Home Made Paste Cleaner

Hello Dear Reader,

I have used Gumption for what seems like forever, so did my Mum. It has always been there, amongst the cleaning products, quietly waiting for me to reach for it, when I need a little muscle in the cleaning department, there is nothing much it can't clean. I mostly use it on the bench tops, the glass stove top and inside the oven door and microwave.

That was until yesterday, when I found I had only a smear of it left and I needed to finish cleaning the oven and microwave. Instead of heading out to buy some, I googled a recipe for homemade paste cleaner. There were quite a few different ones and I sort of combined a few and came up with this one.

It is made of everyday ingredients, that most of us living this quieter, more simple life will already have at home, washing soda, bicarb soda, dishwashing liquid, essential oil of choice and some water to make it into a paste. Simple and very effective.

You could, quite easily, not add the essential oils, making it even cheaper to make at home.

Ingredients for Home Made Paste Cleaner, from left-
1 cup of washing soda, 1 cup of Bicarbonate of Soda, 30 drops of your choice of essential oil (I used lemon and orange) 3 or 4 good squirts of dish washing liquid

Sift the washing soda and bicarb soda into a ceramic bowl

Now add the few squirts of dishwashing liquid and give it a good mix

It will start to look a bit damp

Now start adding some water, a little at a time until it reaches a paste consistency

Add the essential oil and mix through

Scrape into a container and seal

You simple wet a cleaning cloth, rub it over the paste and clean as usual, rinsing when finished. I did a price comparison and this is how it worked out:


1 cup of bicarb soda    =275grams at Aldi      = 98c
1 cup of washing soda=300 grams at Coles    = $1.20
Dish Washing liquid=Earths Choice at Coles  = 9c (approx)
30 drops essential oil=I use dOTERRA           = $1.35 (approx)

TOTAL=$3.62 with essential oils or $2.27 without


$5.39 average price

Have you made this paste cleaner, what do you think of it?

Have a lovely day

One Year Ago-My Annual Flybuys Shop

Sunny Side Up Sunday

Hello Dear Reader,

Today I am grateful for the beauty and colour of the evening sky this week, I wouldn't see it at all, if we didn't walk our little dogs, late in the afternoon. This was the sunset sky, late Monday afternoon, aren't those colours amazing? Sunrises and sunsets happen every day, you just need to turn up.

What are you thankful for today?


What we bought, spent and ate this week

Hello Dear Reader,

This week was an expensive week, grocery shopping wise, it was due to the combination of buying some convenience items like BBQ chicken and grated cheese, some naughty items like chips, savoury biscuits and chocolate (on special) and a very expensive battery for our smoke alarm. I almost fell over backwards when I saw the cost of this little battery-$16.00, yes, absolutely necessary but very expensive. I know buying quality will outlast a dozen cheaper ones, so in the end we would be saving money.
What we Bought
Shopping from Northside Discount Fruit Barn

Meat from Marjax Meats

Shopping from Coles

What we Spent
Northside Discount Fruit Barn-$61.19
Marjax Meats-$19.50

TOTAL-$205.56, wow that's a big week!

What we Ate
Friday-Chicken, Avocado and Mango Nachos, this is a dish that my darling daughter used to make for us when she first started working. I don't know if she just made up the recipe or she was told about it, either way it's a fab Friday night dinner. Its just a bought BBQ chicken mixed with a jar of salsa, avocado and mango chunks, then layered with cheese and corn chips and baked in the oven, so yummy and it feels like a naughty treat.

Saturday-We enjoyed a cheese platter with the cheeses we bought from Gallo Dairyland on the Atherton Tablelands, these cheeses are just divine, so creamy and delicious 

Tuesday-Quick and Easy Asian Beef with Egg Noodles and Bok Choy, recipe coming soon

Wednesday-Tempura Whiting with steamed basmati rice and Pak Choy

Thursday-Red Lentil, Pumpkin and Cashew Curry with steamed basmati rice, yoghurt, chutney and papadums, again, recipe coming soon. This is such a gorgeous curry, all flavour with no heat.

So, that was the week that was on my families table, what has been on your family table this week? Do you find some weeks more expensive than others, grocery wise?

Have a lovely day


This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

And just like that, it's Friday, again, and another glorious weekend is stretching out before me. I have an ADO on Monday, so yeah for a long weekend! I intend to finish some on line Christmas shopping, do some Christmas baking and make the menu and shopping list for Christmas Day. I just love having that extra day off, it make all the difference.

Amongst this spend-y time of year I still aim for being frugal and sensible, nothing crazy going on here. I am not a shopper, I just don't enjoy the experience. Last Saturday afternoon I braved the shopping centre at Northlakes to purchase a few items and a couple of gift cards. I parked a few streets away from the actual shopping centre, and walked over, as I get stressed just trying to find a car park, so that eliminated that stress. I made a detailed list before I went and looked up the shops I needed to go to, so there was no aimless walking around the big, noisy and crowded shopping centre, I just went to exactly where I needed to go and was in and out within two hours.

Then on Sunday I wrapped the gifts and they are now under the tree, awaiting Christmas Day. I am not always this organised and it feels so good to have it under control this year.

Some frugal things I have been up to this week are-

1. Used the heart and darker top leaves of a celery in this recipe, I love using every bit of the fruit and veg we buy, it is just too expensive to waste. This is a wonderful way to use up the heart and darker, more fibrous, tops of the celery.

2. Harvested the seeds from a few Mustard Green plants that I had let go to seed. I will never have buy seeds for this veg again.

3. Redeemed $10 cash off a shop from Flybuys and purchased some Christmas baking items with it.

4. Line dried all the washing, as you can see, I hang out a lot of clothes on coat hangers, this is to avoid ironing, I didn't inherit the ironing gene. 

5. Used the one light rule in the house at night, it is pointless lighting a room unless you are in it.
You know, when I was very young and stayed with my Nan and Papa in Gympie, they only ever had one lamp on at night, that was in the lounge room, where they watched TV at night. They would eat their dinner early and be sitting in the lounge to watch the 6pm news at night.  Now days when you drive past homes at night they are all lit up, they seem to have every light on in the house.

I would love to know your frugal things you achieved this week?

Have a lovely day.

One Year Ago-Pork in Ale

My Annual Flybuys Shop 2017

Hello Dear Reader,

This is the second post I have done on this topic, as I only do a Flybuys shop once a year,  you can read about the first one I posted here.We must have reduced our shopping at Coles and other places where you can swipe your Flybuys card, quite a bit in this past year because I only had enough points for 1 x $10 cash redeemable on a shop this year. I was close to getting 2 x $10, but not quite close enough. Never mind, $10 for free is better than nothing!

I try and spend the money back on Christmas baking goods and something practical like large bags of rice and bread flour to use over the coming year, alas this year I didn't have enough to do both, so the money went on some items for my upcoming Christmas baking.

This is what I bought-

$28.70 worth of Christmas baking items plus some foil trays for roasting the pork on Christmas day

And this is what I got for free-

$10 was better than nothing

How have you faired in your Flybuys points, redeemable for money off, shopping, this year?

Have a lovely day.

One Year Ago-What we bought, spent and ate this week


Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Hello Dear Reader,

A few weeks ago I discovered a fantastic range of jarred Australian Tuna, caught and preserved in Cairns. The story was on Landline, I have linked it here, if you would like to watch it. I have to tell you it is the loveliest "canned" tuna I have ever tasted, beautiful texture and flavour and knowing it is caught and packed locally sealed the deal for me.

This salad is just superb, with lots of different flavours, textures and crunch, it is really easy to put together, just a bit of slicing and dicing and dinner is done. It will be just perfect for our sweltering hot summer ahead, when I want a delicious, healthy and filling dinner, without cooking a thing.

Just a word about the type of tuna you use, if using one packed in olive oil, add the oil along with the tuna to the top of the salad and dress with red wine vinegar on individual plates, if using one packed in spring water or a flavoured one like lemon pepper (like I did) drain the tuna before adding to the top of the salad and make a dressing of 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to swirl over individual plates. I don't like to dress the entire salad with vinegar as if there is any left over it wilts the veggies.

Ingredients for Mediterranean Tuna Salad, clockwise from centre top-
1 Cos lettuce, washed, spun out and torn into smallish pieces, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar plus 2 tablespoon of olive oil if using tuna packed in spring water , 2 x 200 gram jars/tins of your preference of tuna, 1 red capsicum, roughly diced, 2/3 cup of Kalamata olives, 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced into half moons, a good handful each of parsley and basil, finely chopped, 1/2 a red onion, sliced into half moons, 2/3 cup of feta and 200 grams of small tomatoes, halved. 

Start with a layer of lettuce then scatter all other ingredients, in layers, evenly over the lettuce finishing with the tuna and herbs

Serve up and dress the salad on individual plates.

What is your families fav summer time salad?

Have a wonderful Wednesday.


How I Harvest Mustard Green Seeds

Hello Dear Reader,

In my little video "Whats Growing in my Garden in October"I mentioned how I leave the seed pods on the Mustard Green to go completely dry until I harvest the seeds, and last Sunday I set about removing the dried plant from the veggie pod. Harvesting the seeds is a very easy process simply using a tablecloth and my hands.

Firstly remove the dried plant from the soil and shake off any excess soil from around the roots, Mustard Green is a very shallow rooted veggie so this part is easy.

Then break off the long spindly branches with the seed pods attached and lay them in a large tablecloth

Fold over edges of tablecloth until you have a little parcel and start scrunching with your hands, open up edges of tablecloth parcel and remove the now broken pieces of branches. The seeds are so fine they will automatically fall to the bottom of the pile

You will be left with just the seeds and their papery seed pods

Gently shake the edges of the tablecloth into the middle, so that you end up with a neat little pile of seeds and papery seed pods, again the seeds will fall through onto the tablecloth and start removing the papery seed pods

Store the seeds until the time is right to plant out, which according to Gardenate is year round for our Sub Tropical zone.

I love mustard green, simply stir fried in some oil until wilted, with a splash of oyster sauce at the end, it is certainly my favourite Asian veg because is easy to grow and even easier to harvest the seeds from. Once you have grown these and let a few go to seed, you will have an abundant supply of seeds to continue the growing cycle.

Oh and the bees just love the flowers. 
Have a lovely day.

One Year Ago-Fresh Apple Salsa

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Hello Dear Reader,

I thought I better post this recipe before the heat of our summer really starts, so far we have had a tolerable amount of heat and humidity but it won't be long until it will be way too hot to even contemplate making any kind of pie! This is a super simple and very tasty chicken pot pie, really just a delicious stew with a pastry top. I use the Coles brand of ready rolled puff pastry for the lid of the pie, I have found it to be the best, you get a good rise and lots of flaky layers.

The filling is easy, uses everyday ingredients, is so delicious and light thanks to the combination of milk and stock for the base of the sauce, not too rich and just creamy enough. It is very child friendly and suitable for the whole family.

This makes quite a substantial pot pie, I always think you are better to have a little too much than not enough, this easily fed the 3 of us for dinner with enough for 4 single serves for lunches over the following days.

Ingredients for Easy Chicken Pot Pie, clockwise from top left-
4 rashers bacon, sliced into batons, 1 kg of chicken breast fillets, cut into chunky 2 cm pieces, salt and pepper to taste, 1 cup of stock, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, up to one cup of milk, 1 leek, washed and  sliced, 2 cloves garlic grated on a microplane, a good handful of parsley, roughly chopped, 1/3 cup of plain flour, 2 medium carrots, diced and 1 medium zucchini, diced

Melt 40 grams of butter with a splash of oil in a non stick frypan, sauté the leek and garlic for a few minutes

Move leek and garlic mixture to one side of the frypan and sauté the chicken until it changes colour

Add the bacon batons and give everything a really good mix, continue to sauté for another few minutes

Add the diced veggies and dried thyme, giving it another good stir

After 5 minutes add the chopped fresh parsley and stir through

Now add the plain flour, sprinkling it over fairly evenly

And again give everything a really good stir to combine, let flour cook out for a few minutes, the stew will begin to thicken

Add it the chicken stock and enough milk so everything is covered in the lovely sauce, I used 3/4 cup of milk in the end, let bubble and thicken for a minute or two

Pour and scape into a casserole dish, mine measures 22 cm square x 5 cm deep (measured from outside edge) Let cool for a little while just so the heat goes off the surface

Brush edges of dish with a little egg wash and lay the still very cold, ready rolled pastry sheet on top of dish, trimming to fit. Poke a little hole in the middle of the pastry to let steam escape and then brush with egg wash. I didn't have time to decorate the top more, but pinking the edges with a fork and making leaves with any excess pastry would look really cute.

* See hints at end of post for working with puff pastry sheets

Bake at 200 C for 30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown and well risen

The filling will be piping hot and the pastry, flaky and crisp, mmm it's a winning combo.

You could make little individual pot pies, using little ramekins, cutting rounds of pastry for the lids, like I did for this recipe. Serve with some extra green veg and you have a complete meal that all the family will love.

*To get a good rise with lots of flaky layers you must work quickly with the sheet of puff pastry, take it out of the freezer just before you need it, lay it over the dish while still quite frozen, it will defrost really quickly with the heat from the chicken filling, trim to fit, poke a little hole to let the steam escape and then brush over egg wash, do not delay getting it in the oven. 

Have a lovely day.

One Year Ago-Brining Pork Chops
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