Showing posts with label frugality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frugality. Show all posts


Pasta Making

Further home made joy the other night from freshly made pasta. Someone told me many years ago that once you taste fresh pasta it is very difficult to go back to the dried stuff. I would have to agree.

Our pasta is just made with flour, egg and salt.

The photo below is pretty bad and doesn't do justice for the outcome, but the whole family got involved in producing this dinner and it was lovely !

The Joy of Soapmaking

Here is the result of my first soap making efforts. I am very pleased with the outcome, although some of them are a little bit crumbly. Although I left them 24 hours before turning them out of the moulds, I feel they could have been left longer.

My recipe uses copha, olive oil, rice bran oil and lye. I added a pure lemon myrtle oil as fragrance and for it's medicinal properties. I stamped them with a fancy M because it's the only stamp I had.
The soap takes 4-6 weeks to 'cure' and I can't wait for them to be done. Just washing the containers, the soap feels very creamy and moisture rich.

I loved making the soap because of the joy factor. There is joy in knowing that I can produce something like this from scratch and there is joy in knowing exactly what is in it. There are no petrochemicals here!

It struck me when I was making this soap that it is not as much 'work' as I thought. Being more self reliant does take time, but it's time here and there. About half an hour to make the soap and I won't have to do it again for some time. I will work out how long the cakes last and time it so that I will always have lots on hand.

How exciting having another thing under my belt in this quest for self reliance. Bring on the cured soap so that I can grate it to make washing powder !!!!!


Making Money - The Entrepenuer in Me.

There is always a lot of talk about saving money. However, even after you have squeezed every last cent out of the budget there are things that have to be paid for - rates, electricity, petrol (!!)

As most of my readers know, I work completely in cash. Each week I withdraw the exact amount I need in the correct denominations. I put it away into categories for times when I need it. Whether the kids need new clothes or we are going on holidays or hiring a DVD - we always have the money there for it. If we don't have the money we don't do it! It is truly wonderful to know that it is only April and your 'Christmas' bag has lots of $20 notes in it already. It brings peace.

My question today, however, is what do you do currently or have you done in the past to bring money into your home. I don't mean your day job if you have one, I mean those extra entrepreneurial things that we often think up. I will start......

1. Tutoring kids
2. Teaching piano
3. Restoring photographs
4. babysitting
5. Teaching Scrapbooking
6. Writing people's life stories.
7. Selling on Ebay
8. Garage sales
9. Selling at 2nd hand stores
10. Markets

I love how in days gone by people made their own money. Lots of people worked for themselves. Small towns and villages had the local butcher baker and candlestick maker. Today we tend to think that we either have a job or we don't. Or that if we're only making a few dollars then it's not 'worth it'.

When you generate your own money - even if it's only $20, you have the satisfaction of knowing that therein lies a few cartons of milk, some fruit and veg and eggs!

So...... the question is over to you: How have you generated income yourself, or what would you love to do if you knew you couldn't fail or you had all the time you needed ?
Post your reply in the comments section or send me an email and I will put together a list for everyone to enjoy. If you would like to tag some friends to participate simply paste the link to this post into their comments section and ask them to post here.

To get started I am tagging:


Restoring The Vision Splendid

I have been doing a lot of reading lately on a number of topics - green living, frugality, additive free eating etc. I have said this before...... whichever way you turn it comes back to the same thing for me..... live like it's 1940.

Here's what I mean. If you decide that you are going to approach things from a green living perspective then you might group your trips to town to save petrol, shorten your showers to save water and money, save electricity, grow your own food, buy non processed foods, buy foods with limited packaging, buy second hand, not use disposables etc

If you are approaching life from a frugal perspective you will cook from scratch, work on a 'cash only' budget, make things instead of buying them, not spend money on non-essentials, barter or share with friends etc

Whenever I read these ideas for living I think that it all comes back to how people lived in 1930 or 1940. It seems that they had things pretty well worked out!

My Grandmother built a house in 1936 which was made with solid concrete using sand from the creek. There were two water tanks at the back of house, for rainwater or water from the well on creek bank when there was no rain. There was a well which was spring fed and crystal clear. My mum tells me it tasted better than bottled water. There was a big tank that was put up in the 1950s. It was for watering the garden and was filled from the well

All vegies were home grown as were the fruit trees and grape vines. All excess fruit and veg were preserved and made into jam and pickles.

A sheep was killed about once a week or maybe a fortnight for meat. Beef was shared with the neighbours. They also had ham and bacon which was salted and smoked in a square tank with sawdust. There was also chooks for meat and eggs

In so far as rubbish is concerned, nothing left the property. All scraps went to pigs and dogs. All packaging that was re used. My mum tells me that there was also newspaper in the dunnie!!!!

So... in today's terms you would call it ' self sufficiency', 'green living' 'frugality' 'the Good life' etc. I call it 1940s.
I think we can all learn something from this way of life.


The Family That Cooks Together..........

We have just had a wonderful weekend of eating and cooking. I had to go to the Hunter Valley for a work conference on Friday and Saturday and managed to pick up some favourites reds and some lovely cheeses. On Saturday night we had a bbq at a friends house and enjoyed said wines and cheeses.

On Sunday we went water skiing before I had everyone over for a Chef's Toolbox party. If you haven't seen this before, you MUST have a look. I went to a party a couple of weeks ago, somewhat reluctantly, with my Mum. I was so surprised ! It was brilliant, nothing like what I expected from a party plan. Chef's Toolbox is an Australian company that sells cooking equipment and bakeware.

Catherine, the demonstrator, did a 10 minute talk then all the participants used the demo stuff to prepare a meal. We made a Thai chicken curry and caramel chocolate tarts. One person chopped chicken, another stirred the coconut milk etc. When it was all done we looked through the catalogues, made our orders and then sat and enjoyed the food with a glass of wine ! It was great so I quickly booked a party.

Yesterday we did the same recipes that I did at the first demonstration. I got loads of freebies for being the hostess ! The products are exceptional quality. The cookware is expensive as a one of purchase, but excellent value ( the saucepan I want is $149). They have a lifetime guarantee so I am prepared to save to get them. The bakeware is very reasonable with most pieces being about $39-$49. It suits the needs of all budgets.

I told Catherine that if I had the time, I would become a consultant. It is so aligned with my passion of empowering women and cooking from scratch. I also know that party plans go VERY well in regional areas because we just cannot access the quality products. There are no department stores to duck in to.

After the party No 1 Son made pizza dough in the breadmaker and cooked a great pizza for himself. Not bad for an almost 10 year old ! Today I made a big batch of choc chip cookies and put a big amount of dough in the freezer ready for busy times. Hubbie made rock cakes tonight because he has to go away tomorrow and these seem to have become his signature dish !

The Chef's Toolbox scales allow you to use one bowl for weighing all ingredients. They allow you to press a button and 'zero' the scales each time you add something. This means you only wash up one bowl ! For example, you put the bowl on the scale and then zero it and add 300g flour and then zero it again and add 90g butter and zero it etc etc

So, here is the rock cake recipe:

300g self raising flour

90g butter

1.2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger ( heaped if you want a stronger taste)

2 tablespoons of sultanas

1 egg

3 tablespoons of milk


Sift flour and rub in butter with fingertips - keep rubbing until the mixture resemables breadcrumbs. (Hubbie says the secret is 'cool hands' - this cracks me up !)

Add sugar and ginger and stir through. Add fruit. Beat egg and add milk. Make into a stiff dough. Place spoonfuls or small handfuls onto a buttered tray and bake at 220C for 10-15 minutes. Turn onto a rack and cool.

Hubbie also makes pretty mean scones - I mean real ones with buttermilk ! The world, in my experience, is grouped into two classes of people - those that can make great scones and those that can't. Last time he made scones he had to ride his motorbike to town because he didn't have any buttermilk. When he got home I saw him laying on the bed reading a water ski magazine. When I said 'aren't you making scones' he told me that he was waiting for his hands to cool down, because his secret ingredient is 'cool hands'. LOL - you gotta love the man- he takes his cooking very seriously !!

The chocolate chip cookies are really easy and the kids love to make them - yell out if you don't have a recipe and want to try mine.


Monday Monday ....

Today I am off to do the shopping. Not just any shopping, but my 'extreme shopping'. Frequent readers will know that I take my grocery shopping pretty seriously! LOL

The good thing about shopping today is that I won't have the children with me, so there's a dramatic saving straight away ! I will also go to ALDI which is about 40 minutes away. I go with a friend and we share the petrol cost. It's also a nice day out to go to a place that has shops that we don't normally see.

I am looking forward to getting my menu planning sorted out, my budget money up to date and re-stocking my stockpile. We let it run down over the summer because we were going to be away so much and I wasn't working, so we used up much of our stores.
I am almost finished updating the sections in my planner For those of you that asked about it, I will update you on the inside workings of it once I have completed it.


Savings or " Not Spendings"

We hear all the time about how much money we can save. We see it in shops - save $15, save 30% or we read about people cutting $25 a week off their groceries.

But are these really savings ? and if they are where does the money go ? I am quickly realising that most so called ' savings' should really be called ' not spending', in that unless you were actually intending to spend, for example, $100 on an item and you only had to spend $80 and invested the $20 - then that is a true 'saving'.

Lets look at it this way.

When doing our budgets we go through and 'reduce' our outgoings - $5 a month here, $2 a month there etc etc. - adding up to $400 saving a month and a whopping $5000 saving a year. But do we actually invest that saving and earn interest off it and add to it and make it grow ? Or is it simply money that we could have spent but didn't!

I am going to make sure that I 'scoop off' all the little 'savings' I find. For example, when I budget $150 for the weekly groceries but only spend $125 I will put some aside for weeks when I need to spend more to stock up and I will scoop off some and put in my 'never to be touched' savings account. I think in this category a 50/50 split with the leftovers will be good.

Are you frugal, do you work hard to save money .... do you channel that money into savings or into debt reduction ? Post your ideas here.


Frugal Strategies

Get it for Less- Find a cheaper source for things you already buy.

Make it last longer- Look after the things you do buy.

Use it less- Driver less, use your dryer less, use your air conditioner less...... you get the idea.

Use it up Shop from home first. Look at what you already have and make do. Make meals from leftovers, re-vamp some clothing, use things that you would through out for another purpose.

Wear it Out - Get the most from everything that you use before you throw it out.

Make it do Substitute things where you can or be prepared to settle for things that are less than perfect.

Do without - Stop and think! ... Do you really need it ? Can you do without ? Can you wait until the 'trend' of the item passes and you can pick it up cheaper ? Can you borrow or share with someone else ?

Make it yourself - What can you make yourself. Bread ? Clothing ? Restaurant style meals ?

Grow it yourself- Can you grow even a few small things ? Can you trade with someone who grows things that you can't ? Can you at least have a herb garden or grow sprouts on your windowsill ?

Trade it- Revive the forgotten art of bartering. Barter your goods or your time.

Put the word out- When you do need/ want something - tell others and then wait. You will be surprised what can come to you once you put the word out and are prepared to wait. Experiment with this idea.


$21 challenge

I am currently preparing to do the $21 challenge at Simple Savings ( see my link at the right hand side).

 The reason that I am preparing this is that I have to really think about how I will tackle it.

The idea is to be able to feed your family for a week for $21. You don't have to do this all the time, but doing it from time to time means that once a month or so you have a considerable chunk of your budget not spent.

You are allowed to use things from the pantry that you already have, so the $21 doesn't have to buy every little ingredient.

Is anyone keen to have a go or at least swap some recipe ideas ? There are two adults and two children aged 6 and 9 in my family.


Silly Silly Mistake

I have taken a week's holiday but instead of going away I have been at home catching up and relaxing.

We spent a couple of days picnicking at the river and swimming and skiing.

We had been teaching my nephew how to water ski when hubby suggested that I jump in and ski back to our base, which I did.

When I arrived back at the shore and went to dry myself off I suddenly realised that deep in my pocket ( I happened to be wearing hubby's board shorts) was my mobile phone.... and it was dead!

We pulled it apart to dry it, but......... it's dead.

It was a very old phone, did nothing special but it did the job.

So ..... now I am left with a dilemma. The SIM card works fine so I have been hunting around for an old phone. I went to the dealer and asked if I could buy an old phone that someone has traded but the woman said they go to charity. I would have paid for it and then she could give the money to charity !

So... herein lies the problem.

My options are:
- go without a mobile phone - could be problematic with work, emergencies etc ( although how did I manage prior to 1999 ?)
- buy a new one - don't want to change the deal I have because it gives me great broadband and can't justify hundreds of $$ for features that I won't even use.
- find a hand-me-down and insert my SIM card. Originally someone gave me an old phone but it was 'locked' to another provider.

My first instinct was to just buy a new phone and then I thought, NO. I will apply my frugal principles. I will STOP/THINK/DO. I will put the word out there into the universe and see what happens. Let's just hope the law of attraction works !!!

I will keep you posted.


Changing The World - one air pot at a time.

Do you remember these ? These are called " air pots". They were around in the 70's/ 80's. They are a giant thermos with a pump top that holds about 2 litres of boiling water or icy drinks.
My obsession began quite a few years ago, BC actually ( BC = before children). As we were sitting somewhere eating take away that starts with a big 13th letter of the alphabet I spied an older couple with their basket and their thermos having morning tea/lunch. It really struck me that what they were doing was not only healthy it was extremely frugal and they didn't have any rubbish. We, on the other hand had spent 20 bucks to clog our arteries and pollute the earth.
So, ever since, I have christened these folks " thermos people" to the point that when we drive places we point them out. "look honey, thermos people".
All the thermos people I ever saw were older folks. Even folks with huge 4 wheel drives and caravans bigger than my home who certainly didn't look like they needed to save money were using their thermos! So why aren't young couples and families applying the thermos principle ? We need it the most. We need to still pay off house educate our children etc. We can't afford to be pulling into takeaway shops !
So..... the tradition began. We became thermos people and encouraged others in our age group to become thermos people as well.
I remember travelling around western New South Wales and pulling into the park at Dubbo and making coffee for hubbie and I and snacks and drinks for the children, with home baked biscuits and cake and felt the greatest sense of joy - which I call " joy of joys". I even have the vintage table cloth ! Oh !!!!!

The air pot obsession was simply an extension of the thermos principle. When I saw my very first one I couldn't believe that they still existed. I remembered them from my childhood. I just had to have it. IT WAS THE ULTIMATE THERMOS !
Since then I have taken it everywhere and showed it off so very proudly! Then a N Friend's husband found one in amongst second hand items that was brand new in a box with original paperwork ! - We were soooooo excited and couldn't believe our luck. I ended up finding another one for K Friend last week for her birthday. The funniest thing was that her other friend had also got her one so now she has two - one hot and one cold !
They are sooooooo brilliant. We waterski and picnic most weekends so we always have byo coffee and food. The savings are extraordinary ! Do the maths. Even if we only bought one coffee each Sunday theres a $300 saving.
We laughed so hard today because down on our river a vintage car club turned up for their morning tea stop. They all got out of their old cars and got their thermos' out and that's when I spotted it - on a table further up the park - an air pot ! I had to hold myself back from going up to bond with them, and ask them if it is an original still in use and discuss the longevity.
I held back.... after all.... I didn't want them to think I had some sort of air pot obsession !!! LOL
Anyway, my challenge to you all is this. Firstly, if you did grow up with an air pot or if you were/ are 'thermos people' I want to hear ALL about it.
Secondly, if you are not currently thermos people, then make a start ! Next time you travel anywhere pack a picnic lunch and pocket the savings! Do the maths and work out what you can save.
Thirdly, as you drive around this great country of ours ( our yours) take note of the ' thermos people' and think about how they save their health, their hip pocket and the planet.
Fourthly, spread the word ! Help me in my individual quest to revive the air pot world wide !


Home Made Wraps

This is the first time I have tried to make a tortilla or wrap as we call them. It was surprisingly easy! This wrap is for number 2 son's after school snack. It has home grown lettuce and tomato that I bought at the local Farmer's Market on Saturday, so it definitely fits within the 100 mile radius. You

may recall the challenges that I am having with the 100 mile diet - scroll down to categories at the bottom of the page if you have missed the posts.

Tortilla Recipe
2 cups self raising flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm milk.

I just mixed it all together and let it all sit for a while.

 Then I broke it up into balls and rolled them out really thinly on a floured bench.

I them 'scooped' them up with an egg lifter and put them in the frying pan. I only used a tiny spray of cooking oil and had the pan as hot as it would go

. It only took a about 20 seconds to cook each side. Number two son said they taste better than the packet ( God love him ! ) and as he is only six I am sure if they weren't he would have soon let me know.

I used to buy the packet of ready made wraps.

We often have them in the summer time. I marinate some chicken breasts cut into strips in ginger, coriander and lemongrass with a little soy sauce and then cook the strips on the barbecue.

They are great for guests because you can lay out a smorgasbord of salad and everyone can make their own wraps. I have one friend from Sydney who loves them, but she is particularly sensitive to food chemicals and comes out in an itchy rash when we have them. I guess if you can stick a food product in a plastic bag and have it sit on the shelf for 3 or 4 months it must have something in it to preserve it.

I can't wait until she tries these wraps. I hope she loves them.


Stock Up

Today I went to ALDI ( about a 40 minute drive from home) and did my stock up with a friend of mine who is also looking at saving money through smart buying.

Sometimes it is good to pair up because you can go halves in larger quantities so that you get the bulk discount without the storage problems, or having the product go off before you use it all.

So far we have shared rice and peeled garlic cloves ( we got a big bag when we were at the Sydney markets together). Soon we plan on sharing potatoes and a large quantity of meat.

It's nice to have like minded friends. I had to laugh tonight because I got a text message from her which said " cat food a hit", meaning that her previously fussy cat had taken to the cheaper ALDI cat food. It's great having someone who enjoys extreme shopping as much as I do !


Extreme Shopping

You've heard of extreme sports, well I am into Extreme Shopping. Now don't misunderstand me, I don't spend hours clothes shopping and wandering the malls. In fact I hate that sort of shopping. I am into extreme shopping for things I have to buy - and let me tell you I LOVE it!

It started quite a few years ago when I was expecting number one son. I spent a lot of time obsessing over our budget working out how I could afford to not go back to work once the baby was born. I soon worked out that saving 20 cents here or there could really make a difference and I have been totally obsessed with the concept ever since.

Now I am sure many of you are thinking that you can't be bothered shopping around, or that the extra time involved is not worth it, but take a look at this little equation.

Lemonade: I usually buy two bottles for a week. It comes on sale and I can save $1.25. Multiply this by two and then by 52 weeks for the year and the saving is $130. Not much you reckon ? Do this across your grocery list and you 'make' enough savings to take your family to a resort for 10 days every Christmas. (well that's what I choose to do - you may choose something else like pay your credit card off or use it for birthdays etc )

So.... the question remains. Is it worth the time and hassle ? Only you can answer that question. The actual question is.... how much time are you willing to invest to have a holiday/ pay off credit card etc ? ... one hour..... three hours ......5 hours......

Here's how I do it.

Firstly I went to the supermarket I usually frequent. As I did my normal round I took a calculator and worked out the best buy by using the unit price method. I divide the price grams/ litres etc and multiply by a common unit to get the price into a usable quantity. Clear as Mud ? Let's do an example. In the supermarket you see two bags of sugar.

The first is 2kg for 2.49 and the second is 3kg for 3.79. Here are the steps

2.49 divide by 2 = 1.245 per kg
3.79 divide by 3 = 1.263 per kg

so the 2kg is the better buy. Don't be fooled though, the answer is not always the biggest quantity and this example doesn't really show a clear saving.

Here's another: Toothpaste 110g for 1.29 or 175g for 1.89

1.29 divide by 110 X 1000 = 11.72 per kg
1.89 divide by 175g x 1000 = 10.80 per kg

I convert the smaller numbers to kilos or litres to make it easier.

It tool me about an extra 40 minutes to do the shopping that day and I recorded the prices in my price book. The next week I shopped at the other supermarket and did the same. Then when I came home I compared it with a docket I had from a trip to ALDI.

I then made a master list of what to buy from which shop. All up I think it would have taken me about 3 hours to do the whole thing over a number of days. Now when it comes to shopping day I don't run around to every shop and waste my time. Because I used the stockpiling principle, that is I buy enough of something when it is on sale to not buy it again until it comes on sale again , that I simply buy what I need depending on which shop I go to.

The extreme shopping starts (oh I crack myself up - this is so sad ! ) when I see catalogues and can do a quick calculation as to whether or not the shampoo is a good buy and how much I will save.

Every time I laugh at myself and think I have REALLY become obsessive compulsive about my grocery shopping I just think of that holiday.

We have been going there for 9 years now. Who'd a thought it ! Most people can't be bothered. But I'm sure if you stood on the street corner and handed out $2000 they'd jump at the opportunity.

Well, people, your opportunity is already under your nose. You just have to ask yourself whether you are willing to invest the time. After all, in this world we either spend money or we spend time.

Are you an extreme shopper ? I'd love to hear your story !


It May Not Look Like Much........

Finished !

This is my dishcloth wish I have to put in the post by Friday. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, refer to Down to Earth on the link bar at right. Rhonda had such an interest in her use of home made cotton dishcloths rather than disposable wipes that she put up a swap for anyone that was interested. The idea is that you pair up and make a dishcloth then swap it. Sounds great in theory and I signed up without too much thought. After she posted the due date it suddenly occurred to me that I can't knit !!! Well, actually, I can knit but only whilst chanting " in around through off". I let Rhonda know that I was a little worried but she assured me

that if we wanted something that was perfect we would go and buy it from a store. Tonight I wanted to finish but didn't know how to so I had to Google " knitting- casting off". All I can say is 'Thank you Google, where would I be without you. ' Google sat me down on his lap and gave me a photograph tutorial of how to cast off and DAH DAH ( said with expression) FINISHED ! ( after many hours of chanting) The most hilarious thing is that my swap buddy is Chris from the US who has a website called " crafty angels". This woman is obviously VERY talented and will probably laugh at my effort, but to me, it is beautiful and is the first knitting project I have ever finished.


The 6P Principle

6Ps = Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

I have written before about my Grandmother's ' one up' principle, that is, you have a spare of everything in the cupboard and as you finish one off you get another one to replace the spare so that you never run out of anything. 

This week I have made a list to fully prepare my stores cupboard.

I have worked out my usage, for example, I know that at all times I want a container ( 3kg) full of flour as well as 4 1kg bags in the cupboard.
This will take me some time to finish because I will only stock up when the products are on sale. The overall aim is to never pay full price for anything again.
If you watch the sales you will see, for example, that Vegemite may come on sale every 6 weeks and you may know that you go through 3 jars in that time, so I would buy 3 when they are on special.

If you let your items run out or run low, you will have to buy them when you need them rather than when they are on sale.

If you use the store cupboard idea of stockpiling, you will eventually get to the position where you only buy sale items each week.

This will cut your grocery bill dramatically. If anything unforeseen happens you always have your insurance policy.
 We all think that a ' disaster' will not happen to us, but sometimes it is the simplest thing that can cause problems, like blackouts from storms or floods.

 If there is no power, the doors of Coles can't open ! I wonder how many people were caught by the flooding around Newcastle - not caught by flood waters but caught by the shut down of services.

 The moral of the story always comes back to the 6P's.

The 6 P principles is the answer to how can you get ahead and work towards never paying full price for anything ?

A Frugal Subversive Award

Kez has nominated me for an award ! - Thank you very much, I am honoured. As she has stated on her blog it was started by Rhonda to recognise "bloggers who consistently turn their backs on consumerism to live frugally in a creative and authentic way. These bloggers have made me think in innovative ways about my own life and how I can make a difference making, reusing, and just saying "no" to mindless spending."
So, my nominations ( an apologies for any double ups ) are to:

Cindy's Porch (

Hillbilly housewife ( )

I particularly like Natalija's website because she is a mother to five children in Serbia who really makes the most of what some of us may call adversity. She documents her every day living which I find to be inspiring because of her skills - sewing, cooking etc. She has a very simple way of life.


1. When you are tagged, write a post with links to three blogs who have inspired you with their frugal creativity or innovation.
2. In your post, please link back to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme and save the award graphic.
3. Leave a comment or message for the bloggers you’re tagging, so they they know they're received the award.
4. Display the Frugal Subversive Award badge to identify your blog as part of the movement that is turning its back on consumerism at any cost.

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