Wednesday 30 September 2020

3 Oils Every Home Should Have

If you've read the title of this post you're probably thinking of oils every kitchen should have.  True,  oils are needed for cooking but I'm going to talk about other types of oils.  

While I'm not into aromatherapy as such,  I do think there ire is a need for some essential oils in our lives.  All three of these oils also come in a water soluble version which increases their uses around the home. Here are the three we use all the time and couldn't live without  

Eucalyptus oil uses -

*  Clearing blocked noses when you have a cold.  I little on a tissue and placed under your nose can help with breathing.

*  For relieving bad sinus headaches.  I occasionally suffer from sinus headaches and found eucalyptus oil can work better than medication.  This might not work for all but it sure is worth trying.

*  Removing sticky residue / stickers from surfaces.  A little oil on a piece of paper towel goes a long way.

*  A key ingredient when making Miracle Spray.  The eucalyptus oil cuts through grime and soap scum and it sure beats using commercial cleaning products.

*  It can be used as a natural antibacterial cleaner.  Use on door knobs,  remotes and other surfaces.

* Great for getting rid of smells.  

Tea Tree Oil uses -

*  Reducing the severity of cold sores.  Dab a little on the spot as soon as it starts to tingle.  Continue to do this 2 or 3 times a day for the first few days.  Then apply something like paw paw ointment until the cold sore clears.  This is a cheaper way to treat cold sores than buying the little tubes of ointment.

*  Treating minor cuts and abrasions.  We no longer buy Dettol and use tea tree oil instead.

*  Treating pimples and acne.

Lavender Oil  uses-

*  Make your own room spray by adding water soluble lavender oil and water to a spray bottle.

*  Spray on your pillow at bedtime for a calming,  soothing effect.

*  As a natural perfume.


How do you use these three oils ?

Saturday 26 September 2020

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 26th September 2020

 Over the last few weeks I've been busy sorting out my newly acquired craft room. Over the last 20+ years craft supplies have been stored around our home in cupboards,  wardrobes,  behind couches and under beds.  It's wonderful to have everything in one place.  Last weekend I made a few cards with my card group during our online meeting.  I've also started making things for presents and I have plans for stocking my blog shop with some Christmas goodies shortly.

Here's what else I've been up to this week - 

*  We ate freezer meals for dinner twice this week.  I'm consciously trying to eat out of the freezer as much as possible to make room for our harvest of beans later in the year.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water.  This was all poured into the washing machine ready for the next wash day.

*  Stocked up on some great specials at NQR.  Lynx shower gel was for $2.  It was on sale at Woolworths the same week for $4 and usually retails for $6.  The shower gel will be stocking stuffers for Christmas.  I also stocked up on Colgate tooth brushes 3 pack for $2.  I now have enough for the both of us for the next 4 1/2 years.  They also had Dove moisturising cream for $1 a tin.  I think it was a 85% saving off the RRP.  I'm planning on putting these in beauty hampers for birthdays and Christmas.

*  Picked lots of snow peas and sugar snap peas.  I'll admit I did eat them straight off the bush and a few made it into the kitchen to go with our dinners.

*  Used recycled bread bags as bin liners for our bathroom bin.

*  Made a reed diffuser  for our bathroom

*  Knitted another dishcloth.

*  Scraped out the conditioner bottle to get every last drop.  I scraped the contents into the new container.

*  Made a few hanging tea towels.  Some will be used in our kitchen and some will be either sold or given as presents.  I'll have photos for you all next week.

*  Made shortbread biscuits from scratch.  We also enjoyed an orange cake from the freezer for our morning and afternoon teas.

*  Picked a small bunch of daisies from the garden.

Ready for afternoon tea

Homemade shortbread biscuits

Wholemeal bread with extra goodness

Flowers given to me

 Have you tried any new crafts during lockdowns this year ?

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday 23 September 2020

How To Make Butter.

 Making butter is a very simple task to do.  I remember making butter in primary school by passing around a glass jar with cream and a marble inside.  Every child got a turn in shaking the jar to turn it's contents into butter.  We then spread a little butter on a dry biscuit and enjoyed our hard work.

Fast forward 40 + years and I'm now making butter once or twice a week thanks to an abundance of free cream I had access to recently. Due to it's very short use by date I've had to freeze the cream to prevent wastage.

 If you don't have access to free cream then you'll need to buy thickened ( pouring ) cream at a heavily reduced price to make it worth your while - money wise. During the butter making process you'll loose about 60% of the cream weight when it separates into buttermilk and butter.

I've been using 3 x 300 ml bottles of cream totaling 900 mls. Out of the 900 mls  of cream I get 365 grams of butter which is 40% of the total weight.  The rest of the weight is buttermilk.

Here's how I make butter -

* Pour 3 x 300 ml bottles of cream into a stand mixer bowl.  Scrape the bottles clean. If you don't have a stand mixer then use a hand held electric beater and a large bowl.  

*  Add 5 level teaspoons of salt to the cream for flavour.  This is optional and you can add or delete to taste.

*  Beat the cream until it turns yellow and separates into small clumps of butter.  The texture looks like scrambled eggs.  You'll notice liquid down the bottom of the bowl.  This is buttermilk and can be used in baking and cooking. This process can take 10 - 15 minutes depending on your beaters and longer if the cream was frozen ( and defrosted ).

*  Place a clean chux cloth,  cheesecloth or muslin over a large bowl and spoon in 1/3 of the butter .  

*  Gather up all sides of the material,  twist then squeeze out all the remaining liquid. 

*  Place the butter in a clean container.

*  Repeat the process until all the butter has been squeezed and drained.

*  Store in the fridge until needed.  I keep two containers in the fridge as a stockpile and one in the pantry for use.

*  Pour the buttermilk into a jug,  cover and store in the fridge until needed.  I've use it to make mashed potato.  Others use it in cake and muffin baking.

The finished product

When the cream separates into butter and buttermilk

Draining the butter

Unwrapping the cloth

Have you made butter before ?

Saturday 19 September 2020

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 19th September 2020

 Lots of  time was spent in the garden this week.  Spring planting has started in our veggie beds as well as picking some produce.  We are pretty much on top of the weeds in the back garden and have started tidying up the front yard. Here's what else we've been up to -

*  Picked Bok Choy,  Silverbeet and Sugar Snap Peas from the garden.

*  Darren planted out potatoes in the veggie garden.  These potatoes are ones we got from the fruit and veg shop.  We also have seed potatoes growing so it will be interesting to see which ones give us the best yield.

*  Made a big jar of brown sugar from scratch.

*  Made white chocolate and macadamia nut biscuits.  Some were baked and the rest of the dough was frozen into log sizes for future baking.  With just the two of us here we don't need too many biscuits in the pantry.  Freezing the dough really does reduce food wastage.

*  Made up two bottles of surface spray.  One bottle is kept in the laundry for cleaning toilets and showers.  The other in is kept under the kitchen sink for cleaning bench tops,  the stove and cupboard doors.

*  Knitted another 2 dishcloths for the kitchen.    While I have all this extra time at home I thought it would be a good to get a few made and stored away for when needed.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.  I then poured the water down the bathroom sink to clear the drain.  It seems to have worked.  No more gurgling water noises.

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

*  Took lots of plant cuttings to fill in gaps in our garden.

*  Planted out 70 bean seedlings into the veggie garden beds.  I also planted another 40 bean seeds in seed raising mix to plant out in a few weeks' time.

*  Made 2 batches of butter as needed using the free frozen cream.

*  Made a jar of gravy powder mix.  I use gravy powder,  flour,  beef stock powder,  onion powder and  dried parsley.

*  Fixed the curtain in our family room.  The stitching had come apart where it hooks onto the rail.  I'll admit it wasn't easy hand sewing through all the layers but it was far cheaper then getting a new curtain made ( a bit drastic but I'm sure there are people who would do this ).

Knitted dishcloths

Flowers planted in guttering on the fence.

Darren's little garden on the outdoor table.

Chicken flans for dinner

The planted Darren made for our grape vine.

We hope some of the cutting take.

How did you spend your week ?

Have you planted anything in your veggie garden ?


Wednesday 16 September 2020

10 Laundry Items To Stockpile

Were you caught out when the panic buying started in March ?  Did you have enough cleaning supplies to complete your usual cleaning tasks ?  I'll admit even though I usually have lots of everything,  I didn't have enough cotton gloves on hand to feel comfortable during these crazy times.  I'm allergic to rubber gloves and use cotton gloves inside the rubber ones when I'm at a cleaning job.  It took many months for them to be available again so I made sure I bought heaps.

Even now,  I've noticed the rubber glove and sponge / cloth section of the supermarket is a little bare at times.  Maybe everyone is still buying up or maybe stocks are low at suppliers.  I'm not sure.

Here are some cheap ( or free ) multi purpose items you should stock  up on to keep your home clean and sparkling -

*  Laundry soap.  Whether you buying Sunlight or the generic bars of pure laundry soap,  they are the key ingredient for making your own laundry powder.  The boxes of soap don't take up much room either.

*  Bi carb of soda.  Buy in bulk from a pool supply shop ( known as ph buffer ), from Costco or a herb and spice shop to make great savings.  I use bi carb in homemade laundry powder,  to clean the dishwasher,  for baking and oven cleaning.  Others like to use it for all cleaning tasks.

*  Lectric soda ( washing soda ).  Found in the laundry aisle in the supermarket,  it's used in Miracle Spray and for making laundry powder. 

*  Disinfectant.  I only buy hospital grade and the pine fragrance for using in the washing machine to freshen up smelly dirty clothes.  Also great for wiping down door handles,  toilets and to disinfect a kitchen bench after handling raw meat.  I've been known to spray a little disinfectant on a piece of paper towel,  placed in a small bag and taken to the supermarket to wipe down trolley handles.  I can't guarantee the supermarket will have wipes on hand. 

*  Rags.  Any shape or form.  I save all old face washers,  hand towels,  bath mats and bath towels and store them under the laundry trough to wipe up spills.

*  White vinegar.  It's a key ingredient used to make Miracle Spray,  I use it in a spray bottle for wiping up cat messes.  Vinegar makes a great deodoriser  for underarm smells on washing,  for cleaning windows and as a fabric softener.  Of course there are more uses.  I've just named a few.

*  Rubber gloves / latex gloves.  I'm not a fan of sticking my bare hand down a toilet to clean all the groves under the water line.  Rubber gloves give a great barrier against germs and sickness. Also handy for using in food preparation.

*  Glen 20 spray.  This became as rare as hen's teeth back in March.  Since then Glen 20 claims to be effective in eliminating Corona virus germs off surfaces.  It's great for sickness smells and kitty litter smells.

*  Spray bottles.  Any shape,  any size even recycled ones from used up cleaning products.  Spray bottles are a wonderful way to save on cleaning sprays.  I decant vinegar,  disinfectant and diluted dishwashing liquid into separate spray bottles for various uses around the home.  Guaranteed,  if you need a spray bottle,  you won't have one on hand.  

*  Epsom salts.  They are great for soaking tired bodies,  for cleaning the washing machine and for making bath bombs. 

What do you stockpile in your laundry ?

Saturday 12 September 2020

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 12th September 2020

 It's been  lovely Spring week here in Melbourne.  Yes the birds are singing,  the bees are humming and the fresh air has done a world of good to our bodies and state of mind.  Since I last posted our frugal tasks last Saturday we've had a 2 week extension added to our stage 4 lock down across Victoria.  This time round I'll admit I found it hard to deal with.  I'm ok with the lock down,  I'd just like to drive to a beach and sit in the car.. I have no idea when I'll be allowed to return to work either.  At this point cafes will open with outdoor dining late October so it could be late November before cleaners can work in private homes.  Who knows  !!!

Each morning I wake up with a clear plan in my mind of what I'd like to achieve that day.  This keeps me motivated and I tend to get more done.  My fridge is covered with shopping lists for department stores ( when lock down is lifted ) as well as task orientated lists.

Here's what we achieved this week -

*  Made butter twice using the free cream I'm storing in  the freezer.

*  Darren made a timber planter box for our grape plant.  He used leftover  timber from other jobs around the home.

*  Wrote out a menu plan for the next two weeks.  I included some freezer meals so we can start making room in the freezer for garden produce later this year.

*  Used a recycled gift bag for presents recently.  I also saved a few blank envelopes and recycled the recycled gift bags again.  They really are the gift bags that keep on giving.

*  Knitted a new dish cloth for my kitchen ( apple green of course ).  It took a few days while watching tv.  

*  Made a plan for planting our Spring / Summer veggie seedlings.  Now we know what to plant in each garden bed.

*  Picked a few sugar snap peas from our garden and ate them straight away.  Very yummy and fresh.

*  Hand washed a few clothes using  the shower water.  This will save me having to split the dark washing into two loads.

*  Dried all washing on the line or clothes horses.

*  Fed lots of weeds,  grass clippings and old fruit to our chickens.

*  Made a batch of pumpkin scones using the last of the cooked ,  frozen pumpkin.  Some scones were eaten fresh with lashings of butter and the rest went into the freezer for future morning teas.

*  Made a batch of dried,  seasoned bread crumbs from scratch.    Every time I make bread I save all the loaf ends and freeze them.  When they build up I turn them into bread crumbs.  This time I was able to bless Megan with the bread crumbs.

*  Bought 2 kilos of beef mince on clearance for $9.34 a kilo.  It usually sells for $11 a kilo so not a huge saving.  But it is a saving to our budget.

*  Sorted out all the freezers and did an inventory.   Although there were no real surprises in there I was able to see what I needed to top up on and what I need to stop buying ( beef mince ).

*  Gratefully received 4 large heads of broccoli.  I cut,  blanched and froze them.

Sugar snap peas from the garden

Blanched broccoli ready to freeze

Butter made from scratch

Dwarf lavender.

What is your favourite Springtime activity ?

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday 9 September 2020

10 Pantry Items You Should Stockpile Long Term.

 There has been a fair bit of talk recently about food shortages the urgent need to stockpile.  The world is a bit crazy at the moment with natural disasters wiping out crops and the Corona virus disrupting food supply chains.  Have you noticed there are gaps on the supermarket shelves 6 months after the worldwide panic buying ?  

Now I'm not a doomsday prepper or even an alarmist,  but I do have concerns that access to some  foods might look a little different and might get a little harder.  Perhaps there will be a shift in where our food comes from.  Maybe more will be grown or made in Australia ( or your own country ) but this will take time.

So I've taken it upon myself to stock up on items that store well long term.  I've also made my family aware of what I'm hearing and asking them to add a few extra items to their grocery lists when they shop. 

I've watched lots and lots of YouTube clips from around the world to gather as much information as I can about long term stockpiling ( which is 1 + years ).  The items I've listed below were commonly mentioned by many stockpilers,  are cheap to buy,  have multiple uses and are mostly ingredients.

*  Pasta - long,  spiral,  lasagne sheets. Take your pick although long spaghetti pasta takes up the least amount of room.  Pasta does store well for many many years.  Do not stockpile wholewheat / wholemeal pasta because it goes rancid over a short period of time. 

*  Rice.  White rice can store well for many years.  Make sure you freeze it for at least a few days to kill any bugs  before storing in the pantry.  Once again,  brown rice does go rancid fairly quickly.

*  Sugar.  I prefer to stockpile white only because I can make brown sugar,  castor sugar and icing sugar from the white sugar.  

*  Tinned meats like tuna,  salmon,  Spam and  chicken.  Did you notice that tinned meats were one of the first things to disappear during the March panic buying?  I personally only stockpile tinned tuna and salmon because that's what we eat.

*  Tinned fruit and vegetables.  With country and state borders being closed,  fruit pickers are not always able to get to the harvests in time for picking.  Fruit and veggie prices are predicted to soar.  Having a few tins put away will be a big help to your mealtimes.

*  Tea.  Unopened boxes of tea can last years past its best before date.  I know this for a fact because I've been stockpiling tea for many years when it's on clearance or half price sales.  Once the box is opened ,  store in an airtight  container for freshness. 

*  Stock powder.  Ok,  this is something you probably didn't expect to see on the list.  Unopened tins of stock powder last for at least a couple of years past its best before date.  Stock powder always comes on sale in Winter.  This is when I buy a couple of years worth.  It can be used to make soups,  to boost the flavour of a casseroles and risottos and  to make your own gravy or flavour mixes.

*  Salt.  Salt can be used in food preserving,  to boost flavour in cooking and has health benefits to our bodies in moderation.  

*  Herbs and spices.  Providing they are stored in airtight containers,  herbs and spices can last for a few years.  Used in cooking and baking they give a welcome boost of flavour.

*  Tinned soups.  Although I make my own soup,  tinned soups do have their uses.  Tomato soup is very versatile and can be used for pasta dishes,  casseroles and slow cooking.  Tinned chunky soups can be made into an emergency meal for 2 by adding a handful of small pasta. 

Have you been building your stockpile ?

What items are you buying more of ?

Saturday 5 September 2020

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 5th September 2020

 Our week started off with lots of baking and making.  I was really on a roll and enjoying all the extra free time I have to make the fun stuff.  Then my attention turned to keeping the weeds under control in the veggie garden.  I quite enjoy weeding and find it relaxing.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't like weeds,  just the end result and time out in the sunshine.

Our veggie seeds are popping out of the seed raising mix.  I can see new growth each day.  It's like tending to a newborn baby.  I'll have a photo for you next week when they are a little bigger.

We enjoyed babysitting Luka for a day.  We had him outside 'helping' in the garden.  He loves soil and loves to dig.  He says hello to the chickens,  tries to let them out and generally runs from place to place with so much to see and do at Nana and Poppy's place.  He even 'helped' me water the garden.  I've posted a short clip on my Facebook page.

On Wednesday it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary.  We had hoped to be in the Cook Islands but it wasn't to be.  Instead we enjoyed watching our wedding video from start to finish with a grazing platter for lunch.  Darren cooked a lovely dish of salmon,  Paris mash,  green beans and roasted carrots for our dinner.  I set the table as fancy as I could and dug out the candelabra and candles used at our wedding.

I've enjoyed watching lots of Youtube clips on homesteading,  soap making,  bath bombs,  bread making,  gardening and food security / stockpiling.  While I'm watching tv,  I'm knitting a new dish cloth for our kitchen.  Apple green in color - of course.

Here's what else I've been up to

*  Made a half batch of tomato relish.  I used tomatoes and onions I'd frozen earlier this year when I had an abundance. Two jars were sold to a friend within one day.  

*  Picked bok choy from the garden.

*  Turned the heater off during daylight hours most days this week.  The sunshine has bought lovely warmth into our home and I make sure the curtains are fully opened.

*  Made a big batch of pita chips using pita bread that was given to us a while ago ( and I'd frozen ).  We love to make nachos with them or enjoy with a piece of cheese as a savoury snack.

*  Made whole orange cake using an orange from the freezer.  I divided the batter into one loaf pan and three mini pans.  Some cakes went back into the freezer for future eating.  With just the two of us here,  we try not to cook or bake more than we can eat or freeze.

*  Made no knead bread after watching lots of Youtube clips.  It worked out ok but not as crusty or high as seen in the clips.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.  YAY for sunshine again.

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

*  Made ANZAC biscuits using dough from the freezer.  We've enjoyed them out on the deck with a cuppa.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water.  This was all poured back into the washing machine.

*  Made lots of sausage rolls using the last of the sausage mince I bought very cheaply over a year ago ( taken from the freezer ).  Some were enjoyed for a lunch and the rest were frozen.  We don't waste anything and we certainly don't gorge ourselves on treat foods.

*  Gratefully received a beautiful grazing box from a friend who couldn't used it.  We enjoyed it for dinner one night and for lunch the next day.

*  Picked a few more lemons from our tree.  There's still quite a bit of fruit growing at all different stages so we'll have lemons for a while.

Broccoli and Bok Choy in the veggie garden

No knead bread

Tomato relish

ANZAC biscuits

Pita chips

Whole orange cake

Anniversary lunch

Anniversary dinner Darren cooked

From our wedding

Homemade sausage rolls

What's growing in your garden ?

What was on your frugal list this week ?


Wednesday 2 September 2020

Is There Gold In Your Shed ?

 I'm sure I've got your attention now.  You're probably thinking ' what the heck is she talking about ? '  I'm not talking about real gold,  but things that are of value,  especially when you can't get to the shops due to either lockdown,  sickness or if money is tight.

Have you stored things away you have forgotten about that could be used to save money or even make you money ?  Here are a few ideas of what could be lurking in your shed or garage -

*  Icecream containers.  It's hard to throw them out when they seem so useful.  Do you need storage containers in your pantry,  laundry or bedrooms.  They make great biscuit containers,  freezer containers ( for soups and stews ),  hair tie containers if you have girls or even storage for batteries,  household hooks,  screws and nails.  Maybe you are looking for a container to put your homemade laundry powder in.

*  Glass jars.  Have you stashed them away and forgotten about them.  They make great storage for dried herbs and spices in the pantry.  Jam making season will be upon us in a few months.  Maybe you could check to see if you have enough jars.  

*  Old shoe boxes.  Can they be used for craft storage,  for present giving or craft activities with the kids.  

*  A piece of furniture that's seem better days.  Can it be repaired or restored and used in your home ?  Could it be sold ?

*  Pieces of timber.  There are a million uses for timber but I'll name a few - make veggie garden markers,  make a picture frame,  build a vertical herb garden,  make a wall hanging.  Maybe you have enough timber to make things to sell.

*  Abandoned exercise equipment.  Could you use the equipment instead of buying into an expensive food / shake / exercise program or gym ?

*  Pantry / cleaning supplies.  Have you been using your shed or garage for your stockpile ?  Maybe it's time to see if you can refill your pantry or laundry cupboard.

*  Sporting or camping equipment that's no longer needed.  Could you sell it for a little extra money?

*  Vegetable or flower seeds.  Could you be planting them now for almost free food ?  No need to go to a florist when you could pick flowers straight from the garden.  Maybe you don't need another trip to Bunnings for more seeds.

*  Suitcases.  Do you have old suitcases that could be used as storage instead of buying more plastic tubs ?    

Only you know what's in your shed or garage.  Do you have any gold ?