31 August 2007

Not so budget friendly bikkies

Our school Home and School committee does a lot of fundraising throughout the year so that the kids have great playground equipment, extra tools in the classroom, fantastic excursions and incursions and incredible Interest Group activities and I love to support them in their endeavours, I really do.

When Hannah brought home her newsletter folder and neatly tucked inside it was an order form for the latest fundraiser – biscuit dough in a bucket, ready to use or freeze, I was happy to have a look at it, all ready to tick some boxes and buy some to support the Home and School. Ho hum!
The selection sounds lovely: Golden Light, Chocolate Chunk, Oatmeal Raisin, Ginger, White Chunk Macadamia and ANZACs. For $13 ($14 if I order ANZACs) I'll get enough cookie dough to make 50 – yes 50 – biscuits!

Ok, maybe I really am a mean Cheapskate but even for a good cause I cannot see the value in paying $13 or $14 for 50 biscuits, especially when the Member's Centre has recipes for the same biscuits and for a lot less than $13 (Lunchbox cookies run about 100 cookies for under $5).

I'm still trying to figure out how to tell them diplomatically that this isn't a fundraiser, it's highway robbery with a bikkie sweetener at the end and I prefer to make my own thank you very much.

27 August 2007

Billycarts and blisters

We spent yesterday at the annual Weetbix Billycart Grandprix. The kids each enter a school team and they have an absolute ball. I'm sure it's the best $9 we spend all year. To see hundreds and hundreds of kids (of all ages, including some who should probably know better) having fun the old-fashioned way is fantastic.

These are real billycarts. No motors to make pushing easy. This is real, physical work and those little legs must really ache the next day. And don't think the driver gets off easy, they don't. In fact I think the driver has the most dangerous job – some of the stacks around the course yesterday were quite spectacular.

The weather was fabulous, sunny and warm and the crowd was so well behaved. We ate our picnic (homemade rolls, cream cheese spread, crisp lettuce and slice smoked chicken – yum) and drank our thermos of coffee while everyone else lined up to pay $2.50 for a bucket of chips or $5 for a small plate of pancakes! With some nice fresh ginger kisses for dessert we were sitting pretty, up in the grandstand right opposite the start/finish line.

Hannah's team came second in the Leader Dash for the grade 5/6 age group so they were very excited. They didn't fare quite so well in the actual race, a huge crash put them second last but they still had fun and after all that was the point of the day. Every one of them was at school today, tired and sore and blistered though they were.

It was a great day, cost hardly anything and we all had so much fun. I can hardly wait til next year.

15 August 2007

Spring is early

Today I feel like spring has come early it's so sunny and bright. Sunshine is such a mood lifter isn't it? I get so energised on sunny days and today is no exception.

So far I've whipped through our usual morning routine, dusted and tidied through (amazing how sunshine shows up dust on furniture), tidied the linen cupboard (this was a job I've been putting off for ages), hung out three loads of washing (yay – sheets and towels all out in the sun) and put some muffins in the oven for snacks and lunchbox treats.

We had a frost this morning and the backyard looked stunning with the fence and grass all silvery and shimmering in the sunlight. Aren't we blessed that we can admire the beauty nature provides us free? Can you imagine how much that picture through the kitchen window would have cost me this morning if someone could figure out a way to charge for it?

This last lot of wintry weather encouraged the boys to ask for warmies for watching TV and doing homework so this afternoon I'll be cutting and tying fringes around two new fleece blankets. I'll post a picture of the finished warmies later on.

Anne Ferrier emailed about the apple slinkies, with a question about the gadget. I'll post a picture of this too so you can see what it looks like. We are still going through apples at a great rate of knots, the novelty hasn't worn off. I even caught Wayne making one last night!

Julie and I have been busy working on new features for the Member's Centre including the Article Archive and the Recipe File. I can't wait to get them finished, especially the recipe file and I know you'll love them.

If you have any suggestions for the website please let us know. We've created a Suggestion Box and I can't wait to see what you come up with. You'll find it in the Menu (on the left hand side of this page) so please, whenever you think of something, add a suggestion and we'll see what we can do.

10 August 2007

Frugal Friday

Friday is usually my day out with Mum. I really look forward to it (actually I really look forward to morning tea). Today I am at home. Thomas is sick, not really, really sick, just sick. You know when your kids are too quiet, too still and just don't look right? Well that's Thomas at the moment. I'm keeping an eye on him just in case he is coming down with the flu, especially as it's particularly nasty this year.

With a sick boy I wasn't too keen on going out and leaving him at home so I have spend the day here. It has been rather nice. Two loads of washing done, out and dried (thank goodness for such strong winds), floors swept, mopped and vacuumed, lounge has been dusted and the bathrooms have been cleaned. A sparkly clean house is such a nice way to start a weekend.

Hannah asked for potato pie for dinner tonight, so it's been made and is ready to pop in the oven. The ratatouille is simmering on the stove and I have even put a loaf of bread on. Fresh baked bread is so nice with this dinner and really easy with the bread maker.

I found some “senior” veggies in the crispers so they are in the crockpot with some stock from the freezer and a tin of tomatoes and we will have soup for lunch tomorrow. I may even get another loaf of bread made.

Instead of going out just for milk I made some powdered milk up and added it to the half a bottle of fresh in the fridge. That will see us through until Monday if I use powdered milk for cooking.

Because the kids have been eating apples this week there were a few oranges left in the bowl, starting to look a little sad. They were perfect to use in an orange cake and this recipe is one of our favourites.

Orange Cake
1 Orange
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs 1
1/4 cups oil*
2 cups SR flour

Place the whole orange, sugar, eggs and oil in a food processor and blend well. Add sifted flour. Whizz until flour is mixed into orange mixture. Bake in a greased and lined loaf tin at 180 degrees for 45 min until cooked.

*Olive oil gives a very moist cake but can leave a “taste”. I like to use half vegetable oil, half olive oil. The result is a lovely moist cake without the taste of the olive oil.

It has been a very frugal Friday with no money spent today and only minimal petrol used (just to get AJ and Hannah to and from school). The house is clean and tidy and smells lovely with the soup cooking away and the aroma of fresh baked bread. It's Friday and we have the whole weekend ahead of us. I am feeling very contented.

03 August 2007

I forgot to get the groceries!

I have had a particularly busy couple of week, what with one thing and another but really HOW could I forget to do the grocery shopping? I do our big food stock up every fourth Friday without fail, much to the family's relief. This month I forgot that it had been four weeks since I'd stocked up.

I was so busy running in and out that I only half noticed that the pantry and freezer were getting low. I did notice that we were out of Weet-bix and had a chat with the boys about eating them as a snack and perhaps cutting back. My boys are so loving, they just agreed with me and promised to cut back on their “cereal” snacking. It honestly never occurred to me that we were out of breakfast cereal because I hadn't been to the shops.

If I hadn't done some banking and wondered why the house account had so much money in it I would probably still be living and wandering around in sweet oblivion . I panicked for a moment and wondered what bills hadn't been paid. Then I realised the date and as they say the light went on.

So the shopping has been done. Supplies were picked up at Aldi, the fruit market and the butcher and everything on the list was bought. Just the same as I would have if I had done it last week. I spent exactly what I had budgeted for four weeks of food and household and my secret plan is to stretch it to five weeks again! August has five Fridays this year so if I'm “forgetful” again then my grocery budget will be looking quite healthy.

As we are planning on taking the kids away for a couple of weeks during the September holidays this money will come in really handy for some extra treats. If I keep stretching the shopping by a week until the end of the year I will have saved enough money to buy the school books and new uniforms and I can then put the money that's been allocated in our budget for this purpose straight into savings.

Hmmm thinking… thinking…