31 May 2016

Crocheted Coasters

These pretty crochet coasters are quick and easy - really! A set of six takes about an hour to make. The original instructions for these coasters suggested using an 8 ply wool. I tried that but felt they were too thick and bulky, making them a little unstable for  glasses. I've been using 4 ply crochet cotton and they are perfect. They sit nicely on tables and glasses and mugs don't wobble.

You will need:
Crochet cotton
4mm crochet hook

Round 1.  Make a slip knot. Insert hook and make 6 chain. Insert hook into first chain, yarn over, pull through both loops on hook.  Make 3 chain; this forms your first stitch in the next round. 20 stitches.

Round 2. Make 19 treble in circle.  Insert hook into third chain from the bottom, yarn over, pull through both loops. Chain 3 (this is the first stitch of next round).

Round 3. Make 1 treble in the next stitch. *Ch. 2, make 1 treble in next 2 stitches. Repeat from *  end. Insert hook into third chain from the bottom, yarn over and pull through. Make 3 chain.

Round 4. Insert hook into second space (ch. 2 space) and make 2 treble, chain 2, make 2 treble into same space.  Make 2 treble, chain 2, make 2 treble into next space. Continue to lasat space. Make 2 treble, chain 2, 1 treble in same space, insert hook in third chain from the bottom, yarn over, pull through. Make 3 chain.

Round 5. *Insert hook into ch. 2 space. yarn over, pull through. In next space make 6 treble. Repeat from * to end. Insert hook into space next to 3 chain. Make 5 treble. Insert hook into third chain from the bottom, yarn over, pull through. Yarn over, pull through, cut yarn approximately 10cm long, pull through to tie off. Thread darning needle with end of yarn. Weave loose end through work to tidy.

30 May 2016

Lemon and Lime Cordial

I was given half a dozen limes last week and wasn't sure how I'd use them. Then Thomas asked for cordial and the problem was solved!

I adjusted the 50:50 Cordial recipe and it's just lovely! We all like it, so this will be a keeper and with our lime tree full of tiny limes I'm sure I'll be making more of it this winter.

Lemon and Lime Cordial
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon of citric acid
1 tablespoon of tartaric acid
3 large lemons
5 limes
1.5 litres boiling water

Put sugar and acids in a mixing bowl. Grate the rind of the fruit and add to the bowl.
Squeeze juice from the fruit and add to the bowl.
Pour boiling water over and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Cool the mixture, strain and bottle.
To serve mix 1 part cordial to 4 parts water.

29 May 2016

The Week that Was 29th May 2016

Lemon & Lime Cordial
This has been a sensational week. I've accomplished so much and our home feels lighter, brighter and happier for it.

A story I filmed a while ago about washing powders aired on A Current Affair last week. I've been making washing powder for just about forever (well it seems that way, it's around 21 - 22 years).  I started making washing powder because the boys just loved getting into the laundry gel I was using and smearing it everywhere. They were little, two and three years old at the time, so who could blame them. Jelly-like things are lots of fun for little boys. The cleaning up not so much fun for a frazzled mummy, and so I went looking for a solution. I didn't find one, so decided to experiment with the ingredients for the laundry gel and so my washing powder was created.

It costs me around $10 a year to wash all our laundry. Our clothes are clean. No, they don't smell "nice". No, we don't itch. No we don't get rashes from it. Yes, I do treat stains (I use Stain Removing Soap or Miracle Spray to pre-treat any stubborn stains). I had to pre-treat stains back in the commercial washing powder days too.  I don't know how much commercial laundry powders cost, I haven't used them in years and as I only go down the laundry aisle once a year I have no idea what they're selling for today. I do know they cost a lot more than $10 a year!

I welcomed the rain this week. The sprinklers have been kept off, but the garden has been watered. The seedlings are growing, I can almost see them getting bigger every day. That really makes me smile.

I've also been watching the mandarins and oranges slowly change colour. I can't wait to be picking our own fruit again.

Remember back in November I bought lots and lots of oranges for 5 cents a kilo? Well the last of them were used this week! Timely, we can wait until our oranges are ready, and there are plenty of bags of whizzed oranges in the freezer for orange cake and muffins until they are.

Saved $80 by re-purposing pots to plant some raspberry and cranberry canes and some rhubarb crowns. I've put them in pots over the winter  because it's easier to protect them from frosts and strong winds and will transplant them to the garden in spring.

Saved $20 on potting mix and fertiliser by using compost, worm castings and some homemade potting mix.

Picked a huge bunch of rhubarb while I was collecting the crowns. Stewed it and we've been eating it for breakfast. Tried a new recipe for a rhubarb and pineapple cake (the recipe is coming this next week) and it's a keeper. Used the last of it to make a small crumble, just enough for two serves.

Gratefully accepted three large jars of tomato paste (we were right out), some tea bags and two boxes of Uncle Toby's Strawberry & Vanilla rolled oats (which are just delicious, I had some for breakfast this morning and Hannah has claimed dibs on the rest).

Kebabs were on the meal plan for Monday night. At $10 each they're just too expensive so we made them. Thomas looked up a recipe online, we had all the ingredients except the lamb mince. We used some of the cooked lamb from the freezer, put it through the mincer and just shortened the cooking time. The recipe made enough kebab meat to make six large pita bread kebabs. With lettuce, tomato, onion and aioli they were delicious and cost under $2 to make! We've decided the recipe is a keeper and I have another way to use up leftover lamb.

I needed coconut cream for a recipe, but didn't have any in the pantry or the stockpile. I MOOed evaporated milk, added some coconut essence and once the recipe was finished you couldn't tell the difference.  Saved at least 75c on a tin of coconut milk plus a trip to the supermarket.

Hannah picked up a huge (4kg) bag of soup bones marked down to $1.50 on her way home from work on Friday. There's a big pot of soup on the stove right now, and more bones in the freezer.

Spent a lovely day with the card making ladies last Saturday :) We all managed to make at least the five cards that were planned, some of us managed to make extras. Virtually free entertainment with good friends, lots of chatter and plenty of laughter with some beautiful cards to show at the end - a perfect way to spend a day I think.

Handmade cards
Gratefully accepted a DVD (thank you Maureen) - The Book Thief. I haven't seen this movie so I'm looking forward to watching it.

Joy gave me a big ball of white crochet/knitting cotton, just perfect for face cloths and trimming face washers, hand towels and tea towels.

Used melted Easter rabbits for the chocolate topping on a caramel slice. I bought the rabbits for 49 cents each after Easter to use in cooking - much cheaper than buying melts or cooking chocolate.

Hannah needed a gift and a card for a baby shower. The card came from my stash, it was the sample I made for last week's card making get-together. The gift came from the present box - some face washers I'd trimmed and a crocheted baby blanket. Total cost: $2 for the face washers. The cotton for the trimming and the wool for the blanket were both given to me by Mum when she cleaned out her knitting stash.

Tipped the water from showers into the washing machine.

Added veggie peelings to the worm farm.

Repaired the tape on the drapes in our bedroom.

While the sewing machine was out I also fixed a cardigan and a camisole for Hannah.

Made lemon and lime cordial with limes given to me.

Saved a couple of envelopes to use in card making thanks to Wendy's tip (the insides are pretty patterns).

Cooked a double batch of burgers and put half in the freezer for another meal. Also made a double batch of marinated drumsticks and put half in the freezer for another meal.

Saved petrol by only using the car to take Hannah to the station or work, otherwise I was happily working here at home this week. Less than a quarter tank used all week. I've put $60 into the holiday account.

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

Cath's Meal Plan 29th May - 4th June 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Fish & chips, coleslaw

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Honey mustard chicken, steamed rice & greens

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Company roast, baked veg

Saturday: Muffin Surprise

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20 May 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 22 -- 28 May 2016

Boston Baked Beans - easy, cheap, nutritious and a family favourite
This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Rissoles, steamed veggies, gravy

Tuesday: Boston baked beans on English muffins

Wednesday: Refrigerator lasagna, tossed salad, garlic bread

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Curried tuna slice, tossed salad

Saturday: Vegetable soup, toasted crumpets

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15 May 2016

The Week that Was 15th May 2016

Some of the summer lettuce has self-seeded and is growing. I've been picking the leaves every couple of days to use in salads.

The weather was all over the place this week. We've had sunshine, rain and wind - such winds! That of course has meant that some days the washing was outside on the clothesline, other days it was over the clotheshorses. Either way it dried.

The rain has meant I haven't had to water the garden. I was sure I wouldn't have a garden this winter but the boys pitched in and dug over the beds and planted some seedlings so for the time being we have cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, parsnips and turnips growing.

Sprayed the fruit trees with MOO white oil. Something was eating the leaves and the lemon tree especially was starting to look sad. Now, after just a few days, they look much better and there are new leaves growing. I also dug in some compost from the worm farm to give them a bit of a boost. There are mandarins, oranges and limes growing.

Made soft breadcrumbs from the crusts stored in the freezer.

Made a lemon pie using biscuit crumbs and lemon juice from the freezer.

Made a double batch of washing powder for an ACA segment - it's screening tomorrow night at 7pm.

Used cards from my stash for Mother's Day. Re-used some pretty gift bags to wrap the presents. Made fudge, Top Deck Raspberries and caramel corn to give.

Opened the doors and windows on warm days and closed them again about 4pm when it started to cool down. Saved turning on the heater.

Cooked all our meals from scratch using ingredients on hand.

Bought petrol for 98c, the next day it was back up to $1.22c/litre!

And all the usual things I do out of habit to save money, time and energy.

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

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13 May 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 15 - 21 May 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Lamb kebabs (leftover lamb in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, onion, garlic mayo)

Tuesday: Stuffed drumsticks, baked veggies

Wednesday: Homemade mac’n’cheese, salad, bread

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Honey soy stir-fry, Singapore noodles

Saturday: Homemade hamburgers

Divine Burgers

1 tin Sanitarium Rediburger*
1 cup TVP
1 cup boiling water
1 grated onion
1 egg, beaten

6 hamburger buns
lettuce leaves
sliced tomato
6 slices cheese
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2tbsp mayonnaise

To make the burgers: Pour the boiling water over the TVP and let it steam for 5 minutes. Mash the Rediburger, add the grated onion, TVP and beaten egg. Mix well. Shape into 6 large burgers. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Heat a grill, bbq or frying pan until hot. Spray with cooking spray or lightly oil. Add the slice onion to the pan to cook. Fry burgers over a medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until they are browned and set.

While the burgers are cooking toast the hamburger buns. Mix the tomato sauce and mayonnaise and spread on one side of each bun. On the other side put a lettuce leaf, sliced tomato and slice of cheese. When the burgers and onion are cooked place a burger onto the cheese, add some onion and top with the other half of the hamburger bun.

*If you can't get Rediburger (it has been discontinued!) use Nutmeat.

11 May 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 8 - 14 May 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Mexican meatballs, rice

Tuesday: Cream cheese patties, salad

Wednesday: Schnitzels, tomato gravy, steamed vceggies

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Chicken enchiladas, salad

Saturday: Haystacks

Cheats Haystacks

1 tin baked beans
1 tin kidney beans, rinsed
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 pkt corn chips*
1/2 cup grated cheese

Mix baked beans, kidney beans and diced tomatoes and warm through. Layer corn chips on plates and top with bean mixture. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.

*Instead of corn chips I often use MOO pita chips, they're cheaper and just as nice.

03 May 2016

The Week that was 1st May 2016

Let the rain water the garden on Thursday and Friday. I turned the timer off for a couple of days. We had a huge thunderstorm early Sunday morning and it's rained on and off since so the sprinklers are still turned off.

Dried the washing on the clothesline or clotheshorse (when it was raining).

Collected the cold water that runs while warming up in the bathrooms and kitchen and added it to the washing machine, used some in the steam mop on the floors and the rest watered the garden (before the rains came).

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

Did a Library Talk at Pakenham library on Saturday afternoon. What a great afternoon and it was really nice to meet so many enthusiastic Cheapskaters and to catch up with some old friends from the Hampton Park talk I did a few months ago.

Bought 8 jars of jam on half-price sale ($2.50) at Coles. It's really nice jam, but I especially wanted the jars to reuse - they are so pretty and to buy new are $2 each. I used the gift budget to buy the jam as the jars will be used for presents.

Restitched the seams on one of Hannah's work cardigans so she can wear it again. The jolly thing fell apart in the wash! Took all of 10 minutes to set up the sewing machine, stitch the seams and pack it all away again. Saved her buying a new cardigan or paying the alterations place to fix it.

A new butcher has opened up just 10 minutes from home. I raided the meat fund and bought  chicken fillets for $4.99/kg, mince for $5.99/kg, sausages $3.49/kg, whole chickens $3.99/kg, legs of lamb $5.9.9/kg and corned beef $7.99/kg (this isn't a great price, but cheaper than normal and we haven't had corned beef for ages). Packaged it all into meal size portions and took them to Mum's freezer - mine are all full. Chicken fillets haven't been that  price for around 5 years. I packaged up 63 meals for a total cost of $237.56 or $3.77 per meal - well below my $5 per meal meat budget.

Thomas lit the fire for me on Sunday instead of turning on the ducted heating (it's only 13 degrees outside - so cold after our mild weather). Today's washing is drying nicely on the clotheshorse next to it.

Downloaded some free ebooks to my Kindle from http://hundredzeros.com/

Took some leaves from an African violet I have and put them in pots to strike new plants. I've moved them inside to the kitchen window for warmth. If they take they'll become gifts.

Aldi had sewing bits and bobs for 99 cents each. I bought pins, needles, tape measures and threads to make up sewing kits for Christmas gifts. I have pretty boxes I've been saving that will be perfect for this. I just need to find decent scissors at a reasonable price to finish them off and each gift should cost under $6. I'm planning on making up three sewing kits.

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