It's all gone to seed

A great way to save of money is to let your herbs go to seed.
You then get many, many more all over the place and they fill in all of the gaps, and you don't have to buy the herbs, or the seeds.
Let them go to seed!

Something else that is worth checking out that a friend of mine, Shell, stumbled upon is this great website, Gardenate. This site guides you through your planting calender for your particular climate zone. You can subscribe to it and get emails about when you need to plant what vegies and herbs...worth a look. If you are in Melbourne, you are in the Australia - Temperate zone. There is information in there to guide you through it. Thanks Shell.

Clear it out & make some money!

Well there comes a time in everyones life when you look around and realise that you are completely surrounded by "stuff". Some of it is good and, some of it is just too much. So this is the time to make the decision as to what you are going to do with it.

It happened to us because we now have an extra house worth of "stuff" in ours due to the emptying out of a grandparent's house, and it is really hard to let go of most of it. That being said, we can't actually keep all of it. So, it is time to clear out. Lots has gone to the op shop, we already had a GS (garage sale) and now, after the third shipment from Wang we are selling some of the "stuff" on ebay.

So if you like "stuff", get into it! If you need to clear stuff out, set up your own ebay account, and sell off. Too easy. Hot tip is: always start at $0.99. Whatever you make from it is more than you would have made if you didn't sell it - don't be greedy because you probably won't sell it. It really is just another way of recycling.

Environmentally Safe Oven Cleaner

I have realised that I didn't tell you how to clean the oven the the cloudy omission. I am sorry. Here it is.

You need:

1 cup of water & 1/2 cup of cloudy ammonia. Mix them together in an oven proof dish or bowl that you don't use anymore & place them in the warm oven for 10-15 mins or longer if the oven is like mine & REALLY dirty. You could always just leave it in overnight & clean it the next day if you can't be bothered.
When done, wipe off the burnt scum and grim with a scourer (use elbow grease...muscles...if you have to) and bicarb.
Give the oven a good wipe over with a clean damp cloth. We use old nappies (nice & soft) cut into 4 and overlocked.

A few things that you need to know about cloudy ammonia. It isn't damaging to the environment and is quickly converted to natural salts, however, the vapours are highly irritating to the eyes and nose. People who have chronic respiratory problems should not use it. Don't use it in enclosed spaces. In high concentration, it attack the lung membranes. Wear a surgical mask when using.

Save Money and Save the Environment Cleaning your Kitchen

When you are cleaning the kitchen, you don't need all of those bottles of cleaners, sprays, sanitisers and sprays. You can keep your kitchen clean and healthy without them and keep the environment healthier, and know that you are keeping your family healthier without all of those chemicals.

You will need a stock of :
  • Bicarbonate Soda (bicarb) - cleansing agent
  • White Vinegar - it has antimicrobial properties & effectively removes soil and mineral deposits such as hard water films.
  • Cloudy Ammonia - use this in the oven as an alternate to the highly toxic oven cleaners.
  • Pure Soap
Tables and Benches
Use bicarb and a fine scourer and a damp cloth to give it a really good clean and then give it a final wipe over with the vinegar.

Sink and Stovetop
I rub the sink with bicarb on a damp cloth for a lovely bright shiny and clean finish. The stovetop may need to have a paste of the bicarb left on the burnt bits for a little while with a very damp cloth to loosen them up .

This just needs a wipe down with bicarb & damp cloth and then finish with white vinegar. I also leave an open box of bicarb inside the Fridge and Freezer to absorb the odours for about 3 months. You could also wipe over the inside with vanilla.

These can be wiped with white vinegar on a cloth & use bicarb first if there is a lot of mess to clean up.

Burnt pots
Put some bicarb in the bottom and leave to stand, then wash. OR Fill up the hot saucepan with cold water immediately, wait for this to cool, then scrape, then put the bicarb in & leave to stand.

I hope this helps your kitchen to smell a little better. If you find you are still reaching for a chemical, email me & I will find a solution for you.

Save Money on Muesli

Make your own muesli and have a healthier household and a healthier wallet.

Meg's Muesli
1.1 kg of whole rolled oats
1 kg of processed bran
500g fresh nuts (crushed)
200g pitted dates, chopped (can be changed with other fruit)
200g dried apricots, chopped (can be changed with other fruit)
small handful of sesame seeds
small handful of linseeds
small handful of pumpkin seeds
small handful of sunflower seeds

Toss this all together and put it into a sealed container & enjoy.

See over here for my toasted muesli recipe.

How to eat cheap organic vegetables

the sticks in the garden were used to fend off the birds whilst the seedlings were little

Yesterday after the kids came home from school, while the wind was gusting around I took the time to fertlise the winter vegetable plants (that are planted in my organic compost and hay no-dig garden beds) so that hopefully they will be a little more productive. I then got a little overexcited and fertlised all of my new bulbs, my herbs, my old tree fern and all of my pot plants.

I used the worm juice from the worm farm (which is the best fertiliser because it is free) and diluted this with water in our watering can, and when I ran out of that, I used Seasol which is an Australian made 100% organic seaweed fertliser.

Such a good feeling knowing that the vegies that you reap have been grown with organic processes.

Snip Snip Snippetty Snip

I snip snipped, chippety chopped the boys hair and my hair on the weekend. We set up the kitchen as our own little salon & put the music on & talked about interesting things that we have been doing. The kids wriggled on their stool. I asked them what they had come into have done today.... Meggie Scissorhands went to work! Then I relaxed & created my own little hairstyle.

Ta Da!

Here are some tips for the home hair cutting.
1. Be brave: hair will grow back

2. Start with small amounts: you can always cut more, but you can't stick it back on.

3. Do what the hairdresser does: you've seen them do it a squillion times, just copy them. If you are doing your own hair, I suggest using one of those bag clips (like the red one in my picture) to hold your hair either horizontally or vertically or diagonally whilst you snip, depending on what effect you are after.

4. Use water: it helps to hold the hair down

5. Get good tools: you will need

a) a mirror,

b) hair cutting scissors,

c) fine comb,

d) bag clip,

e) hair thinning scissors (it helps to "blur" the lines in the cuts),

f) spray bottle of water, and

g) a cape to keep the hair off you

6. A sense of fun: it is a lot of fun cutting your own hair, it is just another way to express your creativity. Get into it

Good ol' fashioned Corned beef

We had corned beef for tea last night and it was a hit. It was really easy to cook & even easier to eat.

about 1.5kg of Silverside from the butcher (any leftovers are great for lunches)
3 cloves of garlic, whole
2 sticks of celery, chopped roughly
6 carrots, chopped roughly
1 onion whole with skin on
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of peppercorns

First of all pop the silverside in a really big pot & cover it with cold water & bring it to the boil then turn it off & discard the water. Then cover it again with cold water & add the vegies & herbs and bring to boil again, then turn down & simmer. Let it simmer for about 1 hour.

Whilst this is simmering, boil up some potatoes and cauliflower to go with the meal and make some white sauce (add a teaspoon of mustard for extra yummy flavour).

Pull the meat out & slice it up & pull out the carrots & celery with a slotted spoon & dish up on the plate. Pour white sauce over the cauliflower & the meat. Yummitty yum. Comfort food.

Granny knows best

Did you see the article in The Sunday Age yesterday talking about how more & more people are harking back to thrifty ways of living? It's becoming more of a norm. It's OK to be thrifty. We don't have to be ashamed of saving the leftovers and remaking them into a pie, or only wearing clothes that came from "handovers" (that's for when you have actually stopped growing and people donate you clothes), op shops or garage sales. 

We are now Proud of Thrift, because it is actually a smarter, more creative way of living. Jump on the bandwagon and join in the fun. This is how our Grandparents all did it and I am sure that it made them better people.

Yummy Baked Beans

This is something that is really filling and warms up the house as it cooks, is really cheap to make, tastes fantastic and fills the house with welcoming homely smells. It is really easy to make and any left overs can be frozen or stored for up to seven days in the fridge (I'm having some for lunch today).

375g dried cannellini beans (or red kidney or borlotti beans) soaked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion diced or 20cm of leek diced
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 carrots diced
2 rashes bacon diced
2 red capsicum diced
1 green capsicum diced
1 400 gm tin diced tomatoes with juice
2 generous tablespoons ajvar (paprika relish which you can get from your deli)
2 generous tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
enough water to cover the beans
1/4 cup maple syprup (or treacle, golden syprup or honey)
Pop the oven onto 160 degrees celcius. Rinse the soaked beans, put them into a pot covering them with cold water, then bring it to a boil, then strain & rinse with cold water.

Whilst the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a a large cast iron casserole dish and saute onion/leek, garlic, carrot and bacon for 5 minutes, then add the capsicum. Puree the tomato with a stick blender and add to the casserole dish with beans, ajvar, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, sweet paprika, coriander, salt & pepper. Mix well and add enough water to cover the beans by about 5 cm. Put the casserole dish into the oven with lid on & bake for at least 4 hours stirring at least every 2 hours. Make sure that it is not getting too dry, if so, add a little more water and turn the temperature down a little.

After 4 hours, add the maple syrup and any extra salt & pepper if needed. The sauce should be nice & rich by now.

If too thick, add more water.
If too runny, increase oven temperature and continue to cook.

We like to have it with baked potatoes that I pop into the oven 40 minutes before it finishes cooking, coleslaw and grated cheese. What would you like to have with it?
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