

 This week's frugal list is a little on the smaller side due to illness.  I've had the chills and a sore throat since Wednesday and Darren has been unwell too.  Hopefully by the time you read this on Saturday we'll be feeling a little better.

I guess the size of the list doesn't really matter does it ?  We've stayed away from the shops as much as possible and only spent money when needed.  Sometimes it's not necessarily the bargains you get,  but the money you don't spend that counts.

Darren continues to earn really good money at his new job but our spending hasn't changed much.  No job seems to be secure these days so we are saving as much as possible.  That rainy day might just be around the corner.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Darren fed our compost bins with kitchen scraps and garden clippings.

*  I picked 6 heads of broccoli from our garden.  The total weight was 1.5 kilos and will eaten with many meals.  I've blanched and flash frozen the broccoli florets and then placed them in snap lock bags.  The stalks were finely diced and frozen too.

*  Finished a few of upcycling projects.  One is a jug my Mum gave me.  It was brown and white and I've sprayed it white.  I spray painted a dull silver picture frame white.  It now looks fresh.  The last project is a timber tea bag caddy.  I've also spray painted it white ( I'll post a photo of this one next week ).

*  I've placed the two batches of soap on the new ( from the op shop ) metal shelf I purchased last week.  I used an old thin plastic cutting mat  to line the shelves.  Now the soap can cure without being knocked over.

*  I made a pot of chunky chicken and veg soup,  two bread sticks and ANZAC biscuits to take over to Jessica's place for dinner.  Jessica has just come back from a 6 week trip to Europe and was desperately needing some wholesome food.  I was going to get bread sticks at the supermarket but to be honest,  I couldn't be bothered.

*  Picked a few lemons and mandarins from our trees.

*  Fed bread crusts,  broccoli leaves,  grass and weeds to the chickens.

*  Made a chop suey meal and added TVP to the 250g of mince ( that I usually use )..  This meal normally gives me 4 or 5 serves.  This time I got 6 main meal serves and 2 lunch serves.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water like I usually do.

*  Picked 5 large spinach leaves for the garden to add to the chop suey meal.

*  Kept the curtains mostly closed ( except for a few inches ) on the cold,  overcast days. 

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  This is almost the same recipe I used for the bread sticks.  For the bread sticks I didn't add extra goodness and only used plain white flour.


Chop Suey

ANZAC Biscuits

Wholemeal Bread With Extra Goodness.

Chunky Chicken And Veggie Soup

Broccoli from the garden

Diced broccoli stalks.

Homemade bread sticks

Before photo of an upcycling project

The after photo.

Op shop find soap curing rack

Another upcycling project.  It was grey

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