29 May 2007

Sunshine state bliss

Balmy Brisbane has been my base for the last two days and the sunshine and warmth were bliss after chilly and damp Melbourne. I met two of our incredible Cheapskates Club members, Rhonda and Gabee.Their warm welcomes and hospitality to Louise and me was so nice and their help with our research and story is very much appreciated.

Rhonda is a very talented Cheapskate with some great ideas. She's been able to become a stay at home working mum because of her frugal habits and her story is inspirational.

Rhonda told me that living the Cheapskates way gave her the opportunity to set up her business at home, rather than having to work for someone else.

She's also passing her knowledge on to her children. Her teenage daughter is following in mum's footsteps and has set up a jewellery making business. She is sourcing her supplies from all around the country, getting them for the very best prices she can.

Gabee has two little boys and her Cheapskates lifestyle lets her stay home with them too. While I was visiting with Gabee and the boys the mail arrived and she was very excited to get the electricity bill.

It's not often a bill goes down, but Gabee's had and she was proud as punch.

09 May 2007

Will the mending never end?

In our house the mending pile just breeds. No matter how often it's done, or how much is done there always seems to be more.

Perhaps I should be grateful to have healthy active children who play sports and ride bikes and spend time outside and a husband who is fit and healthy enough to be able to work with his hands and tools in a physically demanding job.

I know I should be grateful and I really, honestly am. But that mending pile! Well there are times when I wish they all just sat in chairs and never moved.

Wayne came home with the front pocket and side seam of his pants ripped open. His phone was the cause – it caught on the edge and just ripped them. The sewing machine will get some use this week after all.

Some school shirts are missing buttons. Hannah can help me stitch them back on while we watch some TV and chat.

Then Thomas came out with some socks, actually a pile of socks that have holes in the toes and/or heels. Looks like I'll be darning for a few nights. And hopefully that will be the end of the mending pile.

At least until the next little accident

07 May 2007

A proud mummy moment

Just as I was putting foil over the top of the casserole I was getting ready for the oven tonight Hannah came into the kitchen and stopped next to me.

She looked at me with a big smile on her face and said, “You don't waste a thing do you Mum?” Her compliment was so genuine it just made me beam.

And vow to keep on re-using foil until it falls apart.

06 May 2007

Sunday savings

*Hannah and I hit a couple of garage sales today. We had a list of things we were looking for jeans for her, a larger food processor for me, and lamps for the lounge room and of course anything we could add to the present box.

We had a lot of fun for just $27.

We came home with:

*2 pairs jeans for Hannah - $2
*1 table lamp for the lounge - $5
*1 large Tupperware mixing bowl & lid $0.50
*1 large Tupperware square round & lid (this size is ideal for storing stock in the freezer) $0.50
*1 Baby Born travel cot (like new) - $2.50
*1 Brum magnetic car set in a tin case (new) - $2.50
*1 small “road map” carpet - $4
*1 large (new) “road map” carpet - $10

*A friend dropped in with some breadsticks for us so I’ve made up 10 parcels of garlic bread and popped them into the freezer. We love garlic bread so this will be a nice addition to some of our dinners. Best of all is the cost: about 30 cents for the butter and garlic powder, the bread was free! Gotta love free food and the good friends who share so willingly.

*I love the taste of butter and we are using it more and more but it can be a little pricey compared to margarine so I whipped it with some powdered milk, oil and water to make sandwich spread. Very happy, doubled the quantity for approximately 50 cents and it only took two minutes. Made garlic butter with some and put the rest into a butter dish to use on lunches this week.

*Made some instant puddings for lunches. Used powdered milk, cornflour, sugar and vanilla essence. Added boiling water and stirred to thicken. Worked a treat and everyone will be happy with a treat in their lunchbox.

*Took the school uniforms off the line while they were still a little damp and ironed them. No need to use ironing aid, they came up beautifully, even the boy’s trousers and Hannah’s skirt.

*Tackled some more mending. Where does it come from? The alternative was to spend $48 on workpants for Wayne. Ten minutes at the sewing machine and they are as good as new. Saved $48, very happy.

03 May 2007

Soup weather

We have rain today and it is quite cool, cool enough to make we want soup. Soup is my very favourite winter warmer food and it's easy to make and really, really cheap too.

Out came my trusty crockpot (I just love my new one, it's a 6 litre so I can make lots of anything in it). Slow cookers are perfect for soup making, just set and forget for the day. The house smells so good when soup is cooking.

Anyway, I digress. Into the crockpot went some sliced celery (including the leaves), carrots and onions, diced turnip and potato, a tin of tomatoes I whizzed in the food processor, a couple of fresh tomatoes that were going a bit soft and some mushrooms that were getting a bit wrinkly.

I love the Italian soup mix ($3.90/kg from The Kitchen Pantry, Centro, Croydon, Vic) because it has a great assortment of beans and lentils. A cup of this soup mix thickens the soup beautifully and adds colour and texture. The beans and lentils are good for you too. Add 4 litres of water and let it simmer away until you're ready to eat it.

When I serve this soup I make Parmesan bread to have with it. Use thick sliced bread, one or two slices per person. Butter one side and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan. Grill until the butter has melted and the edges are starting to crisp, it only takes a couple of minutes and you have a really tasty side to go with your soup.


02 May 2007

Sweet chilli chicken strips

We love sweet chilli chicken tenders, the pre-packaged chicken strips you can buy in the deli section of the supermarket but they are so expensive – almost $20.00 a kilo. Even on the markdowns they are too expensive for us so tonight I made them myself.

I already had the chicken fillets defrosting so all I had to do was cut them into strips and crumb them.

The bought product has rice bubbles in the coating so I added a handful of slightly crushed Ricies to 1 cup of shake-n-bake mix and then stirred through a teaspoon of chilli flakes (the kids don't like them too hot).

The next step was easy - dunk the strips in milk, the coating mix and into the fridge for half an hour to let the coating set. Baked on a greased oven tray in a hot oven for 25 minutes, with a couple of turns so they browned evenly and they were just delicious with our salad.

I'll definitely be making them again, and laughing at my savings too.