Tuesday 28 October 2014


900 grams of beef mince
3 tins of diced / crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon each of onion flakes,  oregano and  basil.
1 teaspoon each of garlic granules
salt and pepper to taste
3 heaped tablespoons of tomato paste
1.25 litres of milk
3 tablespoons of butter
4 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
1 X 250 gram box of pasta sheets
2 – 3 cups of grated cheese
Canola spray
Cook the beef mince in a very large fry pan and season with oregano,  basil,  onion flakes,  salt and pepper. Add the tinned tomatoes and tomato paste and combine well.
In a large saucepan melt the butter on a low heat.  Add the flour and stir well.
Gradually whisk in a little of the milk until the flour mixture is combined.  Pour in the rest of the milk and whisk thoroughly.  Increase the heat and continue to stir with a spoon until the sauce  simmers and thickens. Be careful that the sauce doesn’t catch and burn on the bottom of the saucepan.

Grease a large lasagne dish with canola spray.
Spread a thin layer of white sauce over the bottom of the dish.  Place lasagne sheets over the white sauce,  breaking to size if needed.

Layer the meat sauce over the lasagne sheets.  Gently spoon the white sauce over the top until the meat sauce is covered.  Cover again with lasagne sheets.
Repeat this layering process two more times until the meat sauce runs out. 
Top with lasagne sheets and pour the remaining white sauce over the top,
Top with the grated cheese.
Cook in the oven at 190 degrees celcius for one hour turning the dish around half way.

Serves 12 people with vegetables on the side.

*     Fresh onions and garlic can be used instead of the dried version.
*       Freeze leftovers into single portions.
*      Vegetables can be added.  I’ve added finely chopped silver beet,  grated carrot and zucchini.
*       Powdered milk can be used and is cheaper.
*      My lasagne dish measures 35cm long x 21cm wide x 8 cm deep ( internal measurements )  Any square or oblong baking dish will do as long as it has deep sides.

A meal of lasagne and vegetables
Lining up all the components to reduce the drips and spills.

Ready for the oven

The finished product.
This dish costs about $10 to make

Saturday 25 October 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

This week I've been busy doing odd jobs around the house.  I had three days in a row at home so I made sure I was wise with my time. 

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Received three more avocados from a friend at church.

*  Cut up three old socks for garden ties.

*  Mended one shopping bag,  one cardigan,  one dress and took up one of Megan's Summer dresses.  She's grown so much that her white maxi dress was too short to look like a maxi dress.  So I took it up above her knees. She's happy now and will get another year's wear out of it.

*  Sewed four new Christmas stockngs.  I bought the material from Spotlight after Christmas last year for $1 a stocking.  We needed slightly smaller stockings this year to reflect our smaller budget.

*  Made two chocolate cakes at the same time ( doubled the recipe ).  One was for a church morning tea,  the other one was for us.

*  Froze a single serve of leftover tuna casserole.  I'll have to write freezer meals onto the menu plan soon as they are piling up.

*  Cooked enough rice for two tuna casseroles.  One was used that night and the other portion of rice was frozen for a future tuna casserole.

*  Made double strength Miracle Spray.  I dilute it back down to normal strength when I pour it into spray bottles.  By making it this way I'm saving time.

*  Megan made a big pot of vegetable soup.  She'd come home from an overnight camp on the school grounds.  They roughed it and she was in need of real food.  The rest of the soup was frozen into single portions.

*  Megan and her friend made raspberry and white chocolate muffins and plain scones on Sunday.  We all enjoyed some for afternoon tea using my Grandma's fine china cups and saucers.  The rest of the muffins and scones were frozen for lunchboxes.

*  Planted out some lettuce seedlings.  We had to buy these as our own seedlings are too small and we'd be without lettuce for eight weks waiting for them to grow big enough.  Still,  it's cheaper than buying a lettuce each week.

*  Saved water from the showers for the garden and washing machine.  Also saved the washing machine water for the next load.

*  Refilled the shampoo and conditioner bottles and diluted them.

*  Finally finished a lipstick I thought was really empty about four weeks ago.  I've been digging out the remains with cotton sticks for about 6 - 8 weeks.  Now I've started " finishing " another lipstick.  It's amazing how much more you can get from them once it reaches the plastic part.

*  Darren picked some iceberg roses for the kitchen windowsill.

*  I've been busy filling up my pantry so that I don't have to do much shopping during the Summer heat.
My favourite cup and saucer set.  It was my Grandma's.

A delightful Sunday afternoon tea.

The pantry is chock a block.

A big pot of vegetable soup.

The roses Darren picked.
Please share your frugal list.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Chocolate Brownies

Here's my favourite brownie recipe. It's very easy and you can add chopped walnuts,  peanuts,  cashews or dried fruit for extra flavour.

1/2 a cup of butter ( 125g ) - melted
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
3/4 cup s/r flour
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 cup of choc bits
1/2 cup of chopped nuts or dried fruit

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs with a spoon.
Add the flour and cocoa. Add chopped nuts / dried fruit if desired
Pour the mixture into a greased and lined square cake tin

Bake at 180c for 30  minutes or until edges are firm and the centre doesn't wobble - check with a skewer.

Remove from the tin when cold and cut into squares with a sharp knife.

*  Make sure the lining goes up the sides for easy removal when baked.

*  I quite often make a double batch. I add some nuts to half the mixture and the other half is left plain.  Both batches have the choc bits.

*  The brownies freeze well
*  Store in an airtight container for 3 - 4 days


Sunday 19 October 2014

My Menu Plan 20th Oct - 19th Nov 2014

The time has come to write my menu plan again.  I'm glad I do a monthly one as I can write it up in half an hour then I don't need to think about it for another month.  With the weather getting slightly warmer I'm adding a few salads to my menu plan as a gradual transition into Summer.   Some people love salads as soon as the sun shines.  My family doesn'r mind them,  just not too often

Here's my menu plan -

Mon 20th Oct - Salad ,  fish portions and baked potatoes.
Tues 21st - Honey mustard chicken and rice.
Wed 22nd - Meat pie and greens
Thurs 23rd - Salmon patties,  rice and zuc slice
Fri 24th - Freezer meals.
Sat 25th - Chicken curry in slow cooker with rice.
Sun 26th - Get your own but feed me

Mon 27th - Meatloaf, mash and veg
Tues 28th - Sausages,  salad and bread stick
Wed 29th - Lasagne and salad
Thurs 30th - Salmon portions,  salad and baked potatoes
Fri 31st - Chicken schnitzels,  mash and veg
Sat 1st Nov - Chop suey and rice
Sun 2nd -Get your own but feed me

Mon 3rd - Spag bol
Tues 4th - Crumbed chicken drumsticks,  mash and greens
Wed 5th -  Roast beef in slow coker with roast veg
Thurs 6th - Tuna pasta bake
Fri 7th - Bits and pieces of meat and veg
Sat 8th - Freezer meals
Sun 9th - Get your own but feed me

Mon 10th  Meatloaf,  salad and pasta salad
Tues 11th - Sliced meat,  smashed potatoes,  pasta salad and mixed lettuce
Wed 12th - Roast chicken with roast veg
Thurs 13th - Tuna casserole and greens
Fri 14th - Hamburgers and wedges
Sat 15th - Nasi Goreng
Sun 16th - Get your own but feed me

Mon 17th - Saucy chicken drumsticks,  mash and veg
Tues 18th - Sausages and salad
Wed 19th - Silverside in slow cooker with roast veg


*  Potatoes have doubled in price recently so we are having rice a little more often.
*  The bits an ieces meat is jst that.  I have small packages of leftover lamb,  beef and tow ( uncooked chops.  Everyone can pick their own.
*  For those who are new to my blog,  Sundays are when Darren and the girls cook their own dinner and prepare something for me.  It's a great chance for them to practice and expand their cooking skills ( and give me a night off ).
*  Salads are nothing grand.  Just lettuce,  tomato,  cuccumber, cheese,  eggs and beetroot if we have it.  It also depends on the prices of the salad ingredients.
*  All foods are cooked from scratch.  The only prepackaged food is the fish portions..

Tuna casserole with corn flakes on top

Lasagne big enough for three meals for the family.

Homemade hamburgers and wedges

Roast beef and veg

Meat pie  yummy !!!

Saturday 18 October 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

I've been very busy organising presents this week.  We've celebrated a couple of birthdays amoungst family and friends and it was great to have the presents wrapped and ready to give.  As a child I was so excited to receive presents for Christmas and my birthday.  Now as an adult the role has reversed and I love to be the giver.  I think it's all the planning,  the budgeting,  the shopping,  the making and the wrapping that builds up the excitement.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made Cranberry Hootycreek biscuits to give as part of a present.

*  Made 20 pumpkin scones using Jap pumpkin I bought for 69 cents a kilo.

* Cooked,  drained and froze more pumpkin for future baking.

*  Gave a couple of jars of homemade plum jam as presents.

*  Saved the shower water to water the garden plants.

*  Accepted some glass jars from my Mum and Dad.  I can't wait until our fruit trees and bushes start producing. I'll be in jam heaven.

*  Gratefully accepted 8 avocados from a friend at church.  These are such a blessing to us as they are a luxury item for my family.  Darren and Jessica are rationing them out and enjoying every mouthful.

*  Darren saved $50 on my car insurance by checkng other company's prices.  I'd been with the same company since 2008 as they had the best price each year.  Now we've found a cheaper deal elsewhere.

*  Wrapped most of the Christmas presents.  I buy all year round as I see great bargains.  I've even made a great start on next year's birthday and Christmas presents.  I've also beaten my present budget YAY  !!!

*  Baked two trays of peanut butter choc chip biscuits while I had a choc self saucing pudding in the oven.

*  Gratefully accepted spinach leaves and mixed lettuce from another friend at church.  Jessica used some to make up a lovely salad for tea the other night.

*  Bought Cadbury choc bits on sale at $2.09 from Coles.  I used our flybuys money to pay for them ( so they were free ).

*  Bought Vita Brits at half price from Woolworths for $2.29.  They are cheaper than the Aldi brand which is the cheapest on the market.  I bought 5 boxes.

*  On Thursday night Darren,  Jessica and I had a meal that cost us about 10 cents for the three of us.  I'd cooked half a piece of silverside the night before.  There was about 6 slices left over as some of us weren't very hungry.  Megan was on an overnight camp the next night so we had the silverside with corn on the cob from our garden last year and silverbeet ( also picked from our garden ).  A friend gave us a couple of jars of tomato relish so we had some of that.  The only cost was 1/2 a cup of white rice.  BONUS  !!!

*  Sold two dozen eggs and two dozen muffins to neighbour and a cleaning client.

Pumpkin scones - my favourite morning tea.

A gift of avocados

Wrapped Christmas presents.

Biscuits for my sister

More flowers in my garden.

Biscuits wrapped for a male.


What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Thursday 16 October 2014

What Makes You Happy ? October 2014

Just the other night Jessica came in to kiss me goodnight as she usually does.  We started talking about what makes us happy.  Earlier that day I'd wrapped more Christmas presents and was feeling very happy about being so organised this year.  Jessica said that ( raw ) carrots and bubble wrap make her happy and she'd like them in her Christmas stocking.  We had a good laugh over that and continued talking about other things that make us happy.  There are so many things that make my family happy.  Nothing big or expensive.  Mostly it's the simple things that brings a smile to our face.

As I was at work today I kept thinking about this topic.  Then it came to me.  I should start a new post for all of you to share the things that make you happy too.  We live in a world that likes to dwell on the negative.  I prefer to have a postive outlook on life.  So once a month I'll put up a new post that gives you all the opportunity to share your happiness.

I'm putting the challenge out there for anyone who reads my blog to take the time to post three things that make you happy.  Please keep in mind that this will be a regular post so don't list everything in one go.   Keep us coming back for more  !!!!

Three things that make me happy -

*  My miniture tea set / tea pot collection.  I've been fascinated with small tea sets since I was about 6 or 7. I bought my first small tea set when I was eight.  Then I started collecting them about five years ago  Every time I look at them I feel so happy inside.  When visitors come they like to look at them too.  They bring a smile to everyone's face and that makes me happy all over again.

*  Darren pickng some flowers from the garden for me.  At the moment I have iceberg roses on my bedside table.

*  Cuddles and kisses from my girls.  They are 17 and 14 and I know I'm blessed to have that affection from them.

Part of my tea set collection

More tea sets 

Roses Darren picked.

 What three things make you happy ?

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Making Your Own Air Freshener

Over the years I've tried buying many different brands and scents of air fresheners ( always on sale ). They smell so nice in the supermarket don't they ?  I have one can in each of my bathrooms / toilets and by the time I have half a can left  I can't stand the smell of it any more.  It seems to irritate my nose leaving it tingling and my eyes watering. I also had concerns about spraying all those chemicals in a small closed room.  It can't be good to breathe them in.

So one day I thought there must be a better and healthier way to freshen a room.  I already had a bottle of water soluble lavender oil that I use to help relieve bad headaches.  I thought I'd have a go at making my own air freshener and I've been very happy with the results.  My nose is very happy too.

Here's what you need to make your own air freshener -

Water soluble lavender oil
Cooled boiled water
Small spray bottle

Partially fill the spray bottle with the cooled boiled water.  For a 100ml bottle add about 10 - 15mls of the lavender oil.  Top up with the cooled boiled water,  replace the lid and give it a good shake.  Spray as needed.

TOTAL COST - 70 cents  - $1.05 approx. per 100ml bottle


*  I use Eureka water soluble Lavender Oil found in the toiletry aisle in the supermarket.  Generally it's on the bottom shelf next to the tea tree oil.

*  I used a small spray bottle from the Body Shop that originally had a body spray in it. Megan used a spray bottle that had an ear disinfectant spray in it at one time ( the one you use when you've had your ears pierced )..

*  Using cooled boiled water is important as normal tap water contains flouride etc.  Boiling it gets rid of any germs too.

*  Don't be tempted to use a large spray bottle.  We've found the small 100ml bottle lasts a very long time.

*  Other water soluble oils can be used eg - eucalyptus oil now comes in a water soluble form.'

Saturday 11 October 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

Darren and I have spent some time out in the garden every day this week.  So much is happening that we like to be out there observing and enjoying all of God's creation.  It's pure joy to see a seed we planted grow into a vegetable that feeds our family.  Excitement fills my soul to see fruit appearing on our little fruit trees.  Who needs a reality show when reality is happening in my own backyard.

Here's my frugal tasks for the week -

*  Planted more corn,  lettuce and bush bean seeds. I used seeds that I bought last year so no cost to us this year.

*  Dried all washing on clotheshorses under the pergola.

*  Went to a food /garden swap at a friend's place.  This was so exciting.  Everyone brings excess garden produce / plants or seeds to share with others.   A garden tour takes place with lots of information shared.  Afternoon tea is provided by all attending.  We bought a big bag of lemons from our tree to share.  We came home with 20 strawberry plants,  a Jostaberry plant,  bumble bee tomato plant,  pesto,  2 jars of tomato chutney,  some flowers and seeds.  I'm hoping to organise a garden swap in my street soon.

*  Fed our compost with food scraps and a few pages from our local newspaper..

*  Used the clean water from our showers to water the fruit trees. 

*  Used the watering can to water the vegetable seedlings,  fruit trees and other plants.  It might take a little longer this way but so much water is saved by using a watering can.

*  Sold two dozen eggs to a cleaning client.

*  Made some spag bol sauce and soups to sell to a cleaning client to help her extended family in need.  This extra money was added to my food slush fund to buy groceries when I see them on special.

*  Froze two leftovers from a mince pasta bake I made.

*  Accepted a few jam jars from a friend at church.

*   Bought 10 boxes of Lipton teabags on sale at half price for $2.34 in Woolworths.  I still have 12 boxes of Tetley for soy teabags that I bought from NQR for 69 cents a couple of years ago.  It lasts a few years past the best before date and as we don't drink coffee,  they will all be used in good time

*  Saved a cereal box liner and cut it up to go between foods that I freeze.  I used the cereal box to add two more page dividers to my price book.

*  Used the two light rule as much as possible.

*  Picked silverbeet from our garden to bulk out a mince pasta bake.  No one noticed it was in there.

*  Fed all our fruit trees and veg seedlings with a seaweed solution that was given to us.

*  Poured some saved water into the washing machine.

*   Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

*  Baked lots of luchbox muffins.  I will be selling most of them to a cleaning client.

Flowers Darren grew from seed

Peaches forming on our little fruit tree.

Flowers from the garden swap

Flowers on our strawberry plants

Strawberry plants from the garden swap growing in guttering

Part of our back garden

Our raspberries are looking healthy

Daisies we grew from cuttings

Our feijoa tree has lots of new growth.  Can't wait for the fruit.

Have you been out in your garden this week ?

What did you do this week that was frugal ?

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Chicken Curry

Here is my family's all time favourite recipe. It came from an American slow cooker recipe book. I've changed and adapted it so much that I can call it my own recipe. The original recipe only had two vegetables included so I added some more.  My family would happily eat it 2 - 3 times a week.

2  chicken fillets diced and cooked, or use leftover chicken bits
1 - 2 sticks of celery sliced
2 carrots sliced
1 1/2 cup of green beans ( I use frozen )
1/2 a capsicum diced
4 medium potatoes peeled and cut into medium pieces
1/2 cup of sultanas
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of water
1 teaspoon of curry powder - more if you like it hot
1 teaspoon ground ginger
dried onion, chives and garlic to taste ( use fresh if desired)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of corn flour plus 1/4 cup of water to thicken

Cook chicken and place in bottom of slow cooker. Place the potatoes on top of the chicken
Add carrots, beans, celery capsicum, salt, pepper, onion, chives and garlic on top of chicken.

In a separate bowl, mix the soup,  water, curry powder and ginger.
Pour the soup mixture over the ingredients in the slow cooker.
Add more water if needed until everything is just covered.
Cook on high for 8 - 10 hours until the potato is soft.
Add sultanas 1/2 hour before serving.
Thicken with corn flour if needed just before eating.

Serve with rice

Chicken curry just before serving

Leftovers for the freezer

Saturday 4 October 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

I've spent the week pottering around the house doing a bit of this and that as well as my usual housework chores and my cleaning work ( my paying job ).  Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Bought lots of strawberries at 2 punnets of 250 grams each for $1.  I'll be freezing lots to make fruit icecream in Summer.

*  Diluted some laundry detergent by 50%.  I bought it years ago for 99 cents a bottle.  It's way too thick to use as it is so I dilute it making it super cheap.  This laundry liquid is not made any more so I ration it out for when my washing needs a spruce up as it smells so nice.

*  Made two batches of chocolate brownies at the same time.  Half was made with crushed cashews for added flavour.  I froze some,  took some to church for a lunch and kept some fresh for us to eat.

*  I dried some rosemary a few weeks ago.  Now its been pulled off the dry stems,  crushed a bit to make it small enough to be shaken out of it's jar and stored ready for use.  I've also picked some more and that's drying too.

*  Made a fresh batch of vanilla yoghurt from scratch.

*  Saved the shower water to water our vegetable seedlings.

*  Picked lots of silverbeet to eat with our meals.  While I was away last week I wasn't able to eat as well as I usually do.  My body was craving normal food and the silverbeet helped me feel better.

*  Refilled my shampoo and conditioner bottles in my toiletry bag ready for the next trip away.  I like to check everything over and put in new things like soap and toothpaste so that I'll never run out.  It's one less thing to worry about when I'm packing for a holiday.

*  Mended a fitted bed sheet.  It's a tight fit when I put it on my bed and the corner seams ripped apart recently.  Now they are fixed and strong again.  I've saved myself from buying new $70 sheets.

*  Saved the crumbs from the bottom of the wheat bix packet.  I've added them to the dried bread crumbs I made.  Shortly I'll make it into seasoned bread crumbs for coating salmon patties and chicken drumsticks.

*  Dried the washing on clothes horses under the pergola when it was raining. It was dry within 5 hours.  Much cheaper than the dryer.

* Made french onion dip from scratch using drained yoghurt and french onion soup mix.

Chocolate brownies with cashew bits

Diluted laundry liquid

Super cheap strawberries 2 punnets for $1

Darren's cherry tree in full bloom

Pita chips and french onion dip

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Thursday 2 October 2014

A Birthday Thankyou

Thankyou to everyone who sent birthday wishes via email,  facebook,  texts and my blog My Abundant Life.  Your thoughts and wishes were greatly appreciated and helped to make my day very special.

Megan made breakfast in bed for me that rivalled 5 star room service.  The girls and I spent the day doing what we like doing best - SHOPPING although I didn't do the buying ,  the girls did.  We went to my favourite op shop Savers which is almost on my doorstep.  I just love looking especially in the kitchen department which is like a trip down memory lane. I always have a giggle at the kitchen trends of the 60's,  70's,  80's and 90's.

For dinner we had homemade lasagne which was from the freezer so no one had to cook.  Megan and Jessica made profiteroles using a White Wings mix we found in the clearance trolley at NQR about 2 months ago.  Oh so yummy and there are leftovers for tonight.  A very frugal but delicious dinner enjoyed by all - especially the birthday girl.

Thankyou again and here are a couple of birthday photos -


My birthday dessert