Saturday, 6 March 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th March 2021

 This week has given us milder weather here in Melbourne.   Darren and I continue to work in our garden planting,  pruning,  weeding and harvesting.  Everything we harvest from the veggie garden is a real blessing and is helping to keep our food budget low.

Here's what we've been up to -

*  Picked a handful of raspberries each day.  Our strawberry plants are still giving us fruit every couple of days.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and poured it into the washing machine.  Saved kitchen water was used to water lots of pot plants and the mandarin trees.

*  Darren and I had a day out last Sunday to Phillip Island ( about an hour away ).  We took our lunch,  a thermos and afternoon tea with us which saved us quite a bit of money.  It was lovely to sit under the big trees on the sloping grassed area at the beach.

*  Wrote out our menu plan for the next 4 weeks.  It's always a relief to have it written out and really does make dinner time so much easier.

*  I took some homemade chicken stock out of the freezer and made a pot of chunky chicken and veggie soup.  I added broccoli crumbs from the bottom of a ziplock bag in the freezer.  Nothing went to waste and it gave extra nutrients to the soup.  We had the soup for 2 dinners this week at a cost of about 20 cents a serve.

*  Filled up both our cars with petrol for well under $1.20 a litre just as the price was going up to $1.65.

*  Picked the last of the sweet corn,  blanched and froze it to add to future meals.

*  Built a little fence to protect the lettuce and silverbeet plants from the ever growing bean plants.  I used gutter guard as the fence and scraps of timber and tied it together with cut up old socks.

*  Darren and Luka made scones together.  Luka is a fan of anything that looks like cake.

*  Dried all the washing on the line outside even when it threatened to rain.  I'm always full of optimism when it comes to the weather and my wash day.  The dryer is only used in emergencies.

*  Planted lettuce seedlings I bought.  I picked a punnet with more seedlings than the others to get more value.  From the punnet I got 20 seedlings instead of the usual 8.

*  Picked more lemons from our tree.  I know it's out of season but our tree has ripe lemons as well as baby ones.

The little fence I built to protect the lettuce seedlings

Protecting the silverbeet from the bean plants

More out of season lemons

Luka helping with the vacuuming

" I can do it myself "

Luka loves the on / off button.

Have you planned your Spring / Autumn garden ?

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

This Little Water Tip Could Save You Lots Of Money

Have you ever thought the shower warm up water draining down the plug hole seems like such a big waste ?

If you place a bucket under the shower head,  this clean water could be used elsewhere.  Of course you could pour it into the washing machine and this is something I do often.  It's not going to save you much money but you'll feel better about reducing the waste.

Here's an even better tip that will feed you and save lots of money.  Reuse the shower warm up water to water some veggie seedlings.  If you love lettuce, you can grow it all year round in many climates.   A $3 packet of seeds will last a few years and could save you over $100 a year.  This figure is based on buying one small $2 bag of lettuce leaves every week for one year. If you have a larger family,  you would be buying more lettuce so the savings will be even bigger.

Such a simple tip yet the impact is huge.

What could you use the saved water for ?

Saturday, 27 February 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 27th February 2021

 It's been a lovely week of very mild Summer weather here in Melbourne.  Both Darren and I have made the most of this weather and spent lots of time out in our garden.  Here's what we've been up to -

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker using the carcass and a few herbs.  When it was cooked I portioned it into smaller sizes.  With just the two of is in the house I no longer need to make the huge pots of soup that serve 10 - 11 people.  The smaller portion will make enough soup for 4 serves  ( 2 meals ).

*  Picked lots of tomatoes,  corn and silverbeet from our garden.

*  Picked a couple of handfuls of raspberries every day.  So far this season I've picked 2.25 kg and frozen them.

*  Picked a few lemons left from last season.  They have gradually turned yellow and we are now using them.

*  Made a double batch of chocolate brownies from scratch.  I've kept some in the pantry and the rest was frozen for future afternoon teas.

*  Fed the compost bin every day with garden clippings and kitchen scraps.

*  Darren picked up a large glass lidded container from Woolies just as they ended their latest promotion.  We didn't need to pay for it and just did our usual shopping to get the points.  They are now getting rid of the remaining stock and you only need half as many points for a container.

*  Planted 2 Hebe plant cuttings we've grown ourselves from another plant.

*  Made 10 jars of raspberry jam from our fruit.  This is my all time favourite jam.  So tasty and tangy.

*  Planted out more broccoli seedlings we bought as well as a few we grew from seed.  I'm hoping to grow lots of broccoli to freeze so we don't have to buy it from the supermarket at such high prices.

*  Baked lots of chocolate choc chip muffins and sold them to a friend who had ordered them.

*  Saved lots of shower warm up water and poured it into the washing machine

*  Picked a small bowl of strawberries from our garden.

From the garden

Raspberry jam

More jam

Chocolate brownie

How Darren had the chocolate brownie

Our raspberries

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Are you picking anything from your garden or planning a garden ?

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Reusing Old Plastic Cereal Containers.

 Over the last couple of years I've gradually changed my pantry storage containers from plastic to glass where possible.  This has left me with a dilemma of having lots of plastic containers to find other uses for.  The cereal containers in particular were too good to throw out,  which is not an eco friendly option.   Some were 20+ years old and not BPA free so finding non food related uses proved to be a challenge.

I love neat and tidy organisation in my cupboards and after much thought came up with these ideas for the containers -

*  Storage for clothes pegs.  This has been a fantastic way to use a container.  The pegs don't fall out ( or very few do ) if the pegs are knocked over by accident.  Having a lid on the container keeps the spare pegs dry and clean when waiting for the washing to dry on the line outside.  This will also extend the life of the pegs.

*  Dry cat food storage.  No longer do I have tiny crumbs from the cardboard box fall out on the tiles or in the laundry cupboard.  The little opening in the lid makes it easy to reach in with a scoop to get the exact amount Princess needs to eat.  Portion control at it's best.

*  Plastic bag storage.  I have two cereal containers under my kitchen sink for plastic bag storage.  One holds recycled bread bags that are really clean and suitable for food storage.  I use them many times over to store my home baked bread in the freezer.  When they start to look a little ratty,  I store them in the other container to be used as bin liners.  I can squash a lot of bread bags in those containers and the lid helps to keep them tidy.

*  Storage for kitty litter scoop bags.  I also reuse bread bags to scoop up kitty litter messes.  Having a container in the laundry cupboard makes it easy for quick clean ups..

Under my kitchen sink

Laundry cupboard storage

My new peg ' bucket '.

Have you found other uses for old plastic containers ?

Saturday, 20 February 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th February 2021

 Since last week's frugal list post,  Melbourne and the rest of Victoria ( the state I live in ) has been in a snap 5 day lockdown.  I was happy to stay home and potter around the house,  do some gardening and watch lots of YouTube clips.  Thankfully Darren didn't miss out on any work shifts and I was able to reschedule a cleaning job to next week.

During the coolness of our mornings we've been working out in the front garden doing some tidying up.  We've also pottered in the veggie garden,  pulled a few weeds and generally admired the fruits of our hard work.

Here's what else we've been up to -   

*  Fed the compost bins every second day with kitchen scraps and garden clippings

*  Made a big batch of brown sugar from scratch using white sugar and molasses.

*  Mixed up a double batch of cranberry hootycreek biscuit dough.  Some was baked for Darren as a Valentine's Day treat.  The rest of the dough went into the freezer for future baking.

*  Knitted a few more dish cloths and face scrubbies.  I have a friend who is interested in buying some for herself and to give some as presents.  As soon as she's made her purchases I'll put them up on Facebook if anyone is interested in buying some too.    The knitted dish cloths are the only cloths I use to wipe down my stone bench top and stainless steel stove.  They give a wonderful streak free finish.

*  Planted 6 daisy plants I'd grown from cuttings.  Now they are spread out around our front and backyard garden beds.  They'll be a wonderful burst of color in a couple of months.

*  Picked silverbeet and tomatoes a couple of times during the week to add to our meals.

*  Used reclaimed bread bags to line our bathroom bins.

*  Cooked up some excess tomatoes and froze them for future spag bol dinners.

*  When out digging in the front garden I found 4 small lavender bushes that had popped up from nowhere.  I've replanted them into better positions to fill in a few gaps.

*  Saved lots of shower water and poured it into the washing machine.

*  Harvested some of the sweetcorn we have growing in our veggie garden.  Some was cooked to have with 2 of our dinners.  The rest was blanched and frozen.  I'll be picking another 10 - 15 ears of corn over the next few weeks.

*  Found lots of brand new  knitting / crocheting cotton in my local op shop at fantastic prices.  Now I have a few more color options for the dish cloths and face scrubbies 

Brown sugar from scratch

Making brown sugar

Cranberry hootycreek biscuits for Darren

Our sweetcorn crop.

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

One Simple Way To Reduce Food Waste

 Each year,  Australians waste about 7.3 million tonnes of food with costs the economy approximately $20 billion.  That sounds like a staggering amount doesn't it.

Think of it this way.  That wastage equates to about 300 kg of food per person or one in five bags of groceries.  That's a very shocking statistic and a heck of a lot of money being thrown out.

As most of you know I'm a domestic cleaner of over 20 years.  I've cleaned many fridges over this time and I'm always shocked at how much food is abandoned ( forgotten ) by the family.  I'm not talking about a small bowl of mashed potato.  I'm talking about expensive fruits and vegetables,  convenience foods and takeaways.

There is one simple way to start reducing the food waste in your home.

FREEZE  !!  That's right,  freeze your leftovers.  At dinnertime,  as I'm serving up the meal if I can see there will be leftovers,  I get out a few takeaway containers and portion the extra food into single serves.  Once dinner is eaten the leftovers are put into the fridge to cool.  Then when the dishes are washed and the kitchen is clean,  I put the lids on the containers,  label then place in the freezer.

If you have too many vegetables in the fridge then blanch them and freeze for future eating. Sad looking fruit could be cooked ( stewed ) and either eaten within a couple of days or frozen.  Maybe make fruit icypoles or icecream with excess fruit.

Excess eggs,  cheese,  butter,  milk and cream can be frozen for future use.  Just do a Google search for the best way to freeze each item.

I'm hoping this has inspired you to use your freezer to save money and reduce the food in your fridge spoiling.

Single serves of soup for the freezer

Portioned and labelled

Chicken curry meals for the freezer

How do you reduce food wastage in your fridge ?

Saturday, 13 February 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th February 2021

 There is so much happening in our garden during Summer.  It certainly keeps us busy and we love being outside working with God's creation.  We feel so blessed to have the space to grow some of our own fruit and veg.  It certainly helps with our food budget.

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

*  Turned out hot water temperature down by 5 degrees.  Hopefully this will save a little money.  It is recommended that hot water should be kept at 60 degrees or higher to prevent bacteria growth.  Ours was sitting on 65 degrees. Now it's at 60.

*  Sold 2 bottles of Miracle Spray to a friend.

*  Bought a power board for our tv and dvd player in the lounge room.  This power board has an on / off switch that I can easily access.  Now the two standby lights can be switched off when not in use.  The old way would have seen me climbing into the tv unit cupboard to access the power point on the back wall ( not an easy task ).

*  I was recently given some TVP ( textured vegetable protein ) to try.  It's added to meat to make it stretch further.  I've successfully added it to beef mince to make lasagne,  spag bol and chop suey without really noticing a difference.  This has given me extra serves of the meals to freeze.

*  Made a big batch of pita chips from pita bread.  We use these as a cheaper version of dry biscuits.

*  Defrosted our small freezer which helps it run more efficiently.  This gave me a chance to take note of what meals we had in there and quantities.

*  Cooked up lots of tomatoes my Dad gave me.  From these tomatoes I was able to make a large lasagne that serves 16 people .

*  Made an orange cake from a frozen orange ( 18 months old ). I gave one little cake to my Mum and Dad,  two went into the freezer for future eating and we ate one fresh.  With just the two of us,  we don't eat as much baking as we once did.  Freezing cakes eliminates waste.

*  I found two silverbeet plants growing in  the grass under a raspberry cane.  I transplanted them into a veggie garden bed and watered them like crazy until they took off.  It will only be a few weeks before we can start picking leaves.

*  Froze lots of leftovers from some of our dinners.  I still cook casseroles,  stews,  spag bol,  chop suey and lasagne in quantities like when our girls were still home.  Everything is frozen and written into the menu plan for when I need a night off from cooking.

*  Made a big jar of seasoned bread crumbs from leftover bread crusts.

*  Made icing sugar and castor sugar form normal white sugar.  I did this by using our goffee / spice grinder.

*  Gratefully received half a cabbage from a friend.

*  Sold lots of muffins and a couple of jars of jam to a cleaning client.


A baking order for a friend

From the garden

A cucumber plant just popped up

Cooking tomatoes from Dad

How do you keep yourself busy during Summer ?

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Summer Savings Around The Home

 At The Gower Abundant Cottage we try to live by the seasons.  Although Summer does have it's challenges of keeping our home cool without breaking the budget,  there are many ways to save a little money here and there.

*  We keep our curtains closed ( or almost closed ) when we know it's going to be a hot day.  Quite often we don't need to put our evap cooling on until mid afternoon.

*  When a heatwave is on it's way,  I cook enough potato salad or pasta salad for 2 or 3 dinners.  All I have to do is add a green salad and sliced meat.  This saves on gas ( cooking ) and makes meal times easy.

*  On warmer days we try to get the housework done in the morning,  then spend the afternoon relaxing.  If we did our housework in the afternoon,  we'd be more inclined to turn the evap cooling up high because we'd be hot and bothered.

*  Electric fans are our first choice on a hot day.  They only cost a couple of cents an hour to run.  The evap cooling is only turned on when the fans are not enough.

*  Deli meats ( sliced meats ) are a wonderful yet expensive addition to Summer meals.  To help offset the high price,  we try to grow salad veggies in our garden.

*  Keeping a Summer veggie garden requires lots of water.  To offset the higher water costs,  we have shorter showers,  pour recycled water into the washing machine and water the garden after the Sun goes down.

*  We make the most of our clothesline.  Drying the washing outside is free.  On super hot days we hang the washing on clothes horses then place them outside on the decking.

*  We live almost entirely off our food stockpile and only pop into the supermarket for milk and a handful of perishables.  This saves us petrol and reduces to temptation to impulse buy to make meal prep easier.

Do you have any tips for saving money during Summer ?

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Frugal Tasks For January 2021

 It's a new year and a new beginning for all of us.  Darren and I enjoyed our 2 week holiday to Tasmania just after Christmas.  We spent time with Darren's family in Devonport then had a mini getaway to a little coastal town called Stanley.  It was wonderful to breathe in the fresh air without a face mask for the entire 2 weeks.

The second half of January was spent in the garden picking fruit from our trees and finding ways to use it all.   Our pantry was given a clean out / sort out ready to tackle 2021.  Our freezers are full of cooked meals,  fruit and our usual stockpile of meat.

Here's what else we've been up to -

*  Made three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made lots of apricot jam using the apricots from our tree.  

*  Made a 2 litre bottle of foaming hand wash liquid using diluted shower gel.

*  Made up a bottle of surface cleaner using diluted dishwashing liquid.

*  Knitted quite a few dish cloths and face scrubbies ( wash cloths ) while we were in Tasmania.  Now that we are back home I've continued to knit in my spare time.

*  Cut Megan's hair for her.

*  Made lemon butter using eggs I froze a few months ago and lemon juice I froze last year ( lemons from our tree ).  I've been enjoying it on my toast for breakfast.

*  Froze excess plums from our tree.  I'm planning on making jam later in the year when my current supply is low.

*  Darren dug up the potatoes he planted last October.  From 7 scrawny little supermarket potatoes we harvested about 13 kilos.  At the moment,  supermarkets are charging $4 a kilo.

*  We made a bulk batch of salmon patties and stretched them out by adding cooked potato and grated carrot.  There were enough for 9 meals for the 2 of us.    We ate some that night and 8 meals were put into the freezer.

*  Gratefully received lots of plums and tomatoes from my Dad's garden.  The plums were frozen for future jam making and sauce making.  The tomatoes were cooked up and made a very large lasagne.

* Planted cucumber,  zucchini,  potatoes,  lettuce and bean seeds.

*  Gratefully received a large zucchini from Jessica's boss.  This was used to make lots of zucchini / veggie fritters.

*  Saved lots of kitchen water from drink bottles and rinsing veggies.  This was used on the plants in our back garden.

* We took as much food as we could for our trip to Tasmania.  The muesli bars,  tins of chunky soup,  homemade shortbread biscuits and savoury biscuits  saved us a small fortune.  We also took lunch and snacks on the boat trip over and only needed to buy a cup of tea and dinner.

From our fruit trees

Our potato haul

From the garden on Christmas morning

Bryson on the move

A new greeting card I've been making

Cooking up the tomatoes

What frugal things have you been up to lately ?

Do you have any great plans for 2021 ?

Sunday, 20 December 2020

2020 - An Emotional Year

It's time for me to go on a blogging break.  We have Christmas to look forward to with our family and 2 adorable grandbabies next week.  The presents have been purchased and wrapped.  They'll go under the tree Christmas Eve to keep them away from little fingers.  We have a holiday planned and Megan turns 21 next month.

Our year has been quite an emotional one even without Covid 19 turning the world upside down.  We lost a close family member back in February.  Her passing was quicker than expected and resulted in some family relationships becoming very strained ( to say the least ).

My Mum finished her final round of heavy chemo treatments in March just before Covid restrictions came into force.  Mum and Dad have been in their own version of lockdown all year with Mum mostly staying home for the last 2 years.  She's doing well now but still has her challenging days.

In March we had the birth of our second grandbaby.  Bryson is just a delight to be around and his constant smiles light up a room. Unfortunately the panic buying had just started a couple of days before Bryson's birth.  Darren and I raced from supermarket to supermarket to buy nappies and formula for both Luka and Bryson. 

We had family living with us from February until 2 days before stage 4 lockdown in August.   Our full house worked quite well most of the time and it was wonderful to be a part of Luka and Bryson's life every day.  Luka loved to sit on my knee to share my toast and jam every morning.

We helped move both Jessica and Megan a total of 4 times.   Three of the moves were emergency moves during various stages of lockdowns.  Hopefully things have settled down and both girls are happy where they are living.

Darren and I became empty nesters at the start of August.  The quietness of our home was a bit of a shock after having a full house.  Thankfully we enjoy each other's company and have spent many hours out on the deck drinking cups of tea and watching the clouds go by.

We celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary on 2nd September.  Although our Cook Islands holiday was postponed,  we did enjoy a candlelit dinner at home, just the 2 of us in stage 4 lockdown.

We've see work come and go.  When things got tough,  I started sewing face masks to sell.  When that slowed down,  I made cards,  sewed hanging tea towels / hand towels,  made bath bombs, soaps,  book marks and jam.  With shops being closed,  there was a real demand for handmade goodies. My newly acquired craft room was buzzing and the sewing machine went into overdrive.  At one point I  ' employed ' Darren to take orders.

I enjoyed online card making days with my friends from The Cheapskates Club.  It was wonderful to catch up,  compare notes on how we were going and made a few cards along the way.  Luka enjoyed bringing me biscuits and saying hello to the ladies.

We spent as much time as possible out in the back yard gardening and tidying up.  We planted more veggies,  fed and pruned fruit trees,  helped Luka explore the great outdoors and had many meals and cuppas out on the deck.

We survived ( and at times thrived ) a 14 week lockdown - one of the longest in the world.  The hardest part was not being able to see Jessica and my parents.  Another challenge was keeping our younger family members calm and sane when all they wanted to do was live normally.  This really took an emotional toll on me.

I've spent the last few months building up my stockpile as supermarket shelves returned to normal ( sort of ). Our fruit trees will be supplying lots of fruit for eating,  freezing and jam making over the next couple of months.

Slowly we are getting our lives back to normal although I don't think we'll ever be the same.  On a positive note, our home is squeaky clean,  our backyard looks wonderful and we are more organised.

Thankyou to all of you who read my blog,  especially during my daily posts earlier this year.  We've all travelled this year together through the ups and down.  Thankyou to those who supported Darren and I through buying my handmade goodies.  You've helped and encouraged us more than you'll ever know.

If you are living where lockdowns,  restrictions and ( at times ) fear is a part of your every day life, I'd like to encourage you to get up each day with a sense of purpose of what goals you'd like to achieve.  This,  and God's protection kept me going during our darkest days this year.  Having a list in my head when I woke up really got me going.

 Have a blessed Christmas,  love and enjoy your family near and far.

I'll be back blogging again in late January,  early February.  If I get the chance,  I'll put up some holiday reading posts to keep you inspired and challenged.  

Jam for presents

The day Bryson as born

Luka playing in the laundry basket

Luka kissing Bryson

Our grandbabies

From the kitchen

Our guttering display

Plums growing

Princess sun baking

Luka and Darren picking cherries

Potatoes and tomatoes growing

My birthday flowers from Luka

Our anniversary lunch platter

Out on the deck

Soap making

Selling face masks

Handmade greeting cards

Shortbread biscuit.