Sunday, February 23, 2014

Frugal February -Week 3


I added some braid to the curtain tie backs. This was an op shop find some years ago -I nearly threw it out recently as I hadn't found a use for it, but it worked well here. They help to give the cheap curtains a more polished formal look.

As I had been a bit preoccupied with the work on the curtains, I had not made bread yesterday and we were all out. Now, sandwiches are often a lunch staple around here, but instead of going to the shop to buy bread, I made a simple stir fry -cashews and lentils -and rice for lunch.
The bread was made later, and I also made pesto from basil leaves from the garden. I used some of it with pasta and left over roast chicken for dinner.


I cleaned out one tray of the worm farm and used the castings in my liquid feed bin. This feed, when diluted in a watering can, is the best thing for my plants. It is also free!

DH was in the shed making the braces for the cantilever shelves in the sewing room.

Frugal furniture purchase
I have been looking for a console table for my lounge room for about 8 months. No, that is not true - I found a great console table but the price scared me so I have been looking for a cheaper version. I always think it is worth waiting for a bargain, and that as this table was largely decorative I could wait for the one I could both like and afford.

Even so, when I found a table at less than a quarter of the price of the first one I had seen, I still waited 48 hours to rethink it. I find this 'cooling off' process very important -it gives me the time to think through why I want it. Is it the 'thrill of finding a bargain?". Do I have some emotional unhappiness or stress which I want to try to cure by the thrill of a purchase? Of course there is very little we can buy that can actually do that in any sustained way.
Then -will it be good quality? Is it environmentally friendly? etc etc

I can honestly say one of the best habits I have ever tried to master in living frugally, is to make myself wait and think first.
Do any of you do that? How long is long enough to wait?

The console is solid but was bought unfinished -that is good, we can stain it to match our other loungeroom furniture. The picture here is showing it with a first coat of stain -it will be darker as we add more coats. There is a shelf on the bottom which we re now staining too.

There will be a stack of quilts on the bottom shelf. That makes me happy!


We wanted to go to choir after our volunteer committee meeting but there would be very little time between the two engagements so DH packed a salad and some left over pizza -and we had good food and no need for takeaway.

Our daughter graduated with a BA and of course it was a lovely, happy time. We ate in the Guild food hall before hand -there are times when convenience is important. Frugal people are not stingy they just know the value of the money they spend!


DH finally bought some new PJs. He told me that he was waiting for this month's clothing allowance to come in, so he didn't spoil the budget by buying them too soon. Good man!

I did some minimal grocery shopping -just the basics like milk and bread.

I picked up my sewing machine from the repairers- it pays to get important tools maintained regularly. I resisted the urge to buy a wonderful old Singer featherweight which was on display -and I am proud of that resistance, even if I didn't resist the urge to buy a very expensive 1 metre piece of fabric!

This fabric is full of Welsh symbols -corgis, castles, miners, choristers, dragons. As I had three Welsh born Welsh speaking grandparents, and I am the only member of the family who got the Welsh name, I feel quite nostalgic about Wales. This $18 piece of material is going to become a treasure.

I spent a happy day whilst everyone else was working, doing some sewing on my 'leader'/ender project. This is being made from scraps of everything. Imagine my delight when I realised that I have 120 out of the 160 blocks I need to make this into a queen size bed quilt!


Yet ANOTHER concert this afternoon -part of the Christmas/Birthday presents I got last year. It was absolutely lovely. I like the way this gift of tickets spreads the joy through the year -we have something to look forward to nearly every month.


We have picked a 3.5 kg pumpkin, which I am going to cut up. Some of it will be roasted and turned into pumpkin and couscous salad -which I can take to work for lunches this week.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Frugal February- Week Two-Bally Ann Week

My mother would sometimes announce it was "Bally Ann Day". In other words, the day before pay day -usually Thursday-when there was not much cash about and therefore we had to make do with what we had. I understand it is a common saying in Lancashire.

DH and I are paid monthly and this is the week before pay day, so it is Bally Ann Week. Now we are lucky enough to have bank balances which we could dip into if necessity intervenes, but I like to make the money last as long as possible, so Frugalista February continues apace.


  • Went to the local hardware store to see if I could find a cheap solution to the problem of cantilever shelves in my sewing room which are dipping down to the front. I wanted some kind of brace but could find nothing ready made and suitable. I told DH about the issue and said: I guess we are just going to have to replace the shelf supports with new brackets, and they are at least $10 each which would be $60 for the lot. DH thought about it and said he liked the idea of the brace, and thought he could make them out of wood. Watch this space! 
  • Took some home made soup and bread from the freezer and had it for lunch. We are still eating our way through the freezer supplies. I hope soon to be able to clean one of the freezer shelves where a poorly sealing lid let wine leak out. 
  • Went to the local sewing shop and was pleased to come out with three things which together cost me $3.50! I needed some sewing needles with bigger eyes and a new set of thread snips. I bought a fat quarter on special for $0.99c. The first two items were half price! LOL. 
  • Have cleaned the shelf in the freezer and redistributed the stuff there. Still quite a lot left in there, but it is good to see some things being used up. 

  • Took cheese, ham, bacon from the freezer for use this week.
  • Started some lentils sprouting for later this week. 
  • Sent DH off to the shop with a list and a budget. He came back with more than $25 left for this week! Bought fruit, vegetables and milk, eggs . 
  • Made a quiche for dinner using some bits of ham I stuck in the freezer -they were little bits left over from the Christmas ham. Added some broccoli that needed cooking, some frozen corn and a few bits of spring onion from the garden. 
  • making Tzikiki with home grown cucumber and home made yogurt for the Choir supper tomorrow night. Making double choc cookies for them too. (They loved it) 
  • Did some work on the quilt I am making. Need to make the pieced border next. All of this quilt has come from my stash -and in fact from my collection of scraps left over from other quilts. 
  • Concert tonight. The tickets were my Christmas present from DH. I love getting tickets as presents! There is not much I actually need in the way of gifts, but I love to go to concerts. 
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  •  My work days, as usual going to use public transport and take my own lunch. 
  • On Wednesday someone my DH knows, rang to say she had cooked too much silverside (corned beef) and did he want some? He thought it was a bit odd, but happy to help, he went to see her and came home with a big plate of free food!  
  • I downloaded some free Kindle books to read. 
    We gave each other heartfelt, personal cards and greetings for Valentine's Day. I cut some roses and smokebush, put them in a vase and added some ribbon I already had, along with a little Love sign and there it was - a little romance for the day! 

On Friday I did my monthly bulk shopping for groceries.

In the evening we went to the community screening of a film -which asked only that we donate enough to cover the costs of the hall.

I needed new curtains, and had researched what was available. The biggest problem with the current ones was that they could not be washed, but desperately needed cleaning. I have a black and white cat, and the synthetic curtains along with the rubber backing, really attracted cat fur and would not give it up.

I eventually bought some ready made dark cotton ones from Ikea with instructions which said that they could be washed in hot water and tumble dried! They were really inexpensive -at least one quarter of ready-mades I had seen elsewhere -but I had to do some hemming to them. 

Whilst we were there we were excited to see a console table which would fit a space in our lounge room. I had been looking for one of these for about 6 months but was unwilling to spend the $1000 I had seen them for in the furniture shops.

This one will be easy to stain to match other pieces in our lounge room. I will use it to showcase piles of finished quilts! 

So there it is -how we spent our frugal week 2. How is your week going? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Frugal February Week One

This month I am working on my extremely frugal skills!

Basil is growing well but some of the other lettuces are still recovering from a cabbage moth attack! 


This is our front garden in the early morning light. 
  • Checked our spending last month against our budget and discussed with those living here -we all have to help remember to 'shop at home' first.
  • DH took out the old cucumber plant and revived one of the vegetable beds with compost and some wetta soil. 
  • We selected seeds for this new bed from our collection of seed packets:DH sowed these seeds when I was at work on Tuesday and they had started to come up by Friday! The radishes are first. 
  • I made soup in the slow cooker to freeze in small portions to take to work. My office is kept on the CHILLY side so it is not unreasonable to take soup for lunch even in summer. I save a lot of money by taking my own food and keep track of my nutrition and calories too.
  • I did a menu plan for the next two weeks after checking our calendars and the weather forecast. I made a shopping list and did the shopping at the local independent grocer.
  • I made a pie for dinner with some potatoes that were getting old, some fetta cheese which needed to be used up, some pastry from the freezer and a few slices of bacon. It has three eggs and a cup of sour cream as well. 

Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday

DD bought some flowers last week. I picked them over, recut the stems and put the good ones in a white vase, so that we could continue to enjoy them a few days more. 
  • I took the soup I made on Monday, on two days for lunch. Office workers nearby sniffed appeciatively at the smell and asked, as usual, what I was eating. It was delicious.
  • The other day I took the pie with some salad.
  • My lunch includes a cup of 'real' coffee. We have a coffee machine at work that makes a fair cup for $1. I have a small plunger and bring my own coffee.
  • DH and I went to our choir on Tuesday. A small community group like a choir can provide lots of fun and entertainment for just a few dollars a week. 
It would cost me about $12 a day for lunch and a coffee in a cafe nearby. By having this routine I save around $2000 per year, and eat better food. 
  • I took the bus to work every day. It costs about $3 for the ride. It would cost me $8 a day for parking if I brought the car, not counting petrol costs and the cost on the planet of all that carbon just to get me to work. 
  • Left overs from Monday night's mega spaghetti bolognese will become Lasagna at a later stage. The leftovers are safely in the freezer where they cannot spoil.  Last night's Italian sausage and pasta had leftovers too, which we will enjoy as lunch today. 
  • DH made some wooden trays for DD to use to make paper. The wood cost $2. They fit into a plastic tray which we already had. We had fun making our first sheets of paper yesterday. I want to use them in a little craft project I have in mind. 
  • I was in an office supply shop for work and picked up two binder books for $3 each, in their 'going back to school' sales. I am planning to make quilted journal covers for these, and keep them in a 'Christmas gift" box for later in the year. I found a You Tube clip which shows how to do it. I love YouTube and all the kind people who share their expertise with others.


Our pomegranates are colouring up. They look like large Christmas decorations on the bush, and make a great addition to couscous with a casserole. 

  • Worked on my accounts. This is important to keep us on track with our budget. 
  • Dinner with friends at a friend's house. 
One potential disaster was averted when one of the pipes under the laundry trough burst, spilling hot water all over the laundry! Fortunately we were here when it happened. DH turned off the water and I called the plumber. As we knew it was going to cost a call-out fee for him to come and replace a flexible hose pipe, DD remembered another small plumbing job which was to change an O ring on the tap near the main bathroom toilet. That saved us $$ in excess water bills and was only a 3 minute job to add to the plumber's bill. 


  • Spent some time in the garden, feeding my plants with a special liquid fertilizer I keep in a bin with a good lid. It is part of a bag of pelletised chook manure, the liquid waste from my worm farm and some of the worm castings mixed with water. I apply this to our fruit trees and vegetables and they show almost instant gratitude! 
  • I taped up an old compost bin which was splitting. I hate to throw it out before it is completely ruined, so hopefully some gaffa tape will keep it going for a bit longer. 
  • We took care of our house with our usual 'home blessing hour" of cleaning and tidying
  • we used Skype to have a nice conversation with pictures with our son, DDIL and grand daughter far away. 
Finally, here is a quote which I thought summed up the week quite well:
"there is a skill (or art) to spending time. As the economist Tibor Scitovsky argued, we need to cultivate the skills to spend time in ways that yield high well-being. Gardening, DIY, hobbies and excellent activities for doing so".

I feel as though we have had lots of activities that yield 'high well being' -and cost almost nothing!

For example, this quilt is made from scraps from other quilt projects.

What do you do to yield 'high well being"?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The long lovely summer!

My weekend activities have taken  advantage of all the things I love about our summer. January was a month in the usual Perth Western Australian style -mostly hot, sometimes hotter. We have a 'Mediterranean style" climate with a summer drought, so we can put away our winter clothes and enjoy summer right through from December to late March.
Yesterday  I sat on the patio with a cup of chamomile and peppermint tea and read two books I got from a charity  shop in Mandura.  DH and I took a long train ride down there on Saturday.  He gets most of his rides free as he has a "Seniors Card" (for the over 60s who work part time) and so it makes it  a relaxed day out.  We had lunch on the foreshore and a walk.

The Save the Children Fund bookshop had a great Slow Cooker book for $2 -which has great ideas for using the slow cooker IN SUMMER -as it does not heat up your whole house the way an oven would. I am now making a soup -not normally something I would do in summer, but my office is air-conditioned to CHILLY so taking soup for lunch is quite acceptable. I will freeze small portions.

 There was another book I came home with though -a book about quilting -for just $3 it is full of inspiration. It is called "Listen with your Eyes" buy Jan T Urquhart, an Australian quilter in love with scrappy quilts.

Being inspired of course I have been quilting -because that is a great thing to do when it is too hot to go outside. These pinwheel blocks below are made by the "Disappearing Pinwheel" method which was shown on YouTube by the Missouri Quilt Company. I went through my scrap box and cut up scraps into usable sizes -and found enough 10" pieces to put this together in a pinkish colour. My stash only had a couple of possibles for the sashing so I used what I had -a navy blue with red flowers. I think this burst of colour  is helping to take the quilt out of what might have been (for me) a very predicable pink and white event.

The new book is giving me the idea of surrounding the main blocks with a border made up of scrappy flying geese. I will check my supplies and see what I have to use at home.

For many years I have enjoyed the Radio National program of World Music called "The Daily Planet" and I often quilt whilst listening to it online. It makes me happy! There is nothing quite like jazz from Cuba or Malawi to sew by on  a summer evening.

The garden is surviving the summer quite well, although we have lots of extra shadecloth which gets draped over things on days over 40 degrees C.

 This is one of 5 pumpkins which are growing on the one plant which self-seeded in the back yard. I love volunteers! These are the first pumpkins we have had which have 'set' -I am thinking that bringing lavenders, rosemary and pelargoniums into the vegetable garden is paying off.

 I have an aim of being self-sufficient in salad vegetables, so I am trying to plant more seeds every weekend. Some have come up well and others have not, but I just keep trying to improve my technique.

The cumquats are flowering - a lovely citrus smell which is keeping the bees happy.

On Friday wWe celebrated Chinese New Year with friends. I was born in the Year of the Horse so I expect lots of good fortune this year! LOL

So this has been a great weekend and typical of summer. Lots more of it to come -some of our hottest days are late February and March.

How did you spend the weekend?