31 January 2010

Tip of the Day 31 January 2010

Balcony Garden Started With Free Containers

I started a herb and veg garden on the balcony in March this year - and have not purchased one pot! All of the containers I use have been collected from hard waste collections or are other household containers that would have otherwise been thrown out. Seedlings can be raised in egg cartons, old toilet rolls or yogurt containers. As pots I use various containers discarded by others – I have a child's sandpit, an office bin, a polystyrene box, etc, etc. Using this same theory, you could take any old container of the appropriate size (like a kitchen colander, a disused kettle or toaster, or 3L milk/juice bottles), add some chain from 3 points around the top and a loop at the top of the chain, and you have a hanging basket.
Contributed by Jacklyn, Kogarah

30 January 2010

Tip of the Day 30 January 2010

Emergency Numbers

Use your computer to print out the information 000 would need to find your house, phone and contact details of friends and family and names and phone numbers of trades people you use. Print off copies for the fridge, phone, office, car, your diary and your handbag. Slipping the fridge copy into a plastic sleeve and using magnets to keep it in place makes it easy to change details.

29 January 2010

Tip of the Day 29 January 2010

Air Bags

When you are packing delicate or fragile items bubble wrap or air bags are great as cushioning, but rather expensive to buy. A fantastic substitute for bubble wrap or packing material is ziplock bags. Simply gather some ziplock style bag and a plastic straw. Insert the end of the straw into the bag and seal the bag the rest of the way. Blow up the bag with the straw; then quickly remove the straw and seal the bag. Fill up your parcel with as many “air bags” as you need.

28 January 2010

Tip of the Day 28 January 2010

A Matching Set

Mark your bowls and their covers with the same number using a permanent marker. Then you won't be searching for the lid that matches the bowl when putting away leftovers. All you have to do is match the numbers. If you own Tupperware bowls, you'll find that the bases and seals are already marked to make matching easy. Simply match the letter on the base with the letter on the tab part of the seal to find a matching pair.

27 January 2010

Tip of the Day 27 January 2010

Read, Read, Read

Want to learn more? Or become more proficient in a particular area? Then READ, READ, READ! Reading 30 - 50 books in a year is the equivalent of a year towards a PhD. So, if you want to become an expert on anything, read up on your topic. It doesn't have to be costly - borrow books from the library or friends (make sure you return them) or use the Internet. Keep a record of what you read in a notebook. This is especially helpful when you want to buy a copy of a particular book or refer back to it later on. Whatever method you choose, just keep on reading.

26 January 2010

Tip of the Day 26 January 2010

Pre-prep Saves Time and Stops the Takeaway Urge

I purchase lean mince in bulk quantities when it is on sale, usually in ten kilo lots, and prepare it to the cooking stage before freezing. I brown half the mixture and freeze in portions. This makes preparing tacos and pasta sauces a breeze. The other five kilos is made into a meatloaf mixture. Half of the meatloaf mixture goes into foil lined loaf tins so it is the proper shape. Then I take the foil and meat out, wrap it tightly and freeze. The rest of the mixture gets divided up into meatballs. I freeze it into sticks of 8 meatballs and then place in a plastic freezer bag. When I want to cook dinner, I can just pull a ready to cook meal from the freezer. On a busy night the time saving is huge, a freshly prepared and cooked dinner can be on the table in 30 minutes, faster than we can get a pizza delivered!

25 January 2010

Tip of the Day 25 January 2010

Borrow Appliances

You can save hundreds of dollars by borrowing appliances from friends and family. Most of us have a lot of appliances that aren't used regularly,  and some that may not be used at all, lurking in cupboards. What a waste of  good appliances!  Make up a list of appliances you don't use very often, or wish to get rid of and ask friends and family to do the same. If one person decides to take up bread making, they look at the list and contact the person who has that appliance, and either borrow, buy or swap another item for it - rather than buying it. Think of the impact this would have on the environment and our pockets! Once you have the kitchen appliance swap working, why not start one for garden tools?  This really goes back to our basic roots of community sharing.

This Cheapskate Started a "Borrow an Appliance" Scheme at Work

I mentioned to a girlfriend at work the other day that I was thinking about buying a slow cooker but really wanted to take on for a test drive first. She immediately offered to loan me hers for a week and in the conversation that followed we discovered that we both had a number of appliances cluttering our cupboards that we rarely used. So we made a decision to clear out a shelf in a cupboard at work and keep them there. They can then be 'borrowed' by whoever needs that particular gadget for the night. The only condition is that the appliance must be cleaned and returned a.s.a.p. Another workmate overheard us and we now have an appliance library of 8 kitchen gizmos ranging in value from $50-$200 and HEAPS more space in our kitchen cupboards. Reckon you'll have a better chance of getting this off the ground if your boss is a working Mum too!! 

Karen Tatman

24 January 2010

There's No Place Like Home

We are home! We were only away 10 days, but it seemed like forever and it's so good to be back in our own little piece of Australia.

It was great catching up with family and friends, some of them we haven't seen for a very long time. The whole family gathered to celebrate  Granny's birthday, with lots of good food and even more laughter. At times the neighbours must have been wondering what we were doing, the laughing was so loud.

But it is good to be home, even if we came home to a disaster in the front garden. One of our big trees had split right through the middle on one limb and was hanging over the footpath. Most of our neighbourhood walks, and many of them are quite elderly, so getting it cut down (just the offending limb, not the whole tree) was top priority for this morning.

My brother called and asked to borrow the trestle table and some folding chairs, so we swapped them for his chainsaw. It sure made cutting up the tree easy. Now it's all nicely stacked in the woodpile, to dry for firewood.  Wayne put the small branches and leaves through the mulcher and spread it over a new garden bed along the side fence and now it looks much better. I can't decide whether to put daisies (m favourite) or lavender in that spot, it would suit both. Decisions, decisions.

While we were away the tomatoes and cucumbers went crazy. I've picked two buckets full of lovely fresh vegetables. There are enough cucumbers to make ten jars of pickled cucumbers. The tomatoes I will cook into sauce and freeze. Tomorrow will be a busy day in the kitchen me thinks.

The good news is that we didn't spend over our regular budget while we were away. The petrol costs came out of our holiday budget and were covered. Food, treats, eating out and entertainment all came out of our normal household budget for 10 days so we  came home with money over! 

Now it's back to reality, getting ready for school and Uni.  There are books to cover, hems to take up and let down and new uniforms to name. And of course the newsletter and website to keep me out of mischief.  That should keep us all busy. 

Tip of the Day 24 Januayr 2010

Plant Food

Do you love corn on the cob? We do, and while we don't grow it in our garden, we do buy it direct from a farmer when it's ready and cook it in a huge stockpot full of water. After removing ears of corn from the pot I don't pour the water down the drain. Instead I set the water aside to cool and then use this to water indoor plants and my herb garden. The water has nutrients from the corn that the plants just love. And I love the idea of a free fertilizer.

23 January 2010

Sewing with Style

When you are sewing for your children, take them with you when you go to select fabric and patterns for their clothes. Involve your child in the decision making part of their wardrobe, just as you would if you were buying ready made,  and they will always like what they have to wear. They'll develop their own sense of style and with your needlework skills and their input they'll have one-off garments to be envied. No longer will you hear "I'm not wearing that" when you show them your handmade fashion.

22 January 2010

Tip of the Day 22 January 2010

Safety When Online Shopping

Shopping online is a great convenience, but I don't feel comfortable giving out my bank information over the Internet. Instead, I buy a Visa gift card for the approximate amount I will need to make my online purchases in any given month. That way, I stay within my budget, curbing my tendency to overspend, all while combating credit card fraud.

Contributed by Narelle, Mooroolbark

21 January 2010

Tip of the Day 21 January 2010

Oily Spots Are Gone

A great idea from Frances of North Bayswater "Use a drop or two of ordinary dishwashing liquid to remove oily stains from your clothes before you wash them. Just rub the spot with the dishwashing liquid and put it in the washing machine. Your clothes will be oil spot free and nice and clean."

20 January 2010

Tip of the Day 20 January 2010

Start Now to Retire Rich

To have a financially independent retirement, financial experts advise you will need to save 15% of your gross income all your working life. How are you going? Perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate your retirement fund - it's never too late to start saving!

19 January 2010

Tip of the Day 19 January 2010

Yummy Flavoured Milk

Before you throw that empty jam jar out, make sure it is really empty. Fill it up with cold milk, put the lid back on and make a milk shake with the 'dregs' from empty jam jars. Shake the jar until the milk is frothy and thick, pour into a glass and enjoy. It's a delicious way to have a milk shake.

18 January 2010

Tip of the Day 18 January 2010

Personal Took Kit

Have your own basic emergency tool kit. Mine has scissors, pliers, a claw hammer, a small saw, a Stanley knife, sticky tape, masking tape, picture hooks, a variety of nails, screws, nuts and bolts, flat and Phillips head screwdrivers in a few sizes, a good torch and a supply of candles and matches. I keep it all together in a plastic tool box I bought for $9.99 from Sams and everyone knows not to touch - it belongs to Mum!

17 January 2010

Tip of the Day 17 Januayr 2010

Wash Before Eating

Most of us are aware of the need to wash all commercially grown fruits and vegetables before using in cooking or eating raw due to the large amounts of fertilizers etc used to grow them, but what about organically grown or home-grown? Although organic foods are grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and their use may be limited in the veggie garden, the foods may have traces of traditional fertilizers, including animal manure. It is also wise to remember that organic produce is handled many times before it reaches your refrigerator. Simply put, you should wash all produce before eating it.

16 January 2010

Tip of the Day 16 January 2010

Textured Paint Brushes

When you are finished with your bath sponges, scrunchies or anything made of a flexible material, use them to paint with...they make pretty designs and they are cheap. Textured finishes can give new life to old furniture and look fantastic as feature walls, especially in bedrooms. Sponge cupboard doors to give a dated kitchen a lift, re-vamp old drawers with a scrunchie paint job - use your imagination. Just because  you're painting doesn't mean you have to use a paint brush or roller.

15 January 2010

Tip of the Day 15 January 2010

Calculate the Real Value of Spending

A good way to curb spending is to calculate how long you have to work to earn enough
money to pay for each purchase! For example, a takeaway meal may be nice, but is it worth the extra time you have to work to pay for it? The average takeaway chicken dinner for four means you would have to work three hours to enjoy one meal that is gone in just 30 minutes!

Instead of looking at the dollar value of an item,  look at the ‘work value’ of an item - this is what it will really cost you. To do this, work out your net hourly rate (after tax and minus expenses such as babysitting). When you are tempted to buy something, divide the purchase price by your nett hourly rate to see how long you will have to work. It can be a real turn off - especially when buying takeaway food!

14 January 2010

Tip of the Day 14 January 2010

Have a Lipstick Stain? Try This to Clean It Up!

Summertime can be hard on lipsticks and coloured lip glosses left in handbags. The heat can make them soft  and on those really scorching days they can actually melt and run, leaving awful stains on fabrics.  If this happens to you, scrape the wax off with a flat bladed knife. Then using a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol, dab the stain and rub towards the centre (this avoids spreading it any further). The colour should disappear quite quickly. If you 're not sure how the fabric will react, test it somewhere inconspicuous first

13 January 2010

A Year of Saving

A Stitch in Time Saves .....$65!

When I was in high school I hated sewing class with a vengeance. Learning to make bias tape and the perfect French seam was BORING. Doing samples of different seams, fasteners, bindings and hems was painful. Then there was making things: the felt pot holder (yuk), the cotton nightie (so not my style back then) and the woollen, gored skirt (I was a definite jeans girl) nearly sent me, and my mother, around the bend.

My mother sews beautifully. The only bought things I wore were my socks and shoes. Mum made everything else. Dad drafted the patterns for her from Enid Gilchrist books (does anyone remember those?) and she'd sit at the sewing machine, hour after hour, sewing for my brother and me. She loves sewing and she didn't understand at all why I didn't. It led to many an interesting discussion, especially the weekend before a sewing project was due.

Thankfully mum and Mrs Winzenreid (she was my sewing teacher) persevered and I managed to pick up a few basic skills. A few years after I left school a friend talked me into going to sewing classes with her and after twelve weeks we graduated as fully certified Knit Wits. The sewing bug had bitten and I found that I actually liked it if I was able to choose the pattern and fabric. As time went on my skills developed (or my belief in them did anyway) and I started to adapt the patterns to suit my idea of the finished garment.

I would carry a pad, pencil and tape measure with me and when I saw something I liked I'd draw it and go home and try to make it. That habit has stuck with me and this week I stood in front of a dress Hannah liked and decided that no matter how much she wanted it and how pretty it was, $24.95 for what was about 90cm of fabric and some wide elastic was not worth it. Instead I pulled out the pad and pencil  and drew it, made some notes about waistlines, necklines and gathers  and came home to draft up a pattern. 

Monday was just too hot to sew, 44 degrees outside and about 34 inside and the thought of sitting at the machine was enough to send me back to the cool of the air-conditioned lounge. But yesterday was cooler so we pulled out the material boxes and went through them, then made a quick trip to Big W for a couple of singlet tops and came home to sew.

Hannah is now the very happy owner of two lovely new sundresses, one black and grey check, the other hot pink floral and a very pretty pink floral skirt. And all for $12, the cost of the two  singlet tops! The materials were already in the box, leftover from other garments. The elastic for the skirt was in my sewing box and we found a belt buckle on an old belt to use for the skirt.

Now if I could only figure out how to get the photos from the new camera onto my laptop I'd be able to show you. As soon as I can get one of the boys to show me I'll upload them for you.

I'm thrilled with the savings we have made, but I'm not putting $65 in my money box. I'll leave it sitting in the clothing budget. You never know, I may get the urge to actually buy something one day  soon.

Tip of the Day 13 January 2010

Get the Kids Involved

Let your children help with the housework, shopping and bill paying even if their performance isn't quite up to your standards. Show them how you like things done and give them the opportunity to learn from the best possible teacher - you!

12 January 2010

Tip of the Day 12 January 2010

$2 Dinner Tuesday

Beef and Vegetable Pasties
 400g can Coles Beef Stroganoff or other type of canned meat e.g. mild curry, braised steak and onions etc
1 cup frozen corn and pea mix
4 sheets of puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 200ºC or 180 ºC for fan forced. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place beef stroganoff in a bowl. Add corn and pea mix and mix well. Cut a 16cm round from each sheet of pastry. Place ¼ of the meat mixture in the centre or each round. Fold the pastry up over the filling to form pasties. Pinch the edges together to enclose filling and seal edges. Brush lightly with egg. Chill pasties for 10 minutes in the fridge. Bake pasties for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve with tomato sauce and salad.   Serves: 4 Prep: 10 minutes  Cook: 20 minutes

Contributed by Kirsty Harris

11 January 2010

Tip of the Day 11 January 2010

Beautiful Gift Boxes

Here's a great idea for getting free gift boxes. Use spray paint on ordinary boxes that food and consumer goods (such as cereal or shoe boxes) come in to hide any lettering, logos, etc. that may be on the outside. Now you add the embellishments: stencilling, sponging, stamping, charms, stickers, decorative painting, yarn, small toys, fabric scraps, snippets of lace, silk flowers, ribbon roses, old greeting cards, etc. to make your gift package look even prettier, and to hide any damaged areas on the box. Not only will you be spared the expense of buying expensive gift boxes, but you're helping the environment by recycling what would normally end up in a tip into a gift box that's truly distinctive and one-of- a-kind.  Start now and you'll have all the gift boxes you need during the year and wrapping next Christmas will be a breeze.

10 January 2010

2010 - A Year of Saving

Getting Started

I have been in the position of not knowing how much money would be coming into our home in a week, or even IF there would be money coming into our home. I have also been in the position of having to juggle bills because of the lack of money. It's not easy, I know. But you can live on a very unreliable income and still pay down debt and build savings. And you can do it while living a really good life.

How much money anyone saves depends not on their income and expenses but on their attitude. Yes, having a good income and minimal expenses will give you a surplus, but that doesn't mean you will save that surplus. You could be living on minimum wage, paying a mortgage and raising a family and be able to save more in a year than your wealthier neighbour. It's your attitude that makes the difference.

If you are trying to save $22,000 on a $35,000 income - that's too big a goal. Break it down. For example:

*aim to cut $20 a week off the grocery bill this month. That will give you $1,040 for the year. Put that $20 straight into a savings account.

*challenge yourself to not buy any takeaway meals or drinks this month. That means no fish'n'chips, pizza, Chinese, no bought lunches or snacks at work or while out. A lot of the families who come to me for help say they don't have takeaway meals, what they are saying is they don't have them five nights a week. They forget about the $24 fish'n'chip dinner they bought one night or the coffee and coke they had at the shops. They all add up. Thats another $1,248 in savings.

*aim to cut your utility costs. I don't mean sit in the dark or suffer the heat without fans. I do mean be sure to turn everything bar your fridge and freezer off at the wall when you have finished using it. That includes the TV, DVD player, set top box, the stereo, microwave, kettle, computers, the washing machine, even your clock radio. Do this faithfully for a month and you will see a decrease in your electricity bill. Think of ways to cut the cost of your gas, water and phone too and the savings soon mount up. A ten percent saving in electricity each month averages $300 a year - add that to your savings.

*Put a moratorium on all unnecessary spending. If it's not necessary to maintain life or pay at least the minimum payments on your debts, it's not necessary. No new clothes (even op shop bargains), shoes, books, toys, DVDs, CDs, magazines, hair cuts, movies etc. If the kids get invited to a birthday party, be creative and make a gift and card from materials and things you already have at home. If you get invited to a special event, renovate an outfil you already have instead of buying a new one. How much do you think you don't need to spend each week? Add another $50 a week to your savings, $2,600 in a year.

So far we've found $5,188 you could be adding to your savings. But unless you do actually bank the money as you find it, it's not saved. It's just not spent. To have $5,000 in savings at the end of the year make sure you actually bank your saved money. I'm putting mine in my money box (see the first post in A Year of Saving), where are you going to put yours?

Tip of the Day 10 January 2010

Coffee in the Compost

Composting is the most well known use for old coffee grounds. You can add your grounds, filters and even used tea bags right onto your compost pile. As they decompose, they will add nitrogen to your compost. You can also add your old grounds directly into the soil around your plants, or in your flowerpots. The old coffee grounds will increase the acidity of the soil so you'll want to be careful about the amount that you use.  Make sure you spread them evenly over your garden.

09 January 2010

2010 - A Year of Saving

Sewing and Saving in a Heatwave

It was rather warm here again today (manged to get to 36 degress) so we have had the ceiling fans going from early morning. They did a great job of keeping the kitchen and family room cool when I thought we would be running the air conditioner so some electricity saved there.

Hannah and I spent some time sketching out a skirt and a dress that she'd like to make for church and decided we won't need to buy a pattern for either, so that's another $20 saved. I am going to use my drafting skills to make the skirt pattern. Thank goodness for an old fashioned Home Ec teacher when I was at school, being able to draft a patttern has saved us a fortune over the years. If you like to sew I heartily recommend you learn to draft at least basic patterns. Check your local TAFE or CAE for pattern making courses, there are even some you can do online.

To make the dress we are going to combine pieces from two patterns we already have. We'll make it up using an old sheet first, just to make sure what we imagine will work, before we cut into the beautiful fabric. It's a black, grey and purple checked organza and as we bought the last of the roll and it was quite expensive I don't want to take any chances. There are plenty of old sheets in the linen cupboard, mum gave me a pile when she had a clean out a while ago and they are great for mock-ups.

Savings today: $25

Total savings for 2010: $85

How is everyone else doing with their saving?

Have Fresh, Sweet Breath Every Day

If you've had a big night out and next morning your breath is not so nice, parsley will sweeten it. Juice half a bunch of parsley, add a squeeze of lemon juice and drink. It tastes different, but will really sweeten your breath and get rid of that yucky morning after taste in your mouth. It is especially effective on garlic breath.  Chewing a sprig or two throughout the day will help to keep your breath fresh as a daisy too.

08 January 2010

2010 - A Year of Saving

Today is the first day of a year of saving

Everyday the things I do save us money. I get a lot done in a day, having a family and a home to look after, as well as Cheapskates certainly keeps me out of mischief. Today my mother had a hospital appointment for a check-up. Rather than wait at the hospital and pay those outrageous parking fees, I dropped her off and came straight home. It's OK, I didn't abandon her, the tests she had required her to have an anaesthetic so I would have just been sitting in a waiting room anyway. As it turned out she was there until 6pm, six and a half hours! Thank goodness I decided to come home, that saved about $40!

Because I wasn't sure where I would be at dinner time I pulled some sausages out of the freezer this morning, sliced up a couple of onions and made some coleslaw. That was dinner taken care of - bbq sausage and coleslaw rolls to use up the last of the hot dog rolls in the freezer. They were delicious too.

Hannah helped me save a few dollars today too. She has been looking and looking for a denim skirt, but they have been either too expensive or too short (mean mummy that I am). This morning I went through the attic boxes and pulled out a denim skirt I used to wear about twenty years ago. I have no idea what triggered my memory but I'm glad I remembered it. She tried it on and of course it was too long (even I thought it was) and too big but it's a straight skirt on a waistband - a simple job to fix it so it fits her. And best of all she loves it. We'll fix it on Sunday morning so she can wear it next week. $20 plus saved and a happy girl, what more could a mother ask for?

I have been wondering how to deal with the money I save. Remember I always say money isn't saved until it's in the bank, it's just not spent yet? The kids gave me a huge money box in the shape of a dollar sign last year so now it's sitting on my desk and I have put my savings from today into it. I won't be saving $60 everyday (wouldn't that be nice?) but I will be saving something so each afternoon I am going to add my daily savings to the money box. When it's full I'll count it and take it to the bank. I wonder how long it will take me to fill it?

It can be tricky working out just how much you save by living the Cheapskates way. There are lots of things we do that don't appear to be savings at all in the beginning, but actually end up saving a lot of money. Things like:

  • Washing in cold water
  • Hanging the washing outside or on a clothes horse to dry
  • Cooking from scratch
  • Only running the dishwasher on a full cycle
  • Growing veggies
  • Making cleaning products
  • Taking lunch to work or school
  • Learning to sew
  • Doing home handyman jobs yourself
  • Turning appliances off at the wall
  • Leaving the car at home and walking or riding
  • Carpooling
  • Sharing tools with family and friends
  • Bartering for what we need instead of buying

There are so many ways to save money everyday. And it is those savings that allow us to build fully funded Peace of Mind accounts and emergency funds so that when disaster strikes (and it will at some time) we only panic for a few minutes, until we remember that we have savings!

Ok. I've told you how I've saved today, now it's your turn. I can't wait to see how close we are to that $10,000,000.00!

Tip of the Day 8 January 2010

Always Check the Returns Policy

Before you order anything from a catalogue or over the Internet, find out about the return policy and the return postage policy of the company you are dealing with. Some companies will pay the return postage on exchanges and some won't. Paying postage both ways can be very expensive and will wipe out any savings you may have incurred by using their mail order service.

07 January 2010

Tip of the Day 7 January 2010

Easy Clean Grill

Many people use the "George Foreman" type grills and cafe style sandwich toasters. Due to the non-stick surface and the shape and size of these appliances they can be hard to clean properly. So, when you are finished cooking, pull out the plug, thoroughly wet three pieces of paper towel, and fold the paper towels into a 3-ply thickness. Put the wet paper towels on the grill and close the top. While you are eating your meal, the moisture and residual heat is loosening the stuck on bits of food and your cleanup will be a snap.

06 January 2010

Tip of the Day 6 January 2010

Hidden Money

Hide $100 note in the back of your purse or wallet (they're those lovely green notes!) and then put your credit cards away in a safe place. This way, when you are out and tempted to put something on credit, you can't. You have the option of spending the $100, but how long will it take you to save another $100 to put in it's place?

05 January 2010

Tip of the Day 5 January 2010

Coffee Maker Not Just for Coffee

Use your coffeepot to brew hot tea. By doing so, you can stretch four tea bags into 10-12 cups of tea without sacrificing flavour and without steeping each bag individually. Simply put your tea bags in the part of your coffee machine where you would normally put your coffee (remove any tags and strings). Let the water through the top as usual. After it's finished brewing, you can remove the tea bags and immerse them directly in the freshly brewed pot of tea (if you like your tea strong, otherwise this step is not necessary).

During summer you can enjoy lemon tea throughout the day by brewing a pot in the morning using four lemon teabags, adding honey to taste and then chilling in the fridge. I particularly like lemon and ginger tea. Just add 1 teaspoon grated ginger to the tea as it steeps. Enjoy!

04 January 2010

The soap is not too small

When your bar of soap gets too small to use, or so small that the family won't use it, save it in a microwave safe bowl. After you have about half a bowlful, just pop the bowl in the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes, depending on how much you have, to soften the soap . Place the soap onto wax paper and mould into shapes. This makes the best soap, is softer on your skin, really frugal and a great money saver. Use it in the bathroom, laundry or kitchen for hand washing, tie it to an outside tap for gardening clean-ups, keep it under the kitchen sink with a scrub bud for washing up duty - there are hundreds of uses for these soap bars.

03 January 2010

Tip of the Day 3 January 2010

Fake Fruit Tricks Birds

Just before your tomato plants start to grow tomatoes, hang round plastic, red coloured Christmas baubles on your plant. The birds will think the bulbs are tomatoes, peck at them, and become unhappy when they don't get anything to eat. They then leave the plant alone and you get to harvest a bountiful crop of lovely, fresh, whole tomatoes. It sounds absurd, but it really works!

02 January 2010

Tip of the Day 2 January 2010

Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere

Bubbles have long been a traditional fun activity for kids. Below is just one of so many recipes I've found for making your own bubbles. Buy a couple of clean fly swatters, or use anything plastic with holes! Blow bubbles until the air is filled and the kids are laughing!

Bubble Formula
You'll need:
50ml Dishwashing detergent
500ml water,
1 tbsp glycerine

Mix in together. If you have hard water use bottled water instead of tap water. Store in a covered container and pour into a pie plate for using.

01 January 2010

Tip of the Day 1 February 2010

You Can Always Have a Freshly Baked Cake to Serve

If you like fresh baked cakes but don't have time to always make them from scratch, prepare a few different cake batters and freeze them. If you line a cake tin with foil and then baking paper, you can pour in the batter, freeze the mix and then take it out of the tin, wrap, label and freeze. To bake you just need to remove the foil, drop the paper covered batter into the cake tin and bake as usual. Allow a little more cooking time if baking from frozen.

Tip of the Day 1 January 2010

Peppermint Brittle

Christmas is well and truly over, a new year has begun. So, if you have dozens of candy canes leftover , like we do, and need a way to use them up this is the treat for you!

250g block white chocolate
6 - 10 small peppermint candy canes

Line a Swiss roll pan with baking paper or heavy tin foil. In a microwave safe container add the white chocolate and heat on medium in the microwave for about 2 -3 minutes. Stop during heating and stir occasionally until the chocolate is smooth and melted.

Put the candy canes in a large plastic bag. Using a rolling pin or another similar tool, begin breaking the candy canes into small pieces. Stir the candy into the melted chocolate and spread in the pan, evenly.

Place in refrigerator for about an hour to set completely and then break the into pieces.