Wednesday 31 October 2018

Another ' Use It Up ' Challenge November 2018

Christmas is just around the corner ( or two ) so I thought it would be a great time to have another ' Use It Up ' challenge.  I'm sure we  all need to make room in our pantries,  freezers,  cupboards,  wardrobes and bathroom cabinets for the gifts we'll receive or the food we'll need to stockpile.

The idea of this challenge is to list your goals ( what you'd like to use up ),  how you'll do it and maybe a money saving along the way.

The challenge will last for the month of November which gives us all plenty of time to work out our strategy and to use things up.

My goals are -

*  To use up more toiletry samples like shampoos,  little soaps and shower gels.

*  Use up a few unusual ingredients in my pantry by writing them into the menu plan

*  Eat out of the freezer as much as possible.  I'll be writing bits and pieces into the menu plan.  I'll be needing room in my freezers in case legs of lamb,  chicken fillets or drumsticks come on sale ( I can only dream ).  We'll also need room to freeze our garden produce.

*  Use up scraps of card making papers.  Our card making group has made this a bit of a mission each month.  We all have too many little bits of papers.  The Christmas cards I'm making this year are following this theme.

*  Take a good look at my fabric stash to see if I can make some presents. I do need to make a Christmas stocking for a new family member.  Maybe I can research making Christmas decorations from material.

*  Try to reduce my stash of tissue paper and gift bags by using them for Christmas presents.

If you'd like to join in the challenge feel free to comment below with your goals and how you'll achieve them.

My fabric stash

Saturday 27 October 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 27th October 2018

With Christmas getting closer,  I've revised and rewritten my list and made a huge effort to get more shopping done.  I've made the most of a few sales and can proudly say I've almost finished shopping.  I just need to buy a few stocking stuffers closer to the day.  Here's what else I got up to this week -

*  Made pizzas for dinner using up bits and pieces from the fridge and freezer.  We used this recipe to make the bases.  So yummy and far better than anything we've had in a restaurant or from takeaway.

*  Decorated a few department store gift bags so I can reuse them for birthday present giving.  I'll put a birthday or other occasion stamp on them when it's time to use the bags.

*  I packaged up the last batch or handmade soaps to sell at a craft / garage sale.  The ribbons tied around them were saved from gifts over the years.

*  Gratefully received extra cleaning work at one of my jobs.  The client wanted his business shirts ironed and extra Spring cleaning done.

*  Bought a few packets of nappies form Coles at half price.  The packaging is changing so they need to clear out the old stock.  I'll keep one packet here and the others will be for Megan's baby.

*  Found a few more goodies at Savers op shop.  Baby coat hanger bundles for $2,  pasty cutters for $2,  a Bob The Builder doona cover for $10 in it's packet and a waterproof cot sheet for $5 also in it's packet.  I also used a 10% stamp on my card.

*  Picked a couple of bunches of iceberg roses from the garden.  They are so elegant in recycled jam jars.

*  Picked silverbeet for two meals.

*  Ate from the freezers as much as possible including morning teas of muffins and pumpkin scones.

*  Froze a couple of serves of leftovers.

*  Took morning tea snacks,  water bottles and lunch with me when at my cleaning jobs.

*  Purchased a few Christmas and Mother's Day presents when The Body Shop had a 20% off their online store.

*  Used up a few samples of body wash and face cleanser.

*  Darren did some online research to get a better deal on my car insurance.  He saved about $130.

Decorated bags

From the garden

Morning teas

Samples to use

Homemade pizza

How did you save money this week ?

Have you made a start on your Christmas shopping ?

Wednesday 24 October 2018

5 More Ways To Reuse Glass Jars

I find it hard to throw out a glass jar.  There are so many way to reuse them and reduce what goes into landfill.

*  Use the glass jars to serve drinks in.  The first time my parents visited the USA back in the early 1990's,  glass jars or jam jars were the latest fashion as drinking glasses.

*  Glass jars are perfect  for making your own salad dressing.  Add your ingredients,  screw the lid on tight and shake.

*  Large pasta sauce / tomato paste jars are great for storing your healthy salad lunch.  Layer your favourite ingredients and store in the fridge until ready to eat.  Mix the ingredients when you eat.

*  Make a pin cushion on the lid then use the glass jar to store your much used sewing bits and pieces.  They could make great presents.

*  Decorate a couple of jars with scraps of wrapping paper,  ribbon or twine and store your pens and pencils in style.

Saturday 20 October 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th October 2018

I'll be the first to admit I've been too busy this week to be extremely frugal.   Sunday we were at church then out to lunch.  Monday I was doing the monthly grocery shop plus a couple of loads of washing.  I worked Tuesday to Friday at my cleaning jobs.  Plus there was the usual housework,  Spring planting of veggie seeds and seedlings and a few hours of weeding and planting a few flowers.

Here's what I managed to fit in when I found a few spare minutes -

*  Sold two dozen eggs.

*  Used recycled bread bags to line the bathroom bins.

*  Planted bean,  cucumber and lettuce seeds as well as bean seedlings I'd grown.

*  Dried the washing on the line and clothes horses.

*  Saved shower warm up water,  drink bottle water and washing machine rinse water and reused it all around the house and garden  where I could.

*  Picked silverbeet for two meals.

*  Filled up on petrol when I heard it was going up.  It hasn't risen yet so I'll keep topping up every few days.

*  Gratefully received six daisy plants and one cherry tomato plant from my Dad.  My Dad has a beautiful display of daisies in his front garden.  There are quite a few different colors and the plants have been throwing seedlings that Dad has been digging up and potting.  He's got quite a nursery going under his pergola.

*  Hand washed the dishes most nights.

We'll start picking lettuce next week

The raspberry plants are growing rapidly

The tomato plants we grow each year.

What's on your frugal list for the week ?

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Supermarket Freezer Food.

How often have you walked past the supermarket freezer section and been dazzled by it's contents ? I used to be like that as a newly wed about 18 - 19 years ago. My cooking skills were limited so those prepacked, pre prepared foods looked like heaven to me. 

I'll admit that I bought a frozen lasagne or two. I also bought frozen sticky date puddings, a cheese cake or two, a few pizzas, apple pies, a few frozen meals as well as the staples like frozen vegies, icecream and fish.

At the time, these frozen foods tasted very nice. Divine infact. Then I saw the light or should I say recipe books and the internet. These two sources of information opened up a whole new world to me. I found easy to follow recipes that used normal everyday ingredients. Suddenly that frozen sticky date pudding that I thought was " oh so yummy " didn't have the same appeal any more. I could make it better and cheaper.

I now freeze my own lasagne, leftovers ( my version of a freezer meal ), sticky date puddings in muffin sizes, pizza dough to make my own pizzas and stewed apple to make apple desserts. My grocery budget has shrunk as a result of making my own and I enjoy my own food far more than anything made in a factory.

These days, the only things I buy from the freezer section are bags of fish portions ( not crumbed ) , icecream ( plain vanilla ), pastry ( to make my own yummies ) and beans and corn kernels. Everything else we either grow, bake or cook ourselves. 

The next time you walk past the supermarket freezers, have a think about making these foods yourself. Your family will be thanking you for it and you'll notice a change in your grocery budget.

Saturday 13 October 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th October 2018

Last weekend Darren and I escaped to Ballarat for a few days.  The miner's cottage we usually stay at has been sold and we are not sure if the new owners will keep it as a bed and breakfast.  We had a booking for early December but had to change it before the new owners take over.

We had a wonderful time relaxing,  shopping at both  Mill Markets ( antique mega stores ),  enjoying morning and afternoon teas out and had a lovely picnic by the lake at Daylesford.   We took all our own snacks,  water bottles,  teabags,  breakfast spreads and a few treats.  The weather was glorious which can be unusual for Ballarat.

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

*  Saved $12 on petrol by activating and using an offer from Flybuys in their phone app.  We used the 10 cents a litre discount to fill up both our cars.

*  Used our Flybuys card to pay for our groceries while we were in Ballarat.  Every time we get to 2000 points,  Darren converts it into $10 and loads it onto the card.  A great little bonus for doing our usual shopping at Coles and Kmart.

*  Donated a couple of bags of unwanted items to Savers and received a few discount stamps.  They only allow one stamp per day so I make sure I do a few trips when driving by to really make my donation count.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Refilled and diluted the shampoo and conditioner pump bottles.  I diluted them by 1/3.

*  When we left our accommodation to come home,  we took all the food that was included in the price for our breakfasts.  We took home a couple of pieces of fruit,  a box of orange juice,  milk and a small tub of  margarine

*  Converted $20 worth of Flybuys points into money.

*  Picked silverbeet from our garden to include in two main meals.  Broccoli isn't cheap at the moment so the silverbeet is our ' green ' vegetable on our plates.

*  Found lots of great presents at Savers.  I found new pizza trays ( with the holes in it ) for $2.99,  Royal Albert bits and pieces,  Tupperware hamburger presses for $3.99,  brand new cook books for $2.99,  baby coat hangers for Megan and  a table runner for $2.99 ( I might keep that one ).  I've made a fantastic start on the present list for 2019 and 2020.

*  Bought hard cover Mr Men books at The Mill Market in Ballarat.  They were $10 for 5 and they are in excellent condition.  I'll be putting them away for when our future grand children come to visit.

*  We received out electricity bill and saved $21 compared to the same time last year.  It might not be much but with power prices skyrocketing,  we are very happy with the saving.

*  Cut the end off a shower moisturiser tube to scrape out the last of the contents.

*  Fed weeds,  bread and grass to the chickens.

*  Darren emptied both compost bins into the veggie garden.

The miner's cottage

Mill Market buy

Apricots growing on our tree.

I've set up a new Facebook group called Aussie Bargain Shoppers where everyone can share any bargains or specials they see when out and about.  

It's closed group so click on the button ' Visit Group ' at the top right hand side and that will take you to the closed group.  Press the join button,  answer the three question and we'll add you to the group.

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

Wednesday 10 October 2018

3 Easy Chicken Marinades / Sauces

Once there was a time when all our chicken dishes were covered in a sauce that came from a jar.  I thought it was yummy.  Darren and the girls loved it ,  but we didn't know any better.  Then I needed to slash the grocery budget to free up some extra money.  Mr Google was helpful for ideas on how to make my own marinades as well as my own common sense.

I don't know how to make lemon chicken the conventional way.  Infact,  I've never looked for the recipe.  I just sort of made these recipes up in my head and tried them out on my family.  The feedback was positive and now the following recipes are firm favourites in our home.

The following recipes I've used on chicken pieces like drumsticks.  There's no need to measure anything.  Just a good squirt of this and that and adjust to your own personal taste.

Honey / soy - In a small bowl add a good squirt of honey and microwave for 20 seconds until runny. Then add a slightly smaller squirt of soy sauce. Mix together and brush over chicken. Season with garlic, pepper, parsley and onion flakes

Lemon chicken - squeeze 1 lemon over the chicken pieces. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, onion flakes and chives. Slice another lemon and place over each chicken piece.

Saucy chicken - use equal parts tomato and bbq sauce. Mix together with 1 - 2 teaspoons of mustard powder. Brush over chicken and season with salt and pepper.

Generally chicken pieces need to be cooked for 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.  To intensify the flavour,  baste the chicken half way through the cooking time with juices from the bottom of the pan.
Honey Soy Chicken Drumsticks

Saturday 6 October 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th October 2018

Here are this week's frugal tasks -

*  Made potato cakes for lunch using leftover potato mash from dinner the night before.  They are super yummy and it's amazing how far one large spoonful of potato mash stretches when you add seasonings and a little grated cheese.

*  Gratefully received lots of glass jars from my parents.

*  Juiced a few more lemons and froze the juice.

Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Found two cot sheet sets for $5 each from Savers.

*  Decluttered another bag of items,  donated them to Savers and received a discount stamp.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Dried most of the washing on the line.  Some was dried on clotheshorses and the rest went into the dryer.

*  Gratefully received some water crackers and cheese from a friend.

*  Made up two big bottles of foaming hand wash.  I like to have it on hand ready to refill the pumps if I'm in a hurry.

*  Gifted a jar of homemade jam,  a bar of handmade soap and a candle ( store bought )  to a friend for her birthday.  It's so easy to get presents together when I have these things all year round in my present cupboard.

*  Mended one of Darren's jumpers.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and used it to water the bean seedlings I've been growing.

Birthday flowers from Darren

Flowers from Jessica

Jessica made this for me.  Very yummy  !!

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

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Coconut And Olive Oil Soap

Recently I was given a couple of bottles of olive oil and a few jars of coconut oil.  I haven't been game to use the coconut oil in cooking so I did a bit of internet research to find a new soap recipe..

We just started using this soap in the shower and so far so good. I've priced a very similar soap selling in an eco store called The Source and it sells for $9.95.  It's marketed as a shampoo bar that comes unwrapped.  It's a slightly larger bar and the only difference I could see in the ingredients list was Castor oil was used in theirs and a few scents and colorings.

  • 1 pound (16 ounces or 453.6 grams) coconut oil
  • 1 pound (16 ounces or 453.6 grams) olive oil
  • 0.303 pounds Caustic Soda (4.844 ounces or 137.339 grams)
  • 0.760 pounds water ( 12.16 ounces or 344.73 grams)
  • Up to 1 ounce of essential oils of choice (optional)
  • Stick blender,  spatula,  rubber gloves for hands,  cling wrap,  moulds,  hand towels and trays to put the moulds on.

Before you start,  please put on rubber gloves and protective eyewear.  Make sure you have long sleeves on and enclosed footwear.

Carefully measure out all your ingredients before you start heating the oils.

Into a large icecream container or metal bowl, add the Caustic Soda to the water and stir until the liquid becomes clear and the Caustic Soda dissolves. Let  the mixture sit for 15 - 20 minutes until it feels warm, not hot  PLEASE do not dip your finger in but feel the warmth from the outside of the container

While the Caustic Soda ( Lye ) is cooling,  gently heat up the olive and coconut oils in a saucepan until they reach 48 degrees Celsius.

Gently and slowly add the warmed oils to the lye mixture and stir.

Using a stick blender combine mixture until it reaches trace.  This looks like thickened custard. You may need to rest the blender every few minutes.  Turn it off and use the blender to stir.

Pour into silicon moulds,  place cling wrap and hand towels over the top.  Place in a safe place to cool and harden.

Start using your soap within a few days.

Here are links to the other soap recipes I use -