Saturday 29 November 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

Our bathrooms renovations continue and the house is a mess.  I had to clear a space for a camera crew to film an interview on Tuesday morning  Lots of fun.  The up side to having the bathrooms renovated is that I don't have to clean them at the moment.  I tried to look at this positively. No cleaning means spare time for me.  Spare time means I can do some frugal things.

Here's what I achieved during this crazy week -

* Cooked pie meat for four pies and froze it.

*  Made three meatloaves and froze them.

*  Made dried bread crumbs from some rolls that were given to me a while ago.  They were rolls my family wouldn't normally eat but I saw them as a blessing and froze them until I needed bread crumbs.  I then made the dried bread crumbs into seasoned bread crumbs to coat chicken drumsticks ans salmon patties.

*  Picked a handful of beans and strawberries every couple of days.

*  Made brown sugar.

*  Washed our clothes by hand.  We haven't had a washing machine plugged in since Friday last week.  After Darren washed our sheets and towels at the laundromat ( costing $5 per load ) I've been washing what I can by hand.

*  My girls and I had to wash our hair in the kitchen sink a couple of times when we were without a shower.  When the ensuite shower was finished we had to have very quick showers as we are all sharing the bathroom while the girl's bathroom was gutted.  Oh the joy.

*  Kept the heater off most of the time as the tradies liked to have our front door open all day.

*  Bought meat specials at Tasman Meats.  For just over $80 I was able to divide it into 27 meals for the four of us.  Tasman has number 9 raw chickens in twin packs for $6.99,  sausages for $3.99 kg,  regular mince for $3.99 kg and lamb chops for $6.99 kg.  Great specials  !!!!

*  Sorted out the girls old school text books and advertised them for sale on the Sustainable School  Shop website.  I was able to pass a few down to Megan from Jessica.  Some text books will be used two years running for Jessica.  It looks like some folders can be cleaned and used again.

*  Hand watered the vegetable seedlings.  The rest of the vegetable garden was watered by God.  It's such a blessing.  THANKYOU  !!!

*  We gratefully received some blocks of cheese and a loaf of bread from a friend.  God is taking care of us and we feel so blessed.

*  Made fruit ice cream with frozen bananas,  strawberries and a few raspberries ( store bought ).  It's a great way to use up soft bananas.

*  Diluted a bottle of laundry liquid by 50%.

Honey mustard chicken made from scratch.
Our daisy bush is blooming
Ready to pick lettuce again.
Fruit ic cream.

Sorry,  I didn't have time to take many photos this week.  Next week looks more promising.

Did you do anything frugal this week ?

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Fancy Face Washers

Fancy face washers make lovely presents for females of any age.  My Grandma gave me face washers and hand towels with crocheted edges for birthday presents when I was little.  They were beautiful and I loved them.  It was twenty years before I was able to unpack them for use in my own home.  Every time I used them I thought of my Grandma.

I can't crochet ( yet ) so here's my version of a fancy face washer.  All you need is-

*  Scraps of material about 10 cm wide x the length of the face washer or hand towel.

*  New face washers or hand towels.

*  Sewing machine or neeedle and thread

*  Iron

Cut the material strip to the desired width and length allowing an extra centimetre for a seam around all the edges.

Fold and iron the one centimetre allowance back onto the wrong side of the material.

Sew the material onto the right side of the face washer.  Quite often face washers have a strip of detail woven across.  I cover this with the material.

Trim all cottons and there you have it,  a lovely present that cost $1 - $2.  My girls have requested one in their Christmas stocking.

Saturday 22 November 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

Being frugal can be a challenge when life gets really busy.  This week we started bathroom renovations so the house is in disarray.  Darren and I have been sharing a bathroom with the girls ( lots of fun ).  On Tuesday I was sent away to do a tv story and flew back Thursday afternoon.  In all the craziness we managed to do a few frugal things. 

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

*  Saved some bread bags and reused them as bin liners.

*  Made four batches of Anzac biscuit dough for the freezer. Some of this will be baked to go with a few Christmas presents.

*  Started picking a handful of strawberries each day.

*  Darren picked the first few beans on Friday.

*  Saved water in the washing machine and showers.

*  Had the heater off for most of the week.  With good weather and tradies in and out of our house,  it wasn't worth having it on for long.

*  Our Christmas tree is a little low to the ground.  It can be a bit hard to put many presents under it so Darren solved the problem.  He built a timber box to lift the tree up.  He used timber off cuts he already had.

* I went shopping early this week to find something nice to wear for the tv story.  I couldn't find anything I liked.  Nothing fitted right or it looked too fancy.  So I spent zero dollars and wore something from my wardrobe.

*  The family ate freezer meals one night while I was away.

*  Sold a few freezer meals to a cleaning client.

*  When I was away I ordered breakfast each morning.  The toast basket came with four cute little jars of assorted jams and honey.  I bought home all the jas ( used and unused )  These will be used to put homemade lip balm in.  Cath from Cheapskates put a recipe on her blog a while ago and Jessica wants to make some during the school holidays.

Home grown strawberries

Freebie jams and honey

Free jars to put lip balm in.

Darren's Christmas tree box

Our first year for cherries

First crop of beans

Our first zucchini for the year

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Thursday 20 November 2014

My Menu Plan Thursday 20th Nov - Thursday 18th Dec 2014

It's time to post my monthly menu plan again.  The busy season will be upon us shortly so I've made sure most of the meals are quick and easy to prepare.  As usual,  the menu can change depending on how the week is panning out.  The weather will also decide if we have salad or hot vegetables. 

I have lots of freezer meals as a back up if some family members are absent at meal times.  Megan is away on camp for five days during this menu period and she doesn't want us to have any of her favourite meals while she is away.  That makes it difficult as she likes just about anything I cook.

Here's my menu plan -

Thur 20th - Honey mustard chicken with rice
Fri 21st -  Meat pie with greens
Sat 22nd -  Church leaders lunch
Sun 23rd -  Get your own but feed me
Mon 24th -  Crumbed chicken drumsticks and salad
Tues 25th -  Sausages and salad
Wed 26th -  Roast beef in slow cooker with roast veg and greens
Thurs 27th -  Salmon patties,  rice and veg
Fri 28th -  Freezer meals
Sat 29th -  Chop stew in slow cooker with toast or bread stick
Sun 30th -  Get your own but feed me
Mon 1st -  Saucy chicken drumsticks,  rice and veg
Tues 2nd -  Meatloaf,  mash and veg
Wed 3rd -  Leftover Meatloaf,  salad and baked potatoes
Thurs 4th -  Fish portions and salad
Fri 5th -  Hamburgers and wedges
Sat 6th - Beef stew and mash
Sun 7th - Toasted sandwiches
Mon 8th -  Sliced meat,  salad and smashed potatoes
Tues 9th -  Lasagne and veg
Wed 10th   Silverside in slow cooker with roast veg
Thurs 11th -  Tuna casserole and greens
Fri 12th -  Nasi Goreng
Sat 13th -  Chicken schnitzel and salad
Sun 14th -  Get your own but feed me
Mon 15th -  Sliced meat,  salad and pasta salad
Tues 16th -  Chops,  salad and pasta salad
Wed 17th -  Chicken burgers and wedges
Thurs 18th -  Tuna pasta bake

Some of my monthly grocery shop.

Roast beef and roast veg.

I've been stockpiling.
How do you cope with the busy season ?

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

1 cup of Self Raising flour
75 grams of butter – melted
Approx. ½ cup of milk
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder – sifted

½ cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
Approx. 800mls of boiling water

 Mix flour,  sugar and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl.  Add the melted butter and milk and mix to form a very thick batter.  Spoon into a deep casserole dish and smooth off the top.
Into a large measuring jug add the cocoa powder,  sugar and boiling water.  Stir until sugar has melted.  Pour gently over the batter.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Serve with cream or ice cream
Just out of the oven

Ready to eat.

Saturday 15 November 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

The Gower household has had a very busy week this week.  The girls have had end of year exams.  I've been busy with my cleaning work,  blog work and housework.  Darren has been very busy at church organising a big Christmas hamper and toy giveaway. 

We've still enjoyed our frugal life with lots of cooking and baking from scratch.  Our list for this week isn't as long as it usually is but every little bit helps.

*  Made mini quiches for a cleaning client.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Had four single serves of chicken curry leftover.  I've frozen them for future use.

*  Darren made pita chips.

*  Gratefully received two cos lettuces from my friend Cath Armstrong from The Cheapskates Club.

* Made some cranberry hootycreek biscuits.  Cath and I enjoyed them for morning tea as well as the rest of my family.  Everyone gets excited when they know I'm baking them.

*  Found some very cheap pillow cases at the Savers op shop.  These will be cut up and used to decorate hand towels for presents.

*  Planted out four more tomato plants that my Dad grew.

*  .Baked a double batch of raspberry and white chocolate muffins for us to eat.  They are now in the freezer ready to be enjoyed.  If I'm home or at a cleaning job I heat them up in the microwave and they taste like they are just out of the oven.

*  We've started picking strawberries - YAY  !!!.  Just a few every couple of days but there will be plenty to come.  What we can't eat will be frozen to make jam and fruit icecream.

*  Gratefully received a few bread rolls and a block of cheese from a friend.

*  Used up all the bits and pieces in the fridge before they went off.  It's a great to know that the money I spend on food is used wisely.

Strawberry flowers growing in guttering on the fence.

Magpie scratching around in the sliverbeet we gave her.

Iceberg roses growing in the chicken enclosure.

Free ranging the chickens for a while.

Our first raspberry.  I ate it a few days later.
What frugal tasks have you completed this week ?

Thursday 13 November 2014

What Makes You Happy ? November 2014

A big thankyou to everyone for commenting on last month's " What Makes You Happy ? " post.  It's always great to spend some time reflecting on what really does bring a smile to your face.  Please share this post with your friends and encourage them to share three happy things.

Here's what makes me happy -

* Beautiful vintage china. I have some of my Grandma's cup, saucers and plates. My Grandpa used to play lawn bowls and was very good at it. When he won, quite often his prize was a cup, saucer and plate set. Many of them are well known brands and I treasure them. I also love to use them on the odd occasion.

*  When Darren cuts a rose from our garden for my bedside table.  The fragrance is beautiful and it's the last thing I smell before I go to sleep and the first thing when I wake up.  I also love to stop and smell the roses in the garden.

*   I love the color apple green. It's a happy, fresh color and if I see homewares in apple green, it always puts a smile on my face and warms me up inside. I have towels, tea towels, ramekns, table cloths, clothes and a handbag in apple green. I was attending a Cheapskates workshop a few months ago and was wearing my apple green coat. One lady there commented on my coat and showed me her price book. It was apple green too. I then picked up my apple green handbag to show her and we all had a laugh over our apple green accessories.

Some of my apple green things.

What makes you happy ?

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin scones are a family favourite in my home.  Infact,  they have been a favourite for a very long time.  My grandpa loved to eat them too.  Although I didn't start making them until after he passed away,  I make them in honour of him.   I can just imagine him licking his finger to pick up the crumbs off his plate - just like he did with any food.

1 cup of cold, mashed and drained pumpkin
2 1/2 cups of self raising flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup of sugar

Cream the sugar and butter together.  Add the egg and mashed pumpkin and mix until combined.

Add the self raising flour and mix in with a dough hook or wooden spoon.

Turn onto a floured surface and lightly knead into a ball. 

Roll the dough out until it's about an inch high.

Cut with a round cookie cutter and place in a greased baking tin.

Bake for 15 -20 minutes at 200 degrees celcius

Serve with lashing of butter.


*  I use Jap pumpkin for flavour and price.

*  When pumpkin is on sale ( under $1 a kilo ) I buy a few whole pumpkins and store them on their sides in a dark cupboard.

*  Cook up a lot of pumpkin at a time. I use a vegetable steamer for the microwave.

*  Drain the pumpkin in the fridge for about 4 - 6 hours using a fine colander with a bowl underneath.

*  I freeze pumpkin in 1 cup measures for this recipe.  That way I have pumpkin on hand at any given time.

*  I use an electric mixer for this recipe.  I use the whisk beater for the wet ingredients then switch to the dough hook when I add the flour.

*  Scones can be frozen for at least a few months.

The finished product

Draining the cooked pumpkin

Pumpkin ready for freezing for future use.

Cutting the dough

Ready to bake

Pumpkin scones galore

Saturday 8 November 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

My kitchen has been a hive of activity this week.  I've been very busy cooking and baking for my family as well as selling some to a cleaning client.  This client has had some family members move back home suddenly under difficult circumstances. My snacks and ready made meals are helping her stay sane.  She can leave a meal in the fridge defrosting for her family if she's going out.  The extra money I've earnt is going into my food slush fund to buy those super duper specials.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made pizzas for tea on Sunday night.  They are so much better and more filling than any store bought or takeaway.

*  Dried all washing on the line and clothes horses.

*  Planted dwarf bush bean seedlings we'd grown from seed.  Darren also planted some more seeds to plant out later.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

*  Baked lots of raspberry and white chocolate muffins.  I sold some to a cleaning client which covered the costs for us to eat some for free.

*  Cooked enough spag bol for 16 individual serves and also sold them to a cleaning client.

*  I made chunky beef and veg soup with two slices of roast beef that were left over from a meal.  It made ten good serves and these were all sold to my cleaning client.

* Made lots and lots of hamburger patties.  Some were sold to my cleaning client.  The rest were frozen for us to eat as an almost free meal.

*  Baked two chocolate brownies.  One was to go to a Cup Day party.  The other one was eaten by the family with a few pieces frozen for later.

*  Accepted some tomato plants from my Dad.

*  Made lemon butter with our chooks eggs and lemon juice I froze from our lemons.

*  Made vanilla yoghurt from scratch using some yoghurt I froze as a starter.  This is the first time it's worked using frozen ( then defrosted ) yoghurt.  I was very happy and so was the family.

*  Picked iceberg roses to put in the loungeroom.  Darren picked a bunch for a friend who was hosting a cup day bbq.  Darren also picked a beautiful pink rose for my bed side table.  It smells so lovely and I can smell it as I'm going to sleep and waking up.

*  Bought more Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid at Coles for $1.75 each. I didn't really need any but I had the room.

*  Saved water from the showers to water the vegetable seeds and seedlings.

*  Saved water from the washing machine for the next load.

*  Used the two light rule in the house where possible.  At times we only have one light on.  On the rare occasion we have no lights on.

Raspberry and white chocolate muffins

The rose Darren picked for me.

Wholemeal bread.

Slicing the bread for the freezer.

Peanut butter choc chip biscuits.

A feijoa flower

We are hoping to get feijoa fruit next March  / April.

Princess hiding in the strawberry patch

She likes to watch the birdies.

What frugal tasks have you completed this week ?

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Skin Care and Beauty Products On A Budget

I've had a few requests asking me to reveal what skin products and makeup I use.  My skin is slightly oily at times and I have very sensitive skin.  While this might pose a problem for some,  I've found I can use budget friendly products providing they are not cheap and nasty.

I wash my face with Dove soap and a face washer every day and once a week I exfoliate my skin with St Ives Apricot Scrub.  Exfoliating once a week seems to be enough to keep my skin smooth.  I then moisturise with Olay lotion.  The pink one is used in Autumn,  Winter and Spring.  When Summer comes I switch to the white lotion which has an SPF of 15.  I try to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.  Olay lotions are great as they are absorbed into the skin quickly, then I can start putting on my makeup.  I remove eye makeup with tissues and no name brand Vitamin E cream from Woolworth or Coles - it doesn't matter.  They both work really well.

Skin Care Products

Deodorants have been a bit tricky for me.  I've tried many brands over the years including the expensive ones and I've found the Avon deodorants work really well.  I use the 24 hour aluminium free one for every day use.  When the weather is super hot or I'm filming under hot lights I switch to the 24 hour plus one.  It just seems to work a little better.  The problem is I can only use this one for a couple of days before my skin reacts and becomes itchy.

The makeup I use consists of different brands.  I use face powder purchased from the supermarket.  I was using a brand called Tania and it was around for many years but has now been deleted.  Now I use a brand called Classics.  Face powder feels better than liquid foundation and looks natural ( with a little coler ) on my face.  The blusher brand I use at the moment comes from the $2 and cheap shops.The brand is BYS.  I try to pick a color that looks like a natural blush.  Nothing brown or orange.  Eye liner comes from Avon and is called Glimmersticks For Eyes in Cosmic Brown.  Eye shadow has been a problem for me.  I like to wear a medium brown color and every time I find one I like it gets deleted.  At the moment I'm using Rimmel but I have used Maybelline and Avon.  I always use dark brown mascara and for many years I've been using the Maybelline Waterproof. Full N Soft range. A year ago I switched to their standard Full N Soft one.


Lipstick is generally an Avon one.  I'm using a Smooth Minerals lipstick in the shade of Rosy Brown at the moment.

When I'm on tv,  all makeup is applied in layers as the lights wash it out.  I learnt that the hard way with the first tv story I did about 3 - 4 years ago.  I thought I'd put plenty on.  The mirror told me I had enough but when the story went to air it only looked like I had a bit of lipstick on.  Now I put about six layers of mascara on,  three of lipstick,  two of face powder,  three of eye liner and extra blusher and eye shadow.  It's not a look I'd normally wear out.

Here are the approximate prices I pay for my makeup -

Dove soap - $1 or under
Exfoliating scrub - $10
Olay lotion - $9 - $10
Vitamin E cream - under $5 for a 500ml pump bottle
Deodorant - $1.50 - $1.99
Face powder - $6
Blusher - $4
Eye liner - $7
Eye shadow - $7 - $10
Mascara - approx $8 on clearance
Lipstick - 2 for $20

Saturday 1 November 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

It's been an interesting and challenging week this week.  On Sunday we were all involved in a car accident on the way home from church.  We are all ok but Jessica hit her head when the other car hit us.  She had a headache for two days. I came down with a stress headache ( also for two days ) as we had to chase the car to get his number plate. That's all being resolved now.

On Wednesday I did an interview for tv.  I love doing tv stories but the interview part always makes me a little nervous.  I don't want to say something silly so now I try to write my answers down before filming.  This interview meant my house had to be "  tv ready " which is fine by me but I never know where they want to film.  So this means I can't hide things in bedrooms or the laundry.  I think Megan's room and my ensuite are the only rooms Australia hasn't seen..

So life is back to normal now and as I looked at my frugal list it was a little on the slim side. Infact,  it had nothing on it. Then I started to panic as I had nothing to share with my readers.  So I took the time to sit down and think over what I had done during the week.  Thankfully my list started to grow and I was spared embarrassment.  Here's this week's list -

* Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

*  Saved 12 bread bags from a charity bbq.  They will be used to scoop out the cat doo - doos in the kttty litter.

*  The girls ate freezer meals on Saturday night .  Darren and I were out at seperate functions.

*  Made peanut butter biscuits and cranberry hootycreek biscuits for the cookie jar.  I used cookie dough from the freezer.

*  Mended one dress and one pair of troussers.  Both needed the hems repaired.

*  Made two tote bags for Christmas presents.  I used material from the remnants bin at Spotlight and they cost me $2 each including lining.  I'll post a photo after Christmas.

*  Planted lettuce seedlings.

*  Darren made pita chips as we had run out - OH NO  !!!

*  Diluted the kitchen foaming hand wash.  This was one I bought recently on sale.  I bought it more for the pump than the liquid as I make my own.  I wanted a couple of spare pump bottles as I don't know how long they last and how long this trend will be around.

* Sold some eggs and jam to a cleaning client.  She also gave me some glass jars.

*  Received a lovely present in the mail from a friend.  She blessed me with lots of makeup to give to my girls as presents ( Thankyou A ).  Your gift came at a time when I was feeling  little low.

*  Picked silverbeet to go with two meals.

*  Gratefully accepted clothes and handbags from a friend for my girls to use.

*  I made two beaded angels to give to a friend for a birthday present.  They were well received and everyone at the restaurant table loved them.

*  Megan made a pavlova on Sunday for dessert.  After the rotten day we'd had,  it was lovely to have such a treat.  There were egg yolks left over from the pav so I made egg custard which everyone had for dessert for the next two nights.  Darren enjoyed licking the spoon and serving dish - a great honour in our home.

*  Saved water from the showers to water the vegetable seedlings we are growing.  I also saved water from the kitchen sink to water other garden plants.

*  Turned an almost empty shower gel bottle upside down into a refill bottle of made up foaming hand wash.  Nothing was wasted.

Megan's Pavlova

Ready to eat

Egg Custard

Yes,  we ate it with teaspoons.  It lasts longer.

Pita Chips

A constant snack in our house.

A beaded angel

The beaded angel collection - hehehe.
 What frugal things did you do this week ?