Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Jam Drops

I don't know anyone who doesn't love a good Jam Drop biscuit.  When I was 21 years old and flatting with a friend his mother used to make a batch of jam drops and send them down to Brisbane in a biscuit tin. She lived about 4 hrs from Brisbane in a little country town and as I was flatting with him I got to eat the yummy jam drops as well.  It was always a highlight when the mail came.

I made a batch of jam drops two weeks ago however they had brown sugar in them and they were quite sweet and they didn't hold their shape very well so I've gone back to my normal recipe and made some this morning for the freezer.



Here's the recipe that I've used.

JAM DROPS

½ cup Sugar
125 gm Butter
2  eggs
2 cups Self Raising Flour
1 teaspoon Vanilla
pinch of salt
Jam of your choice

Method:

1.   Turn oven to 160 degrees.

2.    Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in Thermomix on speed 5 for 20-30 seconds and scrape down the bowl.  If using your normal kitchen mix master just cream butter, sugar and vanilla.

3.    Add eggs and process for 20 seconds on speed 4. (mix until eggs combined).

4.      Gradually add sifted flour and salt and process for 30-40 seconds on speed 3 until a stiff dough forms. (mix until dough forms).

5.      Roll into balls, place on greased oven tray.

6.      Push thumb into center to make a small indent and fill with your chosen variety of Jam

7.   Bake in moderate oven for about 12-15 minutes until just brown.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Afternoon Tea

I'm sure you all have a favourite pikelet recipe and this is the one we currently use.  This morning on the TV they interviewed a lady by the name of Kerri-Ann from Toowoomba who is a whiz at meal planning, meal prep and saving time and money in the kitchen.  She spends $150 per week and this covers their blended family of 7 so I'm very keen on getting tips from her.

She does not do a bulk cook up of a month's worth of dinners however she does bulk cook morning and afternoon tea items.  Here is the interview from this morning.




This morning I cooked up a big batch of her pikelet recipe and made pikelets for the freezer.  Often I will mix up the ingredients before I pick the kids up from school and cook them when we get home or on the weekends I get the kids to whip up a batch for morning tea.  Her recipe has a cup of sugar in it however this is a really large recipe and made about 45 pikelets.  Having them in ziplock bags in the freezer is very convenient.  If you were doing this for afternoon tea to eat and didn't want to freeze any for school lunches etc. I would do half the recipe.

PIKELETS (makes about 45 pikelets)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Sugar
  • 2 cups of Milk
  • 3 cups of Self Raising Flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Essence 

Method
  1. Beat eggs, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl with a whisk.
  2. Add milk and flour alternately and mix until smooth.
  3. Cook spoonfuls in a warm buttered pan (not hot) until bubbles form on the surface then flip and cook until golden.
  4. Serve with butter and Golden Syrup or Jam.
Notes:-
  1. Use a whisk to ensure the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. If you have time to leave the mixture to rest for 20 mins before cooking it's good to eliminate any flour balls or lumps
I also bought myself a pan from Aldi this week for $9 so that we can get our pikelets an even size.  Not that this matters however it means you can fit in 7 at a time whereas when we do them in a normal fry pan we seem to only be able to make 4 at a time.  I didn't need this pan and tossed up if I should another another item in the kitchen however we've used it twice this week and I'm really happy with it.  Our design has a smiley face on it and the other one was more of a waffle effect.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Memories are worth printing

Years ago I had a film camera which was a Canon AEI and in those days you took a few rolls of 36 images, got them printed and then put your photos into an album.  These days everybody takes photos whether that's with their iPhone, iPad, point and shoot camera or Digital SLR.  They say that this is the generation with the most images ever however in years to come those images will no longer be around.  They are stored on phones, computers and these things break, get lost or the technology gets replaced.  I still have a couple of VHS videos in my garage.  Here is an article about the Lost Generation.

I do have a couple of Photography Projects that I print each year however I am way behind in my year books however it's something that I have come to live with and something I am chipping away at.

I recently came across an app for your phone called "Keepsake" where you can order a framed print direct from your phone in a couple of minutes and have it shipped to your door within 7 days.  This is the website if you want to check it out.  While is not necessarily frugal, ordering a framed print while I'm enjoying a coffee at home is fantastic.  There are different frames to choose from and different shape frames so the price will depend on what you choose.  Postage is included in the price so when you take that into account and the fact that it's professionally framed and ready to hang it's a great service.  They even include a picture hook for you to put in the wall and hang your print straight away.  The print was here within a week and it was wrapped with bubble wrap and in a cardboard package so totally protected for delivering interstate.

As it's professionally framed you can't swap the picture out yourself however you get a much better quality piece of art to hang immediately.  The app is simple and user friendly and I was done ordering in a couple of minutes.  The frames are made in Melbourne and shipped locally.  My picture was $49 so if you deduct say $10 for postage that's $39 and for that you get a professionally framed piece.  Alternatively you could spend 30 mins in Harvey Norman ordering a print and have to come back to collect it.  Then you can either get a frame from Harvey Norman or go to another store and collect a frame which could take another hour then dig around in your kitchen drawer for a picture hook.  You then have to put the print in your frame and hope that it's the right size and use sticky tape to keep it from slipping in the frame.  That, or spend 2 minutes on your phone and order a gift for yourself or someone else.

You can actually order a print for someone else as a "gift" and get it shipped directly to them with a note.  I would totally use this service again.




I think as a gift this would be amazing like Grandparents presents a pic of them with the Grandkids.  Someone's birthday, leaving work any type of celebration where you can give them a piece of artwork.  A few years back my sister gave her friend (our old neighbours) a photo of them together on their push bikes when they were about 10 years old in a little frame.  It was such an amazing gift for her 50th Birthday and the memory and the clothing and the types of bikes they were riding just took you back to your childhood.  Currently you can only use images from your iPhone and not directly download a photo from your computer to the website in Australia yet.  I believe that is coming.  My better photos are on my computer which is why this would interest me.

I think having framed family memories on your wall rather than on your phone or computer makes so much more sense and this was so quick and easy.  The original photo had our hands cut off and it's probably not the best photo, however it's one that I love and I have hung it up in the kitchen because I spend a lot of time here and see it every day.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Around Here

Around here we have just had Week 2 of school and all the forms and timetables are big on our Agenda.  It is always so daunting that first month of school, meetings, forms, remembering which child has sports uniform on which day and which day music practice is before school.  Here's a few pics of what's been going on around her with the theme of "Blue".

Beautiful blue sky.

Got stuck into weeding and planting in the back yard.

Time for exercise.

Bluey has his cousin here for a week as we are minding him.

Ziggy's cover for his night time sleeps.

Swimming Carnival done and dusted.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Food Shopping & Grocery inspiration to reduce costs

With one month of the New Year down one of my goals was to try and reduce our grocery spending.  In October I stopped drinking Diet Coke altogether so I know I'm already saving money there.  I only bought the boxes of cans of Diet Coke when they were half price however I always had Diet Coke in the house.  I haven't had a Diet Coke for 4 months which has been great.

I thought I would post a few inspiration articles to help with the grocery budgets.  My goal this year is to shop at Aldi first then Woollies second.  Our shops whilst in the same shopping centre are not close together so I get lazy and when I get to Woollies I just finish my shop.  I know Aldi is so much cheaper for cheese, butter, yoghurt, english muffins, wraps, fruit toast, tinned food, rice, pasta etc. so I just need to face facts that I have to go from one shop and then to the other to get the rest.  Lots of Aldi fruit and veggies are packed for families ie a whole bag of potatoes so I might want to by 3-4 potatoes rather than a whole bag so I find that some of the fruit and veg options at Aldi don't work for my family.  That being said, I'm determined to cut my grocery budget without compromising family meals or snacks.  I need to do more school lunch box baking this year as I just got out of the habit sometimes.  Here's a few links to give you some ideas and inspiration to reduce costs.


Wendy from My Abundant Life has been on A Current Affair and has lots of helpful tips on how to live a wonderful life on a budget.  I still don't know how on earth she keeps her grocery budget for one month for her family of 4 to $180 as most people would spend more than that in a week.  I need to get a coffee and read through more of her blog again.  I now with her shampoos and hand soaps etc. she dilutes them so gets twice as much out of them and stock piles when things are on special.  Check out her blog for inspiration.  

Celia Mason from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog has lots of way to reduce household waste and this article is worth a read.  Also she is the Queen of Sourdough bread and has just updated her recipe and instructions with pictures.

Melissa has a post about surviving on $130 per week for groceries.


Here's some budget tips for $42 per week and naturally this does not include meat however you can still pick up some worth while tips.  Here is an article about the same family and how they are now ahead.

I found this family on Instagram last week very inspiring growing veggies for their family of 6.  

Australian Jody Allen has her weekly shopping list down to $50 and has written a book.  She cooks in bulk to have meals on hand. 

Another Aussie Mother & Daughter book called "Feed your Family for $75 a Week" by Cynthia & Alisa Mayne.

One other thing I am doing again is getting out the cold hard cash for 4 weeks of food shopping and putting it into separate zip lock bags with the date of the Monday on a little card inside.  This way I can see how much money is spent and left vs eftpos at the supermarket.  Cash is such a reminder of how much you have to spend.  If you have never done this take the money out weekly or monthly and it will change the way you spend.

Hopefully you and I can get some inspiration from some of these posts.  No one way is correct however any tip to help reduce the household family grocery budget is worth a read.



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Around here

We've had a lovely couple of weeks with my sister and her husband visiting from Perth so lots of coffees and a few lunches at the club and a $35 win on Keno for me which was exciting.  One of my sisters won $650 and $198 so had more luck than me.  We usually spend $20 or so playing 1 cent machine to make it last longer.  My win paid for lunch and a bit of fun so I was more than happy with that.  Here's a few pics.

Enjoying lunch at The Dayboro Bakery with Mum and my 3 sisters and my kids.


First family pic of 2018 which I love.

3 of the 4 sisters with the middle one being my sister from Perth.  This photo was taken by Sienna.

Sienna is old enough to be covering her own school books this year and loved decorating them.

After it had cooled down a little bit we went for a late afternoon bike ride to the park.

Here's a few links you might be interested in.

Want to learn how to make the perfect scramble eggs which I read about here.

A post from back in 2013 with Sienna at age 8 helping make our very first Home Made Vanilla extract.

As it's the start of the year you might be interested in the little app called 1 Second Everyday.  I discovered this app a couple of years ago but I didn't have enough storage on my phone so I haven't done one.  I'm going to attempt to do it again this year.  Watch this 6 min video for inspiration.

A blogger I follow has done it for the past 2 years and shares her tips on using the app 1 Second Everyday.  The video for the 365 days ends up as a 6 minute video of the year.  I've seen a few and they are amazing.  This was her first video in 2016 and her second video in 2017.  If you miss a day you can just use footage from another day and once they videos are loaded into the app I believe you can then delete them from your phone if you are low on storage.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Starting off 2018 with finance

With only one day away from 2018 I thought I would do a post of internet links that may help with organizing your finances in 2018.

Here's a picture of our view of Mt Barney from the Camper Trailer which is on site that we hired for 2 nights last week.


First of all if you do not own "The Barefoot Investor" book I highly recommend you purchase it immediately.  I wrote a bit about it in this post.   This is the book you need to purchase for anyone in your family whether they are a teenager or someone with a mortgage and a job.  It is easy to read and easy to implement and understand.  It's about managing money, setting up systems and being in control of your money.  When I went to put a hold on this book at the library there were 598 holds so my advice is just to buy it.  I purchase all my books from The Book Depository which has great prices and free postage.  I have been buying books from them for the past 8 or so years.

Another great way of incidental saving is to never spend a $5 note.  Every time you get one put it away in an envelope for your holidays or Christmas presents and extra Christmas food.  This is really simple and you won't notice when you remove $5 from your wallet.  I've started doing this on the odd occasion with the new $10 note so I can be ready for next Christmas.

Have you heard of the 52 Week Money Challenge.  I think this in theory sounds good however towards the end of the year the weekly $ is quite high so I haven't done this one myself past about Week 20.  The image is a bit hard to read however the basis behind this is each week you add the amount of money to your jar/tin.  ie Week 1 is $1, Week 20 is $20, Week 28 is $28 etc.  If you google it you might be able to find a better copy to print out.


Food is another area that is costly and can be improved in terms of spending.  There's the $21 a week grocery challenge that you can do once or twice a year.  We all know that cans of food and meat in the freezer sometimes adds up and when meal planning we buy new things.  Some people do a $30 week challenge however even $50 a week would be a big saving in what is your normal grocery bill.  Meal plan using items in your pantry and freezer to use everything up.  These days of cheaper pricing at places like Aldi etc and going to the supermarket once or twice a week there's no real need to stockpile as things come on sale every few weeks.  With your limited budget say $21, $30 or even $50 you can buy milk, bread, fresh fruits to get you through the week.  With your normal $100 or $150 that you saved put it on your mortgage or credit card or in your Christmas savings account.  Doing this 4 times a year you could save $400 to $600 per year with little effort.

Electricity - the thing that is a household expense however at the same time it's a luxury these days.  Managing not using the air conditioner, turning off lights etc. the bills just get higher and higher.  In July there was a 30% increase and in January I believe there is going to be another increase of 10% or 18% I can't remember but it's ridiculous.  I rang around all the suppliers on the 30th June 2017 to get the ex gst per kw amount so I could compare apples with apples with all suppliers regardless of their discounts.  You have to know the base amount and then apply the discount it's not just about the discount.  I was with Click Energy for the past 4 years and when I rang around I ended up staying with them however in September I rang around again and Alinta Energy was the best deal offering 25% discount and their base rate "ex gst per kw" was far cheaper so I switched immediately.  They do it all for you and about 30 mins on the phone.  You will get a final bill from your original supplier and then the next quarter get a new bill.  My first bill in the July/Aug/Sept quarter was up by $100 just from the increase even though our usage hadn't really changed. Our bill was almost the same amount every quarter for the past couple of years so I was shocked by the increase.

This week got the new bill and the bill was $200 cheaper with the better rates and 25% discount applied to the bill.  Click Energy discounts weren't on every bill it was after you had paid on time for a certain period and then the next bill they applied the discount.  Alinta Energy is in Queensland so you would have to check what companies supply in your State.  I allowed 30 mins with a notepad and rang each one and wrote down their daily rate ex gst, their per kw ex gst rate for peak and off peak and then their discount. These days there are no lock in contracts even though when they read the terms and conditions to you over the phone they say this is for 24 months do you agree it' still no lock in contracts.  It's just that that rate will be for 24 months (unless of course they put it up etc).  Just check but I'm thrilled with Alinta Energy.

Budgeting - I wrote a post in January 2016 on how I do this and have followed this system for over 20 years.  When you are in control and know your income and expenses for the year in advance you can work out your goals.

The Australian Government has a Money Smart website with budget tips.  It also has a "Net Worth" sheet for you to see your current financial position.

A great thrifty website is The Thrifty Issue with lots of great ideas on saving money.

My Abundant Life was featured on A Current Affair a few years ago.  Their household income was $40,000 and they paid off their modest home, went on an annual holiday and grew some veggies.

Cath Armstrong from Debt Free Cashed up and Laughing blog has loads of helpful information on being frugal.

Frugal Woods is a young couple with a toddler and one on the way who have retired early in their 40's to Vermont and live in their dream home on acreage. 

Root of all Good retired in 2013 at age 33 and their living expenses for the year are $40,000 and this year travelled with their kids to Europe for 9 weeks.  Heaps of good information here too.

It's worth getting a cup of coffee and reading through some of these blogs as they are very inspiring.