Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How Little Can You Spend?

I am setting myself a challenge and I would like you to join me.

For the month of August I am going to see how little I can spend on groceries.  For me this includes everything that I would normally buy at the butcher, green grocer and supermarket.  This means almost all of the shopping I do.  As we buy our dog food and chicken food in bulk I know that we have enough to get us through the month.

I thought that following on from plastic free July it would be a good time to do this challenge as it means that because I have avoiding single use plastic in July I was not adding to my stock pile.  This means that going into this challenge I am relying on what I have on hand.
This is also a good time to give the pantry a good spring clean by using up the odds and ends that are floating around and the ingredients that I purchased on a whim for a special project/meal.
I know that I am going to have to get creative and we may be eating some interesting meals over the month, but I already have a good system going for menu planning which you can read about here, which should make it easier.

I do not expect that I will be able to go the entire month without shopping but I am hoping to keep it really limited.
The things I expect I will have to buy are: milk, some fruit, some veg, and a small amount of meat since our cow is still not in the freezer.
I find that it is really easy to get into the habit of shopping for things you like to eat instead of using up the things you already have on hand.  We do not have a lot ready for harvest in the veggie garden or orchard but if all I have to buy are a small amount of these items I will be very pleased.
Over the entire month of August I would like to spend less than $50 and hopefully less than $30.  But that is just for the two of us so your target amount might be bigger than mine.

I have left this post until right at the end of July because if you are going to join in you will not have time to stock up in advance as that is not what this is about.

So is anyone else up for the challenge?  
How little can you spend this month?  What will your target budget be?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Black Bean Salad - Tasty and Frugal

I love black beans and this is such an easy and tasty salad that makes good use of them along with just a few other ingredients.  Like all meals that are made with beans this one is really easy on the hip pocket.
For this I used dried beans that I soaked and cooked my self (cost $1.50) a tin of corn (I grabbed a few of these when they were on sale for $1.00 each but normally I use fresh corn) a capsicum and some coriander from the garden.

Black Bean Salad

2 cups of Dried Black Beans Soaked and pre-cooked and cooled
3 Cobs of Corn or 1 tin
1 Large Red Capsicum
1 Bunch of Coriander, chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
1/4 Red Onion, finely diced
2 Tbs Sugar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Zest and Juice of 2 Limes
2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

If you are using fresh corn grill your corn cobs in a griddle pan until you get a light char on the outside and are just slightly cooked.  Then cool them and cut the kernels from the cob and add them with the cooked black beans in a large bowl
Dice you capsicum and add this to the bowl  of corn and beans along with your chopped coriander and mix together.

In another bowl combine the remaining ingredients and whisk together until the sugar is dissolved then pour over then bean mix and mix through.  You can eat it straight away but it is best chilled for a few hours or overnight to let the flavours blend.
I served it up with roasted chicken drumsticks.

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Weekend Kitchen

I am a list maker and it helps me to be very productive.  This weekend I managed to get through a huge list of jobs both inside and out, it was a really really productive weekend.

I made Yoyo's (also know as melting moments) and other than the one each that we taste tested they have been put in the freezer for eating a a later date when I need something for guests in a hurry.

I found a block of cream cheese lurking in the back of the freezer which according to the label should have been used up last November. Yep you read that right.  I knew it had been in there a while but I did not know it was that long.  When I opened it there was nothing wrong with it at all so I made a baked Lemon Cheese Cake.

I also made a Spinach, Smoked Salmon and Sour Cream Tart which was so delicious.

I made a yummy Black Bean Salad,

And some Sweet Chilli Scrolls for Hubby's lunch box this coming week.

I won't share all the recipes here but will include in posts over the next week so pop back if something caught your eye.  For now though here is the recipe for the Yoyos which are a biscuit I learnt to cook when I was in primary school.  They are very rich shortbread like biscuits that I am sure are not good for your waist line so enjoy as a treat.


175g Softened Butter
1/4 Cup Icing Sugar
1/4 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1 1/2 Cups Plain Flour
1/4 Cup Custard Powder

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla essence and then sift the flour and custard powder before adding to the creamed butter mix.
Roll teaspoons of the mix into balls and place on a greased baking tray.  Flatten with a fork and bake at 180 degrees for 15  20 minutes or until the edges just start to colour.
when cold sandwich together in twos with the butter filling below or eat as they are.


50g Softened Butter
1/2 Cup Icing Sugar
2 Tbsp Custard Powder

Beat all ingredients together until well combined.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Most Disturbing Thing On TV I Have Seen In A Long Time

In conjunction with Plastic Free July I would like to recommend that everyone makes time to watch this documentary.
I aired on Australian TV last week and at the time I did not see it so tonight I watched it online.  Within 10 minutes I felt ill, angry, revolted and ashamed to be part of a so called evolved and intelligent species.

The documentary which you can watch here (until the end of the month) is called 'The Men Who Made Us Spend'.

It is an eye opening account of how products are designed to fail so that we need to replace them and how we are encouraged to spend.
Sadly there is some graphic evidence of what happens to all the electronic waste as our society constantly upgrades, including all of the brand new un-opened boxes of computing equipment, that is thrown out as it becomes 'outdated'.

I know how different the life we live is compared to many people and that we are quite a long way removed form what is the norm (although far from what I call normal).  But one of the facts I found staggering was that over the 1990's to 2000's people in America went from buying approximately 34 pieces of clothing a year to 67 pieces which equates to a new piece of clothing every 5.4 days.
I don't think I have purchased that many new pieces of clothing in the last 5 years.

In the next episode they will explore how our emotions are manipulated and our anxieties exploited so they can sell to us which I think will be very interesting.

If you have already seen it what did you think?

Monday, 21 July 2014

Plastic Free July - My KeepCup

This month I am participating in Plastic Free July and this week I thought I would let you know a few of the things I have started or been doing differently this month.

Recently I was lucky enough to win a KeepCup from Bruise Mouse over at Living a Little Greener and it has been getting a bit of a workout.
The KeepCup is such  great Australian product and you can completely customise yours by picking the colours for each part.  There are a range of sizes to choose from and they are designed to be the same as a regular take away coffee.
I mostly work from home but even at home I love the fact that because of the cups design (and it has a lid) it means my tea/coffee stays hot for ages.  Every month I go into the office for a few days so last week when I worked in the office I took my cup with me.  Not only was it coveted by a number of my colleagues but I also got a 60 cent discount at the coffee shop for using it.  So now if I do want to buy a coffee when I work in the office I do not have the dilemma of crating waste.
The other great use I have found for my KeepCup is for tea/coffee on the road in the car as the passenger.

Here are some good reasons to get yourself a KeepCup.
  • 500 billion disposable cups are manufactured globally every year; that’s about 75 disposable cups for every single person on the planet.
  • Half of the plastic used in the world today is for single use items.
  • On average, each disposable cup contains 5% of the raw materials involved in the process of making and delivering it.
  • In the United States alone, 58 billion disposable cups are thrown out annually, with the majority ending up in landfill; that is, 158 disposable cups for every US inhabitant.
  • The 500 billion disposable cups used in the world each year placed end to end could circumnavigate the earth 1,360 times.
  • World paper use has exploded by 400% in the last 40 years. Now nearly 4 billion trees or 35% of the total trees chopped down are used in paper industries on every continent.
  • 98 tonnes of resources are used to make 1 tonne of paper.
  • Globally, we go through about 300 million tons of paper each year. Most of that paper is made from virgin pulp.
  • Very little recycled paper is used to make disposable cups because of contamination concerns. Because most disposable cups are coated with plastic, both composting and recycling of disposable cups is uncommon.
  • Most of the world’s paper supply, in fact about 71%, still comes from diminishing forests, not tree farms or the recycling bin.
  • Urban rubbish has increased tenfold over the course of the twentieth century, from 92 to 1242 pounds of pure product waste per person per year. At this rate, we discard approximately 14.4 times our body weight in waste every year.
  • Taiwan discards 1.5 billion disposable cups annually. Landfill issues have given rise to new rules for establishments, to give discounts to all reusable cups. It is expected to produce a 30% reduction of disposable cup use annually, or 450 million cups, saving 110,000 trees and reducing carbon emissions by 15,000 metric tonnes.
Are you as staggered as I was when you read those facts?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Stuffed Mushrooms - A Frugal Dinner Option

This week we have been having some easy frugal meals with a focus on using up bit and pieces and last night it was stuffed mushrooms.

I started with large mushrooms, one for me two for hubby.

I removed the stalks and chopped them finely.

Then I added the last few pieces of goats feta and used the oil to dress the insides of the mushrooms before adding the stuffing.

I added a few steamed and chopped spinach leaves, some chopped garlic chives as well as some diced walnuts then mixed it all up.

After stuffing the mushrooms I topped them off with sliced cherry tomatoes and some Parmesan before baking.  A very tasty and frugal dinner.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Rosella Cordial

In the anticipation of filling or freezer with beef I have been using up as much as I can.  On the hit list last week was a large container of frozen Rosellas.

I decided on cordial as it is something that would last a while.  I boiled the calyx's in water before straining off the pulp which I have re frozen to mix with apples and make pie filling.

Then I added sugar and reduced the liquid to a cordial consistency and since it is concentrated you only need a small amount.

We have been enjoying it ever since.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Doggy Happenings

On Saturday afternoon when we called Jessie for dinner she was limping and seemed to have hurt one of her back legs.  She did not want to put any weight on it, but when I felt up and down her leg and her foot and pad she did not give me any indication that any particular area was sore and there were no visible wounds.  This led me to believe that it was probably her hip joint if anything.
I could not think of anything that she could have done, but we had been throwing the ball (with one of these throwing sticks) for her for and she had been running around like crazy in the paddock.  When she chases the ball she goes flat out and darts around as the ball bounces sometimes sliding and skidding so I guessed she had twisted her leg some how.

We were on our way out for dinner so we left her tied up with her dinner (which she was gobbling up no worries at all - a good sign) and headed out for a few hours.

When we got back she struggled to get up off her bed and since it was so cold, and I didn't think that would help an injury, I decided she could sleep inside on her dog bed where it was warm.
The next day she still didn't want to put weight on her leg when she got up but after a few minutes she started to hobble around and gradually used her leg more and more during the day.  Since she is such an active dog we tried to get her to rest as much as we could but we did not want to stop her getting around too much as she just seemed to get stiff again.

On Monday Jessie was still a bit stiff in the morning but it was clear she was on the mend when she kept bring us a ball to throw for her (which we declined) and then proceeded to run around the yard throwing her toy around.
We will keep an eye on her over the next week and limit the amount of running around (if we can) but hopefully it was nothing more than a sprain.

She really want to get out there and round up those cows

She kept standing up then sitting down over and over displaying her impatience

" I really really want to herd those cows"

"I guess I will just have to imagine herding them..."
 In the end she settled for playing pipe wrestling...

Make it move make it move!!

And just because I think it is the cutest photo of her ever... check out how cute she was as a puppy!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wild Visitors

We had some visitors in the garden last week taking advantage of a winter food source.  A couple of Blue Faced Honey Eaters.

I was quite happy to share these flowers with them.

Who have you seen in your garden lately?

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Weekend Kitchen

Even though I have been trying to take it easy I find it really hard to just chill out.  I like to have things on the go so I feel like I am being productive.

So this weekend I made a batch of Halloumi.  I checked in the supermarket the other day to see how much I was saving to make my own.  The supermarket price was $37.95 per kilo.  I purchased 4 x 2 litre bottles of good pasteurised only milk that came to $18.36 and added a 1/4 teaspoon of rennet (20 cents).  When the cheese was ready I added dried mint and salt.  From my 8 litres of milk I got 1.2 kg of cheese and 6 litres of whey.  So it is clearly much cheaper to make your own.

We are still collecting a few cherry tomatoes every day, lots of eggs and kaffir limes.  I also picked the last of my climbing beans that I had let get fat and swollen in their pods so I can use them as dried beans.  The beans are now drying in front of the fire and I will shell them in a week or so.

Drying beans in front of the fire

I also made a chocolate beetroot cake which Hubby loves.  It is rich and moist and so easy to make.
You can find the recipe here.

What took place in your kitchen over the weekend?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Back To Blogging - The Story Of My Sore Neck

For the past week I have been resting up with a sore neck which is a result of a car accident.

Last weekend on my way into town I managed to crash my car, writing it off completely.  I was only doing about 60km per hour but as I came around a bend in the road my car slid on the wet surface.  First I slid to the right then to the left before spinning around so I was travelling backwards.  I slid backwards for a bit and slammed into a tree right in the middle of my rear bumper.

I knew I was ok and not badly hurt but I also knew I had been slammed back into my drivers seat pretty hard.  I called my Hubby who was still at home and he was there within about 10 minutes.  We organised a tow truck, collected all my personal belongings from the car and, after meeting the tow truck, headed off to the Dr to get me checked out.

As expected I had whip lash but thankfully no broken bones.  I found that I was ok while I was vertical but as soon as I tried to lie down I discovered that my neck muscles were so fatigued they could not support my head.  So every night this week I have had to support my head with my hands when I lie down.

I will be going to see a physiotherapist later this week once all the muscle pain has gone and hopefully I will be back to normal in no time at all.

My car is a goner but I am ok and at the end of the day that is what matters.  So hopefully I will be back to blogging all this week.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Stop The Sale Of Cage Eggs At Aldi

Last week I just signed the petition "ALDI; Stop the sale of Caged Eggs in your stores." on

This is something I feel quite strongly about.

Do you think it's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link:



Monday, 7 July 2014

See You Soon

I will be taking a short break from blogging.  I am not sure exactly how long maybe a few days, maybe a week.  Hopefully not much longer.  I have hurt my neck and am taking it easy.  I will tell you the story on my return.
See you soon.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Freezer 2 Is Not In The Freezer - Cow Dramas

Just a quick update on the butchering of our cow 'Freezer 2'.  As the title of this post points out she is still very much alive and kicking.

It would have been easy to just pretend that everything had gone as planned and not mention anything but for me that is not what this blog is about.  Life is not all roses and sometimes things happen that are not what you wanted or intended. I think it is important to paint a full picture here not just the good bits because that's how life is when you raise your own animals.

So what happened you might wonder?

Well we had the butcher all booked in for last Thursday.  We waited and waited.  Then we called and called and left messages.
Meanwhile 'Freezer 2' had jumped the fence to get back to her friend.  We had separated them so that she was in the right paddock to be processed.
Friday came and we were on the phone again.  Nothing.  Friday night we got hold of his wife and she took our details and said she would get him to call us back as he was outside.
On Saturday morning we were getting ready to take our friend and his kids camping when I went out to check the animals and I noticed 'freezer 2' was limping and not wanting to put weight on one of her back legs.
Oh Bugger!
Now when it comes to animals I am a stress head.  I really worry when they are sick or injured and I knew this meant I was not going to have a very relaxing weekend while I worried about 'Freezer 2'.  At the same time I was aware there was nothing I could do.
I figured that she had hurt he leg some how when she jumped the fence and broke the top wire.  In future I will not separate them at all before the event even if this means the other cow is in the paddock watching the event take place.

Since she was up and walking around and she could put a little weight on it I knew I would just have to wait and see how she was the next day when we returned from camping.  Well this is what my logical mind knew.

My emotional mind on the other hand was conjuring up all sorts of worst case scenarios and had me jumping online to see if there were any precautions I could take to help her.
Logical mind kicks back in again at this point and points out that she weighs about 400kg and "Really what are you going to do?  Put a bandaid on it?"

So off we went on our camping trip.  She was still limping the next day but she seemed to be a bit better.
And every day this week she has seemed to get better bit by bit day by day.

But now we have another issue. We are out of grass and we still cannot get hold of the butcher.

You see it was always the plan to get rid of her at this time of year before she lost condition over winter due to the lack of grass.  Our paddocks are a mix of blue couch and kikuyu and we knew that as soon as we got a good frost most of the blue couch grass would get burnt off and there would be hardly anything for them to eat.  The kikuyu does not get burnt off but it doesn't grow much either.  This week we have had two mornings with negative 2 degrees and heavy frosts, so much of the grass has been burnt off.
So now we have to find something else to top up their feed.  We have been harvesting feed from the garden for them in the form of banana leaves which they love, Queensland arrowroot and comfrey.  We have purchased a bale of hay but we do not want to spend a lot of money when we are just going to put her in the freezer and at this time of year feed is expensive.
I am really glad that we put a plan in place to grow things as a back up plan for feeding the animals.  We are almost out of the arrowroot foliage but there are still plenty of banana leaves left (although I might be up the ladder cutting them down) and hopefully we do not have to keep feeding her much longer.

We are now going to try and get a different butcher to come and do the job so I will let you know how things go.

Have you ever planned things out only to have it go a bit pear shaped through no fault of your own?  How did you resolve the situation?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Plastic Free July 2014


This year I (and a more so reluctant husband) will be participating in plastic free July.  We first took part in 2012 and it was quite eye opening.  It really made us aware of the plastic that sneaks into your life when you are not looking.  Even though we are really aware of recycling, reusing and try to bring plastic into the house as little as possible the challenge made us really aware that we really need to try harder to find ways to reduce our plastic further. 

Here are the details of Plastic Free July.

The Challenge

The challenge is quite simple. Attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July.
"Single-use" includes plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, plastic packaging...basically anything that's intended only to be used once and then discarded. If refusing ALL single-use plastic sounds too daunting this time, try the TOP 4 challenge (straws, plastic bags, plastic bottles &coffee cup lids).

The rules

  1. Attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July.
  2. Remember it's not going to be easy! It is a challenge, not a competition so don't worry about being perfect.
  3. Collect any unavoidable single-use plastic you buy. Keep in a dilemma bag and share it with us at the end of the challenge.
  4. It's up to you regarding how long you participate. You might decide to go plastic-free for a day, a week, a month or longer! However long you choose will still make a contribution.
Why you should participate
  • Apart from the small amount of plastic which has been incinerated EVERY piece of plastic which was ever produced still exists on earth somewhere. In the first 10 years of this century MORE plastic was produced than the entire last century!
  • Australians send 1 million tonnes of plastic waste to landfill each year. Do your part to make a change.
  • Why use something for a few seconds that is going to spend the rest of your life trying to break down in landfill? We really need to change our habits.

I really encourage you to try this.  Even if you end up with a heap of plastic in your dilemma bag at the end of the month I guarantee you will learn a lot.

Check out the website for more details or to register.  I will keep you updated during the month and at the end of the month I will be posting photos of my dilemma bag.

So are you up for the challenge?