Saturday 18 December 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th December 2021

 The Christmas season is upon us and the last couple of weeks have been super busy.  I finished Christmas shopping a few weeks ago and the presents are all wrapped up and cards written and sent.

On Tuesday Darren's work situation changed drastically ( feel free to read between the lines ).  As a result our budget now consists of essential spending only (  food,  petrol and bills ).  We are grateful for full freezers,  a very healthy stockpile and a veggie garden that is producing.  Although the timing was poor,  we know God is in control and we will weather this storm.

We have a short holiday coming up soon which was booked and paid for early this year.  We will use this time to rest and when we get back we will regroup and plan our future going forward. 

Here's how we saved time,  money and energy over the last two weeks.

*  I picked beans,  silverbeet,  strawberries and raspberries from our garden.

*  Sold a dozen eggs to a friend.

*  Made mixed berry jam from berries I found in the freezer. They were odds and sods of strawberries and raspberries.  I forgot to weigh the berries when cooking them so I had to estimate how much sugar to add.  It ended up being some of the tastiest jam I've ever made.

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I used recycled bread bags to store the bread in the freezer.

*  Our grandsons came over for a swim in our toddler pool.  We saved the pool water and used it over several days to water our garden.

*  Baked choc chip biscuits for our afternoon teas.

*  Sold a few apron greeting cards.

*  Gratefully received a handmade apron from one auntie and a bunch of  flowers from another auntie's garden when we held a family gathering out our home.

*  Picked more mandarins from Megan's tree.

*  Gratefully received quite a few packets of lamb chops from a friend.  Our friend was moving house and we were there to do a vacate clean for her.  She allowed us to pick bunches of beautiful hydrangea flowers and to take cuttings.  Darren has planted the cuttings and we are eagerly waiting to see if they strike.

*  Sold lots of dish cloths,  face scrubbies,  jam and hanging hand towels to a cleaning client.  She is adding all these goodies to her Christmas gifts for her family.

*  Fed silverbeet,  weeds,  bread crusts and snails to the chickens.

*  I planted cucumber,  zucchini and more bean seeds in our garden.

*  Used cut up old socks as garden ties in the veggie garden.

*  Saved shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water and reused it around our home and garden.

*  Gratefully received 8 mangoes from a new cleaning client ( who is also a regular blog reader ).

*  I made hooded towels for Luka and Bryson as Christmas presents.  I'll be sure to take photos on Christmas Day and share them with you next year.  The towels were $4 each and I needed 3 to make them.  I was also able to make one hand towel and two face washers from the towel I cut the hoods from.  Not a scrap was wasted.

*  Took up a couple of pairs of jeans for a friend who paid me.

Here are some photos of the lovely hydrangeas we picked at our friend's place -

The gifted mangoes

Mixed berry jam

This will be my last post for 2021.  It has been a difficult year for many of us right around the world. Thankyou for all your support,  messages and kind words,  especially when I couldn't post due to our challenges.

Many your Christmas be filled with joy,  peace and love as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The greatest gift ever given.

Wendy  xoxo 

Saturday 11 December 2021

I'll Be Back Next Week.

Due to life being super busy right now,  I' won't be able to post my frugal list this week.  Darren and I have had lots of cleaning work and social occasions to attend.  

Thanks for your understanding  xoxo 

Saturday 4 December 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 4th December 2021

Life certainly has become very busy since coming out of lockdown.  Our days are full,  work has picked up and our flower and vegetable gardens are almost in full swing.  Some days I don't stop until 9pm.  

Here's our frugal list for the week - 

*  Dug up 4 kilos of potatoes from our garden.  These were grown from store bought potatoes that had gone soft and were sprouting.

*  Made a bottle of surface spray with kitchen detergent and cooled boiled water.

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made up a jar of gravy mix using ingredients I had on hand and a small amount of bought gravy powder.

*  Bought more meat bargains from Coles just as the meat manager was marking them down.  I now officially have no more room in my freezers.

*  Saved and reused bread bags as bin liners,  to double wrap meat ( to prevent freezer burn ) and as kitty litter rubbish bags.

*  Used cut up old socks to tie up standard rose bushes and tomato plants.

*  Planted more beans,  zucchini and cucumber seeds in our garden..  Up until recently it's been too cold and not enough sun for some of the other seeds to germinate. 

*  Dug up a few flower seedlings I found in the garden and relocated them to fill in empty spaces.   There are now very few empty spaces left thanks to the garden freebies.

*  Picked a handful of strawberries from the garden.  I'm freezing them until I have enough to make jam.

*  Our cheapest meal this week was chunky chicken and veg soup from the freezer that cost about 15  cents per serve.

Strawberries from our garden

Meat markdowns

More meat markdowns

Digging up potatoes

Hydrangea cuttings are growing well.

Color everywhere in the garden.

The tomatoes are growing.

Do you have a favourite flower growing in your garden ?

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday 1 December 2021

5 Christmas Gifts That Save Money

 Over the last few years we've tried to purposely give gifts that can be used on a regular basis,  used up or save the recipient money.  Gone are the days of giving ornaments,  platters or junky knick knacks that clutter up people's cupboards.

Here are five items that make fabulous money saving gifts.  Personally I've given four of them.  I haven't given a coffee machine but I have given coffee pods to go with the Aldi coffee machine when I knew the receiver had one.

A yoghurt maker.  These can be bought new from supermarkets and department stores for about $25 or occasionally half price.  Otherwise you can pick up new or near new ones in op shops for about $5.  Either way they make a fabulous present that will save the recipient quite a lots of money and doesn't use electricity.  A 1 litre batch of yoghurt made from scratch using the Easiyo maker costs just over $1.  I personally have given yoghurt makers to family and friends.  They have been so impressed with the gift that they've gone out a bought more to give to their own friends and family.

A popcorn maker.  Prices start at $19 in Kmart or you could pay up to $90 elsewhere for the fancy movie theatre style ones.  They all make popcorn and will save quite a bit of money on snack foods.  We've had a cheap $15 one that we used for years.  

A gardening hamper that includes flower and veggie seeds.  Growing your own veggies is quite easy and personally,  it saves us hundreds of dollars a year.  

A folder of recipes that are family / personal favourites.  I'm talking about the tried and true ones,  not the fancy magazine / celebrity chef ones.    Sometimes simple recipes are the best and can be all the encouragement a new cook needs to have a go.  Maybe add a silicon muffin pan to get them started.  Kmart sells fabulous silicon mini loaf pans for just $5.

A coffee machine.  If you love to drink good coffee then this could be a big money saver   Aldi sells a coffee machine for $79.99 that has rave reviews. 


What money saving gifts have you given ?

Saturday 27 November 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 27th November 2021

Life is getting busier and our calendar for December is filling up fast.  Even when we are busy,  we always live a thrifty life.  I guess being thrifty is just second nature for us.  

Here's what we did this week to save money - 

*  Gratefully received a pineapple and butternut pumpkin from Jessica.  Her and her flatmate buy a fruit and veggie box from the Prahran Market every couple of weeks and couldn't use it all.  It was a good swap considering I gave them some potatoes from our garden a few weeks before.

*  Picked more mandarins from Megan's tree.  We can't eat them quick enough and she still has truckloads on the tree.

*  Picked silverbeet from our garden.

*  Polished four boxes of silverware as a job for a friend.

*  I'm attempting to grow a pineapple top from the pineapple Jessica gave us.  

*  Filled up our cars with petrol just before the price went up to $1.91 per litre.

*  Saved the shower warm up water,  washing machine water and drink bottle water.  We reused the water around our home and garden where needed.

*  Ate leftovers from the freezer a couple of nights this week.  I try to organise leftovers on days that Darren and I have had big cleaning jobs.

*  Written out next year's gift / present budget.  I've revised and reduced the budget to a dollar amount that Darren and I are comfortable with.  

*  Fed the compost bins and worm farm with kitchen scraps.  The chickens were given garden snails every few days as well as grass clippings to scratch around in.

*  Planted more corn seeds ( kernels ) and bean seeds now that the weather is slightly warmer.

From the garden

Luka and Bryson having fun at our place

Teaching Luka to hang washing on a clothes horse.

How have you saved money this week ?

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet ?


Wednesday 24 November 2021

How To Beat Rising Food Prices - Part 2

 I've often written about ways to save on your food budget.  There's nothing new about the tips below except the urgent need for people to offset rising prices around the world.  Personally my food budget hasn't gone up,  but what I consider a need has now changed slightly.  My grocery list consists of basic ingredients to stretch our dollars further. 

Here are 7 more tips that will save you money on your food bill -

*  Buy seasonal.  Citrus fruit is seasonal in Winter and stone fruit,  melons and berries are seasonal in Summer.  If you buy outside of these times then you'll pay premium prices.  Also the nutritional content of fruit and veg is at it's highest when freshly picked ( not stored for months on end ).

*  Limit the junk food you buy.  If you are struggling with rising costs then junk food ( chips,  lollies,  chocolate,  soft drink etc ) should not form the basis for your daily intake of calories.  Limit your junk food to a treat.

*  Stock up on specials.  If an item is 40 - 50% off then buy as many as your budget can afford.  This will eliminate the need to pay full price.

*  Find a market to buy fruit and vegetables.  Although this can be a great money saving option,  you need to know your prices.  Bigger markets generally have cheaper prices than farmer's markets from my experience.

*  Barter / swap with your friends,  family or neighbours.  If you know someone who has fruit tress,  ask for their excess fruit in exchange for something they can use like a jar of jam,  your own garden produce,  a craft or service ( car wash,  item repair etc ).

*  Avoid the bakery,  deli,  frozen meal section and other non essential food sections.  The temptation is great,  the food looks amazing but it is highly priced and NOT value for money.

*  Grow something yourself - ANYTHING  !!!  Growing just one or two types of vegetables / fruits  will save so much money on your food budget.  No room in your backyard ?  Then grow in a pot.  No money for seeds ?  Then save the seeds from food you eat ? 

Buying clearance meat

                             Growing our own when we can

Do you have any tricks for saving money on food ?

Saturday 20 November 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th November 2021

 It's been another busy week at the Gower Abundant Cottage.  We've cleaned lots of big homes as well as kept ours neat and tidy.  Melbourne has experienced days and days of rain which has been a real blessing for our garden.

Here's what else we've been up to -

*  Baked  three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Found some amazing meat specials in Coles on  Sunday night.  It's not very often I'm in the right place at the right time but the man who reduced the meat had only just finished when we walked through the meat department.

*  The two cooked chickens we got on sale were stripped of meat and the bones were put into two slow cookers and made into stock.  Then I made up two big pots of chunky chicken and veg soup for the freezer.  

*  Darren picked flowers from our garden to brighten up our kitchen.

*  I did my monthly grocery shop and used the 10% off that Woolworths gives me for having insurance with them.

*  Picked silverbeet from our garden as our ' green ' vegetable on our dinner plates.

*  Made a country chicken casserole in the slow cooker using a packet mix that was given to us and some of the chicken we got at a reduced price.  I was able to get 7 serves instead of 4.  I've kept the packet and will try to recreate the seasonings so we can make this casserole again.

*  Darren and I have picked up two new cleaning jobs.  We are very grateful for the extra work.

*  Dried the washing on the line when it wasn't raining.  The other times I had washing on clothes horses.

*  Repaired a pair of sneakers I wear to my cleaning jobs.  The sole was starting to come away so I glued it before it got worse.  

*  Baked choc chip biscuits with dough from the freezer.

Choc chip biscuits

Meat specials.

Repairing my sneakers

Luka in Nanny's craft room

What frugal tasks have you completed this week ?

Wednesday 17 November 2021

How To Beat Rising Food Prices - Part 1

 There's no denying it,  food prices are going up and hurting people's household budgets.  At times it feels like we can't do much about it.  We all have to eat - right ?

Here are the strategies I've been using to keep my food budget under control.

*  Buy herbs,  spices,  dried fruits,  nuts,  grains and flours in bulk from Indian type shops.  If you live in Melbourne Hindustan Imports in Dandenong is the place to shop.  They offer items in various sizes to suit any budget and are far cheaper than supermarkets.  There is free delivery in metro Melbourne for orders over $90.

*  Substitute ingredients for cheaper ones.  For example,  milk can sometimes be used instead of cream,  tinned tuna used instead of salmon,  rice bran oil instead of olive oil.  In baking I use cheaper nuts like peanuts instead of cashews,  walnuts,  macadamia nuts etc.

*  Buy cheaper meats.  Roasts of any kind are now off our menu.  We generally eat beef mince,  chicken,  sausages,  tinned tuna / salmon and frozen fish fillets ( not crumbed ).  Steak on a plate is not an option when it costs more than $20 a kilo.

*  Buy generic.  I know this is an obvious tip but you'd be surprised at how many people insist on buying branded flour,  sugar,  rice,  eggs,  butter,  cheese etc.  In Australia we don't import flour and sugar so a branded product is no better.  Quite often branded and generic products are packaged in the same factory on the same machinery.  Think back to the days of the peanut butter contamination in 1996 when many brands were recalled.

*  Use any discount cards,  loyalty cards,  Flybuys,  Woolworths Rewards on offer.  Redeem any money you have sitting on these cards.  We have an insurance with Woolworths because it was the cheapest we could find.  A side benefit is getting 10% off my grocery shop once a month.  You can bet your bottom dollar I make it a big shop to get the most dollars back.

*  Buy ingredients not ready made,  prepackaged,  microwavable,  precut etc etc.  My grocery list consists of flour,  sugar,  milk,  butter,  cheese,  tinned toms,  tinned tuna,  frozen corn and beans,  carrots,  pasta ( the cheap brand ) etc etc.  When money is tight,  ingredients go so much further. 


Next week I'll have more food saving tips to share.

Saturday 13 November 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th November 2021

 It's been a busy week here at the Gower Abundant Cottage.  All my cleaning jobs are back and some have needed extra hours to get the homes back up to scratch.  Darren helped me with the cleaning which was greatly appreciated and much needed.

We made 2 trips to Gardenworld on Springvale Road to pick out some new plants for our garden.  I cannot express how exciting it was to be out and about,  looking at new plants and spending a little money.  It was all planned and budgeted for too.

My frugal list is short this week due to the amount of cleaning work we've completed.  Here is my oh so small list -

*  Cleaned the diushwasher with bi carb and white vinegar.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.  It really does do a fantastic job and is much better than using vinegar.

*  Made a big batch of pita chips for snacking.

*  Refilled the shampoo pump bottle and diluted it by 25%.  Refilled the conditioner pump bottle and diluted it by 1/3.

*  Packed our lunch,  water bottles and snacks when we took our grandsons down to Phillip Island for the day.  Luka enjoyed running on the beach and climbing over the little rock pools with Poppy.  Bryson stayed with Nanny ( me ) and cautiously dipped his feet in the water  He then had fun filling the bucket with sand and knocking over my attempt at building a sand castle.

*  Darren made blueberry,  white chocolate,  banana and peanut muffins ( his combination ) with Luka.  Some were eaten fresh and the rest went into the freezer.

*  Saved water around the house as per usual and reused it where possible.    Tried to stick to the 2 light rule and sometimes only had one light on.    

Our new hydrangea - Tea Time

New plants for the garden

Darren's multi combo muffins

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

Wednesday 10 November 2021

My Thrifty Tool Kit For Saving Money At Home

 There are a few handy items I've always had on hand to save money.  Most of these things cost well under $20 but have saved us that amount many times over.

A basic sewing kit.  I've had a sewing kit since I was about 9 or 10 years old when I was a Brownie ( they now call it Girl Guides ).   Sewing kits are handy to sew on a button or to mend a small hole.

A clothes horse / clothes airer.  I have 4 in total and they cost me $6 each and have lasted decades.  Cheaper clothes horses have thinner rails which means you can use pegs.  I've found clothes dry quicker when pegged as apposed to draping them.  Our clothes dryer is rarely used.  If you have floor ducted heating then the clothes will dry quite quickly.

Clothes pegs.  Yes I use the plastic ones and they have lasted me 20 + years.  Pegs are great for hanging washing on lines,  clothes horses,  on coat hangers ( keeps the washing in place ),  for clamping shoes that have been glued ( repaired ),  for sealing frozen veggie packets and for keeping large aprons on small grandchildren.

Reusable / washable dish cloths and sponges.  I make knitted dish cloths which can be thrown in the washing machine.  I also use microfibre cloths for general cleaning and to buff our stove top clean.    These last quite a few years which is fantastic considering standard kitchen sponges last a few weeks and are a breeding ground for bacteria.

Reusable shopping bags.  I've been using them since 2005 when we were holidaying in Noosa and got caught out with their no plastic bag policy.  To this day I still use those same bags and they look amazing.  I've also made calico bags and picked up a few reusable bags along the way and all were free.  I've never bought a Coles / Woolies plastic bags when they started charging for them.  I always keep a few foldable bags in my handbag and a few in the boot of my car.

A calculator.  I just love using a calculator when planning my financial goals.  If I can save $10 here and there I like to calculate how much the total is over 1, 2 or 5 years.  This keeps me on track.

Linen / lingerie bags.  These are fantastic for putting delicate items of clothing or jumpers in the washing machine.  I don't have time for hand washing and I don't want my clothing to be caught on hooks or zippers.  These bags can also help prevent pilling.  I bought new bags on Ebay in 2018 for just a couple of dollars each.

A clothes shaver / depiller.   The current one I have cost just under $20 and it works really well.  I have a cream coat that was looking quite old with terrible pilling.  After running the clothes shaver over it,  it transformed into a new coat.  I didn't need to throw it out and saved myself $40.  I've used it on some of Darren's jumpers and saved even more money.  I have had cheap clothes shavers in the past and they didn't work as well as my current one.

Clothes shaver

Linen / lingerie bags

Washable dish cloths

Clothes horses / airers.

What's in your thrifty tool kits for saving money at home ?

Do you have some of these items ?

Saturday 6 November 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th November 2021

It's been wonderful to get out and about this week.  We've enjoyed doing some shopping for Christmas,  visited Bunnings for a few plants and had a good look around a couple of shopping centres.

Some of my cleaning jobs came back this week with the rest coming back next week.  I'm a little weary and my body has to get accustomed to working hard again.  Still,  I'm grateful I've kept all my cleaning clients and some even need extra hours to make up for the dust and dirt that's built up over the last 12 weeks or so. 

Here's what I managed to get done when I was home this week -

*  Darren picked a bunch of flowers from our garden.

*  I found more seedlings to dig up and replant around our garden.  I also planted some seedlings Darren grew from seed.

*  I menu planned for the next 4 weeks.  Chunky soup and fried rice are the dirt cheap meals I've included.

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made a big jar of dried bread crumbs ( unseasoned ) using saved bread crusts.

*  Picked 3 mini cauliflowers  sugar snap peas and silverbeet from our garden.  

*  As soon as we got out of lockdown and isolation Darren and I headed to the shops to get Darren some new clothes.  Over the last 10 months he's lost quite a bit of weight and dropped 2 shirt sizes.   We found some amazing clearance bargains that also had another 25% off.  The RRP was just over $370   but with all the discounts,  loyalty dollars and gift cards he only paid $33.

*  Baked pumpkin scones using cooked pumpkin from the freezer.  We were gifted a couple of pumpkins earlier this year and Darren cooked,  drained and portioned the pumpkin into one cup sized containers and froze.

*  Planted out the tomato plants my Dad grew from seed.

*  Gratefully received all the good rain from heaven for our garden.  We haven't needed to do our own watering that much this week.  

Pumpkin scones

Osteospermum in the garden

Home baked bread.

What's growing in your garden at the moment ?

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

Wednesday 3 November 2021

Growing Potatoes For Free

 Over the last 12 months Darren and I have had great success growing potatoes in our veggie garden.  As we find potatoes sprouting in our pantry we plant them straight into our garden.

For successful crops this is what we've done -

*  If the sprouting potatoes are large and have many sprouts,  cut them in half ensuring you have at least a couple of sprouts on each half.  Let the potatoes sit for a couple of days so the cut dries up and heals

*  Plant your potatoes wrist deep into a reasonably loose soil / compost combination with the sprouts facing upwards.

*  Plant potatoes about 30 cm apart in rows 45 cm apart.

*  Cover with soil and water in.

*  As the greenery pokes through the soil and grows up,  hill the soil around it to encourage more potatoes to grow.  You might need to do this a few times. Hilling the soil up also protects any potatoes growing near the surface from turning green.

*  Water the plants regularly but only if you think they need it.  Over watering can increase the likelihood of rot.

*  When the plant produces flowers,  pick them off so the plant concentrates all it's energy on growing potatoes.

*  Dig up the potatoes when the plants have fallen over and died off.  Use a spade or garden fork to dig up the soil starting about 30 cm away from the plant to avoid hitting a potato.

*  Spread the potatoes on hardboard or in a shallow container for a few days outside away from direct sunlight.  This lets the skins dry out on the potatoes.  Once dry,  store in a cool dark place.  Under the house or in the garden is an ideal location.  

*  Only brush off excess soil before storing.  Do not wash the potatoes if storing for long periods of time.

Trenches to plant the potatoes

Covering them up in colder weather.

Small plants

Larger plants

Digging up the potatoes

The harvest

Drying them out.

   Have you tried growing potatoes ?

  Do you grow them in the ground or growing bags ?

Saturday 30 October 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 30th October 2021

 Well,  it's finally happened !!  Darren and I are officially out of lockdown and isolation as of last Sunday night and we have rejoined civilization.  Melbourne started opening up Thursday night last week but unfortunately we had to wait another few days until Darren had a negative test result.  By the time he had confirmation all the shops had closed for the day.  Then both Darren and I were at work on Monday.

So Tuesday was our big day out.  Darren went and got his haircut then we headed down to Sorrento for lunch and a world famous vanilla slice.  Then we had a lovely walk along the pier and watched the fishermen wrestling with seaweed  on their lines.  I'm not normally a beach person but being at the beach gives a wonderful sense of freedom after such a long lockdown.

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

*  Mixed up a quadruple batch of choc chip biscuit dough for the freezer.  I'm trying to get lots of dough into the freezer ahead of Christmas and the hot weather.  There are a few people I'll be giving home baked biscuits ( cookies ) to as part of their present.  

*  Gratefully received a food dehydrator from a friend.  This will be wonderful to use for our garden produce and for vegetable specials I find at our local fruit and veg shop.

*  Darren and I made pizza from scratch including the base.  This is quite a saving compared to takeaway pizza and tastes so much better then anything I've ever bought.

*  Darren has been picking hot pink perfumed roses from our garden for my bedside table.   With such beauty in our garden,  we rarely buy flowers for our home.

*  Luka our 2 1/2 year old grandson picked flowers for me from our garden.  He said " Nanny,  you need a barse ( vase ).

*  Dried all the washing on the line.  Sometimes I change my wash day to suit the weather.

*  Used some of our shower warm up water to water our plants.  The rest of the water went into the washing machine.

*  Dug up 18.7 kilos of potatoes from the garden.  These potatoes were grown from supermarket potatoes that had sprouted in my pantry.  Free food worth at least $18 and chemical free.

*  Fed lots of snail to the chickens as well as old lettuce plants.

*  Picked sugar snap peas and a mini cauliflower from our garden.

*  Used the thermos to make cuppas during the day.  Turned all standby lights and unused appliances off when not needed.  Stuck to the two light rule.  

From our garden

Digging for potatoes

The first bucketful.

The 18.7 kilo haul.

My gifted dehydrator.

Out and about in Sorrento.

THE vanilla slice

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

Have you enjoyed new found freedoms in your area ?