30 October 2022

The Week that Was 30/10/2022

I haven't posted for a few weeks for a number of reasons. Firstly, I've been busy. Secondly, I've been sick. Thirdly, we've had visitors. And there's only 24 hours in a day, and while I do my best to use them wisely, sometimes there is more to do than the hours allow.

This week I am grateful for
*rain, even though we have had a lot of it, the rain barrels are full and with summer coming, we will need the water
*a greengrocer that has had excellent prices on the fruits and veggies that we eat
*the energy this week to process a lot of food for our pantry.

Here's how we saved money, time and energy this week:
*dried the washing on the clotheshorses under the verandah except for Friday, when it came inside because it was just too wet to dry outside
*locked in a fuel price for my car, and used Wayne's phone to lock in another price for his car
*ate from the fridge and freezer
*bought legs of lamb on sale for $10/kg and put them in the freezer
*dehydrated two bunches of celery
*made strawberry jam from strawberries on sale for $4/kg
*bought 6kg broccoli for $2/kg, blanched it and put it in the freezer
*bought lemons for $1/kg. Some were juiced, some were sliced and put into the dehydrator
*bought mushrooms for $4/kg and canned them
*started on the yearly shop. It's early, but there are lots of things on my list that are missing, so I'm hoping that by starting now I'll find them somewhere between now and the end of the year
*bought mince for $9.99/kg and pressure canned it
*bought 25kg potatoes for 40c/kg. Some were pressure canned, some were par cooked and frozen
*started another six lettuce, three zucchini and three cucumbers for succession planting
*noticed one of the lemon trees has gall wasp so I took the veggie peeler and peeled back the two lumps. Hopefully that will solve the problem and save the tree.
*picked rhubarb from the garden and stewed it for desserts
*kept working on Christmas presents
*downloaded some free SVGs to use in crafting
*picked lavender from my garden and hung it to dry.

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

09 October 2022

The Week that Was 9/10/2022

This week I am grateful for
*specials on fruit and vegetables that I could afford to buy to fill the pantry.

Here's how we saved money, time and energy this week:
*Filled the thermos each morning for my cuppas during the day.
*Bought lots of fruit and vegetables for $1/kilo and processed them to help fill the pantry.
*Stuff! I was able to sell some more unneeded items and add $40 to our budget.
*Cooked all our meals from scratch, using ingredients we had on hand.
*Warm days to dry the washing outside.
*Made all the salads for the week at once. One lot of prep, cooking and cleaning up saved a lot of time and energy.
*Used some free cutting files to make some gifts.
*Meal planned for our trip next weekend, using what we have.
*Used materials on hand to make labels for AJ's carry bags.
*Detailed my car myself. I think I did a better job than the detailing place and didn't spend $90!

How did you save money, time and energy last week?

02 October 2022

The Week That Was 2/10/2022

This week I am grateful for
*Spring. The days have been beautiful.
*Food in the pantry. I've been a bit under the weather for a few days and eating, and cooking, have not been high on my list of priorities. Food in the pantry meant no one went hungry.

Here's how we saved money, time and energy this week:

*Switched the meal plan around and we had steak sandwiches with MOO wedges on Monday night. There were bread rolls, a piece of steak, and a tomato that needed to be used. One piece of steak cut in half, then sliced through the middle made four palm sized pieces just the right size for the bread roll. The boys thought I'd won the lottery!

*sried the washing on the clotheshorses on the verandah. The days were quite warm, but it was wet in dribs and drabs. Saved me running in and out to the clothesline.

*Found some free printables to use for transfers. To buy similar files was going to cost $20.99 (they were $6.99 each). Free fits my budget better.

*Shopped my stash to make a baby card and a little gift for a new baby boy. I have some fabric in the stash that will become bibs for him this week.

*Bought mushrooms for $4/kg, then the next day was able to get more for $2/kg! Bargain of the year! Washed, chopped, cooked and pressure canned, we have enough for the year.

*Bought 10kg onions for $5 - 50 cents a kilo is an AMAZING price for onions these days. Some have been diced and frozen in half cup lots for later in the year.

*Caught the shower warm up water and used some in the steam mop to do the hard floors, and put the rest into the washing machine.

*Filled the thermos each morning to make cuppas during the day.

*Filled up my car and the jerry cans using a 4c off voucher combined with a special offer to save 18c per litre off diesel before the price goes up.  $25.67 kept in our budget, and we have the fuel to cover our trip next week!

*Opened up the windows and doors on sunny days to let the breeze blow winter out of the house. So much nicer than using a room spray or air freshener.

*Worked on Christmas gifts; another three crossed off the list.

*Repurposed a small plastic bin to hold vinyl scraps. It's small enough to sit on my table, and I've found if something is in sight, it gets used, so all the vinyl scraps are in the bin and I have been "shopping" the bin before I reach for a roll of vinyl.

*AJ helped me make an overhead boom for the camera to (hopefully) improve my You Tube videos. We used what we had on hand so nothing spent. It's a work in progress, but better than what I was using and I'm learning lots.

How did you save money, time and energy this week?

27 September 2022

Quick Rice Patties

The one expense we have complete and utter control over is groceries. 

We choose how much we spend and what we spend it on. Sometimes we can spend within our budgets, sometimes the budget just isn't enough.

Right now, everyone is searching for cheap, tasty meal ideas. Between shortages, inflation, and rising interest rates, grocery budgets are taking a beating.

This recipe is one my Mum made for us as children. It's one of my very favourite meals, and now my own family loves it too.

Good hot or cold, quick rice patties are tasty and cheap.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 

Quick Rice Patties

1 onion, chopped
1 cup rice
1 tsp Marmite/Vegemite/Promite
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 egg
good pinch mixed herbs

Cook the rice in boiling, salted water. Drain well. While the rice is still hot, add the Marmite, peanut butter, onion and herbs and mix well. Stir in the egg. Take tablespoonfuls of the mixture and shape into patties. Fry in shallow oil until lightly brown and golden on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper.

Alternatively, for a low fat version, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and bake the patties in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
This recipe is a part of the $2 Dinner Recipe File on the Cheapskates Club website.

25 September 2022

The Week That Was 25/09/2022

This Week I am grateful for:
*Friendship. A dear friend lost her fight with cancer on Sunday afternoon and I will miss her. She was generous to a fault and loved to push me to extremes until I was almost ready to scream. I’ll miss her boston bun for morning tea and her ideas for creating new cards, but most of all I'll miss her and the loving,bossy soul she was. She was a part of my life, and my family's lives, for over 12 years. RIP my friend.

Here's how we saved money, time and energy this week.
*Filled the thermos after the first cuppa each morning to save boiling the kettle through the day.
*Caught the shower and sink warm-up water and tipped it into the washing machine.
*Turned the heater off when the sun was out and opened the curtains wide on the north facing windows to let the sunshine in.
*Cooked a leg of lamb on Sunday and portioned it out to four meals, plus the bones for soup. This made it an affordable meal and kept the price under my $5 per meal meat budget.
*Potatoes were on sale for 50 cents/kg, the cheapest they have been for months here, so I bought 10 kilos and canned up 5kg. The other 5kg we will eat fresh over the next few weeks.
*Dehydrated four bunches of celery and the leaves. This gave enough celery for the next year for soups, stews, pies etc. The leaves get used for seasonings and to make celery salt.
*Made applesauce from cheap pink lady apples. These apples make the best sauce and pie filling, they are so naturally sweet that very little, if any, sugar or honey is needed for sweetening.

*When the water in the canner was cool, I used it to water the pot plants rather than pour it out.
*Used the apple peels to make apple powder for baking.
*Fed the worms with veggie and fruit peels.
*Used the 18c off deal to fill my car and three jerry cans with diesel (to meet the 150 litre limit).
*Mastered a new skill with the SNC and straight away put it to good use. This machine was a big investment but it has paid for itself almost twice over since we've had it.
*Replanted the plants that Lacey dug up - she just loves to dig in my garden!
*Dried the washing outside on nice days and on the clotheshorse on wet days.
*Put some orange slices in the dehydrator to use for Christmas gifts.

18 September 2022

The Week That Was 18/09/2022

This week I am grateful for:
*Wind - even on the dull days the washing dried before it rained.

*Fuel dockets - 4 cents a litre discount adds up to $2.80 per fill up, not much on it's own but over a year it adds up.

*Lemons and rhubarb from the garden - basically free now that we've harvested enough to cover the original cost of the tree and crown.

*Friends who are happy to sit across the table and make cards and chat while we solve the problems of the world and boost each other and share ideas.

Here's how I saved money, time and energy this week:
*Caught the shower warm up water with a tub and poured it into the washing machine.

*Filled the thermos each morning for cuppas during the day. Little things add up - over time this will impact our power bill.

*Pulled the filters out of the air conditioner and washed and dried them on Wednesday when it was warm and windy. Now it's ready to go once the hot weather hits.

*Fed the worm farm with veggie peelings.

*Added chicken skins, bones, onion skins to the bokashi bucket to compost.

*Dried the washing outdoors on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

*The rainy, cold, foggy, miserable days the washing drying on the clothes horses made me smile. Wet weather isn't a problem when we have clothes horses to dry the laundry.

*Updated the freezer inventory on the fridge so I know exactly what needs to be used up.

*Returned a face cream that I reacted to. By then my usual moisturiser was on half-price sale so I was able to get two for 50 cents less than the one I returned, and with some juggling I was able to buy enough for two years.

*Found two bbq packs marked down to $7.15 each, bought them, and repacked into single meal portions and in the freezer they went.

*Took the hem up on some jeans that were too long.

*Replaced a button on a pair of Tom's shorts.

*Cooked all our meals from the pantry for shelftember.

*Turned Flybuys points into dollars to use for stockpiling.

*Made a double batch of Cheapskates Washing Powder.

*Made a triple batch of Miracle Spray.

*Bought 10 pots of violas on markdown for 50 cents each and planted them in the garden.

*Listed some items we no longer need or use on marketplace for sale (potential return $160).

*Planted more tomato, capsicum, egg plant and zucchini seeds for succession planting.

*Pulled the last of the date loaf from the freezer to use for afternoon tea. Having freezer stocks saves buying anything or using the oven for a single cake or slice.

*Filled my car up using the 18c off offer from Shell, cutting $11.70 off the final total.

21 August 2022

The Week that Was 21/08/2022

Another week over. Looking back, it was busy, although during the week I knew there were things to do and things getting done. It wasn't until it was time to upload this blog post that just how much was done hit me!

We had visitors for five days. 

We had the 50th annual exhibition of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Model Railway Association.

Hannah (and Lacey) came to stay for a few days. 

And of course there was all the usual chores to get done. 

So here's a trimmed down list of what was accomplished last week.

This week I am grateful for:
*Strong walls and roof - the wind blew strong on Wednesday and Thursday and I was praying our house wouldn't blow away. It didn't!
*A friend who knew I was so busy, and dropped off an order rather than me having to find the time to pick it up.
*Happy customers! I sold some of the new style of dishcloths and both customers emailed to say how happy they are with them.
*Sons who understand I am technologically challenged and go out of their way to help me fix glitches with videos and our You Tube Channel, without rolling their eyes or grumbling.

 Here's how I saved money, time and energy this week:
*Called on everyone in the house to help with chores when I was overwhelmed, stressed, tired, upset and just generally enjoying a little pity party.
*Made up the guest room for our visitors.
*Showed Tom how to make a caramel slice from scratch - another recipe to his repertoire.
*Cleaned the showers with Miracle Spray.
*Sprinkled citric acid in the toilet bowls overnight and next morning gave them a quick brush and flush and they were sparkling.
*Used powdered milk in baking and kept the fresh for our cuppas.
*Cheese was back in stock, so I bought six blocks and portioned them out to stretch them to last three months.
*Followed up on a refund that was over a month over-due - $979 was returned to my bank account.
*Filled the thermos each morning and used it to make my tea during the day.
*Dried some bread crusts and whizzed them into crumbs.
*Used frozen bread crusts to make a bread and butter pudding.
*Planted seed potatoes in bags.
*Dried the washing on the clotheshorse on the wet and damp days.
*Caught the shower warm up water and the warm up water in the kitchen and tipped it into the washing machine.
*Made sandwiches for lunch, packed morning and afternoon tea, water bottles and a thermos for Wayne and his father on Friday.
*Packed lunch for Hannah and I on Saturday and Sunday when we were at the AMRA exhibition. When a cold drink is $5, a very small bucket of hot chips is $8 and a salad sandwich is $9, that just makes sense.
*Used the fuel app to lock in the price of diesel for a week.
*Gratefully brought home some leftover cake from the exhibition. Some went into the cake tin for the week, and the rest went into the freezer.

*Received a beautiful kitchen towel as a surprise gift from an aunt. She taught me to crochet the tops of the kitchen towels before we were married, and I'm still following her instructions :)

14 August 2022

The Week that Was 14th August

What a busy week!

Wayne was on call last weekend, so it was a home weekend for us. He worked on things for an exhibition he has coming up, and I fiddle faddled around doing lots of little jobs that needed doing that don't really have a wow! factor.  Things like feeding the fruit trees, harvesting turnips, dehydrating turnip greens. Catching up with ironing and refilling the salt shaker.

They don't have any Wow! at all, but there is a lot of Woe! if these things aren't done.

This week I have been grateful for:
*A washing machine.
*Hot showers at the turn of a tap.
*A comfortable bed.

Here's how I saved money, time and energy this week:
*Joined the Every Little Bit Counts challenge to preserve something every day and use up every little bit of everything.
*Used the meal plan and prepared ahead so we could eat tasty meals on time, using food we had on hand.
*Picked two more lemons off our little lemon tree and zested then juiced them, and used the lemon halves to clean the microwave and dishwasher.
*Pulled my vacuum apart, bit by bit, to find out why it was losing suction. I put a white sheet on the floor and as I took something off I put it on the sheet, in order that they came off, so that I could put it all back together again. I found the tiniest sliver of wood - about 1.5cm long, that had wedged in a hose. It stuck out just enough to cause a dust bunny build-up and so the vacuum was losing suction. Easy fix, and saved at least $200 on a service fee and a six week wait.
*Washed the outside of all the windows using just one bucket of soapy water and a squeegee or broom (to reach the high windows).
*Caught the shower warm up water and tipped it into the washing machine.
*Filled the thermos every morning for cuppas during the day.
*Opened the cereal box liner, washed and dried it and folded it up to use as freezer film.
*Saved the dividers from the new box of tea bags for a friend who uses them to make bookmarks for her students.
*Used some lemon juice from the freezer to make Overnight Ginger Beer that we enjoyed on the sunny days. It was still cold, but a fizzy drink on a sunny day was nice.
*Pulled scones, brownies and biscuits from the freezer to serve for afternoon tea with our visitors, with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream for the scones.
*Only made two car trips this week. One was grocery shopping, one was for an appointment. Both were within 8km of home.
*Repaired a torn seam on a pair of AJ's jeans.
*Made sure I stuck to the no housework after 7.30pm rule, and caught up on some letter writing and reading.
*Shopped around for a better deal on an insurance and saved $359.40, with better benefits and a cheaper excess!

07 August 2022

The Week That Was 7th August 2022


Here's another week done and dusted, and looking back we accomplished a lot!

Monday is always a big house cleaning day, after the weekend and to get ahead for the rest of the week, and this week was no different. It was a glorious, sun shiny day, with a breeze that would turn you into a frozen moment if you stood still - a good blanket washing day as my mother would say. So I stripped the bed a day early, and washed all the bedding and the towels and bath mats from both bathrooms and then just stood for a few minutes watching them all gently wave in the sunny breeze. Made my heart sing.

Sunny days in winter always motivate me so I tackled the pantry shelves and the big freezer in the laundry too. Sorting, putting things back in the right spot, updating the inventories, scrubbing spots off the wall (how do they get there?). A big job that took almost an hour, but it's done and I stood and stared at the shelves and smiled when I was finished. It seems the oddest things make me smile.

This week I am grateful for:

*Family - I spoke to my aunty on the phone, after playing phone tag for a couple of weeks.

*Electricity! It occurred to me just how hard my life would be if we didn’t have electricity - washing, cleaning the carpets, baking, ironing, even making a cup of tea and reading would be so much harder without electricity. We are blessed to live a very privileged life.

*Books. I love to read, and read every night, so I go through books quickly, and that could cost a lot. Instead I download free ebooks to my Kindle, either from online sources or the library.

Here's how I saved money, time and energy this week.

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

*Boiled the kettle each morning and filled the thermos for cuppas through the day.
*Used the solar charger to charge my phone and laptop.

*Stuck to the one light rule as much as possible.

*Sorted my canning jars, lids and rings ready for canning season.

*Made a double batch of brownies, cut them up and put some in the cake tin and froze the rest for later. This used up some choc chips that had bloomed from the summer heat and the last of the margarine that was gifted to us a while back. Of course I had to sample them to make sure they were good enough, and yes, after two pieces during the day, I could say they were excellent.

*Doubled the fruit cake recipe but only used half the fruit to stretch my dried fruit stores and used applesauce instead of butter. Turned out just as delicious and moist. 

*Cooked all our meals from scratch using pantry ingredients.
*Learned an new dish cloth pattern. These are our Home Among the Gum Trees shop.  

*Only used the car once this week, and that was for a very short 7km round trip. ULP is coming down in price, but diesel has stayed pretty much the same so driving is only done when absolutely necessary.

*Planted tomato, eggplant, capsicum, zucchini and cucumber seeds in starter pots so they'll be ready to plant out at the end of September.

*Pulled the last of the turnips, washed them, diced them, and put into the freezer. The green tops were washed, drained and put into the dehydrator to dry, then powdered to use in soup.

*Fed the garden with worm tea.

*The lavender is starting to bloom so I've been picking it as I see it, and hanging it to dry.

*Added some more handmade items to the Christmas gift box, all made using what was in the craft room.

*Made father's day cards ready for next month. I haven't bought a card in years, but I expect I didn't spend at least $5 on them.

*While I was making cards, I batched a few for the nursing home, ready to send in a couple of weeks.

*Picked lemons from our tree and used them to make coriander rice and lemon tea.

31 July 2022

The Week that Was 31st July 2022

I am not even going to try and catch up with the weeks I've missed. 

Life has been busy. We have been sick. We've had a family reunion and an 80th birthday party interstate. We have worked in our garden. We have worked in our home. 

We've just lived our lives as best we can with the turmoil around us creating havoc.

This week I am grateful for:

*Good health. Wayne went back to work last week after isolation and really the only symptom he had of anything was a drippy nose.

*Wood for the fire. We had three mornings below zero, so banking the fire overnight meant the house didn't get cold at all.
*Sunshine. We had three days of the most glorious sunshine. God is good, He knows that sunny days motivate me to get things done.

*Freezer meals. I shuffled the meal plan around again and we used freezer meals two nights.

*A full pantry. With the cost of just plain food rising daily, knowing there are ingredients in the pantry to feed us is very reassuring. And it gives me wriggle room, or rather time, to wait for the sales to restock what we are using.

*Fuel apps. They made it easy to find the cheapest fuel in our area to fill up my car. I'm keeping it full, so as soon as that needle hits the 3/4 mark, I start looking for cheap fuel.

*Fruit trees. I've been picking a lemon or two a day straight from the tree for our hot lemon and honey drinks. They really do ease scratchy, sore throats, and they just taste good and warm you through too.

Ways we saved money, time and/or energy this week:

*Celebrated a family birthday with a by request homemade dinner of parmas, potato gems and salad (it's tradition in our house for the birthday boy or girl to choose dinner). Consensus by all was it was delicious. I used MOO KFC mix, MOO breadcrumbs and MOO tomato sauce.

*Stalked the woman at Woolworths as she was marking down meat. Scored chicken skewers for $4.40 a packet, bought all four packets. They are now cooked and in meal portions in the freezer. I use these in wraps, or with salad or with fried rice for quick meals.

*Scored marked down premium mince for $4/500g. Another lady and I shared the markdowns and had a laugh as we loaded them into our trolleys.

*Filled the thermos with boiling water every morning for hot drinks during the day.

*Put the washing on the clotheshorse next to the fire to dry. Even the sunny days, our back yard doesn't get enough sun to dry the washing completely.

*Used Hannah's WW rewards to get 12 cents a litre off diesel - brought it down to $1.97/litre.

*Charged my phone and laptop using the solar charger.

*Stuck to the one light rule as much as possible.

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

*Saved the tea bags to dry for firelighters.

*Cooked all our meals from scratch or used freezer meals.

*Made a batch of raspberry jam.

*Planted lettuce, cucumber, tomato and zucchini seeds in seed pods (these are new to me, and I want to try them for starting seeds).

*Fed the garden and fruit trees with worm tea.

*Darned a hole in one of my socks.

*Made a batch of Miracle Spray.

*Cleaned the dishwasher with bicarb and vinegar.

*Cleaned the washing machine with bicarb and vinegar. Cleaning the dishwasher and washing machine are a once a month thing in my cleaning routine.

*Put bread crusts into the freezer to make crumbs when needed.

*Picked rhubarb and used canned apple to make an apple and rhubarb crumble.

*Worked on more gifts for the present box.
*Started to make Christmas cards for the nursing home and book club - I have around 150 to get done.

*Spent an hour every afternoon researching, script writing, making thumbnails and recording videos for upcoming shows. My aim is to get the recorded shows a few weeks ahead for when we are away later in the year.

*Took more lavender cuttings and potted them up. I'll sell these when they are established. The last lot sold in just two days.

05 June 2022

The Week That Was 5/06/2022

This post covers two weeks, life has been busy!

The week that was 29/05/2022
What a week!

Lots of garden work done.

Keren called in for morning tea and it was lovely to sit and chat for an hour, and catch up. She brought me some beautiful silver spoons to make more birds nests, and some pretty crochet cotton in a gorgeous pink that will be perfect for a towel topper. Oh and a big bag of paper shreds that will be very, very handy.

Wayne and AJ were away for the weekend, so it was quiet, and Thomas and I are obviously the ones in the family that don't make a lot of mess ;)

Wayne took Friday off for an appointment that he wanted me to go to; that turned into an all day back and forth to various other appointments and by Friday night I was exhausted.

Really the week was pretty much same old, same old.

Catching shower warm up water for the washing machine.

Filling the thermos for cups of tea during the day.

Sticking to the One Month Pantry Test. We're eating so well that when Joy asked Wayne how we were going he told her he didn't even realise we were on a challenge!

I planted out the last of the garlic, just in time.

Planted more potatoes.

Kept an eye on fuel prices via the 7eleven app, and watching other apps for our area and Woolworths came in cheapest at $2.02/litre. I'm so glad it only took 32 litres - fuel is getting to the point of being a luxury item.

And the week that was 5/06/2022

This week has been crazy cold! I mean we had such a mild autumn and then bang! The cold hit with a vengeance. Mind you it is winter, and so it should be cold.

So we've kept the fire going to heat the house.

Because the fire has been going I've used the heat to dry the washing, on the clotheshorse next to it.

Stale bread crusts have been dried to make breadcrumbs.

I blanched and sliced celery and put it on top of the firebox to dehydrate.

Still boiling the kettle once in the morning and filling the thermos for cups of tea during the day.

Turning every power point off before bed - TVs, computers, microwave. The only powerpoints that are on all the time are the washing machine, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, oven and cooktop and only because they are too hard to get to, or I'd be turning them off when those things aren't being used.

On cold mornings I've been keeping the blinds and drapes closed to keep the house warm, and shutting the house up by about 4.45pm each day. It makes a big difference to how long the house stays warm.

Continue to close doors to rooms we don't use.

Used the 7eleven app to get diesel for 199.9c per litre.

Used the electric fry pan to roast veggies instead of the oven.

I stitched a belt loop back onto Wayne's work pants.

I knitted another dishcloth for the kitchen.

I did a bulk order of TVP and gluten flour and vacuum sealed it for the pantry.

We ate out of the pantry all week.

I made pancakes for morning teas.

I made a loaf of bread for toast.

I made focaccias for lunches.

Hannah came for the weekend and gave us all hair cuts.

I planted broccoli seeds.

I planted catnip between the garden beds. It will bring the bees in spring.

I planted lettuce.

The wind blew some of the covers off the cabbages and cauliflower plants, so I put them back and used soil along the edges to weigh them down.

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

22 May 2022

The Week That Was 22/05/2022

Sunday was glorious, and so warm, a perfect autumn day.

I added three mini cabbage seedlings and three mini cauliflower seedlings to the garden. These were grown from Diggers Club seeds. I like the mini versions of these vegetables as they are just the right size for two meals for our family, and that means I don't need to worry about storing and using them before they go black.

Two loads of washing on the line, dried and put away. Gotta love that solar clothes dryer!

Thomas and I had pizza for tea, made from pantry ingredients. It was just the two of us, so the roast has been put on hold.

Monday was cold and drizzly wet. After doing the Monday cleaning, I spent some time working on Home Among the Gum Trees, and working on a stock plan for the shop.

I made a big pot of tomato and vegetable soup, and used one of the soup packs from last week. I added in some lentils and a tin of diced tomatoes and used chicken stock from the freezer as the base. It was delicious and made lunches for the week.

Monday night we had burgers and chips for dinner. Wayne and AJ arrived home just in time to eat. I opened a jar of caramelised onions to have on the burgers and they were delicious.

Tuesday I woke up, then promptly went back to sleep and slept until 9am! And woke with a headache. No show, not much housework, other than the basics done. Dinner was spag bol using sauce from the freezer. Thomas made garlic rolls to use up some stale hot dog buns and dinner was quick, easy, and really tasty.

I've kept the routine of filling the thermos for hot drinks going. Combined with my thermal mug, my tea has been staying hot until the very last drop.

Still catching the shower warm up water and pouring it into the washing machine.

Picked the last of the capsicums from the garden, chopped and froze them.

Friday was packed with unexpected medical appointments for Wayne. We left home at 9am and didn't get back until after 4pm. It was a long day, with lots of running around and I was grateful for the spinach ravioli and the pasta sauce in the freezer to make an easy, no fuss dinner.

Yesterday was glorious too. The sun shone all day, hardly a breeze. It was cool though, but working in the garden warmed me up quickly. The fruit trees were weeded and fed; the veggie beds were weeded; everything was watered and given a drink of worm tea. We added compost to the empty beds and dug it in so they'll be ready to plant in a few days.

We have two more fruit trees on order (Packham pears), so we prepared the pots for them too with lots of compost and soil. As soon as they arrive they can go into their permanent homes.

Oh, and we dragged out the tunnels to put over the seedlings. They'll keep them warm (we have frosts forecast) and keep the cabbage moths and bugs off them until they are big enough to survive.

The garden is a lot of work, but it is feeding us, and will feed us, for minimal outlay, and with the price of veggies going up and up, I like that.

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

08 May 2022

The Week that Was 15th May 2022

The week started out cold, but the rain stopped, and the sun came out. The days were mild, not warm, but not freezing cold either.

The garden is going great guns of course. Between plenty of good rain and the warmer days, the seeds have sprouted and the little plants are growing so fast. I've been feeding them every week with either compost tea or worm tea, to give them a boost for winter.

Monday was a frustrating day. I had a shopping list, basic things to add to the pantry, partly to get ready for the One Month Pantry Test and partly to get ahead of shortages that have been predicted (by me for almost two years and now by MSM and supermarkets and State and Federal Governments).

One thing that I had trouble getting was eggs. I went to two Aldi stores, a Coles supermarket and finally found eggs at a Woolworths (and you all know that Woolworths is out of my way - yes, I made a special trip just to get eggs!). I could only get three dozen so they came home. 

Other frustrations are meat prices. Aldi is still selling beef mince for $10.99/kg; Costco sells it for $9.99/kg in a bulk pack (around 3.5kg per pack). I saw rump steak for $48.99/kg! I'm starting to think that eating meat will soon be the equivalent of a mortgage payment!

To get a little ahead, I prepped soup dump packs and casserole dump packs for the freezer. It just means I peel and chop and dice the veggies and vacuum seal them. They keep in the fridge for up to a month, which is handy. Or they can be frozen and dumped into the slow cooker or pressure cooker for quick soup or casserole meals.

They are pretty much the same contents, just prepped differently. Celery, onions, carrots, parsnips, swede. For the soup dump packs they get grated in the food processor. For the casserole dump packs they get cut into bite sized chunks.

Prepping ahead saves time - yes, it does! Only one clean up, and it takes around 15 minutes if I get moving, half and hour if I dawdle and fiddle faddle around and I have four soup dump packs and four casserole dump packs ready to open and dump. That's the base of eight meals prepped and cleaned up in 15 minutes, an ideal use of my time and energy.

 Veggies processed for soup
It was nice to get the washing on the line on Monday and Tuesday. Sunshine fresh is so nice.

On Friday of last week I was given a big bag of lemons, so Tuesday was processing day. Some were zested and juiced. I made lemon butter, froze some juice, made a lemon syrup cake and lemon syrup for Lemon Chicken. I used some to make lemon and orange marmalade and Whole Lemon Cake (one of my variations on Whole Orange Cake).

The fire has kept the house toasty warm on cold days and overnight. We haven't lit the pilot for the ducted heating yet, and we may not bother. Once the house warms up, if we keep the fire going, then the house stays warm, and we have plenty of firewood to use.

I'm still filling the thermos for hot drinks during the day.

Used tortillas from the freezer to make chips. This freed up freezer space and gave us snacks without having to buy anything. I kept some aside to use for Haystacks that are on the meal plan next week (there are no corn chips in the pantry so we will make do).

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

We had some rain so I didn't need to water the garden.

Used the solar charger to charge my phone.

Kept an eye on power points and lights made sure they were turned off when appliances weren't being used.

Only two trips out this week, saving fuel.

Had a lovely day with Wendy and Hannah on Saturday, making cards. I managed to get five done, the most I've accomplished on a card day in months! And we still did plenty of talking.


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

The Week that Was 8th May 2022

Happy Mother's Day! 

The weather turned this week, and it went from a balmy 21C on Monday, with blue skies and sunshine, to wind, rain and a chilly 13C on Tuesday and it stayed about that for the rest of the week.

I've been fighting off allergies for a few days. Running eyes, itchy nose, itchy skin have been driving me crazy.  Turns out it's not allergies, and hopefully with a correct diagnosis I'll be on the mend soon.

The cold snap means we've eaten our way through two pots of chicken soup. It's so warming for lunch, and it's cheap and easy to make too. Six litres costs around $3 to make from pantry ingredients for about 25 cents per serve.

Speaking of pantry ingredients, we are about to embark on a pantry challenge with a bit of a twist. This pantry challenge goes for a month, until the 10th June, and there is only one rule: we have to live of what is in the pantry, and only what's in the pantry. No quick top-up shop for milk or fresh fruit. If we run out, we wait.

Why are we doing this? Well I issued the challenge to everyone on Tuesday night's show, as a trial run for a real grid-down, TEOTWAWKI, zombie apocalypse type event where we would be staying home, shops shut, no markets and not able to barter with neighbours. At the end of the month we should all know the gaps in our pantries, and know what we have too much of and what we don't have enough of, so we can get cracking on filling the gaps.

I've only been out once this week, so no driving means very little fuel used. The fuel money for this week has been moved to the holiday fund. I tend to do this when the fuel fund has a healthy surplus.

We have continued to be power wardens, keeping a close eye on how much power we are using. Lights off if no one is in the room, appliances turned off at the wall and unplugged. The thermos is still filled every morning for hot drinks through the day.

Washing has been dried on the clotheshorse.

Winter bedding was brought out and summer bedding is slowly being washed, dried and put away for the winter.

I picked sweet basil and mint from the garden.

I picked capsicums, eggplants and rhubarb from the garden.

Fed the pots with worm tea.

Cleaned the dishwasher and washing machine with bicarb soda and vinegar.

Fed the worms with veggie peelings.

Made a quadruple batch of pasta sauce, used one and put three into the freezer.

Made a quadruple batch of Mexican Meatballs, used one, and froze three for future meals.


Darned the heel of one of Wayne's woollen socks.

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

01 May 2022

The Week that Was 1st May 2022

It has been a long week! Or it feels long, even Wayne felt like it was dragging.

Hannah's car was towed (again) to the mechanic on Tuesday morning. It was an easy fix, our mechanic called, told us what the problem was, and said Wayne could fix it, and he was welcome to do it there, no charge. He is a lovely man and a very good mechanic. So that's what happened, with the car finally being fixed Wednesday nigh.

I have been wanting a particular item for about 18 months. Of course this is a tight budget year, so there really wasn't money for it. After talking it over with Wayne we decided to wait until it came on a good sale. Thursday I get an email to say one day only, 40% off! Off I went, to get one, and then there were only two on the shelf. I know that once they are gone, getting more will be hard due to the supply chain problems.

Little peas poking through the soil - so exciting!

I've been boiling the kettle once, in the morning, making my cuppa and then pouring the rest into our thermos. This saves me boiling the kettle each time I have a cuppa through the day, and depending on the how the day is going, sometimes I have a few. Every little bit of power not used keeps money in our pockets. 

Sold more dishcloths in our store Home Among the Gum Trees, so every time I sit down for a few minutes I pick up the knitting needles to get more done.

Made chicken soup using dehydrated veggies from the pantry (carrots, onions, celery), potatoes from the cupboard (canned earlier in the year), stock from the freezer and one small chicken fillet. It filled the pressure cooker. Sent some home with Hannah, and I've been eating the rest for my lunches each day.

Dried the washing on the clothesline each day. A little sunshine, a little breeze and it dries in no  time.

Packaged up a box of cards to send to the nursing home. Made a half batch of soap to use up the open/leftover bits of ingredients and tidy up the soap making box. It's a funny colour, but it smells nice and will be lovely to use when it's ready in about six weeks.

Cleaned the kettle with citric acid, then poured the water it into the toilet to clean it.

My face wash was empty - well according to the pump on the bottle! Off came the lid, in went about a quarter bottle of water, a few shakes and it will keep going for at least another couple of weeks, and I haven't noticed a difference in the way it lathers or cleans. I do this with so many things. I'll keep this bottle and tip half the new bottle into it and dilute it 50:50 with water like I do the shampoo, conditioner and dish washing liquid to stretch it even further.

Limited my trips to one this week and did all the errands in one go. Saves a lot of fuel, and when it's still over $1.90/litre that really helps.

Checked the toothbrushes each morning and made sure the chargers were turned off. They don't need to be on 24/7, using power. With four in the house it won't make a huge difference to the amount of power we use, but every little bit we don't use is money we're not spending on electricity.

Added to the compost with veggie peelings and lawn clippings.

Fed the worms with veggie peelings.

Rinsed and dried egg shells to use as either snail deterrent or fertiliser for the garden.

Fed the fruit trees, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries and veggie beds with worm tea.

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

25 April 2022

The Week That Was 24th April 2022

Each week we try to live as frugally as possible. We have to, we don't have an unlimited income, we have a very, very limited income and a rather tight budget.

But that doesn’t mean we go without the things we need; we live the Cheapskates way deliberately. We long ago ditched the stuff that wasn't important to us, so we could have the things that are. It works.

We have everything we need, and after talking to Wayne, we have everything we want too. We have been and are truly blessed.

This week I stopped eating the raspberries and started putting them into the freezer. When there are enough I'll make jam.

Processed orders for dishcloths and started knitting more to replace them in our shop, Home Among the Gum Trees.

I have been checking the daily power usage on my phone. Our bill was going up, and our usage was going down. Something didn't add up, so I've been tracking it each day, and when the next bill comes in I'll be checking it to make sure it is correct. A phone call to our power company will follow, to discuss rates.

Placed a bulk order with Hindustan for soup mix and beans. Combined with a friend to get the free delivery (orders over $90 in Melbourne metro area), otherwise I'd have had to drive to Dandenong to pick the order up and with the price of fuel, that wasn't something I wanted to do in the Patrol.

Made a bulk batch of chilli. We had some for dinner on Monday night and the rest has been frozen for future meals.

Made a bulk batch of spag bol sauce by turning 500g mince and two cups rehydrated TVP into pasta sauce. Used some on Tuesday night, and bagged up another three meals for the freezer.

Packaged rice, soup mix and beans in mylar bags for long term shelf storage. Interesting experiment; the oxygen absorbers have worked in some of the bags, and not in others, yet they all came from the same packet and were opened and used at the same time.

Dropped Hannah's car at the mechanic for her. Twice.

Was very grateful for the rain we had on Monday and Tuesday. Rain water seems to really give the garden a boost and it saves watering.

Dried the washing on the clotheshorses on wet days.

Used the lamb bones to make soup. Put some in the fridge for lunches and bagged some up for Hannah. The rest is in the freezer.

Added a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the mop water to freshen the house.

Bought reduced Easter chocolate at Aldi to add to the baking stockpile.

Kept an eye on the garden to make sure the areas that have been seeded stayed damp. As a result there are already beetroot, turnips and parsnips peaking through.

Found Shapes marked down to 13 cents a box at the Reject Shop, with three months on the date. Bought six boxes and put them away for treats and birthday celebrations through the year.

Too good a bargain to pass up and they will keep for months past the BBD

 Used capsicums from the garden to stretch burrito filling.

Used canned potatoes, dehydrated onions, celery and carrots and the last of an A10 tin of tomatoes to make tomato vegetable soup for lunches.

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

17 April 2022

The Week That Was 17th April 2022

Time gets away from me, especially if I don't add to my list as things are done.

One reason I've not posted is I've been busy! Strange that, considering it is the busy time of year, with the garden and preserving happening.

This week:

Stale bread was dried to make breadcrumbs.

Oranges and lemons were sliced and dehydrated for winter.

Dehydrated pizza sauce.

Dehydrated pasta sauce.

Laundry was dried on the clothesline on sunny days.

All our meals were cooked using ingredients in the pantry.

I finished a couple of dishcloths for the gift box, and two hanging kitchen towels that will be a gift.

I set AJ the challenge of researching printers. My printer stopped working and while I don't print a lot, when I need to, well I need to. I did price getting printing done but boy is it expensive so I'm hoping he'll find one, otherwise I wait until the EOFY sales and see what pops up.

I dropped my car at the panel beaters, they'll have it for three weeks. After waiting over three months, another three weeks is nothing.

Fed the fruit trees with worm tea.

The first Pink Lady apple on this tree and it's a beauty!

 Little oranges on the trees fed with worm tea this week

Put the veggie peelings into the compost.

Saved the cardboard from some parcels for the garden.

Planted up three limes and a lemon tree that Hannah bought me on clearance.

Ate fresh raspberries, straight off the canes, for my breakfast every morning.

Replanted peas, parsnips and mini turnips that were eaten by something.
Squashed a snail - at the very top of the orange tree! This particular tree is in a pot, on raised bricks and it's about 130cm tall. I can honestly say I have never had snails at the top of my fruit trees before, or at least I've never found them.

Made a triple batch of focaccia filling. We had some for lunch on Saturday and I bagged up the rest. Hannah took some home, and the other packets are in the freezer. Used capsicums, zucchini and eggplant from the garden and garlic, onion and mushrooms from the preserves pantry. Only bought ingredient was tinned tomatoes, bought in bulk and cost 40c. Total cost for 8 meals for two: $1.40 (everything other than tomatoes were grown in our garden, from seed).

The eggplant were very slow this summer, but they are making up for it now. I'm picking 5 - 6 every day, good thing we like it.

Worked on Home Among the Gum Trees.

Bought a half leg of lamb from Aldi ($11.99/kg) for Easter Sunday dinner. Wayne is cooking it on the barbecue as I type, and the veggies are ready to go into the oven. The bones will be used to make soup for the coming week - it's going to be cool.

Planted a little wooden wheelbarrow with lavender grown from slips. The wheelbarrow is made from scrap pine, and I whitewashed it to take away the bright yellow-ish colour of the pine. Embellished it with a little wooden birdhouse I painted and distressed. We are thinking of adding both the wheelbarrows and the bird houses to Home Among the Gum Trees - what do you think?

Labelled Lacey's water bucket so everyone knows it is her drinking water.

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

13 April 2022

How do I recycle these jumpers?

Here's a mid-week challenge for you: how can I recycle four of Wayne's old work jumpers?

The problem is the logo, it is embroidered on two and stamped on the other two. Because of the work he does they can't go to the op shop with the logo on them (for security reasons), but I can't get the logo off them.

They are otherwise in good condition (two are too big for him the other two are two small) so I'm looking for ways I can use them that won't be a security issue.

I've thought of using them as padding in pot holders and to make hot water bottle covers, even though they're not the prettiest jumpers they are pure wool.

So I need your ideas. What can you suggest? How can I recycle these jumpers, without compromising his company to stop them just going to landfill (which is what the other employees do - cut the logos out and then toss the jumpers).

30 January 2022

The Week that Was 30/1/2022

Yesterday was our 33rd wedding anniversary. Where have those years gone? It doesn't feel like 33 years, it barely feels like any time has passed. Love, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, caring, humour and adventure have filled our years together, and it's my dream they do for at least another 33 years!

Hannah brought me 10 kilos of onions and my plan was to slice and dehydrate, but the humidity wasn't good for dehydrating, so they have been sliced and frozen and I'll do them this week when it is cooler. The rest were sliced and turned into caramelised onions for the pantry. 

Wednesday was Australia Day, and we spent it in Bunyip State Park with a friend, just four wheel driving and enjoying being out in the bush for the first time in ages. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and we had fun!

I had a quiet week in the craft room. It was hot and humid and just plain energy sapping.

A while back a friend gave me a sheet of clock faces to use on cards, so they were cut out and put in the box to use.

Cut out some apron card bases ready to decorate.

Of an evening when it cooled down, crochet was easy so two shower pouffs in lavender were completed. They will go into one of the gift tins/trays for Christmas.

The laces and ribbons are out of control, so small pieces of card and paper have been turned into bobbins and I'll wind them while I watch TV. I made quite a few of these last year and didn't keep any, but now I have a craft room the laces and ribbons can be on display, and the bobbins will keep them neat and (hopefully) look pretty.

While the bits of paper were out I made up some seed packets. I have an idea on how to use them to create gifts.

AJ gets coffee in little glass bottles. Sprayed them with chalk paint. They will be lovely on a white metal tray on my desk.

Lastly is the clock. The craft room needed a clock, and I wanted it to be pretty. A clock we had was redecorated and I love it.

I have a funny story. Hannah has been bringing Lacy down with her when she comes home for weekends, and she has been so good. I was worried about the garden but she's just pretty much ignored it.

Well we have rhubarb in a pot, and it was getting big, so I was very brave and split off a crown, the first time I've done it, and planted it in a pot next to the herb pots. It was growing so well, I was so proud. 

So the saying pride goes before a fall - well on Sunday just before Hannah left we were outside and she said "oh, oh, Lacy's been digging in the pots". When I had a look she had, but the rhubarb was gone! The pot was empty! I was devastated, almost cried. Then I thought that would teach me for being so proud.

On Friday night when they arrived, Lacy came in the front door and trotted straight out the back (I was thinking what a good dog she is, she knows to go straight outside) and I followed her.

Well that cute dog went straight to the rhubarb pot and started digging. I growled at her, but she kept digging - and she dug up the rhubarb plant! She had buried it!

Well I just laughed, what else could I do. Then I replanted the rhubarb and it's been a week and it seems to be doing OK, even after a week underground!

09 January 2022

2022 Canning and Preserving Plan

Interest has been shown in my canning plan for the year, so this year, after watching and being inspired by Leisa from Suttons Daze, I have created a written plan that is decent enough to be shared. Usually I just jot down in my planner what I've done, how much and when.

I'll update it through the year as things get added to it, and hopefully it will also act as an inventory so at the end of the year I should know exactly what is in the pantry as far as canned and preserved foods goes.

Here's what I came up with - bare in mind that it may, and most likely will, change through the year, depending on what produce and meats are available. And it's just a basic list-  it may, and most likely will, end up being significantly bigger.

My plan differs from Leisa's in that I've noted how each thing is to be preserved - hot water bath, pressure canning or dehydrated, and I've included half pints, pints and quarts as the jar sizes because they are what I use most of. 

There shouldn't be a lot of freezing happening as I want to get away from being freezer reliant for our food storage. I just have the thought that if the power is out for any length of time, even with a generator, keeping three freezers frozen is going to be very hard work, if not impossible. So shelf stable preserving is becoming more and more appealing to me.

That's it for now! It can and will change, but by the end of the year it will all be well and truly done and on the shelves.