06 September 2018

MOO All Year Round Air Freshener

We've had two glorious days here this week.

I've put washing out, washed windows, washed doonas ready to pack away for the summer and pottered in the garden.

And I've had the doors and windows open wide to let some clean, fresh, spring air through the house - at least until it started to cool down in the afternoon.

But it is spring in Melbourne, and that means the weather is more than changeable. Today it is blowing a gale, drizzling rain and quite cool, so the doors and windows are closed.

On days like this, or during winter when the heater is going, the house can get stale, no matter how clean it is. The air just gets stale.

The solution is an air freshener, but commercial sprays just don't smell right to me. I don't want fake ocean breeze or synthetic lavender; I like clean, natural scents all year round. That means of course that I like to MOO the air fresheners used in our house, and this is one of my favourites, especially at this time of year. I shared it as today's tip of the day to Cheapskates Club members this morning too - that's how much I like it.

All Year Round Spring Fresh Air Freshener

You will need:
6 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops rose essential oil
10 drops lavender essentail oil
250ml spray bottle

Half fill the spray bottle with boiling water (if your bottle is plastic, let the water cool a little first).  Add the oils and stir. Fill the bottle with cool water. Spritz the air throughout your home for a spring fresh scent whenever you need it. Warning: don't spray directly on furniture or soft furnishings.

04 September 2018

White Chocolate Lemon Shortbread Bars

This is today's recipe from the Cheapskates Club. Hannah and I made it on Sunday for Father's Day afternoon tea and it disappeared in quick time. We all loved it, and it will go into my recipe book as a keeper.

I used lemon juice and zest from the freezer, and white choc melts bought earlier in the year on half-price sale, which helped to keep the cost down.

White Chocolate Lemon Shortbread


  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 2 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 375g butter, softened, cut up
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 90g white chocolate


  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line two lamington trays with baking paper. Whisk flour, 1 cup of the sugar and lemon zest in large bowl.
  2. With pastry blender, butter knife or the tines of a fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Divide dough in half, and press dough into prepared pans; sprinkle the top of each pan with 1 tablespoon sugar. Mark into fingers with a butter knife.
  3. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, place chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until melted, stirring every 30 seconds until is melted and smooth. Drizzle over bars.

The Smart Stockpile

This topic was brought to mind earlier this week when I was listening to ABC radio and they were talking about food security, and just how little Australia really has. The drought was mentioned, as was the shrinking number of primary producers, and our reliance more and more on importing what we need. They also talked about the  nine meals from anarchy theory, and how our shopping habits are shifting from the big weekly shop to smaller, daily food shops.

There's  no need to panic or become scared, but a good time to think about putting some kind of plan in place so if you do have a disaster (financial, health, weather related, whatever) it won't be a disaster but rather a hiccup.

If you are stockpiling for the long-term, to save money and to survive a disaster (of any kind), try to stockpile high protein foods first, then other dry goods. So aim to  keep a good stock of legumes - dried beans and lentils store well on the pantry shelf and are a high protein alternative to meat. A little serve provides a good whack of nutrients. Then look to stockpile flour - it does have a shelf life believe it or not, and it will go sour over time. Self-raising flour will lose it's ability to rise so keeping plain flours and baking powder (or the ingredients to MOO it) solves that problem. Flour can be frozen too. I pack it in 2kg lots, vac seal it and freeze it. Tinned tomatoes are always handy - even tinned they are good nutritional value. Dried fruits last just about forever, however they will lose freshness and become candied. For the long term they can be frozen too.

Now, the problem with freezing everything is that if the power were to go out for any length of time then that frozen stockpile is lost.

I still freeze a good portion of my food stockpile but I started bottling more about 7 years ago, and the last two years have preserved by bottling around a third. I'm saving up for a pressure canner so I can actually "can" soups, stews, casseroles, pasta dishes etc. for long term storage instead of relying on the freezer.

A good way to recession or disaster proof your grocery bill is to grow your own vegetables and fruit. I can't stress this enough; it will save you a fortune and if the supermarkets were to close you'd have food in the garden, not only to eat but to sell or barter for things you don't have. And homegrown is always best, being fresher and in most cases chemical free. It does not take a lot of time to grow food, it does take commitment. You do need to water, mulch, plant, weed, harvest, start seedlings and so on but none of these things is hard nor do they take a lot of time, they don't even need to take up a lot of space.

My stockpile is a little odd:

12 months cleaning and toiletries (soap, bicarb soda, borax, washing soda, eucalyptus oil, vinegar, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes)

I usually have 12 months of pasta, sauces (tomato, barbecue, sweet chilli are the main ones - I usually make them in Jan/Feb for the year - Worcestershire which I am about to make another batch of as I've just opened the last bottle and I like it to sit for 6 months before I use it), jam and marmalade (I make them all year round), salt, lentils, beans.

12 months canned goods: tomatoes, tomato soup, chicken soup, baked beans, black beans, beetroot, tuna, salmon, tinned fruit, pineapple

6 months baking supplies: flours, dried fruits, spices, sugars, molasses, golden syrup, nuts, bicarb soda, citric acid, tartaric acid, cream of tartar etc.

3 months of meat, chicken, frozen veg, hard cheeses, butter, weet bix, bran, ricies, peanut butter, vegemite, honey.  All these things could easily be stretched to 6 months if necessary (I know, I've done it before).

The only paper goods we use regularly are toilet paper and baking paper (which I buy from Aldi, same price per metre as the bulk pack).

I've been thinking about our stockpile, how we use it, and how we live now and plan to live in the future and next year our stockpile will grow a little, to hold 18 months worth of our "supermarket" supplies.

You don't need to go to extremes to build a stockpile. Most of you have seen my pantry, shelving and laundry cupboard on TV (they always seem to find a way to get it at its worst!). That's most of it. The toiletries are in the bathroom cupboards.

Smart people only stockpile the things they use regularly, buying them when on sale. Once you have a stockpile you'll never pay full price for groceries again, saving you even more money and helping you stick to your grocery budget.