12 July 2008

It has been so cold this week that I've had the fire and the central heating going to warm the house up. This cold spell was so unexpected, we've had the warmest June in 20 odd years here and the weather really has been mild. We haven't even had a frost yet but I expect they will come, probably just in time for the kids to go back to school! There's nothing quite like frozen fingers and toes in the mornings. I guess it's time to dig out the gloves and scarves and make sure everyone has what they need. Our school brought in a new uniform policy last year and I'm pretty sure that Hannah won't be able to wear her cosy scarf I knitted in Feathers wool, even though it is blue. I think it needs to be a plain navy, better check that today and get knitting if I need to. I have some 12 ply in navy that should do the job. I found a 500g ball of it at the op shop a couple of weeks ago for $2 and picked up intending to knit me some slippers. Oh well, at least it will get used.

Having the fire going means I've been able to get all the washing dry in just a few hours too. I so love my big clothes horses - nice wide arms and lots of rails to hang things on. Now I just have the two of them. Up until this year we had one each and I kept them in the bedrooms over the heater vents in winter. It was handy having everyone's clothes in their rooms. The kids were good at pulling the dry things off and putting them away or in the boys' case putting them straight back on! And it did help to keep the washing and drying under control. Another thing I'm using this winter is the hooks in the ceiling. When we moved into this house there were hooks in the ceiling next to the heater flue and as they don't stick out at all and blend in with the timber we left them. I've been hanging the shirts and trousers on their hangers in the hooks and letting them dry up high. They not only dry really fast but because they are on hangers they just go straight into the wardrobes, no ironing necessary. I can even dry Hannah's pleated school skirt like this and not need to iron the pleats down. I love those hooks!

Wayne did have to clean the glass in the heater door for me this week. He used some scrunched up newspaper, dampened a little and dipped in the ash from the fire. Scrubbed over the glass and wiped off with another piece damp newspaper and the door was shiny clean and just radiating heat beautifully. Those old tips from years ago really are worth remembering.

The three kids had a surprise on Tuesday when the postman came. Their Granny had sent them some money each, just in time for the boys to go to the movies! They had planned to meet their mates at the local cinema to see a movie and I was going to pay for their tickets. Granny saved me having to do that, they paid for their own tickets and bought some nibblies too, although they did meet the boys early and pop across to the supermarket for their drinks and corn chips rather than pay the snack bar prices. They were going to walk home and save me some petrol and some time but it was absolutely pouring (yahoo!) when they came out so AJ called and asked if I'd pick them up. Kudos to him, he remembered to ring on the mobile (free calls between us).

Hannah is hanging on to her money. She wants to go to Big W and buy an itunes voucher with her money. They are on sale, $50 voucher for $30, during the toy sale. That's a 40% saving for her and she's so excited. She has been saving up for a real itunes voucher and her gift from Granny has given her enough to buy two. She's one very happy little girl at the moment. We'll be off to Big W tomorrow so she can do her shopping.

I've been kept busy this week too, talking to Kelli Brett on ABC radio Southwest WA and sharing some of my favourite ways to save money over all. Kelli asked for a recipe too so I gave her my favourite Quick Curried Sausage recipe, which we had for tea on Wednesday night. I love curries at any time but especially in winter. This one is really quick, really easy and really, really cheap.

Quick Curried Sausages

1 sausage per person
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 piece pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 cup peas
2 tbsp curry powder - adjust to suit your taste
1 tbsp butter
440ml can coconut cream

Brown the sausages and remove from pan, set aside to cool. Melt butter, add onion and curry powder and cook until the onion is transparent. Add the other vegetables to the pan and cook two minutes, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to low. Add coconut cream and stir through. Slice the sausages into 1cm thick slices and add to pan. Stir to cover with sauce. Simmer over a very low heat 10 minutes or until vegetables are cooked and sauce has thickened slightly. Serve over steamed rice with pappadums or naan bread.

To make this a low fat recipe, boil the sausages for 5 minutes to remove fat, drain and cool. Use a non stick pan and use 1tbsp water instead of the butter to cook the onion. Substitute a can of low fat evaporated milk and 1 teaspoon coconut essence for the coconut cream.

Thomas had the gang over yesterday for a movie marathon. They are such a nice lot of boys and no trouble at all. Just keep up the supply of food and drinks and they are happy. Typical 15 year olds. The popcorn maker had a good workout, I think I made four lots in all during the day. I'm pretty sure they were just inhaling it like it was oxygen it disappeared so fast. I had some party pies in the freezer but no sausage rolls made up. Party pies, sausage rolls and pizza are standard fare at these gatherings so I didn't dare alter the menu. With my last order of mountain bread (did you know you can order it online and save over $1 a packet, and delivery is free?) I also ordered the recipe book and it has a fabulous recipe for sausage rolls in it, using mountain bread. The sausage rolls were so easy to make with the mountain bread and they cooked beautifully. I'm not sure I'll ever use pastry for them again, especially as the mountain bread is much cheaper than pastry. And slightly healthier too.

A journalist with Womans Day rang at lunchtime for a chat and she was a little startled by the noise in the background. Once I explained it was the sound of 6 teenage boys grazing she understood and we went on to have a really interesting talk about the changing profile of the average grocery trolley in recent times. We had a giggle at the perception some people have that buying generic brands or shopping at Aldi or NQR or other grocery clearances is what "poor people" do. If only those grocery snobs knew what we Cheapskates know about getting more bang for our buck!

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