"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - September 2013

This issue includes:-

  1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: The Proof is in the Pants!
  2. September: Get Moving!
  3. PowerCooking: It's Not Just Cooking, It's EXTREME Cooking!
  4. Ye Olde Shoppe: We're Nuts About Macadamia Oil!
  5. Penny Wise: Soul Searching
  6. Best of the Vault: Wiggle it, Just a Little Bit!
  7. Best of the Forum: Don't Just LOSE Weight, GAIN Health!
  8. Best Members' Blog: SS to the Rescue!
  9. Hidden Gem: Aus Sewmobile
  10. Cooking with Mimi: Kitchen Survival Skills... Budget Biryani with Raw Chutney and Apple Raita
  11. Claire's Corner: Join me and Get Fit (For Free) This Summer!
  12. 50c Indulgences: Wartime Farm
  13. Rob Bob's Gardening Blog: Bees, Seeds and Baby Plants!
  14. From Last Month: How to Secure my Home?
  15. This Month's Help Request: How to Get Rid of that Doggy Smell?


How are you going? We had a fantastic August getting back into the garden and enjoying the warmer weather. I really wanted to get our herb garden up and running again – there is nothing like cooking with fragrant fresh herbs - and as PowerCooking has become a bit of an addiction in this household (even the kids get involved), it was great timing! We are delighted that so many of you have done your first PowerCooking Power Hour - we have loved reading your feedback. Here are some of this month's favourites:

"Oh Fiona, it's brilliant. Each fortnight my husband asks me to organise something like this but as neither of us can organise our way out of a paper bag we fall back into old menu habits! This is JUST what I need. I nearly cried when I saw it!" (Kate)

"I love the 'serving' function where I can choose to cook for 4 (enough for my family), 6 (dinner and the following days lunch) or 8 (eat a serve, freeze a serve)." (Ellen)

"This is an excellent idea. I found all the information useful and well organised. I also learned something (the storing two portions in one container tip). I know people who will love this site, including my mum who hates cooking and finds it difficult to 'throw things together' the way accomplished cooks do. I also know lots of working mums in their 40's (my age) who will love this. Two thumbs up from me." (Linda)

Have a great month!
All the best,
Fiona Lippey

1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: The Proof is in the Pants!

“Sal? SAL! Where are you? Just come and have a look at this!” Pete shouted as he waddled down the hall. “What’s up love? Oh dear, what’s happened there? They’ve split right down the back, teehee!” Sally giggled. “Honestly, I can’t believe the poor quality of things these days,” grumbled Pete. “I’ve had these for ONE WEEK! Well I’m not putting up with it. I’m taking them back first thing in the morning and asking for my money back!”

“Pete – darling – you know, I’m not sure it’s the PANTS that are the problem,” Sally said gently. “I think they’re just the wrong size. You’re not a size 32 anymore!” “What do you mean? I’ve worn this size for more than 20 years!” Pete said indignantly. “Yes, you have – but these past few months I think you’ve expanded!” Chuckled Sal. “I know, you’re right,” Pete sighed, pulling at his waistband sadly. “But what can I do about it?”

“Well... either start getting some exercise or stop drinking so much beer. That should do it!” Sally said brightly. “Give up my beer?” Pete said, appalled. “No way!” Sal replied, “Fine, you’d better dust off your exercise bike then!” Pete groaned. “Excellent! Oh – and you can give those pants to me too!” Sally grinned. “Why? What are you going to do with them?” Pete asked suspiciously. “I’m going to mend them,” came the reply. “And then I’m going to hang them up where you can see them every day until you can fit into them again!”

2. September: Get Moving!

Poor Pete – he may be experiencing some trouble with his pants but there are an awful lot of us who have been in his shoes! It's hard when the realisation hits that you are not as healthy or thin as you would like to be. It's embarrassing, it's disheartening, it's depressing – but it's not the end of the world. In Pete's case it's not irreparable or irreversible; he just either needs to make a couple of minor changes to his lifestyle – or get used to buying bigger pants! It's the same case with most of us when we find ourselves in the same situation. We have a choice. We can either keep complaining and feeling bad that we don't look or feel the way we want to (or be like Pete and blame the clothes!) - or we can do something positive about it so that we can feel good about ourselves again.

Well guess what? September is 'GET MOVING' month and we want EVERYONE to get on board and get moving with us! If you are already an active person, well done! Keep up the good work. However, if you are one of life's procrastinators when it comes to exercise, or if you're worried you won't be fitting into that pretty dress this summer, or are carrying a few extra kilos like our friend Pete, this month is your chance to make a change.

It is time to make a choice!

How are you going to get active this month? Taking control of your own fitness doesn't have to mean spending hundreds of dollars at the gym. Here are some easy ways to get started:

Dust off that old bike! Travelling by bike is such a fun way to get around it hardly even seems like exercise! Drag that old bike out of the shed, dust it off and get pedalling!

Start a walking group. Ask around or put a notice up at your local play centre, mothers group, community group and so on. You'll probably find there are plenty of other people who would love the chance for some company and to get out in the fresh air.

Begin a boot camp! These are very trendy at the moment and organised eight or 10-week programs are popping up all over the place - but with a little imagination you can create your own with a group of like-minded people. Put a note on Facebook, ‘Who wants to exercise with me?’ If you Google 'boot camp exercise ideas' you can bring up heaps of results to get your brain ticking and body moving. My local boot camp has a blast making use of the equipment at the local kids' playground at 6am!

Borrow an exercise DVD. You can get these from your library on anything from Zumba to kick boxing to Pilates. Ask around to see if any of your friends have some they wouldn't mind lending to you to try. Or, if all else fails, put on one of the kids' DVDs and get them to groove around with you. Nothing wrong with working out to The Wiggles!

Make the most of your lunch hour. Let's face it, who really needs an hour to scoff a sandwich? Instead of scouring the shops or hanging out on Facebook, use this time to go for a walk. There is always time for exercise! It's just up to us to make that time to fit it in.

Pick up a pedometer. According to experts we should aim to take at least 10,000 steps per day – but how many of us do? Put a pedometer on your phone or pick up one for around $20 and discover how many steps you take in a day. You may be in for a shock, but this is just the kind of motivation it takes for some of us to get moving. Google '10,000 steps' for more tips and advice or visit 10,000 Steps

Find an app-y way to exercise. Apps are brilliant free little motivators! You can download them to help with just about any kind of exercise – running, cycling, walking, even push-ups and sit-ups. The technology is amazing so make the most of them and use them to help you get out the door and keep you on track.

That little lot should be enough to get you started! Have fun this month getting fit and active – we will! But remember, the buck stops with you! If you really want to do it, you WILL find the time. Good luck!

3. PowerCooking: It's Not Just Cooking, It's EXTREME Cooking!

Thank you for your wonderful responses to PowerCooking! We have lots of fantastic stories from PowerCooks who have successfully completed their first Power Hours. If you haven't had a look yet, PowerCooking is a completely different way of multi-tasking in the kitchen where you can use different cooking methods to cook three different dishes and up to 20 serves – in just one hour. The delicious dishes have been crafted by foodie Kate Andrew who spent hundreds of hours perfecting them so they would taste just as good when they were out of the oven, out of the fridge or out of the freezer.

Here are some answers to the many questions we've had:

  • Why do some dishes cost $1.00?

    At the moment there are nine recipes to make Power Plans from. Six of these are free and three cost $1.00 each. The $1 recipes give you many more options for meals and more Power Plans to choose from. You don't have to pay for any recipes if you don't want to and can still make up to eight Power Plans with the six free ones. When we spoke with Vault members, most of them wanted an annual subscription rather than having to pay for separate recipes so that is what we will do down the track.

  • Why are there only nine recipes – I want to try more!

    There are many more dishes to come! Yes, the site is still very young. We have 80 more of Kate's special dishes and loads more schedules to help you solve different problems such as school lunches, work lunches, snacks and special dinners. The PowerCooking site you are seeing at the moment is version one, we have listened to everyone's feedback and we are already working on version two.

  • Where are the vegetarian dishes?

    We have had lots of queries about possible vegetarian dishes and we will certainly be adding them as we go along, as well as great tips on substituting. Watch this space!

  • Are you SURE there is enough liquid in this dish?

    We know! When Simple Savings staff members first cooked Kate's dishes they ALL mumbled to themselves, ‘Is there enough water in this?’ One of Kate's tricks with these special recipes is that less liquid means better freezing and defrosting results. So YES – the amount of liquid is just right!

If you haven't yet tried PowerCooking, get in and give it a go. Yes, it will take an hour of your time today – but you'll have dinner for tomorrow and the next night and a full freezer for the rest of the week.

You can grab a free membership and build your own Power Plan here.

4. Ye Olde Shoppe: We're Nuts About Macadamia Oil!

Macadamia nut oil continues to be one of our favourite Ye Olde Shoppe products! (Fiona loves it that we had to wait for a harvest for our last shipment to be filled – how fresh is that!) Unfortunately there is a nation-wide shortage of macadamia nuts due to poor growing conditions (you can read more here ) but luckily we've stocked up on our 1 litre tins. However, if you want 150ml bottles for Christmas gifts you'll need to get in quickly as we don't have an awful lot of these left. You can read more about our Macadamia Oil here: </store/>

5. Penny Wise: Soul Searching

Ahh, life is interesting at the moment to be sure, to be sure. You know, I thought I was 'out of the woods' several months ago with the whole marriage break-up thing but it's only really now that I feel I am genuinely starting to get my life back together. Not financially yet I must confess, that's some time off! Since my last post it really hasn't helped that Liam changed back to his old school and walked straight in to a $490 ski trip for Sports Science class. Good heavens that boy has been expensive to keep this year! Not to mention buying yet another new school uniform. Even so, that expense was still preferable to the one I incurred last Friday night, when driving home from a very pleasant dinner at a friend's house some idiot decided to run out in front of me. I was the only car on the road, yet he was totally oblivious! All dressed in dark colours, hood up, didn't even look at me. And, he sure as heck didn't stop when I swerved to miss him and lost control, ending up on the other side of the road and smack into a street sign. My poor little car! Not to mention my poor nerves. I thought the damage was just superficial but a trip to the mechanic showed otherwise with oil pouring out from underneath and two wheels wrecked. The mechanic was hugely sympathetic as I sniffled and sobbed but it still cost me $327 to get it safely back on the road – and I still have to take it to the panel beater! Think I'll be driving it around dents and all for a while yet.

I have to admit though, my little prang didn't really help improve my state of mind. I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately you see. Spring has sprung and with the start of the new season it seemed like Penny came out of hibernation. Suddenly I found myself with more new friends than a girl could handle, not to mention a never ending list of social invites. At first I was excited – yay, I finally had a happening social life! But it only took a couple of weekends of watching people staggering around drunk in bars to realise this wasn't me. It wasn't me as a person and it wasn't me as a mother, rolling in at 2.00am and being too tired to do anything the next day. Not to mention there was no way I could afford $12 a time for a tiny glass of wine! There was no way I could keep that up. It took me a whole weekend of weighing up pros and cons to work out what my problem was and what to do about it. And my conclusion was, I'm not ready. I need to be just me for a while.

Even so, I didn't want to be a complete hermit. I needed to find out how I did want to spend my time and who I wanted to spend it with. I found that out the following evening at my Zumba class. It runs twice a week and I used to be totally addicted but then stopped going when life got too complicated. However, I started up again recently and it's a blast. It's a great way to meet people and it's so much fun! It's the nearest thing you can get to nightclubbing without a hangover! As I looked around at everyone wiggling, shaking, shimmying and laughing, I thought, ‘These are the people I want to be around’. Happy, healthy and positive.

And I decided that was how I wanted to spend my spare time too, keeping fit and healthy. It took me a while to work out exactly what that was going to be. I tried going back to running – it's been almost two years since I ran the Auckland Marathon and I've done pretty much nothing since then. I enjoy running. I like the way it doesn't cost anything and you don't have to drive anywhere; you just put your running shoes on and take off out the door. I like the way it made me feel so fit and strong – but when I tried to get started again I discovered it wasn't what I wanted to be doing any more. Besides, I was already walking the dogs for an hour every morning as it was! Then I tried going to the local gym. It was OK, I quite enjoyed it. It was social and I could get a good variety of exercise – what I didn't like, however, was the $15 a time fee. Sure I could get a membership but I didn't have a spare $544 to be able to go as often as I liked! It wasn't just the money though, it was the time factor. I had this grand plan that I would walk every morning, go to Zumba for an hour Monday and Thursday evenings and then hit the gym for an hour on the other five days a week. Like THAT was ever going to happen! Sometimes you have to be realistic and accept there are only so many hours in the day.

So I've got my spare time sussed. I go to Zumba twice a week with my lovely group of friends. It isn't cheap, I pay $8.00 a class but I've decided it’s worth it for the enjoyment and social factor. And every morning at 7.30am you'll find me on the beach with the dogs. I walk around 5–6km. It's good for the body and most of all it's good for the soul; walking on the beach has got me through some pretty hard times and you can pretty much guarantee you'll come back from a good long walk feeling a whole lot better in your mind than before you went. Free therapy if you like! Some mornings I don't want to but the dogs are my personal trainers, nagging me and tripping me up constantly until they see me grab my jacket and then it's all excited barking with wagging tails and happy lolling tongues. I can't deny them the highlight of their day! Plus the one good thing I did gain from my short lived running revival was the wonders of phone exercise apps. I downloaded the Nike Run app for free and even though I use it for walking rather than running now, it's great! It keeps me motivated, pushes you to walk that little bit further and faster and it keeps a cumulative total so you know exactly how much you have done and can be proud of your achievement. I almost jumped out of my skin the other day when I finished my walk and this American male voice suddenly boomed in my ear, ‘Congratulations! Last week was good but this week was GREAT! Keep up those miles!’ Sounds daft but I really appreciated the encouragement and felt quite proud.

All in all it's been a pretty productive soul searching session. One of the last things my beloved dad said to me was to keep things simple. I'm afraid, Dad, that I've been doing anything but that for a very long time – but I'm getting there!

You can get updates on Penny's new blogs on the Simple Savings Facebook page or in our Members' Blog section.

6. Best of the Vault: Wiggle it, Just a Little Bit!

There are so many wonderful ways to get some movement into your life! The Vault is absolutely 'pumped' with ideas to get you moving, from walking to laughter yoga! The important thing is to FIND something that you'll enjoy doing, START doing it and KEEP GOING! Here are some fantastic ideas to help get you moving!

Free online yoga classes

My new year's resolution is saving me $1400 and getting my body back into shape. I'm a gym junkie that has done no serious exercise since the kids have arrived. Rather than pay $1000 for a gym membership plus $416 in childcare costs, I discovered I could do my yoga sessions at home. I found a website that offers free 1 hour yoga sessions www.yogatoday.com and all I had to buy was a $10 yoga mat.

Contributed by: Christina

Get fit with bushwalking

I found an enjoyable and much cheaper alternative to joining a gym to keep fit - bushwalking! I pay $65 for an annual family membership to the NSW National Parks Association, who run over 600 bushwalks each year for every level of experience. I never need to worry about getting lost or finding other people to walk with. I simply browse the program and there is always a wide range of walks to choose from every week. I get to meet lots of different people and visit beautiful places, which motivates me to get outdoors and get active. There are similar bushwalking associations in every state. My partner and I are getting fitter without paying around $1600 for gym memberships (saving us over $1500!)

Contributed by: Louise J

From couch potato to runner for free

I have discovered a great way to get fit for free with the 'Couch to 5km' running plan! With the cost of gyms and personal trainers and even organised sporting clubs so high, my husband and I were looking around for another means of getting fit without breaking the budget. This led me to find what is known as the 'C25K' - the couch to 5km running plan. This program is designed for the complete novice runner - with the aim to get you running for 5km, or 30 minutes non-stop within nine weeks. Sounds impossible, but I'm living proof that it works! It is very easy to follow and you go at your own pace - start running for just 60 seconds at a time and slowly build up, and if you have trouble, you can just repeat that week's exercises until you're comfortable - no problem.

For someone who hated running, this plan has worked wonders for me and improved my fitness no end. Best of all, even when I've been slack or couldn't run due to injuries or illness, I've still maintained most of my fitness - even when I miss weeks at a time I can go straight back into running 20-30minutes non-stop! The plan is free online at Cool Running and more information can be found at the C25K website.

Contributed by: Sheridan Hilliard

Work out at your local park

I have saved at least $700 on gym fees over the past year by exercising and using the free gym equipment provided in a nearby park. Logan River Parklands (near Beenleigh, on the Gold Coast) opens from 5.30am to 7pm during the summer months; you would have to check during winter. Our local council has provided us with up to eight different types of exercise equipment to use for free and at one's leisure. They include two rowing machines, a pull-up press, butterfly press, cycle seat, ab-hip swinger, sturdy walker, stepper and a hip twister. I can exercise whenever it suits me and without any expensive fees to pay. It puts an extra spring in my step every time as I am reminded how much I am saving while I exercise - and socialise along the way!

NB: For more information about parks like this with free exercise facilities, contact your local council.

Contributed by: Val Campbell

Walk and listen to literature for free!

You can get free entertainment and exercise at the same time. Borrow talking books from your library and WALK! It is free and it's amazing how you want to walk a little longer to hear the end of this chapter or the next!

Contributed by: Fleur Llewelyn

7. Best of the Forum: Don't Just LOSE Weight, GAIN Health!

Being strong and fit is not just about losing weight, it's really about gaining health. We beat ourselves up worrying about calories and carbohydrates and don't take as good care of our bodies as we should. But when we change the focus to moving more, eating well and getting healthy, we can then only do good things for our bodies! Here are some great ways to start, and some wonderful motivation along the way:

Healthy weight and eating habits

If there is one thing Simple Savings Vault members do well – it is support each other! You will celebrate, commiserate and just have a lot of fun with these wonderful Forum members.

Exercise motivation & support

You are never alone – hop in here and talk to everyone to help keep your healthy efforts motivated!

Ideas appreciated for weight loss and exercise for medical reasons

This is a great thread for those looking at free online fitness programs and great, sensible advice.

12 weeks to happiness – Tod Patkin

There are twelve steps in Tod Patkin's program – but the first is exercise and there are some great ideas in this thread. Go on; get healthy (and happy!).

8. Best Members’ Blog: SS to the Rescue!

One of the many benefits of being a Vault member is that you can win a $100 store credit in Ye Olde Shoppe each month for your Simple Savings blog! Starting your own blog on the site is easy. All you have to do is log into the Vault, click on 'My Desk' at the top left, then 'Your Blog'. Then get writing! We love reading all your money saving trials and tribulations and really appreciate the effort that goes into each one.

This month's winner is Millie's Mum for her blog on her outback SS 'rescue':

Simple Savers to the rescue! Five days ago we were travelling with our caravan through a very remote area in Queensland, far from our home in WA. The friends we were travelling with suffered a broken radiator in their four wheel drive. Luckily we were able to limp into a roadside rest area with toilets, fresh water and a chemical toilet dump point, and watch as the RAC towed the offending vehicle to the nearest town for repairs. Five days later we are able to proceed with our journey but how grateful I was for all my SS friends while we waited!

I was able to access the SS site on my iPad and in doing so bring so many survival skills into use. We had limited supplies of food but were able to produce hearty and nourishing meals with a little (and sometimes a lot!) of imagination. Also, to while away many boring hours, I was able to read many of the blogs and tips I had previously overlooked. I felt I was surrounded by friends.

Well done Millie's Mum – enjoy the rest of your trip and please keep us updated on your adventures!

You can read more of our members' blogs here.

9. Hidden Gem: Aus Sewmobile

Our Hidden Gems directory is designed to help members source the best deals in their area. This month's Hidden Gem is Aus Sewmobile as nominated by Bev.

Aus Sewmobile service and repair all brands of sewing machines in the Hunter region. They pick up and deliver your machine back to you. They were $40 cheaper than a sewing machine repair centre which requires you to drop your machine in and then pick it up again.

Service is prompt and excellent! My machine was collected promptly and the mechanic knew immediately from my description what the problem was.

Where: 112 Harriet Street, Waratah
Phone: 0402 457 707
Contact: mrstitch@bigpond.com

Well done, Bev, on locating such a fantastic Hidden Gem and thanks so much for sharing.

10. Cooking with Mimi: Kitchen Survival Skills... Budget Biryani with Raw Chutney and Apple Raita

My 13-year-old daughter and I have been having kitchen survival skills lessons. Not only is this preparing her for life beyond the shelter of Mum and Dad's roof, it's also allowing me time to do some mummy pampering and exercising. Last night, we peered into the depths of the refrigerator and freezer and discovered the following lonely items:


  • 1 chicken thigh fillet
  • 1/3 of a cauliflower
  • The last of a packet of frozen peas
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot (spring onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 green apple
  • The last of a batch of savoury Easiyo

The pantry revealed:

  • Half a packet of long grain rice
  • A jar of dried coriander leaves

None of those things alone were going to feed all of us, so some imagination was required. In the end, we decided to make Chicken Biryani. Well, that is until we found we had no curry paste and no curry powder. We'd also run out of chutney as we eat it with everything here and I hadn't made another batch, so an alternative to the chutney would need to be found. We also had no dried fruit, sultanas, currants, craisins nor dried apricots. So the sweetness would have to come from the green apple. No cucumber for the raita either, so for crunch and colour, we decided to make an Apple Raita.

So, kitchen survival skills lesson number one was to make our own curry powder.

We didn't have the original packaging as I decant everything into pretty jars, so whilst the obvious solution was to read the list of ingredients, we couldn't do that.

We talked about what curry powder looked and smelled like, and decided we'd use ground coriander, cumin and ginger, along with mustard powder, turmeric and chilli flakes.

Coriander seems the dominant flavour and fragrance in the empty curry powder jar, so into a small bowl goes:

Home-made Curry Powder Blend

  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin, ground ginger, turmeric and mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

A sniff of the empty jar and a sniff, taste test in a bit of natural yoghurt and a visual once-over of our copycat seems to indicate that we're on the right track.

Three lessons learned.

  1. Mysterious ingredients like special spice blends and curry pastes can always be replicated simply by reading ingredients lists on the packaging (had we had them!).
  2. In the absence of packaging to refer to, using your eyes, nose and taste buds to replicate a missing ingredient can often save a trip to the supermarket.
  3. If you're short on space or finances and looking at it in reverse, a simple pre-blended ingredient like good old fashioned commercial curry powder has all of the earthy ingredients common in many ethnic dishes and paired with some fresh home grown herbs, can elevate many a dish from dull to yum!

The problem of the missing chutney was solved by deciding to do a sort of raw chutney/salsa with the tomato and adding a sweet raita using the apple instead of cucumber.

Here's how our ingredients list looked after preparation:

For the Biryani:

  • 1 chicken thigh, diced finely
  • 1/3 cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced finely
  • 5 tsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 3 chicken stock cubes
  • 1 litre hot water
  • Splash of oil

For the Condiments:

Raw Chutney (do this first):

  • 1 tomato, diced finely
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 tsp dried coriander leaves

Combine ingredients in small bowl, cover and refrigerate

Apple Raita (do this second):

  • 1/3 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 green apple, diced very finely

Combine ingredients in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate

Here's what we did last:

Preheat the oven to 180C. Make sure the shelves are positioned to accommodate your covered casserole dish or Dutch oven.

We used a Dutch oven, so onto a medium-high hotplate it goes, with a splash of oil in the bottom.

Add the onions and garlic and stir them around until they are translucent but not brown.

Add the curry powder and stir till fragrant, about one minute.

Add the diced chicken and fry till well browned on all sides, about two minutes.

Add the cauliflower, peas and stock cubes. Stir it all around to coat it well in spices, then add the rice and the hot water.

Stir, bring back to a simmer, then cover it and put it in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven OFF and leave it to finish for another 15 minutes. This is a lesson in cooking on stored heat - a real bonus in times of rising energy prices.


Dinner's ready. We served it in bowls, garnished with the raita and raw chutney which just gave it a bit of extra special something.

The teen chef had seconds, as did the musician husband and there's still plenty left over for lunchboxes or afternoon snacking; and all from a few scrappy bits-o-nothing from the fridge and pantry.

Teen chef commented, "This would be nice even without the chicken, Mum."

Frugal kitchen survival lesson accomplished!

You can get updates on Mimi's new blogs on the Simple Savings Facebook page or in our Members' Blog section.

11. Claire's Corner: Join Me and Get Fit (For Free) This Summer!

For those of you who’ve been following my Weight Watchers’ blog, you’ll know this year it has been my mission to lose the extra weight I’ve gained over the past few years (about six years ago I lost 25 kilos but regained about half of it). Well, I’m very pleased to say that I’m very nearly there – I’ve lost over 10kg since March and I’m feeling fantastic! Just another 2-3 kilos to go and I’ll be back to my all-time low.

I’m also really pleased to tell you that, although I have joined a gym recently, the majority of my weight loss and fantastic feelingness is due to my favourite free activity – walking. And I’m not talking power walking or hill climbing or tramping tens of kilometres a day. Nup, I’m talking a walk around the block at a pace that often sees me overtaken by the elderly, small children and people on crutches. Seriously, sometimes I’m puffing along thinking I’m burning rubber and then an octogenarian with a walking frame will speed past me.

But it’s been enough to help me kick those stubborn kilos to the curb. I do make an effort to walk every day – even if it’s just a short 20 minute walk. I love having that ‘quiet time’ away from interruptions and distractions. I actually get 20-30 minutes to think! And most often, I think about how I’m going to stay on track with my eating for the week ahead. It did take a little effort initially, but now I look forward to my morning walk.

As I mentioned, I did join a gym recently. Now, I’m not a fan of gyms. I prefer to be outside, plodding along at my quiet walking pace, enjoying the peace and not paying for it. But I also accept that the reason I plod is because I’m woefully unfit. I can’t run to save myself and a good coughing bout will leave my abs crying in pain. So when our local boxing gym offered up a great online deal ($30 for a month of BoxFit classes), I decided to give it a go. Actually, let me rephrase that – my DD15 begged and whined and pestered me to join us both up because she wants to get fit and needs me to transport her. So I decided to give it a go for a month and see if I could handle it.

I discovered that BoxFit is not for the faint-hearted. Basically, it involves a seriously fit trainer yelling ‘Harder! Faster!’ at you while you box, jump, push-up, run, press-up and try not to throw up. It’s seriously hard work. In fact, several times I have come very close to throwing up, or passing out. Or throwing up then passing out. On the first session we had to do a prone hold for three minutes. So I’m thinking, ‘Three minutes? Yeah I can do anything for three minutes.’ Hah. I couldn’t even get myself into the right position! Meanwhile DD15 is proning away like a pro. However, I persisted and now I can prone for over a minute which I’m pretty pleased with.

Yep, I’ve come a long way all round. My arms and legs are looking a little ‘slenderer’ and I’m feeling quite a bit fitter. And, it’s also nice having an activity that both DD and I can enjoy together. Even if she does make it look easy! It’s a great class – the ages range from young kids to ‘more mature’ oldies. And there are all shapes and sizes giving it a go. I’ve never ever had an interest in boxing, still don’t really, but this class is really fun. The $30 voucher was great value, and I’ve noticed a lot more of these sorts of deals available online. But getting fit doesn’t have to involve forking out loads of dosh, nor should it. And while my BoxFit phase will come and go, walking will always be my mainstay (I just need someone on the side-line yelling HARDER! FASTER!).

Slimming down and getting fit seems to be the theme of my life at the moment. DS19 is half-way through his course to become a personal trainer, so it’s great being able to tap into his knowledge. Although he still needs to ‘refine’ his eating habits (he spends hours at the gym and comes home with a bottle of coke and a fried rice! Grrr!).

At work, a chap who weighed 180kg has lost 23 kilos over the past eight weeks and has started a ‘Biggest Loser’ group. There are about 25 of us who have all joined him. On Friday, a personal trainer from the local gym came over to talk to us about the basics of weight loss and fitness. His key message was that resistance training is the best option for burning calories. Apparently, doing cardio (such as running, biking and such) will burn calories while you’re working, but then when you stop, so does the calorie-burning. However, if you do resistance training (working with weights, push-ups, jumping jacks, squats and such), your body keeps on burning calories for days afterwards. I love the idea that I can do some exercise and know that my body is still burning calories afterwards!

We all weighed in on Friday and we’ll be checking in each week or so for the next 12 weeks (just in time for summer!).

So if you’re thinking about getting ‘summer-ready’ and you’re wondering how to get started, I’d really encourage you to put aside 20-30 minutes a day and head outside for a walk. Don’t worry about breaking a sweat or walking at top speed – just put one foot in front of the other and repeat (and keep repeating!). And if you want to add a little resistance to the mix, put together a little circuit for yourself that includes push-ups, squats and sit-ups. You don’t have to be good at them, but do make sure you know how to do each properly so you don’t hurt yourself!

Another tip is to make use of the local primary school – grab a basketball and a friend (or child!) and hit the courts for 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much energy you use and how much fun it is. Or, if your child has a trampoline, get bouncing! I’ve heard that ‘trampfit’ is the next big exercise trend. I know the kids make it look easy, but it will get you puffing!

You’ve got three months until Christmas – so why don’t you join me? Get those walking shoes on and get out there!

You can get updates on Claire's new blogs on the Simple Savings Facebook page or in our Members' Blog section.

12. 50c Indulgence: Wartime Farm

Wartime Farm - Making Do, Digging for Victory, The Home Front and Other Under 50 Cent Indulgences.

Hello everyone! This month we have been gathered around watching the wonderful BBC series ‘Wartime Farm’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mmt8t). It has been hugely popular, mixing memories with gardening, cooking and sewing. We've also been looking at how our lack of resources such as time and money play havoc with achieving our dreams.

One of the images from Wartime Farm that was typical during the war years but something we have discarded in our busy lives is the delightful and restorative habit of afternoon tea! This was a break in the day when the family would gather for a cup of tea and something to eat. It provided a short rest as well as catch up time. Perhaps we could look at establishing this enjoyable habit, even on weekends.

With that in mind, I have set about acquiring some things that make afternoon tea easy and pleasurable. I wanted a blue tablecloth for our outside table, and with the 'make do and mend' attitude, I found some tea towels buried in my linen closet. It was simply a matter of quickly stitching them together. This could be done with any tea towels to make a delightful retro or vintage cloth or to make a picnic cloth ready for the warmer days! I sourced some vintage china from my local op shop, along with some vintage serviettes.

The Women's Institute members kept the nation fed by preserving fruit and vegetables and sending them to the government for distribution to the community. Relishes, jams, pickles and canned fruit were common foods contributed during this time. So in the spirit of the war, knowing I can source free lemons, I used a WW2 recipe which is a thickened version of lemon butter, with milk thickened on top with corn flour and coconut.

Afternoon tea can be a simple affair with home-made scones, pikelets, biscuits or a slice. The Vault and Forum have numerous easy recipes. One of our favourites is a delightful tomato relish from Princess Pebbles’ Nan. We pop it on top of a cracker with a dob of sour cream.

Rita May's Relish

  • 1.5kg tomatoes
  • 500g onions
  • 500g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried, chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Corn flour to thicken
  1. Chop tomatoes and onions into small pieces. Boil all ingredients (except the corn flour) together in a large pot for one to two hours. Stir occasionally.
  2. Thicken with corn flour.
  3. Store in sterilised jars in the fridge.

Princess Pebbles’ variation:

Omit curry powder and mint leaves and instead add a quarter of a teaspoon of chilli powder and half a teaspoon of dried basil or oregano.


Jars which air lock (the lid has the button that pops when opened for the first time) are fine to store in the pantry for up to 12 months. When thickening with corn flour, put a spoon of relish on a plate in the fridge to make sure you have the thickness to your liking. Add more corn flour if necessary. The beauty of this recipe is you can add more curry powder/chilli powder if you want a hotter version. You can also add more herbs if you want.

So, dear readers, perhaps this month you can revisit the delightful daily habit that has connected communities and families for generations… afternoon tea!

You can drop in and join Helen, Annabel and the Under 50c Army here.

13. Rob Bob's Gardening Blog: Bees, Seeds and Baby Plants

Native bees and generous new friends

Yesterday we went and picked up two pre-cut IBCs from a very generous family that has no further need for them. Their yard is in the process of being set up with a few different styles of garden beds and they have loads of potted food plants ready to go into their new homes and a couple of chooks in a great looking chicken tractor. Not long after we arrived, a few native bee hives were pointed out to us. Some were in logs rescued from trees destined for the chipper and others in small hives specially made for native bees. As it is coming up to the warmer weather they offered to show us how to split a hive which allows for more bee and honey production. This was a most unexpected experience and we loved getting a short lesson in keeping native bees :)»

To start off with, a putty knife was used to break the seal between the two halves of the hive and the top was removed from the base.

The inside of the hive was not as I expected. The central spiral of cells held the brood with the larger cells around the outside holding the honey and pollen stores that looked to be about 10-15mm in diameter. The white larvae you see on top of the comb were dislodged from their cells when the hive was separated.


A new box centre was then placed onto the old base and then the lid was added. The top half of the original box was placed onto a new base.


A hive lock was then used to tightly secure all the frames together and the freshly divided hives were then placed back into their original position (pointing towards the NE) with the openings placed closely together. Once it was apparent that both hives had a decent number of bees going into each of them, one will be slowly relocated to another section of the yard. A juvenile queen will be raised in the queen-less hive and the whole process will begin again. From what I have read the hive can be ready to split again in 8-12 months depending on its health.

On the drive home we fairly much decided that we would get a hive, so that too has been added to the wish list. I ended up searching the web for a few hours last night for more information instead of blogging :/» As soon as the finances become available I think we will start shopping around to see if there are any available.

I am still really buzzed from meeting such a nice family that have the drive to grow as much food as they can for themselves. So thanks again Alex and family for the IBCs, the lesson and tour of your patch.


We hope that the seeds and plants we gave you grow really well :)»

Growings on in the Patch

There has been a fair bit of growth in the patch this week with the first shoots emerging from the new beds out the front.


The majority of the Aztec corn and all of the bush cucumbers that were planted last Friday have sprouted. I was a bit unsure of the cucumbers as I didn't have the best germination rates with them at the end of last summer.


The Yacon that were planted out last Sunday have settled in rather nicely into their new home and have even put on some nice growth. A couple of Mini Lee watermelon seeds were also planted out in the bed with them just to see how they will go together. I still have the Yacon plants in the barrel out the back and some leftover rhizome in the coconut fibre that I intend to transplant into another bed in the coming week.


The tomato seedlings have shot up well and were potted out into larger containers this morning. The capsicum and eggplants aren't quite large enough to be potted out yet but they are always a bit slower at coming on I have found. I hope to start cleaning out and feeding up the beds that will be their new home this week. One of these beds is the one that has the last cauliflower crop in it. I am very happy with how they are going at the moment and four of them have starting to form up some rather nice heads.


I think some might bolt to seed with the coming warmer weather but think we should get at least half out of the bed before then.

Our youngest daughter, Kira (AKA Koo) was given a bed in the front yard to plant out. She selected all the seeds and layout of the bed herself. I think she made a great selection and we found a few of the seeds had sprouted this morning when we did a bit of a walk around :)»

Hope you all get a chance to play in the patch over the coming week.
Rob : )»

You can get updates on Rob Bob's new gardening adventure blogs on the Simple Savings Facebook page or in our Members' Blog section.

14. From Last Month: How to Secure my Home

Last month Rachel emailed us about ideas to help her secure her home:

"I have moved to a different area and am living by myself. I would love some ideas on how to inexpensively secure my house. I'm happy to spend some money on window locks and the doors already have good deadlocks. Besides getting a big guard dog, what other things could I do?"

We got some fantastic ideas – thank you for sharing your wisdom! Here are some of our favourite replies:

All bark and no bite!

A clever, low-cost tip to help keep your home secure is to buy one of those machines that barks like a very big dog when someone walks past a sensor close to your door. I think it could be a great deterrent to someone trying to find out if anyone is home or asleep!

Contributed by: Pauline

Grow your own home security

Roses are a beautiful addition to the garden and they can also be a great security device! For extra home security, try planting one under every window, but make sure they are not a thornless variety. They are a great way to stop people trying to get in and you'll also have a lovely garden admired by many!

You could also grow a hedge of holly along your fence-line. Make sure you have female plants and one male so you'll have the lovely red berries in winter. Boysenberries are also a good deterrent - and they have the added bonus of yummy fruit!

Contributed by: Sharon

Beware of unsecured windows

When it comes to home security, one area often overlooked is the windows. Aluminium windows can easily be lifted out from the outside by thieves. To prevent this, put self-tapping screws above the window frame. If you like to leave your windows open, drill a hole at the required distance along your bottom window frame, allowing the lock to drop into this space, so that your window will be locked into that position, and cannot be pushed further open.

For wooden window frames, drill a hole through the side frame and push a nail into the hole to stop the window being pushed up and open. An additional hole can also be used to fasten the window partly open, but secured.

Contributed by: Lesley

10 home security tips

Keeping your house secure needn't cost a fortune. Here are some of my low-cost tips!

  • When going out at night leave the usual light on so that when you get home the house looks as though someone is already there. Better still put it on a timer to help you feel the house is not so empty; I've done this for years.
  • Always make sure your house is locked up when you go out, even when you know you'll return shortly.
  • Leave a radio on when you are out.
  • Get to know your neighbours and learn their usual routines.
  • Find out where your 24-hour police station is and have their phone number handy.
  • If you own your home, get a triple lock screen door. If renting, speak to the owner about having one installed. It's good protection for their property as well as for you!
  • Get a sensor light for the front door.
  • When you go away on holiday, ask someone to collect your mail and newspapers.
  • If you have a gate don't oil it, the squeak will help let you know if someone is approaching.
  • Lastly, listen to the tone of the local dogs barking.

Contributed by: Beverley

Beef up security with DIY alarm system

For extra home security without the cost of a professionally-installed alarm system, take a look at the simple DIY alarm kits available at the hardware stores. There are various options available to suit different sized homes.

Contributed by: Julie

Give intruders the boot!

If you live alone, try this easy tip to help deter burglars! Head down to your local op shop and buy a cheap second-hand pair of large men's work boots. Pop these out on your deck or porch every evening and bring them in again in the morning. You could also hang a set of men's clothes on the washing line.

Contributed by: Gloria

15. This Month's Help Request: How to Get Rid of That Doggy Smell?

Kerrie has emailed asking for some help! She writes:

"I have a three-year-old spoodle and although no hair is shed and he is washed weekly, my home, carpet and soft furnishing around her bed always have a doggy smell. I am very conscious of this smell and notice it most when I return home from being out. I have burned essential oils, sprayed fragrance sprays, steam clean and deodorise the carpet every four months but I can't get rid of the smell. Please help!"

If you have any pearls of wisdom you'd like to share with Kerrie, please send them in to us here.

16. Goodbye For Now!

Well, that's your Simple Savings Newsletter for September 2013 and we hope you have enjoyed it. We hope you'll find some time in your day to get your body moving – you'll feel better, sleep better and your body will love you for it! There are some wonderful ways to incorporate a bit of exercise into your life – please let us know how you go!

Our members are hugely important to us and we love hearing from you all! So next time you're on the website, why don't you get in touch and say 'G'day'! Let us know what you would like to see more of in our newsletter or any suggestions you have for something new to try. We love receiving your clever ideas!

Don't forget to spread the love around to your family and friends too by forwarding them our newsletter or letting them know about our website. Help make their lives easier and save them money too! Or tell them about us on Facebook by clicking the 'like' button on our Simple Savings Facebook page.

Till next time…
All the best,