Thursday 30 March 2017

Our Backyard

Growing some of your own food doesn't have to take up too much space.  I guess you could say we have a reasonably sized backyard but it certainly isn't on the large side.  Our home was built in the mid to late 80's when house sizes were anywhere from 12 -  25 + squares.  Our is 15.5 on an average sized block for the time.

I've taken some photos of our backyard to give you an idea of how our fruit trees and veggie garden are laid out.  I hope you enjoy the tour.

This photo is taken from our back gate that separates the front yard from the back.  On the left is the feijoa tree.  Just before that ( not in the photo ) is a strawberry guava bush and the loganberry bush.  The small tree closest to the bottom of the photo is the peach tree.  Directly above that is the pear tree  Across from there is the apricot tree.  Behind the apricot tree is the mandarin and cherry trees.  The two strawberry patches are on the left just before the shed.

Looking slightly right from the previous photo  You can see the mango plants in the terracotta looking  pots under the pergola.  Each side of the sliding door are two pots of raspberry plants.  They haven't done as well as expected and we'll pull them out at the end of the season.  Right behind the mango plants you can just get a glimpse of the veggie beds.

This is almost at the top end of our pergola looking out at the strawberry patches and the cherry tree.  Behind the cherry tree is the worm farm and two compost bins.  On the right of the photo is our plum tree.  The green shed is " mine ' and stores the Christmas decos and tree,  and my excess grocery stockpile like toilet paper etc.

The plum tree is on the left,  veggie beds in the middle and our lemon tree on the right.  Darren's garden shed is just behind the lemon tree.  The raspberry bushes grow on the left side of Darren's shed.

This is looking towards the chicken coop and run in the far right corner of the yard.  We had an area set up for a sick chicken to rest in during the day. The other chickens were pecking her and she wasn't getting enough food.  Just near the clothesline is a very small avocado plant.

Looking from my garden shed towards the start of our backyard.  Cherry tree on the right.

Our pergola with assorted pot plants,  fruit tree cuttings / plants.

Rosemary bush just below the hose reel.  Chicken feed in the bin.

Taken from the right side of our backyard.  I'm standing up against our fence.  You can't see it but the chicken coop is to the right of Darren's shed ( silver ).

The back of our house and garden.  Clothesline included.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Grocery Specials Starting Wednesday 29th March 2017

Here are this week's grocery specials


*  Old El Paso Soft Taco Kit 405g1/2 PRICE Was $6.50, Save $3.25  Now $3.25 each

*  Cadbury Favourites or Mini Block Boxed Chocolates 320g1/2 PRICE Was $12.00, Save $6.00 Now $6.00 each

*  Mars Maltesers 360g or M&M’s Peanut 440g1/2 PRICE Was $10.00, Save $5.00  Now $5.00 each

*  Heinz Big Red Condensed Soup 420g1/2 PRICE Was $2.20, Save $1.10  Now $1.10 each

*  Espressotoria Vittoria Espresso Coffee Capsules 12 Pack 78g1/2 PRICE Was $8.39, Save $4.20
Now $4.19 each

*  Birds Eye Ocean Selections Atlantic Salmon 280g1/2 PRICE From the Freezer department.

Was $12.00, Save $6.00  Now $6.00 each $21.43 per kg

*  Sunsilk Shampoo or Conditioner 700mL1/2 PRICE Was $9.99, Save $5.00  Now $4.99 each

*  Palmolive Naturals Shower Gel 500mL1/2 PRICE Was $5.39, Save $2.70  Now $2.69 each.  Great for making a pamper present

*  Redwin Sorbolene Moisturiser with Vitamin E 1 Litre1/2 PRICE Was $6.25, Save $3.13  Now $3.12 each

*  30% OFF Nivea Womens Skincare

*  30% OFF Neutrogena Skincare

*  Fairy Dishwashing Liquid 433mL1/2 PRICE Was $3.99, Save $2.00  Now $1.99 each

*  Sard Stain Remover Trigger 450mL-500mL1/2 PRICE Was $4.85, Save $2.43  Now $2.42 each

*  Adidas Climacool Antiperspirant 200mL1/2 PRICE Was $5.00, Save $2.50  Now $2.50 each

*  1/2 PRICE Sistema Klip It

*  30% OFF Bonds Underwear & Socks

*  Brunnings Fast Action Weed Kill Ready To Use 1 Litre1/2 PRICE Was $10.00, Save $5.00  Now $5.00 each


*  Kraft The Good Nut Peanut Butter 500g Now $2.85 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.85

*  20% off All Chocolate Easter Bunnies

*  Fountain Sauce Varieties 2 Litre Now $3.00 each1/2 Price, Save $3.00

*  Spam 340g Now $2.45 each1/2 Price, Save $2.45

*  Sunrice Jasmine or Brown Rice 5 kg Now $6.75 each1/2 Price, Save $6.75

*  Australia’s Own Organic Stock 1 Litre Now $1.87 each1/2 Price, Save $1.88

*  Moccona Capsules 125-128g Pk 16 Now $2.75 each1/2 Price, Save $2.75

*  40% off All Inspire Bedroom Manchester.

*  Energizer Max AA Pk 16 Now $9.75 each1/2 Price, Save $9.75

*  Chux Superwipes Original Pk 10, Giant Pk 5, or Robuste Pk 3  Now $1.99 each1/2 Price, Save $2.00

*  Chux Non-Scratch or Heavy Duty Sponge Scourers Pk 4  Now $1.75 each1/2 Price, Save $1.75

*  Morning Fresh Dishwashing Liquid 400ml Now $1.97 each1/2 Price, Save $1.98

*  Vileda SuperMocio Mop or Vileda Bucket with Wringer Now $9.49 each1/2 Price, Save $9.50

*  30% off All Maybelline

*  30% off All Gillette Womens Hair Removal

*  30% Off All Essano Skincare

*  Colgate Zig Zag Toothbrush Pk 3 Now $3.97 each1/2 Price, Save $3.98

*  Redwin Sorbolene Lotion 1 Litre Now $3.12 each1/2 Price, Save $3.13 

*   Mars Sharepacks 144-216g Now $2.30 each1/2 Price, Save $2.30


Saturday 25 March 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 25th March 2017

Here are our frugal tasks for the week -

*  Gratefully received a few capsicums from my friend Maureen and two large tubs of margarine from Joy ( of Miracle Spray fame ).

*  Gratefully received some pears from a friend at church.  .

*  Dried the most of the washing on the line.  We did have a few days of humid weather when the washing wouldn't dry. I had to dry 2 1/2 loads of washing in the drier because they were starting to smell.

*  Picked lots of raspberries and a few strawberries.

*  Made a batch of scones.  Some went to church for morning tea and the rest went into the freezer for treats at home.

*  Darren picked lots of tomatoes from our dying bushes.  He put them under the pergola to ripen for a couple of days.  I've cooked them up over a four days and portioned them into tins sizes ( 410 grams ) and frozen into takeaway containers.  When they are frozen I popped them out of the container and double wrapped them.  This saves some room in the freezer. I've cooked a grand total of 19 tin's worth so I'll be crossing tinned tomatoes off the shopping list for a few months.

*  Megan and I gave each other haircuts saving about $30.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine water.

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.

*  Reused freezer bags for wrapping the frozen tomatoes.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Cooked all meals from scratch.

*  Fed the compost bins with kitchen scraps.  Fed the chooks a few weeds,  some grass and kitchen scraps.

*  Finally received a cheque of reimbursement  for the food we lost in our freezer melt down.  I'm now waiting for a great meat sale so I can start restocking.

* Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Stayed home as much as possible to save on petrol.  It's just too dear at the moment and taking a long time to drop in price.  When I do go out I've been combining errands.

My Nicer Dicer got a work out this week.

Lots of tomatoes ripening.

Megan cooked dinner one night.

Chicken tortillas for dinner

From the garden

Church morning tea

On Wednesday I did a grocery top up.  To view the dockets and food please click on this link.

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

Thursday 23 March 2017

Surviving A Kitchen Renovation Part 2

Renovations of any sort can be tiring and stressful.  As you will remember, we had our kitchen and flooring replaced last year.  We had a crazy three weeks last August and I'm so glad I took the time to plan ahead.  Here's what I did to keep some organisation during a time of chaos -

Decluttering ahead of time.  When it's time to pack up your kitchen ( before it gets ripped out ),  do a major declutter / throw out.  Have a look at what you are storing in your cupboards and drawers.  Are you using everything ?  Do you want these items in your new kitchen ?  Do you like the colors / style ?  Is it broken / chipped ?  Do you have too many of the same thing ? 

There is absolutely no point in packing up items you just know you'll throw out later.  Set aside a couple of boxes and fill them up to donate to your local op shop.  When it's time to restock your new kitchen,  have another declutter.  You might find that things don't fit in or look right.

Having a budget for takeaway.  Even the most organised person will need takeaway during a renovation.  I can remember one day when our house was in total chaos.  Our carpet was being replaced at the same time our kitchen was having the kickboards and end panels installed.  Darren,  Jessica and myself were confined to a couple of metres in the family room.  Darren was perched on a kitchen stool.  I was balancing on a couch arm rest with Jessica sitting on the floor at my feet.   We couldn't access any other part of our home for three hours.  Darren had to make an escape through the sliding door to get Subway for lunch.

A couple of other times we'd had such busy days packing up and cleaning.  My hands were so sore from all the hard work that I couldn't pick up a knife to prepare a meal.  Fish and chips came to the rescue one night and a bought roast chicken for the other night.  Our girls prepared a little salad to go with each meal.

Cleaning as you go.  Yes the house will get really messy and dusty.  I tried to clean up the dust and bits and pieces off the floor at the end of each day just before dinner.  Jessica and I suffer from allergies so regular cleaning was important.  By doing this each day it kept the cleaning job to a manageable timeframe.  I'm a neat freak,  so knowing  parts of the house were clean helped me relax somewhat.  I used our old vacuum cleaner to keep the floors reasonable.  There was no way my brand new Dyson was coming out of the box until the renos were completed.

Preparing the house for renovations.  A renovation doesn't just happen.  It takes months of planning.  I used this time to declutter other rooms in our home.  The week before our renos started  I filled the toilet roll holders,  cleaned the bathrooms from top to bottom,  refilled all the Miracle Spray bottles,  paid the bills and got the finances and filing up to date.  These tasks might seem a bit odd to do just before a reno but when your house has been turned upside down,  you don't want to be searching for toilet rolls or a misplaced bill.

Here's the link to part one of surviving a kitchen renovation

I hope these ideas will come in handy when you are planning a renovation.

The finished product

Can you see the arm of the couch on the right ?  That's where I perched for three hours with Jessica at my feet and all this mess around us.  Lots of fun - NOT !!!

Our makeshift kitchen

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Grocery Specials Starting Wednesday 22nd March 2017

Here are this week's best grocery specials -


*  Tresemm√© Shampoo or Conditioner 750mL-900mLBETTER THAN 1/2 PRICE Was $10.50, Save $5.50  Now $5.00 each.  A great stockpile price

*   Cadbury Marvellous Creations Block 270g-300g1/2 PRICE Was $6.30, Save $3.15  Now $3.15 each.  Great for adding to a present

*  Edgell Corn Kernels 420g1/2 PRICE Was $1.77, Save $0.89  Now $0.88 each.  Stock up to make Winter soups

*  Continental Cup a Soup 40g-75g1/2 PRICE Was $2.00, Save $1.00  Now $1.00 each

*  Colgate Total Dental Floss Mint 100 Metres1/2 PRICE Was $8.00, Save $4.00  Now $4.00 each

*  NEW Lynx You Body Wash 400mL1/2 PRICE Was $6.25, Save $3.13  Now $3.12 each

*  30% OFF John Frieda Haircare

*  30% OFF Schwarzkopf Haircare

*  Morning Fresh Dishwashing Liquid 900mL1/2 PRICE Was $6.95, Save $3.48  Now $3.47 each

*  Duck Fresh Discs Toilet Cleaner 36mL1/2 PRICE Was $5.69, Save $2.85  Now $2.84 each.  If you use toilet fresheners then this is a great price.  Well worth stocking up.

*  1/2 PRICE Sistema Klip It & To Go

*  30% OFF Deeko

*  Lynx Antiperspirant 96g or Body Spray 100g1/2 PRICE Was $5.99, Save $3.00  Now $2.99 each

*  Pedigree Dog Food 1.2kg1/2 PRICE Was $3.70, Save $1.85  Now $1.85 each

*  Ferrero Rocher Chocolates 16 Pack 200g or Collection Gift Box 15 Pack 172g1/2 PRICE

Was $12.60, Save $6.30  Now $6.30 each.  Easter and Mother's Day is coming up.
*  Dynamo Laundry Liquid 1.8/2 Litre Now $8.00 each Better than 1/2 Price, Save $9.50
*  Cadbury Roses 450 g Now $7.75 each1/2 Price, Save $7.75
*  Arnott’s Salada 250g Now $2.00 each Save $1.00
*  Cheezels Box 110g Now $1.00 each1/2 Price, Save $1.00
*  Golden Circle Beetroot 450g or Corn 410g Now $0.82 each1/2 Price, Save $0.83
*  Sunrice Medium Grain Rice 10 kg Now $12.00 each1/2 Price, Save $12.00
*  20% off All Inspire Kitchen Tools
*  Filled Profiteroles Pk 8*  *Only available in stores with an in-store bakery. Now $2.50 each1/2 Price, Save $2.50.  Lovely for a treat.
*    Tip Top English Muffin Varieties Pk 6 Now $2.45 each1/2 Price, Save $2.45
*    Australian Carrots 1 kg Pack .$1.00 each REAL FOOD
*  Pine O Cleen Disinfectant 1.25 Litre Now $2.49 each1/2 Price, Save $2.50.  A stockpile worthy price.
*   20% off All Head & Shoulders Shampoo or Conditioner
*  Energizer Max AA Pk 16 .Now $9.75 each1/2 Price, Save $9.75
*  Rexona Deodorant Varieties 250mlNow $3.50 each1/2 Price, Save $3.50

Feel free to add any great specials you find.


Monday 20 March 2017

My Menu Plan March 16 - April 15th 2017

After posting my shopping list for the month,  I've been asked to post the menu plan to go with it.

Here's what we'll be eating for the month -

Thur 16th -  Spag bol

Fri  17th -  Meat pie with steamed veg

Sat  18th  -  Mexican rice ( Megan made this )

Sun  19th  -  Chicken Burritos.  Burritos were given to us

Mon  20th  - Sausages,  mash and steamed veg

Tues  21st  -  Lamb chops,  mash and steamed veg

Wed  22nd  -  Freezer meals ( frozen leftovers )

Thur  23rd  -  Honey mustard chicken with rice

Fri  24th  -   Fish in foil with a green leafy salad

Sat  25th  -  Shepherds pie

Sun  26th  -  Pizza

Mon  27th  -  Lemon chicken drumsticks with rice and steamed veg

Tues  28th  -  Beef tacos.  The taco shells are store bought

Wed  29th  - Roast chicken pieces,  gravy,  mash and steamed veg

Thur  30th  -  Roast lamb,  roast veg and steamed veg

Fri  31st  -  Chunky chicken soup with toast or bread stick

Sat  1st  -  Tuna casserole with steamed veg

Sun  2nd  -  Freezer meals / toasted sandwiches

Mon  3rd  -  Sausage casserole with mash

Tues  4th  -  Chicken flan with salad

Wed  5th  -  Rissoles and salad

Thur  6th  -  Lasagne with steamed veg

Fri  7th  -  Fish in foil with salad

Sat  8th  -  Krispy fried chicken drumsticks with mash and steamed veg

Sun  9th  -  Get your own

Mon  10th  -  Chop suey with rice

Tues  11th  -  Slow cooked lamb with mash and steamed greens.

Wed  12th  -  Salmon patties with salad

Thur  13th  -  Fried rice

Fri  14th  -  Hamburgers with wedges.  The rolls are store bought and need using up.

Sat  15th  -  Tuna pasta bake with steamed greens.


*  I might swap meals around depending on the day and weather

*  All meals are made from scratch unless otherwise stated

*  Some of the meals have already been made and frozen

*  The roast chicken came from Coles on clearance.  Darren cut each chicken into 6 pieces.

*  The sides might be changed depending on what we are picking from the garden,  the weather or what needs using up.

*  Get your own is an easy meal night when everyone gets there own whatever.  This is the family's chance to cook for me ( my night off ).

*  We lost a freezer full of food almost two months ago.  Due to this,  our meat options are limited.

*  This menu is based around the girls being at work and Uni or not always being at home   Wednesday and Fridays are diet days for one family member so calories are limited for them.  They will have a healthier option of the same meal.

*  All the meals are based on what I've bought on my monthly shopping day,  our stockpile,  our garden and weekly top ups of milk,  fruit and veg.

Roast dinner

Fish in foil

Meat pie

Honey mustard chicken

Leafy salad

Saturday 18 March 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th March 2017

WOW  !!!  My week just disappears before my eyes.  We were away for two days,  I worked two days,  I did the monthly grocery shopping plus all the usual housework.  I did manage a few moments in the garden planting,  pulling weeds and picking produce.  Here's what else I got up to this week -

*  Made a double batch of cranberry hootycreek biscuit dough.  Some of the dough was baked, the rest was frozen for future biscuit baking.

*  Saved lots of shower warm up water and used it to water the pot plants. I saved the washing machine water too.

*  Darren and I went away to Bendigo last weekend.  We took chicken and lettuce rolls form home for our lunch and packed lots of water bottles,  homemade biscuits and chocolate brownies.

*  Baked a double batch of chocolate brownies.  Some were taken to a church gathering,  some were frozen and some we took away with us.

*  Picked lots of raspberries,  tomatoes and a few strawberries from the garden.

*  Made yoghurt from scratch and froze four portions of starter yoghurt for later.

*  Made two batches of homemade laundry powder.

*  I picked up another regular cleaning job this week.  I'm so grateful that God provides just when I really needed the work.

*  Found a new small colander,  a cook book and a soap mould at Savers op shop.  I used a 15% off discount stamp to get them even cheaper.  The book will be a present.

*  Made a cleaning hamper for a belated house warming present.  I included homemade laundry powdersoapMiracle Spray,  microfiber cloths and the recipes.  In total it cost me $4 for the spray bottle and cloths.  The rest I already had on hand.

*  Petrol is very dear at the moment so I only put in $30 this week.  As soon as the price drops I'll fill up again.

*  Darren dug up a rouge raspberry plant and planted it in a pot.  If it survives we'll give it as a present.  The original two raspberry plants we bought in 2014 for $15 each have saved us a small fortune.  We've picked about 12 kilos of fruit over the years,  made jam and given lots of little plants as presents.

*  Gratefully received a few lemons,  a few black Russian tomatoes,  a handbag,  lace doilies,  and a  bottle of homemade tomato sauce from a couple of different friends.  We are very blessed indeed.

*  Kept the cooling off for a couple of days.

*  Planted silverbeet seeds,  potato eyes and lettuce seeds ( from a plant that went to seed ).

*  Fed the compost bin with kitchen scraps.

My op shop finds

Princess loves watching the chickens

Some of the girls

The mandarins are growing

Standard rose in bloom

In the garden

Gifted lemons

Did you have a frugal week ?

Friday 17 March 2017

My Grocery Shopping List March 2017

Almost every week I have someone ask me what I buy to feed my family.  I've also had lots of requests for my shopping list  / dockets.  Yesterday was my monthly shopping day so I've taken photos of my dockets and the groceries I bought.

At the moment my monthly grocery budget is $180 for the four of us plus our cat.  Hopefully when our financial situation improves I'll be able to bump it back up to $270 a month. Please keep in mind that our girls are not always home for dinner.  Jessica is at Uni and Megan's current job has her working over dinner a couple of times a week.

As you know,  during Sept - Nov I stockpile heavy,  bulky and non perishable items to last all of Summer and the holiday season.   I still have some of these items left to use.

Here are the shopping dockets so far for the month.  I'll keep adding photos of my shopping dockets as the month goes by.  My month runs from 16th March until 15th April keeping it in line with our credit card statements ( not that the groceries go on credit ).

Yesterday I spent  -

Coles $38.50

Aldi $53.30

I've put away $20 into the meat fund for when I see something on sale.  I'm hoping to get reimbursed from the freezer manufacturer for the loss of meat and food from last month.

This leaves me with $68.20 for weekly milk,  fruit and veg top ups for the next four weeks.

Aldi shopping

Aldi docket
Coles shopping

Coles docket

If you are wondering where the rest of the food is,  please keep in mind that I have a food stockpile.  When I grocery shop I'm stocking up on what I used last month so that my stockpile never runs low or runs out.

Here are some other points -

Herbs,  spices and dried fruit etc -  I made a visit to Hindustan Imports last week and stocked up on the usual herbs,  spices and ingredients to add to my bread.  I spent about $70 from the food slush fund and this will last me for about 6 - 8 months ( some things even longer ).

Snacks -   You might be wondering when all the snacks are.  The flour and sugar I bought will make many baking treats. At the moment we have corn thins ( like rice cakes ),  Salada biscuits and pita chips as savoury snacks.  We also still have an assortment of treats and chocolate from Christmas.   If our girls want extra snacks they buy their own.

Fruit and veg -  We are picking strawberries,  tomatoes and raspberries in abundance at the moment.  On Wednesday I bought a big bag of mixed lettuce leaves that will feed us for four meals.  As soon as our lettuce in the garden grows big enough ( about three weeks ) I'll be crossing it off the list.  I already have cucumber,  carrots,  apples and grapes in the fridge leftover from last week.  In the freezer I have lots of broccoli ( bought on a super duper sale ),  corn kernels,  beans,  celery,  strawberries and raspberries.  In the pantry I have enough potatoes for a week..

Dairy - I bought milk and sour cream on Wednesday and cream last week.  I'm making yoghurt from scratch and we still have a few 1 kilo blocks of cheese in the fridge.  We also have a few small tubs of icecream in the freezer to use up.

Meat -  I have a truckload of chicken fillets ( $4.99 kg ) and drumsticks ( $1.99 kg ) bought on sale late last year.  A few weeks ago I bought 3 or 4 trays of chops ( $7.99 kg ).  I have five legs of lamb bought last Spring ( $7.49 kg ).  I bought fish about 1 month ago ( $5.99 kg I think ). I have a few portions of ham, a couple of meals of sausages and about 20 + portions of mince plus  ready made mince meals ( pie meat,  spag bol etc ).

I did loose a freezer full of meat and other food about 5 - 6 weeks ago.  Due to this loss I haven't got as much meat as I usually would have.

Breakfast -  Darren and I eat my homemade bread as toast every morning.  I only have my homemade jam on the toast.  Darren has jam or tomatoes on his toast.  Our girls occasionally cook a breakfast of pancakes or eggs from our chickens.  We always have quick oats in the pantry to make porridge.  There's always yoghurt,  fruit or cheese and dry biscuits to have.

Spreads -  We've cut down on spreads due to our girls finishing school.. I have a stockpile of Vegemite,  peanut butter,  homemade jam and some honey.

Sauces etc -  We don't use a lot of sauces but have all the usual ones on hand.  I still have a few bottles of salad dressings bought on sale last Summer.

Drinks -   We don't drink coffee,  soft drink,  cordial,  juice or alcohol  We drink milk,  tea,  hot chocolate ( homemade ) and lots of water.  I have enough teabags stockpiled for the next two years.

Toiletries -  A have almost a year's worth of toiletries stockpiled.  If there's a half price sale I stock up.  I still have a six month toilet paper stockpile.

Cleaning -  I don't buy much in the way of cleaning products.  I buy ingredients to make soap laundry powder and Miracle Spray.  Anything else needed is bought at a half price sale and used sparingly.

I'll try to post my shopping dockets each month so you get a better idea of what I buy.

Top up shopping day Wednesday 22nd March

This was paid for from the food slush fund.

The apples are to be used in jam making.
Here are receipts and photos from my last two tops up -