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 ?

Saturday 27 August 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 27th August 2022

 In our part of the world it has rained just about every day and sometimes many times during the day ( and night ) for many weeks,  if not months.  My trips out to the chicken coop and garden are done with extra caution as the ground under foot is very wet and squishy.  Thankfully we live on the high side of the street and almost at the top of a small hill so the water has a chance to drain away somewhat.

With all this rain I've concentrated on indoor jobs to keep me busy ( when I'm not out at my cleaning jobs ).  I've been decluttering the contents of boxes we once stored in our roof.   I came across my old high school uniform,  student diaries,  Year 12 assignments and many childhood knick knacks.  Such fun to see them again,  but time to let most of them go.

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

*  Picked another few heads of broccoli from the garden.  I've also blanched and frozen them for future meals.

*  Made shepherd's pie in bulk and froze 7 serves.  It was bulked out with TVP and lots of veggies.

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I also baked 2 bread sticks to have with our dinners occasionally.

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

*  Fed the compost bin with kitchen scraps every couple of days.  I've been ripping up any odd bits of paper I find and adding it to the compost bin as well.

*  Fed crusts,  scraps from dinner plates,  weeds and grass to our chickens.

*  Dried most of the washing on clothes horses over our ducted heating vents.

*  Our 6 year old Dyson vacuum cleaner died last week.  We were able to sell the two vacuum heads to a cleaning client who needed them on their vacuum.  I'm thinking of putting the rest of the vacuum up for sale as parts.  Thankfully we have a handheld cordless vacuum as a back up while we research buying another one.

*  Kept unused bedroom and bathroom doors and their ducted heating vents closed.

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

*  Only turned the dishwasher on when it was super full.  This worked out to every 1 1/2 days.

*  Charged everything we could during daylight hours or on the weekend to make the most of the solar panels and cheaper electricity rates.

*  Stuck to our 2 light rule.  Many times we only had one light on.


From our garden

Drying clothes for free

As some of you might have read on Facebook,  this week we said goodbye to our much loved cat Princess.  She came to us as a stray kitten struggling to climb up our front steps 12 1/2 years ago.  She gave us much joy,  laughs and love.  My garden companion and night time leg warmer. 

What was on your thrifty list this week ?

Saturday 20 August 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th August 2022

It was wonderful to get out in the garden a couple of times this week.  Thankfully the sun was shining during these times although it was windy.  Spring is just around the corner and I can almost taste the tomatoes we'll be growing.

Here's how we saved money this week - 

*  Darren and Luka dug up 1.5 kilos of potatoes from our garden.  Luka was thrilled to be outside with his Poppy digging in the dirt and watching the worms wriggle away.

*  Filled up the thermos each morning with boiled water from the kettle.  We fill the kettle to the full mark,  boil then make our breakfast cuppas.  The rest of the water goes straight into the thermos.

*  A family member helped us out with some computer work.  As a thankyou I was able to give him a gift bag of homemade / handmade goodies ( jam,  dish cloth etc ).

*  Filled up the foaming hand wash pumps with diluted shower gel.

*  Picked another 3 heads of broccoli and a few florets from our garden.

*  Collected 4 eggs from our chicken.

*  Found a cheese board with cutting wire from the op shop for $3.20.  This will be used to cut soap accurately

*  Made a double meal of tuna pasta bake and got more serves than what I usually do.  Normally I get 4 - 5 serves from a single meal so a double would give me 8 - 10.  This time I got 12 and a tiny lunch serve.  I did add a couple of large grated carrots and shredded spinach from our garden.  Combining that with portion control must have given me more.  I was a bit like Jesus feeding the loaves and fishes to the thousands.  I did cook 2 serves for dinner that night and the rest went into the freezer

*  I did my monthly shop this week and used the 10% off offer and $20 I had on the Everyday Rewards card at Woolworths.  This effectively gave me a leg of lamb for about $10 ( bought ahead for Father's Day ).

*  Gratefully received lemons and some vegetables from a couple of people.

*  Darren filled up our cars with petrol at $1.48 a litre using a couple of apps to get this great price.

*  Charged up electronics,  a shaver and handheld vacuum on the weekend when the sun was shining to make the most of cheaper electricity and the solar panels.  

*  Darren planted quite a few sprouting potatoes in the garden.


Tuna Pasta Bake

Growing Potatoes For Free

Gifted lemons

Cheese cutting board for cutting soap

Father's Day treat 

Sprouting potatoes ready to plant.

How did you save money this week ?

Saturday 13 August 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th August 2022

 This week's frugal list is a little on the smaller side due to illness.  I've had the chills and a sore throat since Wednesday and Darren has been unwell too.  Hopefully by the time you read this on Saturday we'll be feeling a little better.

I guess the size of the list doesn't really matter does it ?  We've stayed away from the shops as much as possible and only spent money when needed.  Sometimes it's not necessarily the bargains you get,  but the money you don't spend that counts.

Darren continues to earn really good money at his new job but our spending hasn't changed much.  No job seems to be secure these days so we are saving as much as possible.  That rainy day might just be around the corner.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Darren fed our compost bins with kitchen scraps and garden clippings.

*  I picked 6 heads of broccoli from our garden.  The total weight was 1.5 kilos and will eaten with many meals.  I've blanched and flash frozen the broccoli florets and then placed them in snap lock bags.  The stalks were finely diced and frozen too.

*  Finished a few of upcycling projects.  One is a jug my Mum gave me.  It was brown and white and I've sprayed it white.  I spray painted a dull silver picture frame white.  It now looks fresh.  The last project is a timber tea bag caddy.  I've also spray painted it white ( I'll post a photo of this one next week ).

*  I've placed the two batches of soap on the new ( from the op shop ) metal shelf I purchased last week.  I used an old thin plastic cutting mat  to line the shelves.  Now the soap can cure without being knocked over.

*  I made a pot of chunky chicken and veg soup,  two bread sticks and ANZAC biscuits to take over to Jessica's place for dinner.  Jessica has just come back from a 6 week trip to Europe and was desperately needing some wholesome food.  I was going to get bread sticks at the supermarket but to be honest,  I couldn't be bothered.

*  Picked a few lemons and mandarins from our trees.

*  Fed bread crusts,  broccoli leaves,  grass and weeds to the chickens.

*  Made a chop suey meal and added TVP to the 250g of mince ( that I usually use )..  This meal normally gives me 4 or 5 serves.  This time I got 6 main meal serves and 2 lunch serves.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water like I usually do.

*  Picked 5 large spinach leaves for the garden to add to the chop suey meal.

*  Kept the curtains mostly closed ( except for a few inches ) on the cold,  overcast days. 

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  This is almost the same recipe I used for the bread sticks.  For the bread sticks I didn't add extra goodness and only used plain white flour.


Chop Suey

ANZAC Biscuits

Wholemeal Bread With Extra Goodness.

Chunky Chicken And Veggie Soup

Broccoli from the garden

Diced broccoli stalks.

Homemade bread sticks

Before photo of an upcycling project

The after photo.

Op shop find soap curing rack

Another upcycling project.  It was grey

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


Wednesday 10 August 2022

Flower Show Photos.

 As we come to the end of a long,  cold and very overcast Winter,  many of us are thinking and planning for our Spring gardens.

I \thought I'd post more photos from the Melbourne Flower Show Darren and I attended back in April.  I hope these photos bring you great joy and fill your souls with sunshine.

Saturday 6 August 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th August 2022

 I'm now counting down the days until Spring planting season arrives.  I've already started thinking about what I want to plant,  where to plant and how much to plant.  The goal will be to grow as much as possible and to make sure no square inch of soil is wasted.  

Do you have veggie planting plans ?

Here's what we got up to this week -

*  Fed weeds,  bread crusts,  a few meal leftovers and young blades of grass to the chickens.

*  Dug up about 4 kilos of potatoes in our veggie garden about 1 month earlier than planned.  The plants were hit by frosts 2 weeks ago and wilted terribly.  Although the potatoes were small we are very grateful.

*  Made sausage rolls,  lemon slice and chocolate brownie for a paid catering job.

*  Collected 3 eggs this week from our aging chicken.

*  Gratefully received a few cupcakes and some fruit left over from the catering job I went to.

*  Darren picked a bunch of roses from the garden when he was pruning the rose bushes.  Much better to have them in our home to enjoy than throwing the branches in the bin with the roses still attached.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water.  All this water was poured back into the washing machine for each load.

*  I found a 3 tiered metal  shelf at the local op shop that I can use to cure my handmade soaps.  I've been looking in all the department stores and nothing suited the need I had.  Would you believe the soap fits perfectly on the shelves.  I'll post a photo next week when I 've got it all set up.

*  I made a flan of sorts using leftover roast potatoes,  pumpkin and one slice of silverside from dinner the night before.  I added a few steamed veg,  3 whisked eggs ( with milk and flour added ),  poured it over everything in the baking dish and added a little grated cheese to the top.  Once it was cooked,  Megan and I enjoyed it for dinner and Darren took the rest to work for his dinner the following night.  A simple yet very thrifty and tasty meal.  

*  Gratefully received a box of new glass bottles from my Mum.  They will be perfect for making 50 / 50 cordial later in the year to give as presents.


Lemon Slice
Chocolate Brownies
Chicken Flan        I used silverside and roast veggies as mentioned above.
Sausage Rolls
50 / 50 Fruit Cordial

From the garden

Leftovers from a catering job

Darren picked these for me.

' Leftovers ' flan.

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

Wednesday 3 August 2022

3 Recipes To Stretch Beef Mince A LONG Way.

 Pretty much all meat prices have skyrocketed lately almost making it a luxury item on the menu.  Beef mince has increased from $5 a kilo in 2013 to $13 a kilo in 2022.  Considering beef mince is usually a family staple,  that increase really hits the family food budget hard.

We still eat beef mince but some recipes are now off our menu or rarely eaten.  I do stretch beef mince with TVP ( textured vegetable protein ) to help keep costs down.   We don't notice the ever so slightly different texture and color of TVP but I think the trick is to choose your recipes wisely and add lots of veggies.

Here are the links to 3 main meal recipes that I've successfully used TVP and beef mince in and still feel like we are getting plenty of meat.  Maybe you can try them on your family.  Just don't tell them about the TVP until they have finished eating.

As per usual,  use whatever veggies you have on hand or can afford.

                                                                                    Chop Suey

How do you stretch beef mince in your recipes ?

What is your best beef mince recipe ?