Saturday 28 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 28th October 2017

This week I've spent time getting some Christmas shopping done.  I've almost finished with just 3 presents left to buy and the Christmas stocking to fill ( I've made a start on them too ). There's what else I've been up to -

*  Gratefully received a bag of home grown oranges and a few branches of bay leaves.  These came from a customer at the CafĂ© Darren works at.

*  Ate straight out of the freezer most nights.  I'm gradually making room for the legs of lamb coming on sale.  The bonus is we didn't spend any money to eat each night other than the usual grocery budget.

*  Saved the shower warm up water to use on the fruit trees.  On the days it rain the shower water was poured into the washing machine.

*  Gratefully received two fuel dockets in the mail from blog reader Tania.  Thankyou so much for the blessing.

*  Planted more beans seeds in the veggie garden.

*  Fed lots of grass and clover to the chickens.  They absolutely love it.

*  Dried all the washing on clothes horses and the line.

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes most nights instead of using the dish washer.

*  Refilled the dish washing liquid bottle and diluted it by about 30 - 40 %

*  Sold a few craft items.

*  Sold three dozen eggs.

*  Gratefully received two bags of mushrooms from a friend.  We enjoyed some with meatloaf and gravy for dinner one night.

*  Stayed away from the supermarkets and Darren popped in just to get milk.

*  Made lots of raspberry and milk chocolate muffins for snacks. I've frozen most of them for the family to take to work.

Loganberry flowers

Cherries growing

Princess loves to help Darren do a workout

Lift those paws Princess.

On top of the compost bin waiting for the birdies to fly over.

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Thursday 26 October 2017

5 Cleaning Products You Don't Need

The cleaning aisles in the supermarket are full of brightly colored bottles designed to grab your attention.  Have you ever wondered if there was a cheaper,  safer way to keep your home clean ?  Here are five cleaning products you can do without. After all,  our parents and grandparents probably didn't use them.

Toilet disinfectant wipes.  A chux cloth,  rag or toilet paper sprayed with a little Miracle Spray will do the same job.  Soak it in a bucket then wash it in the machine with other cloths / towels.  Beware,  toilet wipes cannot be flushed down the toilet.  Yes,  they do clog the sewer pipes.

Dishwasher tablets.  For decades people used powder in their dishwashers and it worked just fine.  The tablets were invented and suddenly it's the only product to use.  I use Coles no name powder which costs about $2 per 1 kilo box.  I only need two level teaspoons to clean my dishes.  Because I use so little powder,  I can get over 60 washes for $2.  We load our dishwasher as soon as dinner is over. Boil lines on saucepans are lightly scoured,  plates are scraped and the dishwasher is turned on before the food dries on the plates.  Yes we do have tablets in our home but they are saved for special occasions when we are really short on time.  The bonus of using powder is you can put the dishwasher on a quick wash saving electricity and water.  The tablets need the longest,  hottest cycle for all of the tablet to dissolve.

Hard floor / tile cleaners.  Generally they leave a film on your floors so they don't look as clean as they should.  Avoid the harsh smelling chemicals and use a dash of dish washing liquid with a good squirt of white vinegar in a bucket of boiling or very hot water.  Make sure you wring out your mop as much as possible to avoid water marks.  I've used this combination on all sorts of hard floor surfaces with great success.

Air fresheners.  I'm sure you are not keen on spraying the fragrant chemicals in your home.  Sometimes there is a  need for an air freshener especially when you've had a smoker in your home,  visitors are coming  or sickness arrives.  Save the Glen 20 for the sickness and make your own air freshener for the other needs.  Just add a few drops of essential oil and cooled boiled water to a small spray bottle and shake.  I like to use water soluble lavender oil for my air freshener.

Stainless steel cleaner / wipes.  I've tried using these a few times and I'm not convinced they are the only product to use.  I've found water and a clean microfibre cloth will do the job especially if you dry the appliance off with a dry cloth or paper towel  Potato water does an amazing job too.  Have a read of this blog post I wrote earlier this year.     .

Dishwasher tablets are costly

Make your own air freshener.

Saturday 21 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 21st October 2017

Frugal tasks can save a few cents or big dollars.  All are important in the grand scheme of saving money.  Here's how we saved this week -

*  Saved the shower warm up water to use on our veggie seedlings.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Continued to stockpile for the Summer months.  I'm only using my usual grocery money and being really wise about what I buy.  I also have the grocery slush fund as a back up.

*  Ate freezer meals ( leftovers ) two nights.

*  Redecorated 10 department store gift bags using card making scraps I had on hand.

*  Dug out a 4 or 5 litre ice cream container to save the water from our drink bottles.  This will be poured on a fruit tree each day.

*   Wrote a menu plan for the next couple of weeks to use up lots of food from the freezer.  By doing this,  I crossed a few items off my grocery list for the month.

*  Took advantage of Priceline's 50% off hair care sale and stocked up on shampoo and conditioner.

*  Turned the heater off at the wall so it doesn't come on automatically in the morning.  We also kept the heater off most of the time during the day and had the curtains open fully to capture the sunlight ( when it wasn't hot ).

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes most nights.

*  Refilled and diluted the dishwashing liquid bottle.  I still have the pump on it which reduces over use.

*  Lined both bathroom bins with lots of bread bags.

*  Megan found four good quality stylish coats at Savers for well under $50.  Jessica found a denim jacket with a fur collar at another Savers for $3.  She can't wait to go back again to see what she finds.

*  Made 10 jars of plum jam and 8 jars of raspberry jam.  All of the fruit and lemon juice used came from the freezer.  The raspberries came from our garden last Summer.  Some of this jam will  be given as presents.             

Homemade plum jam

Re decorated gift bags

Roast lamb dinner

How did you save time,  money and energy this week ?

Thursday 19 October 2017

Leftover Steak Casserole

A couple of weeks ago we had a bbq on the AFL Grand Final day.  Darren went to the butcher to buy a few trays of bbq steaks on sale for $10.99kg.  We don't usually eat steak due to it's price per kilo so this was a lovely treat.  Not everyone had a full steak so there were two left over.  Wanting to stretch the steaks to feed more than two people,  I came up with my own recipe for a steak casserole.

I must say,  this casserole was a hit.  It's tasty,  has lots of veggies and most importantly,  has enough beef for every mouthful.

2 bbq steaks about 400 - 600 grams
2 large carrots - sliced
1 - 1 1/2 cups of beans
1 cup of corn
1 large stick of celery - diced
500 - 700 mls of liquid beef stock or 2 tablespoons of  stock powder and water
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of mixed herbs
pepper,  onion flakes and garlic granules to taste ( or fresh )
3 tablespoons of corn flour mixed in water to thicken

Lightly brown the steaks in a fry pan or use leftover cooked steaks.
Slice the steaks into longish strips and add to a preheated slow cooker
Add all the veggies,  sauce,  tomato paste,  herbs,  beef stock and seasonings.
Cook on high for 8 - 10 hours for a slow,  slow cooker or 4 - 6 hours for a fast slow cooker.
Mix the corn flour and water together then add to the casserole and stir in well to thicken
Cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve over a bed of mashed potato or with crusty bed on the side.


*  I used two heaped dessert spoons of beef stock powder and water to make liquid stock.

*  Due to the stock powder I did not need to add salt to the casserole.

*  As with most of my recipes,  you can add any veggies you like.

*  The liquid stock needs to be enough to cover all the meat and veggies.  Add extra water if needed.

*  I didn't weigh the leftover bbq steaks I used.  They were thin but largish.

*  This casserole freezes well.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Slow Down Sunday

Life gets far too busy at times.  What have you done today to slow down and enjoy life without spending money ?

New peaches growing.

Saturday 14 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 14th October 2017

Gosh,  I've had a busy week.  I started off my week by making lots of things from scratch.  Then I became super busy reorganising my blog shop into categories and uploading lots of new items to sell.  Our Spring / Summer veggie garden was planted and more weed pulling was achieved.  Here's what else I got up to -

*  Made 2 x 600 ml bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Gratefully received a top and skirt from Jessica when she was cleaning out her wardrobe.  YAY for a  daughter who is the same size as me.

*  Made lots of pita chips for snacks.

*  Made two bottles of double strength Miracle Spray.

*  Made a quadruple batch of laundry powder.

*  Dried most of  the washing on the line.

*  Ate out of the freezer for most meals.  I'm trying to make room in the freezers for legs of lamb which are starting to come down in price.

*  Only bought milk from the shops. 

*  Planted lettuce,  tomatoes,  cucumber and beans in the veggie garden.

*  Sold three dozen eggs.

*  Sold some crafts in my blog shop.

*  Hand washed the dishes most days.

*  Saved the washing machine water for each next load. 

*  Bought corned silverside for $5.99kg.

*  Froze two singles serves of leftover tuna pasta bake.

*  Gratefully received a bread stick from a friend.  I turned it into mini garlic breads and froze them to go with meals in the future.

Cucumber seedling

Tomato seedling

Peaches growing

Christmas Hand towel for sale in the shop

Christmas coffee cup card for sale in the shop.

Christmas decorations for sale in the shop.

How frugal was your week ?  Did you get lots of tasks done ?

Thursday 12 October 2017

Tomatoes We Grow

Last year Darren came across a punnet of budget friendly tomato plants.   We had an amazing success with them so I thought I'd share the information with others.

They are available at Bunnings Hardware stores for $2.97 per punnet.
There are approximately 6 plus seedling per punnet.
They are called Tall Staking variety

We found them to grow more upwards than out which makes them suitable for smaller veggie gardens.  They are a medium sized tomato and from our experience last year,  nothing seemed to eat them and there was no signs of disease.

When planting the tomatoes,  we added a few timber stakes around each plant to tie the branches to as they grew. We used old cut up socks as garden ties.  These are free and reduce damage to the branches.

Unfortunately Darren didn't keep the information label from last year.  So I went into Bunnings with the words " tall staking " in my mind hoping they'd be available this year.  I found quite a few punnets of them but no variety listed on the label.

 I had a staff member ring the suppler to find out the variety.  They then rang the grower who said they are the Gross Lisse tomato.  We've grown Gross Lisse tomatoes before and found them to be much bigger and prone to bugs / diseases.   The staff member from Bunnings seems to think the parent plant from the ones I bought have better growing characteristics.  I'll go with that.

From the 7 plants we grew last year,  we had enough tomatoes for salad eating,  about 12 jars of relish and 26 x 410 gram tin's worth to freeze.  In other words,  plenty of tomatoes.

The plants did die pretty quickly once the tomatoes started ripening so we kept picking as we needed. Once there seemed no life left in the tomato plants,  Darren picked the rest off whether they'd ripened or not.  The green tomatoes were left outside under the pergola to ripens in the Autumn sun.

Saturday 7 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 7th October 2017

Four days of birthday celebrations and daylight savings took it toll on both Darren and I early this week. We had a sluggish start to the week but somehow managed to get through with some frugal tasks completed  Here's our frugal list

* Dried most of the washing on the line including bedding.  Darren did throw some things in the dryer on his day of.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.  I used this water to clean the kitchen sink drains with vinegar and bi carb.  Cleaned the dishwasher using bi carb, vinegar and Miracle Spray

*  Made a steak casserole using two bbq steaks leftover from our AFL Grand Final bbq.  I sliced them thinly and cooked the casserole in the slow cooker.   I was able to get 6 generous serves from the two steaks.   I'll post the recipe shortly. 

*  Fed lots of grass and clover to the chicken.

*  Jessica had a small empty bottle of argon oil in her rubbish bag.  She said she couldn't get any more out.  I turned it upside down for a couple of days and got 3 more uses from it. 

*  Picked a few very large leaves of silverbeet and added them to a double batch of spag bol sauce to stretch it further.  I also froze two portions suitable for two people.

*  Saved the washing machine water for each next load.  As the weather warms up I'll start saving the warm up shower water for the garden.

*  Baked a packet mix of " I Quit Sugar " biscuits that was given to me.  I didn't have the fancy syrup needed for the recipe so I used honey and added choc chips ( for extra flavour ).  Something wasn't right with the recipe on the box because I ended up with slop that couldn't be formed into dough balls to bake.  I had to add a fair amount of extra flour to the mix.  Let's just say Darren refuses to eat any more after trying one.  They do have a strange flavour to them.  I will persist and eat the rest over the next few days.  Maybe the chickens can help me get rid of them.

*  Tried to stick to the 2 light rule most of the time.

*  Had the heater off for 3 days during daylight hours.

*  Bought 5 Bolar blade roasts on sale for $6.99kg from Australian Butchers.   This was my first visit there after Cath from the Cheapskates Club posted the specials on Facebook.  I was suprised to learn there is a store nearby in Dandenong.  They also had chicken drumsticks on sale for $1.79kg but I already have plenty in the freezer.

* Used the dry mop on the bamboo floors instead of getting the vacuum cleaner out.

*  Gratefully received lots of card making supplies from Darren for my birthday.  I can't wait to use them.

I Quit Sugar Biscuits

Birthday flowers from Jessica and her boyfriend

Cleaning the kettle

Plum tree in full bloom

Steak casserole - YUM !!!

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Thursday 5 October 2017

DIY Carpet Deodoriser

Back in the days when my girls were little and our carpets were heavily used,  I bought the carpet deodoriser powders ( it that what they're called ? ).  I loved the way my carpet smelled after using it,  but didn't like the price tag that came with it.

It got me thinking about a way to make it myself.  I knew bi carb was great for absorbing odours and I loved the fragrance of a few essential oils I used in oil burners.  So I put two and two together and came up with my own carpet deodoriser.

1 cup of bi carb of soda .
10 - 12 drops of essential oil
small bowl,
medium / large salt shaker
cling wrap or a small plastic bag

Mix the bi carb and essential oil together in a small bowl.  Use the whisk until well blended.

Spoon the mixture into the salt shaker and cover the holes with cling wrap or a plastic bag

Let the mixture sit over night for the bi carb to absorb the oil fragrance.

Sprinkle over your carpets where needed and let it sit for at least 1/2 hour.

Vacuum up and enjoy the lovely fragrance.


*  I only make up what I need to use.  I don't make big batches because essential oil fragrance can change when left over time.  You'll lose the beautiful top notes and be left with a not so nice smell.

*  Bi carb can be bought in bulk from herb and spice shops, cleaning wholesalers or pool shops.  It's also known as ph Buffer from pool shops and is only safe to use in cleaning or in pools. In other words,  not for baking.