16 November 2015

The Week that Was

This week a friend of a friend asked me what I do all seeing as how I "don't have a real job".  Well, I'm never bored, there's always something to do around the house  or garden, especially when you try to do things the Cheapskates way. And I most certainly do have a real job! Here's a few things that were done this week.

Monday was hot here - 34 degrees C (93 F). I was up at 5.30am and outside watering, coffee in hand, by 5.35am. It was so cool and quiet. Then birds started to wake up and the noise was incredible. I hadn't watered for over a week thanks to the wonderful rain we've had, but the ground was starting to dry out and strong winds were forecast.

I picked a half a bowl of strawberries, with lots more waiting to ripen. I've been picking a handful of strawberries every morning and eating them for my breakfast. So sweet and free - what better way to enjoy fresh fruit.

I picked the first zucchini of the season!

The first zucchini for this year!
The washing machine wouldn’t start. It wouldn't even light up so I did two lots of washing by hand (I'm out of practice, it was harder than I remembered). I wasn't able to wring it out as well as the washing machine but it dripped dry nicely in the sun and breeze.

Wayne looked up the washing machine problem using Google and was able to fix the problem himself on Tuesday, saving $135 service call plus approximately $300 in parts! All he had to do was re-solder a wire that had come loose and replace a fuse, then put two screws back to hold the panel in place. It took him about 35 minutes all up (and that included cleaning behind the washing machine for me).

Cooking all our meals from scratch. Really does save a fortune and doesn't take any longer than going for takeaway thanks to the meal plan.

Completed the stockpile. Now I'm re-organising it to make it easier to use and to ensure that everything will be used.

Started preparing jars for jam making. There are figs on the fig tree so I'll be making fig jam and drying figs before Christmas.  I've scrubbed the labels off and washed 15 jars so far.

Very gratefully accepted the offer of more jars from a friend who knows just what a jar snob I am and kindly offered me her excess :)

Picked beans from the garden two days. Washed, cut and bagged them straight away. So much easier to work with smaller quantities than to wait until there is a bulk lot. It only took five minutes and the job was done.

Saved the water from showers and added it to the washing machine.

Fed the worms with veggie peelings and added citrus and onion skins to the bokashi bucket.

Took the curtain lining down in our bedroom and re-stitched the tape - I mustn't know my own strength, when I tugged the drape to close it on Wednesday night it came off the tape! They're old, probably as old as the house, but we're not ready to replace them just yet.

Laughed out loud when I read the letter from Telstra advising that from end of November they'd be charging $3.20 on top of the bill if I chose to pay it in person! Seriously, they should be grateful we're still customers and be trying to keep us, not turn us away. What an absolute rip-off! We pay our bill by direct debit so it won't affect us, but I wonder how much it cost to send the packet to all Telstra customers?

Finished writing out the Christmas cards - yahoo! And they're all handmade, saving around $110 (based on $3.50 a card from the newsagent). I have the stamp money in my hidey-hole so when I'm at the post office next week I'll buy them and then they'll be ready to go into the post-box on 30th.
Made some gift bags using beautiful paper I already had. So simple, and just the right size for the gifts. Making them has saved at least $2 a bag, and I was able to personalise them to match the gifts. I also made matching tags from the paper scraps.

Some of this year's Christmas cards - all done and ready to go!
Made some card sets and matching boxes to use as gifts. I used paper and embellishments from the craft drawers and searched online for inspiration.

Spent a morning in the kitchen baking for the two birthdays we have in the next 10 days. Made a double batch of MOO condensed milk - saving around $6. Made a double batch of sausage rolls and froze them. Made a double batch of mini quiche and froze them. Made mixed berry muffins, used cupcake papers and stretched the number from the recipe to three dozen. Made a batch of Lunchbox Cookie dough, rolled it into logs and froze it.

Started getting the Christmas decorations sorted. We have two birthdays before the end of the month so we won't be decorating until 1st December, but I like to be organised.

Spread crushed egg shells around the veggie garden.

The tomatoes are flowering so I've been rinsing the empty milk bottles over them. The calcium is good for them and helps prevent blossom end rot and it's a free treatment.

So what frugal tasks did you get done this week, in and around your job - real or otherwise?

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  1. Hi Cath
    Have you seen the Maccona recyling website that has all the uses for the jars? Such good ideas.
    here is the link. http://www.moccona.com.au/jar-upcycling/decoupage/

    regards Julie

    1. Thank you Julie, I had seen the Moccona site before and forgotten about it. I don't have a lot of Moccona jars, I don't like the coffee so I don't buy it and I don't know anyone who does. But when I find them I hang on to them and love them :)

  2. Thank you for the hint about washing the milk jugs out over your tomato plants. I will have to try that in our garden next Spring and Summer. :)

  3. Ditto the hint with the tomatoes. I am jealous of your zuchini but I am picking tomatoes and basil here in SE NSW so happy with that.as its normally Christmas time. Your cards are lovely. I have a question about your stockpile, how are you going to replenish the bought goods when you have such a reduced income?I understand you harvest and process produce from your garden. I don't mean to sound negative just curious.

    1. This budget is in place until the end of 2016 and you're right, by then our stockpile will be run down. From 2017 things won't be so tight, we'll be back to our regular $320 a month and I'll start building again from scratch. However, during the year if there is something too good to pass up, then I may do some juggling (there are a couple of non-essential categories I can play with - hair cuts, clothes, gifts, entertainment or our pin money) to replenish groceries.

      I wish I was picking tomatoes Barb, right now I'll be lucky to have enough for Christmas, lots of flowers but not much else happening. I picked beans and peas tonight and we had them with our dinner - delicious!

      And you're not negative - feel free to be as curious as you like :)

  4. You don't have a real job!? Baa Haa that is hilarious......if only they could be a fly on the wall. Seriously!

  5. Hi Cath, Wow I was in shock when I read the remark, like Phil said it is hilarious! I am amazed when I read what you achieve on a daily basis let alone the time you put into running Cheapskates, Courses, TV appearances, the list goes on........ Gorgeous Christmas cards as well♥ Have a wonderful week Cath, in my eyes you are Wonder Woman for sure. Linda

  6. Do you have any zucchini growing hints Cath?
    I have never grown them before and would like to try

    1. If you've never grown zucchini before I suggest you start with seedlings from the nursery/garden centre. Try a sturdy variety like Black Jack. Zucchini grow very easily, almost like a weed :) Just plant it, water it, I feed them with worm tea (or Seasol if you don't have worms) once a fortnight and let them grow. They need space, as they spread out. I find I get better results if I plant them in a square rather than in a long row. Also pick the fruit often and they'll keep on giving for months. They are inclined to get powdery mildew and blossom end rot (where the ends of the zucchini go soft and mushy). Make sure they get enough water and they like to be watered from the ground not the top, they like lots of sunlight and need to be spaced so they have good air circulation. Rinse the empty milk bottles over them to help with the blossom end rot - it's cause by a calcium deficiency (it works for tomatoes too). Sounds complicated but not really and the $6 for a couple of sturdy seedlings will give you plenty of zucchini and save you fortune at the greengrocer.

  7. " You don't have a real job " - seriously. I've seen how hard you work around your home. You have lots of jobs as a mother, wife, financial advisor, taxi driver, chef, head gardener, interior decorator, treasurer, etc etc. Then there are the other jobs like tv personality, owner of the Cheapskates website, running workshops, and card making days . The list could go on and on.

    It looks like you had a good week. I'm sure you feel great looking at your list xoxo

    1. Oh my goodness, it sounds like I never stop. I probably don't but I really enjoy what I do and don't find it a chore, I know we've talked about this. Chef made me smile - my cooking doesn't qualify as my best skill! I did have a good week Wendy, and I wasn't upset by the question at all, I get similar questions all the time. I see them as an opportunity to explain a different lifestyle from my point of view and experience and hopefully encourage them with their choices (and hopefully not scare them away from trying a Cheapskates lifestyle if they'd like to).


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