30 December 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 1 - 7 January 2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Lamb fritters, salad
Tuesday: Spag bol

Wednesday: Mexican Lasagne, salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

Saturday: Toasted Sandwiches

25 December 2016

The Week that Was 25th December 2016

Merry Christmas!

This week has been all over the place, with lots to do in preparation for today and our holiday.

This week I've been hand watering the garden early in the morning.

The washing machine water has been redirected to the back lawn to keep it green.

I've been catching tap water in the kitchen and bathroom and using it to water the pot plants - they've really needed it in the heat and wind this week. The sun and wind have been harsh, especially on the hydrangeas, and they were so pretty. I've been moving the pots into the shade each afternoon to try and protect them.

The self-sown zucchini has some tiny little zucchini on it. I'll be watching them today and tomorrow so I can pick them before they get too big.

Used some stewed apple from the freezer to make crumble. There was enough for two, one for us to eat and one to share with a friend.

Timing hospital visits for first thing in the morning and later in the evening to avoid paying parking fees ($5 an hour!). If I haven't been able to find a free parking spot I've been timing visits for under 20 minutes to get free parking undercover. Mum isn't up to more than a quick visit anyway so it has worked out well.

Made a quick trip to the airport on Tuesday morning to drop of my aunty and uncle who have gone to Wyoming to spend Christmas with my cousin and his family and combined the return trip with a hospital visit.

Found a surprise waiting for me at the Post Office on Friday morning, a beautifully wrapped parcel of individually wrapped presents. Thank you Tania, they are all gorgeous.

Splurged on Friday and bought 5 kilos of potatoes, then made potato salad (yum!) and kept 14 aside for roast potatoes today and during the week. Turned the rest into wedges and froze them.

Cooked all our meals from scratch or used up some freezer meals.

Hung the washing outside to dry.

Recycled wrapping paper and gift bags to wrap Christmas gifts.

Downloaded some free e-books from Hundred Zeroes.

The loungeroom looked like a paper store had exploded this morning as we opened our Christmas presents.  Wayne gave me a set of cargo trunks and a garden hose that reaches from the tap to each corner of the backyard - no more dragging and swapping hoses to water. AJ gave me  a  scoreboard, Thomas a cutter with fancy blades and Hannah a new handbag and wallet and some die cuts I've had my eye on. And they all gave me lots of chocolates so I'm set for quite a while.  I'm itching to get some time to play with my new craft tools too.

And that's about it. Most of my time has been spent going between home and hospital and trying to arrange respite for Mum when she is discharged.

What have you done to save money, time and energy during this especially busy week of the year?

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23 December 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 25th - 31st December 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Christmas Dinner

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Leftovers/BBQ sausages, salad

Wednesday: BBQ steak, salads

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Rissoles, mash, veggies, onion gravy

Saturday: New Year's Eve BBQ

22 December 2016

Aussie Jingle Bells - Bucko & Champs - THE ORIGINAL

18 December 2016

The Week that Was 18th December 2016

It was a frugal week, and although I feel like a lot of money went out it was all budgeted and planned.

Saved the shower water to water the pot plants. With the warm days and the wind this week the pots needed watering every day.

Dried the washing on the clothesline.

Redirected the washing machine water to the backyard to try and keep the grass green.

Fed the fruit trees and garden with worm tea.

Added all kitchen scraps to the compost, worm farm or bokashi - free fertiliser is on its way.

Took the hem up on two pairs of new jeans for AJ - this saved him money and me frustration watching him wear jeans that are too long and dragging on the ground.

Used MOO condensed milk and half price choc melts to make choc mint fudge.

Picked up some great specials at NQR for our Christmas/New Year/Birthday celebrations.

Stocked the freezer with chicken fillets, wings and drumsticks on sale at Farmer Joes.

Used what we had to put together a Kris Kringle gift.

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Heard on the TV that petrol will go up by at least 5c/litre before Christmas. It has been the same price for weeks so used my discount vouchers to fill my car, AJ's car and the Patrol before it actually goes up.

Used some of my Flybuys points to buy Christmas groceries.

Thomas moved the rocks from the back fernery so we can start dismantling it. The rocks will be re-used to landscape the front yard.

Yesterday was our last card making day for the year. I managed to get two cards made, thanks to Pamela who did all the hard work for me.

Joy Christmas card

Star card - closed

Star card - open. Hang it on the tree as a decoration.

Gratefully received a bunch of rhubarb from Joy. It's now cooked and made into a crumble for dessert tonight. Wayne is grinning with glee :)

Gratefully and excitedly received raspberry plants from Wendy - I've already put them in a bigger pot in a nice safe spot in the backyard.

Used a $10 off purchases over $60 at Target to finish off Christmas shopping by combining Mum's shopping with mine and split the discount.

Mum had a fall late yesterday afternoon. My brother called me just as we were finishing our card making party. I took my Kindle, bottles of water, fruit and some biscuits (from our afternoon tea) to the hospital with me. We were there until 11pm, about six hours, so we were very glad to have food and drink. I also found a parking spot right outside the ED, saving on paying for parking.

What did you do to save money, time and energy this week?

16 December 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 18th - 24th December 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Italian Sausage Pasta Bake, salad

Tuesday: Sticky drumsticks, rice, veggies

Wednesday: Cream cheese patties, salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Pasta bake, salad, garlic bread

Saturday: BBQ and salad

11 December 2016

The Week that was 11th December 2016

Here are the ways I saved money, time and energy this week.

Saved the warm-up water from the showers and used it to water the pot plants

Planted some petunia seedlings - then had to dig them up two days later so the Council could check  the stormwater easement! Thankfully they let me take them up and I was able to save then replant them.

Dried the washing on the clothesline.

Had the kids scrub their shower with Miracle Spray. It gets dried after every shower and spritzed on Mondays, but it's been a while since it was really given a hard scrub. Because it's cleaned every day it wasn't hard to scrub.

Made a quick cheats stir-fry using chicken and veggies from the freezer for Friday night's dinner.

Re-potted some plants into bigger pots using MOO potting mix and compost.

Cooked our meals from scratch.

Finally managed to get the spice cupboard sorted, tidied and cleaned. It looks much better and makes me smile when I reach for a spice or herb. I've posted an inventory of the herbs and spices on the inside of the door so I know what I have and what I need to buy or grow.

Went to Spotlight to buy some craft materials on sale and went through the self-serve checkout. I noticed that the total wasn't what I'd calculated so queried it. Turns out, and here's a warning for you, if there is a "store" special, one that is just for that particular store, then the item will scan at full price. For store specials you need to go to a regular checkout so the discount can be applied. I was overcharged $18.47 so I'm glad I noticed. It would have been better if I'd known before I chose self-serve but it's not advertised anywhere.

Petrol price has been stagnant for weeks. Thankfully I'm not doing too much driving, last time I filled up was three weeks ago. I've been putting the petrol money aside, this will pay for our trip in January.

AJ received a parcel and the packing was brown paper - lots of it!

I've carefully ironed it and cut it into lengths, some to share with the card making group, some to put in the kitchen to use for lining cake tins and some to put in the wrapping box.

Wayne and the boys cut down a small tree that was in the wrong place and making a huge mess, then moved a large tree fern into that spot for me. More light in the kitchen and less mess under the verandah.

Wayne trimmed the rose bushes along the driveway.

This week I made a quadruple batch of MOO condensed milk and froze it for Christmas baking.

This week I made cupcakes, shortbread and taco seasoning using pantry ingredients.

I recycled a small box into a gift box for a tiny, odd shaped gift.

What did you do to save money time and energy this week?

09 December 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 11th - 17th December 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Cheesy Stuffed Beef Burgers

Tuesday: Steak and salad

Wednesday: MOO KFC, coleslaw

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Chops and salad

Saturday: Muffin surprise

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06 December 2016

The Week that Was 4th December 2016

Refilled the foaming hand-wash bottles in the kitchen and both bathrooms using shampoo we don't like to use on our hair.

Finished making the Christmas cakes and puddings. Four large cakes, twelve small cakes and three puddings made. Whew! Over for another year :)

We put the Christmas tree up and decorated the house. This is a big job and took three days but it is a lot of fun and when the childults join in the memories and laughter the hard work is worth it.

Took some cuttings from a geranium (or pelargonium - I get them confused!) from Mum's garden to pot up. When they're big enough I'll use them to fill in blank spots in the garden.

Fed the fruit trees with worm tea from the worm farm.

Gratefully accepted some rhubarb from Carol (thank you so much!). Cooked it and portioned it into crumble sizes and it's in the freezer.

Found some surprises in the garden. One self-seeded tomato and four zucchini plants and three iceberg lettuce.

Lots of strawberries. I've been picking a small bowlful each morning.

Dried the washing on the clothesline.

Bought a Christmas gift I've been watching on half-price sale that brought it down to my gift budget limit. Yay!

Recycled two gift boxes to send Christmas gifts interstate.

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Bought legs of lamb @$6.99/kg from The Australian Butcher. One for Christmas, two for the freezer.

Used Officeworks Mailman to send parcels interstate - much cheaper than using Australia Post.

Finished working on my shopping list for 2017.

We have started to review our budget for next year. We are going to increase the grocery budget to $200 a month - double what we've lived on for the last 14 months. I almost feel giddy with extra in the grocery budget.

What have you done to save money, time and energy this week?

02 December 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 4th - 10th December 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: BBQ Chicken Quesadillas, salad

Tuesday: Hawaaiin Meatloaf, veggies, sweet'n'sour sauce

Wednesday: Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Schnitzels, potato bake, greens

Saturday: Tacos

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27 November 2016

The Week that Was 27th November 2016

It's been such a long while since I posted my frugal accomplishments. We have been frugal, super frugal in fact, as we've had some huge medical bills to pay. But Maree has been asking me to post again, so here is what I've accomplished in the last week to save money, time and energy.

Gratefully accepted some seedlings for the garden. My garden was non-existent, I haven't been able to get out to it so I let it go over winter and spring. Joy's gift inspired not only me but Wayne and the boys to get out and help me prepare for summer and autumn plantings.

I was jumping with joy when Wendy brought us a 5kg bag of potatoes. We've been out of potatoes for about three weeks. I gave in and bought four last week for our roast, otherwise we've been eating rice or pasta. Wayne was grinning from ear to ear when he saw the bag in the kitchen.

We had roast potatoes with our tea on Sunday night. I made potato salad for tea on Monday - 38 degrees is definitely salad weather.

Made a quadruple batch of Miracle Spray. This should last us a year. It takes about two minutes longer to make a bulk batch and I know it's done.

Went to a used stamp sale and brought home a stamp pad ($5, and it's brilliant, they normally sell for around $30 each), two sets of stamps I've been looking for and best of all four free magazines. I've already scanned the mags so I don't lose the images. They'll be great for inspiration for card making.

Made and sold a birthday card to a friend of Hannah's. $8 into my craft kitty.

Made and sold a Christmas card - $15 into my craft kitty.

Wayne used the pressure cleaner to clean the barbecue on Sunday and the job was done in about 20 minutes. So much easier. It's all spiffy now and ready to use again for the summer. We barbecue just about every night during Daylight Saving time, it really helps to keep the house cooler.

Monday was hot - 38 degrees! I was up super early to turn on the fans and close the windows, blinds and drapes and the house stayed cool.

Wednesday was AJ's birthday so he chose dinner - enchiladas. Whew! Chicken has been so cheap we've been eating lots of it, and I was sure he'd ask for a roast or silverside. I used Mountain Bread from the freezer to wrap the enchiladas and made my own sauce. Dinner for six for under $6!

Bought four packs of coffee pods from Aldi on Wednesday - 20% off. I now have enough to last me a year.

Rearranged a flower arrangement that was looking sad. Put a single red rose in our bedroom and some pretty pink dahlias in the loungeroom. Another week of enjoying these beautiful flowers.

Cooked all our meals from scratch using ingredients from the pantry, fridge and freezer.

Redirected the washing water from the rain barrel to the soaker hose on the back grass. Not a lot of grass to water, so the washing water keeps it green.

I've just MOOed a twist'n'pop Christmas card for an order, It was specific in colour and embellishment so I had to get busy with scissors and wrapping paper to create the designs for the panels.

This is the card I made as an order. While I was on a roll I made another one and it's available in my Etsy shop.

Last night I MOOed a marinade for our dinner using up a little honey, some ginger, kecap manis (hence the little honey - kecap manis is very sweet). We decided to switch around the meal plan (again!) and have honey soy chicken. I had onion, capsicum and carrot to add as veggies but it needed more so I added some peas and corn from the freezer - you should've heard the boys! Anyway I used what I had to Make Our Own and it must've been good because all the plates were clean and there wasn't any left.

And as a treat Wayne and I enjoyed lunch out today. We took a trip up into the hills and spent a lovely couple of hours together, without interruptions. It was bliss and now we are both ready for the week ahead.

What did you do to save money, time and energy this week?
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25 November 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 27/11 - 3/12/2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Tuesday: Fish, wedges, salad

Wednesday: Honey Mustard Chicken, rice

Monday: Chicken pie, veggies

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: MOO meat pie, chips, gravy

Saturday: Hamburgers

20 November 2016

I'm Raving about Coffee, Again!

I love my coffee, you all know that. And I love my Aldi coffee maker. If you want to be correct, it is an Expressi Coffee Capsule Machine. I buy the Expressi pods and enjoy my daily brew for around 57 cents a mug! Yes, a mug! And it is perfect, strong and hot and plentiful - just the way I love it.

I'm raving about coffee again because the Aldi newsletter popped into my inbox on Friday and low and behold the Express machines are on sale again as a Special Buy from this coming Wednesday, 23rd November. I know I have one, actually I have two, but that's a story for another post.

Aldi's gorgeous Limited Edition Aqua Expressi Coffee Pod Machine

The units on sale on Wednesday are just gorgeous. They really are a special buy, because they're in a stunning bright red and a really pretty aqua. It is beautiful and of course loving blues and greens as I do it really is calling my name! These are both limited editions, and at $79.99 would make a wonderful family Christmas gift (that's how I got mine originally). The pods are $5.99 a box of 16, making them 37c each. They make great Christmas presents too.

But, and this is what you'll see me stocking up on come Wednesday morning, Aldi are having the pod six pack bundles on sale again, for just $27.99 (or 29 cents a capsule). That's 20% off! And making them an even better value Christmas gift, or a super deal for stockpiling.

According the Aldi website the pod bundles  are available in Valetta, Milano, Chai Latte, Calabrese (my all-time fave) and Abruzzo (my second favourite strength).  Making my daily brew with a (bought on sale) pod and milk, in my favourite mug will cost me just 49 cents - beat that *** insert favourite coffee shop***!

These days I have just the one coffee, in the morning, before I start my day, so it needs to be good, full of flavour, strong, easy to make, mess-free and cost effective. And that's what my Expressi machine and pods are.

If you're a coffee devotee and haven't tried them, I recommend you do - and before the Special Buys are sold out.

If you're looking for an amazing gift for a coffee devotee, I can recommend the Expressi range - from the machine to the pods to the coffee syrups to the milk frother. They all make wonderful gifts, on their own or teamed with some yummy homemade biscuits (Cranberry Hootycreeks or Grandma's Shortbread come to mind).

I'll stop here, but I could keep going - I really do love my Expressi Coffee Capsule Machine and the Calabrese pods.

17 November 2016

The Joyco Hamper

I've just watched the segment on Channel 7 news (here in Melbourne) about Christmas hampers.

I was shaking my head - surely no one really believes these hampers are saving them money or even good value?I've spent a lot of time over the years talking about hampers and how to put together one that is customised to suit your tastes and needs and the Tip Store has a whole section devoted just to hampers.

And then I remembered the Joyco Hamper. Joyofquilting is a long time Cheapskates Club member (she's also the inventor of Miracles Spray) and a few years ago she posted her template for her very own Joyco Hamper.

Joy starts her Christmas grocery shopping early in the year, buying and stockpiling non-perishables and baking supplies and she uses her very detailed hamper template.

I usually start my Christmas shopping in September and have it all finished when I do the November the shop. The bonus for me is that I buy enough to keep me out of the supermarket until it's time to do the March grocery shop the next year.  I pretty much buy six months worth of groceries over three months.

Why? Mainly because I loathe shopping in the heat and battling crowds during December and January doesn't appeal either - I want to enjoy our summer holidays.

Having the Joyco Hamper template to work off helps me to remember to include the Christmas treats on my shopping lists. Things like ham, turkey, chocolate almonds, drinks, nuts, extra dried fruits, even the bon bons and candles for the table.

And I can assure you my version of the Joyco Hamper doesn't cost anywhere $800, or even $400 a la the DIY version on the news. No siree!

I budget $120 for our hamper and it includes all of the above, plus the extra veggies, serviettes, cheeses, dips, crackers, olives, pudding and cake ingredients and so on.

Enough of my rambling, the  point of this post is to share the Joyco Hamper template with you - just click here to download your copy..

As we Cheapskaters have been known to say, "make it your own".  Use it as is or add or delete according to your needs.

And smile as you shop for your Joyco Hamper because you'll be saving an absolute bundle.

29 September 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 2 - 8 October 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Shepherd's Pie, veggies

Tuesday: Sausages & onion gravy, mash, veggies

Wednesday: Chicken pot pie, veggies

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Meatloaf, mash, gravy, veggies

Saturday: Grilled cheese sandwiches, soup

23 September 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 25th September - 1st October 2016

An easy week of meals coming up, most of them are already done and in the freezer. All that will be needed will be to cook the veggies and heat the savoury.

I usually prep the veggies as I buy them and then put them in green bags in the fridge. They'll keep for up to two weeks like this and it only takes a few minutes on shopping day to get them done.

And with daylight saving started my cooking will be even easier - Wayne gets to barbecue during daylight saving time, pure bliss for me!

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken with baked potato, sweet potato, broccoli, zucchini, carrots and gravy

Monday: Rissoles, veggies, mash, onion gravy

Tuesday: Beef casserole, sweet potato mash, green veggies

Wednesday: Chicken Chilli, corn bread

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Soup, toasted cornbread

Saturday: Corn fritters, salad