Wednesday 7 December 2022

A Luxurious Christmas For Less

 Have you ever looked at tv shows,  magazines and YouTube videos where people put on high end luxurious Christmas celebrations ?  They look so pretty and glamourous don't they ?    Bet they spent a fortune too.

If you are after a similar look but don't have the extra dollars to splash around,  here are a few ideas for you to try.  I've personally used most of these tricks in our home to make it look extra special.

*  Is your tree a little on the small side ?  Make a timber riser to stand your tree on.  Use a stack of books as a platform to lift the tree up.  This is a great way to add more room under the tree for presents as well as giving extra height.

*  If you have old tinsel that looks thin,  wrap two strands together for a fuller look.

*  A magazine worthy table decoration doesn't need to cost any money.  Place odd,  tired looking baubles into a clear glass bowl for a high end look.  Add a candle each side to complete the look.

*  Not enough decorations for the tree ?  Don't decorate the back of the tree if you can't see it.

*  Frame a Christmas card for your mantle,  buffet or lamp table.

*  Cut greenery from your garden to fill a vase.  Tie a Christmas ribbon around the vase to finish it off.

*  White bedsheets make great table cloths.  Add a Christmas tea towel to the centre if you don't have a table runner.

*  Op shops can be a great place to buy new or near new kitchenware,  books,  toys and homeware.  Sometimes the item just needs a quick wipe over.    A wonderful place to stretch your dollars for presents or to update your tableware.

*  Get more bang for your buck by cooking and baking your Christmas meal from scratch.  For example,  sticky date puddings are expensive to buy.  Make them from scratch in muffin size and you'll get a whole lot more for less.

*  Candles can be expensive to buy.  Pop a tealight candle into a small glass.

*  Fairy lights add glamour and sparkle to a home.  The cheapest battery operated ones cost $6 in Kmart or you can wait until Boxing Day to buy them half price.  These lights can be added to a glass vase,  bowl,  table,  mantle,  bookcase or greenery for a simple luxurious look.

*  Christmas cushion covers are super easy and cheap to make.  If you can't sew,  use a Christmas pillowcase and fold the extra material over the back.

*  Choose a Christmas dinner / lunch to suit your budget and plan how you'll serve it for the ' WOW ' factor    Serve it on your special platters and  crockery.  If you don't have any special occasion tableware,  they can be picked up quite cheap at op shops.  Classic white platters never date and can be used for years.

*  Pick a color theme and repeat it throughout your home.  For example - if you pick red,  add red bows to your tree,  red serviettes to your table and red wrapping paper on the presents.

Here are some of the color themes from years gone by -


Wrapping everything in the same paper

A simple yet festive table

Christmas lunch on a budget

The tree riser box underneath

Table decoration

Handmade bows to decorate a garland

Fairy lights in a Kmart garland

More table decorations

Our tree colors this year.

Keep in mind,  it's not the money you spend that counts.  It's what you do with what you have.

Do you have a Christmas tip to share that looks fabulous ?

Sunday 4 December 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 3rd December 2022

 My frugal list is quite small this week.  Still,  a saving is a saving and it's far better than wasting money.  Here's how I saved money -

*  Picked the last of the lemons off our tree for the year.  I'll be juicing most of them and slicing the rest to use for baked fish and lemon chicken.

*  Picked lettuce,  radishes and rosemary from our garden.  The rosemary will be put into paper bags and hung up to dry.

*  Dried the washing on the line and clothes horses.  This might not be a big deal to most but with the wet weather we've had since may,  it's been a real challenge to dry clothes outside.  I'm very cautious about wet washing hanging around in the house for too long.  Firstly,  it starts to smell and secondly,  I don't want to promote any mould in our home.

*  Darren gave the chickens grass clippings to munch on after mowing our lawns.

*  Darren used an app to get a better price on petrol for our cars.

*  Used the thermos to store the remaining boiling water from the kettle each morning.  The water is used for morning and afternoon tea cuppas.

*  Last week I mentioned we had been gifted a bolar blade roast.  I cooked it up this week in the slow cooker and we had a roast dinner that night.  I cooked extra roast veggies in the air fryer and froze another 2 single serve roast dinners.  The remaining meat was turned into a Massaman beef.  From that we got 7 serves.  So a total of 11 serves of meat from a 1.1 kilo roast.

*  Cut up an old sock and used it as garden ties.

*  Darren started picking cherries from our tree.  He's hoping to get enough to make his favourite jam.


From our garden

Massaman beef in the slow cooker

The first harvest of cherries for the season.

How did you save money this year ?  

Are you picking anything from your garden ?

Wednesday 30 November 2022

Can You Spare 10 Minutes To Save Money ?

 Following on from the previous posts about sparing 1 or 5 minutes to save money,  here are more great ways to save.  Some of these tips could save you hundreds of dollars. 

Can you spare 10 minutes to -

*  Make a years worth of laundry powder.  This tips could save you big $$$

*  Whip up muffin batter and pop them in the oven.  Cheap,  easy and tasty treats for lunchboxes and snacks.

*  Hang the washing on the line instead of using the dryer.  Your clothes will last longer and smell fresher too.

*  Put some meat,  veggies and liquid in the slow cooker after breakfast for an easy dinner.

*  Turn your bread crusts into bread crumbs ( fresh,  dried or seasoned ).

*  Wipe and organise your fridge.  Put the hidden things to the front to use or freeze.

*  Save your washing machine final rinse water into a large bucket.  Pour it back into the machine for the next load or use it   on the garden to water your plants ( not on the veggie garden ).

*  Write a Christmas list before you go shopping.  Don't forget to include a budgeted amount and ideas of each person.  

*  Write a grocery shopping list before you go shopping.  Write how many of each item in needed and in order of where it is in the store.

*  Cook a double amount of food for dinner and freeze the leftovers.  This saves on power usage and gives you a spare meal in the freezer for busy days.  Save even more if you eat too much takeaway.


Laundry powder   

Lunchbox chocolate chip chocolate muffins   

Dried seasoned bread crumbs

Do you have a money saving tip that takes just 10 minutes ?

Saturday 26 November 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 26th November 2022

 Thankyou for being patient while I took some time off from blog writing.  I've spent lots of time in the garden when the weather allowed.  In between  almost constant rain here in Melbourne,  I've managed to pull out hundreds,  if not thousands of weeds that seem to pop up when I'm not looking.

Our Summer veggie garden was planted late September but with cooler temperatures and little sun,  it has really struggled.  I will need to replant many seeds.

Darren and I enjoyed a 10 day holiday to Queensland early this month.  We stayed in Mooloolaba,  Townsville and Magnetic Island.  Jessica and her boyfriend came up to Townsville for a holiday with us. The sun was out,  the temperature was warm and we managed to get a bit of color in our skin.  The day we left Townsville the temperature there was 30 degrees.  We came home to wet Melbourne with a top temperature that day of 14 degrees.  Such a contrast.

Here are some of the frugal things we've done over the last couple of months -

*  Collected 3 - 4 eggs each week from our laying chicken.

*  Repaired our air fryer.  The is a nut that loosens on a fan blades every few months or so.

*  Cleaned our ovens with kitchen detergent,  magic erasers and water.  I soaked the racks in the laundry sink with laundry powder and hot water.  With a little bit of scrubbing everything came up sparkling.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Gratefully received the gift of a Bolar blade roast from a friend.  I'm planning on cooking it in the slow cooker as a roast meal.  Any leftovers will be made into a big pot of Massaman beef curry.

*  Picked oranges,  mandarins and lemons from Megan's trees.

*  Portioned an opened jar of tomato paste into ice cube trays and froze for future use.

*  Replanted volunteer flower seedlings into empty spaces in our flower beds.

*  Gratefully received the gift of flower and veggie seeds from a blog reader.

*  We went to the Melbourne Show with our family back in September.  I had my eye on a few show bags with home and grocery items in them.  A few hours later they were heavily discounted ( last day of the show ) so I bought a few of them.

*  Cut open and scraped out a large hair conditioner bottle.

*  Cut up a few pairs of old socks to use as garden ties.

*  Took some cuttings and dug up a couple of volunteer seedlings from Mum and Dad's garden and transplanted them into our garden.

*  Fed weeds,  bread crusts,  snails,  grass clippings and veggie garden waste to our chickens.

*  Made a bulk batch of chocolate brownies for the freezer.

*  Made 11 jars of apricot jam using fruit from our tree that I froze back in January.

*  Baked wholemeal bread with extra goodness every 2 weeks.

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

*  Shopped the Black Friday sales to get the last of the Christmas presents on my list.

*  Did not purchase one single Christmas decoration,  wrapping paper,  seasonal d├ęcor or other paper products.  This is the first year I haven't needed or wanted anything new so it's kind of a big deal in our home.  Usually I shop the sales,  clearance racks and op shops to get the bargains,  but I was determined to keep my money in my purse.

*  Picked lettuce and silverbeet from the garden.

*  Baked whole orange cakes using gifted oranges and eggs from our chickens.  I doubled the recipe and baked them in different sizes for snacks,  morning tea and for when I need to bring a plate somewhere.  Some cakes were kept fresh and the rest went into the freezer.

*  Cooked chicken curry,  spag bol and Massaman beef curry in bulk and froze into single and double serves.

*  Made a bulk batch of cookie / biscuit dough for the freezer.       


Chocolate brownies

Wholemeal bread with extra goodness

Whole orange cake

Spaghetti bolognaise

Our view on Magnetic Island

Our view from the pool

On our rooftop terrace

Mooloolaba.  The beach is just 200 metres away

On Magnetic Island

Trying out the electric scooters

Jessica and I

How have you saved money recently ?

Thursday 29 September 2022

Spring Cleaning Reading

 Just thought I'd pop in to say hello.   I'm posting  a few links below to articles I wrote that might be of help if you are Spring cleaning.

Dusting - 3 Ways

10 Ways To Use White Vinegar

Making Your Own Air Freshener

Kitchen Cloths For Free

Cleaning On A Budget

Saturday 24 September 2022

You'll Find Me In The Garden

Hi everyone.  Just letting you know I'll be taking a short break from blogging.  I'm behind in my Spring planting and need to get out into the veggie garden.  

Since my Dad passed away in April both Darren and I have been helping Mum keep her garden in order. The garden was generally Dad's domain so we've been transforming the garden with new flowers and plants to bring joy to Mum.  We've battled cold and very wet weather since April as well as working long hours at our day jobs and transforming our OWN front garden.  

Now that Spring is really here ( weather wise ) I'll be spending my free time planting seeds and doing some maintenance.  

Thankyou for understanding and I hope to just post a few photos from the garden over the coming weeks.  
Please feel free to read some of my older blog posts.  You'll find them in the heading section near the top of my blog.  There are over 900 posts I've written since 2014.

Saturday 17 September 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 17th September 2022

 This week Darren and I enjoyed a trip to Gardenworld with my Mum.  We had lots of fun admiring ( and buying ) the wide variety of shrubs and Spring flower seedlings. We planted some of them for Mum in her garden,  then later that day I planted our own purchases.  

Slowly we are filling in the gaps in our front garden from when we did a makeover during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.  Back then we had to make do with plants we already had and took cuttings as well as digging up volunteer seedlings and replanting in gaps.  It sure is a delight to buy new varieties.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Filled up both our cars when petrol was cheap and used a discount fuel docket.  I think we paid just under $1.50 a litre.

*  I've been busy booking accommodation for a holiday later this year ( from a cancelled one last year ).  I found it cheaper to ring the accommodation instead of booking through the online websites.  

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Fed dinner plate scraps,  weeds,  crusts and new spring grass to the chickens.

*  Filled in a spot in our garden with volunteer forget me not seedlings.

*  Made up a jar of gravy powder mix using ingredients I had on hand in the pantry.

*  Baked a double batch of chocolate brownies from scratch.  Some was divided into a container for the pantry and the rest was frozen.  If I need to take a plate to a function then I can just pull out what I need.  Chocolate brownies defrost really well and taste like they are fresh out of the oven.

*  Printed off a photo and put it in a beautiful timber frame I found at an op shop.  This was given with a forget me not seedling from our garden as a birthday gift.

*  Used our thermos every morning to store extra boiled water from the kettle.

*  Gathered the freshest flowers from 2 bouquets we've had in our home for the last 2 weeks to make another fresh bouquet.  I'm also changing the water every day and have trimmed the stems.

*  Filled all the herb and spice jars using bulk packets I've bought from Hindustan Imports.

*  Gratefully received some flower and veggie seeds in the mail from a blog reader.  

*  Saved all leftover water from drink bottles and glasses of water.  All is used to water pot plants and seedlings.

*  Added the crumbs from a weet bix packet to the jar of dried seasoned bread crumbs ( homemade )


Chocolate brownies

Gravy Powder

Wholemeal bread with extra goodness

Dried seasoned bread crumbs

Saved flowers from 2 bouquets

Adding weet bix crumbs to bread crumbs

Making gravy powder.

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Can You Spare 5 Minutes To Save Money ?

 I have another 20 quick and easy money saving tips to add to last week's 20 I shared.  If you can spare 5 minutes you'll be able to fit in one of these really simple tasks and save some money along the way.  Maybe make it a goal to do one each day.

Can you spare 5 minutes to -

*  make a bottle of Miracle Spray.

*  put a bucket in the shower to save the warm up water.

*  cut up an empty cereal packet to use as go between for meat,  muffins and crumpets for freezing.

*  save and reuse your bread bags around the home instead of using bin liners and plastic wrap.

*  close your curtains on a cold day / hot day to help with temperature control.

*   put a chicken carcass in the slow cooker with water and herbs to make chicken stock,  then soup.

*  write a menu plan for the week using what you have on hand.

*  hang washing on a clothes horse instead of using the dryer.

*  cut up old holey socks for garden ties or use whole as dusters.

*  transfer old towels,  hand towels and face washers to the kitchen or laundry for further use.

*  make up your own herb blends ( taco,  Italian etc ) in bulk then store in a container.

*  make up an extra batch of biscuit dough to freeze for further baking.

*  take cuttings of plants in your garden to eventually fill in gaps or give as presents.

*  plant a few veggie seeds in your garden or a plant pot.

*  dig around in the garden looking for volunteer seedlings.  When found, dig up and plant to fill a gap.

*  grate a 1 kilo block of cheese yourself.  Add corn flour,  shake and freeze excess.

*  spray paint and old item to give it a new look.  Vases,  frames,  jars and jugs are quick to do.

*  portion out bulk buys of meat before freezing.

*  put shopping bags in the car for the next grocery run.  No need to buy bags ever.

*  juice and freeze those lemons you grow or were given.

Making the most of lemons.

Cut up cereal packets

Freezing biscuit dough

What's old.......

is new again.

Can you think of anything that takes just 5 minutes and saves money ?

Thursday 8 September 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 10th September 2022

 It's been a busy week for both Darren and I with our jobs.  We are grateful for the work and equally grateful for times of rest.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Darren fed the compost bins with our kitchen scraps

*  Made a batch of cranberry hootycreek biscuits.  Darren requested them for a Father's Day treat.  I didn't have many cranberries left so I added some sultanas and cut up dried apricots.  Darren was still pleased with the flavour.  I baked some of the biscuits and the rest of the dough went into the freezer,

*  Used the leftover roast veggies and a little lamb from the Father's Day dinner and turned it into a flan ( impossible pie ).  I'll put a link below for a chicken flan I make that's similar.

*  Cleaned the washing machine by putting it on a long,  hot cycle.  I added Epsom salts to the wash cycle and citric acid to the rinse cycle.  I'd watch a YouTube video where a repairman cleaned a machine using citric acid.  It works for kettles so I thought I'd give it a go.

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Took a couple of lavender cuttings and cuttings from another plant that has silvery green foliage and white flowers.  Hopefully the cuttings will take.

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

*  Sold our excess cat food and accessories on Marketplace.

*  Made a bread pudding in the slow cooker using bread crusts ( saved ends of loaves of bread ),  eggs from our chickens and my jam ( as well as other ingredients ).

*  Used the thermos each day to store excess boiling water.

*  Picked the last of the mandarins from our tree.

*  Bought a tray of strawberries ( 18 punnets x 250 g ) for $10.  So far I've made 11 1/2 jars of strawberry and apple jam.  The rest of the strawberries have been cut up and frozen for future jam making or for desserts.

*  One of my Mum's local fruit and veg shop had trays of 20 avocados for $10.  Darren wouldn't be able to eat that many in a week so another customer said she'd go halves with me.  So I go 10 avocados for $5.  I gave a few to my Mum to enjoy.

*  Collected 4 eggs from our laying chicken.  The other chicken is a freeloader.


Strawberry And Apple Jam     

Chicken Flan

Cranberry Hootycreek Biscuits

Wholemeal Bread With Extra Goodness

My strawberry haul

Cooking strawberries and apples to make jam

Flowers from Luka and Bryson

Cranberry Hootycreek biscuits

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Can You Spare 1 Minute To Save Money ?

When I talk to people about saving money and being thrifty,  the most common reply I get is "  I don't have time to do that ".  Guess what ?  We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  What we choose to do with those 24 hours heavily impacts our lives.

I've chosen to stay off my phone ( it isn't a smart phone ).  I've chosen not to sign up to Instagram and  Twitter.  I've chosen not to check Facebook every five minutes.  Instead I've chosen a purposeful life that allows time for me to do so many money saving tricks every day.  These choices mean I don't have to work full time.  While none of the 20 frugal tips below singlehandedly paid off our mortgage 12 years ago,  they did help stretch our low income and freed up extra money to make extra payments.

Can you spare 1 minute to -

*   stick a sliver of soap to the next bar of soap.

*   turn a near empty bottle of sauce,  shampoo,  shower gel etc etc upside down to get every last drop out.

*   pour leftover water from a drink bottle into a bucket.

*   put a lid on a saucepan when cooking.

*   double wrap meat and meals for freezing to prevent freezer burn   

*   fill a thermos with the remaining boiling water from the kettle.

*   use a bread bag as a bin liner.

*   cut a flower or small green branch from the garden instead of buying flowers.

*   turn off a standby light on an electronic item.

*   buy 2 half price grocery items instead of 1.

*   grab a blanket for your chair or bed instead of turning the heater on or turning it up.

*   turn a light off in a room not being used.

*   save a gift bag and reuse it again.

*  ring family / friends to invite them over for a cuppa instead of going out.

*  pour a glass of water from the tap instead of drinking soft drink,  juice or alcohol.

*  buy a generic grocery item instead of the dearer branded item.

*  pop your leftovers in the freezer instead of letting it be pushed to the back of the fridge and spoiling.

*  choosing to be happy with what you have and not buying the latest ' trend '.

*  weigh / measure out your pasta and rice for each meal instead of always cooking too much.

*  use a squirt of dishwashing liquid in your mop bucket instead of using floor cleaner.     

Blankets for warmth

Freezing leftovers

Buying generic branded food.

Using bread bags as bin liners

What little jobs take you 1 minute and helps save you money ?   

Saturday 3 September 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 3rd September 2022

 Due to Darren and I being out all day yesterday ( Friday ) with our cleaning work and trip to the city,  my list is a  little shorter this week.  I typed up my frugal tasks Thursday night making my week a little shorter.  Still,  we did manage to make the most of what we have here at the Gower Abundant Cottage.

*  Cut up 3 old socks that had holes in the heel.  These will be used as garden ties.

*  Gratefully received some chicken and roast potatoes leftover from a lunch meeting.

*  Gratefully received some card making supplies,  a couple of pillowcases and steel wool pads from a swap table at my card making group.  The pillow case material will be used in a few crafts ( maybe apron pockets ) and the steel wool will be used to clean my oven racks.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Cut more broccoli from our garden.  I've blanched and flash frozen it for future meals.

*  Fed broccoli plants, a lettuce plant,  bread crusts and weeds to the chickens.

*  Made up a bottle of Miracle Spray to sell to a friend.

*  Used a Gold Class movie gift card ( given as a present in 2019 ) to watch a movie in the city for our wedding anniversary on Friday. 

*  Mended my reusable shopping bags.  I bought them about 10 years ago and they are made from a nylon type of material ( like rain parkas ).  They are lightweight and I keep them in my handbag for department store type purchases.  Occasionally the seams start to split so I run the sewing machine over them before the hole gets too big.

*  Oiled our wooden chopping boards with olive oil and a paper towel.  They've come up looking like new.

Darren's flower display on the deck

Plum tree in full bloom

An oiled chicken chopping board.

How did you save money this week ?

Do you have fruit trees in blossom or bearing fruit ?

Wednesday 31 August 2022

5 Tricks To Help Keep Your Oven Clean.

 Cleaning ovens would have to be one of the most dreaded housework jobs for most people.  No one likes the scrubbing or the fumes that comes with harsh chemicals needed to bring a crusty oven back to it's former glory.

I have two ovens that are used on a regular basis for baking bread,  biscuits and cakes as well as cooking casseroles and pasta bakes to name a few.  When my ovens were installed 6 years ago I vowed I'd keep them clean and never use harsh oven cleaners again.

Having new ovens was like I'd been given another chance to look after them.  To this day they still look new and it's because of these 5 tricks I use.

*  Wipe out your oven including the door after every couple of uses ( unless there's a big mess ).  This helps prevent grime build up which can be hard to remove or requires harsh chemicals.  Use a damp microfibre cloth to wipe your oven out.  For slightly tougher marks,  a little detergent on a scourer will do the trick.

*  Use Magic Eraser to remove the little splatter marks.  I've found this works really well when nothing else does.  Try to wipe them off on a regular basis before they are baked on hard.

*  Use the correct sized dish,  pan or tray for cooking and baking to prevent spill overs.  

*  Put a baking tray on the next shelf down from whatever you are baking / cooking to catch any spills if there is liquid involved.  I do this when baking a self saucing pudding.

*  Use a lidded roasting dish or a piece of foil over your roast when cooking.  This will help prevent the fatty splatters that seem to go everywhere.  Use a lidded casserole dish for meals that contain liquid.

I'm not suggesting the use of oven liners at the bottom of the oven.   Some manufacturers do not recommend this in their instruction booklets. 

Have you used any of these tips to help keep your oven clean ?