29 February 2016

Super Easy, Super Cute Easter Baskets

Use them for Easter, for birthday parties, to hold small gifts - these very cute, super easy little baskets are quick and inexpensive and a great way to use up that stash of paper or cardstock you have.

Make them larger, from 30cm cardstock, line them with a paper doyley and they're perfect for delivering a gift of home baked muffins or biscuits too.

You will need: 
18cm square of heavy paper or cardstock
1 x 30cm  strip of paper or cardstock 2.5cm wide (handle)
2 brads
Fancy scissors (optional, but they give a pretty edge to the baskets)

Step 1. Score your paper into three columns 6cm wide. Then score three rows 6cm wide. You'll have a grid of nine squares on your paper (see the template).

Note: You can make these baskets any size, as long as your square can be divided into nine equal sections.

Step 2.  Cut the decorative edge along the edges parallel to the red lines (see the template).

Step 3. Cut on the red lines.

Step 4. Fold the paper on all score lines, with the decorative side to the outside.

Step 5.  Punch a hole in the centre of each end of the basket handle about 2.5cm from the edge. Punch a hole in the centre of each end of the strip of paper for the handle about 2.5cm from the edge.

Step 6. Fold the two corner squares so they overlap each other and the centre square on one side of the basket. The centre square should be on the inside of the corner squares.

Step 7.  Punch a hole in the centre, through all three layers, about 2.5cm down.  Put one end of the handle between the two corner squares and the centre square, and attach a brad through all the layers. Repeat for the other side.

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28 February 2016

The Week that Was 28/02/2016

I haven't spent any money - or rather any of my money - this week. I have had a shopping fix though - AJ wanted new clothes and of course I took Mum grocery shopping on Thursday. Looks like I'll end No Spend February with only 5 days of spending!

Finished the trim on three face washers for the bathroom.

Sprayed the pavers with white vinegar to keep the weeds down. Used the outdoor broom to sweep away the dead weeds.

Dropped off and collected the ironing from Mum. Gotta love a free ironing lady :)

Called Medicare re a refund that hasn't come through after almost three weeks. It appeared the next day. It pays to keep an eye on things like this. It's easy to forget to check when they're supposed to go straight into your bank account. This was a considerable refund too - $78.

All the washing was done in cold water, using Cheapskates Washing Powder and line dried.

We all caught the cold water in the showers in buckets. I used it to water the pot plants and the fruit trees - no rain last week.

Sprayed the citrus trees with MOO white oil.

Picked, washed, processed and bagged zucchini, capsicum and eggplant from the garden and froze for winter.

Finally managed to make fig jam.

Finished making pasta sauce - all done now for another year or so - 61 packets of pasta sauce in the freezer.

Trimmed the tomato plants - they're still flowering so I'm reluctant to pull them out just yet.

Pulled out the zucchini plants.

Made Whole Orange Cake into cupcakes, choc chip muffins and a boiled fruit cake.

Filled the car up with petrol when it was 93.7c - total spend $57 for the fortnight. Put $13 into the petrol slush fund.

Made a few more cards before I packed the craft things away.

Collected an empty box from the supermarket to use as a template to make storage containers for craft papers. Square containers large enough to take the 30cm papers are up to $43 each! Even the $2 containers from cheap shops are out of my budget so these cartons may be the answer.

Sorted, tidied and cleaned the craft drawers without spending any money on storage containers. I re-purposed some I already had and scrounged others for free. Donated a big bag of excess craft materials to the op shop.

Bought lots of grapes @$1.99/kg and more bananas @ 50c/kg for the fruit bowl. This is a big saving, when there is fruit to eat I don't need to bake. The fruit seems to sooth everyone's sweet tooth and it's better for us.

What I hope to accomplish this week:

Sort and tidy the spice cupboard - this is a priority job, it really is out of control (I seem to have a mental block about this chore, it just keeps hanging on)
Plant mini cabbage, mini cauliflower, broccoli seeds
Stocktake both bathroom cupboards - Done with inventories!
Start getting winter clothes ready and summer clothes ready to be put away

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27 February 2016

Please don't Feel Sorry for my Family

To the couple who recognised me in Coles this week, I'm sorry you chose to make snide comments behind my back rather than introducing yourself and chatting. I don't bite, I love to meet new people and I would have been very happy to chat to you for a few minutes and perhaps show you that my family hasn't missed out on a thing through living the Cheapskates way.

So please don't feel sorry for my family, there's absolutely no need.

Instead, turn your "sympathy" to the families living with the stress of debt, who are struggling to make ends meet; to the mothers who work because they have to and not because they want to; to the children who spend more time at day care than they do at home because their family can't survive on a single income and to the people who've never learnt to control their spending and therefore spend their lives a slave to debt.

I can assure you that yes, I am a Cheapskate, but my family has never suffered for it.

Our children were educated in private schools.

They all played sports.

They had music lessons.

Hannah had art lessons.

They were always well dressed, often in brand name clothes and shoes.

Our children always had Christmas gifts and birthday presents. They always received an Easter egg (or two).

They didn't miss out on school photos or excursions or camps.

They all went to youth group at our Church and participated in the activities.

They had birthday parties every year until they were 18.

So far both boys have had 21st birthday parties (Hannah turns 21 this year and is already planning her party).

Both boys have completed university without any debt at all. They own their degrees clear. Hannah is still training and finishes in July this year and will be debt free.

They had their mother at home when they were home. I was able to drop them at school and pick them up in the afternoon. I was able to help out in the classroom and tuckshop and go on excursions.

We always managed to have family holidays.

We live in a home we like, in a suburb we chose because we like it.

We are now a two car family - my daily drive and Wayne's 4WD.

We eat very well - better than a lot of far less frugal families.

My family hasn't suffered because I'm a Cheapskate.

Instead, they have had things and experienced things that they never would have if I had a different attitude towards our money.

We made a deliberate decision to change our attitude to money. We took a long, hard look at our lifestyle and realised that there were lots of things we didn't really enjoy or want that we were spending money on. Then we made the decision to ditch the things that weren't important to us so we'd have the money to enjoy the things that are.

It was important to us that one of us, as parents, would always be available to care for our children.

It was important to us that we spend time together as a family, doing things that would make lasting, happy memories.

It was important to us that our children have the education we wanted them to have.

It was important to us that we create a family home we wouldn't want to leave.

Have we made sacrifices? I suppose so, if you call not eating out or having takeaway every week a sacrifice. Or perhaps not having pay tv (we don't miss it at all). Maybe you think owning our cars and driving them for years instead of updating every two years is a sacrifice. We don't. Perhaps shopping for quality pre-loved clothing is a sacrifice - it's not. AJ had Billabong jeans he picked up for $12 from the op shop - the same style was still selling at Ozmosis for $110!

Maybe you feel it's a sacrifice to eat home cooked meals, prepared from scratch with fresh food. My family loves my cooking, they can tell when something isn't homemade and they let me know they don't like it.

But perhaps you believe is the biggest sacrifice is to live on a budget; you haven't yet realised that you should  control your money, it shouldn't control you.

So please don't feel sorry for my family because I'm certain that they're feeling sorry for you.

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26 February 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 28/2 - 5/03/2016

Yummy vegeburgers: healthy, delicious and cheap

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: BBQ & salads

Tuesday: Mexican meatballs, rice

Wednesday: Meatloaf with BBQ sauce & salads

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Sweet & sour chicken & fried rice

Saturday: Vegeburgers & salad

​Cash or Debit? Depends on the Total

When I go shopping for anything I wait until the total is rung up before I decide to pay by debit card or pay cash (sometimes I know beforehand). If the amount is rounded up when cash is paid, then I pay by debit because it is an exact amount and I therefore pay less. If it would be rounded down, then I pay cash. This saves me up to .02c every time I purchase....not much but it adds up. Living the Cheapskate way has meant that because I am so conscious of spending now I virtually don't have big issues to worry about. As the old saying goes "Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves"....well nearly.
​Contributed by Wendy

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25 February 2016

Upcoming Blog Posts

I've been inundated recently with requests for blog posts on all sorts of things. Everything from starting a stockpile to growing winter veg to creating shopping lists and tackling bulk freezer cooking. Wow!

I've created a list and I'll be working my way through it over the next couple of months - and yes, it will take me that long, but I'll get there and you'll have the posts you've requested.

Here's the list, in no particular order, and they probably won't be written or published in this order either:

Banana-less banana bread recipe
Recipes for a Really Tight Budget - or what we're eating this year
Baked Rice Custard recipe
How to Start a Stockpile on a Tight Budget
Restyled Leftovers
Eating out without going broke
Sauce tomatoes and what to do with them
Please don't feel sorry for my family
Am I Australia's most boring grocery shopper?
Freezer cooking on a budget
How to write a shopping list that works
Making meal plans fit the food budget
How my OCD tendencies save us money
Card making for beginners on a budget
Is it cost effective to make soap?
Is it worth your  time? Hourly rate v cost
Writing a first spending plan
How to dry onions
How to save when there's no spare cash
Easy soap recipes that are safe to make at home
How to decide what veggies to grow and how many
Living on a low income without feeling deprived
The Best way to get Started Bulk Shopping
How to shop monthly and make the fresh food last
Best cheap skin care and make-up on the market
Camp Oven Cooking
Go with the Flow

There will be no particular schedule for these posts, they'll appear as I get the time to work on them, but now you know what's coming up.

If you'd like to see a post about some other aspect of living the Cheapskates way, let me know in the comments below and I'll do my best to oblige.

24 February 2016

​Not So Flat Batteries

Batteries are the bane of my life!

OK, that's probably an exaggeration but they always go flat at the most inconvenient moment and then seem like such a waste of money to me. As a family we don't have too many battery operated items these days:
  • the mouses for our computers
  • the kitchen clock
  • the loungeroom clock
  • my labeller :)

There are batteries in our cameras too, but they are rechargeable (thank goodness, they cost a fortune to replace). And of course our phones, again rechargeable.

We swapped to wind-up torches and a wind-up radio a few years ago and they're brilliant. We have a torch in each of the cars, one each in our camping bags, one in the camping food box and Wayne keeps one in his tool box in the car. We use the wind-up radio when we go camping and feel the need to catch up with the rest of the world (doesn't happen often though :) ).

When the kids were small we had a few battery operated toys and we switched to rechargeable batteries for those. We asked for batteries and a charger for Christmas one year and Wayne's Mum gave us one of the best gifts we've ever had.

Now they're grown up and we don't have toys in the house any more so our battery use and cost has gone down considerably.

Next time the battery in my mouse needs changing I'll keep it for when one of the clocks slows down and try Lynette's tip.

Not So Flat Batteries

Approximate $ Savings: $4

I have been throwing out my batteries to a light I have in the toilet, I had a idea this last time to try them in my wall clock and my clock is still working a month later with the same battery I would have thrown out. Then my alarm clock needed a new battery so I used the other "flat" battery and it is working fine two weeks later. I have saved buying two batteries. My next lot of batteries I will keep are my from my small torch to see if they will work as well. I am amazed that instead of throwing them out I have them still working in another item.
Contributed by Lynette Stewart

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23 February 2016

Creamy Pasta Salad

A post over on the Saving Revolution FB page reminded me of this recipe. I make it on average once a week during summer, my family just loves it. Hannah takes it to work for lunch and it's good enough to eat as a stand-alone salad.

Best of all it's so much cheaper than the Mrs Macs pasta salad sold at the supermarket deli counter.

I'm sure I've posted it before because I have a photo, but it could be in the Recipe File rather than on here. Anyway, here it is. It's really good, really tasty and can be as inexpensive as you want it to be - just adjust the veggies to suit what you have in the fridge.

Creamy Pasta Salad

250g uncooked medium sized pasta
1 med size carrot, grated
1 stick celery, chopped
1 medium spring onion, white part discarded, finely chopped*
1/2 red or green capsicum, diced
2/3 cup grated tasty cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 x 300ml bottle ready made coleslaw dressing (Praise traditional*)
3 heaped tablespoon sour cream
Add or delete whichever ingredients you don't like
1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water, drain and chill
2. In small bowl, combine the coleslaw dressing and sour cream
3. Combine pasta, vegetables, cheese and coleslaw dressing mix
4. Season and Chill and VOILA!!

*I use either Kraft Coleslaw Dressing or Zoosh Coleslaw Dressing - they're almost identical in taste and they give the salad a really nice flavour.

*If I don't have spring onions, I use brown or red onion finely diced.

A Really Tasty, Really Simple Pasta Sauce

Bulk homemade pasta sauce using tomatoes fresh from the garden

I've been making pasta sauce for the last week. I've had a batch in the slow cooker every day and night, there was even a batch cooking during our card making day. So far I've bagged 49 two-cup packages of pasta sauce, almost enough to last us a year. And, because I've been using my own home grown tomatoes, that 36 litres of pasta sauce has cost under $8.

The recipe I used is below, a bulk version of my Sensational, Simple Homemade Pasta Sauce. It's for a six litre slow cooker and you will end up with around five litres of pasta sauce.

Bulk Sensational, Simple Homemade Pasta Sauce

3 kg tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped*
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp crushed garlic
3 tbsp crushed basil
3 tbsp oregano
3 tsp salt

Heat the oil in the bottom of the crock pot and sauté the garlic until it is golden.  Add the tomatoes, basil and oregano and stir. Put the lid on and cook on HIGH for 8 - 10 hours**. Stir. If the sauce is thick and rich, it is done. If not cook for another 30 minutes and stir again.  Let the sauce cool. Use a stick blender or food processor to puree the sauce.  Portion it into sterilised, saved jars, freezer containers or zip lock bags and freeze.***

This makes the equivalent of 4 jars of commercial pasta sauce.  The cooking time will depend solely on your slow cooker. Newer slow cookers are actually very fast compared to the original models, so watch your sauce and when it reaches the consistency you like it's ready.

I use this sauce as the base for other pasta sauces, adding additional seasonings depending on the recipe. It also makes a lovely pizza sauce and is delicious with just a sprinkling of mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese.

*Tomatoes - I use our home grown tomatoes so I know they are pesticide free (or as close to as I can get, I don't use chemicals on my garden) so I don't peel the tomatoes. I wash them then chop them roughly and cook them down. The skins are then softened during cooking and disappear once the sauce has been pureed.

**Cooking time will depend on the tomatoes - sometimes they are really juicy, sometimes not - and your slow cooker. Modern slow cookers actually cook a little faster than the older models. When the tomatoes have cooked down and the sauce is thick enough to stick to your spoon it is done.

***Storing: I bag in two cup lots in ziplock bags and freeze. You can bottle the sauce  and process in a hot water bath if you prefer shelf safe storage.

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The Week that Was - 23/02/2016

I didn't post an update last week, it was a busy week, with the Adelaide workshop happening on top of  a lot of other things. Let's just say it was a very busy week and I'm glad it's over.

This past week has been busy too, but usual busy.

I've made lots of pasta sauce. So far I've cooked 30 kilos tomatoes and bagged and frozen it in two cup lots.

We've continue to save shower water for plants, or adding to the washing machine or washing the floors. Someone asked me about using cold water to wash the floors - it's not! It goes into the steam mop to do the kitchen, bathroom and laundry floors on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On the other days I either tip it into the washing machine or use it to water the pot plants.

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Bought broccoli for 99c/kilo. Five kilos blanched, portioned into meal sizes, vac sealed and into the freezer for winter.

Bought bananas for 39c/kilo. We're eating them this week instead of the other fruit. The apples will keep in the fridge for another week.

Bananas for 39c a kilo, a welcome bargain and blessing for our grocery budget

Used my mad money to buy a leg of lamb from Tasman. At $6.99/kilo it's the cheapest lamb has been around here for a long time. And it was a treat for Wayne. Sliced and froze the leftovers in gravy for another roast lamb meal next month.

Gratefully accepted some rosemary from Joy. I used some on the lamb roast and it was delicious. I keep opening the jar and smelling it. Freshly dried, it smells so much better than what you buy from the shop.

Carol brought us a big bunch of rhubarb and made Wayne's day. I used it to make a rhubarb crumble last night and Wayne has called dibs on the leftovers.

Wendy brought two big bags of groceries with her on Saturday. Some yummy cereal for me (and I'm keeping the single serves for when we travel for workshops ;) ), and my favourite tea (no longer available in Australia :( ) and a real treat that the boys just loved - kabana.

A gift of groceries from Wendy, including my very favourite tea that's no longer available in Australia

Maureen very kindly brought Wayne a gift of a Puffing Billy DVD, a train magazine and a beautiful model steam train that was her father's. He's still overwhelmed at her generosity and kindness and he's watched the DVD twice already. I know it will get at least another screening when his Dad arrives in a fortnight :)

Spent the day on Saturday with six wonderful friends, lots of talking, drinking tea, and laughing and a little card making done.

Some of the cards made at the February card making day

What I'm hoping to accomplish this week:

Pull out zucchini plants
Process any zucchini that are left
Trim the tomatoes
Finish making pasta sauce with tomatoes from garden - done at last!
Baking - whole orange cake, choc chip muffins, Lunchbox Cookies, boiled fruit cake
Make fig jam - waiting on figs from Mum's fig tree
Trim the roses along the driveway
Sort and tidy the kitchen dresser. Donate unwanted/no longer needed items. - done
Sort and tidy the spice cupboard - this is a priority job, it really is out of control
Sort and tidy the craft drawers - started. I keep getting distracted by ideas for blog posts and stopping to jot them down!

February Card Making Day

I've given in - no more straight sentiments on my cards :)

Last Saturday was the second card making day for 2016 and it was full on.

We started at 10am to give everyone time to work on current projects, do some embossing, punch some shapes or use the die cuts.

Pamela as always did a brilliant job of teaching us how simple materials we'd normally throw away can be turned into the most beautiful embellishments or even stand alone gift cards and tags. Maureen's were just gorgeous and she's posted photos of them in the Members Forum.

We had grand plans to get four cards made - oops.

I think we all managed to make at least three, including this cute pop-up balloon card. It was so easy to make, and quick too the second time. I've made three all together, that's how easy they are. No special tools required although a balloon shaped punch helps.

I've since finished this card with a stamped "happy birthday" sentiment on the inside

The scrap cards are anything but. They may be made out of scraps but they all looked sensational. I loved Carol's fan shaped card and have copied her idea using up scraps of pink and green paper I had. It's easy to do, just rectangles cut in half on the diagonal and stuck to a card starting at the centre and working out. Once all the paper pieces have been stuck on trim the edges with scissors or a blade. Add your embellishments and a sentiment and it's done. Working quickly it takes less than 10 minutes, working slowly you'd be hard pressed to stretch it out to 20 minutes, perfect for those times you need a quick card.

I've added a sentiment and some bunting to this card to finish it off - I'll post an updated pic soon.

The swap table was overflowing this month. Joy brought some beautiful rosemary that I used on Sunday night, our lamb was delicious. I keep opening the jar to smell it, much nicer than bought from the supermarket.

Anne gleefully received a huge salad/mixing bowl Carol put on the table, I can still see the smile on her face.

Pamela was able to take some glasses for her grandchildren (and I was glad to see them go, so much more space in the cupboard now).

Lots of groceries courtesy of Wendy.

Joy and Maureen brought lots of coloured paper and off cuts of cardstock and I think we all took a share.

Lots of embossing was done. Wendy and Pamela brought their Big Shots and I had the Cuttlebug out. Everyone brought along punches and dies to share. I think that may have been the most enjoyable part of the day for a few of us ;)

But really the highlight of the day was Maureen's sponge. We all enjoyed it and Wayne was a little excited to see there was some left that he had for dessert.

There were only seven of us this month, but we certainly produced a lot of work, especially considering the amount of talking and laughing we did.

I think this "scrap" card is my favourite from the day

And now I'll be waiting patiently for the March card making day, I'm just busting to learn some new techniques courtesy of Pamela.

22 February 2016

Modern Take on a Needleworkers Chatelaine

Trash or treasure? In this case an old fashioned mug tree can be a Cheapskate's treasure - paint it to match your sewing room

Today's tip of the day is one that will help keep sewing and embroidery projects organised, even if you don't have a permanent sewing/craft table set up. I don't, but when I'm sewing I try to do a few things at once so the sewing machine, overlocker and sewing box are out and set-up for a few days.

This tip helps to keep track of my scissors, unpickers, tape measures etc. and it helps to keep the table tidy. I found my mug tree at the op shop for $1. A sheet of sandpaper, a tin of spray craft paint and some pretty decals from the $2 shop transformed it into something I am happy to look at.

Modern Take on a Needleworkers Chatelaine

This is a great hint for sewers who have a sewing room or craft table permanently set up. Use a mug tree (yes one of those horrid old fashioned wooden things from the '70s) to hang your scissors, tape measures etc. on. If you can find one of the older wooden ones with the knobbly end it stops things slipping off quite so easily. The more modern ones have either turned up ends or a rubber stopper type of thing on the end. You can often find them in op shops but they are also available in most department and homewares type shops too.
Contributed by Penny Pinchin' Mum

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16 February 2016

Update: How we're Managing on our New Budget

Home grown tomatoes cooking down slowly to become pasta sauce for winter
We're doing really well. So well in fact that somehow there's money left over!

My grocery budget is tight - $103.30 a month! That's half what it was when disaster struck and I was feeding two adults and two toddlers. And yet we haven't gone without anything, and while the stockpile is a little depleted, it's still looking very good.

Summer is helping. The garden has been a huge blessing. I've picked lettuce, capsicums, cucumbers, silverbeet, tomatoes, beans and eggplant every day for weeks.  That tonne of oranges I bought for 5 cents a kilo has meant I haven't had to buy much fruit either, just a couple of different pieces each fortnight for a little variety.  All those potatoes I bought have kept well too - we're on the last bag. Once they're gone I'll be shopping around but if the spuds are too expensive there is 35 kilos of rice to see us through.
This year we've had cucumbers,tomatoes, lettuce, capsicum, beans, parsley, basil and zucchini in abundance
I was talking to Wendy about the meat supply. I've bought a little mince and some chicken fillets since we started this challenging new budget, but nothing else. The freezer is still well packed with meat, chicken and fish though.  Every time I lift the lid I am amazed at just how much is left in it. We are eating from it regularly, I'm not skimping on  food just to save some money, and yet the freezers are still jam-packed full.

The new budget has changed my way of shopping. I go each Thursday and buy two bottles of milk and two loaves of bread. Once a month I've been doing my regular pantry/fridge/freezer inventories, checking the meal plan and writing up a shopping list of just what we need. If there's anything I have that can substitute something on the list, off it comes.

Shopping day is so easy, mainly because I'm only buying fruit, bread and milk - about two bags of groceries. So far the stockpile has supplied all our grocery needs just as I planned and it's still looking good. It was boosted by a gift of rice, noodles, seasonings and canned tomatoes before Christmas for which I am very, very grateful.
The stockpile pantry is still looking healthy - I haven't added to this pantry since mid-December.
I am out of dried onion flakes, so this means I'll either have to buy some (Hindustan sell onion flakes for $2.10/100g or $6.05/500g packet) or buy onions and dry them myself. The last time I bought onions they were 40c/kg - I saw then for $1/kg earlier this week. I'll shop around and see what they are at Pellegrinos and Bushy Park, then decide which way to go. I think though for the purpose of the exercise in this case buying the dried onion flakes will be cheaper.

The boys are pulling out some of the summer veggies and digging compost into the veggie beds for me so they'll be ready to plant for winter veggies. We eat a lot more veggies in winter and they will be expensive. I just know my budget won't stretch to give us the variety I like so we'll be growing more than usual this year.

The plan is to grow:

  • Parsnips
  • Swedes
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Silverbeet
  • Broccoli
  • Bok Choy
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Brown onions

Of course planting will be staggered throughout the rest of summer/autumn/winter. It's far too early to put potatoes and onions in, but I can get the beds ready and in the meantime grow something else in them.

Getting the winter veg started will take the pressure off freezer stocks (and me!).

All in all, so far this super-tight grocery budget hasn't been super-tight at all.

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15 February 2016

Teach Yourself to Crochet

I taught myself to crochet years ago, before YouTube was even a thought. I wish YouTube had been around - it would have saved me a lot of pulling out (of yarn and hair!).

Teach Yourself to Crochet Using YouTube!

Approximate $ Savings: $65 for lessons + $$$ for handmade clothing

I wanted to learn to crochet - though I wasn't sure if I wanted to outlay the cost of learning to crochet at a craft store in case I didn't like it. I Googled 'Learn to Crochet' - and came across some great You Tube videos teaching all the basic stitches! So I sat in front of the computer with You Tube playing and taught myself the different stitches for free! I then Googled "Easy Crochet Patterns" and came across some great websites. I bought the yarn at discount stores to begin with - in case they didn't turn out. So far I have made a scarf for myself for $3, and child's beanie for $5 and a baby blanket for a gift - which will cost me $12 in total! I am currently making a pair of baby 'ugg' style boots - again about $3 to make and made in about an hour! I get the patterns for free on the Internet - and if there is stitching or terminology I do not understand in the pattern I Google the name of the stitch with 'how to crochet' following it and I always find a website with photos on how to complete that stitch. I am definitely hooked on crochet now!
​Contributed by Nicole

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