Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Its been a long time.

Its been a long time since my last post and a lot as happened since then.
Such as:
My son and partner moved out of our home and into their new house early November and are settling in nicely.
 My daughter has finished year 12 so no more school routine in this house, well not until she starts uni in 2014 as she is having a gap year in 2013.

Im looking forward to the new year as i have less of a work load with 2 less people in the house to cook for and look after. Son 19 will be moving back into the big bedroom, once its painted which will then give me back my office room which i had to move out of 18 months ago when the family grew from 4 to 6. I have big plans for my new office and i have said to the family that i am never going to give up my office again :) Once things start falling into place with painting and decorating my office room i will place pics on the blog for all to see. Im so excited about it.

I have also had my family of ducks expand, a while ago i put on a short post showing a photo of my pair of ducks Molly and Mickey. Well they have become parents. I had a friend incubate 10 eggs about 7 months ago and we ended up with 7 ducklings. 4 boys and 3 girls. Prior to these babies hatching the breeder that my adults came from also incubated some of my eggs and ended up with 8 ducklings. She kept one beautiful Indian Runner boy with a huge feather crest on top of his head (dad is crested) and the breeder gave me one of the girls from that hatch. I was able to sell the 4 boys to a lovely lady i met on facebook nd she send me photos of them, which is nice to see that they are doing well. This now gives me 6 ducks all up, 5 girls and dad.

Dad is standing at the right side of the pool and mum is the darkest one in the pool, the girl standing at top corner is the older one from the breeder.

Each day i go out and collect up to 5 duck eggs and several chicken eggs, they are very productive creatures and its said that ducks lay more eggs in a life time than chickens do, so now my only problem is what to do with all these eggs. I use them in all my cooking and last week we made a beautiful Pavlova which used 8 egg whites and the yokes went into the fried rice for dinner. We will be making another Pavlova for Christmas lunch and im thinking of making homemade ice cream using the yokes, something i have never made before.

Before i finish this post i thought i would share my Cherry harvest from last week. We ended up with around 1.5kg of fruit which has not been our biggest harvest but considering we pruned the tree back this year and ants got to a lot of them it was not to bad. They were big and sweet and we enjoyed them very much.
Sorry about the poor photo, its was taken with my phone.

This im sure will be the last post before Christmas and maybe the last for the year but i plan to be around more next year and share the progress of the office renovations and posts about my productive garden and more.

Have a safe Christmas and a Happy New Year. XXX

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

This weeks menu July 4th to July10th

I have put this weeks menu below to share with you again this week.
I will try to do this each week to share my ideas.

Wednesday: Home made fish and chips, using Bassa fillets from Aldi @ $6.99KG

Thursday: Spaghetti and garlic bread.

Friday: Steak sandwiches in homemade bread.

Saturday: Tuna patties, chips and salad.

Sunday: This weeks easy tea will be replaced with a lamb roast, because i feel like some roast lamb with the trimmings done in the slowcooker..

Monday: Shepherds Pie and something easy for Son 18 as he now tells me he doesn't like it.

Tuesday: Fried rice and lemon chicken.

So thats this weeks menu. Not so exciting but healthy and will fill 6 hungry bellies.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This weeks menu

I thought i would share with you today our menu for the next week. It often gets hard to think up new things to make for dinner and i like to read what others have on their menu plan for the weeks as it gives me ideas of what to put onto mine.
Our menu starts on a Wednesday as that when shopping day/pay day falls but that will soon be changing as hubbys pay day is changing next month.

Wednesday: Tuna patties, salad and chips. I make the patties with 2 tins Aldi tuna which is under $2 a can. This is a cheap meal for the 6 of us and leftovers for lunches.

Thursday: Chicken breast schnitzel and veges. I use 4 breasts to feed the 6 of us.

Friday: Homemade hamburgers in rolls with all the trimmings. Using homemade bread rolls and 500g mince.

Saturday Chicken pasta bake for 5 of us using 2 chicken breasts and Cabonara for Hubby.

Sunday: Easy dinner as its usually only 4 home so we make something from pantry items.

Monday: Tuna Pie with potato on top. With 2 tins Aldi tuna which is under $2 a can and mixed frozen veges. I will make something else for hubby as he doesn't eat tuna pie.

Tuesday: Fried rice and Chicken and corn soup using chicken bones for the stock. I make rice once a week as hubby gets rice form work and i have around 50kgs in the pantry.

 Please feel free to post your menu below and share you meal ideas. :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bargain find

Hubby and I have been wanting a king size bed now for a long time. We have looked at them many times in stores and found that they were to expensive for our current budget (around $1500 plus bedding). I have kept an eye out for deals on beds on Ebay either new, seconds, or second hand any of these we would be happy with. I was not trolling Ebay daily for a new bed but just when the idea would come to mind i would have a bit of a look to see if there was any good deals and also it had to be in a reasonable traveling distance for pickup. Last week i came across a King mattress and base set within a distance that we could drive with our trailer and bring the bed home if i won the auction. The set listed was a Sealy Posturepedic Royal Jewel. The set was 10 years old and the auction stated that it had always had a waterproof cover on it and that the set was in very good condition. The starting price of the auction was just 99c. I put the auction on my watch list to show hubby the set and to discuss bying it. I asked the seller a few questions about the set and was still a little undecided on buying it. The time came for the listing to end and it had still not had any bids and it was still sitting at 99c. I had asked the seller another question 10 mins before the ending and she answered straight away which was good as i knew then she was also on line. I the asked another question about 5 mins before ending but she didnt answer straight away so i decided not to bid, the auction then ended strangely without a bid. Just after the auction ended the seller emailed me and asked if i was interested in the bed and if not she would re-list it. I told the seller that i would let he know as soon as hubby came home from work. He said the we could go over on the weekend and take a look and to ask the seller how much they were wanting for the bed. The seller soon replied and said that she needed it out of the house and if i wanted the set i could have it for 99c. So i told her that we would take it and would be over on the weekend to pick it up. Hubby and I couldn't help wondering what would be wrong with the bed as the seller was giving away a king bed set for free and hubby kept telling me that it must be junk but he would take me to have a look and get it on Saturday if it was any good
So to close this long story we have now got a wonderful big comfy bed for the cost of traveling, a box of chocolates and $20 that i gave the lady just to say thanks. I have had to spend a couple of hundred dollars on bedding to start with and i have grabbed some more new bedding needs from Ebay less than shop price. But in the end i have saved a huge amount money on the bed and i am grateful for the kindness of a stranger for being so generous.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trying to spend less on food. UPDATE week 4 and bulk buying

Finally i have sorted through all the dockets and have been able to tally up the final amount spent on the past 4 weeks for meals. This was including also all the food for our dogs, chickens, ducks and indoor birds.
The total from the week 3 post was up to $475.74. The final weeks spending was $187.12 so the grand total for feeding a family of 6 and pets has come to $662.86. Not as cheap as i would have liked but it did have some expensive takeaway meals as posted in past weeks posts, but there has been a stop put to it being a regular fortnight treat.

On Saturday 12 May hubby and i decided to go to the Shepp Cannery Surplus Outlet in Ballarat. We couldn't believe how cheap that place was. I was able to grab a lot of bulk goodies for my stockpile and the amount spent here has not been added to the monthly food total above as these staples are used over time.
This is what we came home with:
12x 825g tins of SPC spaghetti         @$14.00
24x 400g tins of whole tomatoes       @ $12.00
8x 1ltr apple and mango juice bottles @ $2.40 (for the whole box)
12x 410ml cans of creamed corn       @ $10.00
6x Gravy flour                                  @ $3.60

These bargains have filled the pantry and we will be using these staples over the winter, especially with lots of pasta sauce and tomato soup on the winter menu that i make from scratch using the tin tomatoes.

In my next post i will add up the current month of  food shopping and let you know what changes i have made and see if i have done better or worse this time. I have not added anything up as yet so i also dont know my self how i have been going with the budget.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Q & A

What i thought i would to today is put in a Q&A post. Feel free to post any questions below that you want to ask or even some ideas you may have and i will answer your comments by adding them to the blog early next week.
I also plan on finishing the posts about how i went week 4 of my monthly shopping, once i sort through all the dockets and also about mt visit to the SPC clearance center in Ballarat. I will also let you know how im going this month with the shopping and what changes i have made.
Have a great long weekend :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trying to spend less on food. UPDATE week 3

Im back again to let you know how my budget is going for the food shopping for the month.
I am finding now in week 3 that i am running out of a lot of the pantry staples and have had to restock some of them.
Since my post last Thursday i have had a few visits to the shops for lots of fresh fruit as it seems this week they are all eating me out of house and home when it comes to bananas and apples.  I also ran out of my supply of plain flour for bread making so i had to re-stock that too. The total this week is more than i would have liked but it is for the essential items needed for meals. So the total this week is $126.56 plus the takeaway on Saturday was $34 and not $25 as i had hoped for as they all decided they didnt want pizza but wanted fish and chips instead.  Adding that to the total for the week comes to $160.56
The running total for the month so far is now $475.74.

In the next week im going to have to buy a new bag of chicken feed and that will be around the $20 mark so that will also be added into next weeks total.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Trying to spend less on food. UPDATE week 2

Its been a week since my last post about trying to spend less on food. I am back today with an update for the week.
I have been back to the supermarket for some things as some food items had run out, i also needed some fresh fruit and vege and as always the Sunday afternoon trip to the supermarket to buy the lunch meats for the week. Lunches are always made at home so that saves money and it healthier for everyone too.

So last week i has spent a total of $240.14 for most of our food for the month. So there was some foods i didnt buy enough of (such as needing 2 more packs of puff pastry) as i should have done a more thorough menu check and counted up how much of everything i really needed for the month but this monthly shopping is all new to me and im sure over time i will get better at it. So the total i have spent in the last 7 days comes to $75.04. this does include hubby's weekend soft drinks and a pack of chips for him too. Included in this amount too was a the few things i had left on the shopping list that i need to get from IGA and Foodworks last week that i didnt get on shopping day.

So the total spent now is $315.18 which im happy with at this point. I would normally spend at least $600 a month on food shopping (not including takeaway twice in the month) and this should come in at being less than that even if i do have to spend another $75 in week 3 and 4 for food top-ups.

I still have loads of milk and flour (for bread) left in the pantry so at this stage that wont need re-stocking. We will be having takeaway for dinner on Saturday as this gives me a break from cooking one night a fortnight, this should only be $25 as we get a great family feed at our local pizza shop including garlic bread and soft drink for this amount.

I also made a batch of dog food up this week with some Chrisco Hampers sausages that we didnt like, lots of mixed frozen veges and rice. This was frozen in portions in muffin trays that way i can take out what needed each day for Howard and Bessie's dinner, i ended up making 24 portions. They have this served with some dry dog food on the side.

Thats all i have to update this week. I will update my progress again next week. :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trying to spend less on food.

I have for a long time always planned a menu for 2 weeks and went shopping with a shopping list. I would put together the menu going by what was on special at the supermarkets. We have 4 supermarkets here all in the path of me driving into town and home again, so i don't have to make any special trips from store to store. We have Aldi and Coles in the same shopping center and on the way home i pass Foodworks and IGA.
Most of the food shopping is done at Aldi which is where i go first and then onto Coles. If the other 2 supermarkets have anything that catches my eye i also stop at them on the way home.
Last Tuesday when putting together the menu plan i challenged my self to shop for the month instead of every 2 weeks. I know that i will be having to pick up fresh fruit and veg and a few forgotten things in between shopping trips, but it will teach me what to buy more of, as monthly shopping is all new to me.

Firstly when it came to planning the new menu i put together a printable menu plan for the 4 weeks, which mine starts on the Wednesday. I did the menu plan in grid form with 7 days across and 4 rows long with each day of the week falling on top of the same day. I then put together a master shopping list using excel and put everything down on the list that we buy as a regular purchase, this will need some tweaking as i did forget a few items but as i remember them i have been updating the list.
I then went "shopping" in my own freezer and wrote down all of the meats i had in there to use as meals. I also went through the pantry to see what was there to use up and to also check what was needing to be replenished. I then sat down with my new printed menu and filled in all the meals. It was not has hard as i expected and with each day of the week on the chart being on top of the same weekday i was able to be sure i was not repeating the same meals to often. For example each Thursday is pasta night but each pasta dish is different to the week before. I had also put together a list of meal ideas in the past which i referred to when putting the menu together so to avoid mental blanks. We also have a takeaway night once a fortnight which is on Saturdays to give me a break from cooking.

So on Tuesday afternoon with shopping list and menu on my clip board i headed off to the supermarket. My normal fortnight shopping budget was around $250 which feeds 6 adults/teenagers and my 4 pet birds, chickens, ducks and 2 dogs, plus a top up in the second week of around $50 or so.

This is how it all went.

So far i have only been to Aldi and Coles, but i do have a couple of non-urgent things still left on the shopping list that i will pick up at the other 2 supermarkets in the next few days.
This is my shopping tally so far:
Aldi  $141.05
Coles $62.15

I am pretty happy with that. I did have a good amount of meat in the freezer as i had a couple of kilos of mince, 3 trays of sausage meat and 20 chicken breasts from a recent visit to a discount butchers called Tasmin Meats, which had cost me all up a total of $34.64
So the running total so far for all the shopping that i have done is for the month is $240.14 which is around the amount spent of a fortnights shop not adding in the top-up i would do in week 2.

I will keep updating and add in any further spending including the takeaway meals as i go until we see the final tally at the end of the 4 weeks.
Wish me luck! :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Home Made Bread Machine Bread Mix

I make my on bread daily and to save me time each morning i make up my own bread mix ahead of time.
My bread mix is then stored in zip bags which i re-use for next time.
I have put a lot of trial and error into my bread mix and have now got to the point that i am happy to share it with you.

This is what i put into the mix.
4 Cups of cheap plain flour, i use 1 cup of wholemeal flour and 3 cups of white. You can use any plain flour you choose.
1 teasp of sugar
1 1/2 teasp of salt.
1 teasp of bread improver, available at the supermarket near the flour and yeast.
put these dry ingredients into the bag and store in the pantry
To make the bread mix up.
Put all dry ingredients into the bread machine and add:
1 tbsp of oil
2 teasp of dry yeast
1 3/4 cups of water at room temp.
During the mixing process just check that the ingredients have combined and that the dough is not to dry. It should have formed a nice looking ball that is not to sticky to the touch, If you find it a bit dry add a little more water, if its to sticky add a little more flour. Be sure to add these extras while the mixing process is still going.

Start your machine on either the dough setting to the full settings to make the loaf in the machine from start to finish.
I only make the dough in the bread machine so i can shape it my self into loaves or rolls. If you using the machine for dough the process will take aprox 1.5 hours, after the cycle has finished remove the dough and make loaves etc.
Let it rise again in a warm place until it doubles in size and bake in a moderate oven until golden brown.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A handy frugal hint...... homemade cake mix.

I thought i would share a handy and frugal hint today.

Make your own cake, cookie or bread mix and always have it on hand for when your short of time and need to bake something in a hurry.

Simply measure all your dry ingredients of your favorite cake, cookie or bread recipe etc and put them into a ziplock bags in the pantry and you will always have these mixes on hand. Saves buying expensive cake, cookie and bread mixes. With your homemade mix you will know what exactly has going into it too. No added preservatives and other nasty additives and with a basic mix they will end up being a lot cheaper too. To make them up just add the required wet ingredients and there you go.

I will share with you a basic cake mix recipe and explain how to use it.

Basic vanilla cake mix.
Dry ingredients:

2 cups sr flour
2/3 cup sugar

add these to a bag or container if your prefer.

Wet ingredients:

125g melted butter
2 large egg
1tsp vanilla
3/4 cup of milk.

To make the cake: simply combine all wet ingredients and add them to the dry mix and combine them well. Then just put it all into your greased cake tin or muffin pans and bake. You can also add other goodies to the dry mix if you like such as chocolate chips, sultanas or even some 2 tablespoons cocoa to make it chocolate (you may need to add a little more milk if you do).

If you have a favorite cookie or bread recipe that you make at home often, try making it into a dry mix to also keep in the pantry. If you come across a recipe that asks you to cream the butter and sugar together don't worry, just melt the butter into the wet ingredients when you make it and it will work out just fine.

Your only limited by your imagination when it comes to making up mixes for later use.

Please note: if your making bread mix do not add the yeast into it until your ready to use it. Yeast must be stored in the fridge.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Water tank update, vege garden and my ducks

Well it has been a while since my last blog but i have some exciting news. My water tank has been set up.
It will hold a 1000 LTRS of water when full. It does have some water in it now as you can see in the photo its a little dirty, but its only for the garden. In the future I will also be using it to fill the bath for my 2 ducks Mickey & Molly.

Molly in the front has a deformed beak, its called cross beak but it doesn't effect him at all he manages to gobble down his food without a problem. They are both grown up now and Mickey started laying eggs for me on Feb 1st. They are both Indian Runner Ducks and Molly is a crested, hence the tuft of top of his head. I will try to get more pics of them soon and do a blog about them in the future.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Going Green

Last Tuesday was very exciting for me as my solar power was installed. I purchased a 1.56kw inverter with 8 panels. At this stage of our life with 6 of us living under this roof this should generate on average about 1/4 of our daily power. Later in the year we will be down to 4 of us so then im sure our power usage will do down a lot more. I had a call today from the power company letting me know that the inspector had been out and had sent in the paper work for my solar system. The next step is that they have to send someone out to program my meter to be able to feed my power back into the grid. They also told me it could take a max of up to 40 business days to have this done. Its a long time to wait and i hope it doesn't take that long but im sure it will be worth waiting for.

My next venture in being more green to  have my water tank set up to the down pipe so i have have free water for my vege garden. Its in the process and will be done in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Welcome to my new blog.
What i am going to aim to put into this blog, is a little about everything i do within my business and home life, including my new love of frugal living, growing, cooking, preserving and making do. I will also share some of my money saving tips with you as well as my favorite recipes. I am also a mother to 3 great kids and being able to work from home is a benefit to us all. We live in country Victoria in a very productive town called Bacchus Marsh which is know for producing lots of  types of fruits and well as many vegetable market gardens. I also grow our own veges, fruit and have my own chickens and ducks.

This blog will give everyone a chance get to know the real person behind my business The Rose Garden Boutique.
I first started selling online in March 2001 when i was first introduced to eBay by a lady that I had got to know over the internet from the US and its all grown from there. The Rose Garden Boutique has been operating as a full online business for just over 3 years and boy has it grown quickly from there. Prior to the internet I did a lot of work for Panda yarns working with designers to make their prototype designs and also making items to be photographed for their pattern books. I also made designer hats for a wool mill to be sold in the mills store, this i did when my children were babies.
I had first started the online business with the reborn doll market in mind, making clothing to fit these special dolls. In 2010 I started making hats again and found that there was a market for the hats to be for not only  dolls and babies but also for photographers as props. I then moved away from the dolls side of it and now work only with the babies and children accessories market and photo props.
I opened my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/therosegardenboutique late in 2010 and since have over 700 followers on my page, which has been a valuable tool to have promote my business and skills.

So i hope this has given you a bit of an in site into my world, skills and the beginning of The Rose Garden Boutique.