Reusing tins

So following on from my post on reusing items from around your house, here is a short list of how you can reuse those tin cans, rather than just throwing them into the recycling bin.

* Tins (particularly formula tins, as they have a lid) make great money boxes.  Simply cut a coin slot and start saving.  If its for something special decorate the outside of the tin so you know what you’re saving for and aren’t tempted to ‘borrow’ from the tin.

* Tins make great planters for seedlings.  Just drill one or more holes in the bottom (depending on the size of the tin) for drainage, fill with soil and plant your seedlings.  For an attractive display attach 3 to a plank of wood and plant some herbs.  Perfect for just outside your back or side door.

* Paint a tin can white and attach some white lace for an attractive vase for flowers.

* Use tin cans around the house for storage – paint them or cover them in paper to match your décor, and use them to hold your kitchen utensils, pens, or toothbrushes.

* I have also been told you can make tin cans into DIY candles.

* Below is a great idea for a DIY Tin Can Lantern from Apartment Therapy, you can view the directions here.

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Looks great for outdoor entertaining!

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Recipe – Bacon and Egg Pies

So we have a huge accumulation of eggs at the moment so I went on the hunt for recipes to use them up.  But we are also on an extremely tight budget this week meaning I could only use what we already had.  I made some orange curd and meringues and have a frittata in mind, but a friend suggested I make some bacon and egg pies.  I found a few recipes but nothing really worked with what I had, so I put together a few bits and pieces and came up with this.  It has been a hit with both hubby and the boys, and with only a few ingredients is quite simple to put together.

Ingredients –

* 2 sheets frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed

* 300g bacon, thinly sliced

* 1 cup sour cream

* 1 brown onion, diced

* 8 eggs

* 1 cup shredded cheese

Directions –

* Preheat oven to 180°C.

* Lightly grease a Texas muffin pan and/or a regular muffin pan.

* If using a texas muffin pan cut pastry sheets into quarters, for a regular muffin pan you need to cut them into 9.

* Gently ease a square of pastry into each muffin pan.

* Cook bacon and onion in a small frying pan over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until light golden.

* Place three-quarters of bacon into base of each pastry shell.

* Whisk sour cream and eggs until well-combined.

* Spoon mixture over bacon.

* Top with remaining bacon, onion mixture.

* Sprinkle some cheese onto each one.

* Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is cooked.

* Allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

 

Notes –

* You can substitute the bacon for ham is that’s what you have.

* The above mixture made 6 texas style muffin sized ones and 9 regular muffin sized ones.  The larger ones are great as a lunch on the run, while the others are perfect for snacks.

* Add in some fresh herbs if you have them on hand to give it some extra flavour, and add in your salt and pepper with your egg mix.

* Serve with tomato relish – yum yum!

* You could also throw in any other left over vegetables to this mix (I generally make “leftover” scrolls with all my odds and ends).

Buying second hand

buying secondhand

I’m a bit advocator for saving money and one of the best ways I’ve managed to do this over the years is to buy second hand. There are lots of items you could and should buy second hand if you are on a tight budget.

Ebay is great for second hand items, but there are plenty of local options too, such as Vinnies and The Salvation Army stores, as well as markets. I’ve bought items at all of these places and never had any problems. Social media has also made buying and selling second hand even easier with local buy, swap, sell pages popping up all over the place and don’t forget Gumtree.

So what could you buy second hand?

* Women’s clothing – you can often pick up items with the tags still on that someone else has purcahsed but didn’t quite fit properly for a bargain price!! Designer dresses are often available that the seller has only worn once for a special event that could be your bargain purchase for your next event.

* Babies clothes – seriously they grow out of clothes so fast and they go through so many changes of clothes some days that it can really add up if you have to buy everything new. I’ve bought bulk lots of clothes off ebay for an absolute bargain, I’ve got other clothes from our local salvos that still had the original tags for only a couple of dollars.

* Furniture – Although there are many cheap type furniture stores these days you can’t always find what you want for a decent price, particulary when it comes to baby furniture. The cost of a cot, change table, drawers, etc, etc can really add up quickly!! Search ebay or check out a seconds store.

* Toys – There are so many toys available second hand, a ridiculous amount!! This includes everything from rattles, bouncers, bikes, through to cubby houses and everything in between. The only things I would recommend not buying is anything that is broken. Any toy that you do buy should be throughly washed to ensure it is safe for your baby.

* Electrical appliances – Although you can get some great items second hand you need to always be cautious with buying anything electrical second hand. Do not buy any electrical item that is damaged, always ask if it is in working order and make sure you read the description and look at the photos carefully. Always check out seconds stores and major stores often have a slightly damaged section or store.

There is so much more you can buy but that is a basic start and will save you lots of money if you are on a budget.

Look out for my guide on how to buy (and sell) on ebay coming soon.

Reusing household items

So having children can be extremely expensive.  I can tell you that having twins has certainly made me much more aware of what we are spending, and since we would still like to have more children (no twins has not put me off) I am always looking for ways to reuse and stretch what we have.  So I quite often look at items around our home and think what could I use that for, or tell me husband to save this or that.  It does drive him mad but I swear everything will be used in time!

reuse

There’s lots of household items that can be used in crafts for various activities.  So if you have babies, toddlers or even pre-school kids this list will give you an idea of where to start.

* The screw top lids off food pouches (baby food, yoghurt)

* Milk bottles (the whole thing or just the lid)

* Formula tins

* Tin cans (preferably the ones with the ring pull as they don’t leave sharp edges)

* Boxes (Cereal, etc)

* Egg cartons

* Yoghurt containers

* Fresh fruit containers (you know the plastic ones like strawberries come in)

* Spice jars

* Jars (from baby food jars to pasta sauce jars)

* Bubble wrap (if you ever get anything posted to you)

* Junk mail

* Wrapping paper

* Magazines

* Toilet roll inserts (along with anything else that comes on a roll – paper towel, glad wrap, etc.)

Look out over the coming weeks on some ideas on how you can use some of these items in crafts to entertain your little ones.  The kids are entertained and it hasn’t cost you anything.  Win win!!  You can even use many of these items yourself around your home.

Budget gift idea from toddlers

So it was my mother in laws birthday the other day and I was completely stuck for gift ideas.  We weren’t giving her anything from us but I needed something from the boys that I could do on minimal funds.

I was chatting with one of my friends and she suggested this great idea, pot plants.  So the boys and I took a trip to our local hardware store, and picked a couple of terracotta pots and I let the boys choose a plant each.   Only cost me $6 for 2 pots and 2 plants, one from each of my twins.

potted plants

I took it all home, and I painted the outside of the terracotta pots white, as well as the inside rim and left it to dry overnight.  The next day I let the boys paint the pots with their fingers and brushes, we used finger paint, but next time I would use a standard paint as I felt the colours were a little washed out.

Once they had dried overnight, I put on some blue glitter glue – I found it easier to put on with my fingers rather than a brush, as the glitter was surprisingly hard to spread.  Once that was dry I put on a varnish – I just used what I had which was a matte varnish used for canvases.  Next time I would probably use a more appropriate sealer.

Tips for buying in bulk

So yesterday we made our trip to SPC Ardmona and came home with a full car load.  So I thought I should share some tips on how to shop in bulk.  These tips work for places like SPC and Costco, where you buy things by the case (eg. 12 cans of the same product).

  • So to start with you need to know what you have at home.  I generally have a fair idea of what we have but I always ask hubby to double check just in case there is something hidden in a back room that I’ve forgotten about!!
  • Have a budget – we actually have a seperate budget for trips to SPC, and this is not part of our weekly shopping budget (or our meat budget), for us it is much easier to have these seperate budgets because I then know where I am at on a weekly basis.
  • Know what products you use a lot of and what you only use a little of – there is no point buying something that is on super special if you only use it rarely or you’ve never used it before.  It will sit in the back of your cupboard using precious space and collecting dust for a year or more, trust me.
  • Have an idea of product prices.  Things may seem cheap but honestly they aren’t always so know your prices!!  If you don’t know your prices I recommend giving yourself some extra time and taking your phone, jumping onto coles or safeway online and look up to see whether you really are getting a good deal
  • Go with an empty car!!  We don’t even take the pram these days, we could and it would fit, its just not worth the hassle when you have to try and fit it all in the car at the end of the shop
  • Go with two adults if you can, particularly if you have children.  We put one boy in each trolley, grab a couple of boxes from the front to pack small things as we go around, so the big things go into one trolley and the small things into the other.  This also makes it easier to pack as the check out ladies speed through the mountain of purchases – its like Aldi, you have to pack quick!!
  • Take your time.  I cannot stress this enough.  These places can be very big and it can be overwhelming, particularly on your first time.  Don’t try to rush this kind of shop, you will buy too much and spend more than you should.
  • Compare products and prices with each other.  These places have several different brands of items – for example we saw different brands of toothpaste, don’t just look at the price, you need to compare the sizes – the companies are very good at putting things in similar size packaging but I always check how many grams I’m getting.  I then work out which is the better deal.  I often see people just going well thats cheaper so we’ll take that – you need to make sure your comparing the same thing.
  • Be aware that stock changes regularly.  Just because you got something there last time does not mean it will be there this time.  If you see something and you want it and you will actually use it, seriously you should just get it.  There is no point regretting not getting the kids those fruit sticks you saw and having to pay twice as much for a third of the amount at the supermarket the following week.  And don’t get disappointed when they don’t have something you wanted.  We walk in having a basic shopping list, anything else is a bonus and anything they don’t have this time I know I can still get at the supermarket.
  • Last but not least have a bit of fun.  It should not be a stressful experience.  If your taking the kids (which we do) take some snacks for them, let them hold a bag of something, let them pick something off the shelves.  If you walk in with your plan of what you do not need, what would be great if they had that you do need and a budget it will make it much easier.

Hope that helps someone out on their first trip or their next trip to one of these stores.  They are fantastic if you shop smart.  And below is the boys at the end of our SPC shop.  Their trolleys are both full and they were still fairly happy.

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And this is my car all packed up.  Yes it is full!  There are several boxes at the back filled with fruit that we picked up elsewhere, so I didn’t buy it all!!  And yes the boys each got a Bitty Bin which are just slightly shorter than them – just happened to be at SPC and I thought they were super cute and great to put the boys mega bloks in.  I actually filled the bins full of stuff to save space for the way home and my intention was to empty them this morning but my rugrats are actually to busy pulling and pushing them around the house, lifting the lid, checking whats inside, putting some of their bowls in, toddling off, coming back, taking their bowls out and moving the bin to somewhere else.  Its rather cute!!  I think I will empty them when the boys go to bed tonight and fill them with their toys so they get a surprise tomorrow!  🙂

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This and that

It’s been one of those weeks that’s been very up and down.  I have been very unwell and am slowly starting to get better finally, one of my boys is teething quite badly which has created ALOT of food issues, any my hubby has been home most of the week due to a lack of available work.  So instead of getting all these things done around the house I have been enjoying the comfort of my couch and trying to keep my sanity!

I did manage to make another batch of apricot jam and a batch of peach jam (both of which I gave away to family over Easter, so I’m not very popular with hubby!!).  The original jars never did seal properly, and I think it is more to do with the jars than anything I did.  I found that one of the following batches I made that I put into an old tomato paste jar did seal itself – so jar in boiling water, take out, fill with boiling jam and screw boiling lid on.  I heard the click when the top sucked itself in about 10mins later and I did a little jump for joy!!!  I still need to make another batch of peach jam for hubby but I’ve run out of jars – disasterous!!!!!!!!

So money has been on my mind alot this week.  We stretch our dollars as far as they will go and I try very very hard to not go to the supermarket more than once a week.  I actually try and only do a major grocery shop once every two weeks and a meat shop once a month.  That takes a lot of planning and knowing recipes.  Usually I take a shopping list, but I admit I do forget quite a bit and often have to stop to grab one or two things (which usually ends in 5 or 10).  I do need a better system.

But I keep the staples in my cupboard so that I can make a variety of things at any time.  I also tend to do a big cook up in the few days after we’ve been to the supermarket so that I am using my produce when its at its best and as I freeze hubbys meals for the week its just easier.  I probably do make things harder for myself but I don’t tend to eat what I make for hubby.  I am crap with food!!  When hubby is home yes we eat the same as I make things I know I will eat but when I’m cooking just for him (or for him and the boys) I cook casseroles, stir-frys, quiches, and other things that I know will help to fill him up and keep him going while he’s working.  I can eat all those things, I just don’t want to!!  I love to try new recipes out but I usually just have a little taste and stick with what I like since I had the kids.  I was really, really sick when I was pregnant and barely ate for 8 months so its actually been quite hard to get back into eating.  Its been over a year now and I barely eat at all, I often skip meals and when I do eat my portions are quite small.  For me its quite a mental thing and something I do know that I need to work on but my hubby is very good at ensuring I have breakfast most days and I try to have something for dinner every night.

But I digress… So I always try to use everything up in my fridge, so that no veggies go to waste, as I hate to throw food out!  We can’t afford it and its just simply a waste.  I find lettuce one of the hardest things to use up, particularly when its cold as we don’t do salads at this time of year.  But my plan is generally home made souvlakis, burritos and tacos if necessary.  I also pack salad in with hubbys quiches.  But I do sometimes end up throwing it away.

Tonight I went through my fridge to see what I could make and have started some mini quiches for the boys and am planning on making a batch of mini vegetables muffins with the carrots and zucchini.  I will probably also do a casserole with the rest of the carrots, zucchini, some potato and onions I’ve got and whatever meat I can dig out of the dwindling freezer but that will not be until Monday.

Tomorrow we will go to SPC and refill my pantry – what they have on offer does change regularly but we always come home with a car load at very reasonable prices and it keeps us going for a few months which saves on our fortnightly shopping.  I hope in the future to check out Costco but finding the time that suits us and someone who already has a card (you have to be a member to visit) and someone to babysit the boys (double pram in that busy place – I don’t think so!!) is actually quite difficult!!  I love SPC as I don’t need to be a member and I know the regular items that will be available and everything else is just a bonus (we also have family close by so it could never be a wasted trip).  Costco does not always have the same things available, products change often and the only thing you can be guaranteed of is the Kirkland branded items (Costco’s home brand).  On a side not we have been given Kirkland nappies in the past and found them really good and I’ve been told quite reasonably priced!

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend and I’ll hopefully share some recipe’s next week 🙂