30 January 2017

The Week that Was 29th January 2017

True to form, Telstra very kindly were doing whatever it is they do and we had no internet for most of yesterday. Very frustrating!

Last week we saved money, time and energy a few ways:

We had a decent shower of rain which meant the garden didn't need to be watered for a couple of days.

Dried the washing on the line.

Redirected the grey water onto the back lawn.

Caught shower warm up water and used it to water the hanging baskets and pots.

Made two batches of cupcakes to use up packet mixes I was given, one chocolate, one red velvet. Consensus is they're not as good as made from scratch (and I expect they'd be a lot more expensive too).

Made four lots of pizza dough, rolled out, par-baked and froze them for February's pizzas.

Made ciabatta using a mix that was given to us - yum!

Made cinnamon banana bread.

All the usual cleaning, filling of cars with petrol etc.

Made breadcrumbs using the crusts in the freezer while the oven was hot from the cupcakes.

Saved lots of packaging to restyle into gift packaging.

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

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27 January 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 29th January - 4th February 2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Mexican Meatballs

Tuesday: Pasta Bake

Wednesday: Honey Mustard Chicken

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

Saturday: Muffin Surprise

23 January 2017

A Handmade Christmas Week 3

This week I've already added three soap sacks to the present box. They're so pretty in pink cotton. I've matched them with some of the heart shaped soaps I made last week and the old fashioned bath salt sodas.   They'll go into the gorgeous vintage style tin tubs I have in the present box to make bath time pamper kits.

I've also saved a couple of small jars to use for sugar scrubs.  I'll paint the lids (they're yellow at the moment) and make some labels to pretty them up.

I know the tubs cost $1 each (I cleared the shelf!). The soap sacks cost 60c each to knit, using cotton yarn I already had. I used soap supplies from the cupboard to make the little soaps and by my calculations they cost 25c each. I have muslin in my fabric stash that I bought when Hannah was a baby, and I'll use lavender from the garden to make the sachets, I estimate they'll cost around 30c each to make (and I'll use recycled, free ribbons). The brown sugar and olive oil I'll use for the sugar scrubs was given to me, and I'm recycling jars so no cost for these pretties. I have some white tulle to make a scrub puff (leftover from a birthday party) so again, no cost to make these. The total for these bath time pamper packs will be around $2.40.

I know similar gift sets sold in Target this Christmas for $29.99 and for $49.99 at the Body Shop - with fewer items in them!

I've finally decided on a theme for this year's gifts - French Provincial shabby chic. I work so much better with a plan, and it was the tin tubs that swayed me, but it really wasn't hard because I just love this look.

I'm thinking off white, cream, pale pink, deep rose red, lavender, blue and white, rose petals, ribbons, lace, ruffles, decoupage, monograms, distressing - my imagination is working overtime and I just keep adding to my list. It helps that I have lots of yarn, fabric and paper in those colourways too.

Late last year Wayne's father gave Hannah a bunch of lavender from her Granny's lavender garden (Granny is now in full-time care, so this is extra special). She was going to dry it and use it in sachets but I took half of it and planted it into a small pot to strike. I did this with some Lavender the lovely Maureen gave me too, with great success. All this to say that later in spring I'll be harvesting lavender to make sachets to go into the pamper kits too.

Sometimes packaging gifts can be the challenge so I'm always looking for ideas and materials and Mum bought new hankies on Thursday. They came in clear boxes, wrapped with navy blue satin ribbon. Needless to say I snagged the boxes and the ribbons for my wrapping box, they'll be perfect for packaging biscuits or meringues closer to Christmas.

Have you added to your present box this week? Have you started making your Christmas gifts?

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22 January 2017

The Week that Was 22nd January 2017

I've accomplished more than I thought I had this week. Sometimes caring for a home and family and watching the family budget becomes so much of a habit that we don't realise just how much all the little things we do are worth.

Downloaded some free ebooks from Hundred Zeroes for my Kindle.

Kept the house shut Tuesday as it was very hot. We only had the air-conditioning on for about three hours later in the afternoon when the house became hot and stuffy thanks to shutting up early.

Made four loaves of English Muffin bread. Sliced, wrapped and in the freezer. This is enough toast bread for a month. Cost: $2.60, or 65 cents a loaf - cheaper than the cheapest bought white bread. The ingredients all came from Aldi, except the yeast which I buy from The Kitchen Pantry in Croydon.

Another branch of the apple tree came down Friday morning leaving more apples on the ground. Most of them are small, and not quite ready to be picked. Wayne collected them in buckets for me and I'll be making applesauce next week.

Made two Piglets, one to take to cards and one for the boys to enjoy, using MOO condensed milk and ingredients from the pantry. Piglets (when we bought them) were $3.50 each. I made two slice trays for $4.90. Each tray makes 12 piglets (shop size, I cut them smaller, they are very rich and very sweet). ! If wasn't convinced before that baking is worth the time and effort, I would be now. Piglets take around 10 minutes of actual hands on preparation. Going on bakery prices I saved $79.10, on an hourly pay rate that is $474.60!

We had two days of good rains so no need to water the garden.

Picked more zuchhini. Grated and in the freezer.

Used grey water to keep the back grass green.

Dried the washing on the clothesline.

I was able to spend time in the evenings knitting. I've used up some of the cotton from my stash to make soap sacks this week.

And yesterday was our first card making day of the year. I spent more time talking than card making, but I'm happy with the cards I made.

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

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20 January 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 22nd - 28th January 2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Tomato & Onion Quiche, salad

Tuesday: Tortellini in tomato sauce

Wednesday: Butter chicken, rice, naan

Thursday: Australia Day BBQ

Friday: Hamburgers

Saturday: Fish, wedges, salad

15 January 2017

The Week that Was 15th January 2017

Woke up early Monday morning and found an apple tree full of Cockies, dropping the apples on AJ's car and generally making a mess of the yard (as they do).

Peeled, chopped and stewed 13kg of apples. The freezer is full! Plenty for pies, pancakes and crumbles this winter and to have for breakfast.

Dried all washing on the clothesline.

Watered the back grass with the grey water from the washing machine.

Caught the shower warm-up water for the pot plants.

Added two dishcloths to the present box.

Tidied the laundry cupboard and took two bags of containers, jars and dusters to the op shop.

Washed, dried and cut up the liners from the Christmas cereal boxes to use as freezer go-between.

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Used up a little sour cream and half a block of cream cheese to make Cream Cheese Patties for Hannah and I. We had them for tea on Thursday instead of pizza  and lunch on Saturday. Yum!

Cleaned out Mum's pantry and brought home 4kg of mixed fruit, two packets of raisins, a packet of currants, a packet of mixed peel and two packets of glace cherries. We're set for fruit cake ingredients for quite a while. We love fruit cake but I don't make it often during the year because of the expense. This little haul totalled  $62.59; well worth the 20 minutes I spent tidying the pantry.

Cleaned up the lunchboxes, they were looking a little dingy after a year of use. A paste of bicarb soda and a little water rubbed over the scuffs worked wonders. They all look almost new, just in time for another year of service.  I did the same thing to the ice-bricks too.

Found a basket in the laundry cupboard to store the ice-bricks in the freezer. They'll all be in the one spot and easy to grab and/or replace each day.

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

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13 January 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 15 - 22 January 2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Fish, wedges, coleslaw

Tuesday: Refrigerator Lasagne

Wednesday: Thai chicken curry, rice

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Sausage rolls, salad

08 January 2017

The Week that Was - 8th January 2017

Not a lot done around home this week, Wayne and I were away for five days.

We took a full thermos and lunch and snacks with us for travelling. We stopped at one McDonalds for coffee and drank it with our homemade Christmas cake for morning tea. We also stopped at a Driver Reviver station and gave the SES a $5 donation for a top-up of boiling water later in the afternoon. Seems a lot to pay for boiling water but it was cheaper than buying tea and coffee and it goes to a very good cause.

Thomas was in charge of watering the garden and pot plants while I was away. He did a brilliant job, I didn't lose a thing.

Hannah fed everyone from the freezer, no takeaway or grocery shopping done while we were away.

Mum needed some new clothes so I used a discount voucher from Millers, shopped online and bought everything on sale, saving her $117. She now has nine nice new outfits to wear.

My portable hard drive was almost full. It's the one I keep back-ups on so went hunting for a new one. Bought one from Kmart for $77, $1 cheaper than Big W and I didn't have to go to another shopping centre to get it or pay postage buying online.

I was able to share some zucchini from the garden with a neighbour. I grated the others I picked and put some in the freezer for cakes, bread, slices and casseroles later in the year. I've put a couple of the bigger zucchini aside to make pickle this week once the weather cools down. Some for us and some for gifts.

While we were in Sydney petrol prices jumped up 23c a litre. We worked out how far we'd get on the fuel left in the car and checked prices online to see where it would be cheapest to fill up and didn't spend an extra 24c a litre - it was actually even cheaper on the way home.

Called in to visit with family on the way home from Sydney, then had afternoon tea at the Botanical Gardens in Wagga. The gardens haven't really changed, although there is a nice new playground.

On New Year's Day Coles were clearing out fruit mince tarts for 37c a packet. Hannah bought 10 packets and put them in the freezer for later.

Kept the house shut during the heat of the day and opened it up once the sun had gone down. Saved the air-conditioning for hot days and used the fans if it was forecast to be under 32 degrees. Kept the fans on overnight two nights as it was very hot and muggy.

Late last year we looked at replacing the awnings on the front windows, but the cost was prohibitive (turns out our front windows are an odd size - go figure!). Wayne pulled one to bits to see what needed to be fixed and/or replaced then went to the hardware shop and spent $14, came home and was able to fix them both! Yay! The actual awnings are in excellent condition so it would have been a waste to replace them.

Took the hem up on some lightweight jeans to make capri length pants rather than buy new ones for summer. Saved at least $15 a pair, $45 in total, and I now have pants I can wear. Kept the cut-off pieces to patch work jeans.

Hannah made sausage rolls (36) using sausage meat I bought on clearance at NQR before Christmas. Total cost, including pastry, $3.40 or 9 cents each for lunch sized sausage rolls.

I've started making bread again. We go through a loaf of bread a day between the five of us for sandwiches and toast and it was starting to become a pain to keep up with buying it (my freezer space is too valuable at the moment to store bread). I don't like going to the shops everyday so bread baking is back on the agenda. My homemade bread costs around $1.20 a loaf, and is denser and much more filling than what I've been buying.

Caught the shower warm-up water for the pot plants, they need constant watering at this time of year.

Watered the back grass with grey water from the washing machine.

Made up a big jug of fruit water for the fridge yesterday. We had a top of 37.8 yesterday so keeping fluids up was essential.

The boys bought me (or all of us really) Chinese for tea and Hannah made a pavlova for my birthday. There were lots of leftovers, all packed into meal portions for later in the week.

While I was typing this up last night there was a terrific crack from outside. The apple tree lost a branch. This tree is at least 50 years old; where we are used to be an apple orchard and it is one of the trees from the orchard. I love this tree, for the shade it gives the house in summer and for the apples of course.
Too much fruit and the poor old tree branch couldn't take it!
We picked buckets of apples this morning from the fallen branch. They'll be stewed and frozen or dehydrated for winter.

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

06 January 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 8 - 15 January 2017

Vegetable Curry - easy, tasty, cheap!
This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: BBQ sausages, salad

Tuesday: Chicken Alfredo

Wednesday: Vegetable Curry, rice

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Stir-fry

Saturday: Hamburgers

03 January 2017


It doesn't happen very often, but occasionally a piece or two of fruit in our fruit bowl will get a little wrinkly. I hate waste so I'm always looking for a way to use even the wrinkly fruit. Often I'll dice it and add it to a muffin or cake mix or puree it and use it to make ice blocks.

But when there is a lot of wrinkly fruit I make crumble. Sometimes it's apple, sometimes it's pear, sometimes it's plums or peaches or apricots. Or a combination.

This week I had an apple and a pear that were a little wrinkly, and half a packet of mixed berries in the freezer so I made an apple, pear and berry crumble. And it was delicious.

Here's the recipe.

Cath's Mixed Fruit Crumble

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 pear, peeled, cored and diced
300g mixed berries
1 tbsp honey
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup coconut
1 tsp mixed spice
125g butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine the apple, pear and berries with the honey. Place into a buttered casserole dish.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, coconut, mixed spice and melted butter. Stir until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Spread evenly over the top of the fruit.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until crumble is browned and fruit is bubbling. Serve warm with cream, custard or ice-cream. Serve cold with cream.

I used apple, pear and berries in this crumble, but you can use any fruit suitable for pie. Plums, apricots or peaches are all good. I've even used leftover fruit salad (minus the melon) that I've drained.

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02 January 2017

Old Fashioned Bath Salt Sodas

Cheapskates Club members have taken up the challenge to make Christmas 2017 a handmade Christmas,  so for 2017 the Monday craft Tip of the Day is going to be something a little different - an idea or pattern or recipe or instructions for a handmade gift.

It may seem a little early to be making bath salts, but this pretty gift idea requires you do do a little collecting and op-shopping, so to give you time to gather everything you need, it is Handmade Christmas Idea No. 1.

And they're not just for Christmas, but birthdays, Mother's Day, to say thank you or get well - there are so many ways you can gift these pretty bath salts.

Old Fashioned Bath Salt Sodas

 This year I collected old fashioned ice cream soda glasses. I bought them from thrift stores when I saw them. I made a bath salt mixture with sea salt, rolled oats  (which I finely ground in blender) Epsom salts, a few drops of food colouring and a few drops of 100% essential oil of choice, an exfoliating sponge and a large red bead. I mixed everything together in a large metal bowl, put it into the ice cream soda glasses and covered them with cling wrap so the salts wouldn't fall out. I put the nylon exfoliating spongy thing on top of the cling wrap and topped it off with a large, round, red bead, then stuck a straw into the glass via tiny hole I had made. I added a long handled teaspoon (collected from Donut King)to each glass and so far the recipients of these early Christmas gifts have been very pleased with them.
Contributed by Nikki Armstrong

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01 January 2017

The Week that Was 1st January 2017

Happy New Year everyone!

Today Wayne and I are travelling to Sydney to spend some time with his family. Before we left home I filled our thermoses, packed sandwiches, biscuits, Christmas cake and cold drinks for our trip.

I'm excited to start the new year on my blog by listing all the frugal things we did this last week to save money, time and energy.

This week:

We ate a lot of leftovers. I made them into other dishes so they weren't just leftovers and nothing was wasted.

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

Used washing machine water to keep the back lawn green on the very hot days (and turned it off when it rained).

Saved the kitchen and bathroom warm up water for the pot plants. In this hot weather and with the winds we've had the pots dry out very quickly. I've been watering them twice a day using this water.

Picked the zucchinis from the self-seeded plant.

The self-seeded tomato has some fruit on it - can't wait to see which type they are.

Dried the washing on the clotheshorses under fans in the kitchen on wet days. It was too humid to dry outside under the verandah.

Went through the wrapping paper and boxes from Christmas Day and saved what I could re-use. I have some lovely boxes that can be repurposed into gift boxes, lots of ribbons and some pretty papers.

Went to the Boxing Day sales with Hannah and AJ. We left home at 7am and went straight to Big W, which opened at 7, then to Kmart, then to Target, Sunglass Hut, JB Hi Fi and finally David Jones. I spent the grand sum of $3 - there was nothing else I saw that I wanted, needed or could use so I still have spending money in my purse. Hannah bought new sunglasses at half-price, AJ bought some SD cards on sale.

Used the ceiling fans to keep the house cool on the very hot, humid days we had this week. I was up early to close the windows and curtains each morning.

 Mum moved into a nursing home until her arm heals. It's only six minutes from us so nice and close for visits, and close to where my brother works so he can visit easily each day too.

I had to label all Mum's clothes and belongings. As I was labelling her t-shirts I was cutting off the ribbons at the shoulders to add to my craft stash (I asked her first).

Took our excess rubbish to Mum's bins - somehow we had a lot of recycling this fortnight. Even with Christmas we don't usually have so much. Thankfully her bins were empty, I managed to fill the recycle bin, otherwise it would have meant a tip fee.

Filled all three cars using discount vouchers that were about to expire.

Made a new baby card and put together a gift for a friend who had just had a baby girl. Everything came from home so no additional money spent.

Took some cuttings of lavender and planted them into a pot. I have grand plans of having a lavender garden one day :)

Worked a little each day on end of year cleaning, tidying and sorting. Didn't get everything on my list done, but the important things have been crossed off.

And each night I spent a little time updating my new diary, ready to start using it today.

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

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