Saturday, 28 November 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks- 29/11/15

The gift basket I made for a friend, with homemade goodies.

Things have been busy here this week. Mostly with tidying up the yards and getting our pool ready for summer. But here's a list of my frugal tasks for the week.

- Picked up some free bread from the op shop. 

- Made 9 jars of passata with my home grown cherry tomatoes and gave some away to friends.

- Replanted some succulents from cuttings and tidied up my courtyard.

- Received some woodchips from a friend to top up my garden beds.

- Hubby replaced a section of our patio sheeting, saving money on labour.

-Gave a friend a Birthday gift of homemade goodies.

-Made some kale chips with kale that needed to be used.

-Started writing/drawing in a notebook  for self care and inspiration. I already had the notebook in my home education stockpile. 

- Made myself an advent candle rather than buying one for $10.

- Cooked and extra zucchini slice, apple cake and potato bake for the freezer, for when I feel like a night off from cooking.

-Put up our Christmas tree, decluttered my Christmas ornaments and discarded any broken ones and have listed some I no longer want on Gumtree.

 What frugal tasks have you done this week?
Homemade passata.
Free reclaimed bread we got this week.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Upcycled Advent Calender

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I love advent calenders and have wanted to make one for years, but finding a reusable one with big enough pockets for 3 treats-one for each kid, is a mission. So I gave up and would buy the cheap disposable ones with the plastic-y tasting chocolate inside for a couple of dollars.

Recently while looking up Christmas craft ideas I came across this post on Pinterest 
and thought it was perfect! After all it is completely made using empty toilet rolls, which I always have an abundance of because a) there are 5 of us, b) they are free!, and c) there are so many great crafts you can make with them. 

Best of all, it is made with up cycled items AND I can easily fit 3 chocolates or lollies in the cylinders. Winning!

So here's how to make one:

First I gathered 24 toilet rolls. Squeezed one of the open ends shut and sewed it closed on my sewing machine. Like this..

Sorry about the photo, I had to screen shot it from my IG account. I had deleted it from my camera because I didn't want to be a weirdo who had pictures of empty toilet rolls on her phone!

You could also staple the ends shut or use hot glue.  

Next I painted each one. I decided to do half of the rolls red and the other half green. I just used poster paints we had in the cupboard. The paint sinks in to the cardboard easily so I gave each one 2 coats and let them dry.

After this stage, I'll be honest- I had no idea how I was going to decorate them. All I knew was that I didn't want to go out and buy anything for this project. Then I looked through my Christmas gift wrap stash and found some ribbon to decorate them. I used a thick ribbon with a candy cane print which was perfect. So I measured and cut each piece to fit around the middle of the cardboard roll, then hot glued it in place.

My helper

 Now to make the numbers. We had some Christmas printed paper which would be ideal, so I used a soft drink bottle lid to trace 24 circle shapes, then Mr 9 helped me cut them out. 

 Then I used some old scrap booking stickers which had numbers on them to put the numbers 1-24 on each circle, then hot glued each one on to a toilet roll. You could also use plain paper and draw the numbers on yourself. Just use what ever you have lying around :)

Here's a closer look.

I have a large pin up board we use for home ed, so this made a perfect base for the calendar and I used some pegs I got for free on Gumtree to clip them on. You could also just hang a few rows of string on your wall and peg each cylinder to the string. Or punch a hole in each cardboard tube and thread the string through each hole to hang.

My board was big enough to fit 4 rows, so I measured the string allowed for some draping on each row and pinned it in the back of the board. 

4 pins placed on each side of the back of the board. The string visible here is for hanging.

 Then added another length of string and looped it onto the top pins-this would be for hanging. 

Finished! I added a bow to cover up the screw in my wall.

 The calendar is finished and ready to fill. I've found one Freddo frog or small sized chocolate will fit inside or a couple of lollies. My kids like chocolate so I'm using some freckles, mixed buddies and a few small foil Santas I bought in last years post-Christmas sales. By the way, you can store chocolate for a long time if kept in a cool, dark spot. 

We are all looking forward to the 1st of December - yes even the teens still want their advent treats!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Creamy Tomato and Bacon Pasta Bake Recipe

Creamy tomato and bacon pasta

I'm not a huge fan of following recipes and often make up my own using what ingredients I have. I came up with this dish after having a small amount of raw bacon left over from another meal. Any chance I get I try and make my meat stretch as far as possible!

This makes one large tray and is usually enough for dinner on the night and lunch the next day for my family of 5.

You will need:

500g pasta
250g diced bacon
1 tin of diced tomatoes
1 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 TBS powdered milk
1/4 cup of water
1 TBS cornflour
Salt and pepper
1 c grated cheese

Boil the pasta in a large pot, then drain and place in a large oven proof dish- or 2!

In a saucepan, drizzle a little bit of oil and fry the onion, garlic and bacon. Until the onion is soft and the bacon is browned.

Add the tin of tomatoes (save the empty can) to the pot, stir well and bring to the boil. Then simmer.

In the empty tomato can, add the milk powder, cornflour and water and stir well mixing until any lumps are gone. Then add it to the tomatoes. At this point I added some chopped silver beet because we have an abundance in our garden. 

I mix the cornflour and water in the tomato can to save dishes.

Season with salt and pepper and stir until the sauce becomes slightly thickened.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir until the pasta is evenly coated. Then top with the grated cheese and bake in a 200 degree oven until the cheese is melted.

There is always about half a dish left for lunch the next day.

Serve with garlic bread or salad if you like. 

This Weeks Frugal Tasks- 21/11/15

Christmas craft that Mr 9 made at Bunnings this week

- Picked up another couple of free sample paint tins and decking oil from Masters. I've been collecting the same colour for a year or so whenever they run the promotion and I now have enough to paint my patio for free.

-There is no spare money in the budget to spend on outdoor furniture or plants but I want to make our area look nice ready for summer entertaining, so I dug a few plants out of existing garden beds and transplanted them. We also have a lot of succulents which grow by breaking pieces off and creepers which do the same so it is easy to break some off from areas that are growing to rapidly and plant them in bare spots.

 -A friend gave me a couple of sun lounges she was getting rid off and I painted them using some of the free samples in our collection. Now we have some lovely furniture for our pool 

-Brought in my water cooler from the shed and cleaned it ready for use this Summer. We've had a heatwave here in Perth and the water cooler costs around 6c per hour to run compared to the air conditioner. which costs 70c.

-Harvested more cherry tomatoes and silverbeet from our garden.

-Defrosted 500g of bacon to make a hokkien noodles for dinner but decided to only used half the meat and bulk out the meal with more vegies. With the other half of the bacon I'll make a creamy tomato pasta bake for dinner tonight.

- Cashed in $60 worth of vouchers I earned through doing online surveys. These will be used to purchase Christmas gifts.

-Hubby found a website that allows you to send free text messages through your computer. So when I've been out and about running errands he will sms me using that and saved on buying phone credit this week.

-It is off pay week so I got creative with whats in my cupboard for homemade snacks. I made jelly, icy poles, honey and oat slice and a banana cake using my stockpile of frozen bananas.

-Had to buy some chemicals for our pool from Bunnings so also took Mr 9 so he could join in on the free kids workshop. He made a couple of lovely Christmas items to decorate our house. 

-Sold some unused items on Gumtree and any money we make will be put on the mortgage to help pay off our debt.

-Miss 16 got a job (woo hoo!) working at a cafe last week. She had a black tee shirt which is suitable for work but needed some black pants. I did not have time to look around for a pair so just picked them up from Kmart, because she is short I will hem them up on my sewing machine. 

-Picked up some free bread and rolls from the op shop. The lady there knows us well and told us to take as much as we wanted, so we now have plenty of bread in our freezer. While there I had a quick look around and found Miss 16 a spare pair of work pants for only $2.

-Borrowed some books for home ed and DVDs from our public library. 

-Bought 5kg of carrots which were on sale for $2.99. They are normally 99c a kilo so this is pretty much 2 kg for free! I have kept some in the fridge for eating and meals during the week and the rest will be blanched and put in the freezer. I also got 8kg of onions for $2 and will chop and freeze most of them, also cheap zucchinis so will make a zucchini and chocolate cake for the freezer and a couple of zucchini slices. Buying in bulk like this can save lots of money.

-Picked up some bags of $1 lollies for the kids from Kmart for stocking fillers.

Free reclaimed bread from the op shop. Ive frozen most of it for later.

Volunteer tomatoes in our garden.

Silver beet in our pallet garden bed.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks- 15/11/15

I've been inspired by Wendy Gower's blog who some of you might remember from A Current Affair. I love her frugal tasks and look forward to reading it each week! Now I plan on making note of frugal things I do each week, to keep myself accountable. I've been finding that time just flies by and on a day to day basis I forget the little things we do to save money can really add up.

So many cherry tomatoes from our volunteer plants!

 -Took Mr 9 to Bunnings for a kids DIY workshop. He made a wooden tray which we will give away as a Christmas gift.

- I bought a carpet sweeper for $10 on Gumtree. Our new carpet shows up every little speck of dirt and using the sweeper will mean I can vacuum less often and save power.

-Picked lots of volunteer cherry tomatoes from our garden.

-Gave a homemade fused glass necklace and earrings Mr 9 and I made at a workshop to my Mother-in-law for her belated birthday.

-Packed water, yoghurt, muesli bars and fruit when we visited my MIL in hospital as I knew we would have to pay around $10 for parking.

-Used a free movie voucher we had and took myself to see The Dressmaker. I also packed a drink and snacks from home.

-Took advantage of the 20% off at JB Hi Fi and a DVD set for a friends Christmas Gift.

-Made a Christmas Advent calendar from cardboard toilet rolls, paint and ribbon I all had on hand. Also found some Christmas chocolates I bought on sale last year to fill it.

-Volunteered for my local Transition Town group at a Multicultural Food Fair and ate dinner at home before we left- I knew I made the right decision when I saw that one stall was selling spiral potato on a stick for $7 each! But we enjoyed helping out, the free rides and fireworks. I also got a free keep cup.

- Picked up some free bread, pizza bases and rolls from my local op shop.

- Got a free 7 day gym membership, Spec Savers voucher, water bottle, pens, lollies and more at a local business promotion day.

- Planted some lettuce seedlings.

- Got a couple of free paint samples tins from Masters which I got in the same colour so I can use it to paint our patio.

-Made my niece some "Pontipines" as a Christmas gift with scrap bits of felt and pegs.  

-Washed the dishes by hand a couple of times this week, instead of running the dishwasher.

The homemade fuse bead necklace and earrings.

The free Keep Cup we received for volunteering.

Mr 9 doing some woodworking at Bunnings.

The "Pontipines" I made for a Christmas gift.
Mr 9 planting some lettuce.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Easy Beef and Potato Curry with Cauliflower "Rice" Recipe

Here is a recipe on regular rotation in my house because it is so easy. Any kind of curry can be cooked in the slow cooker and this one is no exception, I love it because I can buy super cheap cuts of meat and after time in the slow cooker they come out beautifully and soft.

Cauliflower makes an awesome "rice" substitute- though my kids are not entirely convinced. It is perfect if you have cauliflowers in abundance. I got a couple which were reduced to 50c each because of some blemishes on top which are simple enough to cut off before cooking. 

You will need:

2 pieces of steak (diced)
1 diced onion
2 cloves diced garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam marsala
1 tsp turmeric
 1/2 tsp chilli powder

Add the above ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. 

Then add:

1 large diced potato
2 celery stalks diced also
1/2 tin of coconut milk (the rest can be put into a container and frozen for later use)
1 tsp cornflour added to 2 TBS water

 Add this to the curry, stir it all in well and cook for a further hour or until the potato is cooked. while this is doing the last bit of cooking I cook the cauliflower rice.

Cauliflower "Rice"

Remove any blemishes or black spots from the cauliflower with a small knife, then take off the leaves and cut into florets. 

Place the florets into a food processor and blitz until it breaks down into tiny pieces resembling rice. I have a mini food processor so have to repeat this about 3-4 times until the whole cauliflower is done. 

Heat a couple of tablespoons of coconut or olive oil in a large frying pan and add the cauliflower.
Stir well over a medium heat so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. It should take about 10-15 minutes to cook. 

Use as a rice or cous cous substitute. 

Note: My slow cooker is a vintage crock pot from the 80's. So for newer (not ancient) models you will have to take my times as approximate and use your own judgement with your cooker.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Ham and Cheese Muffin Recipe

Especially yummy straight out of the oven.

These muffins are very moreish, I find making one batch is never enough. They are perfect for morning or afternoon teas and store well in the fridge. You can substitute the ham for frozen corn kernels and capsicum for a vegetarian option.

2 C grated cheese
1 C self raising flour
1/2 c wholemeal self raising flour
4 slices of ham- diced
1 egg beaten
1 C milk

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, mix the cheese, flours and ham in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix the egg and milk and add it to the dry mix and fold gently. Spoon into a greased muffin tray and bake for 12 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

Banana Cake and Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipes

Don't throw out those black bananas lurking on your kitchen bench, use them up in this yummy banana cake recipe. These days I will mash and freeze bananas for later use and this recipe is perfect for frozen bananas too. I've also added a sprinkle of chia seeds on occasion. 

Banana Cake

1 C mashed bananas or 2 bananas
2 C self raising flour
1 C white sugar
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4- 1/2 C milk

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Then pour into a greased loaf pan and bake in a moderate oven for around 30 minutes. 

Vegan Chocolate Cake

This is now our favourite cake recipe in my house. Not only is it delicious, but it doesn't use milk or eggs making it a super frugal recipe!

1 1/2 C self raising flour
3 TBS cocoa
1 C sugar
5 TBS oil
1 TBS vinegar 
1 C water

Combine all the above ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Pour into a greased cake tin and bake in a moderate oven for 20-30 minutes. Top with icing if desired. 

Because I have so many oranges growing this year, I  have also turned this into a choc orange cake by substituting the water for orange juice and adding some orange zest. 

You could make a lemon cake  if you have those by adding lemon juice and rind and omitting the cocoa. A vanilla cake is made in the same way also without cocoa. Or make it a red velvet cake by adding some red food colouring to the water. Too easy!


Pear and Cinnamon Mini Muffins, Choc Weetbix Slice and Rosemary Salted Pecan Recipes

Rosemary salted pecans, choc weetbix slice and pear and cinnamon mini muffins.

Its been a busy few months here. I've been finishing off the games room makeover and we've had new flooring laid, and finally got a new oven! The old one was a very basic & cheap model but the door didn't close properly so it had to go. The kitchen is almost done now.

I had no stove for almost a month, so am now taking full advantage of our new one. I recently had a bulk baking day and some of my lovely Instagram followers asked for the recipes so I thought I would add them here. Sorry for the lack of step by step pictures- I didn't take any!

Pear and Cinnamon Mini Muffins

2 peeled and diced pears (soft is fine)
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/3 c white sugar
1/2 c plain flour
1/2 c self raising flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp caster sugar, extra

Grease a mini muffin pan. Whisk oil, sugar, and egg together in a bowl. Add flours and pear, stir until combined. Drop level teaspoons of the mixture into each pan hole, sprinkle with combined cinnamon and extra caster sugar. Bake in a moderately hot oven for about 15 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack, serve warm or cold. 

Mr 9 waiting patiently for the muffins to cook.

Chocolate Weetbix Slice 

125 g of butter- melted
1 TBS cocoa
1 C self raising flour
1/2 c white sugar
3 crushed weetbix

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add the melted butter and stir until combined. Press into a slice tray and cook for 15 minutes in a moderate oven. Let it cool down and then top with chocolate icing and add 100's and 1000's or coconut if you like. 

Rosemary Salted Pecans

5 cups of pecans
3 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
2 TBS brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread out on a lined oven tray and bake in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.

You could also substitute other nuts or herbs. I have rosemary growing in my garden so used that.