Saturday 21 December 2019

My Latest Frugal Tasks List Nov / Dec 2019

It's been over a month since I last posted my frugal task list.  Life has been a bit of a roller coaster with a family member in hospital after suffering a stroke just before starting a new,  stronger round of chemo treatment.  She's recovered quite well from the stroke but the chemo has knocked her about a little.  We are grateful for all the prayers from caring people around the world.  God is watching over our family.

I've tried to be frugal when time and energy has allowed me to be.  We did get takeaway once or twice when we got tired of frozen leftovers in the freezer.  Some days I was on the go from sun up until sun down and Darren was quite happy to get fish and chips to make life a little easier ( no dishes to wash ).

Here's my frugal list of things I remembered to write down -

*  Saved Luka's bath water and bucketed it into the washing machine.

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.

*  Saved the washing machine final rinse water and poured it into the machine for the next load.

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps around the house with diluted shower gel.

*  Made a couple of batches of chicken stock in the slow cooker when a cooked chicken came into our home via the girls or shopping day.

*  Picked bunches of iceberg roses from our garden to brighten up our home.  There's no point in buying flowers that wilt within a couple of days when we can pick flowers for free that last longer.

*  I was a very good girl this Christmas season and didn't buy any decorations for our tree.  This would be the first time in 24 years of marriage.  I love Christmas and all the festivities,  but we don't need any decorations and they just didn't appeal to me.  They all seemed cheap and tacky this year.

*  Made 2 batches of lemon butter to have on my toast each morning.  I ran out of homemade jam a couple of months ago and don't like buying it ( I don't like the taste ).  I have plenty of lemon juice in the freezer and we still have one chicken laying so the lemon butter is quite cheap to make.

*  Picked silverbeet as much as possible to have with many meals as our green vegetable.

*  Used a 20% off discount coupon to buy a doona cover for Luka for about $6.  It's an Elmo doona cover in very good condtion and will be a bright addition to his bedroom when he goes into a big boy's bed late next year.

*  Darren picked the last of the hot pink roses from our garden for my bedside table.  We could smell their  scent  all throughout the house.

*  Made choc chip biscuits for afternoon tea snacks.

*  Gave Megan a haircut.

*  Picked strawberries from the garden to have with icecream a couple of night after dinner.

*  Made a big batch of sausage rolls using sausage mince I bought for $1.99 kg earlier this year.

*  Printed off a few photos to frame for Christmas presents.  The frames came from op shops for $1.

*  Made a large batch of spag bol sauce.  We ate some for dinner that night and froze the rest into serves for two.  This became our ' go to meal ' on busy days.

*  Used wrapping paper I already had to design this year's Christmas cards.

*  Froze leftovers of Massaman beef curry,  lamb and veg soup and chicken and veg soup.

*  Cooked up the last of a hoarded leg of lamb ( from last Spring ).  After having it for dinner,  I froze the leftover meat into portions for two.  The bone went into the pot and I made lamb and veg soup.  That leg of lamb gave us a total of 22 serves of meat.

*  Gratefully received a bag of peacharines from my Mum and Dad.  They are super juicy and delicious.

*  Gratefully received lots of rubber craft stamps from a friend.

*  Kept the heater and cooler off as much as possible.  The windows and doors were flung open wide on the milder Spring / Summer days.

*  Gratefully received a couple of tubs of margarine.  We don't usually use margarine but it is a cheaper option to use in mashed potato when we can't taste any difference to butter

*  Made ANZAC biscuits using dough from the freezer.

*  Made a whole orange cake using oranges I froze from last Winter.  I divided the batter into two cakes.  One was to eat fresh and the other was frozen for future eating.

Other pink roses from our garden ( not the hot pink ones )

Christmas card I made using wrapping paper as the background mat.

Lots of sausage rolls

Lamb and veg soup

Whole orange cake

A card I made for Kurt's 21st birthday.

We wish you a joyous Christmas Season with your family and friends.

Thankyou for your continued support and friendship. Somehow Darren and I made it through a very difficult and challenging year.  Having a network of friends,  family and blogging friends made it a little bit easier to get through each day.

This will be the last post I write for the year. I'll be back mid January 2020.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Gifts For Under $5

Gift giving at Christmas does not have to break the bank or home budget.  Quite often homemade / handmade gifts are very budget friendly and generally better received than the mass produced gift packs found in department stores.

Here are a few ideas that could save you a small fortune.  I personally have either made these gifts or gratefully received them.

*  Wrap boxes of Dove soap ( or similar ) in pretty paper.  Thread a bling buckle onto a small length of ribbon and attach it around the box.  Hide the ribbon seam underneath.  Alternatively you could hot glue gun a button or flower to the ribbon.

*  A vintage saucer or bread and butter plate can be sourced from op shops for under $3 and makes a beautiful present.  Add a candle to the gift and it becomes a useful gift too.  In Australia,  Spotlight stores sell a range of candles for under $2 each and they smell amazing.

*  Wheat / heat bags are super easy to make.  Use cotton material to sew up a pouch and fill with wheat,  rice or  barley.  Sew up  the opening  and tie a luscious ribbon around it into a bow for a professional look.

* A framed photo is always well received.  Discount shops sell a variety of picture frames for $2 or $3.  If you are wanting a more substantial timber frame,  try looking in op shops.

*  I know I mention this often,  but jars of homemade biscuits are super cheap and well received.  Recently I've been able to get lots of large Moccona coffee jars for free on my local Buy,  Swap,  Sell Facebook page.  Add a ribbon for an elegant touch.

*  Pot up a punnet of lettuce seedlings for a gift that keeps on giving.  Lettuce seedlings cost about $3 per punnet.  $2 discount shops sell plastic garden pots or you could recycle one you already have.

*  Make your own food hamper.  I recently purchased new colanders for $2.50.  I added a packets or two of pasta, a couple of tins of tomatoes and made up a jar of Italian herbs for the receiver to make spag bol.  Try your local op shop for stainless steel colanders.  With so many people buying ready made foods,  it's amazing what new or near new items people donate to op shops.

Spag bol hamper

The contents

Italian herbs for the hamper
From memory this gift cost about $3

Vintage plates bought for $3 each at op shops
A jar of biscuits.

What are your super budget friendly gift ideas ?

Monday 11 November 2019

I'm Taking A Short Blogging Break.

Due to an unwell family member  I will need to take a short break from blogging.  At this point I don't know how my week/s will pan out and I cannot guarantee I'll have time to write any blog posts.

Darren and I believe in the healing power of prayer.  We are certain that God is in control of this situation and good health will be restored.  We would be blessed if you could join us in prayer

Hopefully I'll be able to return to you all shortly.

Saturday 9 November 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 9th November 2019

Over the last two weeks Darren and I have spent lots of time in the garden trying to get it under control,  pruning,  weeding and most importantly - planting.  It's wonderful to see it coming together and the rain we've had has certainly helped the new plants along.

Here's our latest  frugal list -

*  Planted cuttings I took from plants I already have in the garden.  I'm hoping with all this rain they'll take off.

*  Mended a fitted sheet that keeps splitting on one corner.

*  Darren continued to pick the beautiful pink roses from our garden every few days.

*  Made lots of biscuit dough to freeze for snacks and present giving.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Made two reed diffusers with oils I was given to try.

*  Made a couple of bottles of air fresheners to use in the bathrooms.

*  Made a double batch of laundry powder.

*  Picked lots of rosemary from the garden.  I have it drying in a paper gift bag so it doesn't make a mess on the florr.

*  Made an orange cake from frozen oranges bought during Winter at a cheap price.  One cake was eaten fresh and the other went into the freezer.  This cake defrosts really well and you can't tell it's been frozen.

*  Made a jar of dried mixed herbs with the gifted herbs from a few weeks ago.

*  Planted lots and lots of bean seeds,  lettuce seedlings and the tomato seedling from my Dad.  The abundance of rain we've had has helped the beans seeds to pop up out of the ground within a couple of days

*  Picked silverbeet from the garden to bulk out a few meals including spag bol.

*  Baked ANZACs for snacks.  With our heavily reduced grocery budget,  I'm baking more so I can take morning tea with me when I'm out cleaning.  Before that I was taking muesli bars to eat.

*  Hemmed a dress for Jessica so she could wear it to the races.

*  Found a few brand new toys ( still in their boxes )  from a local op shop just near us.  They were at bargain prices and have been put away for our next grandchild.

*  Went through the present cupboard and allocated lots of goodies for next year's gift giving.

*  Made a big batch of pita chips for savoury snacking.

*  Cheap meals we ate this week were - fried rice,  chicken soup and spag bol

Orange cake for the freezer

Making mixed herbs

Bargain toiletries packaged up and ready to give 

How have you saved time,  money and energy this week ?

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Easy Holiday Meals When Travelling Part 2

Following on from last week's post,  here are more ideas for eating well while on holidays -

*  Meatloaf can be used many ways when at home or on holidays.  Take a frozen meatloaf with you wrapped in foil and a bread bag on the outside.  Once defrosted it's easily reheated in the microwave and served with steamed veg and mash.  If the weather is hot,  serve cold with salad and crusty bread.  Any leftovers make fantastic toasted sandwiches in a press or under the grill.  Just crumble the meatloaf,  spread it over buttered bread and add a good squeeze of tomato or bbq sauce.

*  Chicken curry can be served on toast for a quick and easy meal.  If you like it with rice,  then portion the dry rice into a snap lock bag to take on your trip.  I've been known to take an icecream  container of frozen chicken curry away with us.  It travels well and acts as an ice brick in our cooler bag..

*  Do you have any leftover sausages from a holiday bbq ?  Cut them up,  add a tin of tomatoes,  a packet of French onion soup mix and any veggies you have on hand.  This is great meal for cleaning out the fridge before you come home from your holiday.

*  Simmer sauces are not something I usually use but they can make super easy meals.  Add a handful of fresh beans and a diced carrot to the meat and sauce.  Serve with rice or mash.

*  A piece of cooked corned silverside can be used many ways.  Slice it thinly to go with a salad on hot days.  Slice it thickly and serve it hot with steamed veggies.  Cube the silverside to make corn fritters.  Just pack a tin of corn kernels  and a snap lock bag of flour and seasonings.

Do you take main meals or seasonings with you on holidays ?

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Easy Holiday Meals When Travelling Part 1

We all love to eat well when on holidays without slaving away in the kitchen.  Eating out is great but can add huge costs to your holiday spending.  A little forward thinking and writing out a menu plan of sorts will give you a much deserved break and time to enjoy your holiday.  A side bonus is the food will taste just like it does when cooked at home.

*  Spag bol is always a family favourite.  If it's a local holiday then I take a premade portion of spag bol meat sauce that has been frozen.  I weigh out the pasta depending on how many people we are travelling with and take a container of grated cheese.  The cheese is also used for salad rolls we have for lunches.  If we are travelling interstate,  then I'll place all the dried herbs into a snap lock bag.  When we arrive at our destination,  all I need to buy is a tin of tomatoes,  small tub of tomato paste,  packet of pasta and a small tray of mince

*  Homemade meat pie can be made ahead of time and frozen.  Either heat it up in a microwave or heat and crisp up in the oven.  Serve with salad or steamed veggies.  The meat pie is large enough to travel many hours away from home and still stay frozen.  If weight is not an issue on your flight,  you could wrap layers of newspaper and a hand towel  around it to keep frozen ( or at least cold ).

*  Everyone loves a bbq when on holidays but the meat can cost a fortune.  A cheap option is to pack a little bag of all the seasonings you need to make hamburger patties or rissoles.  Just buy your tray of mince,  add the seasoning and a dash of tomato sauce,  mix then portion into the size you need.

*  Pancakes make great breakfast,  lunches or snacks.  Premake the mix using self raising flour,  milk powder,  a dash of salt and sugar.  When it's time to cook,  just add one egg and enough water to reach the correct consistency.

*  Custard is easy to make when your away.  Portion the custard powder,  sugar and a couple of tablespoons of milk powder into a snap lock bag.  Just add water and cook as you usually do.


Saturday 26 October 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 26th October 2019

I will admit I had a much slower week this week.  I only worked two days and spent a few days just relaxing and doing nothing much but watching tv and having  Nana naps.  After the busyness of last week,  I really needed the rest.  Here's what I managed to do when I wasn't resting -

*  Gratefully received more Moccona coffee jars through Facebook.  I gave a handmade greeting card for each jar I received.  I've almost completed replacing the plastic in my pantry.

*  Made up a jar of dry crumble topping mix to make delicious easy desserts.

*  Saved the warm up water from the shower.

*  Fed the compost bin every second day with kitchen scraps.

*  Gratefully received dried parsley,  sage and thyme from our card making group swap table.  I also received some greeting cards to cut up and repurpose into new cards.

*  Went to Hindustan Imports to stock up on bulk herbs and spices.  They are so much cheaper than supermarket prices.

*  Gratefully received a zucchini plant from my Dad.

*  Made up a big jar of brown sugar using white sugar and molasses.

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

*  Made a double batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  Some of the dough was baked for our snacks,  some was baked and given as a birthday present in a Tupperware container and the rest of the dough went into the freezer.

*  Jessica offered to buy a couple of groceries to help stock up the fridge.  Coles didn't have any roast chickens  left for sale so Jessica asked for a voucher for a free one.  Darren picked it up a couple of nights later and we had it  with salad while the weather was warm.  The bones were put into the slow cooker to make stock.

*  Cheap meals this week were - homemade pizza and the two meals with the free chicken.

*  Finished off 30= greeting cards that were started over the last year or so.  They have been put into cello bags ready to give as swaps for jars and for donating to our local op shop.

*  Darren picked quite a few roses from our garden to put on my bedside table  Their scent is beautiful.

From the garden

Some of the finished cards

How did you save time or money this week ?

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Freezing Celery

Celery is one of those vegetables that's hard to keep fresh in the fridge.  It would have to be the one we waste the most in our house and finding ways to use it up within a week can be quite a challenge.

A few years ago I tried freezing chopped celery and it was a great success.  Here's how I do it -

*  Top and tail all the stalks.

*  Wash off any dirt.

*  Finely dice each stalk.  I use my Nicer Dicer for fast dicing.

*  Grab one handful and place in a freezer bag.

*  Squeeze out the air and tie a knot in the top of the bag.

*  Place in the freezer.


*  The celery will defrost limp and soggy.

*  Frozen celery can be added to any casserole,  soup or stew. 

*  A large ice cube tray can be used to freeze celery in smaller amounts.

Using the Nicer Dicer

Ready for the freezer

Saturday 19 October 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 19th October 2019

This week has been a busy one.  I've worked four days,  made a trip into the city with my Dad,  did the monthly grocery shopping,  cooked and baked and tried to keep on top of the housework ( with Darren's help ).  I've made a great start on next year's present shopping and I'm contemplating wrapping up this year's Christmas presents.
Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made mini garlic breads from gifted day old bread sticks.

*  Blanched lots of broccoli then froze it for future meals.

*  Gratefully received some daisy plants from my Dad.

*  Finely diced,  bagged up and froze two bunches of celery.  I think I have enough to put in casseroles for the next 12 months.

*  We have a charity that moved just down the road from us that opened up an op shop last week.  I purchased lots of Sukin face products for $1.50 each.  I'll be bundling them up into little packs to give as presents over the next 12 - 18 months.

*  Used a $20 Coles voucher earned from surveys to buy 2 tray of mince.

*  Made 2 zucchini slices from gifted zucchinis and potatoes.  We had some with our dinner that night and froze the rest.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made lemon butter from our own eggs and lemon juice.  I'm almost out of jam and it's at least a few months until I can get my hands on cheap or free fruit to make more.  The lemon butter is delicious on the bread I bake and turn into toast for my breakfast each morning.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water as per usual.

*  Fed the compost bin every second day with kitchen scraps.

*  Found another tv standby light to turn off at the power point.   Family members will have to figure out for themselves why the remote won't turn the tv on.

*  Picked up a couple of Stephanie Alexander colanders from the new op shop near us.  They were priced at $5 each and with their 50% off sale they came down to $2.50.  I found them on Amazon selling for just under $30.   I'll be making pasta hampers with them to give as presents.  I'm planning on including a couple of tins of tomatoes,  a packet of pasta and a small bag of spag bol dried herbs.

Cheap meals we ate this week were - Pita bread pizza and Chop suey

Broccoli ready to freeze

Zucchini slices

Chopped celery ready for the freezer

How have you saved time or money this week ?

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Making Gifts From The Garden

Giving gifts from the garden can be a very rewarding thing to do.  Often the gift costs very little or free if you use a recycled pot.  Here are some very budget conscious ideas for you to try -

*  Do you grow raspberries ?    Each Spring your old plants may send out little runner plants.  Gently dig them up and plant into a pot.  Add a little wrapping paper or a ribbon and give as a present.  When we bought our plants back in 2014 they cost $15 each from Bunnings.  A potted raspberry is a practical and free gift worth a good amount.

*  A plant pot of mixed lettuce seedlings is a colourful and practical gift.  Lettuce seeds cost only a few dollars but the packets might contain hundreds of seeds.  Now is the time to plant the seeds to have ready to pick lettuce for a Christmas present.

*  Make rose water using rose petals from your garden.  Just boil up the petals with water in a saucepan then simmer until the water changes color.  Cool with the lid on then decant into sterilised bottles or glass jars.

*  Plant a mini herb garden using recycled pots or even a small length of old guttering.  Stencil or paint the pots to customise them for the receiver.

*  Did you juice and freeze lots of lemon juice over Winter ?  Make up a big batch of lemon butter a couple of days before Christmas.  This 6 minute recipe is easy to make and tastes delicious.  Refrigerate until you give it and perhaps decorate the jar with a little ' hat ' and include a pretty teaspoon.  Op shops are a great place for sourcing pretty teaspoons.

*  Take cuttings from daisy plants during late Spring to make fabulous gifts.  Their bright,  pretty colors make a cheerful addition to any garden.

*  Lavender sachets would have to be one of the easiest gifts to make.  Pick the flower stems and dry over the next few weeks.  Pull the little flower heads off and pour into a cotton or organza bag.  Tie with a purple ribbon.  These little bags can be teamed up with a purple face washer, homemade  lavender room spray and a purple hand soap ( quite cheap in the supermarket ).

Potted up lettuce.  Isn't it pretty ?

Lemon butter

Raspberry plant as a gift

Drying lavender flowers

What gifts have you given from your garden ?

Saturday 12 October 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 12th October 2019

This week's list is an extra long one that spans two weeks.  We were quite busy last weekend trying to get our home and garden in order after being away a few times over the last three months.  We still have a long way to go but at least our garden is starting to look like a garden and not a jungle.  Princess our cat can no longer hide in the tall grass and weeds like a tiger.

The following frugal tasks are in order as they were completed so there might be a few repeats.  Hey, they all saved us a little money here and there.

*  Made a batch of pumpkin scones using pureed pumpkin I'd frozen a few months ago.  The scones were frozen for a future afternoon tea.

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps around the home using diluted shower gel.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and poured it into the washing machine.

*  Dried the washing on clothes horses over the ducted heating vents.

*  Gratefully received a few lemons and jam jars from a friend.

*  Used a gift card to see Downton Abbey at the movies on my birthday.

*  I've been busy over the last few weeks converting my pantry storage from plastic into glass.  I picked up 9 large Moccona coffee jars from my local Buy,  Swap,  Sell Facebook page for free.  For each glass jar I offer one handmade greeting card.  The offers flooded in and I'm well on my way to getting rid of the old plastic containers.  The plastic containers are being reused around the home and garden sheds for non food storage.

*  Made a trip to the Dandenong Market with Megan to buy our fruit and veg.  I'm pleased to say we found better prices on a few things and enjoyed ourselves for a couple of hours.  We are going to do this every fortnight to help reduce our grocery bills.

*  Gratefully received rosemary,  sage,  thyme,  tomato seeds and  pumpkin seeds from a family member..  I already have the herbs hanging up to dry in paper bags.

*  Dried most of the washing outside.  Only uniforms were put in the dryer.

*  When Darren was returning a supermarket trolley to the collection point,  he found an abandoned trolley with a bag of apples and oranges in it.  I gratefully received them and filled up the fruit crisper in the fridge.

*  Picked and dried rosemary from our garden.  I've blitzed it into a powder which sticks better to the  vegetables I'm roasting.

*  Made a pot of chicken stock using a carcass.  The next day I turned it into a chunky chicken and veggie soup which gave us 10 serves.

*  Ate freezer meals for two dinners.

*  Washed and reused ziplock bags a few times over.  I don't use them too often but they do come in handy when we are away on holidays and saves room in the suitcase for food items.

*  Received lemons and mandarins from a friend.

*  Sorted out the linen cupboard and recycled old hand towels into mop up cloths for the laundry cupboard.  Once they are too old for that purpose,  they become cleaning cloths for my work.

Baking ingredients stored in glass jars

Large Moccona jars used for storage

Luka and Poppy trying to go to sleep

How did you save money this week ?

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Making Gifts From The Pantry

The countdown to Christmas has already begun in our home ( or at least in my mind ).  I love to be super organised and never leave present shopping or making to the last minute.

If your planning on a homemade Christmas or thinking of making a couple of presents to save a little money,  now is the time to start.

Here are some great ideas using ingredients from your pantry to turn into stunning gifts -

*  Vanilla extract can easily be made from Vodka and vanilla beans.  Buy the cheapest bottle of Vodka you can find and  decant it into smaller sterilised glass bottles with a lid.  Split  two vanilla beans in half, and place into the smaller bottle.  Replace the lid and store out of direct sunlight.  Shake every week.  Alternatively,  put 5 - 6 vanilla beans into the large vodka bottle and decant after a few months.  The vanilla extract can be used in as little as 8 weeks but some people wait for up to a year for a stronger flavour.

*  Chocolate brownie dry mixes in a jar make a wonderful baking treat for those who might not usually bake or are time poor.  Carefully layer all the dry ingredients in the jar,  place the lid on,  tie on a wooden spoon and the recipe with a luscious ribbon

*  Bath bombs require some ingredients that most pantries stock.  Here's the recipe I use.  Pack the mixture into moulds or spoon it loose into a jar and tie  a fancy spoon on.

*  As I've mentioned in many blog posts over the years,  a jar of home baked biscuits makes a great present.

*  Face and body scrubs can be made from basic pantry items.   Here's a link to some great simple recipes Face and Body Scrubs

*  Nuts and Bolts savoury snack is so simple to make using Nutri-Grain cereal, peanuts and seasonings. Store in a large glass jar and makes a great men's gift.   Here's a link to the recipe Nuts and Bolts.

Making vanilla extract.

Moccona coffee jars make great gifts

Making bath bombs

Home baked biscuits for presents

What gifts do you make from pantry ingredients ?

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Slow Cooker Tips Part 2

Last week I shared some slow cooker tips  to get the most out of your appliance. Here's the second part of the slow cooker series.  I hope you are enjoying many delicious easy meals.

*  If using frozen veggies,  cook them in the microwave first then place in the slow cooker.  This brings the temperature up a much quicker.

*  Bulk out casseroles with extra veggies.  It's amazing how far a slow cooked meal stretches.

*  If adding potato or carrots to a slow cooked casserole,  cut it into small chunks and place it near the bottom of the slow cooker where the temperature is hotter.  Also try to keep the potato and carrots under any liquid.

*  Use the right sized slow cooker for your meal.  Ideally slow cookers should be half to two thirds full.

*  Slow cooker packet mixes can be high in salt and pepper.  Use with caution and maybe use two thirds  of the mixture for the first time to get an idea of how it tastes.

*  If you have a slow,  slow cooker,  put it on about 8 am so that the food is properly cooked by dinnertime.

*  Proceed with caution if wanting to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker.  I personally haven't tried it and never will.  I'm concerned the chicken is too big and will take too long to come up to a safe temperature.  Maybe brown the chicken in a pan first and place in a preheated slow cooker.   

Cooking beef in beef stock juices

Bread pudding in the slow cooker

Saturday 28 September 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 28th September 2019

Darren and I have spent 5 days in Ballarat this week having a mini holiday with family.  We shared a 3 bedroom period style home which made it quite economical for everyone.  We enjoyed an afternoon at Daylesford and visited the Mill Markets ( lots of collectables and antiques ).  Two days were spent at Sovereign Hill and I spent 1 1/2 hours panning for gold.  .I'm proud to say I found a few flecks of gold and one tiny gold nugget about the size of a pin head.

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

*  Sold a bottle of Miracle Spray to a cleaning client.

*  Took baking,  spag bol,  snacks, fruit and veggies from home to help with our holiday grocery costs.

*  Used our saved Flybuy dollars to buy extra groceries at Coles while we were away.

*  Bought tickets to Sovereign Hill from RACV at a discounted price.

*  Gratefully received some lemons from a friend.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made a bottle of room spray using cooled boiled water and essential oil.

*  Fed the compost bins with lots of kitchen scraps.

*  Made a big saucepan full of veggie soup using sad,  wilting veggies from the fridge crisper.  I included cauliflower and broccoli stalks which I cut up into small cubes.  Once the soup had cooked I used the stick blender to puree it.

*  Bought an AFL ( football ) mug at half price in Coles.  This will be given as a Christmas present.

*  Cheap main meals we ate this week were - fried rice and soup with crusty bread.

*  Bought a cooked chicken while in Ballarat and used it to make our lunches for three days while we were out and about.  This $10 chicken saved us approximately $40 on lunch costs.  We took water bottles everywhere we went which saved us another $30 +

Hearty vegetable soup.

Sorry I'm short on photos this week.  I've been busy enjoying life.

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Slow Cooker Tips

Do you have a slow cooker that isn't used as much as it should ?  If so,  you are not the  only one.  Quite often I'm speaking to people about slow cookers and so many people don't quite know what to do with them.

Not long after I got married,  my Mum and Dad bought me a slow cooker.  At first I couldn't understand why people would need one or what it could do that a saucepan on the stove couldn't do.  It didn't help that there was no instruction booklet in the box.

That slow cooker sat in the back of a kitchen cupboard unused for 9 years.  Then the internet came about and suddenly there were recipes and books on the subject everywhere.

Here are a few ideas and tips to get the most out of your slow cooker.

*  Turn your slow cooker on first to preheat it before putting anything in.  This helps to bring the temperature of the food to a slow boiling point much quicker and prevent food poisoning.

*  Lightly spray or grease the slow cooker insert to help with cleaning up after eating.

*  Brown beef in a frypan then transfer to the slow cooker for juicy meat and extra flavour.

*  Reserve beef juices to make a delicious gravy.  Mix a little flour and cold water in a cup ,  add a couple of spoonfuls of hot juices to the flour and water.  Mix well then slowly add to the slow cooker and whisk well.

*  Keep the lid on during cooking and only lift it to stir if really necessary.  Every time you lift the lid precious heat escapes and it takes longer to come back to a slow boil.

*  Use cheaper cuts of meat.  Inexpensive cuts of meat can be high in fat and connective tissue which is broken down during the moist slow cooking process.

One of my slow cookers from an op shop

Chicken curry

Next week I'll continue this series with more slow cooker tips.

Saturday 21 September 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 21st September 2019

Spring has finally sprung in our backyard.  We have blossoms on our plum,  peach and apricot trees.  Even our heavily pruned ( hacked ) lemon tree has 3 or 4 flowers on it.  It's great to see som many thing coming to life.  I can almost taste and smell the jam I'll be making if I get enough fruit.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made lots of mini quiches and froze.  I used eggs from our chickens and silverbeet from our garden.

*  Bought lots of packets of English breakfast muffins on clearance from Coles for 63 cents a bag.  They usually retail for just over $2.  I froze the lot for breakfast and lunches.

*  Made a double batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  I baked some biscuits from it to give as part of a present for a belated Father's Day celebration with my Dad.  The rest of the dough went into the freezer.

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags from a charity bbq.  They will be used as bathroom bin liners,  to pick up cat poop and as an outer layer to freeze food.

*  Gratefully received fridge door seals from a friend who repairs electrical appliances.  The magnetic strip inside is great to use for different crafts.

*  Darren bought a bunch of flowers for our wedding anniversary on the 2nd of this month.  I've been able to keep them going for over two weeks by changing the water and cutting the stems every few days.

*  Cooked a roast beef in the slow cooker and got 15 portions from it.  Three were served that night as a roast dinner.  Two more roast dinners were portioned up and frozen.  Meat for two was put in gravy and frozen.  One single serve of meat was frozen in gravy.  The following night I made a Massaman Beef  Curry from two thick slices that gave me seven portions ( five were frozen ).

*  Picked up a couple of fresh pizzas on clearance from Coles for $1.75 each.  I froze them for when we have hungry family members visiting.

*  Gratefully received limes,  mint,  cupcakes and rhubarb from a friend.

*  Picked silverbeet from our garden to have as our green vegetable.

*  Fed the compost bin almost every day with kitchen scraps, paper packaging and paper towel.

*  Gratefully received tomato plants from my Dad.  There were 10 seedlings in the punnet with was too many for Mum and Dad to use.

Bargain of the week

A very tasty meal

Rosemary in our garden.

How did you save money this week ?

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

There are many benefits to cooking beef in the slow cooker.  There's no guessing if it's cooked enough.  No fat splattering all over the oven.  No tough bits going to waste.  But best of all,  it's tastes absolutely divine and comes out super moist and falls apart as you cut it into slices.

Here's the recipe I made up a couple of years ago.

1 Bolar blade or Yearling roast beef ( or similar cut )

2 dessert spoons of Beef  Stock Powder

2 dessert spoons of French Onion Soup powder

1 kettle full of boiling water

4 tablespoons of Plain Flour

2/3 cup of cold water in a small jug

*  Preheat the slow cooker on the high temperature and spray with oil ( for easy cleaning later )

*  Brown off the meat on all sides in a fry pan

*  Place the meat in the slow cooker.

*  Add the beef stock powder and french onion soup.

*  Fill up the slow cooker with boiling water until it almost reaches the top ( 2 cm from the top or 1 inch ).

*  Place the lid on and cook for 8 - 10 hours.

*  Take the meat out,  cover with foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

*  While the meat is resting,,  make the gravy using plain flour and cold water dissolved in a measuring jug.  Add a little of the hot liquid from the slow cooker to the plain flour  and water mixture and combine.  Slowly pour the mixture into the hot liquid in the slow cooker while whisking quickly to prevent lumps..


*  Leftovers can be frozen.  I like to add lots of gravy to the leftovers before freezing.  The meat seems to retain it's moisture.

*  Save two thick slices of beef and make Massaman Beef in the slow cooker the next night or freeze the slices for future cooking.

Roast beef dinner

Browning the beef

Cooking in liquid.