Wednesday 28 February 2018

Count Your Blessings

Some of you might know of the hymn " Count Your Blessings .  It was a hymn I grew up with and came to mind just recently with the challenges we've been facing.

I thought I'd share a few lines with you as a way of encouraging you if times are tough.  Sometimes it can  feel like there's no hope,  or nothing to be grateful for.  Remembering  our blessings no matter how big or small can be a wonderful way to lift our spirits and give hope to continue on.

Each time I pick food from our garden,  I'm grateful we can eat.
Each time I fill up my car with petrol,  I'm grateful I have the money to do so.
Each time I look in the wardrobe.  I'm grateful I have a choice of what to wear.
Each time I put the heating / cooling on,  I'm grateful I can be comfortable.
Each time I go to work,  I'm grateful for strength to finish the job.
Each time I see Darren,  I'm grateful for love.
Each time I come home,  I'm grateful it's ours.
Each time the girls ring / text / visit,  I'm grateful they are in my life.
Each time I see the sky,  I'm grateful for it's beauty.
Each time I look at my blog,  i'm grateful for the opportunity to share.
Each time I'm blessed,  I'm grateful that God knows our needs.
Each time we need to cut the budget,  I'm grateful for the skills to make it work.

Here are some of the words to the hymn -

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Will you count your blessings this week ?

From our garden

The love of my life.

Saturday 24 February 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 24th February 2018

Over the last seven days I've kept myself busy with work,  keeping up to date with the housework as well as cooking some produce from our garden.  My Mum came over on Wednesday to help make engagement invitations and we spent a lovely three hours crafting away.

We had some news that there could be further cuts to Darren's work hours in the next few weeks. So I went back to the drawing board again to make further cuts to our budget. Our budget now consists of paying bills, buying food and petrol and getting a haircut every now and then.  That's it. Presents,,pocket money ( not that it was much ) and chemist have now been cut from the budget.

Thankfully we already had a little money put aside for these categories but now we'll have to stretch it until things improve. Maybe everyone will get handmade soap and jars of jam for presents,  I also have money put aside for wedding related expenses which is a big relief.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Gratefully received a big bag of organic beans.  These have been cut up and frozen for future meals.

*  Stayed away from the shops as much as possible and only bought wedding related items ( money from the wedding fund ).

*  Sold three dozen eggs.

*  Sold two jars of peach jam with an order for more in a couple of weeks.   This is the cleaning client who buys my baking.  She's also buying a couple of my handmade soaps too.  In a few weeks I'll have a catering order for sausage rolls,  mini quiches,  lemon slice and maybe a few other items.  God knows our needs and he's providing opportunities to earn a little money.

*  Picked lots of tomatoes from the garden and cooked and froze them.  That's another 15 cans worth of tomatoes.

*  Fed the compost bins with kitchen scraps.

*  Saved the shower water and poured it into the washing machine.  It's mostly Darren and I home now and we can get by on 3 loads of washing a week.

*  Gratefully received a bag of groceries from a dear friend who wanted to help us.  Thanks again for your kindness M.

*  Cooked up a leg of lamb I'd been hoarding in the freezer.  Darren and I had a roast that night.  Jessica and Eugene ate some when they got home from their engagement photo shoot.  The rest of the meat was portioned into containers and frozen for another 3 meals for Darren and I..  Lamb is still considered a luxury in our home so we'll ration the treat out until next Spring when hopefully it will come on sale again.

*  The Crafty Mums came over last Saturday for a card making day.  We had lots of afternoon tea leftover so I froze what I could.  We also had a swap table and I received a few craft bits and pieces.

*  Made a bottle of Miracle Spray and sold it.

*  Sold a few items in my blog shop.

*  Picked a bunch of white roses from our garden to put on display in the main bathroom.  I used a small glass juice bottle as a vase.

*  Used the dry mop to sweep the bamboo floors instead of vacuuming.

*  Picked raspberries and froze them.  I also picked cucumbers and beans.

*  Wrote a menu plan for the next three weeks.  I concentrated on using items from our freezer to make space.

*  Made a pot of creamed rice using ingredients given to us.

*  Gratefully received three cans of flavoured mineral water as a freebie promotion in the shopping centre.

From the garden

Roses for the bathroom ( at the end of their life )

Freebies from the shopping centre

Making creamed rice for dessert.

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

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Peach Jam

With peaches in season right now,  grab your cooking pot and have a go at making peach jam.  It tastes like Summer on toast.

2 kg of peaches
1.7 kg of white sugar
juice of 4 lemons ( or to taste )
200 mls of water.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the stone.

Blitz the peaches ( Including the skin ) in a food processor  until it resembles a a fairly smooth pulp.

Add the peaches,  lemon juice and water to a large saucepan.

Turn the stove onto a medium heat and bring the peaches to a slow boil.

As the peaches heat up,  add the sugar in small batches stirring in well after each batch.

Allow the peaches to simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours stirring on a very regular basis.

To test if the jam has set,  place a couple of drops of jam on a froze saucer / plate and leave it for a couple of minutes.  It should  wrinkle when you run your finger through the jam.

Pour into hot sterilised glass jars and seal with the lid straight away.

Makes about 10 - 12 small to medium jars of jam.


*  Jars must be made of glass and lids must be metal,  clean and in good condition.

*  To sterilise jars and lids,  wash in hot soapy water and rinse clean.  On an oven tray place a clean tea towel and turn the jars and lids upside down on the tray. Place them in the oven and turn it on to 110 degrees.  When the oven reaches this temperature turn it off and let them sit in the oven for 10 minutes.

*  Always sterilise more jars than what you think you'll need.

*  Sterilise funnels,  tongs,  spoons and any other equipment that comes in contact with the jam when bottling it.  I pour boiling water over them.

*  If I can,  I like to use lids with the pop button.  I know a true seal is made when the button pops down.

*  Always wipe the jars down after you have filled them.  Make sure there is no jam spilled on the top rim of the jar before you seal it.

*  If you have smaller of larger quantities of peaches,  change the recipe accordingly.

*  A jar of jam makes a fabulous,  frugal present and is well received

Saturday 17 February 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 17th February 2018

Thankyou so much for all your lovely comments throughout the week regarding last week's challenging time for us.  Your kindness and generosity of spirit is very much appreciated by Darren and I.  After much budget revising we can now make ends meet if we are super careful and only spend when really necessary. We are looking at different forms of income including expanding the stock in my blog shop and holding make and take workshops in my home throughout the year.  Stay tuned  !!!

On a much brighter and happier note,  on Valentines Day this week,  Jessica and Eugene announced their engagement. The wedding date is set for 2nd December this year with the reception / wedding venue booked and their engagement hall booked.  There's lots to plan and many lists to write but we are well on the way to making the day special.

Here's what else we got up to this week -

*  Made a couple of slabs of zucchini slice using the zucchinis we were blessed with last week.  I now have 28 single portions in the freezer.

*  Cooked up lots of tomatoes from our garden. I then weighed it into 410 gram portions which is the same as a small can of tomatoes.  From the one big pot I was able to portion out the equivalent of 11 cans.

*  Wrapped up the soaps I made last December using cellophane bags and scraps of ribbon .  I'll be giving some as presents throughout the year.

*  Fed the compost bin with kitchen scraps and Darren added lawn / grass clippings.

*  Saved more bean seeds from our garden.

*  Picked lots of tomatoes and raspberries each day.

*  Made 22 jars of jam with a box of peaches given to us.

*  Jessica found a few decorations in the supermarket for her engagement party .  She went in the day after Valentines Day to find metallic balloons spelling the word " LOVE  for 88 cents each.

*  Saved lots of glass jars from spreads and mustard we'd used up.  These were then reused for the jam making session.

*  Made a quadruple batch of laundry powder.

*  Donated a few bags of bits and pieces to the op shop and received a discount stamp.

*  Wrote out our newly slashed budget to see exactly where we stand.  I 've made a few minor adjustment to save more money.

*  Kept the cooling and fans  off all week which is fabulous considering it's Summer. Saving a few dollars and grateful for the mild weather.

*  Telstra notified us to say we no longer have to pay $2.98 every bill ( 28 day cycle from memory ) to keep our home phone number silent.  It's a small saving but $2.98 will feed Darren and I for 2 or 3 meals.  Very grateful.

*  Kept to the two light rule with most nights only using one light or none at all.

*  Saved lots of water from the shower and poured it into the washing machine.  We've also cut the washing down to 3 maybe 4 loads per week.  We are hoping to see a saving on the next water bill.

Handmade soaps for gifts.

Zucchini slice

The sunset reflecting on a cloud from the other side of the sky

Cooked tomatoes from our garden.

Making laundry powder

Peach jam.

Jessica and Eugene.

Showing the ring.

How frugal was your week ?

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Avoiding Tomato Stains

This nifty little trick was passed on to me from a cleaning client who regularly buys Tupperware containers.

If you are wanting to avoid tomato stains on your plastic containers,  give the container a light spray of canola oil or any oil of choice before you put in any tomato based food in.  The oil acts as a barrier that prevents the plastic from absorbing the tomato color.

Cooked tomatoes ready for the freezer. 

Saturday 10 February 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 10th February 2018

I wish I could say we've had a great week.  The truth is,  Darren and I have faced challenges with reduced work hours,  finding ways to cut our budget as well as family challenges.  We are ok and God is certainly blessing us in unexpected ways.

I've tried to keep track of all the frugal things I've done this week but with everything going on here I know I've missed quite a few.  Here's the list of tasks I did remember -

*  Picked tomatoes,  strawberries, beans,  raspberries and cucumbers from our garden.

*  Started saving beans seeds from our plants for next year.

*  Made 14 jars of plum jam and 9 jars of raspberry jam.

*  Used the electric fans when possible instead of turning the cooling on.

*  Made up a couple of bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.

*  Diluted the kitchen detergent when I refilled the pump bottle.

*  Lined dried the washing except on the really humid days when I used the dryer for the heavier clothes ( otherwise they start to smell ).

*  Froze lots of single serves of meals for future use.

*  Bought petrol for $1.19 per litre.  A local petrol station reopened after renovations and this was their opening sale price for a week.

*  Sold lots of raspberry muffins and 1 dozen eggs.

*  Received an amazing blessing of cakes,  bread,  zucchinis ( from 3 different people ),  passionfruit,  grapes,  plums and squash.   Thankyou so much to those who blessed us with this bounty.  You've helped us more than you'll ever know.

*  Darren did some painting for extra money this week.  This has been a huge help for our budget.

*  I only bought milk and lettuce from the supermarket.  I am growing lettuce but the heat keeps knocking the plants about and they are not growing too well.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Trimmed our grocery budget as well as other areas of our budget to help with our reduced income.
From the garden

Plum jam

Homemade bread

Raspberry and white choc muffins.

How did you save money this week ?

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Silverside - Slow Cooker Style

I grew up with Silverside ( corned beef ) being cooked on the stove in a saucepan for a couple of hours.  Years later as a newly wed,  i took on this cooking practice because that was all I knew.

Years later I was given a slow cooker but no recipes to go with it.  That slow cooker sat in a kitchen cupboard unused for about nine years because I didn't know what it could do that a saucepan couldn't do.  It wasn't until I was visiting my cousin Louise in Ballarat that I discovered how to cook Silverside in the slow cooker.  Louise said the Silverside comes out tender and juicy.  I must admit I was surprised because the Silverside I'd been cooking was ok,  but a bit on the tough side.

Here's how I cook Silverside in the slow cooker -

1 piece of Silverside ( corned beef )
1 kettleful of boiling water
1 cup of brown vinegar
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of dried onion ( or 1 fresh onion cut up )
2 tablespoons of brown or raw sugar
1 lemon cut into 8 pieces
8 whole cloves
Canola spray

*  Spray the insert of the slow cooker with canola spray.

*  Place the piece of Silverside into a preheated slow cooker.

*  Add all ingredients except the boiling water.

*  Add the boiling water until the slow cooker is almost full ( about 1 inch or 2.5cm from the top ).

*  Place the lid on top and cook for 8 - 10 hours turning the meat around in the liquid halfway through the cooking time ( if possible )

*  Remove the Silverside from the slow cooker and wrap in foil for 30 minutes to retain the juices.

*  Unwrap the meat and allow to cool slightly then place in the fridge until completely cold. 

*  Wrap in cling wrap or foil until ready to slice.


*  If your slow cooker cooks on a high heat ( boiling and burning ),  turn the slow cooker onto the low setting.  If it cooks on a low simmer then set the temperature on high.

*  The lemon is an optional extra but adds an amazing light citrus taste.

*  Spraying the slow cooker with canola spray helps with washing up afterwards.

*  The meat should be placed in the fridge as soon as the steam disappears. 

*  Use a good sharp knife or electric knife o cut the meat.  It will have a slightly crumbly texture due to it's tenderness.

*  Serve hot or cold with salads or hot vegetables.

*  I personally keep the meat in the fridge for two days after cooing.

*  Can be sliced and frozen for future meals.


Saturday 3 February 2018

Tasmania Holiday And Frugal Tasks

Straight after Christmas last year we had our family holiday.  Darren and Megan left on the 27th by boat with my car.  Jessica,  Eugene and myself left on the 28th by plane.  We spent five nights in Devonport in a cabin at a holiday park.  This allowed us to spend time with Darren's Dad,  step mum and some extended family.

The boys spent lots of time fishing with Eugene catching some squid and Darren showing him how to cook it.  Megan and I had a lovely walk on the beach collecting shells and a few beautifully colored,  smooth stones.  Jessica and I watched a few movies together and enjoyed some bargain hunting.

We discovered a discount store called Shiploads which is similar to Cheap As Chips,  The Warehouse or Chicken Feed.  Darren and i picked up lots of heavily discounted Christmas decorations / party items and Megan enjoyed the makeup section. 

New Year's Eve was spent at Darren's Dad's place eating nibblies.  About 11.30 pm the kids went down to the water for the party and fireworks.   We got a phone call at 12.04 am asking to be picked up because the fireworks had finished and everyone was going home.

The Reject Shops in Tasmania as huge and once again we picked up lots of Christmas bargains.  One was a white with gold stripe tablecloth we bought for $5 down from $20.  We soon discovered most towns either had a Shiploads or Reject Shop and it felt like we were doing the national tour of all stores.

The girls and Eugene flew back home on the 2nd Jan and Darren and I continued our holiday for another week.  We spent 3 nights in Stanley at a lovely spa cottage.  We explored The Nut which is an extinct volcano the Stanley is built around.

We then travelled down to Hobart and stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in Margate.  We visited the Salamanca Markets,   took a lunch cruise on the Derwent River,  visited the Margate Train and it's converted shops, drove down to the Huon Valley and explored New Norfolk and it's antique shops. 

Darren and I enjoyed eating lunch out on occasion,  bought afternoon teas at Banjos Bakery and cooked our own dinners most nights.  Everything was budgeted for which gave us peace of mind.  We caught the boat home on the 9th January arriving at the crack of dawn on the 10th.

Here's a list of how we saved money on our holiday -

*  Used our thermos for cuppas when we were travelling.  This saved us about $7 - $9 each time.

*  Stocked up on cheap Christmas decorations,  material and party supplies.

*  Used our Flybuys dollars to buy the groceries we needed when staying in Devonport and Margate.

*  Saved the paper carry bags from Kmart when we went shopping.  Most plastic bags have been banned in Tasmania for about four years.  Retailers offer paper bags or multiple use plastic bags to their customers or you can bring your own.  I carried lots of fold up material bags in my handbag which were used many times over.

*  Saved the plastic cutlery from the cafes we ate at.  I don't usually do this but the cutlery was quite sturdy and seemed a shame to throw out.

*  Reused the few plastic bags and bread bags we had over and over again to wrap food,  cover bowls or to pack things in the car.

*  We carried bottles of water wherever we went.  This alone saves a small fortune and keeps us hydrated.

*  I packed tea bags,  sugar,  breakfast cereals,  spreads,  muesli bars,  sweet biscuits,  savoury biscuits,  pasta,  tinned tomatoes,  seasonings to make spag bol and rissoles,  chips and chocolates.  Yes we could have bought these items from the supermarket when we got there,  but I already had them in my pantry.  This saved us about $75 - $100.

Lighthouse at The Bluff Devonport

Th Bluff Devonport

Sunset in Devonport

Huge craft shop in Spreyton Devonport

Acoomodation in Stanley

The Nut Stanely

View from the top of The Nut

On the chairlift with Darren.  He didn't look down

Historical Highfield House Stanley

House on the main street of Stanley

The Nut up close

Stanley main street.  Our accom was up the laneway - bottom left

Stanley Hotel.  Masterchef filmed finals week here in 2012

Margate train shops

Margate train

Discount super store.

Historical bridge in Richmond near Hobart.

View from our balcony in Margate.

Derwent River cruise.