Saturday, 18 November 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th November 2017

My frugal list is very much on the slim side this week.  Both Darren and I have been busy with work and getting ready for our church's community day coming up.  We've packed 200 hampers and sorted out 500+ toys with a team of helpers.  Here's what else we managed to do -

*  Jessica made icy poles with some leftover juice.  She even diluted the juice due to it's strong flavour.

*  Fixed a necklace that was coming apart.

*  Used the trigger nozzle on the hose to water only the base of the veggie plants

*  Picked silverbeet for a meal.

*  Made a tuna pasta bake and froze the leftovers.  Megan also took some to work for lunch.

*  Picked lettuce for two meals when it was hot.  The lettuce grew to just the right size for picking this week.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Collected small pieces of tissue paper that were between each recyclable bag we are using for hampers at church. 

* Darren filled up both our cars just as the price of petrol went up.  He got it for $1.22 per litre while other petrol stations went up to $1.49 per litre.

*  Donated more items to Savers op shop and received a discount stamp.  While I was there I had a quick look around and found a present for Darren.  It looks new too.  I can't say what it is because he reads my blog.

Letting the bread dough rise.

Cos lettuce in the garden.

Raspberries growing each day.

Silverbeet from our garden

Our Christmas tree this year.

Darren picked the " trendy " colors

Did you have a busy week ?  Did you get some frugal tasks completed ?

Thursday, 16 November 2017

A Handmade Christmas

If your Christmas present budget is looking a little on the slim side,  no need to stress.  There are so many presents you can make for just a few dollars that look amazing and will be so well received.  I just love a handmade gift knowing the giver has spent time and effort to make something special.

Here are some ideas using what you might already have on hand.  Click on the purple writing to take you to the instructions / recipe on my blog.

Glass jars / bottles 

*  Fill with hot chocolate drink mix.
*  Make some jam
*  Make relish
*  Fill with homemade biscuits
*  Fill with chocolate truffles
*  Fill with handmade bath bombs
*  Make your own bath salts
*  Sewing kit with pin cushion on top
*  Biscuit mix
*  Iced coffee / chocolate syrup


*  Bbq apron for men
*  Kitchen apron for females ( or vice versa )
*  Child's handbag
*  Coin purse
*  Diary cover
*  A patchwork throw
*  A cushion
*  Coasters
*  Heat pack
*  Bow tie
*  Head band
*  Glasses case
*  Pot holder
*  Dress up skirt or veil
*  Nappy bag
*  Toy bag
*  Door stop
*  Door snake
*  Hankies

Timber off cuts

*  Make a timber planter
*  Make a spice rack
*  Chopping board
*  Tic Tac Toe game
*  Timber block calendar
*  Soap dish
*  Coasters
*  Bird feeder
*  Children's building blocks
*  House plaque

Plastic containers

*  First aid kit
Fruit crumble topping mix
*  White sauce bulk mix
*  Fill with biscuits 

Paper / Cardboard

Gift tags
Greeting cards
*  Bookmarks
*  Cover a diary or notebook
*  Lolly bags
*  Gift boxes


*  Air freshener
*  Handmade soaps.

Handmade gifts can look really elegant if some time and effort is put into the wrapping and presentation.  Dig into your ribbon bag and start using up those scraps.  Maybe you could make over a department store bag and decorate it with a strip of wrapping paper.  Add a handmade gift tag and write " made with love "  Include some instructions for the present if needed.

Cellophane bags can be used to wrap your present.  They can be bought from discount shops for about $2 for 50.  They come in a range of sizes.  These are wonderful for biscuits,  pita chips and greeting cards.  Add a ribbon bow 

Here is another article I wrote a few years ago about creating your own mini economy.  It's a great way to keep some of your money in your home.

Handmade soaps.
Peanut butter choc chip biscuits

Lemon butter

Air freshener

ANZAC biscuits

Bath bombs

Tote bag

Assorted jams and relish

What will you be making this Christmas ?

Saturday, 11 November 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 11th November 2017

So many frugal tasks have become a way of life for us.  We don't think twice about recycling everything  we can.  We don't think twice about making our own.  It's not always about the dollars saved.  Often we can make items better than what we can buy at the shops.  Most often,  making our own is better for our health.  Here's what we got up to this week -

*  Sold three dozen eggs.

*  Refilled all the foaming hand wash pumps with diluted shower gel.

*  Bought a pair of jeans and a new cardigan from the Savers 50% off sale on Monday for a total of $8.  The cardi was worth $30 ( it still had the price tag on ).

*  Darren converted more Flybuys points into another $10 on our card.  We are saving the money to buy groceries on holidays.

*  Stuck to the two light rule as much as possible.  There were times when we had one light or no lights on ( in front of the tv ).

*  Sold lots of muffins and a jar of jam to a cleaning client

*  Lined the bathroom bins with recycled bread bags.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and the shower warm up water.  Some was poured back into the machine and the rest was put on the garden.

*  Picked lettuce from our garden for dinner one night.

*  Made a Santa sack for Jessica's boyfriend out of Christmas material I already had on hand.

*  Fed a silverbeet plant to the chickens.  It had started going to seed.

*  Put pumps back on my shampoo and conditioner. I've been buying shampoo without silicon and other nasties but I could only find it in small bottles that the pumps don't fit on.  Now this " healthier ' type of shampoo is available in other brands with bigger bottles that fit the pumps I have.  BONUS  !!

A grazing board Darren and I had for dinner on Tuesday

Bread bag bin liners

Home grown lettuce

Home grown eggs

Roses from the garden

Muffins to sell.

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Filling A Christmas Stocking

Everyone in our family loves to open their Christmas stocking on Christmas morning.  It's been a tradition for our girls since they were early primary school age.  In recent years I thought I'd fill one for Darren and I and it was such a success we continued the tradition.  Darren didn't want to miss out on all the fun.

Filling a stocking doesn't have to cost a small fortune.  If you buy what retailers call a " stocking filler " then you could be spending thousands.  Really,  an ipad or aftershave hardly qualifies as a stocking filler unless you are the rich or famous.

Depending on our budget for the year,  our stocking goodies cost between $30 - $50 for each stocking.  If our budget is $30 then we use smaller stockings so they still look full.  We don't fill them with rubbish and try to put some useful things in as well as novelty.  I shop all year round to get some things on clearance and wait until the supermarkets have their toiletries on half price sales.  $2 shops and discount stores sell an array of goodies suitable for filling the stocking.

Here are some ideas for filling your Christmas stockings -

Something to wear

*  Socks - plain or character
*  Tshirt ( they are so cheap now )
*  Thongs footwear
*  Hat - cap,  beanie or sun visor
*  Scarves - Winter / Football / Spring type
*  Necklace
*  Men's neck tie
*  Hankies
*  Apron - kitchen or bbq
*  Bangles / bracelets

Something to eat

*  Lollies
*  Chocolate
*  Favourite breakfast cereal.  Maybe treat them to a sugary one
*  Nuts
*  Chips
*  Biscuits - sweet or savoury.  Store bought or homemade
*  Icecream topping
*  Marinades,  bbq type sauces
*  Chocolate share bag
*  Lolly stocking


*  Shower gel
*  Razors
*  Fancy soaps
*  Shower puffs / scrubby
*  Makeup
*  Makeup remover wipes
*  Bubble bath
*  Bath bombs
*  Tissues in little packets
*  Deodorant
*  Mirror - on stand or compact
*  Hair ties - pretty or in school colors
*  Nail files
*  Makeup brushes
*  Toiletry bags
*  Hair brushes or combs
*  Hair clips
*  Hair gel or hair products
*  Fancy shampoo / conditioner
*  Shower cap

Fun stuff

*  Glow sticks
*  Address books or diaries
*  Calendar
*  Dvds
*  Travel mugs
*  Torch - regular size or travel
*  Magazines
*  Ice cube trays - novelty
*  Water bottles
*  Candles
*  Stationery - post it notes,  sticky tape and scissors ( if they pinch yours )
*  Lego - small box
*  Purse / Wallet
*  Key chains
*  Coffee cup
*  Phone charger / cord
*  Ear phones / head phones
*  Board games - full sized or travel
*  Slinkies
*  Cookie cutters
*  Garden hand tools
*  Veggie seeds
*  Craft items - for young and old
*  Bubbles
*  Tennis balls
*  Golf balls
*  Deck of cards

What do you like to put in your Christmas stockings ?  

Have you found something that worked really well ?     

Saturday, 4 November 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 4th November 2017

This week has been a mixed bag of work,  keeping up with the housework,  Christmas present sorting ( and budget reviewing ) and moving food between our fridge and freezers ( see further down my list ).  Here's what else I got up to -

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness

*  Cleaned the dishwasher with bi carb,  vinegar and Miracle Spray

*  Jessica saved money by getting me to do a fancy hairdo for a ball  I'm no hairdresser but I think I did ok.

*  Megan dyed her hair at home and I gave her a haircut.

*  Darren picked a bunch of white roses from our garden to surprise me when I came home from a day of Christmas shopping.

*  Saved the shower warm up water.  Saved the washing machine rinse water for each next load.  Saved the drink bottle water in an icecream container and used it to rinse or soak dishes.

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes most nights.

*  Dried most of the washing on clothes horses   With the temperatures dropping to almost Winter temperatures,  some things had to be put in the dryer.  Heavy,  bulky items were hung on coat hanger and hung in the shower.  We have a ducted heating vent in both bathrooms so the doors get closed and the clothes dry within 24 hours.

*  Started saving old socks to cut up as garden ties.  We had to throw out our older stockpile when we found mice in my shed a few months ago

*  Unfortunately I had to throw out some food when our almost new fridge / freezer started playing up.  I did limit the damage by moving some food to our other two freezers.

*  Only bought milk this week.  We've been eating veggies from the freezer over the last few days. We lost most of our fresh fruit and veg with the fridge playing up so I'll do a top up next week.

*  Darren bought replacement ink cartridges for our laser printer.  Although they were expensive,  he did get a good deal saving over $50 per cartridge.

*  Kept the heater off most of the week which has been a challenge with the temperature drop.

*  Jessica saved $20 by handing over a newly signed up loyalty card when purchasing Darren's and my Christmas present.

Made pita chips for snacks.  We had to make room in the freezer with all the food shuffling so the pita bread had to come out and be used.

A lovely surprise from Jessica

Princess will sit anywhere

Jessica's hairdo for the Uni ball

Back view of Jessica's hair
Jessica and her boyfriend Eugene 

Some of my favourite books.

How did you save money this week ?

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Charity Giving At Christmas

Due to an extremely busy week and my new fridge / freezer having major problems  (as of two days ago)  I've been unable to write a new post for today.  I do sincerely apologise and hope to have more time next week.

Here is a timely post I wrote last year and have shared with the Cheapskates Club for the last 4 - 5 years.  I hope you are inspired to help others have a great Christmas.

Many charities find it very hard to meet the needs of struggling people across the globe. Government funding can be scarce and many charities rely on the goodwill on companies and the everyday person like you and I.  Please take the time to read this post and help where you feel you can.

It's just over seven weeks to Christmas YAY !!! I love Christmas because it's the time of the year we celebrate the birth of Jesus - the greatest gift ever given. I also love to give to others especially those in need.

As you start to think about Christmas presents and food for your own celebrations, please take the time to plan how you'll help others. Here are some ideas that won't blow out your family budget -

* Clean out your pantry and donate excess tinned and dried foods to charities, churches and schools that are collecting.

* Each time you do your grocery shop add a couple of tins of spaghetti, baked beans, tinned fruit and vegetables. You could do this every time you are tempted buy a bottle of soft drink or a packet of chips as a part of your usual shop.

* Next time you feel like takeaway, put the money towards buying food for charity.

* Start looking for specials on boxed cereal, porridge, tinned hams and toiletries to donate.

*  Get together with a few friends,  pick a charity and plan to bless those in need.

*  Feel like a cuppa at the shops ?  Instead,  use your coffee money to buy a jar of pasta sauce and a couple of packets of pasta.

*  Buy a couple of toys for charity when you are Christmas shopping for your own family.  Charities are in real need of presents for children over the age of 10.  A tote bag,  skate board,  basket ball or Nerf gun make fabulous presents that won't break the family budget.

*  Ask your children to buy a present from their pocket money.  This is a great opportunity to teach them about budgeting and giving to others. 

With a little bit of planning ahead of time you'll be able to bless many in need.

Who's up for the challenge to start now ?
Have you already put items aside for charity ?

Saturday, 28 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 28th October 2017

This week I've spent time getting some Christmas shopping done.  I've almost finished with just 3 presents left to buy and the Christmas stocking to fill ( I've made a start on them too ). There's what else I've been up to -

*  Gratefully received a bag of home grown oranges and a few branches of bay leaves.  These came from a customer at the CafĂ© Darren works at.

*  Ate straight out of the freezer most nights.  I'm gradually making room for the legs of lamb coming on sale.  The bonus is we didn't spend any money to eat each night other than the usual grocery budget.

*  Saved the shower warm up water to use on the fruit trees.  On the days it rain the shower water was poured into the washing machine.

*  Gratefully received two fuel dockets in the mail from blog reader Tania.  Thankyou so much for the blessing.

*  Planted more beans seeds in the veggie garden.

*  Fed lots of grass and clover to the chickens.  They absolutely love it.

*  Dried all the washing on clothes horses and the line.

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes most nights instead of using the dish washer.

*  Refilled the dish washing liquid bottle and diluted it by about 30 - 40 %

*  Sold a few craft items.

*  Sold three dozen eggs.

*  Gratefully received two bags of mushrooms from a friend.  We enjoyed some with meatloaf and gravy for dinner one night.

*  Stayed away from the supermarkets and Darren popped in just to get milk.

*  Made lots of raspberry and milk chocolate muffins for snacks. I've frozen most of them for the family to take to work.

Loganberry flowers

Cherries growing

Princess loves to help Darren do a workout

Lift those paws Princess.

On top of the compost bin waiting for the birdies to fly over.

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Thursday, 26 October 2017

5 Cleaning Products You Don't Need

The cleaning aisles in the supermarket are full of brightly colored bottles designed to grab your attention.  Have you ever wondered if there was a cheaper,  safer way to keep your home clean ?  Here are five cleaning products you can do without. After all,  our parents and grandparents probably didn't use them.

Toilet disinfectant wipes.  A chux cloth,  rag or toilet paper sprayed with a little Miracle Spray will do the same job.  Soak it in a bucket then wash it in the machine with other cloths / towels.  Beware,  toilet wipes cannot be flushed down the toilet.  Yes,  they do clog the sewer pipes.

Dishwasher tablets.  For decades people used powder in their dishwashers and it worked just fine.  The tablets were invented and suddenly it's the only product to use.  I use Coles no name powder which costs about $2 per 1 kilo box.  I only need two level teaspoons to clean my dishes.  Because I use so little powder,  I can get over 60 washes for $2.  We load our dishwasher as soon as dinner is over. Boil lines on saucepans are lightly scoured,  plates are scraped and the dishwasher is turned on before the food dries on the plates.  Yes we do have tablets in our home but they are saved for special occasions when we are really short on time.  The bonus of using powder is you can put the dishwasher on a quick wash saving electricity and water.  The tablets need the longest,  hottest cycle for all of the tablet to dissolve.

Hard floor / tile cleaners.  Generally they leave a film on your floors so they don't look as clean as they should.  Avoid the harsh smelling chemicals and use a dash of dish washing liquid with a good squirt of white vinegar in a bucket of boiling or very hot water.  Make sure you wring out your mop as much as possible to avoid water marks.  I've used this combination on all sorts of hard floor surfaces with great success.

Air fresheners.  I'm sure you are not keen on spraying the fragrant chemicals in your home.  Sometimes there is a  need for an air freshener especially when you've had a smoker in your home,  visitors are coming  or sickness arrives.  Save the Glen 20 for the sickness and make your own air freshener for the other needs.  Just add a few drops of essential oil and cooled boiled water to a small spray bottle and shake.  I like to use water soluble lavender oil for my air freshener.

Stainless steel cleaner / wipes.  I've tried using these a few times and I'm not convinced they are the only product to use.  I've found water and a clean microfibre cloth will do the job especially if you dry the appliance off with a dry cloth or paper towel  Potato water does an amazing job too.  Have a read of this blog post I wrote earlier this year.     .

Dishwasher tablets are costly

Make your own air freshener.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 21st October 2017

Frugal tasks can save a few cents or big dollars.  All are important in the grand scheme of saving money.  Here's how we saved this week -

*  Saved the shower warm up water to use on our veggie seedlings.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Continued to stockpile for the Summer months.  I'm only using my usual grocery money and being really wise about what I buy.  I also have the grocery slush fund as a back up.

*  Ate freezer meals ( leftovers ) two nights.

*  Redecorated 10 department store gift bags using card making scraps I had on hand.

*  Dug out a 4 or 5 litre ice cream container to save the water from our drink bottles.  This will be poured on a fruit tree each day.

*   Wrote a menu plan for the next couple of weeks to use up lots of food from the freezer.  By doing this,  I crossed a few items off my grocery list for the month.

*  Took advantage of Priceline's 50% off hair care sale and stocked up on shampoo and conditioner.

*  Turned the heater off at the wall so it doesn't come on automatically in the morning.  We also kept the heater off most of the time during the day and had the curtains open fully to capture the sunlight ( when it wasn't hot ).

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes most nights.

*  Refilled and diluted the dishwashing liquid bottle.  I still have the pump on it which reduces over use.

*  Lined both bathroom bins with lots of bread bags.

*  Megan found four good quality stylish coats at Savers for well under $50.  Jessica found a denim jacket with a fur collar at another Savers for $3.  She can't wait to go back again to see what she finds.

*  Made 10 jars of plum jam and 8 jars of raspberry jam.  All of the fruit and lemon juice used came from the freezer.  The raspberries came from our garden last Summer.  Some of this jam will  be given as presents.             

Homemade plum jam

Re decorated gift bags

Roast lamb dinner

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

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Leftover Steak Casserole

A couple of weeks ago we had a bbq on the AFL Grand Final day.  Darren went to the butcher to buy a few trays of bbq steaks on sale for $10.99kg.  We don't usually eat steak due to it's price per kilo so this was a lovely treat.  Not everyone had a full steak so there were two left over.  Wanting to stretch the steaks to feed more than two people,  I came up with my own recipe for a steak casserole.

I must say,  this casserole was a hit.  It's tasty,  has lots of veggies and most importantly,  has enough beef for every mouthful.

2 bbq steaks about 400 - 600 grams
2 large carrots - sliced
1 - 1 1/2 cups of beans
1 cup of corn
1 large stick of celery - diced
500 - 700 mls of liquid beef stock or 2 tablespoons of  stock powder and water
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of mixed herbs
pepper,  onion flakes and garlic granules to taste ( or fresh )
3 tablespoons of corn flour mixed in water to thicken

Lightly brown the steaks in a fry pan or use leftover cooked steaks.
Slice the steaks into longish strips and add to a preheated slow cooker
Add all the veggies,  sauce,  tomato paste,  herbs,  beef stock and seasonings.
Cook on high for 8 - 10 hours for a slow,  slow cooker or 4 - 6 hours for a fast slow cooker.
Mix the corn flour and water together then add to the casserole and stir in well to thicken
Cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve over a bed of mashed potato or with crusty bed on the side.


*  I used two heaped dessert spoons of beef stock powder and water to make liquid stock.

*  Due to the stock powder I did not need to add salt to the casserole.

*  As with most of my recipes,  you can add any veggies you like.

*  The liquid stock needs to be enough to cover all the meat and veggies.  Add extra water if needed.

*  I didn't weigh the leftover bbq steaks I used.  They were thin but largish.

*  This casserole freezes well.