Saturday, 30 April 2016

My Frugal Tasks 1/5/16

Basket full of oranges.

This week has been quite busy. My sweet best friend who is like a sister to me and her daughter are coming to stay with us for 10 days next week. We have been tidying the yard, house and getting things ready for their stay. Because we eat mostly vegetarian I don't meal plan-it's pretty easy coming up with meal ideas! But with a 2 extra people staying I have done a plan and will go shopping next week for some top ups.

Next weekend will be my nieces birthday party with her Perth family and friends and then Sunday is Mother's Day. Not sure if I will have time to post, but if not I wish you all a wonderful Mother's Day. We will have homemade scones, jam and cream with tea and I'm not sure what else the family have planned, but I'm sure it will be thrifty!

Here's what I got up to this week:

-Picked 4 bags of oranges from a friend's dad's tree. He is happy to give the fruit away as he cant leave it all and doesn't want it to go to waste.  I gave a bag away and kept a small amount for eating fresh. I also put a few in the food processor and then in  zip lock bags ready to make Rhonda's whole orange cake I have  juiced the rest and also put in bottles for the freezer. This made over 3 litres of fresh juice.

-It rained a lot over the weekend so we collected some rain water in large buckets to use on the garden.

-Bought some sheep and cow poo to fill another raised garden bed we made a while ago out of pallets. This means we will have more space to grow our own vegetables. Happy days!

- Baked another orange cake, sticky date pudding and some sausage rolls.

-Started sewing a few little secret gifts.

-The evenings are getting chilly here so the boys and I made some heat packs using material from my stash and rice. These just need to be put in the microwave for a minute or 2 and stay warm for ages. Frugal heating!

-Through a home ed FB page I found a code online for a free membership to a WA bush walking group. Membership is normally $40 a year.

-I also signed up for a free teachers handbook from Just Like Me which aims to help teach kids awareness of other cultures, the similarities and differences between themselves and their peers in impoverished countries. There is also free activities available on the website.

-Cashed in some survey points I've earned for a $20 chemist voucher.

-Made some more heat bags using furry scrap fabric and rice, soy candles and onion jam. These will keep my gift stockpile nicely full!

-Took Mr 10 to Bounce Inc using a free pass I got for completing a feedback survey.

-Picked some leaves from our Stevia plant and more salad greens.

-Got a $20 voucher for Kmart for doing some surveys. Our toaster broke last week so I bought a new one and it only cost $5 with the voucher :) I also found some little boys PJ sets reduced to $1 each! I will give these to a friend for her son's 2nd birthday this month. I also got him a Batman tee for $1 but it is a few sizes too big so it will be a gift for later.

-Stopped in to an op shop and found a really cute pair of PJs for Mr 10 and a pair of PJ bottoms for me. Both were $4. Plus some more loaves of free bread for the freezer.

-Cooked all meals at home (we always do this lol) and ate lots of leftovers this week!

-Made some little swing labels out of cardboard I had in my card making supply box. I cut them out while watching TV in the evenings. I will use these for my homemade preserves and candles.

-Made pita chips with a couple pieces of leftover pita bread. 

3 litres fresh OJ

Homemade sausage rolls.

Mr 10 learning to use the sewing machine.

Warm winter PJ's $4 spent here!

Few jars of onion jam.

Furry heat packs.

Vegetarian chilli kept us all fed for a few days!

New toaster.

$1 bargains from Kmart.

Homemade soy candles and melts.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Homemade Bath Salts

Lavender bath salts make a great frugal gift.

One of my favourite indulgences is a hot bath. If I've had a bad day or am feeling stressed, a bath helps to relax and lift my mood. I honestly believe a hot bath can cure almost anything.

 I'm not a huge fan of bubbles in my bath but prefer bath salts. I used to just add a few drops of lavender oil in my bath, but since reading about the benefits of epsom salts I have started adding this to my bath and make my own salts. They also make a great gift.

Epsom salts are fabulous. They are great for eliminating toxins and can help with arthritis and other ailments by replenishing the body's supply of magnesium. You can read more about it here
I've had days where I've done lots of physical work and been in pain- a soak in a bath with some Epsom salts and I've woken up fine and able to move.

I've noticed that most fancy brands of bath salts contain Epsom Salts and can be ridiculously overpriced. I once saw a tub of lavender salts for $20! You can buy Epsom from Coles, and it costs about $8 for 1kg. I was buying so much that I ended up sourcing a cheaper option. I found a supplier and now buy it in a 25 kg bag.

To make your own bath salts you will need:

A glass jar- the one in the picture above was $2 from Kmart, but I have also repurposed jars for gifts.
Epsom salts
Salt- I've used all types; cooking, sea and Himalayan. Whatever you have on hand.
Bicarbonate of soda
Lavender oil
Dried lavender-optional

I normally make a few jars of this at a time and am usually unsure of how much each one will hold, so first will layer the ingredients in my jar first and then pour it into a bowl to mix.

Pour the Epsom salt in the jar until it is about 3/4 full, then top it up with equal quantities of bicarb and cooking salt. Bi carb is a great skin softener and the salt is a good for dry skin conditions.

Tip the contents of the jar now into a large mixing bowl and add 10-15 drops of essential lavender oil. for relaxation and calming properties. You could also add other blends too like:

10 drops lavender and 5 drops rosemary or peppermint oil. Peppermint tends to be energizing so you might want to avoid using that before bed! Orange or lemon oil would be invigorating also. 

Now add your dried lavender flowers- this isn't necessary but I had some lavender tea which I'm not a fan of and wanted to use it up! You could add any herbal tea if you like.

Mix the oil in well and then spoon the contents back into the jar.

Add some twine or a bow and a label.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

My Frugal Tasks 24/4/16

Our first bonfire of the season.

It's been a lovely week here. We've been on a few frugal family outings and I've also just been pottering around, tidying up and baking of course. I also stocked up on a few items on clearance that will make great gifts.

Here's this week's frugal tasks.

-Gratefully accepted some paint sample pots and DVD's from a friend. Thanks D!

-Picked up some free reclaimed bread from the op shop again.

-Finished sanding down my kitchen chairs and table and gave them a coat of wax. I'm really happy with how they turned out.

-Picked some more salad greens for a few nights dinner from our garden.

-Gave myself a frugal beauty morning. I used a blue clay mask, and found a recipe for a homemade coffee hair colour. I also trimmed my fringe. All using items I had at home.

-Went for an bush walk down by the river and play at the park on a sunny afternoon. The Autumn weather here has been really strange. Hot and sunny one day and then cold and wet the next.

-Did lots of washing on a fine day, including sheets and throw rugs which were all hung outside.

- I made some room spray for the toilet. Recipe is in the cleaning tab.

-Visited our local orchard for some cheap apples at $1 a kilo.

-Called into a little cheap shop and found some paper doilies I was looking for. They had several packs available and I picked the pack with 40 inside rather than 10. This store also had a clearance on glass bottles for $1 each. I picked up 7, then went back the next day and bought another 10 using our gifts fund. This will boost up my gift cupboard significantly! They were cheaper than op shop prices even! I got some small blue ones, larger coloured ones and milk bottle types too. I thought the small ones would be good for soy candles, the larger ones for homemade biscuits and the milk bottles I could put bath salts in. The lady at the store also wrapped the jars in tissue paper, so I got a large stack for free! I will use these for wrapping gifts.

-I used some of the paper doilies as toppers for the homemade sweet mustard pickles I made last week. They look lovely and are a nice change from my regular paper toppers.

-Tidied up my food cupboards and did a bit of grocery shopping. I still have a lot in my stockpile, but we have friends coming to stay soon and I wanted to to make sure I don't run out of essentials.

-We went to Adventure World using 3 free tickets that a friend gave us- thanks B! And only needed to buy 2 tickets which another friend got us a discount on, thanks K! We packed all our own food and drinks and although the place was incredibly busy and the lines for rides were long, we had a good time. I defrosted a large container of chicken and lentil soup for dinner as I knew I would be too tired to cook.

-On Friday night we had a bonfire using scrap wood. Our fire pit is just a washing machine drum, we have had for years and works so well! We cooked dinner outside, toasted marshmallows and Mr 10 set up our telescope. It was a full moon as well so we got a great view.

-Mr 14 helped bake some banana bread, honey joys and mars bar slice for treats during the week. Mr 10 also made spaghetti bolognaise one night for dinner using TVP. It was really delicious.

How was your week?

Reclaimed bread and rolls.

My distressed table and chairs.

Paint sample pots and DVD's from a friend.

Silverbeet and rocket from our garden.

Mr 10 playing in the river.

Honey joys, mars bar slice and banana bread.

Bargain glass jars and paper doilies.

Pickles jars with doilie toppers.

Fun at Adventure World.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Bunnings Easter Family Night

I have mentioned before that we love Bunnings! It is a great store for families on a budget. They run  free kids workshops every weekend and also have free family nights during the year.

This year our local store had a dinosaur themed night. We really look forward to these events because they are done so well, and free activities are a winner in my book!

Unfortunately, I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked due to a severe tooth ache (I had it pulled out the following day and part of the reason I forgot to blog about this earlier!)

When we got there, the store was decorated with inflatable dinosaurs and each child was given a gift of a growing dinosaur egg as we arrived.

There were several tables of activities set up including face painting, 2 different excavation activities, exploding volcano experiment, safari hat craft, inflatable dino land and Easter egg hunt.

We also each got a sausage sizzle and drink for dinner. Such fun!

These family nights are run on Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day. Because these events do get busy, you have to book in advance but can do so on their website: Bunnings

What are some of the free events your family have been to?

Finding a matching up some fossils.

Digging away at a plaster egg. Inside was a little dinosaur.


Bicarb soda + coloured vinegar = chemical reaction!

Free chocolate!

Inflatable dino world.

Sweet Mustard Pickle Recipe

I'll add some paper toppers to the jars for gift giving.

Last week I used the last of our store bought sweet mustard pickle. It is only my daughter and I who eat it, so one jar lasts a reaallly long time in our house. This got me thinking, surely I could make my own?

I read the ingredients on the jar- cauliflower, cucumber, onion, mustard, sugar. It sounded pretty easy. I've made jams and tomato relish before so this should be similar I thought. I found a good recipe on Best Recipes and got started. I did tweak the original a bit to suit what ingredients I had. It turned out great, I will definitely be making my own from now on.

This recipe made 7 jars. 2 for us and 5 for my gift stockpile. I will just add some paper as toppers and a pretty label before giving.

You will need:

2 litres water
1/2 c salt
1/2 cauliflower
4 large onions
1 cucumber
750 ml apple cider vinegar (I used my homemade kombucha vinegar)
2 c white sugar
1/2 c cornflour
1 TBS mustard powder (I used ground mustard seeds)
1/2 TBS curry powder (I used 1/4 garam marsala and 1/4 pepper)
1 TBS turmeric

Combine water and salt in a large pot.

Finely chop cauliflower, onions and  cucumber and add the vegetables to the salt and water and leave overnight. I placed mine outside as the onion smell was really strong!

Place the pot on the stove and heat up the mixture. Cook the vegies until tender then drain the liquid.

Place the veg back in the pot with the vinegar, sugar, mustard, and curry.

Bring to the boil for around 20 minutes. Then add the cornflour which has been mixed with about 1/4 cup of water. Simmer until nice and thick.

Seal immediately in sterilized jars.

The perfect combination for sealed jars is hot jars and lids + hot ingredients. Here are some instructions similar to the way I do mine. Put the lids on straight away and turn the jar upide down one so the hot liquid touches the lid. Then leave to sit on the bench until cool. Then I tough the lids and they "pop" very easily. I've never had a problem with anything going off. I keep all my jars from tomato paste etc and save them for jam making.

I did some pricing for this recipe as well. A jar of generic brand pickle costs $1.70 for a 500g jar.

The 7 jars cost me round $4 to make and I think it would be far better in quality and taste than a generic brand!

Are you a jam or relish maker?

Boiling the vegies in salt water.

Almost done.

Checking to see if it is thick enough.