Saturday, 30 January 2016

My Frugal Tasks 31/1/16

Apple rose tarts.

It's funny how the weeks go so fast. This week I really made an effort to get a lot done as it's back to school next week, which means back to studies for Miss 17, community school for Mr 14 and home school for Mr 9. I know most of my time during the day will be taken up with home education so I will be getting up early in the morning to do any paid surveys, blogging, freelancing or any prep for the day. I am looking forward to getting back into a routine. As much as I love the school holidays and by the end of the year we are all ready for a break I am also itching to get my home back into a rhythm. I hope you have all had a great week!

-Made some more cards using items in my craft box, one was for a 21st Birthday party the teens went to and I made it to match the gift I made, which was a homemade soy candle. I'm addicted and can't wait to make more!

-Baked some yummy apple rose tarts using ingredients I already had on hand.

-Finally finished painting my kitchen drawers. This is a task that has been nagging at me. It's great to finally have it done!

-Watched some family movies on Netflix and made some popcorn and had lollies from my stockpile for snacks. Our free trial ends on the 30th-today! and we are trying to make use of it until then!

-Took Mr 9 to a free event at the library which was olden day crafts. We made origami frogs and played cards games. I saved money on petrol by calling into the local pools and paying swimming lesson fees and picking up a few loss leader specials at the supermarket as both are next to the library.

-Bought some deodorant which was half price for my stockpile. I also had money left over in my grocery budget from last pay so I spent an extra $20 on items we use regularly like longlife milk, sugar also for my stockpile.

-Baked a tea cake, biscuits and jelly for snacks and made my homemade maple flavoured syrup.

-Did some surveys online, and earned a $20 Coles and a $10 Kmart voucher.

-Made homemade cranberry and raspberry iced tea. I used 500 ml boiling water with 2 teabags then added 500ml of cranberry and raspberry juice. I had in my cupboard. Yummy!

-Sorted through Mr 9's home ed books. We are still using the history, math, science and history curriculum from last year. As well as some free printables I've found online. It's certainly enough to make a good start for the year.

-I wrapped some Birthday and Christmas gifts ready for my best friend, who lives interstate but is staying with us in May. That way she can take the gifts back home with her and I've saved money on postage. She does the same and brings us gifts for the year.

-Made use of my time by taking some hand sewing along to Mr 9's drama group. That way I save petrol by staying- its a 15 minute drive- instead of dropping him off and I get to catch up on my sewing.

 - Picked up some reclaimed bread, rolls and hot cross buns from the op shop. I also got a parsnip, mushrooms and 3 capsicums. All for free. We are very grateful for this.

-Went op shopping and bought Miss 17 a couple of dress shirts she wanted for $3.50 each, this came out of our clothing budget. I also bought a blue bed valance for $4, which I will cut up and use the fabric to make some gifts. I also found a vintage looking teddy which will be a Birthday gift for a friend for 80c and dinosaur slippers for a friends toddler which were $1- also gifts.

-I made a start on a couple of superhero capes using the $4 valance. I have also cutout a felt star to add on the back and will sew a felt mask to go with it. I'll post pics when it's finished. One is a gift for a special girl's 3rd Birthday-she requested a blue cape. The other I will make and put away in my present stockpile. The valance has yielded heaps of fabric-enough to make the 2 capes plus more for my fabric stash. Bargain!

-Made progress on tidying up our garage. We currently have a hard rubbish collection so we put lots of stuff out the front. I came across an box full of teacups which were my Nanna's. I will keep a few and might try and sell the others or I might pour some soy wax in the tea cups and they would make pretty gifts.

-I made a Friday night fakeaway of fish and chips.

The 21st card I made to match the soy candle. The black and white print is a free wallpaper sample!

I spend an extra $20 on items for my stockpile.

Lynx was on sale for $2.89, I bought a few for my stockpile.

Our free hot cross buns and bread. So grateful.

My op shop bargains. total cost $12.80!

$30 of vouchers from online surveys.

Fakeaway of fish and chips.

Kitchen drawers before.

And after.

Our origami frogs. They can jump pretty high!

I painted the little frame I salvaged. It looks great on my bookshelf.

I made a start on a couple of superhero capes, using the $4 valance.

Lovely teacups.

Monday, 25 January 2016

DIY Green Cleaning

I think that marketing companies have done a great job in making consumers think that they need to buy a myriad of  expensive products-all full of toxic chemicals-to effectively clean their homes. This simply is not true.

White vinegar is a great natural bleach. Because of it's high acidic content it makes an  unpleasant habitat for many micro organisms. I use vinegar as a rinse aid in my dish washer and in the rinse compartment of my washing machine, only a tablespoon or 2 is needed. I also use it when cleaning the toilet.

Bi-carb soda has an abrasive quality, making it perfect for scrubbing sinks and shower screens.

I've mentioned before that I make my own laundry gel and stain remover. I also make a great cleaning spray which is a cheap homemade alternative to "spray and wipe" type kitchen cleaners. I do not use any commercial cleaning products in my house as Mr 9 and I are asthmatics and sensitive to chemicals, I instead use vinegar and bi-carb soda. The best thing about this spray is you probably have all the ingredients already in your pantry!

There are many different recipes out there but this is the one I use:

Cleaning spray recipe

Empty spray bottle (I reuse an old Method spray bottle for this)
8 TBS white vinegar
1 small squirt of dish liquid
1 tsp baking soda
10-15 drops of essential oil (my favourites are eucalyptus, orange, lemon or lavender)

Add the dish liquid and essential oils to the spray bottle. Then add the vinegar and bi carb soda and shake it up. Top up with water and you're done!

I also make a homemade room spray. Several years ago when the teens were small I helped out a friend who was running her own aromatherapy business. In exchange for helping her bottle her products she taught me some basics on using essential oils and how to make room sprays. Although these days I only have a few different oils so make very basic blends. I am very grateful for this and I have been making my own ever since!

Room Spray Recipe

Empty spray bottle (the amber one pictured above, I've been reusing for 10+ years)
Essential or fragrance oils

Add 10 drops of your oil of choice to the bottle. My favourite is lemon. I also sometimes use fragrance oils that I have for candle making which are a bit cheaper then essential oils.

Then add 2-3 drops of solubuliser, add the lid and shake. The solubuliser just helps with bending the oil and water together. I bought mine online and because you only need a small amount if lasts for years. I have heard that dish liquid might work in the same way but haven't tried it out yet.

Here are some essential oil blends which smell lovely:

5 drops lemon and 5 drops tea tree oil

5 drops lavender 5 drops rosemary

5 drops eucalyptus 5 drops lemon

I also will add a few drops of scented oil to a few cotton makeup remover pads and add them to my lined cupboard, which make our towels and sheets smell delightful.

I have recently started making my own furniture polish as well after finding some cheap bees wax. It works better than any polish I've ever used.

Beeswax Furniture Polish

2 TBS grated beeswax
6-8 TBS olive oil
10 drops of lemon oil (optional)

Put the beeswax into a saucepan and melt over a low heat. Once melted add the olive oil and lemon oil. Stir well and pour in a small glass jar.

I originally found this recipe here 

2 pots of furniture polish will last ages.


Saturday, 23 January 2016

My Frugal Tasks- 24/1/16

It's been another busy and productive week here.

-My daughter turned 17 this week! It is tradition that we have a home cooked meal of our choice on our birthdays so we had chicken karage for dinner, mocktails and a homemade "Boost chocolate" ice cream cake. We also decorated the house using felt banners I made, balloons and party poppers we had in our party box.

- Sold some items on Gumtree and put the money on an additional mortgage payment to reduce our debt.

-Volunteered at a local food co-op with a friend. We got to buy some cheap groceries there too.

-Received a gorgeous homemade soy candle and dandelion salve from an IG friend. She also sent Mr 9 a handmade bowl, which he is now using to store his crystals. So beautiful!

-Helped a friends elderly relatives clean their year up. I rescued a fully lined guitar case for my daughter that was going to be taken to the tip. I also salvaged a very old copy of Alice In Wonderland which I will give to a friend's daughter and also a lovely ornate frame I will spray paint black and will look great in my living room.

-Went to the movies. The kids used a movie ticket they got as a Christmas gift, so I only paid for my ticket. We also packed drinks and snacks from home.

-Received a box of chocolates as a thank you gift.

-Bought some supplies from our gift fund to make a homemade gift.

-Stretched a roast chicken and boiled the bones to make a lovely and filling chicken and barley soup.

-Picked up some free bread and rolls from the op shop.

-Decorated a couple jars for the soy candles I made last week. One will be a Birthday gift for one of the teens youth group leaders.

- Made a list of all the craft items I have on hand ready to participate in Annabels Christmas Challenge

- Picked up a couple of books from my favourite author for only 50c each from the op shop. I also got some material for only $1 each.

-We went for a BBQ lunch and walk at a nearby dam.

-Brewed and bottled more kombucha. Id like to aim to drink some at least everyday.

What have you all been up to this week?

The table decorated with Miss 17's birthday gifts and some balloons. She also received pet mice.

I use these felt flags to decorate the house on our birthday's.

Mocktails with fancy straws from our party box.

Miss 17's homemade icecream cake.

Bulk cooking of gluten free quiches and zucchini slices for the freezer.

Cheap groceries from the co-op. I stocked up on pasta and rice and there are a few treats as well.

Book and frame I rescued. I have since painted the frame and will post a pic next week.

The beautiful handmade goodies from a friend.

The material was such a bargain! The blue tulle I will use to make a child's tutu.

Lemon and Basil scented soy candles ready for gifting.

Yummy soup bulked out with barley and vegetables.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Felt Birthday Crown

I thought I would share this felt crown I made for my niece. I also made one for Mr 9 when he was a toddler. My idea was that his would be a "Birthday crown" which could be worn every year on the child's Birthday. Unfortunately I didn't take photos as I completed this project, this is more just a few pictures to inspire. Below are the instructions:

I made my own crown template on paper.

Then pinned the template to the felt and cut out 2 different colours of felt. One for the back and front.

I decided what colour I wanted to be my front and cut out some small felt hearts and a letter for the birthday girls name and stitched them on. I also added a few buttons. Doing this part now is so the treads will be hidden inside the crown.

Then I sewed the back and front together. I hand stitched along the bottom, sewing the two pieces of felt together. Then as I came up to the sides about half way up, I inserted a piece of elastic and sewed it in. Then finished sewing the top of the crown.

I have made a few of these now, and think they make a great child's gift.

Back of the crown. This felt is quite stiff.

Side view.

Close up of the stitching.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Natural Face Scrub

Bi carb soda, water, lemon and tea tree oil are all you need.

This is a facial scrub I've been making for a while and find it to be wonderful. It gets the face really clean. With 2 teenagers- one who works using deep fryers- I wanted to find something that would rid their faces of excess oils, have natural ingredients and not cost an arm and a leg. So I decided to make my own.

 I started researching the causes of acne. Acne is actually caused by the skins pores being blocked with oil, so this is why most expensive foamy facial cleansers will not help acne. The only way to really clean out the pores is to use an exfoliate. I wrote an article here on my top 5 natural skin exfoliates and decided that bi- carb soda would make a cheap and easy to store cleanser.

Bi carbonate of soda is good for everything. I use it to clean my oven, sinks, shower screen, in my homemade stain remover and cleaning spray, and I use it in bath salts and as a face scrub. I have now found I can buy bi carb in 25kg bags which works out to be only $1.27 a kilo, so exciting for me!

Making the face scrub is easy, just find a suitable container- a plastic one with a good lid is ideal.I store our scrub in the shower.

Fill the container just over half full with the bi carb.

Now add just enough water to make a smooth but thick paste and stir well.

Then add a 5 drops of lemon and 5 drops of tea tree oil. Lemon oil is a natural astringent and tea tree is great for treating acne. I also buy my essential oils in bulk which is much cheaper, but if you don't have these oils on hand the scrub will still work well without them. Because this cleanser is so cheap to make, (around 30-40c per container with oils) I find the oils to be a nice addition.

Stir to make a thick paste.

My Frugal Tasks- 17/01/16

-Made paper toppers for jam and used my 50c twine and tag kits I got last week to make labels. These will go in my gift stockpile.

-Made some bleach resist tees with shirts I bought on sale months ago. A couple are also for gift giving.

-Tidied up my gift stockpile and added some bows, pretty labels etc to some homemade candles, lip balm, bath bombs and furniture polish. These are now ready for birthday presents.

-Made our own mouthwash using 300ml water, 1tsp bi carb soda and 1tsp peppermint essence.

-Finished hand sewing a birthday gift for a friends little son.

-Picked some grapes, leeks and the last of the silver beet and cherry tomatoes from our garden.

-Took Mr 9 to the library for a presentation on worm farming. The kids all got to make and bring home their own mini worm farm and we borrowed some books.

-I helped a friend's elderly neighbours by tidying up their backyard and putting rubbish into a skip bin. There were 5 of us and we got it all done in no time. The couple were so grateful, and I really enjoyed helping them.

-Mr 9 won a competition he entered. He received 2 DVDs and was over the moon!

-Am re reading The Tightwad Gazette, which I got for my birthday last year. It is full of money saving tips.

-Baked some jam donut muffins, sultana tea cake  muesli, made chocolate pudding, custard and fruit juice jelly for snacks.

- Went out for dinner with some girl friends and came home under budget.

-Made some soy candles. Some of these are for a friend who pays me to refill her jars and I also made a couple for gifts.

-Did a small grocery shop- we are still eating out of our freezer. I shopped for the specials and  bought a whole watermelon, 5 kg of carrots (I will peel, blanch and freeze some), 1 kg fish, 4 kg potatoes, 8 zucchinis, eggs, 2 minute noodles, icecream (for Miss 16's birthday) and cooking chocolate.

-Received a beautiful book of Gustav Klimt's artworks from a lovely human who follows my blog and IG. Such a kind gesture!

Mr 14 and the bleach resist tee he made.

Mr 9 and his mini worm farm and another bleach resist tee!

I picked some grapes, leeks, silverbeet and the last of our cherry tomatoes.

My $30 top up shopping.

Homemade soy candles.

Jam donut cupcakes-so yummy!

The book I received. I can't wait to read it!

Dancing Ribbon Ring For Toddlers

 I remember when my kids were little, they loved dancing. I found this dancing ribbon idea online and thought it would make a great gift, and it is so very simple!

The wooden part is just one of those old curtain rings, which is the perfect size for little hands to hold. My house had that style of curtains when we moved in so I kept a few for crafts. I've also seen bags of them sold at the op shop for pretty cheap.

Then I just cut 6 lengths of ribbon- you want them quite long. And tie them onto the ring. The one I saw had lovely rainbow colours, but of course I wanted to use what I had in my craft stash.


Monday, 11 January 2016

Slow Cooked Satay Chicken or Beef Recipe

We rarely buy take away due to the price. I just can't justify a meal out for the 5 of us is more than a week's worth of groceries!

 This recipe minds me so much of satay from a Chinese restaurant and its quick and cheap to make. For me, making dinner in the slow cooker almost feels like a night off cooking, a perfect fakeaway dinner!

You need:

500 diced chicken or beef
1 diced onion
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 tsp fish sauce
2 cloves of chopped garlic

Chopped vegies of your choice- capsicum, celery and carrot are all great
Half a tin of coconut milk

Place above ingredients into the slow cooker and set on high for 3-4 hours. Then add some chopped diced capsicum, celery and half a tin of coconut milk and cook for another hour or until the vegetables are cooked, season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

My Frugal Tasks- 10/01/16

-Mr 9 received some Disney Infinity characters for his game, from one of my lovely Instagram followers. We are so grateful!

 -Bought some Christmas paper with bright colours and gifts on the print for $1 a roll. these will be used to wrap birthday presents during the year.

-Picked the first bunch of grapes grapes from our vine.

-Saved some rocket, silverbeet and rock-melon seeds to plant later in the year.

-I've been getting a head start on this years Christmas gifts and have been hand sewing some felt ornaments.

-Bought Miss 16 an early Birthday gift of 2 female mice from Gumtree. They needed to be re homed due to the owners moving to a house with cats. I got the cage, toys, bedding, food etc for a third of what they would cost to buy new at a pet store.

-Repaired the strap on Mr 9's swimming goggles with sewing elastic. The lenses were still in good shape, just the rubber strap had deteriorated. Even though they only cost a few dollars I couldn't bear to throw them into landfill without attempting to fix them first! Now they are as good as new.

-Found some more Christmas markdowns, the best buy was twine and tag kits for 50c each. these will be perfect for labeling my homemade preserves ready for giving. I also got some lollies and and cardboard box I will reuse as our Christmas Eve box.

-Picked up some free bread from the op shop.

-I hand stitched some felt Christmas ornaments with the felt I bought last week. These will make great gifts.

-Signed up for a 30 day free trial of Netflix- free school holiday entertainment!

-Continuing to eat from our stockpile, I will need some fresh vegetables during the week.

Mis 16's early birthday gift

Bargains from Red Dot. Total cost $3.75.

Clearance items from Target. Total cost $3.00.

Christmas wrapping paper for $1 each that I will use for wrapping Birthday gifts.

Felt ornaments I made.