28 February 2010

Make a Cage Skirt and Keep the Seed In the Cage

Tip of the Day

I love to hear the beautiful whistle of canaries throughout the day but hate the mess they make by scattering their seed everywhere. After some thought about the problem – I decided to use an old terylene shower curtain I no longer needed after our bathroom was revamped. Before I put the birds in the cage - I fitted the curtain around it and secured it with pins. I then sewed up the sides and cut off the excess material. Then I sewed wide elastic around the top on the inside. It is very important to remove all loose threads which the birds could get tangled in or pull at. It works a treat – looks tidy and keeps the seed inside the cage - off the floor. It is also machine washable and dries quickly. If you don’t have an old shower curtain – you will find one at the op. shops anytime. The covers sell for around $15 on eBay –mine cost me nothing except a little thought and time.  

Contributed by Janet, Morphett Vale

27 February 2010

Sharing the good life

This afternoon I spent a fantastic couple of hours at the Box Hill Library, sharing lots of tips about living the Cheapskates way with a room full of people, all eager to find out more and oh, so very willing to share their knowledge.

It was so much fun. We never realise just how much we knowledge we have until we start to share. One lovely young mum, who had the most gorgeous new baby girl, shared some tips she had picked up for living on one income with a stay-at-home mother of three almost grown children who was finding it really hard to make ends meet.

And there was the lady who excitedly told us all about a fantastic factory outlet she found for business suits, shirts and ties (it's in the Discount Outlet Directory) and told everyone to jump online and register to be advised of upcoming sales.

So many people stayed behind to talk and chat to me and I loved meeting them and hearing their stories. I was so inspired by the single mum who is currently unemployed but still managed to save enough for a deposit on her own home. And by the older lady who grows all her own veggies and fruit and bottles them the old fashioned way, in a stovetop Fowlers outfit. And never buys jam because she makes it from the plums and nectarines off the trees in her back yard.

I took along some washing powder and the ingredients to make some as a part of my talk. It's getting harder and harder to find borax and washing soda, so I like to show everyone the packaging. That way they know what to look for when they are shopping. The washing powder recipe is my most requested recipe - even above the shake'n'bake or the basic biscuit mixes so I love to be able to share it with everyone.

I also absolutely loved the sharing of ideas. It really makes my day to see people sharing their hints and tips with others, helping each other out and making life that little bit easier for someone else. That really is the Cheapskates way to living the good life.

Look Locally for Entertainment

Tip of the Day 27 February 2010

Check with local schools, civic theatres, dance academies and churches for performing arts events. Some of the best performances you and your family will ever attend are nearby in your very own neighbourhood and are extremely affordable.

26 February 2010

The Turn it Off Game

Tip of the Day 26 February 2010

When you have children saving money on electricity can seem like a never ending battle. Getting kids to automatically turn lights off when they leave the room or switch the TV and Playstation off at the wall when they have finished playing can be frustrating.

Try this game and see how fast they "remember" to switch things off.

At the beginning of every month put an equal number of twenty cent coins in a different cup for each person in the house. If someone leaves a room without turning off the light, TV, etc. the person who discovers it gets to take a coin from the offender's cup and put it in their own. At the end of the month, each person gets to keep what money is left in his or her cup.

The first month, a lot of money will move between the cups. Later, as everyone becomes more aware of the consequences if they forget to turn appliances off, it will slow down. You'll be teaching your kids to save electricity in a fun way and the bonus will be a significant drop on the electricity bill.

25 February 2010

A Book Club with a Difference

Tip of the Day 25 February 2010

We all like to flick through the occasional magazine for a treat - or to buy that bestseller to read during the holidays - but they add up to so much money that could be better spent! A friend I know has a 'book Club' with a difference. Each month each person in the group buys a particular magazine, reads it then passes it on. In her group there are 5 people so they each get to read 5 magazines every month while only paying for one! For the holidays they agree on a list of books, each person buys 1 but they all get to read 5! At the end if the books are not able to be passed on or if no one wants to add them to a bookshelf, they are sold on Trade Me and the profits split or 'recycled'. Fantastic savings!

Contributed by Jane, Palmerston North

24 February 2010

Pot Roast Recipe

I've had a few requests for the recipe for the pot roast I did on Sunday. It was delicious and I have no idea where I found it. It was scribbled on a slip of paper and tucked into my recipe file so I'm guessing it was on either a TV or radio show. Here it is, I hope you like it as much as we did. And thank you to whoever gave it to me.

Pot Roast

1kg  piece beef suitable for roasting
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups beef stock - homemade or from a stock cube
1/2 cup red wine
3 large onions, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp tomato paste
1kg carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. In a large, heavy, oven-proof casserole or Dutch Oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle roast all over with salt and pepper. Place in pan and brown on all sides. This takes about  about 10 minutes.  Turn the meat fat side up. Add stock, wine, if using, onions, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Stir in tomato paste. Bring to a simmer, cover; put in the oven, and roast for 3 hours. Add carrots and potatoes, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour more.

Because of the long, slow, gentle cooking this recipe is perfect for tough cuts.  If you are not sure which cut to use ask your butcher. Be sure to tell him that it cooks for at least four hours in the oven so he can advise you of the choicest piece of meat to use.
Next time I cook this recipe I will add more stock to make more gravy.  You may like to increase the stock to 3 cups if you like lots of gravy with your meat and potatoes.

We would normally get two meals from a roast like this but it was so nice that the Fridge Fairies visited during the night and all that was left was the empty plate!

Recycling Brilliance

 I use the microwave every day for all sorts of things, like yesterday's preserving marathon so when it started to take 3 minutes to boil a mug of water it was out with the old and a nice new, super efficient microwave now sits in pride of place on the kitchen bench. But what to do with the old one?  This fantastic idea popped into my inbox and now my old microwave is on it's way to a friend to be put to use.
From Microwave to Mailbox
Recently we needed to replace our microwave oven (it was about 17 years old, so it had had a good innings). The old microwave became our mailbox! (We had just moved to our new house in a rural area.) It is perfect for parcels and larger items as well as letters. The carousel and little wheels underneath it from inside the microwave didn't go to waste either, they are now in my pantry. They make a perfect 'lazy Susan' for all my spices so I can spin it around and reach them all easily on the shelf. The mailbox and lazy Susan cost me nothing. If I had bought them we would have needed to spend well over a hundred dollars.  

Contributed by Tracy, Gunning

23 February 2010

Up to my elbows in vinegar

Every time I think I can happily cull the tomatoes and cucumbers from the veggie patch the jolly things go and produce another bucket load of fruit. I'm waiting to get the winter veggies in, they should have gone in two weeks ago. So today I bit the bullet and pulled out five tomato plants and four cucumbers.

But before I pulled them out I carefully went through the bushes and picked all the fruit. Nine cucumbers and twenty-seven tomatoes came off those plants.

I've turned the cucumbers into Pickled Cucumber using the recipe from 5-minute Microwave Bottling. Four big jars now occupy the second shelf in the fridge. I can't wait to try them in a couple of weeks.

Pickled Cucumber

4 small unpeeled cucumbers
500ml apple cider vinegar
2 green capsicums
250g white sugar

Slice the cucumbers into thin circles. Cut the capsicums in half, remove seeds and slice into strips.  Dissolve sugar in warmed vinegar. Pack vegetables into clean, warm, sterilised jars. Fill jars to overflowing with vinegar mixture. Cover tightly with lid.

From 5-minute Microwave Bottling by Isabel Webb, The Five Mile Press, recipe on page 109

I cooked the tomatoes up with some diced onion, carrot and celery and two cloves of garlic to make pasta sauce. I had a half a tin of tomato paste in the fridge so that went in too. Goodness it smelled divine while it was cooking. I boiled some spaghetti and we had it with the sauce for tea. A sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan topped it off nicely. And there is enough left for our lunches tomorrow. I love free meals.

Tomorrow is forecast to be fine so I can get into the garden. There is Chinese cabbage, broccoli, beetroot, silverbeet, iceberg lettuce and garlic chives all needing to be planted out. If you've never tried garlic chives, they are just divine in scrambled eggs, rissoles or sausage rolls. And they are very easy to grow too.

I promised to tell you how the pot roast turned out on Sunday night. There were NO leftovers - that says it all! The potatoes and carrots were lovely, the meat melted in our mouths and the gravy was delicious. My thought is that next time I might increase the liquid to make more gravy it was so good.

Pot roast has been added to my menu repertoire.

Sliced Olives the Easy Way

Tip of the Day 23 February 2010

Sliced olives are a must for pizza paying more for a small jar has never made much sense to me when you can get a large jar of whole pitted olives for around the same price. Instead of painstakingly slicing each olive individually, pop three or four into your egg slicer and bring the cutting wire down. Hey presto, sliced olives, no mess, no wasted olives and no extra cost.

22 February 2010

Perfect Vase for Tiny Flowers

Tip of the Day 22 February 2010

If you need a small flower vase for some single blooms or those lovingly collected dandelions with the really short stems, try using a pretty ceramic or plastic toothbrush holder, you know, the kind that come with bathroom sets and hold four toothbrushes. It holds the flowers in place and makes for a unique decoration on a shelf or coffee table.

21 February 2010

Somebody Stole All the Apples

The apple tree was full a few days ago. The birds were having a lovely feast and while I was in a hurry to get them picked and into my freezer I wasn't at all concerned because the tree was literally bending under the weight of all those lovely round apples. I managed to get all the low fruit off the tree but there is no way I will climb the ladder to get the fruit higher up. That's mans work!

Wayne was up bright and early this morning and disappeared outside with the buckets, only to come in less than five minutes later with only half a bucketful of apples. They were all gone! There weren't even any half pecked ones left by the birds!

I can't decide whether to be outraged that someone would come into our yard and take apples off our tree, laugh because who in this day and age would think there are apple thieves around or cry because I had plans for those apples - apple pies, apple crumbles, apple sauce and apple butter to last us through winter.

I think I am more stunned that someone would steal - because that's what it is - from us. If they'd knocked on the door and asked I would have gladly given them plenty and probably have sent them on their way with tomatoes, cucumbers and zuchinni from the veggie garden too.

I cooked up what was left, only a small saucepan full, barely enough for one pie as it turned out. I hope we enjoy it after dinner tonight because it's the last one we'll have for a long while. I hope whoever took them enjoys them.

I swapped last week's roast beef for this week's roast chicken on our menu because I wanted to try a new recipe for pot roast. I loved pot roast when I was a child but it hasn't been a regular dinner feature since I married. Mum had a special pot she used only for pot roasts. I think she still has it, it was blue enamel and weighed a ton.

This recipe takes a long time, just over fours hours cooking time, but I am certain it will be worth it. I have the potatoes and carrots all ready to drop into the pot and I've shelled some peas and sliced some beans to go with it.  It's in the oven now and smells delicious.

It uses cheaper cuts of meat - chuck is perfect - and because of the long, slow, very gentle cooking the meat almost melts in your mouth. Add to that the veggies cooked in the same pot to pick up the flavour from the gravy and the fact that it's a one pot, no fuss dinner and it could become one of my favourites.

I'll let you know the verdict, I'm hoping it's a positive because if it is I will add pot roast to our menu more often.

Well after all that, today has been busy, busy, even more so than a normal Sunday. I've done loads of washing and some cooking and a little cleaning (really should do more of that) too and then spent some time this afternoon preparing my column for Woman's Day. I'm really enjoying answering the questions, and trying to get the very best information possible into the space I have, it's a lot of fun.

Pests be gone

Tip of the Day 21 February 2010

Household pests such as ants, cockroaches and fleas hate citrus, so use this mix to wash your floors. Mix the juice of four lemons, the rind and four litres of hot water together. Use this to mop hardfloors.The lingering scent of citrus may seem fresh and invigorating to you, but pests hate it and will keep away.  You can also squirt lemon juice around door jambs and windowsills to keep them outside and scattering small pieces of lemon peel in the pots and garden beds around your front and back doors will deter them too.

20 February 2010

Fig Jam

It's that time of year again. The fig tree is full of fruit, so full even the birds can't get it all. I picked a colander full this morning and will use them to make fig jam.

 Today's bounty, a kilo of lovely fresh figs - there will be more in a day or so.
I love fig jam. It's a childhood favourite and the one jam my mum made every year without fail. I love fig jam on fresh bread with cream. I love it on hot toast. I love it on plain muffins spread with cream cheese , topped with fig jam.

It's great as a spread and it's great as a cake filling. It makes lovely little jam tarts. You can even use it to glaze a ham.

The recipe I use is a simple microwave jam - equal quantities of fruit and sugar, with the juice of one lemon. Platinum Cheapskates Club members can login find it in the Recipe File.

The kilo of fruit in the colander made two 500ml jars and one 120ml jar of delicious fig jam.

Easy Way to Organize the Fridge

Tip of the Day 20 February 2010 

My fridge was notorious for hiding all kinds of things until one day when they were black and hairy it would let them loose on me as I unsuspectingly lifted the lid on a container to see what was in it. Smaller containers and jars would hide behind the larger items and of course out of sight is out of mind when it comes to the fridge. So much money and effort was being wasted simply because of a lack of organization. To fix this I found some trays that fit the shelves and use these to hold the smaller items. Now I can just slide a tray forward to see what's lurking at the back, making it easier to use everything up in a timely manner. No more waste and no more being scared of finding hairy, black creatures in the fridge.

19 February 2010

Tip of the Day 19 February 2010

Make a Gentle Shower Gel

This is a simple recipe for a gentle shower gel you can make yourself in just a few minutes, using ingredients you most likely already have.

1/2 cup mild shampoo (unscented if you can find it)
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt
Up to 15 drops of your favourite essential oil (optional)


Pour the shampoo and water into a small bowl and stir to combine. Make sure they are well mixed. Add the sea salt and stir until the mixture thickens. Add the essential oil a few drops at a time, mixing well between additions, until you find the strength of fragrance you like. Pour into a pump dispenser or bottle. Give it a gentle shake before using.

If you can't find unscented shampoo use a gentle or baby shampoo instead.
Table salt can be used as a substitute for sea salt.

Total cost:  approximately 90c for a 250ml bottle.

18 February 2010

Borax to the Rescue

In amongst my emails this week was a question. Nothing unusual in that, I get lots of questions in my email. But this question was a little different, bearing in mind that most Tip of the Day readers live in the city and are connected to a lovely, clean water supply.  Julie relies on dam water and I know all too well the challenges that presents. Her question was simply do I know of a way she can clean the toilet as the continual use of dam water has left a black stain and she can't shift it.

Do I! To get rid of this stain (or any other stain in your toilet) clean the toilet with borax and a stiff brush. Dampen the brush, sprinkle borax liberally onto the wet brush and scrub. Flush and if necessary repeat the process. Do this once a week and your toilet with glisten without a single toxic fume. 

You will find borax in the cleaning aisle of your supermarket. I use Harpers borax, it comes in a white tub with a bright red lid. You may need to ask someone to point it out to you as it's usually hidden away on lower shelf.  Harper's borax is available at Woolworths, Foodworks and IGA stores. If your local store doesn't stock it, ask them to get it in for you.

17 February 2010

Tip of the Day 17 February 2010

Easy Fill Tacos

To keep taco fillings inside their shells, line the shell with a leaf of lettuce before adding the meat and other toppings. The lettuce will stop the taco shell from going soggy and hold the filling even if the shell starts to break.

16 February 2010

Tip of the Day 16 February 2010

Two Handy Cake Baking Tips

When cooling a cake, spray the cake rack with cooking spray before turning the cake out. The cake will cool without sticking to the rack and they will be easier to clean.

To quickly decorate an iced cake place a cookie cutter in the centre of the icing and pour sprinkles, hundreds and thousands or chocolate slivers inside the cookie cutter. When you lift the cutter off you will have a perfect design.

15 February 2010

Steam Clean the Kitchen Tiles

Ceramic tiles certainly do make cleaning the kitchen easier, but sometimes even they can be hard to clean, especially the splashback behind the stove or cooktop. When the tiles become splattered with grease that is stubborn and hard to wipe off put a pot of water on one of the back burners and bring it to the boil with the lid off. The steam from the pot will soften the grease spots making them easy to wipe off with a clean cloth. Don't waste the water, use it for a hot drink or let it cool and use it on your indoor plants.

14 February 2010

Tip of the Day 14 February 2010

Keeping cut flowers longer

I love having cut flowers on my dining room table, they just finish the room off beautifully. But buying them is expensive, especially when they don't last more than four or five days. You can extend the life of cut flowers for up to a month with just a couple of simple tricks.

As you arrange the flowers in the vase, remove any leaves that will be below the water and cut the stems on an angle. Then fill the vase with lukewarm, sugared water (1 teaspoon of sugar per 500ml).  Every five days, empty the vase and rinse the stems under hot water. Refill the vase with sugared water or if the flowers are starting to droop, use half warm water half lemonade.

The flowers will last for up to a month, depending on how fresh they were when you bought them. Try it, it really does work.

13 February 2010

Cleaning Out the Margarine Container

Something I do, that I'm fairly certain not everyone does, is to scrape the margarine container to get every last gram out of it. When the butter knife won't pick up any more marg,  I use a thin, silicone spatula (I love those silicone spatulas) and scrape it around the container, making sure to get into the edges. Tonight I scraped enough out of the "empty" container to add to the mashed potatoes for dinner!

Scraping the marg container (or Vegemite jar or whatever) may not seem like it's saving you a lot of money but if I can get one extra use out of everything, then over time it adds up.

Tip of the Day 13 February 2010

Valentine's Day Treats You Can Make With Your Kids

When kids are first introduced to Valentine’s Day it is by their parents. They are told that it is a day to show those we love how we feel about them.

These days Valentine’s Day is a day for treats as well as expressions of love. So skip the commercial hype and show your love and affection by spending time with the kids (or grandkids) and make some special sweet treats with them. Here are two ideas for making biscuits and cupcakes that ooze with love and fresh baked goodness.

Heart shaped cookie cutters will turn regular biscuits into creations of love. Kids don’t only like hearts. Let them experiment with other shapes in the cookie cutter arsenal if they want to. They can even design shapes of their own with the dough pieces that are too small to cut.

Cupcakes are much the same way. Make little heart shaped cupcakes by putting a marble or large bead between the filled patty pan and the cake tin. The marble pushes the cake mixture in, making a little indentation that forms the heart shape. Decorate with white icing and red jelly crystals or pink icing and sprinkles.

Biscuits and cupcakes can get a nice makeover for Valentine’s Day to help reflect the good feelings of the holiday as well as create great family togetherness.

Basic Butter Biscuits

250g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar mixture
2 1/2 cups plain flour

Beat butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Transfer to large bowl.  Stir in the flour, in two batches.  Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a 25cm log. Wrap in clingwrap and  refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Roll dough out to 1cm thick. Cut into shapes with floured cookie cutters. Place biscuits on greased oven trays 2cm apart. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutess or until browned lightly. Turn cookies onto wire rack to cool.

The Worlds Easiest Cup cakes

1 cup cream and
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups SR flour
2 eggs

Combine cream and sugar. Beat into flour. Light  beat eggs and stir into mixture.  Spoon into patty pans and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes.

12 February 2010

Saturday is Our Quiet Day and Today was no Exception

We woke to grey, cloudy skies and heavy drizzle, making it very tempting just get back into bed and curl up with some books. I thought about it and then decided it would be nicer to be up and about, so up I got.

With all the lovely rain of the last two days the vegetable garden has gone wild. The tomatoes are climbing the fence and the little tommy tomato is actually higher than the fence on two limbs! It's been an odd season in the garden, the tomatoes especially have been slow to form and even slower to ripen but I did mange to pick a colander full of the tiny ones this afternoon and now I have them in the oven, slowly roasting. I love semi-dried tomatoes, especially if they are virtually free.

And as it's Spending Freeze month at the Cheapskates Club making a batch of my own rather than buying them makes sense too. Until a few years ago I had no idea that I could do my own semi-dried tomatoes, another marketing campaign that had me believing it took special skills or equipment or ingredients.

This lot were washed and dried, then cut in half. I like to put them on silicone paper in the oven, it just makes the cleaning up easier. Then I sprinkled them with some finely chopped basil and parsley (because that's what is in the garden right now) and drizzled some EVOO over them. Into a pre-heated very slow (90 degrees fan forced) oven for a couple of hours.  They've been cooking for about an hour and look good. Another hour and they'll be done. I have a jar, already to wash and sterilise by the oven method seeing it's on, to put them in. They'll keep in the fridge, covered in EVOO for months but they never last that long.

My homemade semi-dried tomatoes, don't they look good?

I like to put them in salads and on anti pasta plates, for colour but also because they are good, really, really good to eat.

They are so easy to do and small batches as they are ripe make it even easier. If you haven't tried making your own semi-dried tomatoes yet, do. They are so much nicer than the bought ones and you can alter the flavours to suit your taste.

My menu plan went out the window tonight. We decided to have the focaccias I picked up for 50c a packet at Aldi last week, for tea with pasta sauce, sliced tomato and grated cheese. Yum.  And yay for a really inexpensive tea, about $3.50 to feed the five of us.

Tip of the Day 12 February 2010

Before you hit the supermarket....
Before your weekly or fortnightly shopping trip, go through all of your food storage areas. This includes your pantry, fridge, freezer, and anywhere else you store food. It’s time to make room and take inventory. Add any grocery items you need to your shopping list. Doing a food and grocery inventory before you go shopping eliminates impulse and "might need" buying, saving you a bundle. Cheapskates Club Platinum members can login and print our Pantry, Fridge and Freezer inventories to make this chore even easier.

11 February 2010

And the rain came down

After days of being promised thunderstorms and rain it finally arrived and as usual just as school was coming out for the day.

But oh how lovely it was. I was sitting in the car with all the windows down and the rain pelting in through those open windows and I did not care a jot about the wet upholstery. I was enjoying the rain, splashing in onto my arm and shoulder, soaking through my t-shirt and cooling me.

It has been so unusually hot and steamy here in Melbourne that I was starting to wilt, along with the garden. It's been raining for about two hours and I swear the tomatoes are standing up taller and the pots at the front door are definitely a brighter shade of green.

Of course, along with such a sudden deluge comes the flash flooding. The creek behind us has broken it's banks and the water is lapping at the walking path. It's not quite to our back fence.  I don't think it will get there now, the rain seems to be easing.

The local roads were flooded when I went to pick up Hannah after an emergency phone call. She was soaked but unharmed after a section of the roof at our local shopping centre collapsed and dumped a load of water on her. She was grinning from ear to ear, delighted to be so wet and cool without being in trouble!  She doesn't have a scratch on her, just a little plaster in her hair and she was standing directly under the part of the ceiling that collapsed.

We heard on the car radio that people were swimming down Flinders Street!

I found this picture on Google Images - thanks to whoever took it, it is fantastic

I can honestly say I've never in my life heard that one before.

Driving home I noticed that the street lights were on and it was only 4.35pm on a February afternoon! Those storm clouds were dark, almost black.

The air smells deliciously muddy, that combination of dust and rain and high humidity that reminds me so much of the tropics. I'm listening to the rain patter down on the verandah roof, it has such an interesting beat, staring off so softly and building to a major crescendo before coming to a sudden stop. No easing off for this rain storm, it just stopped.

Looks like the storm has passed.
What To Do With Ripe Bananas

Instead of turfing out over-ripe bananas, freeze them instead! Just mash them and freeze in 1 cup portions in freezer bags. The next time you need mashed bananas for that yummy cake or muffin recipe, take the frozen banana, let it defrost whilst you get your ingredients organised and it will be ready to use. Just cut off the corner and squeeze! The banana has not lost its colour or flavour. No more wasted bananas and cake and muffins taste just the same!

Banana Cake
60g butter
1 cup sugar
3 bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
11/2 cups S.R. flour

Cream butter and sugar, add beaten egg and mashed bananas. Add flour and milk last. Put in greased loaf tin and bake 35-40 minutes in moderate oven. When cold ice with lemon icing.

10 February 2010

Spending Freeze Update

I've been reading the forum posts and you are all doing so well. While February is a spending freeze month, you can still buy essentials (food for your families is essential, don't stop feeding them!).

I had a giggle to myself at Debby's post. I can only imagine that hacking back the jungle aka garden would exhaust you enough to take away the desire to shop.

And then janes posted about needing a new kitchen sink, and how she comes to be needing it. Are you sure you didn't help the crack along? Just a little? Perhaps subconsciously?

Don't forget that this spending freeze is just a challenge and meant to be fun, don't worry about slipping up. I did this afternoon. After a particularly trying day dealing with a particularly difficult service provider and getting nowhere very slowly, I dashed into Coles to get milk (does it annoy anyone else that Coles has the most expensive fresh milk? 33c/3 litre bottle more expensive than my local Safeway or Aldi, anyway I digress) and made the mistake of going through the  bakery dept. Left with the milk, a packet of ginger kisses and a honey roll.

We had the honey roll sliced and topped with ice-cream and homemade caramel sauce for dessert tonight, very yummy. The ginger kisses have gone into the freezer for quick treats.  Talk about emotional buying under stress! All I can say is thank goodness I skipped the chocolate aisle - all those yummy Valentines chocolates would have really done me in.

Need Some Extra Money Fast?

There comes a time in all our lives when we need a few extra dollars fast! An easy way to find extra money is to look around you. Do your children have toys they’ve barely touched or clothing they’ve outgrown that is still in good shape? Are there tools and utensils in your kitchen that you bought that are now taking up space? One great way to make a bit of extra money is to gather up all of the items you aren’t using anymore and hold a garage sale or yard sale. Make sure that everything is clean, well organized, and clearly priced before you hold your sale. You should have a sign that clearly announces the sale in your front yard and you may want to also place a classified ad in your local paper. To save on advertising costs and generate more interest, ask a few other neighbourhood mums or friends to chip in. A garage sale is a great way to make fast bucks and declutter your home at the same time.

09 February 2010

Tip of the Day 9 February 2010

 Light Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Odd though it may sound, a light soup is often an easy and appetising  meal during summer. Long periods of hot weather can dampen appetites so this very frugal, extremely tasty summer soup is ideal. It uses lots of summer vegetables and is perfect for using up leftover roast chicken. It also freezes well.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup of sliced celery
1 carrot, diced
2 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced
1.5 litres chicken stock (homemade or use stock cubes)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup diced red capsicum
1 cup diced yellow squash
2 cups cooked chicken, diced


Place the oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and
cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Pour the chicken stock into the kettle then season with salt and pepper.  Stir to combine all ingredients. Bring the soup to a steady boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer the soup for 30 minutes. Add capsicum and squash, cover and continue to simmer another 15 minutes. Stir in the diced chicken and cook uncovered another 10 minutes.

08 February 2010

Tip of the Day 8 February 2010

Keep a Favourite T-shirt Forever

Do you have old t-shirts you just can't bear to throw away? For example, t-shirts with great sayings, pictures or end of year school autographs? Or shirts that hold precious memories of your kids when they were little? Perhpas you have a pile of souvenir t-shirts from fondly remembered holidays.  Here's a wonderful way to bring those t-shirts back to life - turn them into cushions!

T-shirt cushions are a real novelty around the house and they also make great gift ideas. They're very easy to make; just follow these simple instructions:

* Turn the t-shirt inside out and cut some length off the hem; otherwise it might be a tad too long.
* Stitch the hem to close the bottom, and then turn the t-shirt until the right side is showing.
* Sew the sleeves closed.
* Fill t-shirt with stuffing then stitch the neckline closed.

Use washable stuffing because these soft and cuddly cushions will get lots of use and be well loved.

07 February 2010

Tip of the Day 7 February 2010

Adding Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting used to be a big deal and very complicated. That's when all landscape lighting had to be hard wired to the house power supply. However, solar powered lights are among the simplest lights to install. If you'd like to add lighting along your walkway, just purchase these lights, find an appropriately sunny place for them, and stake them into the ground. They are an inexpensive way of providing lighting to your garden, making it safer at night and adding some glamour at the same time. Some kits may need a little assembly, but that really is all there is to it. You’ll find kits in the garden section at hardware and department stores and some discount or $2 shops too.

06 February 2010

Tip of the Day 6 February 2010

Fun for all the Family

Play miniature golf. Mini golf courses can be found in any city and many smaller towns. It's easy to play, even if you've never played real golf. Look in your local paper or online for discount vouchers, pack some nibbles and drinks and go  and have a lot of fun. Remember the sunscreen and hats and you'll really have a lot of fun. And it may be better if you're not a golf pro - the worse you and your fellow players are at it, the more laughs you'll get!

05 February 2010

Tip of the Day 5 February 2010

Don't Shop When You Are Hungry, Really!

The biggest downfall to any well-planned grocery shopping trip is being hungry when you hit the supermarket. Before you leave home, make sure you eat something. You are more likely to buy impulsively when you are hungry because it all looks oh so yummy. Have a sandwich, piece of fruit or a cup of soup, anything that will hold you over until you get back from the shops.

Seriously, this is really important. Don’t believe me? Go to the supermarket before breakfast, lunch or dinner one day…you’ll see!

04 February 2010

Super Cuticle Moisturiser in Your Kitchen

Keep your nails and cuticles in tip top shape with olive oil. Simply rub a drop or two into each cuticle and nail once or twice a day for a super moisturising and super cheap treatment. Cuticle oils can cost $15 or more and they don't work nearly as well as olive oil.

03 February 2010

Tip of the Day 3 February 2010

Skip the Bootees, Take Dinner to a New Mum

Instead of the usual baby gifts, take a prepared dish, casserole, dessert. etc. completely prepared and frozen for the new mother's  freezer.  Get together with a few friends or family members and you could give the new mum a freezer full of ready to heat and eat meals. It's fun and inexpensive and will give your friend precious time to spend with her new baby instead of in the kitchen.

02 February 2010

Tip of the Day 2 February 2010

The Sandwich Factory

Lunches for school or work can be expensive if you have to buy them each day. Save yourself time and money by making a weeks worth of sandwiches on one night (we make ours on a Monday night) and then freeze them. We also make up the drinks for the week and store them in the door of the fridge. Then each morning, everyone just takes a sandwich or roll, drink and fruit and off they go! Even little children can put their lunch items in their lunchbox or bag. 

Some sandwich fillings that freeze well are:

Ham and cheese
Ham and mustard
Ham, cheese and mustard
Peanut butter and jam (I know it's an American thing but it's not too bad)
Cheese and Vegemite, Marmite, Promite
Tasty cheese and jam (again, sounds odd but is very nice)
Deli meats (stras, chicken loaf, silverside, ham, devon etc)
Shredded BBQ or roast chicken and mayo
Leftover cooked sausages, sliced lengthwise with tomato sauce
Leftover cooked steak, thinly sliced with BBQ or sweet chilli sauce

Keep the salad fillings for adding just before eating, they don't freeze and thaw very well. Wrap each sandwich, roll, wrap or bagel well before freezing.

Preparing ahead saves a lot of time and discussion in the mornings and a lot of lunch money each week.