Saturday 30 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 30th March 2019

So much has happened since the last frugal post.  I've been busy taking care of Megan,  Kurt and Luka both at the hospital and at their home. This has given Kurt a chance to get some sleep and much needed fresh air.  It's been an absolute pleasure to cook,  clean and do their washing as well as cuddle Luka every chance I get.  I've also had three day of work and my own home to run ( sort of ). Here's what else I've been up to -

*  Cooked meat pies,  spag bol sauce ( with hidden veggies,  linseed meal and oat bran ),  garlic and herb breads,for Megan and Kurt's freezer.  Not a saving for me but a time, money and sanity saver for them

*  Used old bread bags to line our bathroom bins.

*  After making a big pot of spag bol sauce I spooned the remaining tomato paste into an ice cube tray to freeze.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Fed the compost bin every few days with kitchen scraps.

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

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water to reuse where possible.

*  Saved a few gift bags and ribbons from baby presents.  Megan is also saving gift bags to reuse in the future.

*  Picked a few raspberries and froze them.  It hasn't been a great season this year.  I did manage to make a few jars of jam a couple of weeks ago.  I still have enough raspberries frozen to make muffins later in the year.

*  Cooked all meals from scratch with one exception.  The night after Luka was born,  Darren and I were on a mercy mission to grab some clothes and bedding for Kurt to sleep at the hospital t( to help look after Megan ).  Both Darren and I had been out ALL day.  We were racing against the clock to get to the hospital before visiting hours were up.  The easiest option was to get Subway just down the road from our place.

*  Baked Anzac biscuits for Megan using dough I had in the freezer.  She rang me about 7.30am from the hospital,  14 hours after Luka was born requesting my Anzac biscuits to snack on.

*  Ate freezer meals a couple of nights.  We also gave Kurt a few freezer meals to eat at the hospital to save a bit of money.  Our freezer meal stockpile has just about run out so we'll be making a point of building it up again ASAP.

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps here and at Megan and Kurt's place using diluted shower gel.

Early morning Anzacs for Megan

From our garden

Making garlic / herb bread

How frugal have you been this week ?

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Our Grandson

Our grandson Luka Stephen Mc Ewan was born on Friday 22nd March at 5.48pm.  He weighed 8lb 1oz and has Megan's brown hair.

Luka is doing well and starting to gain weight.  Megan is slowly recovering from an emergency C Section.  She's getting a little better each day  Kurt is doing a wonderful job of looking after Megan and Luka.  He's become an expert in nappy changes and picking out Luka's clothes when they need changing.

Here are a few photos of our beautiful grandson-

4 days old and holding my finger

Hello everyone

Already pondering life

Nana and Poppy just after Luka was born

Proud Auntie Jess

Saturday 23 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd March 2019

Due to the week long ' Babe Watch " ( as Darren calls it ),  I was unable to do too many frugal tasks.  I've made extra trips out to Megan and Kurt's place to spend time with them while Megan was in early labour ( for 7 days ).  Hopefully I'll have some good news for you all very very shortly.

Here's my little list of frugal tasks -

*  Made a double batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  I baked some biscuits for us,  some as part of a present for my Dad's birthday and the rest of the dough went into the freezer for future baking.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Gratefully received a few card making supplies at our card making day last Saturday.  I also bought some at heavily reduced prices.  I'm very careful about what I bough and only buy what I need for can see a use for.

*  Gratefully received a bunch of silverbeet from my Mother In Law.

*  Made a batch of Miracle Spray for Megan and Kurt.  They love using it on just about anything and my heart swells with pride when they tell others about it.

*  Made a triple batch of laundry powder.

*  Gave Megan a haircut.

*  We all filled up our cars with petrol at $1.21 per litre.  The next day it went up to $1.54 per litre.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear - Emergency Budget

Life can throw unexpected challenges our way.  Being prepared as much as possible is the key to surviving those challenges.

Darren and I have lived with varying work hours our entire married life ( 23 + years ).  We've always had a baseline budget to work with and any extra hours has always been a bonus.

At the start of the year when I was doing all the budgets,  I thought it would be a good idea to write out an emergency budget just in case we are faced with the unexpected like job loss or illness.  When the unexpected  happened in the past,  we've  scrambled as soon a possible to cut our expenses.  Having the emergency budget written out has given us peace of mind.  We feel prepared for anything now.

The emergency budget is a bare bones budget that only includes the day to day expenses like food,  petrol,  chemist, and  haircuts etc etc.

A starting point was to look at our usual budget that includes the above items as well as direct debits for our new car,  Cook Island holiday and  local holidays   As I went through each item / category,  I either cut it out of the budget or cut the alloted amount down to the bare minimum we could survive on.

Of course our holiday and car direct debits could be cut it we need to.  There will always be another chance to go on a holiday.  My new car is not needed for a few years so we'll have the time to save.

The emergency budget included a heavily slashed present / gift budget.  If times were tough,  I'd bake biscuits for presents,  make items from my material stash or make boxed sets of greeting cards from my paper stash.  I've always had an overflowing gift cupboard that could supply presents for a year.  Of course there is my jars of jam and bars of soap I could give.  This is an area I feel in control of.

Our wardrobes have plenty of clean, well looked after clothes and shoes with new socks and  under things bought on sale and stored away.  We could easily go a year without needing new clothes.  If the emergency budget had to be put into action,  clothing would not be included.

Our food budget at the moment is about $120 a month for the three of us.  It sounds impossible,  but if we needed to we could cut it down to $100 a month and grow more food and eat really basic meals and snacks.

Thankfully we are pretty healthy and rarely need to buy anything from the chemist.  Sometimes we have too much money put away for chemist expenses.  So if needed this area could be cut down.

We'd cut pocket money right down to the bare bones.  In other words,  just enough to buy one morning tea per month.

Once I'd written out the emergency budget I'd slashed over $1100 for our monthly budget with a possible extra $200 slashed if it meant the difference between sinking or swimming.

Do you have an emergency budget you can fall back on in hard times ?

Will you consider writing out an emergency budget in the near future ?

Saturday 16 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 16th March 2019

This week has been a waiting game and our nerves are a little on edge.  Megan's baby is due today and we hope she doesn't have to wait too much longer to meet the little bundle of joy.  I promise I'll share the good news with you all as soon as we have news.  Here's what we've been up to this week -

*  Made a whole orange cake using gifted oranges I'd frozen a few months ago.

*  To avoid the takeaway urge we made pizzas from scratch including the bases.  They were so yummy with leftovers eaten the next day.  We don't crave takeaway as such,  just the thought of something quick and easy to eat.

*  We needed to buy a new teapot for 2 after breaking the spout on our old one.  Darren and I walked all over Fountain Gate Shopping Centre trying to find a white,porcelain one with an infuser insert.  Prices ranged from $20 - $38 and they were either too big and not white.  The last kitchenware store in the centre was Matchbox and we found one on sale for $7.50.  When we got to the register it went through for $6.  At that price we bought 2 ( one is a back up ).

*  Made 4  jars of plum and apple jam.  The plums were from the freezer and the 6 red apples were wrinkly and old in the fridge.  The jam recipe has slightly less sugar than the fruit weight and the juice of one lemon.

*  Dried all washing on the line and clotheshorses outside.

*  Decluttered a cupboard and donated the items to Savers.  Received a discount stamp on my card for future purchases.

*  Gratefully received more magnetic strips from older fridges from a friend.  I'll be researching more way to use it in crafting.

*  Repurposed a gift bag and ribbon for a few presents.

*  Gratefully received a carton of milk from a friend.

*  Picked raspberries and a few tomatoes from the garden.

*  Made 7 jars of raspberry jam using berries we'd picked from our garden and frozen over the season.  Homemade raspberry jam is my absolute favourite.  It's so rich in flavour.

*  Fed the compost bin with lots of kitchen scraps and tea bags / tea leaves.

/raspberry jam

Plum and apple jam

White peach jam.

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

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Massaman Beef Curry

Last year I was given a packet of Massaman Beef Curry recipe mix to use in the slow cooker.  Usually I'm sceptical that a packet mix will taste nice but was pleasantly surprised.

Of course I've adjusted the recipe to suit our tastes and budget.  Here's my version of a super yummy and mouth watering curry -

400 - 500 grams of diced beef.  I've used Oyster Blade or Casserole Beef
1  400ml tin of Coconut Cream or milk
1 packet of McCormick's Massaman Beef Curry  ( Slow Cookers ).
5 medium potatoes cut into large cubes
1 1/2 cups of beans
2 medium carrots peeled and sliced
1 tin of boiling water

Turn the slow cooker on high and spray with olive oil or canola oil

Brown the diced beef in a fry pan then add to the slow cooker

Add the diced potato to the slow cooker next then add the other vegetables

In a medium bowl mix together 1 tin of coconut cream and 2/3 of the packet of Massaman Beef curry mix and 1 tin of boiling water.  A whisk is best used to combine these ingredients.

Pour the liquid into the slow cooker making sure there is enough liquid to almost cover everything.  Add a little more boiling water if needed.

Cook on high for 8 - 10 hours until the potato is soft.

Serve with rice.

Serves 6 - 7


*  Any vegetables can be added or substituted in the slow cooker although I think the potato is a must have.

*  I use the cheapest coconut cream available or you can use coconut milk.

*  I only use 2/3 of the packet because we found the recipe mix to be very strong in flavour and heat.   Keep the opened packet in a sealed container or use a clip to seal it.

*  Leftovers are portioned into takeaway food containers with a serve of rice to make it a complete meal.

*  Can be frozen for 6 + months.  Defrost in the fridge then reheat leftovers in the microwave.  Add a little water if needed during the reheat process.

*  Cut the beef into small cube so that it stretches further. .

*  I paid $1.50 for the packet mix.  I'm sure it will be much cheaper in Winter.


 Sorry,  due to the heat,  I only took a photo of the leftovers the next morning.

This is the packet I used.

Saturday 9 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 9th March 2019

This week has been quite a busy one.  I've had four days of work,  a couple of visitors in the house for two days and trying to stay on tops of the cleaning and meals.  Here's what else I managed to do -

Made one kilo of yoghurt using two tablespoons of natural yoghurt as a starter.  We've been having it with stewed rhubarb as a delicious dessert.

*  Gratefully received lots of little tomatoes from a friend.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Made a double batch of scones.  Some were taken to church for morning tea and the rest were frozen for our own eating.

*  Made 6 jars of jam from the white peaches I was given 1 1/2 weeks ago.  I had to wait until they were ripe enough to cook up.

*  Cleaned the dishwasher using bi carb and vinegar and ran it on a long hot cycle.

*  Stockpiled lots of choc bits for baking.  They are 1/2 price in Coles at $1.97 this week until next Wednesday.  Mostly I use the white choc bits when baking cranberry hootycreek biscuits.  The milk choc bits are using for choc chip biscuit and muffins.

*  Made a batch of dried gravy mix using plain flour,  beef stock powder and a few other seasonings.

*  Made dried seasoned bread crumbs from scratch.

*  Redeemed another $10 worth of points onto our Flybuys card.  We use this money to buy groceries when we go on holidays.

*  Gratefully received some card making supplies and magnetic strips ( from an old fridge door ) from a friend.

*  Saved and recycled household water as per usual.

*  Picked up a pretty single bed doona cover at Savers for $6.99.  I'm not sure what I'll make from it.  Maybe aprons,  decorated hand towels,  jam jar hats and produce bags.

A stockpile worthy price

Op shop doona cover

The reverse side of the doona cover

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Paint Swatch Book Marks

Over the last few years we've collected many paint swatches from our local hardware stores.  The girl's rooms needed a more modern color than the baby pink that had graced their bedroom walls for over 15 years.  We had new bathroom colors to choose,  window trims to paint and a possible feature wall in our bedroom.  

I will admit when Masters Hardware store was closing down a couple of years ago,  staff members allowed me to take handfuls of paint swatches that would otherwise have been thrown out.  

Here's a quick,  easy and free craft using paint swatches.  They'd make great little gifts to put inside a greeting card or could be a wonderful addition to the Mother's Day / Father's Day stall at school..

*  Trim off the paint name down the side of the swatch.

*  Cover up the back with thick paper to hide the brand name.

*  Trim the bottom edge with fancy scissors

*  Decorate the squares with cut outs,  stickers or thin lace.  Keep in mind that decorations need to be fairly flat so the book pages are not damaged when it's used as a bookmark..

Saturday 2 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 2nd March 2019

Thankyou for all your well wishes regarding Megan's baby shower last Saturday.  It was a lovely morning with family,   friends,  yummy food and a few party games.  Megan and Kurt received some beautiful ( and cute ) baby clothes,  toys and accessories to help with the coming baby.

The rest of the week was spent sewing,  helping Megan organise a few baby related things and surviving Melbourne's latest heatwave.  We've lived on salads,  bbqs,  cold meats and fruit with very little cooking done in the kitchen.  Darren was thrilled to use HIS bbq many nights.

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

*  Sewed up some baby wraps for when Megan's baby is born.  The leftover scrap material was sewn onto $3 Kmart towels I had on hand.  Megan and Kurt were thrilled with all the goodies.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water to reuse where I could.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Kept the curtains closed on the hot days and used the electric fans when needed before using the evap cooling.

*  Stayed away from the shops as much as possible.  I only went to Spotlight for material and the supermarket for needed groceries.

*  Picked tomatoes and raspberries from the garden.

*  Cooked all meals from scratch and ate leftovers a couple of nights.

*  Avoided the need to get my sewing machine serviced ( $150 + ).  I was sewing the baby wraps the other night when the sewing machine broke down.  I Googled all sort of searches,  watched You Tube clips and got onto a sewing Facebook group.  After pulling the machine apart as much as I could,   cleaning it again and putting it back together,  it started working again.  I see this as a miracle.

*  Cooked a piece of silverside in the slow cooker,  cooled and sliced it thinly to serve with salad and potatoes.  The leftover meat was frozen for future  meals.  This worked out much cheaper than buying the meat from the supermarket deli.

*  Emptied hotel bottles of shampoo and conditioner into our bigger bottles and gave it a good shake.  I'm trying to use things up and make more room in the bathroom cupboard.

*  Leftover flowers from Megan's baby shower cake were divided up into four vases to be enjoyed around our home.

*  Completed extra paid cleaning work.

*  Megan made a balloon garland for her baby shower which cost about $5.  We were going to get helium balloons from Spotlight but they were far too dear.  Megan probably saved $60 +.

Baby wraps I sewed up.

Scraps of material sewn onto towels.

Curtain netting used to bundle the wraps up.

Ready for the baby shower

Jessica made the baby shower cake.

Jessica,  Megan and I

What was on your frugal list this week ?

What's your ' go to ' meal in a heatwave ?