30 June 2014

MOO Monday: Make a Cosy Hot Water Bottle Cover from an Old Jumper

There is nothing quite as nice on a cold night as getting into a bed that has been warmed by a hot water bottle and then warming your feet on it. But they need covers to help keep them hot and to stop burnt toes.

You can recycle an old woollen or fleecy jumper into a hot water bottle cover in just a few minute and you don't need any special skill either.

You will need:
An old woollen or fleecy jumper
Tailors chalk
Sharp scissors
Sewing thread to match
Sewing machine
1m 6mm ribbon

Step 1. Turn the jumper inside out.

Step 2. Lay the hot water bottle on the jumper with the top along the waistband edge.

Step 3. Trace a 1.5cm seam around the hot water bottle with the tailor's chalk.  Cut along the seam line.

Step 4. Pin the cover, right sides together. Starting at the top right hand edge stitch a 1.5cm seam around the cover, leaving the top open. Zigzag over the raw edges to stop them unravelling.

Step 5. Turn right side out. Slip the hot water bottle in to the cover. Use the ribbon to gather the top and hold in place.

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27 June 2014

Maximum Storage and Organization and it didn't Cost a Cent

Each of the four bedrooms in our home have built in robes with shelves but no drawers. So much space was wasted and it was hard to find items so off to my local supermarket and closest shoe store. These businesses happily gave me empty boxes.

 Before you go, measure the spaces, plan what items you want to store this way and select the required number of the same size boxes. i.e. 6 adult shoe boxes (all of the same brand so that they are sized equally). You don't want to waste time, energy and fuel in making a second trip.

Make sure you get shoe boxes that have a separate lid. This way you have the option of an open box which is easy to pull out like a drawer and it's easy to see the contents of the box. For seasonal items, you can simply place the lid on the box.

Kids' shoe boxes are great for small items like kids' underwear, hair supplies, kids' hats. Adult shoe boxes work well for underwear, socks, ties (rolled up like sushi), kids' t shirts, scarves.

Shallow and wide boxes from the supermarket are great for adult tops, caps, sports uniforms whilst deep, wide, sturdy boxes are perfect for jumpers and other bulkier items.

Fruit boxes with lids are ideal as they have greater airflow to keep your clothing fresh. The kids decided to cover the fronts of their new 'drawers' with cheap wrapping paper and to glue on hand written labels. I used double sided tape to attach my favourite scrapbooking papers to the boxes in our wardrobe to match my 'scrapbook paper' canvases over our bed.
Contributed by Julie

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26 June 2014

Defeat the Sock Fairy and Save Time Too

When hanging socks on the line to dry, hang them in matching pairs. That way when they are dry and you remove them from the line, you can fold them together straight away. It saves time sorting and folding later. My husband taught me this hint: if you hang the socks by their toes it's even quicker.
Contributed by Catherine

I hang them in pairs by the toes too, but before I take them off the line I go along and quickly fold each pair up to the peg. Then I just zip along the line, unpegging and dropping the folded socks into the basket.

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25 June 2014

Quick Darning for Holey Socks

My husband wears the thick explorer socks and due to his job gets holes in them. I used to have trouble darning them until I tried this method. Fill a sewing machine bobbin with shirring elastic and thread the top thread with normal thread. Put the machine on zigzag with the widest stitch width possible and keep going backwards and forwards until the hole is patched. At about $12 a pair for new ones this keeps them going for a while longer.
Contributed by Caroline Deguara

Darning socks is a dying skill, but one that's handy to have. I've put the step-by-step instructions for darning on my blog. Go to  Filling in a Hole (or How to Darn a Sock) for step-by-step instructions on how to darn.

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24 June 2014

Potato Casserole

This vegetarian dish has a secret ingredient that is definitely odd - mayo! Ordinary mayo, the kind you use on salad sandwiches and in dressings. And yes, you can use low-fat if you want to.

3-4 med potatoes diced
1 zucchini, diced
¾ cup onion, diced
¾ cup mushroom, sliced
½ cup diced red capsicum,
1 bunch asparagus, cut into chunks
1 carrot, diced
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 ¾ -2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup grated mozzarella/parmesan cheese mix

Mix all the vegetables together along with the salt and pepper. Place in an oiled casserole dish. Spread the mayonnaise evenly over the top and cover the dish with foil. Bake covered at 175 degrees for 1 hour. Pull off the foil and sprinkle the cheese on top. Return to the oven and allow to melt and slightly brown for 5 minutes.

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23 June 2014

MOO Monday: A Doggy Jumper Cheapskates Style

It's getting cold here in Ippy and my dog Furey is starting to feel it, so I've been looking in all the pet stores for dog jumpers for her.  The cheapest I could find was $35. OUCH! Then I remembered what my Mum used to do with our farm dogs. We'd cut the sleeves down on our old school jumpers and put them on the dogs, they keep nice and warm. Old jumpers only cost $2.00 - $5.00 at the local secondhand store - a huge saving and no waste either. Furey loves her warm jumpy and can't wait to get into it when it gets dark.
Contributed by Susan Sumison

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20 June 2014

Earning Pocket Money

We have three children aged 6 ,8 and 9. One of my frustrations had been the weekly handing out of pocket money so earlier this year I let the children know it would be a good idea to do something towards their pocket money, or even better still earn it themselves. The kids threw in a few ideas of what they could do, most of which required mum and dad to pay. I then told them about the people in my office who daily buy coffee and cookies from a near by coffee shop. As they were paying $1 for the cookies, I told the kids I was sure they would be happy to pay half that (50 cents).

I told the kids I would ask my boss if it was ok to make cookies and put them in a container in the lunch room with a note asking for 50 cents towards the cost of each cookie. He said it sounded great to him.

Since then the kids (with help from Dad) have been baking and selling about 60 choc chip cookies a week. The cost of the each cookie is about 20 cents, leaving 30 cents from each one to go to the kids. We are now experts and can make and bake them (60) in about 40 minutes.

We see three benefits:
1. we have now saved on paying out pocket money
2. the kids have extra money to spend or save
3. the kids are learning that money is earned.
Contributed by Garry

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19 June 2014

Frugal Floor Facelift Saved Our Sanity and $300

I am a renter. It's my first time out of the parental home so price of real estate is very important to me. I rent a house with my partner for $220 a week. This is a very cheap place, the reason that it was cheap... the bathroom (the horror).

The floor was a huge eyesore no one could ignore! The old tiles that had been in place had been badly removed and the bare hardwood floors with glue and grout all over them were all we had left. We decided to fix it one day and went around trying to find options.

Faux wood panels were expensive, lino tiles were an unrealistic option as we can't fix anything to the property, lino in specialty stores was very expensive. Finally we went to Bunnings. $9.50/m lino in a large variety of colours and patterns! We picked out something simple and bought it, a Stanley knife and steel rule for under $40.

We now feel like we have a brand new bathroom!! We had extra lino left over that we used to cover up other unsightly parts of the house like the two flaking chipboard shelves in the kitchen and the oddly painted (shabby chic style but sky blue and pine tree green?) medicine cabinet shelves (it doesn’t have doors or a mirror) in the bathroom. Overall we saved ourselves a lot of time, at least $300 and of course saved our sanity!
Contributed by Amanda

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18 June 2014

Weird Ways to Save More Money


Saving money has become a quest for millions of families around the globe. Times are a bit tough and people are becoming more conscious of their spending.

Here are a few weird or unusual ways to save money.

No. 1: Resell your books. Do you have bookcases full of books you've read once and will never read again? Take them to your nearest secondhand book store and sell them. It’s a great way to turn what are otherwise dust collectors into money you can use and make room on your bookshelves.

No.2: Cut your own hair. Okay, this isn't for everyone but you can save good money when you cut your own hair. Generally styles that are longer or one length are easier to cut. Check out YouTube videos to find good “how to's.”

No. 3: Become a barista. Learn how to make great coffee and save tons of money. You can make your favourite coffee at home. A simple espresso machine costs less than a month’s worth of coffee from your favourite cafe. Add syrups, milk or cream and whatever flavourings you like to make top notch drinks and save money.

No. 4: Keep the change. Whenever you pay for anything use notes, never pay with change. Keep it. At home, at the end of the day put all of your change into a large jar. You can save hundreds of dollars in change each month. This money can be used to pay for a holiday, buy a new toy or clothing or go into your emergency fund.

No. 5: Swap. Partner with friends to organize a swap group. Swap magazine subscriptions, clothing, books and movies whatever works best for you. It’s a great way to refresh your belongings and save money.

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17 June 2014

Lamb Fritters

Leftover lamb doesn't have to be just for sandwiches. It can be used to make another meal entirely - lamb fritters. They are delicious and a wonderful way to use just a little bit of leftover lamb.

Leftover lamb roast – diced
1 large onion, grated
1 egg
1 tbsp mint sauce
1 cup SR flour
1 cup milk
oil for shallow frying

Mix all the ingredients except the oil together, stirring well to remove lumps. Drop spoonfuls into hot oil and fry until brown on the bottom. Turn and cook until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.

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16 June 2014

MOO Monday: Cereal Box Magazine Holder

When you've finished with a large box of cereal, don't pitch the box in the trash. Instead, convert it into a container to hold magazines.

You will need:
Empty cereal boxes
Wrapping paper or contact
Glue (if using wrapping paper)

Step 1. Make sure the box is totally free of any cereal.

Step 2. Cut off the all four of the top flaps.

Step 3.  With the box lying flat measure up 15cm on the left side and mark the point with a pencil.

Step 4. Then draw an angled line across the front of the box starting from the mark you made on the left side to the top right hand side.

Step 5. Turn the box over and measure up 15cm on the right side and mark the point with a pencil, then draw an angled line across the front of the box, starting from the mark you made that right side to the top left hand side.

Step 6. Turn the box onto the narrow side with the points you marked facing up. Draw a line across the narrow side of the box joining the two marks.

Step 7. Start cutting along the lines you marked, beginning at the top right corner, down, along the narrow side and up to the top left corner.

Step 8. You can leave the boxes as is or cover the outside with pretty wrapping paper or contact paper.

Step 9. Smooth more contact paper over the edges and into the inside as far as you can reach.

Use contact that compliments your décor or choose something fun and quirky to match your personality. These are great in the kids' bedroom, on their desk or in the family room to store all those newsletters, flyers etc. we seem to collect.

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13 June 2014

Don't be Afraid to Ask

I used to think that the price advertised was the end of the story. But after working with someone who used to get great deals all the time, I learned this isn't the way. For example now when I want to go on a weekend away, I pick a few hotels I like, check out all the various discount website prices, such as wotif.com, then I email the hotel direct and ask them for their best price. Almost every time they'll knock at least $10 off the price. If you're ever at a clothes shop and buying multiple items, it never hurts to ask if they could offer a deal. Another example, when I was buying my TV, I visited a few stores before choosing the TV, and then went to JB because they had an extra 10% off promotion, and lucky for me a staff member hadn't taken down the promotion that had ended the day before, and I insisted on getting that price as well as the 10% discount. It's all about realising that the stores need your business, and if you don't get the deal you want, there's plenty of other hotels, clothes and TVs out there, and they know that.
Contributed by Jorja Stone

12 June 2014

MOO Potting Mix

Need potting mix, but turned off by the price of good ones and the quality of the cheaper mixes?

Don't be tempted to use cheaper commercial potting mix. It may be cheap but it will settle down and compact the soil, making it harder for your plants to put down roots and for water to penetrate.

Solve the problem by making your own by combining equal parts peat moss, vermiculite (or perlite) and compost (preferably your own). This will give you a lightweight, nutrient-rich mix that drains well and doesn't dry out quickly, making it ideal for pots and grow bags as well as for topping up raised beds.

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11 June 2014

Big Money Saving Mistakes

Does it seem like no matter how hard you try, saving money just seems to evade you? Chances are if you're struggling to save money you're making some of the very same mistakes millions of others are making (I've made them myself too.)

Stop making these mistakes and make saving easier!

Mistake No. 1: Buying Based on Emotions
The truth is that all of us make our buying decisions based on emotions. However, this type of behavior is what caused us to have a house full of toys and shoes that just don’t add to quality of life. Instead of shopping based on emotion, shop based on need. And always ask yourself, “How happy will this purchase make me ten years from now?”

Mistake No. 2: Not Having a Plan
This is the second most common mistake. You want to save money but you probably have no idea how much you spend each month nor how much you can afford to save. Track your expenses and your income and create a plan!

Mistake No. 3: Saving Big Without a Real Goal
Interestingly enough, there are people who save and save and save to the expense of the rest of their life. While saving money is a great idea of course, it’s important to have balance. It is possible to save money and live a comfortable life at the same time.

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10 June 2014

Bread Crumb Biscuits

These biscuits are so good and are another delicious way to use up leftover bread crusts or stale bread.

1-1/2 cups SR flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup skim milk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup applesauce
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs*

Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Sift together flour and cocoa, stir in bread crumbs.  Combine skim milk, egg, vanilla extract and apple sauce.  Add to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Drop by spoonfuls onto an a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. Bake 15 minutes until golden.

*Note:  Save crusts in the freezer until you have enough to make 2 cups of breadcrumbs, then make these biscuits.

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09 June 2014

MOO Monday: Homemade Baby Rice Cereals

Michelle writes "A tip for you on feeding your baby... discovered as a cost saving exercise purely by accident! I am a bit of a greenie and look into foods a little more closely than most would. When my little fella was born I discovered that most baby foods have fillers and thickeners in them and rice cereals didn't seem to go far at all - my little man sat there looking at me like "is that it?" after he finished the recommended portion size so I was going through truck loads of these tiny packets. I ended up going to the health food store and bought a kilo of wholemeal rice flour, millet flour and what ever other flours were used in these meals, I think I had about 4 different kinds. Anyway they cost me about $2 a kilo and I created a little mixture every morning and cooked it up on my stove. These lasted me months, I tell you months! In fact I still have some millet and rice flour two years down the track! I actually saved hundreds of dollars compared to what I would have spent on packets."

I did this with my own babies, using rice flour. I made a "porridge" of rice flour for them and they loved it. As they grew up, I added an egg to the mixture. Now they are really grown-up (23, 21 & 18) they still love ground rice porridge - and it's really cheap, too! - Cath

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06 June 2014

Are Your Friends Making You Poor?

You love your friends. They make you laugh. They support you when you need someone to lean on.

The problem is they may be making you poor.

If you're on a budget but your friends aren't, it can be a real challenge. This is especially true when your friends are big spenders and use shopping as an emotional crutch.

They like to go to the best restaurants, order the most expensive items on the menu and visit the most expensive clubs. They may dress in designer labels, drive a great car, live in a nice home and have all the latest and greatest gadgets as soon as they're released.

If you have friends like this it can not only cause you to spend more money than you’d like, you may compare your lifestyle to theirs and feel you come up short. You may feel motivated to emulate their lifestyle even though you can't afford it.

Take a look at how you spend your money. Are your friends influencing your decisions and spending habits?

If so, it’s time for some deep reflection.

It’s time to take a look at how your friends influence you and how you can regain control over your spending habits. Presumably your friends will be true friends and will like you regardless of how much money you have to spend or what you spend it on.

Have an honest discussion with yourself and then with your friends. Together you can come up with a plan to keep everyone happy.

Remember the Cheapskates way and ditch the stuff that's unimportant to you so you have the cash to enjoy the things that are.

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05 June 2014

Step-by-Step to Treating Blood Stains

I don't know about your family but mine seems to be accident prone at times, resulting in a lot of bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts and nicks. Between sport, sewing, gardening and my kitchen accidents it seems there is at least one blood stain to deal with every week.

The trick to treating blood, or any, stain is to get to it quickly. After that you just need to know what you're dealing with and treat it accordingly.

Two tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of dishwashing detergent and ice-cold water should do the trick when it comes to bloodstains.

Step 1. Run the fabric under very cold water under the tap until the bloodstain starts to dissolve. Never use hot water for bloodstains.

Step 2. Soak the garment in a basin of ice-cold water even add in some ice cubes for 15 minutes.

Step 3. Tightly wring out the garment and then add the salt to the stain and with an appropriate laundry brush, begin to scrub.

Step 4. Then add your soap to the stain and continue to scrub adding a little more salt if necessary.

Step 5. Rinse the garment in cold water and line dry. Never put a bloodstained garment in the dryer, as this will set the stain.

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04 June 2014

Debt doesn’t “Just Happen”

Most of us want to live the Great Australian Dream; to be able to buy whatever we want whenever we want it. However, the Great Australian Dream can turn into a nightmare if you’re not careful. Debt can creep up on you and take you down when you least expect it and when you’re most vulnerable.

Going into debt isn't necessary in order to be able to have the things you need and want.  However, it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of thinking you have to have it now, and often that means putting it on a credit card or taking out a loan.
Aside from an “I want” mentality, here are some other warning signs that you might be in danger of a lifetime of indebtedness:

You Don’t Have a Budget
When you don’t have control of your money and finances, you are at risk of going into debt. A budget allows you to the freedom to tell your money where it’s going and opens the door to savings. The key to staying out of debt, yet having the freedom to purchase the things you want and need, is being able to save up for them and pay cash.

You’re Living beyond Your Means
When you find yourself struggling to make ends meet every month, you’re living beyond your means. When you have more going out than coming in, you are more likely to be tempted to go into debt in order to get the things you need or want.

You Don’t Have an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is money set aside for, well, emergencies. You should have at the very minimum $1,000 set aside for emergencies. Money for food, weekends away, and routine car maintenance are not emergencies. You should have money budgeted for these things. A true emergency would be an unexpected hospitalization, a death in the family or a car accident. When you don’t have an emergency fund and a true emergency arises, you may be forced to go into debt in order to pay hospital bills or other expenses.

You Believe You Must Incur Debt in Order to “Build Your Credit”
This is probably the biggest pitfall of all where debt is concerned. Your parents and grandparents have probably taught you that you must build credit so you can have the things you want in the world. However, the truth is, you can have nice things without going into debt, including nice homes and cars. The “trick” is budgeting, saving and planning so that you can pay cash. You don’t have to take out a loan or use a credit card, even to buy the larger items.

By knowing the warning signs, you can avoid the pitfalls of debt and enjoy living a debt-free life.

03 June 2014

Gluten Free Apple Bread

This loaf really is more like a bread than a cake. In fact it's very similar to the old-fashioned banana breads in texture. Do not over-bake this loaf or it will be dry. Every oven varies so err on the side of caution and start testing at 50 minutes.

1-1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup soya or whole bean flour
1/3 cup cornflour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tspn bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sultanas
1-1/2 cups applesauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 egg whites, beaten

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Grease and coat a large loaf tin with soy flour. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl blend the applesauce, egg whites and vinegar. Pour liquids into the flour mix and blend. Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it.  Do not over-bake! Cool on cake rack and serve.

02 June 2014

MOO Monday: Cleaning Wipes

Window wipes, disinfectant wipes, bathroom wipes, floor wipes, all-purpose wipes - we are being bombarded by wipes. Don't get me wrong, wipes are very, very handy. I use them in the car for the windows and to keep it dust-free. I use them when we go camping for quick clean-ups. I love window wipes when I'm in a hurry. But wipes are expensive to buy.

The best thing about wipes is you don't need to buy them. You can MOO them, and it's really easy.

You will need:
1 round baby wipe container*
1 roll of paper towels**
2-4 cups cleaning solution (see the recipes below)

Recycle a used, round baby wipe container. Cut a roll of paper towel in half, (an electric or serrated knife works best for this). Remove the centre cardboard tube. Place half of the paper towels in the baby wipe container. Pour cleaning solution into the container. The amount will depend of the absorbency of your paper towels. Pull the first paper towel out of the centre of the roll, through the hole in the container lid. If the paper towels dry out before they are all used, add more solution or some water. These can be used for window cleaner, all purpose cleaner or disinfectant cleaner.

*If you don't have a baby wipe container, you can use a round plastic container and just drill or punch a large hole in the centre of the lid - or ask a friend with a baby to keep one for you.

**It is best to use thicker paper towels. The cheap ones won't hold up to scrubbing.

For Face/Hand Wipes:
2 tablespoons liquid baby bath
2 cups water

For Bathroom Wipes:
1/2 cup Miracle Spray
2 cups water

For Window Wipes:
1 cup glass cleaner
1-1/2 cups water

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