Sunday, 26 June 2016

My Frugal Tasks-

Winter veg garden growing strong.

I haven't posted my frugal tasks for a few weeks and I apologise for that. It has been a hectic few weeks! Last week we had Mr 10's follow up appointment to see how he is getting on after his surgery and also our yearly home education moderator visit. Both went very well (despite me stressing!) He is now fully healed and fingers crossed, there will be no further issues. It has been another great year homeschooling my little guy and I am very grateful to be able to do so.

 This week I have been making myself a skirt for Supernova Pop Culture Expo we attended yesterday. Miss 17, Mr 10 and I cos played as characters from Steven Universe and had such a great time!

Anyway, here are some of the frugal things I've been up to lately. 

-One of my goals is to learn more about local weeds for edibility and medicinal uses. A friend of mine recently made some dandelion jelly, so I did some research and a foraging we went! We picked 3 cups of dandelions, I picked all the petals off and made 4 smallish jars of dandelion jelly and also have some petals infusing in olive oil to make a healing balm. We also picked some lavender flowers and lemons while exploring.

-We were also super excited to discover we have a Madeira vine in our garden. We had always just thought it was a weed! It grows exceptionally easy and despite our efforts to curb its growth, it just goes wild. Madeira vine leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach- free food at its finest!

-Baked a whole orange cake, used up some soft apples in the fridge and made an apple and berry crumble, plum cake using some frozen plum compote I had and a carrot cake.

-Collected rain water in large buckets and use this on our vegetable garden.

-Bought 4 large Queensland pumpkins for 29c a kilo and 14 kilos of baby potatoes for the same price. I have cut one pumpkin up and made a big batch of soup and also baked pumpkin for the freezer. The rest is stored on a table outside to use later. I have blanched some of the baby potatoes and then put them on baking trays to snap freeze over night, ready for storing in zip lock freezer bags. I also cut up heaps in wedges and froze them so I can just spray with oil and bake in the oven for an easy meal. I do this often when there is a great sale on fresh produce.

-I don't like to use our dryer unless it's an emergency so have been using clothes airers either outside if it's sunny or inside when the weather is wet. I don't use the washing line much, because in winter it is in the shade and the clothes rarely get dry this way. We have lots of fencing around our pool and vegie gardens, so I bought some cheap plastic coat hangers- $2 for 10 at the reject shop and have been hanging our shirts on the hangers and attaching this to the fence. When the sun is out, the tops dry so much faster this way, even jumpers.

-Did the usual 3 minute showers, saving the shower warm up water, swept the floors instead of vacuuming, got free bread from the op shop and picked greens from our vegie garden.

-Made a batch of laundry gel which will last us another 6 months.

-Stretched my grocery shopping out by an extra 3 days by using up what I had left in the fridge for dinner.

-Bought a couple of 12 pack cartons of long life milk that were on a great sale.

-Bought some glass jars from The Reject Shop which cost 83c each. These will be used for the dandelion salve and anything else I make. I do reuse any glass jars we have, but because I don't buy ready prepared jams and sauces I don't get many.

-Ran out of creamy salad dressing so made some garlic aioli instead. If you haven't made it before, give it a try. I just use one egg yolk, a bit of lemon juice or kombucha vinegar and beat this a little, then very slowly add a small amount of oil- beating well each time until it becomes creamy, then I added 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic. But there are plenty of recipes online.

I like to pay $1 or under for jars. 

Foraged dandelions, lemons and lavender.

Black is the new black. Washing hanging on the veg garden fencing.

Creamy homemade aioli.

Lots of potatoes.

Huge pot of pumpkin soup. Some for eating and the freezer.

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Value of Stockpiling

Stockpile of milk and flour.

Stockpiling is something I feel is very important in any home. It is security in times of need. Whether it be loss of income, illness or another crisis, having a stockpile is something reliable in a stressful time. Honestly I was never more grateful for my snap frozen, ready prepped vegetables than when we were all sick recently. It allowed to me make quick, healthy and easy meals for my family and I didn't have to go shopping which was a blessing.

I grew up in a house where the food cupboard and fridge were perpetually empty, so food scarcity is a fear I have dealt with and having enough food on hand to feed everyone is very important to me. I remember when we ran out of food and my mum would send me to go and stay at my Nan's house for a few days. Nanna's pantry and freezer was always brimming with food and she had a little overflow cupboard laden with tinned food, sugar and tea. I would often go to that cupboard and just open it's doors to look at the contents. It is no coincidence that having a full belly also brings feelings of happiness and being loved I think, and I always felt that when I was at Nan's house.

Most of my friends think I'm a crazy doomsday prepper for having my stockpile stashes around the house and one laughed at me for buying a 16 kilo bag of carrots! But right now my job is to home educate my son, help keep our home clean and tidy and to work around our home to keep everyone well fed and comfortable. Part of that is also saving money where ever I can. Right now because I do not work outside the home I have the luxury of time and can tend a garden, make homemade gifts, cook jam, bake our meals from scratch or spend time peeling and preparing loads of vegetables for the freezer! I appreciate that everyone does not have the time to do this and I understand that my life might not always be this way so I'm enjoying saving as much money now while I can.

Stockpiling also allows you save money by buying items when they are on a great sale. Items like 5kg bags of  rice often go on sale for half price every few weeks and this is a great time to buy in bulk. I also stock up on deodorant for hubby and the teens at this time too. This way they get the brand they like and I'm happy because I've bought enough to last ages at much cheaper than normal.

You do not need heaps of room to have a stockpile either. My kitchen is an older style one with no pantry so I have a few different cupboards where I store our food. Anything that doesn't fit in the cupboards goes under our bed in banana boxes or if its grains or something very perishable it goes in a sealed container. The big bags of rice are also stored in our bedroom.

There does not need to be a lot of money invested when beginning a stockpile and extra $5 or $10 can go a long way. I like to buy pantry staples like cupboard milk, flour, sugar, cocoa, pasta etc most fortnights so that I always keep my supply up.

Stockpiling does not need to be limited to food either. You can buy cleaning supplies, toothpaste and toiletries. I have not needed to buy toothpaste for years because I bought several tubes at my co-op for only a couple of dollars. The same goes for shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, body wash and sanitary pads. If they are very cheap I will buy heaps! I do not normally buy expensive brands- I am a generic girl all the way, but I have these in my cupboard thanks to co-op. I also buy bi carbonate soda and Epsom salts in 25kg bags which is a great investment and saves me loads of money in cleaning products.

You can also stockpile gifts and I have a couple of shelves in my built in robe which are used for this. Sometimes I will find something very cheap at an op-shop which would make a great gift, or make homemade gifts like preserves, relishes, infused oils, bath salts, bubble bath, soy candles, cards or something I've sewed. I package it up prettily using what I have on hand and then into the cupboard it goes.I've been participating in Annabel's Christmas Challenge  which involves crafting items during the year so you have heaps ready for giving at birthdays and Christmas. This avoids much stress later in the year and you have something to craft all year round! I need to keep busy so I love this. Being a part of the challenge has really motivated me, and I'm pleased to say I have been steadily adding to my gift stash. This is another way that you can save heaps of money and lovely homemade gifts can cost only a few dollars rather than needing to rush out to a store and end up spending $20-$50! If you are not crafty you can also keep an eye out for items on clearance that would make great gifts and stash them away for later.

I had a friend visit the other day to drop of some candle jars ready for me to refill with wax for her. I pulled out some candles I've made recently with new scents to show her and she asked me why I had so many candles in my wardrobe, I told her it is my gift cupboard. She then asked if she could buy some of  my pretties because she has a few birthdays coming up and then told me she will have to come "shopping" at my house more often!

Do you have a stockpile?

Laundry cupboard stockpile

Sugar and breadcrumbs.

Canned food cupboard.

Under bed stockpile.

Under bed stockpile.

Gift stockpile, getting very full.

Jams, relishes, teas and flavoured oils in the gift cupboard.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

My Frugal Tasks 5/6/16

Homemade bath salts and soap sets

This week I have still been suffering with another toothache. Last week the dentist repaired a hole which I thought was causing the pain, but she wasn't convinced and thought it was in fact, a wisdom tooth. Yep, she was right.

Here in WA, if you are on a low income and have a health care card you can visit a public dental clinic and pay only 25-50% of the total cost. I had attended the clinic last month to have a tooth removed and they did the recent repair. You can receive emergency treatment there, but there is a waiting list for non emergency care. I was on that waiting list but recently got a letter saying that to take the pressure off the public clinics, for a limited time I can get dental work done at a private clinic but with the same subsidy.

I went for a consultation and was given a treatment plan of over $3000 worth of work-eek! As only cleaning, fillings and extractions are covered by the charter. I decided to book in to get some of the fillings done. This quote did not include anything regarding my wisdom teeth as I was told I would have to pay $50 to get the initial x-ray done to see where the roots are, then they could give me a plan for the wisdom teeth.

Meanwhile, I was in lots of pain with my wisdom tooth. I decided to call the government clinic for advice and told them about my treatment plan at the private dentist and the cost of the x-ray. I am so glad I made that call! I was told that they can do it there for free as it is covered by Medicare! I was booked in straight away to get that done and also consultation at no charge. They even provided an extra copy of the x-ray to take to the private dentist and recommended that I return there to get the extraction done as it is a tricky one. So instead of getting the fillings done next week, I am getting a wisdom tooth removed. This week I was able to save over $200 alone by getting this subsidized dental care.

I thought I would share this here in case you are on a low income and didn't realize you can get discounted dental care. I know in the past, I have avoided the dentist because of the expense! Each state in Australia is different but here is a link with a list of subsidized dental clinics.

Here are some of the other ways I saved this week:

-Bought a compacted bale of straw to mulch our vegetable garden through Gumtree. A local lady charges only $5 compared to bales costing $12 at City Farmers.

-Picked more rocket, silverbeet and kale from the garden.

-Hung the washing out on fine days and used airers inside when it rained.

-Made some lavender bath salts for myself and the gift cupboard. I used the cheap milk bottles I got a while ago as containers. I decorated the bottles with pretty paper, ribbon and labels I already had and . packaged up some $1 dove soaps from The Reject Shop to match which will make nice gift sets. I made more gift tags from white card and decorated some bottles of bubble bath I made earlier in the year with some wallpaper samples and embellishments.

-Used a $20 voucher for Chemist Warehouse by completing surveys. In my budget I normally allow $20 a fortnight for health so the $20 saved will go towards our debt. I usually buy our vitamins in bulk from there because it is quite a bit cheaper but this time I just filled a couple of prescriptions and saved $3.10 on these, compared to getting them filled at my local chemist. I also bought a box of 100 paracetamol tablets for $1.89. I normally buy Coles brand which is 79c for 20 tablets. Such a good saving by shopping there as even a few dollars here and there add up over the course of a year. I will make an effort to shop there now instead.

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

-Sold some scobies, the extra money will go towards paying our debt.

-Finished sewing some felt bird ornaments for a gift.

-Baked cinnamon scrolls, bread and butter pudding, chocolate weetbix slice and rice pudding.

-Did the fortnightly grocery shopping and came under budget at $85-there were lots of specials at Spud Shed this week. I bought pumpkin, bananas, mandarins, 2 bags of zucchinis (I'll be cooking a lot with those!), a bag of capsicum, 4kg carrots, cabbage, 2 broccoli, cauliflower, peanut butter, noodles, 5 kg rice, 3 packs frozen berries, 2kg cheese, 3 dozen eggs, 12 cartons long life milk, 500g butter, 4kg plain flour, 4kg SR flour and 2 kg sugar. I will be working on building up the leftover money to use for stockpiling.

-Found a scarf and top on clearance at Kmart, which came to $6. I also bought 12 bottles of assorted bubble bath, moisturizers and body spray for the gift cupboard. I also got an 18th birthday sign and some glow paddle balls. This all came to $12.30. Love those clearance markdowns!

-Bottled and added brine and olive oil to the foraged olives. Now to wait 6 weeks to see if they taste any good!

Our meals this week were-

Cheesy corn crepes with salad
Mashed potatoes and vegetables with onion gravy
Satay vegetables with rice
Lentil soup and rolls
Zucchini slice and salad
Lentil pasta (leftover lentil soup with a tin of tomatoes tossed through pasta)
Chicken chow mein

 I am currently using up some meat in my freezer and we are eating it once a week, after this is used up I won't be buying any more unless it is a special occasion.

Did you get any bargains this week?

Mr 10 helping make dough.

Cinnamon scrolls.

Decorated bubble bath and soap packs.

Some of my fortnightly groceries.

Lentil and tomato pasta.

Clearance bargains.

Preserved olives.