31 December 2012

Make a Party Hat

To make a New Year’s party hat, all you need is a half circle of card stock with a 6-9 inch radius, depending on how large you want it. Form the half circle into a cone and staple it at the base and seam. Decorate with glitter, foil, feathers or whatever you’d like. String with elastic thread to keep it in place. 

28 December 2012

Sunday Night Ritual Saves Money at Dinnertime

Approximate $ Savings: $40 per week

Menu planning saves me about $40 per week on groceries and even more on takeaway. I write out a plan of weekly meals on a Sunday night, checking what I have in the freezer and pantry whilst I go. This enables me to make use of what I have and saves on groceries as I usually only need to grab bread or milk through the week. By having a menu plan and making a habit of taking the meat out the night before I am rarely lazy enough to buy take away anymore. I can also mix the meals around if I did forget to take something out of the freezer.
Contributed by Dayna

27 December 2012

Wonderful Air Freshener

Keep your home scented and fresh all year round with a beautiful homemade air freshener.

You will need:
6 Drops Eucalyptus Oil,
10 Drops Rose Oil,
10 Drops Lavender Oil
A small dish or bowl, about 1 cup capacity

Half fill the dish with boiling water.  Add the oils and stir. The heat from the water will warm the oils and your home will smell absolutely wonderful.
Contributed by Elizabeth

26 December 2012

Examining Spending Habits Finds Savings

The challenging economic times have forced our family to examine EVERYTHING we spend our money on, to see where savings can be made. For instance:
1. Instead of buying meat from the supermarket every week, we're making a monthly trip to Victoria Market, about an hour before closing time, to snaffle the best bargains and the best quality meat.

2. Instead of buying coffee and a muffin every day, we're using the coffee machines at the office and baking our own muffins.

3. In this sizzling Melbourne summer heat, I carry a reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go (it stays in the work fridge during the day), to avoid buying drinks as I wait for the trains - when they decide to show up!

4. Before leaving home for work, we turn all appliances off at the wall except for the fridge/freezer.

5. I avoid taking my purse with me if I'm going for a walk at lunchtime or popping out to a meeting - I can't be tempted to buy anything if I don't have any money/cards on me!

Challenge yourself to examine EVERY way you spend money to find savings. As Cath says, we don't have to go without if we implement practical changes and plan ahead! :o)

Contributed by Kate Ashmore

25 December 2012

Toasty Spiced Rosemary Cashews


750g roasted cashews
3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Evenly spread cashews on an un-greased baking sheet. Bake in pre-heated oven for 8 to 10 minutes until just fragrant and warm. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, salt and butter, stirring very well. When cashews are warm, remove them from the oven and add them immediately to the bowl and toss to coat well.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

24 December 2012

Markers Drying Out?

Try just a drop of vinegar to bring them back to life. Then store markers horizontally, this keeps them from drying out.

21 December 2012

Make a Lovely Ice Bowl Centrepiece

To make a beautiful table decoration, which can be adjusted to complement different themes, make an ice bowl with flowers frozen in it (or anything you think will look good). Get 2 bowls of same shape 1 smaller than other with approximately 10-15mm space between the two. Arrange flowers, leaves, herb sprigs or citrus slices, maybe lollies etc. around the inside of the larger bowl and place the smaller bowl inside. Tape the two bowls together so they are flush and will not move apart. Gently pour cooled boiled water into the gap between the bowls to about 1cm from the top, (cooled boiled water gives a clearer, more sparkling ice bowl). Add some more flowers or other decorations, if needed, arranging them with a skewer. Freeze overnight. Next day, remove the bowls from freezer and stand at room temperature on a plate or tea towel for 10-20 minutes, or until they separate easily. There you have it, a beautiful ice bowl. Return this to freezer until needed.
Contributed by Barbara

20 December 2012

Simple Steps to a Beautiful Christmas Table

Setting the Christmas table is easy. First pick a colour theme. Everyone usually has a white table cloth, if not, a white sheet does the trick for table. So this is the base.

Go to any Reject/cheap shop and buy a beautiful roll of Christmas paper...use this as the table runner. Advantage of this, besides looking gorgeous...it just has to be thrown out of the meal! No soaking out gravy stains or ironing the good table cloth.

Prior to the day get the kids involved by making the place-cards. You can just buy a piece of coloured cardboard and let the kids use their imagination. Red or green glitter, Christmas stickers and write names in gold/silver pen or any colour that suits. These become treasured keepsakes and can be re-used or replaced each year.

Napkins, if you don't like the lovely paper ones that are at the Reject/cheap shop...go to Spotlight and buy a piece of Christmas material and make your own...again these can be used each year. Even if you aren't a sewer...squares are usually achievable or the 15 year old may love to do this!

If you are not using your best crystal glasses for drinking, put them in the middle of the table and fill with cheap coloured balls or candles from the cheap shops. Check your cupboards for ideas. Christmas ribbon also is great around the napkins. Gold stars, glitter or Christmas sprinkles also look great on the table.

There is so much good stuff at the Reject/cheap shops...just make time to go and check out what they have on the shelves. The kids will love helping you.

Don't forget as an added touch...all your guests will love the Christmas toilet paper ($2 at the Reject Shop), its a great talking point.
Contributed by Karen

19 December 2012

The Benefits of Being Financially Responsible

Approximate $ Savings: A lifetime of savings & no financial stress

This isn't so much a tip. I just wanted to share an unexpected discovery with fellow Cheapskaters. To explain : 14 years ago our financial circumstances were bad. To keep within our limited income we had to stick to a strict budget, and it was difficult for me. At first I hated it, my husband was the driving force who kept us on track. Thankfully, we were able to survive and recover. Then recently, a financial windfall allowed our family to enjoy an overseas holiday (we were very responsible with the rest of the money!). We did not have a budget for this holiday! For the first week, we didn't know ourselves - we splashed out on whatever we wanted, HOWEVER, by the third week, we were actually back to our usual cautious spending pattern - even the kids! To our surprise, we found we just didn't have it in us to waste money! Being financially responsible becomes a way of life. Who'd have thought it?
Contributed by Ann

18 December 2012

Company Ready Devilled Eggs

12 large eggs, hard boiled
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cayenne
1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
finely chopped flat leaf parsley and paprika for garnish

Peel the eggs, then cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks to a bowl and set the whites on a nice platter or plate. Add diced avocado, lime zest and lime juice to the yolks and mash together with a fork or a pastry cutter. When mixture is pretty smooth (you really don't want this to be chunky) add the mayo, mustard, cumin, cayenne and capers and mix together until smooth again. Spoon or pipe this mixture into the egg white halves on the platter. Sprinkle the chopped parsley and paprika over each one for garnish and colour.  Makes 24 appetizers.

17 December 2012

Easy Wrapping with Oven Bags

Approximate $ Savings: $5-$7
I have discovered oven bags for gift wrapping. I recently gave mugs with Minties and chocolates to teachers for Christmas. To buy cellophane by the sheet is a dollar or more. A generic brand of oven bags costs under $3 for a pack of 10. For a much cheaper price I was able to wrap the mug filled with goodies and tie it with curling ribbon. It was easier to put together than juggling four corners of cellophane and looks great. This would work well for any combination pack gift you want to put together. What about a bag full of baking goodies with a recipe! A selection of toiletries or stationery, bagged up and tied with inexpensive ribbon. Once you start, the possibilities are endless.
Contributed by Julie

14 December 2012

Two Sensational Secret Santa Gift Ideas

The Write Stuff

Stationery makes a great stocking stuffer or secret santa gift idea. You can get neat little fountain pens for $1.95 from Smiggles. They also have a range of gel pens from $1.50 each and they come in gorgeous colours. Match a fountain pen and a notebook (they start at $1.50 too) and you can have a great and really trendy gift for under $3.00. I know teenage girls love this range of stationery, my daughter just about lives in the shop and I have a fountain pen and it's lovely to write with so I can recommend Smiggles.
Contributed by Margaret, Knoxfield

Mini Rocky Road Chocolates

375g dark chocolate
1 cup mixed fruit
1pkt marshmallows
1 pkt raspberries (lollies)
½ cup mixed nuts (almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts,

Roughly chop marshmallows, nuts and raspberries. Add mixed fruit and stir thoroughly. Melt chocolate over low heat. Add to other ingredients and stir to mix through. Drop teaspoonfuls onto a tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate until set. Wrap in cellophane bags and tie with Christmas ribbon. Add a gift tag.

13 December 2012

Great Paintings for Wall Display for Under $75

Approximate $ Savings: At least $200 per display

We have recently bought our first home after learning so much from all the cashed-up tips available on the website. We bought a slightly older property and used our savings to 'splurge' on renovating the kitchen and bathroom. I love having paintings or wall art on display but could not justify paying over $275 for an abstract riot of colours I had seen at Ikea. Wanting to spruce up the lounge and master bedroom, I went to the gift shop at the Art Gallery of WA and picked up large art prints for around $20 - $25 each. I did end up paying $49 for each frame but I had 2 lovely art displays for under $75 each and these are beautiful landscapes by well known Australian artists, not just a random mix of brush strokes that is passed off as 'modern art' these days. I could have saved more by buying frames from op shops or garage sales but my lounge looks so homely now.
Contributed by Amy

12 December 2012

Christmas Gifts for $3.33 each

Yesterday I invested $40.00 on seeds, pots, hanging baskets, two bags of potting mix, which I bought from the Reject Shop, and potting mix from Safeway (Homebrand). I will plant them now for Christmas. I will have twelve presents for a total of  $40.00. For $3.33 each these will be gifts for mum, family and friends.
Contributed by Cathrene, Melbourne

11 December 2012

Apple Berry Salad

This is a delicious take on fruit salad and is a refreshing way to either start a meal as an appetizer or end a meal as a dessert.

2 medium size Granny Smith or other tart apples
1 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp currants
2 tbsp dried craisins
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp chopped walnuts

Wash and core apples. Do not peel. Dice apples into bite size pieces and put in large salad bowl, add lime juice toss well. Add currants, craisins, honey and yogurt to the bowl and toss to coat well. Put walnuts in a small, dry (no oil) frypan over medium heat and toast lightly, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the toasted nuts to the salad and serve immediately.

10 December 2012

Christmas Pot-Pourri

Leave bowls of this lovely Australian pot pourri throughout your home and fill it with the scents of Christmas or package it up in cellophane bags or small glass bowls to give to friends and family.

2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup of dried cloves
2 cups gum nuts
1 cup mistletoe leaves (from a florist or dried flower supplier, use eucalyptus leaves if you can’t easily find mistletoe)
A few drops of your favourite essential oil to sprinkle on gum nuts
Dried petals for colour

Gently toss all the ingredients together and package. Use pretty jars or cellophane bags to package the pot pourri.

07 December 2012

Balloon Bouquets

If you have kids that are hard to buy for and a gift card seems old hat try this. If your budget is $20 a gift, roll up a $5 note and gently push it into a red or green balloon. Blow up the balloon and tie it off. Repeat with another three $5 notes. Tie the balloons together into a bouquet. Add streamers of Christmas coloured curling ribbon to finish it off.

06 December 2012

The Secret to a Designer Table

Those fancy professionally decorated table settings always look so beautiful, but they need not be out of reach for the rest of us. The secret to the designer look is a very limited colour scheme - e.g. gold or silver plus one or two other colours ONLY. With a simple colour palette and found or made objects you can create a decorator look on a budget. Start with the tablecloth, plain white is perfect or if you have a colour, let that dictate your colour scheme e.g. royal blue cloth with all silver decorations. The colour doesn't have to be a traditional Christmas colour. Add paper doilies for placemats, plain white or sprayed gold or silver.

Then add your chosen decorations:
Idea 1: Natural theme. Send the kids to the backyard, park or nature reserve to find gumnuts, seed casings, pine cones etc. Lightly spray with your choice of gold or silver spray paint (from a cheap shop) and allow to dry. I think a light 'dusting' of the paint looks nice and lets the natural beauty of your found objects shine through, and when spraying anything paper make sure to use a number of very light coats of spray to build up the colour, rather than one thick coat which will make the paper wrinkle. Scatter gumnuts over the table top, glue to homemade napkin rings (cut from cardboard tube and also sprayed)or glue around the perimeter of a cardboard circle to make a wreath candle centrepiece.

Idea 2: Miniature gifts - scout around the house to find as many little boxes or box shapes as possible - matchboxes, ring boxes, kids' building blocks, pieces of styrofoam etc. Have the kids wrap them up in Christmas paper and ribbons as though they are presents - great for using up little scraps of paper and ribbon leftovers. Use a theme colour and scatter over the table, use to fill a pretty glass bowl etc. Don't forget to retrieve your objects when Christmas is over, or you could store them to be used again next year! These also make great tree ornaments, hung by their ribbons.

Idea 3: Mix up a batch of air-drying modelling dough, roll it out like biscuit dough and use your Christmas cookie cutters to cut designs. Have the kids paint them and use to scatter over the table, glue to homemade napkin rings or bonbons (crepe paper wrapped around toilet rolls and tied at each end with ribbon), glue to candles etc. A theme works well with this, e.g. stars in various sizes. All of these ideas are minimal in cost - a can of spray paint at the cheap shop, paper doilies from the paper plate aisle at the supermarket, crepe paper from the newsagents. They are also fantastic fun, and great boredom busters for the kids in the days leading up to Christmas when mum is so busy and the kids need entertaining.

Air Drying Modelling Dough Recipe: 2 cups salt 1/2 cup water 1 cup cornflour Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring continuously, until a smooth dough forms. Use as soon as cool enough to handle. Will harden at room temperature in 2 days. Can be painted or varnished. (Recipe provided by my child health centre, as provided by the Play and Learning Program, WA Department of Health) Have a wonderful Christmas with your new family!
Contributed by Margaret

05 December 2012

How to Avoid Impulse Spending

When you get catalogues in the mail, you don't have to look through them. Put them in the recycle bin or turn them into kitty litter immediately. Better still, put a "no junk mail" sticker on your letterbox and remove the temptation altogether. If you need to see if something is on special, look up the relevant website.

When you get those emails from retailers letting you in on the latest sales just delete them. Unless you need something and have been waiting for it to go on sale, don't even open the email. You can't miss what you don't know about right?

Avoiding temptation is a key in avoiding impulse purchases. Remove your name from mailing lists and you will save yourself time, stress and money. Every few months I go through my emails one by one and unsubscribe to anything I can. It frees up so much of my time each day, AND I avoid those emails advertising the latest, greatest deal I shouldn't miss

04 December 2012

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

2 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp orange zest
3/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg, beaten
2 cups craisins* chopped roughly
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and bicarb soda  into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, melted butter, and beaten egg. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined - do not over stir. Add the craisins and the walnuts and fold in until combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand in loaf pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and let rest for several hours before serving. Makes 1 loaf.

*Craisins are dried cranberries and are available in the dried fruit aisle of your supermarket.

03 December 2012

Beautifully Wrapped Gifts with Amazing, Cheap Bows

Approximate $ Savings: $50
I love Christmas, and I love have beautifully wrapped Christmas presents; I have always bought ribbon to wrap my Christmas gifts in a traditional style, visiting numerous $2 shops etc to stock up on ribbon and every year I have a different theme. Last year however, I noticed that number of metres of ribbon per roll had dropped significantly, with rolls of only 1-2 metres costing a minimum of $2 each- that length would have only done one, maybe two gifts and with a very large extended family, it was fast adding up- what was I going to do? Then it came to me, crepe paper streamers. You can buy these in all different colours, I bought purple as we were having a purple and silver theme that year, and with four streamers each 25m long in a packet for $2 (from my local $2 shop) I only need 1 packet! I added in a roll of silver curling ribbon (90m at $2) to help tie it all together. I put the streamer around each gift in a cross fashion and fixed with sticky tape, and then cut 6 10cm strips of crepe paper, laid them on top of each other and tied them in the middle with curling ribbon, fanned out the crepe paper and hey presto- a bow. I fixed this to the gift with a little for curling ribbon and the gift was done. They purple colour really jumped out, and all the family commented on how great the gifts looked. I managed to keep up my Christmas traditions, and saved a fortune.
Contributed by Shea