Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rice Bubble Treats

I gave this recipe a try this week much to the kids excitement. It took less than 5 minutes to throw together so was very quick and easy.

Melt 3 cups marshmallows and 50g butter together. Pour over 2 cups of rice bubbles and stir together. Flatten into a small slice tray (you could use a plastic container or whatever). I then sprinkled some rainbow choc decorations I had leftover in the cupboard on top. You could also sprinkle with choc chips. Another variation is to add 100s and 1000s to the mix.

Set in fridge then cut into whatever size pieces you like. I cut mine into small bar shapes (like a slightly smaller version of an LCM bar).

The most expensive part of the recipe was the marshmallows (I used a generic brand). Next time I make it I'm going to try making my own marshmallow and see how that goes.


I've finished my grocery shopping for May and ended up spending a grand total of $496.06! This is my highest monthly spend so far this year but did include a 5 week month and a fairly large stock up shop so I'm still happy with that. The best bit is that the fridge and cupboard are both looking healthily stocked. I've just calculated that my total grocery spend so far for this year is $2198.95 which when averaged over the 22 weeks comes out at $99.95 a week. That is a result I am absolutely STOKED with. It was a bit of a fun challenge to try and get my average spend to under the $100 a week average. All the time I'm enjoying the challenge, I intend to keep going with it. At the point it becomes "no longer fun", I'll know it's time to move on to something different. In my opinion frugality should be more about creativity than deprivation.

Monday, May 28, 2007


We've had Nan and Pa (my parents) visiting this weekend so the house has been a hive of activity. The kids excitement level skyrockets when we have visitors. :-) Which is nice but can also be quite exhausting.

Well the 2 older kids are back at school this morning and Nan and Pa have headed off home. DH has taken the youngest with him while he checks the sheep.

So the house is QUIET!!!! Aaaaahhhhh!!!

It's nice having lots of people around but the silence really is golden as they say.

I looked out the kitchen window this morning for the first time in a few days and the countryside is GREEN! What a beautiful sight. We had more rain last night as well so that was a very welcome arrival. It's good now to keep getting showers to keep everything nice and damp. DH is so pleased with how quickly our crops have sprung out of the ground this year. Getting the crop in a little earlier this year (due to earlier rainfall than we've gotten the past few years) has meant the soil is still warm and the seeds have germinated quickly.

I've noticed a lot more smiles when I'm out and about than I've been seeing over the past few month. Where's there is rain there is hope. :-)

Peace and Quiet, beautiful green countryside and rain. There are 3 things to be really thankful for this morning. What's bringing a smile to your face today?

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Day the Computer Died

Isn't it funny how we don't know how much we truly rely on something until we no longer have it? Last Sunday our computer died a slow and painful death. We tried several attempts to revive it but it just got sicker and sicker on each restart until finally it could hold on no longer. It's okay though, no need for tears. Our trusty computer doctor is doing a heart transplant as we speak and we should have our computer back with us in a week or so.

It's been very quiet around here without our computer. For something that barely says a word, it's amazing how much personality it added to my days. Okay, it's really the connection with others far away that provides the "noise" of the computer in my life. The house seemed so empty and lonely. I spent most of my days spinning in circles not sure where to start and desperately wanting to just get on the computer and touch base with my net friends.

Poor DS has also been afflicted with "computerlessitis". He has an AFL dream team as well as playing some AFL competition to do with his AFL cards. Come Monday morning he was devastated that he couldn't check his team scores to see how well he did over the weekend. By Wednesday morning he was more concerned with how he was going to arrange his team for the current weekends play than finding out his scores for last weekend. Thankfully my brother came to the rescue there.

DD couldn't understand why she couldn't play her games after school. DH couldn't get his weather update or go truck shopping. I couldn't do a search for a recipe I wanted to make up.

I'm not sure if you'd class us as being "addicted" to the computer. But it sure has infiltrated our lives in many many ways.

How am I writing this post then you ask? Well DH in his usual "white knight to the rescue" mode couldn't cope with a despondant wife and grumpy children so he went out and bought a new one with money he doesn't have. :-) He's been needing an excuse to buy a second computer for some time now as he just about needs a crowbar to get onto the computer for business purposes (what the computer was originally bought for).

So we have a new little toy to play with. It wasn't expensive but it sure fills a lot of gaps in our life right now. All I have to do now is wait with baited breath to see how much our kind computer doctor has been able to save from our dying hard drive.

For those of you who I'm in contact with privately - you might like to drop me an email. I'm not ignoring you by not returning your messages. I no longer have said messages nor your email address. So I'm hoping you either drop by here or give up waiting and decide to email me again. :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Visit to the Dentist

My track record with going to the dentist isn't all that wonderful. I had the regular visits in primary school and then in the next 20 years (gee, is it really that long since I left primary school?) I went once, for a filling in a tooth that was hurting.

Last year I decided enough was enough so I made myself go for a check-up when DH went for his. Unfortunately the timing wasn't real great and I ended up visiting the dentist around the same time as I had my nervous breakdown. In fact, going to the dentist was the last thing I managed to do before completely hitting rock bottom. Poor dentist, it wasn't his fault. I ended up in tears despite him being very kind.

I did learn one thing though. Being afraid to go to the dentist is quite a common problem. My dentist was able to give me quite a number of treatment options in regard to my anxiety. The first of which was a Penthrox inhaler which has some kind of relaxant in it. I'm figuring if there are so many options available then it can't be just me that struggles with anxiety at the dentist.

Unfortunately my recovery from the nervous breakdown and dealing with other issues in my life has made my recovery slower than we expected and so my first treatment appointment had to be postponed several times until yet another year had flown past.

Well, finally, yesterday, I managed to go!!!! This was a HUGE milestone for me and a sign that I really am well on the road to recovery. I did use the Penthrox inhaler and it definitely helped me to relax.

While I was there I was thinking about why I'm so terrified of dentists. During the last 3 years of primary school we had the school dentist at the school we attended so when we were due a check up or needed treatment they would come and get us from class. The school dentist was very distant and quite scary and his nurse was never very nice to us. I don't know if I was unlucky with my school dentist or whether dental practices in general have improved. I know that I'm thankful to now have a very kind, caring and gentle dentist. I remember my last visit to the school dentist quite clearly. I have a very crowded mouth and most of my baby teeth had to be pulled by the dentist in order to allow enough room for my adult teeth to come through. Eventually they had to pull 4 adult teeth to help make room in my mouth (and it's still crowded). On my last visit to the school dentist I had 4 teeth pulled and then was sent back to class and expected to walk home! Thankfully it was near the end of the day and my teacher took pity on me and drove me home when school finished. To make matters worse, the dentist was treating 2 patients at the same time so he administered the anaesthetic to my mouth and was longer than expected returning (nearly an hour). Ouch! I certainly wasn't in any hurry to get back in that dentists chair.

So, if you're like me and hate visits to the dentist - consider talking to your dentist about options like the Penthrox inhaler. It cost me $40 but it sure was a $40 well spent!

Who else prefers to procrastinate when it comes to going to the dentist? Anyone else need to bite the bullet and just go?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Photo Time

I'm terribly disorganised when it comes to photo's. Only recently have I updated our photo albums after being quite a few years behind. I'm told it's a common problem people have (being behind with their photo organisation). Today I have finally downloaded our full camera onto the computer so thought I'd post a few pikkies on here (providing I can work out how to do it).

The first one is my little man (our youngest) on his 3rd Birthday (which was last December). We were able to get him this ride on tractor as a freebie when we bought our Pajero from the local Case dealer. He really loves his loader and particularly likes to park it in the shed next to dad's loader (which is nowhere near as flash as this one by the way lol). You might be able to tell that he also got a fireman set for his birthday.

This one is my DD on her 6th birthday. She had a swimming pool cake. This year dad helped her to decorate her cake (mum wasn't well). I was going to put up a photo of them doing that together but I'm not sure DH would thank me for that. LOL. It was a very special time for them both.

And this one is our little crows fan on his 9th birthday. It seems like just yesterday that he was a baby. They tell you how quickly the time goes but it's hard to believe until it happens.

Good Quote

Just read this quote and really liked it. Figured my best chance of not losing it is to post it on here. LOL.

The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it

John Ruskin

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Just Drove A Truck!!!

Now there's something I never thought I would do. DH got his truck bogged in the paddock (nice and wet after nearly an inch of rain on Monday night - hooray!). At first he thought I'd just need to steer it for him but when that didn't work he needed me to actually drive it. Driving it entailed the same process as moving forward in a manual vehicle (holding clutch in then accelerating as you let the clutch out). DH was able to start it and get it all in gear for me. So it wasn't *really* driving it. LOL. And I only had to go all of 10-20 metres. But it sure gave me a buzz sitting way up there in the drivers seat feeling like I was driving the truck. I'm also glad I've been building up my leg muscles as holding the clutch took quite a bit of strength to push down and hold down!

So there's number 1 for my "101 experiences in life I thought I'd never have"!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vegetable Lentil Loaf

It's been a tough week this week so I haven't quite made it back to talk about how the Vegetable Lentil Loaf went on Saturday. Sorry about that.

I served it with brown gravy in an attempt to "disguise" the lack of meat. It went down okay with DH and I although we're still struggling to get used to the texture (a bit like the chickpea patties). The kids were a little bit less than impressed. My 9 year old's comment during the dinner conversation was "I'm going to be the healthiest kid in my class". It was said in a way that suggested being healthy wasn't his most favourite thing in the world. LOL. I told him I'd be quite happy for him to be the healthiest kid in his class. :-) As I've been introducing new foods I've been talking to the kids about the importance of eating healthily and having a wider variety of foods in our diet.

DH has suggested that I use some mince in it next time to kind of disguise the texture a bit. While it will then no longer be vegetarian, we both feel it's more important to increase our intake of beans and legumes and reduce our intake of meat, rather than strictly try to eat vegetarian meals. So we need to find ways to do this that we're all going to enjoy, rather than "suffer" through. Personally I think it's just a matter of adjusting our taste buds. But slowly, slowly is the way to go here so I don't have a revolt on my hands. LOL.

There was a little bit left over and I had a couple of slices cold for lunch the next day. It was delicious cold!!!! DH tried it cold but wasn't quite so impressed. He did heat up a couple of slices and had it with a plate of salad for lunch though - so obviously he didn't really mind it. There was one thin slice left so today I diced it up and chucked it into a pot of soup I'm making.

In case anyone is interested, here is the recipe. It is my own adaptation of a recipe that was posted on one of my yahoo groups. I seem to have this problem with making a recipe exactly as written - always have to change it a little bit to make it "mine" (or to suit our tastes). :-)


3 cups green lentils (the original recipe says brown but I couldn't find any)
2 carrots, grated
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup breadcrumbs
200g tomato paste
1/2 onion, grated (if you like chunks of onion you can dice it)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 180C
Grease loaf pan
Process/blend half lentils until smooth (I just stuck my stab mixer into the whole lot a few times so they were partially blended)
Mix ingredients together
Press into tin and bake 30-35 minutes
Leave to stand in tin for 5 minutes before turning out

This week I also cooked up some diced steak in the crockpot. I added a tin of beef and vegetable soup I had in the cupboard plus some gravy mix and cornflour. The first night we had a steak pie (by adding a sheet of puff pastry). I then added some red kidney beans (some that I'd prepared earlier lol) from the freezer to stretch it a bit and made some of that into shepherds pie. The kids didn't bat an eyelid at the beans in the shepherd's pie. DH proclaimed that one a success! :-) I really quite enjoyed it. So we'll do that one again.

Today I've been making up a big batch of vegetable soup in the crockpot. I started with some yellow split peas and added a tin of pureed tomatoes that I had in the cupboard as well as some onion, garlic and mixed herbs. Later I added some chopped carrot, potato and sweet potato which were the vegies I happened to have on hand. I added another frozen container of red kidney beans and also wanted to add a can of chickpeas. When I grabbed the can of chickpeas and opened it, I discovered it was a can of cannelinni beans. So they went in as well as the can of chickpeas. Taste tested some this afternoon. It is delicious!!!! Such a comforting thing to have for lunch on a cold day. And is filled with lots of goodies. The crockpot is almost full so that's about 6 litres of soup. Will freeze some I think. Haven't worked out how much it cost me to make but I'm guessing not very much.

Can you tell I'm having lots of fun finding ways to add beans, peas and legumes to our daily diet? :-) I've almost used up all that I bought last shop so will have to stock up again soon.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Pottering in the Kitchen

I've done quite a bit of pottering in the kitchen this week. Trying out a few new recipes and generally having fun. :-)

I made custard from scratch for the first time and that was a great hit with the family. I'm gradually trying to decrease the number of colours and additives in our diet so this is one more step along the road. For anyone wanting a recipe, here it is:


heat 300ml milk (around 2 min on high in the microwave)

1 beaten egg
1 Tbsp cornflour
2 Tbsp sugar
few drops vanilla

Use a small amount of milk to mix it together.

Pour hot milk into this mixture and stir well.

Heat on high for 2-4 minutes, stirring every minute.

Next time I need to remember to double the recipe as this wasn't quite enough for our family of 5.

I also made a chocolate custard recipe this week. We found it a little bit strong and a little bit firm in comparison to the yogo's that the whole family loves. So I'm going to play around with the recips a bit more and I'll keep you posted on how that turns out.


I love finding new ways to create the same things for less money. Of course, that has to be balanced up against time and hassle factor as well so I've never been real keen to make my own yoghurt from scratch (even though it is definitely the cheapest way to make yoghurt).

A few years ago I bought myself an Easiyo yoghurt making kit. It's almost foolproof as you just add water to the Easiyo sachet, shake and then pop the whole thing into the provided thermos with boiling water added. It works out cheaper than store bought yoghurt. I usually have to pay anywhere from $3.50-$5.50 for yoghurt here (depending on sales). With the Easiyo I can make yoghurt whenever we want it for just under $3.00 a kg.

I have tried a few suggestions for ways to make the Easiyo yoghurt a little cheaper but so far haven't had much success and had returned to making it with the full sachet and putting up with the cost.

This week I came across a new recipe for the Easiyo and decided to try again. This time it seems to have worked much better and has gone down really well with the family.

If you have an Easiyo maker here's the recipe:

1 1/3 cups powdered milk
1/3 cup sugar
tsp vanilla (make sure it's imitation with no alcohol in it as the alcohol will kill your bacteria)
2 Tbsp Easiyo sachet as a starter (shake pkt first to make sure the yoghurt culture is evenly mixed through the pack before you start or you could get it all in the one batch and none left for the next one)


Made a variation on plain biscuits by adding plum jam to the mix. They certainly smelt good while they were baking! I love how versatile basic biscuits are when it comes to using up bits and pieces you have in the fridge/cupboard. It's amazing how much cheaper this basic biscuit mix is even compared to plain generic brand biscuits. Of course, it does then depend on what you add to the mix as to the final cost. I think I might use up the last of my custard powder mix in my next batch.


I bought my first ever turkey drumsticks this week while they were on special. They were just under $3 each and weighed about 1kg. That's some drumstick! I'm trying to add some turkey to our diet as it's supposed to contain tryptophan. Not necessarily a real frugal meat so it's a bit of a new challenge. I cooked the 2 legs in the crockpot then chopped all the meat up fine and made up 3 meals worth of turkey patties (similar to chicken patties). We haven't eaten any yet so the proof will be in the tasting. I also made a container of stock. So that will give us 4 meals for $6. Can't complain about the frugality of that figure.


The kids really love these but at $1+ each they're a bit on the expensive side for us to have very often. This week I bought some chicken thighs on special so I've made up a meal (which is 13 kebabs for our family). Cost to me was around $5 which is quite a bit cheaper than $13+ and we're less likely to come across any horrible bits that haven't been cut out of the chicken like we do with the bought ones. I was working out an hourly savings rate for this. It took me around 15 minutes to cut up the chicken, thread it onto skewers and marinate. At a saving of $8 for the meal that's around $32 an hour post tax money. Well worth the effort for me.


I tried using the leftover Cannellini Beans in my lunch time salads the other week and really liked that. I think so far the Cannellini Beans are my favourite for adding to my salad. :-)

Tonight we're having Vegetable Lentil Loaf for tea. This is my first experience with green lentils (they're cooking in the crockpot right now) so I'll let you know what we think of it. Fingers crossed it'll be a new dish we can add to our reportoire.


My final grocery spending figure for April was $419.83 so I was really happy with that. I did some calculations and so far my average for the year is $100.17 per week. This is down slightly on an earlier average calculation of $102.80. My challenge now is to see if I can bring that average weekly spend figure down to under the $100 mark.

May has 5 shopping weeks (I usually shop Wednesdays) so my goal is to see if I can spend under $450 with 5 shops. I'm not expecting that to be real easy so we'll see how we go. First shop for May I spent $57.75 - so far so good. I will have an opportunity to do a pantry stock up later in the month so there's where my biggest challenge is going to lie.