Saturday 26 December 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 26th December 2015

This week has been busier than usual. Last minute Christmas preparations have been completed,  fruit and veg shopping was done as well as all of us working.  I was worried I'd have very few frugal tasks
to share.  It just goes to show that everyday living can be frugal without trying too hard.  Here's what we got up to -

*  Gratefully received some zucchinis from Cath.  They have been made into a zucchini slice and frozen.

*  Made 21 jars of jam from peaches and apricots bought at $1.69 a kilo  The sugar used was given to us and the lemons came off our tree.

*  Bought a doona cover for our bed for $20.  The quality is excellent and such a bargain price.

*  Saved the shower warm up water to use on the garden. Saved the washing machine water for each next load.

*  Made lots of chocolate cupcakes for a church morning tea.  They were decorated with Christmas cupcake toppers bought on clearance last year for 5 cents a packet of 12.

*  Made a trip to Hindustan Imports to stock up on herbs,  spices,  chia seeds and walnuts.  They are so much cheaper than any supermarket.

*  Darren made white Christmas and rocky road to give as presents to friends at church and the cafe.  I bought all ingredients at half price a couple of months ago.

*  Picked up some perfume and aftershave bargains at Chemist Warehouse.  These items have been put away for birthdays and Christmas next year.

*  Bought some great bargains at Savers op shop.  I was after a slightly bigger teapot.  I had my eye on one in Kmart and was waiting for the Boxing Day sales.  When I was in Kmart on Tuesday,  they only had one left at full price ( $10 ).  I found the size I was after in a color I love for $5.59.  I also picked up a beautiful jug for $3.19,  a Decor storage container for $2.38 and a veggie steamer for $3.19.  These are all things i can use in my kitchen.

*  Started picking beans this week from our dwarf bean plants.

*  Picked lettuce from the garden for a couple of meals during the heat last weekend.  I used some lettuce for a garden salad for Christmas dinner.

*  Sold two dozen eggs,  a jar of tomato relish and a jar of jam.

*  Gratefully received a parcel from my blogger friend Mimi.  She found a cake mould that would be suitable for making soap.  She included so rose pictures for card making.  Thankyou Mimi.  I'll be making more soap in the new year.

* Planted the Loganberry plant I bought on clearance a few weeks ago.  I wanted to wait until it was looking healthier. I also planted some silverbeet seedling my Dad gave me

*  Saved all gift bags,  ribbon,  tissue paper and Christmas cards to be recycled.  The Christmas cards will be made into gift tags for next year.

*  Did the usual water saving tasks.  We dried most of the washing on the line.  Some washing was put into the dryer so that we didn't have clothes horses all around the house during Christmas.

*  Used my flyby dollars to buy some Christmas Eve snacks.

*  Wrapped up five hand made soaps to be given as presents next year.

Thursday 24 December 2015

A Small Blogging Break

Hello and Merry Christmas to all my blog readers and friends.  I'll be taking a very small break over Christmas and the New Year to enjoy my family.  During this time I'll be working on some new and exciting topics to share with you next year. 

Please keep checking in as I will still be posting the Frugal Tasks for each week.  If I see any super duper specials I'll be sure to let you know.  Please feel free to read over some older posts and maybe try a recipe or two.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 23rd December 2015

I just wanted to let you know I won't be posting the grocery specials this week.  I have a big cleaning job on Wednesday and Thursday will be spent getting ready for Christmas celebrations in my home.

There were a couple of specials I wanted to share with you though.  Coles has celery for $1 a bunch.  It is a fantastic price and well worth getting a couple of bunches to chop and freeze for stews and casseroles when the weather cools down.

Coles also has Praise salad dressings for $1.74 and mayonnaise for $1.69.  These are half price sales.

For those who are wanting to start on next year's present shopping,  Chemist Warehouse has a big sale on perfumes and fragrances. I'm not sure how long this sale is on for but it's well worth having a look at.  I was in a store today with Jessica and we picked up very well known brands for under $20.  Here's the link to their catalogue

Monday 21 December 2015

A Year In Review And Merry Christmas 2015

As Christmas draws near,  it's good to look back on the year that was. We've had a fairly busy year in the Gower home.  In January Jessica started Year 12 and Megan Year 10.  Within days of starting back at school,  they were both on camp.

During April Darren and I went to the Melbourne Flower Show.  I also took up card making that month with a special thanks to Annabel from The Bluebirds Are Nesting blog.  She greatly encouraged me to have a go and boy,  did I have a go !!  I find myself racing through my housework to get a few spare hours to craft away.  Card making was one of my goals for the year.

In May I spoke at a Cheapskates Club workshop in Knox.  I was suprised to see a few friends from school there.  I also got to meet Maureen and Anne for the first time.  Both  are lovely blog readers who have become friends.  During this month Jessica turned 18 and had  dinner with friends.  As a family we went to see Strictly Ballroom the musical  I also started dental treatment to give me a beautiful smile.  This was such a big step for me as I'm not that fond of dentists.

In June Darren turned 50 with a big birthday party in our home and a dinner at the Titanic Restaurant.  Two days later my smile started to transform with continual dental work over the following six weeks.  I ended up spending over 20 + hours in the dentist chair..

In August,  Cath and I made a trip over to Adelaide in South Australia for our first ever interstate Cheapskates workshop.  We had such a great time with the 25+ people who attended. plus the camera crew from Today Tonight We got to meet Annabel and Tania for the first time.  Cath and I were so excited we were beside ourselves.  We hardly slept a wink but that might be because we talked so much.

During August Cath started the Cheapskates card making group in her home.  We've created such a lovely group of like minded people and learnt some new skills.  We also do a lot of talking,  tea drinking and eating - hehehe  !!!

Around this time I finally got up the courage to try soap making ( another goal for this year ).  I must say,  it was much easier than I first thought.  It's wonderful to use around the home and to give as presents.  A very special thankyou to Phil from the House of Simple blog for allowing me to share his soap recipe.  Your encouragement has allowed me to learn a new skill.

Just last month I started loosing most of my cleaning work ( for many reasons ).  I've learnt to cut the family budget yet again and live on much less.  At times it's a challenge but I love a challenge.

This year has bought many new friends into my life through my facebook pages,  the Cheapskates Club and through this blog..I'll be forever grateful to everyone who reads my posts and to those who are brave enough to comment.  You have bought so much joy to my life.  More than you'll ever know.

Thankyou so much to Cath from the Cheapskates Club who has become a firm friend to myself and my family.  Your support and kindness is overwhelming.  Thankyou for believing in us,

Thankyou to my fellow bloggers who continue to support each other. Annabel from The Bluebirds Are Nesting for you beautiful friendship and gorgeous craft posts.  Thankyou Tania from Outback Tania blog for your veggie garden posts.  You inspire me to grow more.  Thankyou Joolz from Simply Joolz blog for all your cooking pictures.  You are truly an amazing cook.  Brandy from The Prudent Homemaker has inspired me to think more about how I spend my money.  Brandy does an amazing job of feeding her family well on much less than the average family does.  Mimi from A Tray Of Bliss encourages us to think about how much our frugal tasks are worth in dollars

This year I've connected with many lovely ladies in America through A Working Pantry blog.  Their pantries are amazing as they stockpile for extreme weather conditions.  I love to stockpile too so it's wonderful to see how others do it.

It great to know there are like minded people who care about each other.  This blog has been a vehicle for connecting people who are seeking to live a better life on a budget.  The world seems a little smaller  when we can chat and share ideas.

Darren,  Jessica,  Megan and myself would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  May you enjoy the season as we celebrate the birth of Jesus - the greatest gift ever given.   .

Our year in photos -

My first attempt at cards making
Melbourne Flower Show

Home made hot cross buns
Cards inspired by Annabel
Gift tags
From the garden
Rose apple desserts
Cupcakes for Jessica's 18th birthday
At Strictly Ballroom.
Titanic restaurant for Darren's 50th birthday
Darren's daffodils
Our cutie pie Princess
Adelaide workshop with Cath,  Annabel and Tania
I'm getting better at card making
First attempt and soap making.

Me and my new teeth

Darren's new car
Soaps for gifts
Our hydrangeas

Our holiday in Ballarat
Meeting up with Maureen in Ballarat
Jam making
Home style KFC
Our raspberries

Saturday 19 December 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 19th December 2015

This week I've spent some time finalising my Christmas preparations and menu.  Life is getting busier with parties to go to,  friends to catch up with and two teenage girls to drive around.  Here's what else we got up to this week -

*  Gratefully received a box of jam jars and some crochet wool from my Cheapskate and blog friend  Maureen.  She was over my way and came for a visit.  We had such a lovely time we talked no stop for over 5 hours.

*  Gratefully received some gifts from a friend to be given out as we see fit.  This will help us with our newly slashed budget for next year.  This is such a blessing for us.

*  Picked lots of raspberries.  I'm now starting to freeze them to make jam.

*  Cleaned a friend's holiday house.  This was a great bonus for the budget.

*  Bought three tray of mince and a few groceries using flybuy bonus dollars on my card.  With the price of mince doubling,  this is the only way I can afford to buy it.

*  Seasoned the dried bread crumbs I made last week.

*  Stocked up on Praise salad dressings on sale at 1/2 price in Coles.  I now have enough for this Summer and for Spring and part of next Summer next year.  The girls will be in heaven as I'll be able to make lots of pasta salad.

*  Filled up both cars using discount dockets to get the price down to $1.05 a litre for petrol.

*  Sorted out Megan's school books for next year.  I wasn't able to purchase any second hand as it's a new curriculum for 2016.  The good news is we should be able to sell them at the end of the year as 2016 is the start of a five year curriculum.  Jessica was able to pass down two of her novels for English and another three for the following year.

*  Closed up the house when the weather got hot.  We only turned on the cooling when really needed.  I came home from work on Monday and the house temperature was at 29 degrees Celsius.  Instead of turning the cooling on I opened up all the windows and doors to let a breeze in.  By the time Darren and the girls came home,  the house temp had reduced to 25 degrees Celsius.

*  Megan made some peanut butter choc chips biscuits from freezer dough while I was at work.

*  Gratefully received some crab apples and home grown beans from my parents.

*  Ate out of the freezer as much as possible.

*  Line dried all the washing.  Saved the shower water and washing machine water for each next load.

*  Poured the kitchen sink water on the hydrangeas

The cards Darren and I made.

Wrapped soap.
A potato dish made from bits and pieces,

 What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 16th December 2015

Here are this week's best grocery specials -


*  Coles Half Leg Ham Bone In Australian Made. Sow Stall Free.From the Meat department.$6.80 kg

*  Coles Australian Pork Leg Roast Bone In Australian Grown. Sow Stall Free.Promotion ends 24/12/2015.Was $8.50, Save $1.50 kg Now $7.00 kg

*  Don Kabini Sticks 1/2 PRICE From the Deli.Promotion ends 24/12/2015.Was $25.00, Save $12.50 kg Now $12.50 kg

*  Golden Crumpet Rounds 6 Pack 1/2 PRICE Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Was $3.30, Save $1.65  Now $1.65 each

*  Lambertz Sugar Glazed Pfeffernüsse 200g Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Was $2.50, Save $1.50  Now $1.00 each

*  Peckish Rice Crackers 100g 1/2 PRICE Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Was $2.20, Save $1.10  Now $1.10 each

*  Golden Circle Tetra Fruit Drink 1 Litre 1/2 PRICE Excludes Pineapple.Promotion ends 29/12/2015. Was $2.05, Save $1.03  Now $1.02 each

*  Appletiser Sparkling Apple Juice 750mL Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Save $1.60  Now 2 for $6.00

*  Praise Dressings 330mL1/2 PRICE Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Was $3.49, Save $1.75  Now $1.74 each.  I'm pretty sure this will be the best sale price on offer this Summer.  Well worth stocking up.  The best before date is quite long so you can make coleslaw and pasta salad much cheaper right up to Spring 2016.

*  Praise Mayonnaise 365g-410g 1/2 PRICE Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Was $3.39, Save $1.70  Now $1.69 each

*  Sandhurst Pitted Kalamata Olives 500g 1/2 PRICE Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Was $4.75, Save $2.38  Now $2.37 each

*  Fountain Tomato Sauce 2 Litre 1/2 PRICE Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Was $6.00, Save $3.00  Now $3.00 each

*  Alfa One Rice Bran Oil 3 Litre 1/2 PRICE Was $18.00, Save $9.00  Now $9.00 each

*  Cadbury Boxed Favourites or Mini Blocks Chocolate 320g 1/2 PRICE Promotion ends 29/12/2015.Was $12.00, Save $6.00  Now $6.00 each

*  Sirena Tuna 185g 1/2 PRICE Promotion ends 29/12/2015. Limit of 6 per customer.Was $3.99, Save $2.00  Now $1.99 each


*  Lindt Lindor Balls 150-154g Now $6.00 each 1/2 Price, Save $6.00 

*  Peters Drumstick 475-490ml Pk 4-6 Now $3.99 each 1/2 Price, Save $4.00 

*  Coca-Cola Soft Drink Varieties 2 Litre Now $1.99 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.00

*   Woolworths Half Leg Ham Australian Grown Now $7.00 kg Save $2.00 kg

*   Primo Chorizo – From the Deli Now $11.50 kg 1/2 Price, Save $11.50 kg

*  Australian Continental Cucumbers Australian Grown.$1.00 each

*  Peckish Rice Crackers 100g – Excluding Peckish Brown Rice Crackers 100g Now $1.09 each 1/2 Price, Save $1.10

*  Golden Circle Drink Varieties 1 Litre Now $1.00 each 1/2 Price, Save up to $1.19

*   Appletiser or Grapetiser Sparkling Juice 750ml Now 2 for $6.00 Save from $2.40 

*  Pepsi, Solo, Sunkist, Schweppes Traditional, Mineral Water or Mixer Varieties 1.25 Litre Now $1.09 each 1/2 Price, Save $1.10

*  20% off All Cadbury Stockings

*  Nescafe Gold Coffee 200g Now $8.99 each 1/2 Price, Save $9.00

*   Nescafe Menu Pk 10 Now $3.29 each 1/2 Price, Save $3.30.  Make a great stocking stuffer.

*     Green’s Maple Syrup 375 Now $2.00 each save $1.20

*  Energizer Max AAA Pk 14 Now $9.74 each 1/2 Price, Save $9.75

Monday 14 December 2015

Tomato Relish

It's finally here.  The much awaited,  much requested tomato relish recipe that I make. Tomatoes will be ripening soon and / or coming on sale in the fruit and veg shops.  This recipe is fairly simple to make.  Just make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before you start.  You'll also need lots of glass jars with metal lids ready to fill.

Tomato relish is great to have with Krispy Fried Chicken drumsticks     ( or any chicken for that matter ),  ham or silverside.  It's also wonderful in a cheese and meat sandwich.

3 kilos of tomatoes - diced
8 medium onions - peeled and diced
4 tablespoons of salt
4 1/2 cups of malt vinegar
4 green chillies - de-seeded and very finely chopped
4 cups of brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 cup of water

Place the tomatoes and onions into a large plastic or glass bowl

Sprinkle with the salt,  mix,  cover with cling wrap and leave for 12 hours ( overnight )

Drain off any excess liquid

Place the tomatoes and onions into a very large saucepan ( or two ) and add the sugar,  vinegar and chillies.

Gently boil for 1 1/2 -2 hours stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced a little.

Mix the flour,  water,  Dijon mustard and curry powder into a smooth paste in a measuring jug or glass bowl.

Very slowly add the paste to the tomatoes while stirring constantly.

Gently boil for another 10 - 15 minutes.

Spoon or pour into sterilised glass jars and seal immediately.

The relish will keep for up to one year in a cool dark place.

Refrigerate after opening and consume within a few weeks.


*  I once made this recipe without doing the overnight draining process ( I forgot ).  So I added the tomatoes,  onions and 1 tablespoon of salt to a large saucepan then continued with the recipe as per usual.  It still worked out just fine.

*  Feel free to add more chillies if you like it hot.  I don't like chillies at all but with four in the recipe,  you don't really notice them.

*  Make your own brown sugar to save some money.  The recipe is in the recipe section under mixes.

*  Malt vinegar is a type of brown vinegar.  The label on the container must say malt.

*  Sterilise the jars in an oven on about 150 degrees Celcius for approx, 30 minutes.

*  The original recipe was given to me from a book.   I've adjusted it to suit my family's tastes.  Feel free to change it to suit your own tastes.

*  This recipe is a double batch of the original version.  I doubled it to save time and to fill more jars.

*  From memory,  you need at least 10 - 15 small / medium sized jam / relish/ pickle jars.

*  Remember,  when bottling relish,  the lids will retain some of the smell after washing.  I don't use these jars for anything other than relish..

*  This relish makes a wonderful present when you add a hat ( material circle ) and gift tag.  It's also great to give with homemade pita chips.

Saturday 12 December 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 12th December 2015

I'm not sure where my week went.  We were travelling on Sunday then unpacking.  Monday and Tuesday I was at work.  Wednesday I finished the very last of the Christmas shopping.  Thursday I fluffed around the house doing this and that ( baking etc ) and re organising my pantry and Friday I spent the day at Cath's talking.  In between all of that I managed to get most of the housework done and wrap the final Christmas presents.  Phew  !!! Here's what else we got up to -

*  Collected six brown paper bags from the Sovereign Hill shopping trip.  I asked the family to get one each time they shopped.  I'll be recycling them and giving them a makeover

*  Cut up three cereal packets to put between chops and hamburger patties when I freeze them

*  Used a Coles gift card that was given to us to buy our holiday food.

*  We bought as much food and snacks as we could from home to save us money on our holiday to Ballarat.

*  We used holiday spending money to eat out when we were in Ballarat.  Nothing was put on credit.

*  Kept the curtains closed on hot days.

*  Picked a small handful of raspberries and a few strawberries each day.

*  Sold some eggs.

*   Filled up both cars with petrol when it came down to $1.12 per litre then used a discount docket to get another 4 cents a litre off.

*  Cut out lots of images to use in card making and gift wrapping.  These images were freebies from some card making brochures.

*  Made lots of pita chips.

*  Made dried bread crumbs from saved up bread crusts in the freezer

*  Darren and I made some Christmas cards using what i had on hand.  This is our first year of making Christmas cards,  so they are a little basic.  We'll get better as we get more ideas ( and time ).

*  Blessed my friend Cath with a raspberry plant Darren grew from a cutting.  I wrapped it up using saved plastic from store bought flowers.  Cath loved it and can't wait to pick her own raspberries next year.  These plants retail for $15 in Bunnings.  I also gave her a bunch of hydrangeas from our garden ( her fav. flower ).

*  Stocked up on half price grocery specials of batteries.and crumbed fish.

*  Picked silverbeet for one meal.

*  Gratefully received some zucchinis and cranberries from Cath.

*  Found some balls of Bendigo Mill 100% cotton for $3.60 and some netting for knitting padded coat hangers also for $3.60.  I used my discount card to get the price down from $3.99 each.  The netting will be also used to make bows for cards and other craft.

*  Did the usual water saving tasks for the washing machine,  shower and kitchen sink.

Our Christmas cards
Home grown raspberry plant
Our hydrangeas
Gift bags and tissue paper from Sovereign Hill
Cut outs from freebies

Op shop finds

What was on your frugal list for the week ?