26 September 2021

Gathering the Fragments 26/9/2021

This week started cold and wet! Not a lot was done, a migraine put a stop to me being too active for most of the week.

Washing was dried on the clotheshorses.

Caught the shower warm up water and tipped it into the washing machine.

Made 30 small fruit cakes for the cake tin.

Stuck to the TEOTWAWKI pantry challenge, making a loaf of bread and using up rolls and wraps from the freezer.

Used sausage mince to make patties for sausage breakfast muffins in bulk.

Chicken fillets were $4.99/kg at Australian Butcher so 4kg was canned as ugly chicken.

Chicken fillets were $4.99/kg at Australian Butcher so 4kg was canned as ugly chicken.

Ordered some stocking stuffers online as they were on sale and the estimated day we can get back to in-store shopping is 5th November. I can only imagine the chaos in the stores from then until Christmas.

Soaked the fruit and made one Christmas cake, wrapped it and put it away. 

Shredded the cardboard boxes from some deliveries and used it as the base for the fourth veggie bed.

Wayne's work jumper had a small hole in it, so I found some medici wool (very fine wool used for embroidery and tapestry) and darned it, then used a dark blue Sharpie to go over it to colour match to the jumper. Even AJ couldn't find the darn and he watched me do it! Jumper is now good to wear and we keep $70 in our pocket (yes, they are that much to buy!).

The weekend was forecast to be cold so a big pot of soup went into the pressure cooker, and it was so good!

Friday was a baking day.

And we survived the earthquake!

What a week we had.

22 September 2021

TEOTWAWKI Pantry Challenge Day 9 22/9/2021

1 tea bag
2 muffins
1 sausage patty
2 slices cheese

10 slices bread
1 bagel
5 slices ham
2 slices pastrami
7 slices cheese
Russian dressing
Wholegrain mustard

2 chicken fillets
MOO Condensed Cream Chicken Soup
1 tin coconut cream
1 pkt frozen casserole veggies
3 tsp curry powder

21 September 2021

TEOTWAWKI Pantry Challenge y 8 21/9/2021

1 tea bag
Orange juice
2 muffins
1 egg
1 sausage patty
2 slices cheese

8 slices bread
4 slices cheese
4 slices ham

Meat sauce (canned from pantry)
Grated cheese
2 bread rolls made into garlic bread (rolls from freezer)

4 fruitcake cup cakes
2 oranges

How are you going with your TEOTWAWKI pantry challenge? So far so good here. Honey and seeded mustard are the only things on the shopping list so far.

20 September 2021

TEOTWAWKI Day 7 20/9/2021

 This is a great challenge; I'm finding that my stocks are pretty much what we use, with the variables being the fresh veg and fruit. We eat a lot of veg, not that you'd know it the last week, and go through a reasonable amount of fruit. I aim to get the 5 serves veg/3 serves fruits into each of us every day in one way or the other.

I'm down to maybe one meal left of potatoes, but there is rice and pasta, and looking at the meal plan we'll have pasta tomorrow night and rice on Wednesday, pizza on Thursday so we should make it to next week without anyone noticing we've not had potatoes as often as usual.

1 tea bag
2 muffins
2 eggs
2 slices cheese
1 orange

5 hot dogs
5 hot dog rolls
Grated cheese
Bbq sauce

4 kransky
1 onion
Bbq sauce
4 small potatoes
1/2 bottle cream
1/2 cup UHT milk
1/2 onion
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

3 tea bags
3 tsp instant coffee

Made one batch of mini fruit cakes - 30 from batch
1kg mixed fruit
Mixed fruit
2 eggs
2 cups SR flour
225g sugar

19 September 2021

TEOTWAWKI Day 7 19/9/2021

1 tea bag
1 tsp instant coffee
2 slices banana bread (freezer)

8 slices bread (freezer)
1 tin salmon
Cream cheese (freezer)

1 chicken (freezer)
5 potatoes
Small piece pumpkin
1 onion
Cauliflower (freezer)
Chocolate self-saucing pudding

TEOTWAWKI Day 6 18/9/2021

2 tea bags
2 tsp coffee

5 bread rolls
5 slices cheese

1 pkt corn chips
Haystack filling (from freezer)
1 tomato
1/2 cucumber
Grated cheese
Last of the sour cream - about 3 tbsp
1 ice-cream cone

4 tea bags
3 tsp coffee

Gathering the Fragments 19/09/2021

This week all the fragments are being gathered and used, every last crumb, because I am doing the TEOTWAWKI Pantry Challenge, and can't use any shopping I might get until 27th September.

Bread crusts have been turned into toast. Normally I dry them and whizz them for crumbs, but as any bread we get now has to be made by moi, crusts become toast. We have plenty of crumbs.

Thinly sliced a half a tomato for sandwiches. Only 1/2 in the fridge, so it has to last.

Writing the meal plan on the whiteboard on the fridge works. I wrote out lunches for the week, and of course our dinners. I've found we are eating much better than I thought we were.

Dehydrated 4 kilos peas/corn/carrots from the freezer to make room.

Saved the shower warm-up water and tipped it into the washing machine each morning.

Made some cards, two mystery cards, one a baby card, using what I have. 

Planted six capsicum seeds in peat pots and put them in an old croissant box in the front window. It's working well as a mini hot house, I planted them on Tuesday and already have three shooting.

Continued to work on the garden beds and moving dirt.

Four of the new beds should be ready for planting next week - the compost and manure will have had a couple of weeks to settle so the new plants aren't burnt.

Made some new pot holders for the kitchen, using scraps of quilt fabric from the stash.

What fragments did you gather this week? How did you use them?

17 September 2021

TEOTWAWKI Day 5 17/9/2021

2 croissants
strawberry jam
scraped out jar of raspberry jam
1 tea bag

5 meat pies
tomato sauce
bbq sauce
1 tea bag

chicken fillet
1 cup rice
1 tsp chicken stock
1 pkt stir fry veggies from freezer
kecap manis

3 tea bags
3 tsp coffee
1 banana

16 September 2021

TEOTWAWKI Pantry Challenge Day 4

2 English muffins
Strawberry jam
2 slices cheese
1 tea bag

2 hot dog rolls
2 hot dogs
3 bagels
Cream cheese
Smoked salmon
1/4 onion
Tomato sauce

3 MOO pizza bases
Pizza sauce
Grated cheese
2 eggs
2 slices bread

4 tea bags
3 teaspoons instant coffee
1 banana

14 September 2021

TEOTWAWKI Pantry Challenge Day 2

I've already found a gap that needs to be filled: honey!

I scraped the last of the honey out of the jar and went to get one off the shelf to replace it, and there was none! Then I remembered that I stopped buying the honey that was often on sale at the supermarkets because of the honey scandal of it not being 100% pure, and was going to source a more local supplier that I could be sure sold only pure honey. So honey is on the shopping list.

3 teaspoons instant coffee
4 tea bags

2 English muffins
Strawberry jam
1 banana
2 tea bags

10 slices bread
5 slices cheese
1/2 tomato

1 jar mince
1 tin tomato soup
1/2 packet spaghetti
Onion flakes
Garlic granules
Sweet basil
Grated cheese

TEOTWAWKI Pantry Challenge Day 1

Yesterday (13th September) was the first day of this challenge for us. 

How to keep track of what we used? It was a bit of an aha moment as I was writing the meal plan on the whiteboard, but well why not use the whiteboard? It's already on the fridge, it's easy to make notes on it and it can be used over and over. I know, I'm a slow learner.

So I'm jotting what we use each day on the whiteboard as we use it.

Yesterday was the first day of this challenge. 

3 tea bags
3 teaspoons instant coffee

For breakfast we used:
2 English muffins
raspberry jam
1 tea bag

For lunch we used:
5 hot dogs
5 hot dog buns
grated tasty cheese
bbq sauce
tomato sauce

For dinner we used:
4 x chicken fillets
Tomato paste
4 x slices cheese
5 small potatoes to make wedges
Vegetable oil
Garlic powder
1 tomato
1/2 cucumber
1/2 red onion
Balsamic dressing

13 September 2021

A TEOTWAWKI Pantry Challenge

Hello Cheapskaters,

On Saturday, a lovely friend from The Netherlands mentioned in her beautiful post a challenge to live off our pantries as they are right now, for two weeks.

That is a brilliant idea, and here's why: if you don’t know absolutely for sure you can do it, then you need to assume you can't; that if there is TEOTWAWKI event, your pantry won't have everything in it to sustain you, your family, your pets, your home and your garden.

We all have decent, well stocked pantries. And we might all think we have everything we'd need for two weeks other than fresh milk/fruit/vegetables and perhaps bread.

But unless we attempt to live off what we have RIGHT NOW, we'll never know for sure.

So, with that in mind, I will be joining Petra and for two weeks, starting today, living from our pantry as it is right now.

Quite a few friends mentioned that they didn't want to do that because they are saving their pantries for an emergency; a few mentioned that they felt the need to keep stocking and didn't want to run their pantries down.

Cheapskaters, your pantry is meant to be used! If you are building your pantry and not using it, then that is hoarding, not stockpiling or pantry building and it is not saving money, time or energy.

A stockpile is a fluid thing. It is meant to change, and change often. It is meant to be used, and then refilled. It is not meant to sit in the house or shed and look lovely.

So keep stockpiling. Keep filling your pantry. I will be. Right now our pantry has more than enough (I think) of the basics and a few treats/luxuries/extravagances to last us a very long time. But after reading and thinking about Petra's thoughts, I need to be sure.

Of course I have my lists, and they are quite detailed, with exact quantities, but unless I test those numbers accurately they are just estimates.

Now I won't be using what I'm adding for the next two weeks - I will use what I have on hand as of today, and only what I have on hand. Any half-price or marked down specials or other shopping will be put aside for the two weeks so I know that only what is in the pantry will be used.

It will be a very worthwhile experiment and experience. I know that Wayne will say "we're out of such and such" and I'll tell him I'll add it to the list, but we won't be getting it or using it until after 27th September (that's when my two weeks will be up). There may be grumbles, but I'll deal with them - if this was a real TEOTWAWKI event I'd have to deal, and so would the rest of the household.

Seriously think about joining the challenge; I suggest you start today. Right now. Immediately. No running out and doing a top-up shop before you start.

If we do find ourselves in a TEOTWAWKI event we won't have time to run out and do a top-up shop and even if we could I can guarantee there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of other people all trying to do the same thing. If you thought the TP Wars of 2020 were bad, think of that scenario on steroids and you'll have some idea of just how time consuming, frustrating and potentially dangerous that will be.

I'll be making detailed notes of what I use, what it was used for, how much and what is in the pantry. This information will be very important in a TEOTWAWKI event because it will give me a picture of how long what is in the pantry will last without rationing, and then with rationing. This information will also help with future shopping and pantry rebuilding.

While I was listening to a podcast this morning I went through the fridge and freezer and wrote up lunch and dinner meals for two weeks, using what is in the pantries. We will run out of salad veg, but there are plenty of canned, dehydrated and frozen vegetables in the pantries. Fresh fruit will come from our trees, the fruit in the freezer and canned from the shelf. There is yeast and flour to make bread. I know we'll run out of fresh milk, but there is powdered, UHT and tinned milk in the pantry.

Right now, being only a couple of hours into the challenge, we're looking good.

There are two bottles of fresh milk in the fridge, 8kg of cheese, 5 dozen eggs, 2 lettuce, 2 tomatoes, 2 pkts hot dogs, 1 pkt smoked salmon, 4 cream cheese, butter, 2x600ml cream.

There is meat and chicken in the freezers or on the shelf, along with beans.

In the bread tin is a loaf of bread and a packet of English muffins. There are two packets English muffins and two packets bagels, as well as four croissants and six hot dog rolls in the freezer along with three packets of wraps on the shelf. They are all things that would be bought every fortnight, but if we run out there is flour and yeast and they're all easy to make.

I can't wait to see what the pantry looks like at the end of the two weeks and what I have on the lists.

On a note of caution: if you do join in (I hope you do) please don't post what's in your pantry. No one, even us Cheapskaters, needs to know exactly what and how much you have in your pantry - that is private and confidential! I talked about this a while back on our YouTube channel.

 I hope you join Petra and me! If you do, please comment below. I'll be posting every day with what we eat and what pantry ingredients are used.

12 September 2021

Gathering the Fragments 12/9/2021

Sunday, inbetween rain showers, we worked on filling the veggie beds. They are big, and will take a lot of fill, and we are on a budget so buying in what we need isn't happening. This means as we put one new bed in place, we add cardboard and tree prunings to the bottom, then add sugar cane mulch, then we mix the soil from the old beds with compost, and with the soil we are digging out of another area we are working on, and using all that to fill the beds. We are buying the sugar cane mulch, but as we need it so we don't end up with too much. I found a couple of open bags of sand left from Thomas' fish tank experiment, so that was mixed in too.

Made more fruit cakes for Wayne and the boys. I think fruit cake is their favourite cake at the moment.

Started some lettuce, silverbeet and cucumbers in peat pots.

Had a double-up baking morning on Thursday to fill the cake tins and freezer.

Pizza danish and nutmeat rolls for lunches
Dried oranges to use later.

Dried frozen veggies to make room in the freezer.
Two kilos peas/corn/carrots dehydrated fit into 1-1/2 500g jars
 Dried strawberries - they've been cheap and plentiful the last couple of weeks. They'll be powdered to use in baking and icings and smoothies.

Had half a chicken fillet left from dinner one night, so I chopped it up, added some onion, garlic powder and condensed cream of chicken soup and make a chicken pot pie that we had for dinner last night with salad and wedges.

With the wind this week the washing has been outside on the line to dry. Nothing beats the smell of line dried washing.

Have six tea towels waiting to be hemmed then trimmed. The plan is to crochet the trim; it not only makes them prettier but strengthens the hems too so they last that little bit longer. And they'll go into the present box, to add to some other little things for gifts.

Started a stockpile shopping list. I've been restocking as things are used this year, but I have a few things I'd like to get ahead on. Having them on a list helps me keep track so things aren't forgotten.

To add to our preps the first aid pantry has been tidied and an order put in to restock what is missing.  
What fragments did you gather this week?

05 September 2021

Gathering the Fragments 5/09/2021

This week seemed to drag. I woke up on Tuesday, and thought "oh, it's Saturday", then the alarm went off and I remembered it was Tuesday. That happened every morning! I needed my day off yesterday.

The weather was spring in Melbourne. Sunny and warm one day, pouring rain and jolly cold the next. The rain has been such a blessing, what is left in the garden in going great guns.

The lavender has started to bloom, it is going to be stunning when in full flower, and I can't wait to cut some for the house and to make sachets. I deliberately chose scented lavenders so the flowers could be used. I've cut some more for strikes too; a few more to fill in blank spots and some to sell when they are established.

When I sat down I wondered what I had accomplished, but looking at the list on the fridge, the days were busy.

*Topped up two small beds with worm castings and soil from one of the veggie beds we are moving.

*Put three tomato frames together and set them into the garden, ready to plant
*transplanted some older strawberries that had new runners on them into the smaller beds by the fence.

*Used all the cardboard I've been saving to put down in the bottom of the new veggie beds, then added all the apple tree prunings I've been saving, then a layer of straw before adding new veggie mix.

*Dug up the beautiful, beautiful soil from down the side of the house to mix with the new soil for the veggie beds. Nothing grows on that side of the house so we'll pull the garden out and lay down stone.

*Wednesday was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, so I switched up the meal plan and we had a salad. I boiled an extra egg and then enjoyed hard boiled egg, potato salad, lettuce and cucumber for tea on Thursday to use up the leftover salad bits. The boys of course had their pizzas.

*Went through the pantry, checking canisters. The sultanas, currants, raisins, craisins, apricots and mixed peel all had little amounts in them, so I tossed them all onto the scales, came in at 1038grams, and used them to make fruit cake. Then the canisters were washed and dried, ready to be refilled. And Wayne was happy to see more fruit cake.

*The whiteboard on the fridge is working really well for keeping track of little bits in the fridge. Everyone checks to see what it is, then uses those bits before opening a new jar or tin or making the same thing from the pantry. Is it saving money? Yes. Is it stopping waste? Yes, everything is used before it has time to go off. $6 well spent!

*Wrote the September meal plan on the whiteboard - having it on the fridge stops the "what's for dinner" question every afternoon.

01 September 2021

Still Collecting Skills

As I read my friend Rosanne's link to the article "The World Is Still Short of Everything. Get Used to It" reminded me of a blog post a while back about collecting skills. Another one I wrote about collecting tools that don't require electricity to run them.  

I just looked back, the collector of skills post was over two years ago, way before any shortages had become common, or delays in getting things the norm.

When we have skills we can do for ourselves. My skills aren't anything amazing, just things that over the years I've picked up and learned because they are handy to have.

 Knowing how to grow the food you eat is a skill you will always use, that will stand you in good stead forever

The advantage is that if I have a skill that someone else doesn't, I can trade skills with them if I need to.

Oftentimes we overlook the fact that sewing on a button is a skill, and we are amazed at someone who either throws out the shirt or pays $12 for a seamstress to sew it on for them.

It's a simple skill, and easily learned. You don't need any fancy, expensive equipment - a needle, some thread and scissors will get that button sewn back on. And when you need a button sewn on, having the skill to do it is vital.

A vintage crochet pattern book, perfect for learning new designs for face washers and towels

The same goes with cooking. I'm no great cook. But I have learned how to steam or roast veggies, how to put together a basic roast dinner and make a decent soup and casserole. I've learned to bake bread and make jam. I can put a healthy, appetising meal in front of my family and not be ashamed of it. I've learned the skill of cooking homestyle meals.

As I read the article it became apparent that most of the world relies on technology to perform the skilful chores for them in some way or other. Our cars for example are so full of electronics that they can't be repaired if they break down - the "chip" needs to be replaced. Until that happens the car won't go.

We rely on mobile phones to be our to-do list, our address book, our appointment diary, our shopping list and our entertainment. I'm not sure too many people actually use them as phones any more. But when that phone stops working we have no to-do list or address book or appointment diary or shopping list or even entertainment. We've lost the skill of keeping hard copies of those things, a little notebook and pen so we can jot things down, the address book on the desk to refer to when sending cards. They are skills too - I wonder if because we've lost these skills that it's not contributing to the dementia pandemic? We don't use our brain in the way it was meant to be used, so it withers and dies.

I'm still collecting skills.

Right now I'm learning how to make hugelkultur garden beds.

Moving some of the fruit trees to set up the new garden beds


 I'm still learning to get a good sourdough starter made, and I'm practising making sourdough breads.

I've learned how to can mince and chicken, and chilli and chicken soup. I've learned how to can beans so they're ready to use. I'm learning more about canning every time I process something and I'm so glad I have this skill. It is filling our pantry with shelf stable food that will keep for years.

 Pressure canned mince - shelf stable, ready to use. Canning and any other form of preserving are good skills to have

A new skill I'm trying to master is lighting a fire with a flint. It's fun to try as a child, but I think it is a very good skill to have as an adult, when the ability to light a fire could be the difference between life and death (or at least eating warm food or cold food, or being warm or cold - you get the idea).

So don't stop collecting skills. Then shortages and delays won't be nearly as upsetting, stressful or intimidating.

29 August 2021

Gathering the Fragments 29/08/2021

The news this week has been all over the place.

One thing that caught my attention, and spurred me into action, was the reports of the truck drivers strike on Friday (24 hours, but rolling ongoing) and the coming border blockades scheduled for Tuesday of this week.

Our pantry is full, but the garden, well it's empty, other than potatoes and strawberries that aren't ready yet. We've pulled the garden apart to renovate the garden beds so nothing is growing at the moment. So I checked the fridge and noted a couple of the fresh veggies we would need and did a quick trip to the supermarket to top up. I'm glad I went when I did, it was busy and the shelves were almost bare.

All our meals have been cooked from the pantry. That's what it is for - to feed us. If you have a stocked pantry, and keep stocking it, but not using it, that's wasted money. Your pantry is meant to be used, so use it!

The weather was a bit hit and miss this week so washing was dried on the clotheshorse on wet days and on the line on dry days.

I had a 3 litre bottle of milk that had to be used up. Someone who shall remain nameless, moved it from the kitchen fridge to the outside fridge and didn't tell me. I looked, saw the gap and bought another bottle of milk, all the while wondering how on earth we could go through so much in just a couple of days. So I made custard and yoghurt to use it up. Then I had to make a sticky date pudding to use up the custard, because well sticky date pudding and custard just seemed right on the night.

I drained off the worm tea and mixed it up to feed the fruit trees.

Baked some cup cakes for snacks/morning/afternoon teas.

Downloaded some free e-books to my Kindle.

Picked oranges to eat and to freeze for baking.

Collected the shower warm-up water and used it in the washing machine.

Started work on the new garden beds. Wayne put them together and we put down a thick layer of cardboard, then a layer of apple tree prunings, then a layer of wood chips from the firewood. Next will be a layer of hay or pea straw (whatever I can get cheapest), a layer of compost and finally a layer of soil. 

What fragments were you able to gather this week to save money, time and energy?

23 August 2021


Here’s what my day looked like yesterday. I'm sharing because it was pretty much a normal sort of day around here, busy, but with plenty of time to rest, eat, drink copious cups of tea and knit. But things got done.

When the sun shines, I work outside. When it's raining or cold, I work inside. There is always something to do, I don't know how anyone can say they have nothing to do. Even if it's just get ready for the next meal, there is something to do.

My friend Annabel says "do the next thing". Now she's usually saying it as an encouragement when you're feeling low or tired or anxious. But it applies to every day, and every thing we do. Just do the next thing, and before you know it, things are done.

So yesterday may have been a go, go, go day, but things got done, next thing after next thing.

By the way, that quote "do the next thing" is from an old poem and credited to Elisabeth Elliot, a missionary who continued on with their work, after her husband was killed. When she wasn't sure she could carry on, when she didn't know what to do, she just did the next thing.

Yesterday went like this:

It's 10.30am and so far I've:

Loaded and run dishwasher

Two loads of laundry on the line, third almost finished

Baked 2 dozen cup cakes and 2 banana loaves

Put corned beef in slowcooker, veggies done and in pot for tea

Cleaned bathroom

Stripped our bed, need to remake - DONE

Still to do:

Ice cakes when cold - DONE mind you when I went to ice them a few cup cakes were missing, no big deal, it was morning tea time. Then No. 1 Son comes along and says "icing - if I knew there was going to be icing I would've waited". Cracked me up 🙂

What's left of the cup cakes after morning tea and the two banana loaves for the freezer

Washed two sets new sheets for boys' beds -  it is a beautiful day, warm, sunny, light breeze, a good washing day as my mum used to say so I'll get them done and into the linen cupboard and the old sheets will go to the sewing cupboard. - DONE and on the clothesline

Cake tins have been washed, dried and are in the oven for few minutes to completely dry- may as well make use of the residual heat.

Somewhere in there should be lunch - use up the leftovers in the fridge - DONE leftover leftover chicken sandwiches for Wayne and cheese on English muffin for me.

Cakes are all packed up and ready for the freezer. If we need to isolate, my crew will be looking for treats so I figure I can get a head start and if we don't, well lunches etc. are covered for a couple of weeks.

Sweep kitchen floor - DONE

Remake our bed and clean our bathroom - DONE

Feed the strawberries and fruit trees - DONE - we have 13 fruit trees and rhubarb and strawberries - loving our little backyard orchard.

Washing in, folded and put away or ironed and put away (only 4 things, doesn't really count as ironing).

Noticed my dressing gown looked grubby, so into a short wash it went. Now it's blowing around and around on the clothesline in the wind. It will dry in no time at this rate.

Wayne washed the Patrol and his work van, then AJ's car, so while he had the Karcher thingy out and going I asked him to wash the front windows for me - now they're sparkling again and another job off the spring cleaning list.

Pack up cards made yesterday (Saturday 21/8) and put into present box - DONE and into an envelope to send to the nursing home instead of the present box. I'll walk to the corner and post the parcel tomorrow.

Still to do:
finish emptying one of the old garden beds into two of the smaller new  garden beds

UPDATE: 4:15pm and I'm done! It's all done except for finishing the emptying of the soil because we have decided to move the boxes it was going into and turn them into a bigger strawberry bed. So that will be on the list for next weekend.

Now the only thing I am going to do other than dish up dinner, is make my to-do list for the week and knit.

That was pretty much my day yesterday. I finished a dishcloth, and started another one. We had dinner and cleaned up the kitchen, packing up another complete meal for the freezer (it was a huge piece of corned beef).

Then I sat and chatted to a friend on Messenger for a while, and toddled off to bed by 8:30pm because I was zonked.

If you're wondering if the things you do matter, if they add up, make a list. Do your own DITL. Even if no one else sees it, you'll see hard proof of your accomplishments. Even on the slowest of days, the hardest of days, you can do something. Do the next thing!

22 August 2021

Gathering the Fragments 22/8/2021

Still in lockdown, but we're going well. Hannah went back into lockdown yesterday at 1pm. I can rest easy knowing she has a full pantry, fridge and freezer and won't need to go out for a few days.

We have had on and off rain this week, enough to keep the ground moist, and that's just what we need right now.

Wayne ordered the new veggie beds last Sunday, and they are on the way. I keep getting tracking notices, and they should be here sometime this coming week - I'm expecting them Tuesday or Wednesday.

So we have started to redo the backyard. It's a bit like a puzzle at the moment. Until the new beds are in place nothing can really be put in it's permanent spot.

We have almost emptied one of the smaller timber beds. We used some of the filling to fill small pots for the apple trees. And we topped up the smaller beds on the western fence line. One almost empty, only seven more to go!

On a side note, we have 13 fruit trees, rhubarb and strawberries in our backyard orchard!

Oranges picked fresh from the tree
I had a pot of garlic and I've been waiting, waiting for it to come up. Nope, not happening. When I dug down, the heads had shriveled up to almost nothing - all of them. That means no garlic crop this year, and that's not good. There were a couple of heads in the kitchen and I know it's late, but I've gone ahead and planted them in another pot, in the hope that we'll at least get some.

Thomas made doner kebabs for dinner on Wednesday night. He tried a new recipe and a new way of cooking the meat and they were delicious. And he doubled the recipe, so we have enough for another meal in the freezer. The only thing he bought was the pita bread, everything else was in the pantry. The leftover pita bread (3 pieces) went into the oven to make pita chips.

On the sunny days I opened the back door and let some fresh air into the house.

Keeping a running list of things to be used up on the fridge is really helping to make sure nothing goes to waste. The nights I don't cook, whoever is can look on the list and see what to add to a meal. Easy!

Baking this week was a dozen cranberry hootycreek mini loaf cakes, a dozen vanilla butter cupcakes, two dozen chocolate cup cakes and two dozen mini fruit cakes. Cake tins full, freezer full, family happy. All ingredients were in the pantry.
 Mini fruit cakes for the cake tin
I've put bigger buckets in the showers to catch the warm-up water. I have a feeling this summer will be long, hot and dry, and water will be an issue. Catching and reusing what we can will not only keep the bill down, but stop waste too.

We had a scare on Friday with a colleague of Wayne's getting a message to say he'd been to an exposure site and needed to get tested and isolate immediately. We haven't heard the results yet - so much for quick test results - but we are praying it comes back negative, otherwise we will all be getting tested and isolating.

I'm so thankful for a full pantry. If we do need to isolate we will be fine. When the fresh veggies run out we have plenty of frozen and dried and canned we can use. And when the fresh milk runs out, there is powdered and UHT in the pantry. Yeast and flour to make bread. There's more reason than saving money for keeping the pantry full.

17 August 2021

Pray Without Ceasing


Our world has turned upside down, inside out, and twisted itself in knots.

It has, for want of a modern term, gone crazy.

Life for so many is not scary, but terrifying. In the last few days we've had a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, killing over 1,200 people. And the Taliban has so very quickly overrun Afghanistan, leaving millions of people to live in fear of their lives. The scenes from the Kabul airport are so distressing to watch, I cannot imagine the fear, the terror, the pain of the people living it.

We have lived through a pandemic, that is being called endemic now that it is out of control and over the entire world.

There are droughts worse than any before known in one part of the world, while in another part floods are wiping out homes and businesses and crops, and another part is burning, with fires so fierce that entire cities have been wiped from the face of the earth.

These things brought to mind Matthew 24:4 - 31. I know, it's almost a cliché, that the words of this chapter of Matthew be used to describe what is happening in our world, but reading over them (and Luke writes a very similar version of what will bring about the end of time in Chapter 21:5 - 37), I can't help but see that the words of Jesus are being fulfilled.

That should scare me. It doesn't, though. I welcome the trials and tribulations that come. Don't get me wrong, I don't like them, but I welcome them. They are the signs that Jesus will be back to gather us to Him, and very soon.

I want to be ready. I want to rise up into the sky to meet Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:17). And so I pray.

Paul wrote in Thessalonians "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and I think now is not the time to stop praying.

I pray for myself and for my husband and my children. I pray for extended family and friends. I pray to give thanks for all that I have, that my needs are supplied. I pray for forgiveness and for strength. I pray that the Lord will open my mind and my hearts so that I'm not fooled by Satan and his evil angels, that I'm not deceived by the false prophets.

Jesus taught us how to pray, so even when we are at our most stressed, and can't think straight, we can pray. How blessed are we, that our heavenly Father though to teach us how to pray to Him?

We're all familiar with what is known as The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4), it was probably the first prayer we were taught as children. And Jesus taught it to the apostles and He's taught it to us, so we can pray without ceasing, even under stress and duress.

I'm not saying our prayers should be mindless, but rather that when we are mindless, we have a prayer, taught to us by Jesus, that we can send to our Heavenly Father, and we know He'll hear it and answer it.

15 August 2021

Gathering the Fragments 15th August 2021

It's been a while, but I've been busy. Life has a way of getting in the way of our plans.

So this last week, our lockdown was extended for another 2-1/2 weeks (and I am sure it will keep on being extended).

When Hannah was here in between lockdowns, she brought me three beautiful pumpkins. One will be soup. One will be cooked and dried to make pumpkin powder (video coming), and one we will use to enjoy baked pumpkin and pumpkin scones and pumpkin and sultana cake.

The days have been glorious. Sunny, but very windy, with occasional showers. Great for getting the washing dry.

Cheapskating accomplishments this week:

Brought extra throws and blankets out of the linen cupboard to use on chilly mornings and nights instead of turning the heater on (we have the fire going all the time, we try not to use the ducted heating).

Rang and queried an insurance bill, it had gone up well 13%, and the cover amount had dropped by 15%! Spent some time explaining nicely that that just wasn't going to keep us as customers, even if the amounts were decided by a computer program. Also suggested that the company might like to check the depreciation rates as 15% was a little steep for the item covered. After about 20 minutes we came to an amiable agreement, bill was lowered, amount covered increased and the policy renewed. But I'll spend the next 12 months looking for something else, to be prepared next year.

Made some cards for the nursing homes.

Knitted two dishcloths.

Crocheted three scrunchies.

Worked on some projects for Christmas gifts - I think Christmas 2021 is going to be very different to what we have been used to, especially the range of decorations and gifts.

I'm a part of a Christmas ornament exchange, so I've started working on the ornaments to send - they need to be finished by mid-September so I can get the overseas ones sent off.

Emptied the bokashi bucket into one of the garden beds and dug it in, in-between rain showers, now it's ready to be filled again. I drained all the "tea" into an empty 3 litre milk bottle to make up into liquid fertiliser in the spring when I start planting again.

I placed a seed order a couple of weeks ago. Seeds were in short supply last year, and from what I've been reading and hearing from friends overseas, they are still in short supply and it looks like being a world-wide shortage for a while. Seeds keep for a couple of years, so I ordered more of what we use all the time, with a few extra packets, and they arrived on Wednesday. They'll be good for at least three years and won't go to waste.

Cut more lavender for starts. Lavender plants at the nursery cost between $7 - $8 each. Starting new plants from cuttings is easy and free, and lavender fills blank spots in the garden beautifully while being a plant that gives back. They also make beautiful gifts in pretty pots. I have some ideas for pots that I'll share soon.

I noticed that a lot of the basic craft supplies I use all the time have gone up. Embossing folders have gone up $1 each. Crochet cotton has also gone up by $1 a ball. These prices are still lower than buying from a branded retailer, but they impact my budget. I'm now rethinking some of the ideas on my gift list.

Today we are working in the garden, getting everything ready, or as ready as we can, for spring and summer.

05 June 2021

The Day Disaster Struck

I was a happily married mum to two gorgeous little boys. We lived a comfortable existence. I worked part-time and we were renovating our home, slowly, as we could afford to.

We lived a very good life, going on holiday and weekend trips six or seven times a year.  Everything we bought, we bought new. We ate well, our fridge and freezer were always full, as was our bin each week when I plonked the contents of the fridge into it.  We drove a nice car. Our boys had toys, so many toys we could have opened a toy shop. And we had expensive hobbies (mine is creative tapestry, Wayne's is model trains).

Thankfully we didn't have a lot of debt apart from our home loan.

Because one Thursday my part-time job ended unexpectedly. It was a little upsetting, but after we talked about it that night we decided we could manage on one wage for a little while, at least until the boys were both in school.

And then the next day Wayne lost his job. Out of the blue, he was jobless for the first time in his life.  Oh my goodness, was I upset . I was so upset I made myself sick, and spent all weekend in bed. On Monday morning my very caring husband dragged me off to the doctor.

Turns out I was sick for a reason, and it wasn't unemployment. Baby number three was on her way!

So we had one mortgage, two toddlers and a baby on the way. We also had a half a house. We had started renovating two weeks before Disaster Struck.

I wish I could say that I mustered my resources and became an instant Cheapskate. Instead, I went into denial and shock for about six months.  It took that long for me to figure out that I didn't want to change our lifestyle, I really liked the way we lived.

To say we were stressed is an understatement. It took me those six long months to get my act together and realise that we could sink and lose everything we had worked for or we could change our attitude and our habits and get through what I thought would be a temporary hiccup. As it turns out that was one long hiccup - three years and 9 months in fact.

We survived, and from that disaster we grew stronger and much, much wiser and learned some valuable life lessons too.
We learned that we didn't need to have new clothes for every special (or not so special) occasion we went to.
We learned that little children really do have more fun with the packaging than the contents.
We learned that new babies will come when they are ready, whether you are ready for them or not. And that they don't need freshly decorated nurseries, lots of brand new baby clothes or new bassinets, bouncers, strollers, prams, baths or any other baby accessory that is fashionable.

We learned to shop for the things we needed and wanted on a very tight budget.

We learned to appreciate the things we had: books, videos, games, our own backyard and our own dining room.

We learned that being the first in our peer group to have home birthday parties started a trend - and saved money.

We learned that camping on the banks of Blowering Dam for free was the best family holiday we'd ever had and repeated it over and over until we moved away.

We learned that eating meals cooked from scratch was so much nicer than eating pre-prepared meals. And I learned to really cook, from scratch, with ingredients, not products.

We learned that little boys had as much fun riding their bikes around the block with their Daddy as they did at the play centre - and Daddy had more!
We learned that we could still wear stylish clothes, have holidays, give gifts and entertain - we just did it differently.

And we learned not to panic. Continuing to pay bills on time, being honest with our mortgage lender and sticking to a very tight budget (we had less $340 a week coming in) kept food on the table and a roof over our heads.

The day I realised saving my family was up to me was the day I vowed we would never, ever be in that position again.

From that day on we took control of our money, we stopped it controlling us.

We took a long hard look at our lifestyle and the way we were living and made some changes. We were stunned at just how much some of the things we thought essential were actually costing us - and just how unessential they really were. We cut right back and no one noticed!

In fact I had mums at playgroup asking me what we were doing. They knew we were both out of work, but they couldn't see the changes in our lifestyle. To all intents and purposes it hadn't changed at all. We still did most of the things we'd always done.  

There was a change though, and it was so simple: we ditched the things that weren't important to us so we would have the money to enjoy the things that are.

We became Cheapskates and we started living the Cheapskates way.

Twenty-three years on we are still Cheapskates and we still live the Cheapskates way.

We still live on a tight budget. We still account for every cent we spend. I still cook from scratch, grow as much of our food as I can, preserve the excess, make some of our clothes, buy in bulk, shop the markdowns first, save regularly, never knock back a freebie and the list goes on and on.

Our life is better than ever, better, I am sure, than it would have been if disaster hadn't struck.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

30 May 2021

Gathering the Fragments 30 May 2021

Well here we are in lock down again.

I'm frustrated and upset, mainly because we are due to go on our trip to Tasmania in a few weeks and it's looking like this won't happen - again!

Anyway, there's no point in sooking or whining, or even feeling sorry for myself, apart from this, it has been a great week.

We had a little rain. Not enough to really break the drought, but enough to water the garden for a couple of days. I love saving water!

When it was announced that we might be going into lockdown again, I did a quick inventory to see what we needed - milk. So I quickly donned a mask and bought fresh milk. We're right for everything else, a benefit of keeping the pantry full.

I made focaccia for lunches. I used a half a red onion that was in the fridge, a couple of tomatoes that needed using, a couple of cloves of garlic from the garden and rosemary from the garden. It was delicious.

The weather cooled down towards the end of the week, so a big pot of soup was made. I used a soup pack from the freezer. These are so handy to have. I buy a bunch of celery, a bag of carrots, a couple of parsnips, pick a couple of turnips from the garden and two or three, depending on size, onions. Chop them all up and bag in 3 cup portions for soups. Sometimes I'll leave them in chunks, for meat soups; sometimes I chop them up smaller for chicken or vegetable soup. But being able to just pull one from the freezer on a whim, along with some stock, and make soup in a few minutes is such a blessing on a busy day. And homemade soup with homemade English muffins is quick, cheap and easy for unexpected visitors too.

I challenged everyone over on Cheapskates Chatter to keep busy during lockdown. My plan was to make cards, so that's what I did. The nursing home is asking for some and it's time to replenish the CWA stocks too. 

I also finished off some dishcloths.

We kept the fire going, even on the warm days, to keep the house warm. When we do this we don't need to use the ducted heating at all, and that's a huge cost saving on gas.

I noticed the price of petrol was coming down. Well of course it is, no one can go anywhere! My car was just under 3/4 full so I hunted down a discount voucher and went and filled it up. The price difference was 30c a litre, a saving of $4.50 that I moved to our holiday fund.

With everyone back working at home, they were looking for something more substantial for breakfasts. English muffins are easy to make (and they freeze), so are hot cakes (and they freeze). There was some sausage mince in the freezer so I used Gardenpat's recipe for breakfast sausage seasoning to make patties and made sausage and cheese muffins; then I fried some eggs (no oil - I love my new frypan) and made egg and cheese muffins; made a double batch of Mum's Secret Hot Cakes. I wrapped them in meal sizes and put them in the freezer. Then the kids just nuked whatever they wanted for breakfast. They feel like they're getting something special and it's so much cheaper than them ordering, which they had talked about doing! Bless their little cotton socks, that would cost them about $50 a week each - a ridiculous amount of money.

Lunches were toasted sandwiches. They made their own, they all have different lunchtimes. Easy.

I've been craving coffee and trying really hard to not drink too much so I made a decaf batch of Joy's Iced Coffee Syrup and I've been adding it to milk and heating it in the microwave - yum!

Drying the washing by the fire.

Saving the shower warm-up water.

Only doing full loads of laundry and dishes.

Writing any leftovers on the whiteboard so they are used up.

Fed egg shells and veggie peels to the worms.

Added some bones and meat scraps to the bokashi bucket.

Made sure to close the blinds and curtains by 4.45pm to keep the warm in and the cold out, and pushed the draught stoppers against the outside doors.

Made sure to just use a lamp in the loungeroom if the TV was on. That's plenty of light to knit by and my Kindle and Wayne's tablet give off enough light to read.

Gratefully accepted some brand new collapsible canisters from my Aunty. These will be great in the camper for flour, sugar, rice, cereal etc. and when they're empty they'll collapse down so they won't take up a lot of space.

Goodness, I need to jot things down as I do them. I'm sure there's more, but I can't think off the top of my head.

How did you gather the fragments this week?

28 May 2021

Make a Dusting Spray

Friday is cleaning day in my schedule - or one of them. You can find my housekeeping routines here.

Today I need to polish the furniture. It's usually done once a month, and that keeps it in good condition, but this month has flown by and with everything we've had going on, polishing the timber furniture just slipped off the to-do list and it will be June before I know it.

Our timber furniture is a mix of new, old, and antique, and it all takes a bit of work to care for it. I use this spray. It's a MOO, from way back in March 2018 MOO Month, and I've used it ever since. It is amazing!

I wipe the furniture over with a barely damp cloth, then I spray directly onto a clean polishing rag and wipe it all over the furniture. Spraying onto the rag makes it easier to get into the nooks and crannies and corners and carving on the furniture.

Then I let it sit for about 5 minutes, grab another soft cloth and polish until it gleams. It sounds like hard work, but it's not. If it was hard work I wouldn't be doing it!

It's really easy to make, and you will have all the ingredients in your cupboards so no need to buy anything.

I use a recycled spray bottle.
Pour in about 1 cup water.
Add 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 teaspoons olive oil and up to 20 drops of lemon or lavender or orange essential oil.
Put the lid on and shake, shake, shake to mix the vinegar, olive oil and essential oil.  Do this before you add any water and you'll have less chance of separation. Once you add water, give it another good shake and shake it up before you use it.

You can spray this directly onto timber furniture, or onto the polishing rag - whichever suits you best.

Buff it off with a clean, soft cloth and your furniture will gleam.

This is a great in-between polish, I give all the timber furniture a proper oil polish just once a year.  I followed this program and it works:

Step 1. Polish your wooden furniture every day for a week.
Step 2. Polish your wooden furniture every week for one month.
Step 3. Polish your wooden furniture every month for one year.
Step 4. Polish your wooden furniture once a year.

In-between I use the dusting spray once a month. Our furniture isn't flash or fancy. It is what we like - solid and comfortable and well a lot of it is old. But it looks nice (well we like it!), because we take care of it.

This system will revitalise wooden furniture, and rejuvenate and protect it. Yes, it takes a while to get through but it will be worth the effort. Your furniture will always look great and stay in good condition and really - once a year isn't that hard to do is it?

24 May 2021

Gathering the Fragments 23 May 2021

What we did to save money, time and energy last week, and to use up what we have:

Went to card day and came home having learned a new card layout, and with a big tub of margarine (thank you Maureen and Joy).

Cooked corned beef from the freezer and used the leftovers to make Corned Beef Pie. It was a small piece, so not enough left for another meal of corned beef, putting it into a pie stretched it to another dinner and two lunch serves.

Cooked fish cakes to use up the soft potatoes in the pantry. One large tin of tuna, a large onion, a good pinch of herbs and an egg combined with six mashed potatoes made 15 large fish cakes.  Total cost: $4.70 To buy the same would have cost $42.00 from a local deli!

Made a big pot of chicken soup using up veggies from the fridge, MOO chicken stock and a half a small chicken fillet. This was lunches for four days, with toast.

Made choc coated peanut butter fat bombs and brownies for afternoon teas.

A yarn order arrived so I've been restocking the basket in the kitchen and the shop with dish cloths.

Used an app to find the cheapest fuel in our area. I used to top up once the needle hit the half-way mark, these days I'm topping up when it drops under 3/4 tank. Now that may seem like I'm always at the servo, but I don't drive very far or a lot, so it can take a few weeks for me to use that quarter of a tank of petrol.

Made a batch of Lunchbox Cookies using margarine a friend gave me and MOO condensed milk. That brought the cost for the whole batch down to $3.05 for the batch. I baked half the dough and froze the other half for later.

Made vegetable soup using up carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, potatoes, onions, spring onion, celery and beans from the crisper and a jar of tomatoes. I didn't have any stock in the freezer so I added two good tablespoons of Vegeta stock powder. It was delicious, and even though the days were a little warmer this week, it was still cool enough for soup for lunch.

Hannah and I shared a take-away meal on Thursday night. The boys were having pizza, and we don't like pizza, so we always have something they don't like. This week I was tired and achy and frazzled so we ordered a pasta dish from a local pizza shop and she went and picked it up. The serves are enormous, we both ate our fill and there was enough left for her lunch on Friday. So $14.95 made three meals. $5 for a take-away meal isn't too bad and it was a treat (and really, really nice pumpkin gnocchi).

A friend shared the instructions to make pot protectors, so I've been crocheting a set for Hannah, and a set for me. I'm going to use them in my Pyrex bowls and to separate my good serving bowls so they don't scratch or stick (as glass and Pyrex does occasionally when it is stacked).

We still caught shower warm up water.

We still ran the dishwasher only when it was full.

Laundry was done when the washing machine was full.

Washing was dried inside by the fire.

We kept the fire lit and the ducted heating off.

On sunny days I made sure the blinds were wide open to warm up the house, and closed them around 4pm when it started to get cool.

All our meals except for Thursday were made from scratch, using our food storage. All our breakfasts (pancakes, oats, muesli, McMums), all our lunches (toasted sandwiches, soup, ruebens, eggs on toast) and 6 of our 7 dinners. I kept a thermos of boiling water next to the kettle for tea and used iced coffee syrup to make coffee in the afternoon.

Lastly, I had a brilliant idea on Thursday, of course all my ideas are brilliant! I suddenly realised it was almost the end of May and for whatever reason I started to panic that the present box was empty. Off I went and dragged it out of our wardrobe and tipped it out onto the floor. It wasn't empty! Little piles of things started to appear. You know, like with like. Dishcloths, tea towels, hand towels, soaps, pot holders, jar openers, pens and notebooks, socks, hankies and all sorts of things. The piles had me thinking I needed to streamline my gift book so I could see at a glance (a shorter glance than I had been using) what I had for who for which occasion.  So I'll fess up and say that was a tad more complicated than I thought, or rather, than it needed to be. But I'll soldier on. And in the meantime I'll keep adding to the present box, and Christmas, birthdays and the expected new babies will be well and truly covered for the next year at least.

19 May 2021

Gathering the Fragments Catch Up

It's been a while since I posted here. Not that nothing has happened, but life gets busy and I have other commitments that absorb all, or most all, of my time.

But that doesn't mean I stop Cheapskating. It's when life gets crazy hectic and frantic that I need to stay focused and on track. It is so easy to "just this once" order takeaway for dinner or zip through a drive-through or buy new jeans instead of mending the ones I already have, I'm sure you get the idea.

It's times of crisis that I tend to become even stricter with our spending.

So since I last posted we've had a few trips to Sydney for family. Sadly, Wayne's mother passed away in March. Thankfully we were able to get to see her just a few days before she went to sleep.

Wayne and I finally managed to get a few days away. The only cost for this trip was the petrol, and it's a part of budget. Food came from home, and we free camped in our camper. We did spend a little in Bright for coffees and I had some fun in the op shops in Bright and Myrtleford, but that money came from our mad money, not our household budget.

The summer garden is finished. The last of the capsicums and eggplant are about ready to harvest. Tomatoes didn't do too well this year, but the beans were amazing and so plentiful there were more than enough to dry for seed next spring. 

The orange tree is loaded with fruit and it is starting to turn orange. Marmalade on toast is one of my loves, I can't wait to make more (last year's batch is gone already).

Looking to the future I've been hunting for canning jars, lids and rings. When I see them in op shops or on market place I snap them up. A home preserver can never have too many jars, lids or rings! I found lids and rings at Spotlight, a brand I'm not familiar with so I only bought one box to try. That may have been a mistake, when I go back there may not be any left. It's a risk but better than being stuck with things I can't use.

Hannah has bought a house, so we've been hunting for furniture. We have had fun shopping for furniture and all the other things she will need. Her best find so far has been an almost new Dyson upright vacuum cleaner for $50, and two tallboys and two sets of bedside tables, brand new, for $100.

The preserves shelf is full of jams. I've made raspberry, blackberry, mixed berry and strawberry with either homegrown berries or frozen bought on sale. I've sold 7 jars, that money went into the slush fund. There were enough zucchini to make a double batch of zucchini pickle, so 11 x 500g jars are now on the shelf.

I've dehydrated celery and zucchini, and peas/corn/carrots mix and carrots.

I've been restocking the pantry as things are used, instead of waiting for my yearly shop. I feel the need to keep the pantry stocked, so as we use something it is replaced. If I find something we use on sale, I buy as many as I can. 2020 was a hard year; I believe that 2021 and the years onwards are going to be harder and I like to be prepared.

I found the cotton yarn I use for the dishcloths online. Even buying from overseas, and the exchange rate and paying for delivery, it was $106AUD cheaper than buying it here, without delivery. Sadly, in this instance the cheaper option won.

A local discount store had lots of lovely colours of 4ply crochet cotton for $2, so I used some of the leftover craft budget from last year and stocked up. This is the cotton I use on tea towels, face washers, hand towels to trim them and $2 is a bargain - about a 75% saving over buying it from a wool shop.

Op shopping has been fruitful too. A Corningware baking dish for $3. A bunch of original Moccona jars and doyleys for $11. Large Tupperware lettuce container for $2. A crochet table topper for $3.

For the house I used cushion covers I had in the cupboard to make new seat covers for the kitchen chairs. There was some fabric leftover so I made a couple of new pot holders. Waste not, want not. I bought the cushion covers for $4 a while back, so I think that's a pretty budget friendly reupholstering project.

I've been making bread rolls for lunches. Cheaper than buying them and making them fresh each day keeps everyone happy. This is an old recipe, and uses mashed potato, but the rolls are so light and fluffy and delicious - no complaints about heavy bread with this recipe.

Made a loaf of raisin bread. Wayne likes raisin bread for a snack but a loaf is rather expensive from the bakery. I add extra spices and use mixed dried fruit and a diced apple (when we have apples - they're too expensive at the moment).

Zested and juiced 3kg limes from a neighbour. We like lime juice and zest in the rice for burritos and I use it to make lime butter (same as lemon butter to my taste, just a little paler in colour).

Found some card bases I use for the nursing home cards so we cleared the shelf. They have been out of stock for months and I was down to the last packet, so I'm very happy we could get more. Two packets for a friend and six for the nursing home.

We still catch the shower warm up water.

We still wait till the dishwasher is full before running it.

We still wait till there is a full load of laundry.

We still line dry or use the clotheshorses.

We still prefer to use the slow combustion fire for heating rather than run the ducted heating. Why not use the heat source that is paid for rather than have to pay again?

We still cook from scratch for most meals.

I have been craving roast lamb. Lamb legs are so expensive, way out of our budget, but I splurged for Mother's Day and bought one. It was hard - $44! At least we'll get a few meals from it. We'll get two roast dinners from it, either a shepherd's pie or sweet lamb curry (or both) and soup.

Our local Coles has a clearance section in the dairy cabinet and we always check it. We picked up three chubs of salami and 11 packets of bacon for $1 each - and all have plenty of time before they're out of date. The boys will use the salami on their pizzas, and most of the bacon has gone into the freezer for Muffin Surprise or quiche or pies.

I have started more lavender strikes. Some will be for the garden, some will be to sell in the spring. Lavender plants are around $8 each from the nursery so I'm keeping a lot of money in the garden budget and potentially making some too.

We still wait for cheap petrol day to fill up. Right now I'm keeping all the cars full, not letting them get under 3/4 full unless petrol is ridiculously expensive - I noticed yesterday it has gone up again to $159.9/litre here - ouch! Using the app I was able to find ULP for $129.9, so I filled my car.

I gave in and coloured my hair! I know, it took years to grow out, but I think the last 15 months muddled my brain and I went nuts one day and coloured my hair. Mind you the colour was $1 on the throw out trolley at Coles, so it was a bargain (of sorts!).

I have been wanting more mesh sheets for the dehydrator, but the mesh has been out of stock or too expensive. Last week I finally gave in and looked it up - Spotlight had them and a 30% off sale so off I went. So glad I did - yes, they had the sheets I originally saw, but they also had other sheets, same size mesh but 2-1/2 times the size on clearance for 50 cents each. You can bet I cleared the shelf. When I went to pay for them the lovely lady told me that as they were on clearance they were half marked price so my 10 sheets of mesh cost $2.50. Now there is plenty for the dehydrators and for the craft drawers.

Wow, when I look at the list, it's quite a bit. How have you been gathering the fragments to save money, time and energy?

01 March 2021

Gathering the Fragments 28/02/2021

It is Monday morning here, I've just finished my Monday routine.  https://www.debtfreecashedupandlaughing.com.au/2011/05/housekeeping-on-monday.html

Last week we ate all our meals at home, using ingredients we already had or freezer meals, and just lately I've been even more conscious of making sure to use everything up. The poor worms in the worm farm aren't getting the variety they used to!

I added worm compost to some garden soil and a little leftover potting mix to make seed raising trays. Yes, it's time to start the winter veggies. Garden soil on it's own is too heavy for seeds, and I think that potting mix alone just doesn't have the nutrients to start strong, healthy seedlings, so I MOOed some. It is lovely - nice and fine, and a lovely rich colour. In went some cabbage and cauliflower seeds, they'll be ready just as we get back from our holiday later in the year. I also planted some parsnip seeds into buckets of this same mix. I always try to plant root veggies direct; root veggies don't like being transplanted so if you want to grow carrots or turnips or parsnips or other root veggies, try sowing direct and see how much better they grow. I'm the only one that likes roasted parsnip, but I put it in soup and stew and casserole mix so I put three rows of 12 in. If they all come up that will be more than enough for the next year for us.

Yesterday was the most glorious day for the last day of summer. It was warm and sunny, about 34C by mid afternoon.

I slept in until 9:04am! That's almost 10 hours straight, something I haven't done for so long. That meant I woke up feeling full of beans, so three loads of laundry (to get ahead on sheets and towels as this week is meant to be wet). Then we worked on tidying the back garden - pruning back tomatoes, pulling out things that weren't producing, feeding the fruit trees (I feed our fruit trees every week with worm tea and once a month with powdered feed). I swiped the cobwebs and swept the verandah while Wayne did the lawn edges and chopped up everything to go into the compost. Then I washed the outside windows with the broom and he squirted them with the pressure washer thingy - they are so shiny now.

Next was the decking and paving - I swept and he power washed. Those old pavers only look 20 years old now instead of 40! We dragged the furniture off the verandah and Wayne power washed it while I vacuumed then washed the cushions (waterproof but boy they get dusty).

While the vacuum was out I vacuumed the timber decking (my neighbours just smile now, they used to think I was a complete nut) then because the steam mop was already out I used it to steam mop them. They came up a treat.

Made sandwiches for lunch (late - it was about 2pm) and sat down for a few minutes.

Then the rest of the afternoon was odd jobs - putting things away, putting two boxes of Fowlers Vacola jars I was given through the dishwasher and then packing them away ready to use, marinating chicken for tea, in between planning a backyard makeover with Wayne and holding the tape measure and the ladder.

By the time we'd cleaned up after dinner I was zonked. But it was one of those absolutely lovely days where the work was constant, but the end result makes you smile.

Now I'm researching prices on the materials to do the backyard, and ringing to get quotes on some of the bigger jobs like moving gas and electricity (the rest we can do ourselves).

Were you able to gather any fragments this past week?

21 February 2021

Gathering the Fragments 21/02/2021

Well another week has passed, and those tomatoes are still green! I'm waiting, but not patiently anymore. I want to make sauce and pasta sauce; I want to dry some and turn the skins into powder for winter.

The capsicums and egg plant are slowly, slowly growing. I picked a couple of capsicum last week and chopped them up and put them into the freezer.

We had mostly salads this week, the weather was just hot. Towards the end of the week the salads were a little odd but that's OK, they were colourful and cold and we ate them. Nothing was composted from the fridge this week, everything was used up.

I made a batch of enchiladas, and the boys ate some for dinner and the rest became freezer meals. Nothing makes me happier than knowing dinner just needs to be thawed, heated and dished up when I'm busy.

I've been saving soap slivers and on Thursday they were whizzed up to a powder and put in a jar to make a batch of Cheapskates Washing Powder when it's needed. I say on the instruction sheet you can use any soap, and you can. Normally a box of plain laundry soap is grated to make the washing powder, but when there are enough soap slivers then they get used too.

Easter is only five weeks away, so I started on the Easter cards and some boxes this week. And yes, I was gathering the fragments to make them!

When I open a new box of tea, I save the white cardboard dividers. This week the bundle that was saved, and some that were cut from off-cuts of cardstock, were used to make bookmarks for the Reading Recovery program at a friend's school. They are quick to make, so when there are a few minutes to spare, it's easy to sit down, stamp a picture and quickly colour it in. This week they were stamped with frogs, bunnies or cars - just what I had at hand.

It's time to pull the zucchini out. The four plants have given more than enough for us to enjoy for the rest of the year, and they keep on producing. Some has been made into zucchini pickles, the rest has been sliced or shredded and dehydrated.

I am thinking of the winter garden. What do I need? A plan so I know what seeds to start. Compost. To check the frost tunnel thingys (they had a proper name when we bought them about 15 years ago but I've long forgotten it) and make sure they are whole and in good condition. Trays. Paper pots. Seed raising mix (I usually MOO it). And time.  Paper pots won't be a problem, there is always scrap paper to be used up, and when that runs out, those toilet roll inners I've been saving will be put to use.

And I need to check our emergency supplies. I've been watching the disaster unfold throughout the USA the last week or so. So many people are struggling, suffering cold, going without water and power. While I don't expect our winter to be quite as cold, it doesn't hurt to think ahead and do some checking.

While it's still warm is a good time to get out the spare blankets and wash them, and dry them in the sunshine. Ditto sleeping bags. Ours have been in storage for a couple of years so getting them and the jelly beans washed and dried will be my job the next bright, sunny day we have. Making sure the candles are where they should be. Making sure the gas lighters are filled, ready to use.  Sending Wayne and the boys out to get a load or two or three of firewood before winter. Making sure the door and window seals are intact to keep warm in and cold out.

It's also a good time to clean out the pantry, check the fridge and freezer and make a note of any larder gaps that need to be filled. Since March 2019 I've been restocking the pantry as we use things, so that it is always fully stocked. It's not my favourite way to shop, I really like once-a-year shopping, but right now I feel the need to keep the pantry full so that's what I'm doing.

The baby blanket is slowly growing. Only a couple of rounds done on it this week, I was busy with other things. Hopefully the cooler evenings this week will encourage me to pick it up and do some each night.

Wow, looking back it was a busy week!

How was your week? What fragments were you able to gather?

14 February 2021

Gathering the Fragments 14/2/2021

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

We started another five days of hard lockdown at midnight on Thursday night. That means we can't travel more than 5km from our homes, can only shop once a day, and then only for essential food and medicines, are back to working from home (I was just starting to get the house back into order from the last work at home fiasco), can only leave the house for two hours a day and must wear masks indoors and outdoors when away from home.

Botheration! It ruined our plans, but we've been able to make other plans to use the time.

Some of the fragments gathered last week came from the garden. My garden isn't doing so well this summer. There has been a lot of rain (a good thing) but not enough direct sunlight or heat (personally that suits me, but the tomatoes are hating it). So I've picked a few beans every day. Picked a zucchini or two each day, and plucked basil leaves every morning.

No tomatoes, no eggplant and no capsicums - the three things I'm waiting on to make sauce and focaccia filling for the year. I have the jars. I have the lids. The pressure canner and stockpot are ready and waiting. Now I just need the produce. We have sun and heat predicted for this week so I'm praying it will be enough to get this produce ripe enough to use.

Other fragments used up were three almost stale wraps to make a small lasagne, just enough for our dinner, with two serves of leftover lasagne for lunches. Hannah took one serve with some salad for her lunch, I shared the other serve with Thomas for our lunch with some salad.

I grated up some bars of soap we don't especially like to use in washing powder. That filled the soap container and cleared a spot on the bathroom shelf.

Wayne repurposed the side of an awning into a tropical roof for our camper. Now it will help to keep the heat off, and also the sap and leaves and bird droppings that can stain. Cost: zero, he used materials he had. Saved: around $1,500 to buy what he made.

It's no spending month so I've been making cards using what is on hand. I challenged myself to see how many different cards I could get from one sheet of DSP. I think I did well, cards, a bookmark and some embellishments, and no scraps!

I used about two tablespoons of sour cream left in the container to make honey mustard chicken for dinner instead of using cream. I couldn't tell the difference and it meant not having to buy cream.

I've been saving the tea bags and letting them dry. They go into an old glass jar and I drizzle used cooking oil over them, just enough to moisten them. They'll be used for firelighters in winter. Firelighters aren't expensive to buy but they smell awful, so I'd rather use dry tea bags.

What fragments were you able to gather and put to use this week?