Monday 29 June 2015

Apple Rose Pastries

I first saw a tutorial for Apple Rose Pastries on facebook a few weeks ago.  They are easy,  tasty and very impressive looking.  After looking at the tutorial a few times I thought I'd give it a go.  I've made a few changes as I came across some problems when making them.  Here's my version of a delightful dessert -

2 sheets of puff pastry
3 medium red apples
1 1/2 tablespoons of jam - any flavour,  store bought or homemade
1 cup of boiling water
flour for the bench
juice of half a lemon
cinnamon -optional
icing sugar - optional

Cut the apples in half and neatly cut out the core.
Thinly slice the apple halves discarding the small end pieces

Place and spread out the apple slices in a large microwavable bowl
Pour the boiling water over the apple and add the lemon juice.  Stir slightly.
Cover the bowl with cling wrap and punch a couple of holes in it.
Microwave on high for 3 minutes or until the apple is cooked and soft ( not mushy )
Drain the water and let the apple cool.

Defrost the pastry until it's almost room temperature. 
Lightly flour your kitchen bench and roll the pastry out with a rolling pin until it's longer by about 20%.  Make sure your rolling pin is lightly floured too.
Cut the pastry sheet into 5 long strips.

Warm the jam in the microwave until it's easy to spread
Spread the jam over the top half of each pastry strip

Layer the apple pieces over the jam. Make sure the apple overlaps each other.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and fold the bottom half of the pastry up towards the top.

Starting at one end,  roll the pastry up taking care that the apple doesn't fall out.
Pinch the pastry end to the rose.
Place each rose in a lightly greased muffin tin

Cook at 180 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes
Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with cream or icecream

Makes 10 apple roses.


*  The original tutorial said to cut the pastry in 6 strips.  I found the pastry too firm to roll it out this thin.  I think the pastry in the tutorial was American and might be more flexible.

*  The apple slices must be cool or it will soften the pastry too much making it hard to work with

*  Make sure the jam is just warm or it will soften the pastry.

*  The original recipe used cold water to cook the apples.  This takes too long to heat up in the microwave

*  The apple roses can be made and cooked ahead of time.  I found them easy to reheat in the oven on a baking tray.

Saturday 27 June 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 27th June 2015

*  We had lots of leftovers from Darren's party on Sunday.  So Monday night our tea consisted of sausage rolls,  mini quiches and birthday cake.  Jessica and Megan had celery sticks,  carrot sticks,  cheese ,  kabana and pita chips in their lunchboxes a few days running.  They were very happy with their lunches.

*  Two more of our chickens are back on the lay. SO EXCITING  !!! It looks like three out of five are laying.  We sold one dozen eggs this week.

*  Dried most of the washing on clothes horses with a few things put in the dryer.

*  Turned the heater off for two days when the sun was shining.

*  I had some dental work done early this week so I sent Darren out to get some milk. This was the only grocery spending for the week as we made do with the fruit and veg we bought last week.

*  Saved some tissue paper,  ribbon and gift bags from presents recently given.

*  Darren planted out some veg seedlings he'd grown from seed.

*  Megan made a double batch of scones for the party.  Although they were very popular,  we had some left over so I popped them into the freezer for future morning teas.

*  Donated two bags of clothes to Savers and received a discount stamp.

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes a few times this week.

*  I opened a new foaming hand wash dispenser a couple of weeks ago.  On Sunday the bottle was half empty so I topped it up with water.  The soap still feels luxurious.  I bought a few of the foaming pumps last year when they were on sale.  I wanted to have a few spare as I didn't know how long they'd be on the market for or if they broke easily.  My girls have been using the same pump for over a year.

*  I was searching the internet for a picture suitable for my kitchen wall but couldn't find anything I liked. So I  printed off one of my blog photos and put it in a frame that was given to me a few years ago.  Cost - ZERO and it looks fantastic.  I'm very proud of myself as I'm a bit tech challenged.  I somehow worked out how to print it off without my family doing it for me.

Lovely colored eggs from our chickens..
Darren's birthday cake

The birthday boy
Some of the party food
My free wall art.
An avocado plant given to Darren as a present
Snow pea plants in flower
Our first broccoli head forming

What did you do this week to save time,  money or energy ?

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 23rd June 2015

Here are the grocery bargains for this week -


*  SunRice Medium Grain White or Brown Rice 5kg 1/2 PRICE Was $13.60, Save $6.80 Now $6.80 each.  This is a fabulous price especially for brown rice

Organic Care Shampoo or Conditioner 400mL Was $3.49, Save $1.49  Now $2.00 each

*  Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection Toothpaste 110g Was $3.49, Save $1.49  Now $2.00 each.  $2 for a tube of toothpaste of this size is well worth stocking up on.


*  Mars Sharepacks 144-216g  1/2 Price, Save $2.25 Now $2.24 each   Might be worth putting a few away for Father's Day or for the footy finals.

*  M&M’s 160-200g $2.12 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.13

*  Cottee’s Cordial Varieties 1 Litre Now$2.49 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.49.  I rarely buy cordial but this seemed like a good price.

*  Uncle Tobys Vita Brits 1 kg Now $2.25 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.34.  If you eat this for breakfast,  you might want to clear the supermarket shelf.   A fantastic price. 

*  25% off Nescafe coffee.

*  Palmolive Body Wash 1 Litre Now $4.35 each 1/2 Price, Save $4.35 1/2 Price All Palmolive Hand & Body Wash. 

Tuesday 23 June 2015

One Year Ago Today ......

One year ago today,  something big happened.

One year ago today,  my family's story appeared on A Current Affair.  It was the 23rd of June 2014.    Approximately one week before,  I received an email from a producer telling me they were doing a story about living on a budget.  Would I be able to help them ?  Oh my goodness !!!!  My heart skipped a beat and I started shaking.   I quickly told Darren about the email.  This was our chance,  This was the opportunity we had been waiting on God for.  We knew we had a story to tell,  we had lived this story for so long.

I replied to the email with excitement and shared a few ideas.  The producer ( Stef ) quickly rang me to see what else I could share.  We had a lovely conversation but when I mentioned that I fed my family for $270  a month,  Stef almost came through the phone ( it was so funny ).  She said that a reporter by the name of Ben Mc Cormack would be ringing me to have a further chat.  He rang a few nights later with a list of questions to answer.  We spent about 30 - 45 minutes on the phone discussing all sorts of budget related topics.  He too couldn't get over our low food budget. 

We arranged to meet at Aldi a couple of days later to start filming.  In the mean time,  the planning for the story was big.  My family helped me tidy up around our home.  Not that it really needed it but we wanted to present ourselves in the best light possible.  For two nights I couldn't sleep.  I had so many ideas whirling around in my head that I couldn't settle.  The night before filming,  I wrote all my ideas down.  I had so much to share that I didn't want to forget anything.  That night I slept like a baby.

The filming for the story went smoothly.  The camera crew were wonderful and very supportive.  I couldn't have asked for a better crew.  In fact,  I had prayed that God would send the right people for this amazing story.  God provided and I'll be forever grateful to God and A Current Affair for their wisdom in sending Ben,  Drew ( camera ) and Johann ( sound ).  Whatever I had to share,  they eagerly filmed.  I can honestly say that nothing was made up to " create " a story.  Everything that was filmed was and to this day,  is exactly what my family does to live on a small budget.

After two days of filming we said our goodbyes.  I was a little sad as we'd all formed a special bond over the story and I didn't know if I'd ever see them again.  Since then I done five more stories with Ben and three with Drew.  We just work so well together.

It was five days of waiting from the time the story was filmed until it went to air.  That's when the nerves set in. I knew this story could possibly change lives.  I knew this story would be talked about.  I prayed during those five days that my family's story would help those who needed help.  I also prayed the story would be an inspiration to those who couldn't find any hope.  Nothing could have prepared me for what was to follow.

After the story went to air, Darren's facebook page was buzzing. ( I wasn't on facebook at the time ).  The emails and texts started coming through from family and friends.  The next day I received phone calls from Stef and the camera crew asking if I was happy with the story.  I was thrilled.  They couldn't have done a better job.  The story was the second highest rating story on A Current Affair in the last four years.  OH MY GOODNESS  !!!  It was bigger than I had ever expected or dreamed.  No,  I'm not big noting myself.  I'm really not that sort of person.  My family's story had struck a cord with so many struggling families across Australia.

So much has happened since the 23rd of June 2014.  So much more than we'll ever know.  I've received emails from strangers who now feel like someone understands why they live frugally.  These emails have bought tears of happiness to me.  Even to this day,  just about every time I'm out and about,  I'm recognised and stopped by strangers who want to talk about my tv stories.  So many have shared their own story with me.  So many are inspired to live the Abundant Life on a budget.  So many see hope for their own family.

I'm blessed.  Truly blessed   My heart is overflowing with joy.

Monday 22 June 2015

Chicken Flan

This is a wonderful all year round recipe.  In Summer,  served with a side of salad.  In Winter some crusty bread or steamed veggies make it a hearty meal.

4 eggs
1/2 C plain flour
1/2 C grated cheese
1 small chicken fillet cubed and cooked or 1 cup of leftover chicken
1 onion finely diced or 2 teaspoons of dried onion flakes
1 medium tomato finely cubed
Zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 3/4C milk
Dried or fresh parsley
Small sprinkling of garlic powder or granules
2 – 3 leaves of Silverbeet finely chopped – optional

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celscius

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well
Pour into a greased quiche dish and sprinkle with a little extra cheese..
Cook for one hour until golden on top.
Slice and serve with veggies or salad.

Freezes well.


*  Any leftover meat can be added instead of chicken.  I've used roast beef and lamb with great success.

*  Leftover roast veggies can be added instead of the tomato and lemon zest..

*  This can be made in muffin tins as a lunchbox treat

With crusty cheesy bread made by Megan

Straight out of the oven

Saturday 20 June 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 20th June 2015

It's been quite a busy week.  We celebrated Darren's 50th birthday on Wednesday.  We've been busy cleaning the house ready for his party on Sunday and Darren has finished painting the windows in our bathrooms.  Here's the frugal tasks we completed -

*  Made lots of pita chips to serve with dip at Darren's party.

*  Mended a couple of tops.

*  Turned the heater down to 18 degrees when possible.

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes a couple of times this week instead of using the dishwasher.

*  Baked two loaves of white bread and two of wholemeal bread.

*  Made  double batches of choc truffles and lemon slice for Darren's party.

* Made sweetened condensed milk to use in the above recipes.

*  Bought about 18 months supply of Vegeta stock powder on sale in Coles this week.

*  Dried some washing on clothes horses.  With Darren's party on Sunday I didn't want wet washing around the house so a few loads went into the dryer.

*  Cooked a leg of lamb and roast veggies for Darren's birthday on Wednesday.  There was enough lamb left over for another meal this week.

*  Cooked beef stew in the slow cooker.  There was enough left over for another meal.  It was wonderful to have two nights off from cooking.

*  Made sure the curtains were open when the Sun was streaming through the glass.

*  Megan and I made Darren's birthday cards using supplies we had on hand.  I printed some birthday greeting off the internet to put on the cards.  Darren said they were amazing and the best cards he's received.  That made us smile.  I'd looked in the $2 shops for cards and wasn't happy with what was available for $1,  $2 and $3.  The cards we made worked out to be 25 cents each.

*  Donated a bag of clothes to Savers and received a discount stamp.

Chocolate truffles
My card for Darren
Megan and Jessica's card for Darren
Our daisy bush in full bloom
Out to dinner at The Titanic Restaurant.

What frugal things did you get up to this week ?

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 17th June 2015

Here are this week's best supermarket specials -


*  Golden Crumpet Rounds 6 Pack 1/2 PRICE Was $3.10, Save $1.55  Now $1.55 each

*  Mission Wraps 8 Pack 567g 1/2 PRICE Was $4.99, Save $2.50 Now $2.49 each

*  Heinz Condensed Soup 420g 1/2 PRICE Was $2.20, Save $1.20 Now $1.00 each

* Vegeta Stock 180g-250g Was $3.59, Save $1.59  Now $2.00 each   This special is worth getting excited about.  It's a fantastic price and stores well for years pasts it's best before date.  Stocks might sell out fast so make sure you ask for a rain check.

*  Décor 1/2  Price Excludes clearance items.  On sale for 2 weeks

*  .30% off Pyrex. Excludes clearance items. On sale for 2 weeks


*  Kraft Peanut Butter 780g Now$3.99 each 1/2 Price, Save $4.00.Great for using in my Peanut Butter Choc Chip Biscuits recipe

*  Campbells Condensed Soup 400-420g Now $1.00 each Save up to $0.95.  Well worth stocking up on.

Pantene Shampoo or Conditioner 350ml Now $3.94 each 1/2 Price, Save $3.95

*  Listerine Freshburst 500ml Now $3.99 each 1/2 Price, Save $4.00 

*  Morning Fresh Dishwashing Liquid 400ml Now $1.97 each 1/2 Price, Save $1.98  

*  1/2 Price on selected Wiltshire Easybake bakeware

* 1/2 Price All Decor Tellfresh & Real Seal

* 40% off selected Bonds

*  40% off selected Bathroom Manchester

*  Imported Freshwater Basa Fillets ^Thawed for your convenience.1/2 Price Now $5.49 kg.  Always ask for frozen fish so you can take it home and freeze it yourself.

*  Australian Imperial Mandarins Australian Grown .$1.98 kg


*  Shapes biscuits 1/2 price Now $1.47 a box


*  Pork leg on the bone $5.99 kg


Monday 15 June 2015

Peanut Butter Choc Chip Biscuits

Once upon a time I loved to buy biscuits from a certain American biscuit ( cookie ) store.  Yes,  those were the days when I had money and no family to feed  From memory those bought biscuits came at a premium price of around $2.50 each. 

Times have changed and so have my tastes.  I just love homemade biscuits and along with Cranberry Hootycreek Biscuits,  these Peanut Butter Choc Chip Biscuits are my all time favourite.  Whether you make them big or small,  crunchy or soft,  they are divine.   Made into giant biscuits, they make a great present for a hungry teenage boy.

1 cup of butter or margarine ( 250 grams )
¾ cup of white sugar
¾ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of peanut butter – crunchy or smooth
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda ( bi carb )
2 ½ cups of plain flour
½ cup of chocolate choc chips
½ cup of crushed peanuts

Cream the butter / margarine and sugars together with electric beaters.
Add the peanut butter,  baking powders and baking soda and mix well.
Add the flour,  chocolate choc chips and crushed peanuts and mix well.
Drop teaspoonful’s of compacted dough onto greased baking trays and flatten with your hand.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius until slightly golden around the edges.
Remove from the tray when cool.


*  Biscuit dough can be frozen.  Wrap the dough in log sizes with cling wrap.  To defrost allow 15 – 30 minutes and slice into biscuit size pieces.  Alternatively you can put the dough in the microwave for about 20 seconds to defrost..

*  Providing you have a big enough bowl,  this recipe can be easily doubled.  When I'm on a roll I make two double batches and freeze most of it for future baking.

*  Biscuits stay fresh for about 5 – 7 days in an airtight container.

These biscuits are great to give as presents.  

Saturday 13 June 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 13th June 2015

This week seemed to be the week to make things.  I found I was running out of  items most people would buy at the supermarket.  With supplies I had on hand I was able to make my own.  Ohhhh,  such a good feeling.  Here's what I got up to this week -

*  Made wholemeal bread rolls using this recipe  Wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made the french onion soup mix stretch by adding lots of ingredients to two packets of the no name variety.  By doing this we are limiting the " unknown " ingredients we consume.

*  Topped up the mint sauce bottle with malt vinegar and a little sugar dissolved in water.

*  Made gravy mix by using this recipe.  Gravy powder

*  Made lavender room spray by using this recipe  Making your own air freshener

*  Made peanut butter choc chip biscuits,  chocolate choc chip muffins and muesli bar slice for lunch boxes

*  Bought a bag of ribbons and lace for $2.80 from Savers at their 30% off sale.  These will be used to decorate cards.

*  Topped up the seasoned bread crumbs with some wheat bix crumbs from the bottom of the packet.

*  Made a big pot of chunky chicken and veg soup with homemade stock and about 150 grams of chicken.  The soup gave us eight serves.  A very cheap meal.

*  Cut up the wheat bix cereal bag to use as go between for freezing chops and hamburger patties etc etc,

*  Dried as much washing as possible on the clothes horses.  Darren was able to dry a load on the line.  Only a few things went in the dryer this week.

*  Gratefully received some chocolate cake,  parsley and glass jars from a few friends.

*  Picked up a a top at the Savers 30% off sale.

*  Jessica decided to go through her clothes and do a big clean out.  She filled up 4 bags to go to the op shop.  Before the clothes were donated I had a look to see if there was anything I could wear.  I was able to find three tops.

*  Used some bread bags to line the bathroom bins.

*  Diluted the girl's shampoo and conditioner.

Wholemeal bread rolls.
Lavender room spray
Chunky chicken and veg soup.
Peanut butter choc chip biscuits - one of my favourite

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 10th June 2015

Here are this week's grocery specials.  Please feel free to add your own -


*  Radox Shower Gel 1 Litre 1/2 PRICE Was $9.20, Save $4.60  Now $4.60 each

*  Tresemmé Perfectly Undone Shampoo or Conditioner 750mL 1/2 PRICE Was $10.50, Save $5.25
Now $5.25 each

*  Cadbury Cooking Chocolate 200g-225g 1/2 PRICE Was $4.19, Save $2.10 Now $2.09 each

*  SunRice Long Grain White Rice 5kg 1/2 PRICE Was $13.00, Save $6.50  Now $6.50 each

Sorbent Toilet Tissue 12 Pack 1/2 PRICE 38¢ per roll. Was $9.00, Save $4.50 Now $4.50 each


*  Pantene Shampoo or Conditioner 500ml Now $5.49 each 1/2 Price, Save $5.50 

*  ’Oreal Elvive Shampoo or Conditioner 250ml Now $2.90 each 1/2 Price, Save $3.09  

*  1/2 Price on Dove products.  The catalogue didn't show a photo of the soap so I'm assuming it's not on sale.

*  Pine O Cleen Disinfectant 1.25 Litre Now $2.49 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.50

Monday 8 June 2015

5 Easy Ways To Cut Your Heating Bill Part 1

With the ever increasing cost of electricity and gas, it's becoming harder to heat your home without blowing the family budget.  Here are five easy ways to cut your costs and still stay warm -

*  Put a door snake or draft stopper at the bottom of each external door.  This might seem so basic or simple but it's amazing how much cold air comes in that little gap. You can make your own door snake using scraps of material and filling it with rice,  rags or sawdust.

*  Open the curtains when the sun is shining on the windows.  By the same token,  as soon as the sun starts to go down,  close your curtains to keep the warmth in.

*  If you have a programable heating thermostat,  reduce your heating time gradually.  Shaving fifteen minutes off each heating time really does add up and make a difference to your bill.  If you take your kids to school at 8.45 am each morning,  you don't need the heating on until the minute you leave the house.  Chances are you and the kids are running around getting ready until the last minute getting hot and bothered.  Try turning the heater off at 8 - 8.15 am.

*  Put an extra jumper on for warmth.  Yes I know,  it's so obvious but I've been in homes when the heating is on and people are walking around in t shirts.  Really  !!!

*  Close off any rooms that don't have heating ducts.  In my home it's the toilet and laundry.  By keeping the doors closed you are not heating rooms that are rarely used.

Shave off your heating times
Our door snake
Closing doors
Close curtains and blinds

Sunday 7 June 2015

Savers 30% Off Sale

I've just received an email from Savers Australia.  They have 30% off for all club card members on clothing,  shoes,  accessories,  bed and bath.

The sale is for Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th June 2015.  Be quick to grab a bargain.


Saturday 6 June 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 6th June 2015

We've had a wonderful week.  Jessica turned 18 last Sunday and we celebrated as a family by seeing Strictly Ballroom the musical  Afterwards we went out for dinner at The Docklands.  It's been cold and wet in Melbourne this week but we've managed to keep warm,  dry and busy.  Here's what we got up to this week -

*  Made Jessica's birthday cake.  She decided to have  cupcakes which was easy to do.  I cut off the tops to make it easy to decorate.  I ate these tops for morning tea for a few days.

*  Jeesica went out to tea with a few friends for her 18th birthday. They came back to our place for dessert and a movie.  The cupcakes were for her friends as well as the apple pastry roses and choc coated strawberries I made for dessert.

*  Darren pruned the raspberry bushes in readiness for the next season.  He's taken 18 cuttings and planted them.  If they take,  we'll have more raspberries next season and maybe some plants to give as presents ( RRP $16  each ).

*  Saved the box,  ribbon and plastic from Jessica's birthday flowers.  These will be handy for giving bunches of flowers from our garden as presents.

*  Saved the shower water for the washing machine.

*  Cleaned the dishwasher with bi carb and vinegar.

*  Diluted the vinegar by 50% to make two bottles.

*  Saved a ribbon from a box of chocolates.  I'll use this to decorate a card.

*  Made dried bread crumbs with crusts I'd been saving in the freezer.  I'll season them when I finish using the last batch.

*  Gratefully received some flowers and homemade vegetable stock concentrate from a facebook and blog reader.  Thankyou Emily.  It was lovely to meet you.

*  Made muesli bar slice for school lunchboxes.

*  Fed the compost bin and worm farm with the kitchen scraps.

*  Made a batch of hot chocolate drink mix.  It's a recipe from the Cheapskates website that I've tweaked to suit our own tastes.

*  Saved lots of bread bags from a charity bbq.  They would have been thrown into the rubbish bin otherwise.

*  Made two loaves of white bread ( for my girls ) and two wholemeal loaves for Darren and I.

Jessica's birthday cake
Apple rose pastries for Jessica's party
Choc coated strawberries for Jessica's party
What we did as a family for Jessica's birthday
Muesli bar slice
Saved bread bags drying out.
Saving water from the washing machine.
Made from scratch.
Flowers from blog reader Emily.
Sorting my stockpile.
What frugal tasks have you completed this week ?