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My Best Tips for a Frugal and Simple Life

Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

I have written about my top 5 tips for living a frugal and simple life before but I thought I would expand on that list a little, it has however, morphed into more like, tips for a good life. I don't think I live the idyllic life nor do I think I have all the answers, these thoughts and strategies just work for me at this stage in my life.

Everyone is different, we all require something unique to fill any voids in our lives, what will float my boat will not float another, simply said, we must find out what makes us happy and follow that road. It's your life after all.

So, here are my best frugal/simple/good life tips that seem to round out my life, I would love to know what makes your life, frugal and simple. Join in

-Make home life a priority-you can't do housework if you're not at home, nor can dinner be on the table early if you are still at the shops until late. If you work full time, sleep for 8 hours, commute for anything from 1 to 2 hours that leaves only 5 to 6 hours out of your day to be at home. Make those 6 hours work for you, have a plan for what you will do with those precious hours.

-Drink more water, water is essential to a healthy body, if you are thirsty and tired, water can be the answer. No other drink will do what water can do, no matter what it says on the label, oh and it's free.

-Get to bed early-We all need sleep, some more than others, I need at least 8 hours to function the next day. Routine is the key, try to get to bed at the same time every night. Make your bedroom a retreat, no TV or clutter, clean sheets and comfy pillows make all the difference to the quality of sleep you have. Oh and it's free.

-Make your bed everyday-Again it is a routine, it's a great habit to get into. In saying that, I don't actually make my whole bed up every day. During Summer, I smooth the bottom sheet, pull up the top sheet and quilt and then turn the covers back neatly to air the bed. I then put the pillows on the bed. It looks neat and the bed gets a good air all day.

-Menu plan-if there is one habit that will save you time and money, it is to start menu planning, take 15 to 30 minutes prior to going shopping and write an extensive list of firstly what you are going to cook every night, eat for breakfast and lunch and then what you need for those meals/recipes. It's not rocket science and it saves you having to think again for the whole week ahead, what's for dinner that night. Take an inventory of anything that need using up before it expires, love and respect the food you buy, don't waste a thing.

-Stay out of the shops-unless you actually need something, don't go to the shops, it's not a healthy form of recreation, you will always find something you "want" rather than "need".

-Write lists-need something done, write it down and tick it off when it's done, if it didn't get done today, transfer it to tomorrow or a day when you know you will have more time to get "it" done.

-Move your body everyday-walk, ride, run, dance around the house to your favourite music (I do it when no one is home), garden, clean your house, clean your car, walk the dogs, whatever it takes, just move your body every single day. The human body was built to move. You don't need to join a gym, all the activities listed above are free.

-Eat Breakfast-it kickstarts your day like nothing else can. It supplies fuel for your body and brain to work as efficiently as they can, it also stops you reaching for something you maybe shouldn't be having at morning tea.

-Pack a lunch and snacks everyday for when you are out or at work-you don't need a gourmet lunch every day, just something simple, packed from home. Don't forget your water and tea or coffee, it is usually better quality than the stuff supplied by a work place and it is much much cheaper than buying it every day.

-Trial home made cleaners-bicarb, vinegar, borax, washing soda and eucalyptus oil are all quite cheap to buy and are very effective cleaners for your home. There is a myriad of "recipes" on the web using these products to clean just about everything in and around your home.

Home Made Paste Cleaner

Miracle Spray-it is the very best all purpose cleaner I have ever used

Sparkling clean Silverware cleaned with Home Made Silver Cleaner

Home Made Glass Cleaner

-De clutter-have less=clean less=more time to do what makes you happy, simple

-Use less-most bought cleaners, household products and personal care products are very concentrated, use less than the recommended and see if the results are similar.

-Grow herbs-if you only grow one thing, grow some herbs, parsley, coriander, basil, mint, oregano and rocket all grow like weeds and once established will supply you with all you need for a lot of recipes

-Have less clothes and shoes in your wardrobe-do you have too many items of clothing that it takes you forever to decide what to wear, have less in your wardrobe to reduce this dilemma.

-Keep it simple, don't over complicate life, the simplest solution is usually the best in most situations.

-Have less stuff in your bag and wallet, de clutter this area of your life too, you will feel lighter just by doing this one thing and the important things you need will be easy to find.

-Simplify your beauty routine-It will save you money and time. Over the years I have used just about every brand of reasonably priced skin care on the market, I have looked after my skin and guess what? I still have wrinkles! For me, it was time to simplify. I now just use water and a washer to cleanse my face in the morning and a solid cleansing bar at night to remove my makeup. I spritz my face with rosewater (I buy rosewater concentrate from China Town and dilute it 1:9 with filtered water) and follow it with a moisturising bar, morning and night. I use a solid shampoo bar to wash my very short hair and coconut oil as both a conditioner and a styling product. I use a solid deodorant bar and any natural body moisturiser for the rest of my body. And last but not least I use a sunscreen when going out into the garden or onto the beach. I know some of these products may seem expensive but being a solid concentrated product they last and last. I have had the cleanser for well over a year now and the moisturiser lasts me about 6 months.

-Have a two light rule in your home at night, there is no need to have all the lights on at night, only illuminate the rooms where you are at the time.

-Have another rule of two minute showers, where we live water charges are eye waveringly expensive, it's highway robbery at its best, reduce the amount of water you use, not just because of the cost but because water is a finite resource.

-Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle and Rot-we are at peak stuff, now is the time to look at what we can do to help our precious Earth.

-Delay purchases, often when you want something, you want it NOW, if you wait a little, maybe do some more research you will find it for a better price or realise you didn't need it after all.

-Compost-I found a compost bin on Gumtree for $5 and it is working like a charm, all fruit and veggie scraps, cardboard and waste paper products, now go in the compost bin. I add to it, turn it and water it weekly and it is making magical compost

-Be kind to the environment-I now find I question every purchase and every bit of plastic that comes into our home, how can I do it better and what legacy will I leave? Once you start hearing your inner voice saying"there's got to be a better way," you will often make the effort to find one. I find being environmentally aware often leads to using and buying less.

-Hang the washing on the line-sunshine is free, and here in the Sunshine State, it happens nearly every single day and it's free.

-Make bread-give it a go, it's easier than you think, not only will you know exactly what is in the bread but it smells and tastes amazing.

-Buy clothes that don't need ironing-life is too short to spend it ironing in the heat.

-What do you think? What would you add or subtract, to/from this list, for the frugal and simple life you're living or want to live?

Have a lovely day, Dear Reader

One Year Ago-What we bought, spent and ate this week
Two Years Ago-What Does Your Day Look Like?

Just a Bit Different, Quinoa Tabbouleh

Tuesday, 30 January 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Who loves Tabbouleh? Yeh, not me really, I mean it's okay, the flavours of the parsley, mint, tomato and lemon are fabulous, I just never enjoyed the whole cracked wheat thing, maybe I just haven't tasted a good traditional one? I do however, love this great little Quinoa version. It has all the flavours of traditional Tabbouleh without the "bite" of bulgar.

Imagine it softer to the palate and every grain immersed in gorgeous zesty dressing. I top the textural change off with chopped feta, both for saltiness and another soft element, but that is entirely as an added bonus if you wish, it is still totally fine without it. Don't delay, make it today.

Ingredients for Quinoa Tabbouli, clockwise from top right-
1 cup of Quinoa, cooked in the usual manner, then let cool completely, 2 cups of chopped tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane, a good handful of mint, finely chopped, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 a red onion, finely chopped, 2 cups of roughly chopped parsley and 1/4 cup of olive oil + 220 grams of feta cheese of choice (I love Danish feta) finely chopped (not pictured)

In a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, chopped tomatoes, grated garlic, chopped mint, zest of lemon, finely chopped red onion, roughly chopped parsley and chopped feta if using. Give everything a really good toss

In a screw top jar with a tight fitting lid, pour in the olive oil and lemon juice, pop the lid on and shake, shake, shake

Pour about 3/4 of dressing over salad and gently toss to mix

Serve Quinoa Tabbouli with extra dressing on the side

It is the perfectly light but filling salad for this crazy-hot time of year, I would gladly have it for dinner just as is, or as we had it last night, pilled on top of delicious home made Falafels smothered in greek yoghurt and a squirt or two of sweet chilli sauce, all wrapped in a pita bread and lightly toasted. So delicious.

Have a lovely day,


The Very Best Prawn Burgers

Monday, 29 January 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

These prawn burgers are just sensational and a fantastic way to stretch 500 grams of peeled, green prawns to 10 burger patties. It is a bit of a labour of love, peeling and de-veining the prawns, I won't lie, they took me a good 45 minutes as Lovely Hubby wasn't at home (he usually does this job) but boy was it worth it. The next time I make these I will make sure Hubby is home!

There are only a few other ingredients for this recipe plus your bread rolls and toppings, I used mixed lettuce leaves and avocado plus a squeeze of mayo and lemon juice. Once the prawns are peeled the rest is easy peasy.

Ingredients for The Very Best Prawn Burgers, clockwise from top right-500 grams of green prawns, final weight after they have been peeled and deveined, 3/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 spring onions, finely chopped, a good handful of parsley and dill, finely chopped, zest of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste and a good squeeze of Sriracha

Combine the mayo, spring onions, herbs, lemon zest, salt and pepper and Sriracha in a bowl and give it a good stir

Pulse the green prawn in a food processor until finely minced, it took 5 seconds on speed 5 in the Thermomix

Now combine the finely minced green prawns, breadcrumbs and mayo mix

Until just combined, don't over mix. The mixture will be quite sticky 

Using wet hands, form mixture into 10 patties, about the same width as the bread rolls you are using, and place on a tray covered with baking paper, pop in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes or op to 1 hour if you have the time

In a large, heavy based, non stick fry pan, on medium heat, add a little oil (I use Rice Bran Oil)Working with 4 prawn patties at a time, gently add them to the hot oil and let them cook for about 6 minutes on the first side

Flip over and cook second side for about 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through

Drain on absorbent paper and make up patties on bread rolls with lettuce avocado, mayo and a squeeze of lemon

Holy cow, I mean prawn, these are so, so good, I know it's a bit of a fiddle, but it is so worth it.

What is a recipe you make, that is fiddly but so worth the effort?

Have a marvellous Monday

Two Years Ago-This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday (The very first edition)


Sunny Side Up Sunday

Sunday, 28 January 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Today I am thankful for my most cherished and prized helper in the kitchen, my Kitchen Aid, I have had it for about 10 years and I just love it. It was a given to me by my beautiful kids as the very best kind of Christmas present. It sits proudly on my Kitchen bench and is used constantly. This is it whipping up the above Pavlova we had for dessert last night.

Over to you, what are you thankful for today?

Have a lovely day.


What we bought, spent and ate this week

Saturday, 27 January 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

I asked last week if everyone was sick to the back teeth of this kind of post and the response was that, you are not sick of it, in fact, you all seem to love it and find it helpful when planning your own menu. So, I will continue on, no worries, I quite like doing it.

It always amazes me when looking back over the previous weeks grocery shopping just how much food we go through, most weeks we have our sons girlfriend for dinner about 3 to 4 nights a week and just the 3 of us the balance of the week. In saying what the boys eat really equates to 4 adults, I just don't know where they put it, so in summing up what we buy and eat should, in reality, feed 6 people easily, well thats what I think anyway! I may be way off!

We are continuing eating lighter meals with a lot of seafood and we also had one really beautiful vegetarian dinner of Gnocchi with garlic cream sauce, it was made by our sons girlfriend and was so delicious and so delightful to have a night off, so lucky.

Now on with what we bought, spent and ate this week-

What we bought
Shopping from Aldi and Coles
Shopping from the Northside Discount Fruit Barn and Marjax Meats
What we spent
Northside Discount Fruit Barn-$28.23
Marjax Meats-$59.95

TOTAL-$209.18-another week of being $50 over budget!

What we ate
Friday-Gnocchi with Garlic Cream Sauce and Cheesy Garlic Bread

Saturday-Prawn Stir Fry with steamed Basmati rice and Bok Choy

Monday-Pan Fried Grass Sweet Lip and Maori Cod with Spinach and Roast Pumpkin Salad, I love this salad so much, I made it again last night

Tuesday-Prawn Burgers, I will post this fabulous recipe soon, so delicious

Wednesday-BBQ steak with mustard cream sauce and Italian Lentil Salad

Thursday-Mince and Egg with Steamed Basmati rice and Bok Choy

Where do you find inspiration for your menu plans?

Have a wonderful day.

Two Years Ago-What we have eaten this year, so far -where this weekly post started


This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Friday, 26 January 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

And hello to a day off, thanks to Australia Day, no matter how you spend today, I hope you have a great day. I have also requested Monday as an ADO, so hello long, long weekend! Sweet! I intend to do some gardening, sewing and spend some time in the kitchen as well, I will be making a Pavlova for Australia Day and we are having a slow cooked shoulder of lamb for dinner (thanks for the idea Jen) with this salad, easy food that tastes great!

As far as frugal stuff goes, I haven't done anything amazing or newsworthy, just the same kinds of things I do week in week out to make the dollars stretch a bit further. One thing I haven't been doing lately is making my own laundry liquid. Over Christmas, when I was super busy I just bought Coles own brand of "Dynamo Like" laundry liquid and then just used less than the recommended amount. I used 1/2 a cap of laundry liquid (instead of a whole capful) and then rinsed the cap out a few time, effectively making it last 2 times longer. The results have been more than fine, I now have bought the Aldi brand of concentrated laundry liquid and am doing the same with it. It is cheaper than the Coles brand by a long shot also, so it is even more economical. I read this tip over at "My Abundant Life" and I find it works a treat. Most commercial cleaners are very concentrated so I find using less is still effective.

Now on with the not so amazing frugal stuff-

1. Made 500 grams of shelled prawns stretch to 10 burgers by making the best prawn burger patties, fabulous recipe coming soon.

2. Line dried all the washing

3. Packed my morning tea and lunch everyday for work

4. Made a beaut Date Loaf to take to work for a colleagues last day with us for a while, I had all the ingredients already at home, so there was no outlay of $$ just a bit of time in the kitchen

5. Used up any leftovers in a timely manner, I always put any leftovers front and centre in the fridge so as not too overlook them.

It's already hot and humid at this time of the morning, so I will try and get out into the garden as soon as I have had some brekky, which will be some scrambled eggs on avocado toast. After I come in from the garden I have a list of things to do around the home-washing, tidy the tupperware draw, make Pavlova, marinade the butterflied shoulder of lamb and make up our daughters bed with clean linen, our daughter and her partner and coming down tomorrow for a quick visit, which makes this long weekend even more special.

What is on your list for today?

Have a lovely day.

One Year Ago-A Before and an After
Two Years Ago-My Favourite Frying Pans and Cookware

Spinach and Roast Pumpkin Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

Thursday, 25 January 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Just a quick little post today about a fabulous summer time (or anytime) salad, it may be quick but it is a sensational salad. The combination of spinach leaves, roast pumpkin, toasted sunflower seed, avocado and a gorgeous, sweet, balsamic dressing is just the kind of salad we love. It is a hearty salad and has interesting texture, especially from the toasted sunflower seeds, I use these instead of very expensive pine nuts and I think they taste better!

I haven't posted a photographic, step by step with this one,  but it is a very simple, straight forward salad that you should have in your repertoire. It's easy, with just a few ingredients and the balance of sweet, tart and savoury is just right.


For the salad
100 grams of spinach leaves, picked over, washed and spun out
700 grams of pumpkin, cut into smallish pieces, roasted in a little oil, set aside to cool
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry frypan
1 avocado, chopped 

For the dressing
1/4 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil


Lay a bed of spinach on a platter, top with roasted pumpkin, toasted sunflower seeds and avocado
Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake, shake, shake.
Pour some of the dressing over the salad and gently toss
Serve left over dressing at the table for everyone to spoon over more if they wish (I would totally recommend it)

Simple. delicious, good for you!

Have a lovely day


Rescuing the Fig tree

Wednesday, 24 January 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

During my last little week off I tackled the huge job of trying to rescue one of my most cherished potted fig tree that has graced the front of our homes over the last 25 years. I bought them not long after I lost my Mum and they have been relatively healthy all those years. They started life off as topiary trees, you know the classic ball on a stick shape, I kept the shape for as long as I could and then I just let them go wild. Over the years they have been potted on 3 times, each time into a much bigger pot, looking back I really did the wrong thing, I should have just kept them small and in the topiary shape. Anyway you live and learn don't you.

Fast forward to last August, while we were away in Alaska (only two weeks) one of the figs decided to fall ill and when we got back it had lost a lot of its leaves and I noticed that the water wasn't draining away from it. I kept watering it in the hope that it would come back, but by October it was obvious something drastic had to be done. Well, it took my another few months to find the time and energy to try and save this tree and I finally tackling it in earlier this month.

It was obviously root bound, so my original plan was to try and save the pot that it was in, even though the pot itself had two large cracks running down the sides from where the fig had blown over a couple of times during storms. During this huge undertaking I soon realised that saving the pot was out of the question as the root ball was like concrete and took a lot of time and muscle to try to firstly extricate it from the pot and then to cut it in half. Holy moly, I am not meant for hard work, such a light weight!

Here's what I did-

Picked the hottest day on record to tackle this project (over exaggeration but it was just so hot)
Stayed out in the red hot sun until midday and ended up with a bottler of a headache
Didn't really have a clue what I was doing but went ahead and did '"it" anyway

Are you ready for a laugh?

The very sick skeleton of the fig tree, you can see one of the big cracks down the side of the pot

Firstly I cut away as much of the big canopy as I could

Leaving only the main branches intact

I then used a plant saw to cut down through some of the root system

Lovely hubby then took to the pot with a hammer and chisel and it just fell away from the root ball

It was as solid as concrete 

I then used another big saw to try and cut away the solid root ball, I was getting no where when hubby decided to do this-

Messy, noisy but it worked!

Now with over half the root ball cut off we took the rest of the tree out the front to pressure hose off the sour soil. It took me a half an hour to remove all the old soil

We then bought the tree and exposed root ball back into the courtyard to pot it up

I didn't want to buy another pot just incase this little exercise failed, so I used a plastic tub I had lying around, hubby drilled some holes for drainage. I then half filled it with new quality potting mix, put the tree into position and back filled it with potting mix. I gave it a really good water, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best

How did it go?

So far there is new growth on all the branches  

Little tiny signs of life

Tiny, tiny leaves

And shoots

I will keep you up to date with the progress of this fig tree, I hope it was all worth it.

What would you have done? Try to save it or let it go?

Have a lovely day

Two Years Ago-My Favourite Tea