Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Chocolate Crazy Cake - Depression Era Cake

 This cake recipe came up on YouTube as a recommended video to watch.  The origin of Crazy Cake ( also known as Wacky Cake ) ,  is unclear but many sources link it to the Depression / WW2.  With the absence of eggs,  milk and butter due to rationing,  it is quite possible this cake came from that era.

There are many variations of this recipe but here's the one I used.  I did reduce the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 cup and found it still sweet enough.

While I wouldn't call this cake the best cake I've ever made,  it did the job and is quite economical.

1 1/2 cups of Plain Flour

3/4 cup of White Sugar

1/4 cup of unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda ( Bi Carb Soda )

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1 cup of Water

125ml of Oil.  I used Rice Bran Oil

1 teaspoon of White Vinegar

1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Add all the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined with a whisk or wooden spoon.

Pour into a greased and lined 8 inch round or square baking tin.

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clear.

Ice or decorate as you like.

Dusted with icing sugar

I do apologise for the quality of the photos.  The day I baked it was gloomy,  dark and rainy.  I had to take the photos outside to get enough light.

Saturday, 20 May 2023

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th May 2023

 To all the Mother's,  Grandmothers and Mother figures,  I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day last Sunday.  

Darren spoiled me with some lovely gifts and took me out for lunch.  It was a glorious day in Melbourne with the sun shining and the air slightly warm.   We had a family afternoon tea at my Mum's then the girls and grandchildren came over for dinner.  It was a long day,  but a day full of blessings,  love and laughter.

Here's what else we got up to -

*  Darren and I made blackberry jam using fruit Darren picked all Summer / Autumn.  We made 14 jars in total and blessed a few family members with a jar.

*  I picked up a punnet of slightly sad looking silverbeet seedlings from Bunnings on clearance for $1.  I've planted them in the veggie garden and they are doing well ( so far ).  I did plant seeds a few weeks ago but they didn't come up.  I think it might have been too cold here.

*  Kept the heater off during the middle of the day when the sun was shining.  I did make sure the curtains were fully open to let some heat in.  If I got a little cold I either did some housework or put a coat on. 

*  Made and sold a lemon slice to a cleaning client for a birthday party.

*  Refilled the bathroom foaming hand wash pump with the remains of an almost empty shower gel bottle.

*  Cleaned and washed a pair of Darren's sneakers.  Darren was almost ready to move them on to become garden shoes but they've come up quite clean.

*  Gratefully received a blessing of mushrooms.  We used them in a couple of  meals.

*  Saved a couple of gift bags from Mother's Day.  They will be reused for future gift giving.

*  We had an unexpected situation pop up on Mother's Day and needed to find a gift in a hurry.  Darren picked some chrysanthemums and greenery from our garden and I pulled a lovely hand wash from the gift cupboard and grabbed a jar of the freshly made blackberry jam.  These simple gifts were well received and cheered up the recipient.

*  Darren went to a charity dinner and came home with the table flowers and a door prize of a gourmet hamper.  . 

*  Finely diced a couple of broccoli stalks and froze them for future soup and casserole making.  I do this instead of buying celery.

The hamper Darren won

Flowers from the charity dinner

Cup and tray from Darren, biscuits from church gift

Cutting up broccoli stalks

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

It is with much sadness that we learned of Suzan Warnes sudden passing on Monday.  Suzan was a regular reader and commenter on this blog for a number of years and a contributor to the Cheapskates Chatter FB group and various other groups.  Please uphold her family in prayer through this difficult time. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Super Cheap Foaming Hand Wash.

 If you have foaming hand wash pumps in your home then this savings tip is for you.

Foaming hand wash is a great way to clean your hands in the bathroom and kitchen.  It doesn't leave any mess on the bench and does the job well.  The branded refills are super expensive and very rich in suds.  I've found it's concentration can dry out my hands very quickly.

I've always looked out for 1/2 price shower gel to make foaming hand wash,  but lately supermarket specials have been few and far between.

So for the last couple of years I've been buying up the cheapest shower gel I can find. Usually it costs either $3 or $4 for 1 litre which is an absolute bargain.  The Balnea brand is $3 and I've seen the supermarket generic brand for $4.   As long as it suds and is a clear gel,  it will make lovely foaming wash.  

Photo taken 1 month ago in Woolworths.


Foaming Hand Wash Savings

Have you made your own foaming hand wash ?

Saturday, 13 May 2023

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th May 2023

Both Darren and I have spent some time in the garden this week.  Autumn can be quite busy for us as we prune the shrubs and plant our Winter veggie garden.  We try to get the sheds organised and cleaned so that when the cold,  wet weather hits,  we can get things out of our sheds with ease.

Here's how we saved money this week -

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Picked feijoas from our garden every couple of days.  The fruit is starting to slow down but I'm still enjoying every single one of them.  Feijoa season is quite short,  lasting generally from April to early May.

*  Saved the washing machine and shower warm up water.

*  Baked a chocolate cake using extremely basic ingredients.  I'll be sharing the recipe shortly.

*  Darren planted more seed potatoes in one of our garden beds.

*  Dried all washing on a clothes horse over a ducted heating vent.

*  Picked up a couple of  ' reduced to clear ' items in the Mother's Day section at Coles.  I'll be putting them in my present cupboard.

*  Made a green chicken curry using a sachet given to us.  From 2 chicken fillets I got 8 serves of the curry.  Most of it went into the freezer.

*  We received blessings of bread,  bread bags,  TVP ( textured vegetable protein ),  mushrooms and cooked rice.

*  Fed the chickens bread crusts,  grass clippings and dinner plate scrapings.   

*  Fed the compost bins with kitchen scraps.

*  Darren picked up a couple of meat bargains in Coles.  He was in the right place at the right time.

*  Picked lots of Chrysanthemums from our garden.

Darren's meat bargain

From our garden

In Mum's garden.

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

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Free Laundry Bags

 This saving tip came from my friend Bethany quite a few years ago.  I would have shared it earlier but I didn't have a photo to match.  When we were in Tasmania a couple of months ago my in laws had this bag of rice in their pantry.  So I took the opportunity to take a photo.

Some large bags of rice come in a bag with a zipper at the top.  Once the rice has been consumed,  turn the bag inside out to shake out any remaining grains of rice.  If there is a plastic liner,  remove it.  Give the bag a good rinse out with soapy water and dry thoroughly. 

Now you have a free delicates laundry bag to use in your washing machine.  I don't do any hand washing these days but use laundry bags instead.  This saves on water and certainly saves on time. 

 I'm not sure how much this rice costs so wait until it comes on sale.

Saturday, 6 May 2023

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th May 2023

As the weather cools down,  I've been concentrating on tasks inside the home.  The last couple of weeks I've been cooking bigger meals at night to fill up one of our freezers.  It only takes me an extra 10 minutes or so to cut up more veggies and a couple of minutes to portion the cooked food into containers to freeze.

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

*  Picked feijoas from under the tree every day this week.  Feijoas would have to be my all time favourite fruit to eat ( and I'm not a big fruit eater ).  My grandparents had a big tree in their front yard for decades and we always enjoyed  getting a big box of the the fruit to take home when I was younger..

*  Made a big pot of lamb and veggie soup using a lamb neck that was given to us last year.  We enjoyed the soup for dinner and the rest went into the freezer.

*  Used our solar lanterns every night after dinner.

*  Cleaned the kettle using citric acid.  It come up looking like new.

*  Last Sunday was the one year anniversary of my Dad's passing.  I picked chrysanthemums from our garden in Dad's favourite color ( deep red / maroon ) and added a few feijoa branches to the bouquet ( Dad loved feijoas too ).  This bouquet was placed at his memorial site.

*  Found a birthday present,  a container to store muffin patty cases and a kids ride on toy at Savers op shop.  I used a 20% discount voucher to get the items cheaper ( a few dollars each ).

*  I defrosted a bag of baked choc chip cookies from the freezer to have for work and morning tea snacks.

*  Donated 2 bags of unwanted items to Savers and received 2 x 20% discount coupons.  As I mentioned above,  I've already redeemed one voucher.

*  Made a big pot of spag bol sauce and used TVP,  grated carrot and the last bit of cauliflower to stretch the sauce out.  From 750g of mince I got 16 single serves of meat sauce.  We had some for dinner that night and the rest went into the freezer as single and double serves.   

*  Gratefully received a bag of glass jars from a friend.  They will b e used for jam making and pantry food storage. 

*  Mended Luka's Paw Patrol soft toy before the hole got too big.


Gifted jars.

Flowers from our garden

Mending a Paw Patrol toy

Feijoas from our tree

Lamb and veg soup for the freezer.


Spaghetti Bolognaise

Choc Chip Bickies ( Cookies )

Cleaning Your Kettle

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

Wednesday, 3 May 2023

Easy Coconut Slice

 A lovely lady by the name of Christine made this slice for morning tea at church about 6 weeks ago.  Both Darren and I had a piece of the slice and we were suitably impressed with how delicious it was.  Christine was kind enough to share the recipe with me and a few weeks ago I made it for my card making group.  They quite enjoyed it.  I gave a piece to my daughter Megan and she loved it so much she rang and asked for more.

The great news is we all pretty much have the ingredients in our pantry and fridge.   Nothing fancy,  just basic ingredients that are cheap.  Even the butter component is fairly inexpensive.

Christine made her slice with the usual sized choc chips.  I had generic brand mini dark chocolate chips and found I didn't need to use many.  I added chopped apricots because I like that combo.  You could add any dried fruits you have on hand.

1 cup self raising flour

1 cup of desiccated coconut

3/4 cup of castor sugar ( I used white sugar )

100g of butter

1 egg ( beaten )

90g of mini choc chips or similar

Approx, 10 dried apricots ( finely chopped )

Melt the butter and put aside to cool.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Add the beaten egg and melted,  cooled butter.

Mix until all ingredients are combined well.  The mixture will look slightly crumbly.

Press into a greased and lined  slice tin.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 160c until the top is slightly brown

Cool in the tin then remove and slice.

Dust with a little icing sugar ( optional ).

A slightly crumbly mixture

Saturday, 29 April 2023

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 29th April 2023

Well,  the week started with me charging out the gate getting heaps of frugal things done.  I was so excited thinking I'd have heaps to share but then my week went pear shape.  We have an extended family member in hospital who is very unwell,  then Bryson our 3 year old grandson was admitted to hospital with an infection.  I spent a couple of hours at the hospital yesterday entertaining Bryson to give Megan a break then picked Luka up from day care  for a sleepover at our place last nigh.  

I also had an extra cleaning job this week as well as trying to keep up with my own housework.

As I'm typing right now,  Luka is sitting on my lap patiently waiting for me to finish so he can make a get well card for his brother.

So,  here are the frugal tasks I completed in my crazy week

*  Poured the last of my shower gel into the foaming hand wash pump and added water.  It's quite luxurious and smells lovely.

*  I made large meals of Massaman beef curry,  chop suey,  honey mustard chicken and tuna pasta bake a few nights running for dinner and froze all the leftovers into 1 and 2 serve portions.  I don't have time to devote a whole day to cooking so just cooking a little extra at dinner time is so much easier.

*  Made stock in the slow cooker with a chicken carcass.  I cooked it for 24 hours then made a big pot of soup in the pressure cooker.  We had it for dinner that night and froze 13 portions.  This soup is super cheap to make and costs about 20 cents per serve.

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I used saved bread bags to store the bread in the freezer.

*  I planted broccoli seeds and seedlings,  wombok seedlings ,   cauliflower seedlings and silverbeet seed in our veg garden. I've reused the netting,  tubing and small stakes to cover and protect all the seedlings from cabbage moth.

*  Made and sold another lemon slice for a friend's birthday party.

*  I picked feijoas and lemons from our garden.  Darren picked a handful of blackberries.

*  Baked wholemeal rolls for Darren's work lunches. 

*  Baked ANZAC biscuits for ANZAC day.  I made a double batch of dough and froze the rest for future baking.

*  Baked chocolate choc chip muffins for a church morning tea and a family in need.

*  Picked yellow chrysanthemums from our garden and placed them around our home.  They are like bright sunshine and bring us joy.

Feijoas from our tree

Chrysanthemums from our garden

ANZAC biscuits

Tuna pasta bake for the freezer

Chocolate muffins


Chop Suey

Honey Mustard Chicken

Tuna Pasta Bake

Massaman Beef Curry

Lunchbox Chocolate Choc Chip Muffins

Chunky Chicken And Veg Soup

Lemon Slice 

ANZAC Biscuits

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

Have you done any baking lately ?

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

New Ways We Are Saving On Power Usage

 Power prices are soaring across the world making it difficult for many people to heat or cool their homes.  Bill shock is now a common thing for many as budgets are being stretched to the limit.

Darren and I have always been fairly wise about our power usage but increased costs have made us find new ways to save on our bills.

Here's what we've been doing lately -

*  Using solar garden lanterns at night when we are watching tv and moving around our home.  Before we had the solar lanterns we turned a lamp on in the lounge room or turned a light on when moving from room to room.

*  I'm using a solar phone charger as a light to move around our home when it's dark.  I bought it from Kmart a year or two ago and just put it aside for when my phone needed recharging.  The light on this charger is quite impressive.

*  I turned our hot water system temperature down.  I did this without telling Darren and he didn't notice a difference in the shower.  I did tell him a few weeks later and he was quite surprised.

*  Recharging phones,  razors,  headphones,  handheld vacuums, stick vacuums and laptops when the sun is shining.  When we  had the solar panels installed in 2014 we were advised to use electrical appliances during the day especially when the sun is shining to make the most of the power being generated.

*  I bought a stick vacuum from Kmart that I use to clean our floors when the sun isn't shining or at night time for quick clean ups.

*  Using the dry mop head to clean our bamboo floors instead of getting the electric vacuum cleaner ( not the stick one ) out.

*  Turning the bathroom exhaust fan off and opening a window after having a shower.  

Our solar lanterns

Solar phone charger with light

2 in 1 stick vacuum.

Have you found new ways to save on power ?

Saturday, 22 April 2023

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 22nd April 2023

 This week I've spent time in the garden planting cooler weather crops and pruning bushes before it gets too cold.  I've also been cleaning the windows and installing new sheer curtains.  This is a long overdue task interrupted by lockdowns and lack of stock at Spotlight.  The windows look brighter and fresher with the new sheers.

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

*  Planted more potatoes,  carrot seeds and silverbeet seeds in our garden.

*  Picked feijoas,  tomatoes,  pears,  lemons and a few raspberries from our garden.

*  Used the solar lanterns every night after dinner.  One night I used them to eat dinner and wash the dishes by hand.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water and poured it into the washing machine for the next load.

*  Washed Darren's sneakers in the washing machine and dried them over a ducted heating vent.

*  Gratefully received icecream,  custard tart and passionfruit from a couple of people.

*  Kept the heating off as much as possible by keeping busy when I was home.

*  Fed bread crusts and a few dinner plate scrapings to the chickens.  We haven't had eggs for over a week so now we are rationing the eggs we do have.

*  Sold an item on FB Marketplace.

*  Made and sold 2 lemon slices to a friend for a party they were hosting.

*  Darren was notified that his mobile phone plan is increasing in price by quite a bit.  He's now in the process of switching to Aldi mobile and we are going on the family plan which allows for 2 mobiles and shares the data allowance.

*  Gratefully received a bottle of de-alcoholised wine from a friend in my card making group.  Darren and I don't drink alcohol or buy soft drink of any type so this will be perfect for a special occasion.

*  Made a new budget friendly slice to take to my card making group.  Darren and Megan have also tried it and love it.  I'll be sharing the recipe here in a few week's time.

*  Made up a bottle of surface spray using dishwashing liquid and cooled boiled water.

*  Dried the washing on clothes horses mostly outside when the sun was shining.  

Dahlias my Mum is growing

Chrysanthemums in Mum's garden 

Making lemon slice.

Do you have any flowers growing in your garden at the moment ?

Do you pick them to bring indoors ? 

How have you saved money this week ?