Saturday 30 April 2022

I'm Taking Time Off And Need Prayer

 Just letting you know I'll be taking time off from blog writing for a little while.

We have a family member seriously ill in hospital and for the last week we've been spending time there.   This family member has been a prayer warrior for thousands of people over a lifetime but now they can't pray for them self.  

If you believe in the power of prayer could I please ask that you pray for them ? If you belong to a prayer chain / group or know of one in your church could you please pray ?  . 

We don't know what the future holds, but we do know that God holds the future.  We are hanging on to that.

Over the next 5 weeks you'll see my Wednesday blog post come up here and on Facebook.  I've been busy writing ahead of time but didn't know why I needed to.  Now I do.


If you already know who is sick could I please ask that you don't put any names here or on Facebook.      My family needs privacy right now.      Thankyou

Wednesday 27 April 2022

23 Cleaning Products We Don't Buy And The Cheap / Free Alternatives

 As you probably know,  I've been a domestic cleaner for over 23 years and cleaning my own home for 26 years.  I've tried just about every product available in that time with varying results.  Sure,  they might work but I'm not impressed with the fumes,  cost and environmental impact.  

If you came to visit my home you'll find it clean at all times.  I don't use anything fancy and in the list below you'll see a reoccurring product or two that I DO use.  It's super cheap too.  Infact,  it costs me 99 cents per bottle and lasts almost 2 years.  Can you guess what it is ?

Here are 23 cleaning items I DO NOT BUY -

Foaming hand wash / liquid hand soap - I use a bar of soap or make foaming hand wash from cheap shower gel / shampoo.

Kitchen sponges - I knit my own or use old face washers.

Fabric softener - I just don't need it.  Vinegar is a cheap alternative.

Dishwasher air fresheners - I clean the dishwasher once a month with bi carb and vinegar and clean the seals and filters with dishwashing liquid

Bin Liners - I use bread bags and shopping bags FREE

Window cleaner - I use a microfibre cloth ( or any cloth ) and water.  If needed,  I use vinegar

Toilet cleaner -  I use diluted dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle and a cloth ( washed afterwards )

Disinfectant wipes - I use disinfectant sprayed on an old cloth / face washer.

Shower cleaner - I use diluted dishwashing liquid and a scourer.  Mould killer is used once every few months.

Air freshener - I use cooled boiled water and lavender water / essential oils in a spray bottle

Toilet bowl fresheners / blocks - I just keep my toilets clean

Floor cleaner - I use a dash of vinegar and dishwashing liquid in hot water.

Clothes washing disinfectant - I just put a squirt of regular disinfectant into the wash if clothes are smelly.

Surface spray - I use diluted dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle.  ALMOST FREE

Stainless steel cleaner / wipes -  I use diluted dishwashing liquid in a bottle and a cloth.  Buff dry

Oven cleaner - I wipe the ovens out on a regular basis with diluted dishwashing liquid.  I also use a little bi carb and vinegar on spills and a magic eraser on the doors.

Kettle de scaler  - I use citric acid and fill the kettle up then boil. ALMOST FREE

Grout brushes - These damage the grouting over time.  I use old toothbrushes FREE

Vanilla fridge spray - I clean the fridge out with soapy water and remove yucky food.  I put lids on all containers with leftovers.

Carpet spot stain remover - I use dishwashing liquid or Miracle Spray on a microfibre cloth

Laundry powder / liquid - I make my own with laundry soap,  bi carb and washing soda

Dishwasher rinse aid. - I just pour white vinegar into the rinse aid dispenser.  It seems to work fine for me and I've been using it for years.

Washing machine cleaner -  I use Epsom salts and run the machine on a long,  hot wash.  This piece of advice was given to my Mum by a washing machine repair man over 40 years ago.  

What cleaning products do you do without ?

Saturday 23 April 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd April 2022

 We had a lovely yet busy Easter at the Gower Abundant Cottage.  The girls ( plus a couple of friends ) and grandbabies came to church with us.  Luka and Bryson enjoyed an Easter egg hunt after church on Sunday.  Bryson wasn't sure what to do but Luka knew all about Easter eggs.

Darren worked most days at the hospital but enjoyed Good Friday morning and Easter Sunday off.  On Saturday I had a lovely craft day with Cath and Hannah from The Cheapskates Club.  We made lots of greeting cards,  talked lots and enjoyed lots of good food and cups of tea. 

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

*  Baked pumpkin scones using cooked pumpkin from the freezer.  These scones were eating for morning / afternoon teas,  taken to the card making day and some were given to Jessica as a homemade treat.

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

*  Luka ( our 3 year old grandson ) and I planted more sprouting potatoes into our veggie garden.

*  Made up a bottle of shower cleaner and bench spray using diluted dishwashing liquid.

*  Picked beans,  pears and raspberries from our garden.

*  Baked choc chip biscuits using dough I'd made a month ago and frozen.

*  Made lots of Christmas cards using recycled old Christmas cards.

*   Gratefully received apples and bay leaves from a cleaning client.  I have the leaves hanging up side down to dry.  I don't think I'll need to buy any for years to come.

*  Picked a bunch of Chrysanthemums from the garden to brighten up the kitchen table at my parent's place.  I also picked a bunch for our kitchen bench.  They look so cherry and sunny.

*  Darren and I made 2 dozen hot cross buns from scratch.  We used the pears I grew and dried as one of the dried fruits in the recipe.  Next year I hope to added apples I've dried myself.  Some of the buns were eaten fresh,  a few given to my parents and the rest went into the freezer.

*  Picked spinach from the garden and added it to the spag bol sauce.  By doing this it gave us 3 serves instead of 2.  Bonus lunch for me.  

*  Darren cleaned out the chicken coop and put the old straw into the compost bin.

Chrysanthemums from our garden 

Homemade hot cross buns.

If anyone is interested,  I'm selling hand knitted dishcloths / face washers.  Below are two of the many colors I have available.  Please check out my Facebook pages for more details.

Did you enjoy your Easter break ?

How have you saved money recently ?

Wednesday 20 April 2022

Reusing Doilies

I must admit,  I'm a fan of doilies and have used them around my home under vases,  lamps and frames for almost 25 years.  With the latest trends being minimalist,  doilies seem to be disappearing from view.  

Here are a few ways you can make the most of doilies in a delightful way - 

*  Doilies make delightful ' hats '  for jars of jam.

*  A doily bunting is a pretty and eco friendly way to decorate a room or table for a party.

*  An old fragile doily can be given a new lease on life mounted in a picture frame.  Make sure the background cardboard / paper has enough color to help the doily stand out.

*  Do you like a display of soap in your bathroom ?  Stand the soap up on end and wrap a doily around the soaps.  Threading ribbon or twine through the doily holes will keep the soaps together.

*  Doilies can be used as the outer layer of a lavender sachet.

*  Made delicate bowls and dishes by mixing PVA glue with a little water.  Turn a glass bowl upside down and rub a little Vaseline or oil over the surface.  Cover the bowl with your chosen doily.  Brush on the glue mixture until completely cover.  Allow a couple of hours to dry then peel the doily off.

Doily bunting for my birthday.

Do you use doilies in your home ?

If so,  how do you use them ?

Wednesday 13 April 2022

How Much Food Did We Grow In 2021 ?

 Over the years we've relied more and more on what our veggie garden can produce to keep food on the table.  Now with rising grocery prices,  it has never been more important to grow as much as we can.

Our veggie garden consists of  2 main beds that measure  1.5m  x  3.0m.  We also have a raised garden bed that a family member no longer wanted.  It measures  0.9m x 2.7m.  Our backyard is not huge by any stretch of the imagination but we do have a small home on a 617m2  block.

We have fruit trees dotted around our backyard that we planted in 2014.  Our raspberry patch grows up the side of a garden shed and our grape vine grows along our fence. 

The costs for maintaining the garden are very minimal.  Most of the seeds bought cost about $2 - $3  each a packet and some will last us more than two years ( or two growing seasons ).  Some packets of seeds are given to us as presents.  My Dad usually gives us tomato plants each Spring and we give him spinach and zucchini seedlings.

We don't buy compost but make our own with all our kitchen and garden scraps.  The compost bins did cost money but they have lasted us many years.  

Garden stakes are bought every 5 years or so and garden ties are made from old cut up socks.  Occasionally we water the plants with Seasol and sprinkle pet friendly snail bait.  Other than that we don't use any pesticide sprays or powders.

Below is a listing or what we grew last year and the yields.  Some items were hard to keep a track of so estimates were used.

Sweet corn - 10 kg

Raspberries - 5.10 kg

Zucchinis - 3 kg ( we planted too late )

Tomatoes - 5.0 kg

Potatoes - 40.80 kg

Bush Beans - 4.7 kg

Lemons - 9.0 kg

Strawberries - 2.50 kg

Grapes - zero.  Too much rain and the birds had a feed while we were away.

Feijoas - 0.50 kg.  We'd pruned the tree the year before so it's still recovering

Pears - 8.0 kg

Mandarins - zero but the trees are young

Plums - 4.70 kg

Apricots 3.0 kg

Cherries - zero.  Too much rain that the fruit split and tiny insects are a problem

Broccoli - 2.50 kg

Lettuce - zero.  I think the seeds are a little old

Silverbeet - 3.50 kg probably more as we picked it all year

Cauliflower - 1.50 kg.  Will not be growing again

Sugar snap peas - 0.90 kg

The total amount of food we grew in 2021 is  104.5 kg.  Putting a monetary value on the food depends on how much it costs in the supermarket.  Prices generally vary from $3 to $9 a kilo with feijoas topping at $30kg and raspberries topping at about $40 a kilo.  So here are a few costings to give you an idea of how much we saved -

$3 per kg  x  104.5kg  =  $313.50 saved

$4 per kg  x  104.5kg  = $418.00  saved

$5 per kg  x  104.5kg  =  $522.50  saved

$6 per kg  x  104.5kg  =  $627.00 saved

$7 per kg  x  104.5kg  =  $731.50  saved

$8 per kg  x  104.5kg  =  $836.00  saved

$9 per kg  x  104.5kg  =  $940.50  saved

Was it worth growing our own ?  You'd better believe it.  Yes we saved money but most importantly we ate fruit and veggies fresher than any supermarket or green grocer can offer us.  They are also chemical free.

Do you keep track of how much you grow ?

Are you inspired to start growing your own ?

                                                         From Our garden

Our 2 veggie garden beds.

Saturday 9 April 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 9th April 2022

 Our free time this week has been spent in the garden just pottering around and enjoying the fresh air.  The weather has been lovely and mild with cool mornings.  We've had our doors wide open to let the fresh air into our home.  No need for artificial air fresheners,  just the great outdoors.

Here's what we got up to when we were not busy with work -

*  Planted broccoli seeds and seedlings.

*  Planted a few sprouting potatoes from our pantry into the veggie garden.

*  Picked pears and beans from the garden.

*  Made chunky chicken and veggie soup.  I used stock I'd made and frozen last year and zucchini and potatoes from our garden.  There were other veggies added too.  The soup was enough for 2 dinners for 2 people and a lunch for 1.

*  Used a few leftover Christmas candy canes to make minty Easter chocolates.  Our grandson Luka had fun helping with the eating and sprinkling of the chopped candy canes.

*  Dried another batch of pears from our garden in the dehydrator.

*  Dried the washing on clothes horses outside.  The sky looked like there was rain coming so clothes horses were the best bet.

*  Saved washing machine water,  rinse water and drink bottle water to reuse around our home.

*  We bought potatoes for the first time in 10 months ( we've been growing our own ).  We picked up 2 x 2.25kg bags of potatoes one was reduced to $3.60 ( from memory ) and the other was $1.60.  The $1.60 bag went through the register as $7 so we got it for free.

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

Dehydrating more pears

A few Easter decorations

Our Easter tree

Drying the washing

                 More photos from the Melbourne Flower Show

Have you enjoyed the great outdoors this week ?

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday 6 April 2022

10 Ways To Offset Rising Grocery Prices - Part 3

 There are so many ways to cut the cost of your grocery bill.  I ABSOLUTELY use all these tips I've been sharing over the last few weeks.  Yes our grocery bill ( including toiletries and basic cleaning ingredients ) is still $100 a month for 2 adults and a cat even with rising prices.  We've had to cut our shopping list to the bare basics but we still eat and the food is tasty and filling

Here are another 10 tips to help you save money -

*  I buy dried herbs,  spices,  nuts,  grains,  seeds,  wholemeal flour,  yeast,  corn flour,  icing sugar,  cocoa powder and dried fruit from an Indian wholesaler. They are FAR,  FAR cheaper than any supermarket.  If you live in metro Melbourne then Hindustan Imports is your place to shop.  You can shop online and get free delivery if you spend over $90 ( which is easy to do with such a great variety available  ).   Hindustan Imports offers a variety of packet sizes to suit your budget and usage.   

*  We don't waste anything.  We scrape out jars,  add a little water to get every last drop out and turn bottles up side down.   When I'm baking I scrap out the mixing bowl with a silicon spatula. 

*  We portion control our meals.  Just because there are leftovers in the pot doesn't mean we have to finish it.  Leftovers are put into containers then into the fridge.  Potato chips,  chocolate,  biscuits and other snacks are portioned onto a small plate and the remaining in the packet is put way.  We don't mindlessly eat straight from a packet.

*  I bake as much as I can from scratch and freeze excess.  This includes pita chips ( instead of buying dry biscuits ),  muffins,  sweet biscuits,  cakes,  slices, and scones.  There are very few biscuits I buy that I can't bake.  We don't like store bought cakes and other bakery items and never buy a packet mix.  Sorry,  but we don't like their artificial taste and they cost too much.  A packet mix takes just as much time to mix and bake as it does from scratch.

*  We buy the largest packet,  bottle,  tube or tin of anything providing it works out cheaper.  This includes toiletries,  disinfectant,  flour,  sugar,  bags of fruit,  sauces and meats.

*  We eat homemade soup for dinner ( sometimes twice a week in cooler weather ).  My soup is chunky,  tasty,  filling and SUPER CHEAP at approximately 20 cents a serve.  Here's the recipe to the one we eat the most  Chunky chicken and veggie soup   

*  I don't buy cleaning products ( or at least rarely bought once every few years ).  I use diluted dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle to clean just about everything around our home.  I do use disinfectant when I've cut up raw meat.  I only use bleach in the shower once every few months and cream cleanser when the dish liquid doesn't work on stains.  I've been a domestic cleaner ( as a paid job ) for 24 years and have used just about every product on the supermarket shelf.  They cost too much,  they smell too much and dishwashing liquid does the same job.   Even a bar of soap will clean your home.  Please don't be fooled by the ads on tv.

*  I use containers instead of cling wrap,  plastic bags and foil for lunches,  leftovers,  snacks and freezing.

*  I use unit pricing to get the best deal on everything.

*  I buy 1 kilo blocks of generic brand tasty cheese instead of slices,  grated or sticks.  I grate the cheese myself and freeze most of it to use later and to prevent spoilage.  By adding a little corn flour to the grated cheese,  it doesn't stick together.

Growing our own

Baking from scratch

Homemade soup for dinner.  20 cents a serve.

How many of these tips do you use to save money on your groceries ?

Saturday 2 April 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 2nd April 2022

 We have had another busy week at the Gower Abundant Cottage.  Darren continues to get plenty of work with his new job.  It seems the more he works,  the more shifts he gets offered.  He also started a new job at our church as Pastoral Care Director.  He's so excited with this new role and looks forward to helping care for the needs of others.  Darren also continue to help with most of my cleaning jobs.  God is good and we are blessed to have all this work.

We took a much deserved day off on Thursday to attend the Melbourne Flower Show.  We enjoyed a beautiful Autumn day with a light breeze as we viewed all the displays and stalls.  There seemed to be a big focus of native plants ( not my cup of tea ) this year and a florist friend revealed that there is a rose shortage in Australia.  I did wonder why the displays indoors were not as spectacular as usual.  Still,  it was wonderful to have a day out.  I did take lots of photos and I'll share a few below.

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

*  Made a quadruple batch of choc chip biscuit dough.  I baked 2 trays of biscuits and the rest of the dough went into the freezer.

*  Gave Megan a haircut,  then Luka ' helped ' bake bread with me.

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Gratefully received a bunch of parsley from my Dad's garden.  I used my dehydrator to dry it.

*  Refilled all the foaming soap hand pumps around our home with diluted shower gel.

*  I made 2 hand towels from an old towel.  It was looking a little dirty in the middle of the towel and I couldn't shift the dirt no matter what I sprayed on it.  So I cut off each end of the towel and sewed new hems to make hand towels.

*  Darren picked another bunch of hot pink roses from our garden.

*  Made 1 kilo of brown sugar using white sugar and molasses.

*  Saved the shower warm up water,  kitchen water,  washing machine rinse water and water from drink bottles.  All was reused to water plants and pour into the washing machine.

*  Reused old bread bags to line bathroom bins and double wrap food to go into the freezer.

*  Planted broccoli seedlings and seeds into one of our veggie garden beds.

*  Dehydrated lots of pears from our tree.  Some of these dried pears will be used in the hot cross buns we will be making shortly.  We are not fans of mixed peel and sultana hot cross buns.  Instead we use dried apricots,  cranberries,  pears,  peaches and a few sultanas.

Parsley from Dad

Making hand towels

My dehydrator

Drying pears

Lots of biscuit dough

Making brown sugar

                    Photos from the Melbourne Flower Show

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