Saturday, 30 July 2016

My Frugal Tasks- 31/7/16

Corn chowder and jalapeno sourdough for dinner.

This week has been an absolute roller coaster ride emotionally. Parenting teens can be really hard work! Mr 14 is currently grounded for lying, over a myriad of issues. Sleep has been minimal because he has been unhappy with his punishment and threatened to leave home.

Apparently, he thinks moving out of home is a good idea and had organised to couch surf at different friends houses. No amount of talking to him from hubby and I would change his mind and he had packed a bag on Friday morning. This absolutely broke my heart. My son and I were always so close and the fact he would do this felt like a slap in the face.

I ended up calling his school and spoke to the principal, who agreed he needs to just suck up his punishment and offered to talk to my son. This must have worked because he came home from school on Friday with apologies for his behaviour.

Some days I feel like we are dealing with a war and it will all be a miracle if we make it out of these teenage years without battle wounds.

Despite this, I kept myself busy around the house and got some things done:

-Used the carpet sweeper and broom on the floors instead of vacuuming.

-Made some garlic aioli. We had this with leftover mashed potato patties for dinner and use it in place of mayo.

-Baked bread and butter pudding with leftover hot cross buns from the freezer. Also a double batch of choc chip biscuits.

-Hubby told me we were out of shampoo so I improvised and went through my bathroom drawer full of samples. I poured all the shampoo samples into a jug, mixed well and topped up with a bit of water like it is mentioned by Mr Homemaker. I poured it back into the empty bottle and now have a "new" bottle of shampoo! I did the same with the conditioner samples and this led on to cleaning out the bathroom cupboards, drawers and even soaking and scrubbing the hairbrushes. I got a bit carried away! Then I checked my toiletries stockpile, which was where hubby had "looked" and I found 3 bottles!

-Gave Miss 17 a haircut.

-I started making my first quiet book pages. When finished, the book will be a gift. Hand sewing has really helped with my anxiety too. Its a win- win!

-Had a "camp out" in the lounge room with Mr 10. We watched movies, made pizza pockets for dinner and set up the inflatable mattresses and sleeping bags.

-Saved rain water for the vegie gardens.

-Picked more kale and silverbeet from the garden. We have so much this winter. Luckily we love kale and eat it with most meals.

-Printed out my $60 vouchers from doing surveys. These are for Chemist Warehouse and will be used to buy our medication and vitamins.

-Hubby picked up some free bread and crackers from the op shop.

Also the lovely Mimi at A Tray of Bliss posted a comment I wrote to her and what follows is  a wonderful post on making our days cosy, comfortable and creative. She also has some powerful advice on ways we can insource in our homes.

Hope you have had a great week. xx

Winter quiet book pages.

Homemade garlic aioli.

Using up some free samples.

Free bread and crackers.

Mashed potato patties, pumpkin and pan fried greens.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Fizzy Ginger Beer

Quick homemade ginger beer

I have made delicious ginger beer in the past by first making a plant. I use Rhonda's ginger beer from scratch recipe

 But the other day I had some lemon juice to use up and wanted to make ginger beer quickly.
 I wrote in last week's frugal tasks that I would share the recipe for a no plant ginger beer if it turned out well- and it did!

This recipe is from one of my favourite cook books from the 90's called Dollars and Cents- Eating Well For Less by Alison Holst. We use this book every week and it has lots of great and tasty recipes for cooking on a budget. I have altered the recipe slightly as the original used 1 tsp of lemon essence instead of the fresh juice. But use which one you have on hand.

Fizzy Ginger Beer

2 c white sugar
1 TBS ground ginger
1 tsp tartaric acid or substitute 1/4 tsp of citric acid
4 TBS lemon juice
6 c hot water
10 c cold water
1 tsp active yeast

Measure the sugar, ginger, acid and lemon into a large pot. Add the hot water and stir well to dissolve the sugar. You can also boil on a low heat if granules still remain.

When the sugar has dissolved add the cold water, 2 cups at a time, mix well after each inclusion.  Once you have added enough cold water so it has turned luke warm, ladel a portion out into a small bowl and add the yeast. Stir well until it dissolves then add this to the pot and mix the whole lot well.

Pour the ginger beer into clean plastic bottles- I use old soft drink bottles. Leave room at the top of each one for expansion. Leave to sit for 24-48 hours. Bottles should feel nice and firm. Refrigerate before drinking. Lasts about 2 weeks.


Sunday, 24 July 2016

My Frugal Tasks 24/7/16

Homemade honeycomb.

It's been quite cold here, now we are right in the middle of winter. I'm grateful we still have cold but sunny days, to be able to dry the washing on the line and get a bit of vitamin D! Here's what I've been up to over the last week:

-Made a fresh batch of kombucha and bottled some of the vinegar to use in cooking and cleaning.

-Went for a drive and picked a heap of dandelion flowers which are now infusing in olive oil ready for another batch of healing balm. Mr 10 had a play at a nearby park which was on the way.

-Made 2 jars of dandelion balm and some dandelion massage oil from an older batch of the dandelion oil. 

-Used up some lemon juice and made 3 bottles of ginger beer. This is a recipe from an old cook book that doesn't require a ginger beer plant. If it works out well, I'll share it here.

-Did some cleaning work for a friend. She also gifted me with some empty passata bottles and lovely little fancy bottles, also a big slab of beeswax and some cider from their recent holiday.

-Baked a vanilla and apricot cake and Mr 10 baked a chocolate pudding for dessert.

-Hung the washing outside to dry.

-Started making some little felt finger puppets for a gift.

-Got some free pizza bases and rolls from the op shop. We made pizza for dinner on one night which only cost a few cents.

-Also got a large bag of lemons and oranges from the op shop. I juiced the oranges for drinking.

-Picked more silverbeet and rocket from the garden to use in cooking and salads.

-Saved rainwater for our vegie garden.

-Made some honeycomb for a Saturday night treat.

-Spent only $70 on groceries for the fortnight and as usual cooked all meals from scratch.

-Have managed another week without using the heated blanket instead of the heater to keep warm.

-Bought a cotton baby wrap from the op shop for $1.50, I will sew some felt embellishments on it and it will be a gift for a friend who is expecting.

-Mr 10 and I volunteered at our local animal shelter, then hubby packed us lunch and afternoon tea and we had a bushwalk/picnic.

Kale and cauliflower lasagne for dinner.

Dandelion massage oil and balm.

Homemade ginger beer.

Playing at the park.

Homemade pizza with caramelized onion.

Dandelion flowers.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Custard Biscuit Recipe

Lots of biscuits!

This is a really yummy and frugal bulk biscuit recipe. For my US readers, biscuits here are like a cookie. This recipe makes over 50 biscuits and they last for a couple of weeks in a sealed tin or container. They are especially delicious enjoyed with a cup of tea!

125 g butter
125g sugar
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 and a 1/2 c SR flour
1/2 c custard powder

Soften the butter and add it to a large mixing bowl.

Mix together the butter and sugar until it is creamy.

Add the milk and vanilla.

Stir in the flour and custard powder and mix until it forms a soft dough.

Using a teaspoon, scoop up a teaspoon amount of the dough and roll it into a ball. 

Place the ball on a greased baking tray, allowing room for spreading. Continue with rolling the mixture into balls and adding them to the baking trays.

When the tray is full, press the dough balls down with a fork.

Bake in a 180 degree oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Mixing the flour into the butter mix.

The dough is almost ready.

It should form a ball easily.

Press the balls down with a fork.

Perfect biscuits with a cuppa.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

My Frugal Tasks- 17/7/16

Homemade cupcakes, brownies and a pot of tea

-Ordered some vanilla beans from Ebay. These normally cost around $2.50 each at shops, I got mine for $1 a pod from Vanilla and Co. I also bought the cheapest bottle of vodka I could find and some small bottles from Kmart and made 3 bottles of vanilla extract.

-Took Mr 10 to some free school holiday activities. Our entertainment budget minimal so anything free is a bonus! This week he went to an art class, recycling activity, Lego workshop, made an emoji pillow and went on a snow slide.

-While Mr 10 and I were in the city for the snow slide, we had lunch at a cheap vegetarian cafe, stopped into Kakulas Bros and bought some TVP and  white pepper for the pantry and also piece of turkish delight each. We also visited the art gallery and bought some donuts. Total cost for the day was under $20. If you're in Perth, Kakulas is the cheapest place I've found for buying spices, legumes, dried fruit, herbal teas etc.We also picked some herbs and calendula flowers from the city's Urban Orchard.

-Picked more kale and silverbeet from our garden. We've been enjoying this as a salad with most meals.

-My stepson came over for a birthday dinner at our house. We made TVP bolognaise, garlic bread and vanilla cake.

-Shopped around for our home insurance which is due this month and by changing companies I saved $200.

-Did lots of washing and hung it out to dry on sunny days. It is forecast to rain all of next week so it was important I get it all done.

-Started making a solar oven using cardboard boxes, foil, newspaper and perspex. All items we already had. We get quite a lot of sun up by our pool so hopefully when it's finished we can cook some yummy food in it for free!

-Used up some meals from the freezer. We had pasta bake and pumpkin soup. There was also a night where we all ate different leftovers for dinner.

-Received some icpoles, icecream and a few bags of frozen mixed berries from our neighbours.

-Used the heated blanket to keep warm in the evenings.

-Baked some cupcakes and brownies with Mr 10 and had fancy afternoon tea at home.

-While at the library with Mr 10 I checked the discard pile and got 6 Australian Country magazines for free. If bought new, these would be worth over $40 worth.

Hope you have had a great week! x

In a few months the vanilla extract will be ready.

Mr 10 on the free snow slide

With his newspaper seedling pot.

And practicing his icing skills

Homemade brownies

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The Gift Cupboard

Homemade foodie gifts in the gift cupboard.

Now that it is mid year, I thought it would be a perfect time to tidy up and reassess the gift cupboard. Because, quite frankly, it was looking really cluttered in there and I had forgotten about half the things I had made! I wanted to take stock and focus on what kind of gifts I need to concentrate on making for the rest of the year.

I've mentioned before that this year I've been participating in Annabel's Christmas Challenge which involves crafting gifts for Birthdays and Christmas during the year. This really helps with being organized, saves money, avoids overspending and gives me craft to do all year around.  Also I have gifts at the ready if something unexpected pops up or someone I know is having a bad day. I wrote more about why stockpiling and having a gift cupboard is important to me here.

My gift cupboard is really just 5 shelves in my bedroom built in wardrobe, as this the only place I have room to keep everything. You don't need a designated cupboard really, just a bit of spare space to store the gifts.

I decided to designate the shelves for particular gifts. On the first shelf I have edible gifts like raspberry jam, onion jam, dandelion jelly, sweet mustard pickles, tomato relish, chilli and garlic oil, hot chocolate mix and herbal tea mix. I've just ordered some vanilla beans on Ebay (much cheaper than the supermarkets!) and plan to make some vanilla extract for gifts as well.

The second shelf is all store bought beauty products. There is moisturizers, bath soaks, body sprays, bath bombs and some make up. These were all bought for 50c-$2 each on clearance sales.

Third shelf is my handmade items. There are bottles of mineral bath salts, soy candles, natural face scrub, dandelion salve, bubble bath and soap packs, lip balm and bath bombs.

The fourth shelf is random handmade items like tea cup soy candles, heat bags, soy wax melts and a basket which holds packaged felt Christmas ornaments.

The bottom shelf is for kids gifts. Some hand made and some again, bought on clearance. Lots of colouring books and sticker packs, bubble wands, felt food, dress ups, sock dolls, paper window stars, and tie dyed/bleach resist tees.

By tidying up my shelves, it has become apparent that I have plenty of gifts for women/girls! For men I will probably make rocky road, fudge, biscuits, that sort of thing but this will be made closer to Christmas. I have a few friends with toddlers and babies due, and need to make some family gifts so I've been looking at Pinterest for ideas and that will be what I will focus on making for the rest of the year.

Do you make any homemade gifts?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

My Frugal Tasks 10/7/16

Easy skirt I made.

It is the first week of the school holidays here. Because Mr 14 attends a community school, we tend to stick to the regular school term schedule even though we home educate. We've all been enjoying some time off, and sleep- ins! Except for Miss 17 who is working full time. This is what I've been up to this week:

-Took Mr 10 to a free kids yoga class at our local library.

-Cashed in some survey points for a $60 Chemist Warehouse voucher which will be used over the next few weeks to buy prescriptions and 6 free coffee vouchers for Coles Express. I also signed up for VoxPopMe and have started doing surveys for them also. You can read more about the survey companies I use here

-Baked a lemon cake using my  vegan vanilla cake recipe 
and added a few dollops of lemon butter before cooking. The result was a lovely, moist cake. I also made a chocolate vegan cake.

-Made a batch of golden paste for hubby to try. This is meant to be very good for inflammation and a cheap homemade alternative to turmeric tablets. You can read more about golden paste and get the recipe here.

-Hung the washing outside on days the sun was out. When it was raining, I put the washing on airers.

-Picked up some free rolls, oranges and mandarins from the op shop. I juiced up some of the oranges and also lemons.

-Made some lemon butter.

-Had a movie night with popcorn at home.

-Made myself a skirt with some material I bought on sale earlier this year. I am only a basic sewer but have made a few gathered skirts because they are just so easy!  Here are the instructions how to make a gathered skirt you could even add pockets if you like.

-Bought some smoke alarms for our house, I've been meaning to do this for years. We got 4 which cost us $40, but this is a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind.

-Did my first shop at our new Aldi. We didn't need much other than eggs and cheese, so I used the rest of the money to buy items for our stockpile. It came to $70,still under my $100 grocery budget, the rest of the money will go towards next fortnights groceries.

-Managed without using the heater for another week. Taking a hot shower, wearing extra layers of clothing and using quilts on the couch help keep warm. We have a split system for heating which costs a lot to run, so we only like use it when it gets really cold.

-I re wrote our budget because we have had an unexpected drop in income. It came as a shock and while I'd love to say I haven't been stressing out about it, that would be a lie. However, I am trying to be positive and remember we have managed through much worse financial situations than this before :)

-We've decided to hand wash the dishes rather than using the dishwasher, hopefully this will cut down on our power. Also we are trying to only have 2 lights on at any time and only the salt lamp on when watching TV in the evenings. 

-Here doctors surgeries only bulk bill patients under 16 during the week. This poses a problem if like my Miss 17 who needed a script, you need to start work early and don't finish until after the surgery opening hours. It would mean taking time off work to make an appointment. Until I remembered about the GP after hours service. This is a free service and thanks to this, she was able to have a doctor come out and give her the prescription.

-Picked some more kale and silverbeet from the garden and have been enjoying kale salad with most meals. We also gave some away to a friend. I also made my own salad dressing using  1/2 a cup of oil, 2 TBS kombucha vinegar, 2 TBS mustard, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar. I store this in a bottle in the fridge. Simple, cheap and yummy!

-Spent most days at home just tidying and pottering around.

Free kids yoga class.

Golden paste almost done.

Hubby made a yummy vegie roast for dinner.

Coffee voucher for doing an online survey.

We now have Aldi in WA!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

One Ingredient Challenge

Broccoli, potato and kale soup.

This week, I was determined to stretch out my grocery shopping and put it off for a few days. We still had a little bit of vegetables and fruit, but were almost out of eggs and cheese, which are a staple in our *almost* vegetarian household.

I decided I would try to do some batch cooking and make some meals for the next few nights by using what we had, despite the fridge looking pretty bare. Normally I am on top of using up ingredients but I had started to fall behind a bit. For each recipe I would choose one ingredient that was close to being thrown away or needed to be used up.

First up meal number 1 involved using a really sad looking broccoli I had forgotten about sitting in the crisper. It was in a plastic bag, so was still kind of fresh, although its colour was more a shade of yellow than green it was to good to compost so I set about making a soup.  I chopped up and onion and a 2 cloves of garlic, and fried them in a splash of oil. Then diced the entire broccoli- including stems and leaves and added this to the pot, then covered it with water. I realised at this point one broccoli was going to make a pretty meager soup, so chopped up 5 whole small potatoes and some salt. Again making sure the vegies were covered with water. Once they were cooked, I added about a quarter cup of milk powder, some pepper and a couple of handfuls of kale and silverbeet from the garden. Voila- broccoli, potato and kale soup. We ate this for dinner with hot buttered toast and it was delicious! I will definitely make this again.

Meal 2 was based around a soft zucchini. One of our quick and easy meals here is zucchini slice, however I changed my regular recipe to accommodate for less egg and cheese and more vegies. I used 3 beaten eggs, 1 c plain flour, the grated zucchini,  a splash of water, 1/2 a c of oil and mixed this well. Then added some chopped silverbeet- thank goodness for our winter garden! I pored this into a non stick slice tray and used the last of our cheese grated on top which was under 1/4 of a cup. I then baked it in the oven for 20 minutes, until the top was brown and served it with some frozen corn cobs and  par cooked pumpkin. This was a busy evening, and I was so grateful to be able to just put it all in the oven for reheating.

For meal number 3 was 3/4 of a Dolmio tuna pasta bake sauce jar. This was given to me by a friend and I had opened the jar and added a couple of tablespoons to another recipe, which was fine but we decided by itself it tasted strange. I don't buy any prepared sauce jars so think we are just to used to my homemade white sauce! But now wasn't the time to fussy so I found 2 quarter filled bags of different shaped pasta-spiral and penne and added these to a pot of boiling water. Then when cooked stirred in the jar of sauce, half a tin of tuna, along with some salt, pepper and more chopped kale. I topped it all with some breadcrumbs and baked in the oven. Most of us didn't mind it, Mr 10 ate it but was not impressed and would not eat any of the leftovers lol. I think you could make a similar meal just using a tomato based jar or tinned tomatoes if you had them in the pantry.

I really enjoyed my little self imposed challenge and am happy these ingredients didn't end up in the bin. Have you ever made a "fridge soup" or any other super frugal meals?

Zucchini slice with extra greens

Sunday, 3 July 2016

My Frugal Tasks 3/7/16

This week was an exciting one because an Aldi store opened up near us. We have shopped at Aldi in the past when we holidayed in Victoria, and found the prices and quality of products to be great and hoped they would soon open up stores in WA. Well finally some years later they have! There was a grand opening and we went and had a look around the store, with me jotting down prices on staple items for comparing.

There were loads of freebies too like a sausage sizzle lunch, Baskin Robbins ice cream, chocolate samples, 3 car wash tokens (we used these to vacuum the car) water bottles, and bags with goodies like face wash, fibre powder, lip gloss, lip and cheek tint, pens and Aldi trolley tokens which was awesome!

Here are some other ways I saved this week:

-It was our 18th wedding anniversary on Monday so I cooked a special meal of gourmet hamburgers and chips which was delicious! Hubby made some brownies and we ate this for dessert with ice cream. We much prefer eating at home rather than going out for dinner, I enjoy cooking plus hate the noise and crowds at a restaurant. I estimate that this meal including drinks and sweets cost around $12 to make for the 5 of us, with brownies left over. A similar meal like this would have cost us $135 if we went to a restaurant like Hogs Breath. 

-Mr 10 and I made our first batch of dandelion healing balm. Hubby has been using this for his neck pain and I had a sore wrist and used some for that too. Dandelions petals have natural anti inflammatory properties so this balm has helped us a lot this week and I am grateful to have learned a new skill.

-Picked some Hong Kong broccoli from our garden for a stir fry and also some kale and silverbeet to make a salad with.

- I've been using a heated blanket in the evenings to keep warm instead of using the heater. So far the heater has not been turned on.

-Another frugal trick I use in the winter to save on power is when I boil the kettle to make a hot drink, I pour the leftover water into a thermos. Then the next time we make a drink, we don't need to boil the kettle. With hubby and I home during the day, we drink a lot of tea so this save on power. I've been doing this for years after having an energy audit and learning that a boiling an electric kettle uses heaps of power.

-I came down with a cold over the past few days so have been drinking lots of honey and lemon tea with the free lemons I got a few weeks ago.

-On the days when the sun was out I did heaps of washing and hung it out on airers and coat hangers. I find in the winter if I keep up with the washing, even if it means a load a day and can hang it outside, it saves the laundry basket getting full otherwise then I have to dry it on the airers inside if the weather is bad and it just takes days to dry.

-Baked a banana cake, more brownies and some chocolate pudding. Mr 10 made some more hot chocolate mix.

-Defrosted some of the fish a friend gave me. We had a piece each for lunch with  potatoes and the rest I shredded, made a white sauce and pored over the top for another meal.

-There was a couple of portions of leftovers, that were only enough for 1 person so I put these into zip lock bags for the freezer. When there is a few, we can all choose a freezer meal and I get a night off cooking. 

-I made up a batch of miracle spray and cleaned my shower with it. It does work wonders! I only had my kombucha vinegar on hand so my spray is an amber colour. It does look odd but I keep telling myself so does the fake colouring they put in other household cleaning products!

-Got some bread and a pack of 6 jars from a friend. She knows I am always making preserves so this was a very appreciated gift.

-Tidied up my wardrobe and my gift shelves. I wanted to reassess what I have and what I need to make for the rest of the year. 

My burger with grilled onions, cheese, spinach and garlic aioli. Delicious!

Homemade brownies and icecream.

Freebies from the Aldi grand opening.

Hong Kong broccoli from our garden.