Friday, April 29, 2016

Five Star Frou-Frou #47...

Paint an old dresser with a mirror black and add glass knobs for an old Hollywood look and feel in our master bedroom! @GrandmasHousDIY 
Hi everyone and welcome to Five Star Frou-Frou, where we share all sorts of froth and prettiness. I hope you'll enjoy this weeks features!
This week I've chosen a few glam projects. I fancy a bit of glamour in my life and these all really appeal to my sense of drama and style!
First off, is Tarah's fabulous dresser makeover. How refreshing to see something glossy and black and fabulous. I do love the French Provincial look, but something about this striking piece really caught my eye. Thanks Tarah!
Burlap decorated Vintage Tread Spool scissor holder
Next I chose Tammy's Vintage Desk Accessories.
Again, the stark palette, is soothing and yet stylish at the same time. 
Finally, Dawn used a favourite standby of mine, a bit o' metallic gold, to glam up an old umbrella stand. Love it!
Golden Umbrella Holder - Quick spray paint DIY - LeroyLime 
Make sure you visit Tarah, Tammy and Dawn and show them some blog love :)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Insourcing # value in the home...Bouquets...

When we need an impromptu or last minute gift, our first thought always seems to be a bouquet. But a 'bouquet' can be many things as you see by my Feather bouquet pictured here! This one was made by simply winding pre-wired sprays of pastel feathers together, and binding the handle with double satin ribbon. It was graciously received by a favorite dance teacher who has a particular passion for feathers. Total cost was about $15. A similar one made professionally, would have been over $100.

I love a good bouquet, both for giving and receiving, but they do get gosh darned expensive if you frequent the florists for the privilege. Mind you, I do understand the time, energy and effort involved. I'm not saying that a good florist isn't worth their weight in gold. But for everyday giving, home made can be a life saver.

The less structured wildflower look is in vogue at the moment, and that enables you to gift many a pretty bouquet for far less than you might imagine. This one below, is simply a selection of Lisianthus, and other inexpensive purpley things, trimmed and popped into an oversized ginger jar, sourced for just $10 (and re-useable!), embellished with a lavish silk ribbon and wrapped in cellophane which the wholesale florist sold me for $2. Total cost $30. You can't tell from this photo, but this arrangement was over 60cms (24 inches) tall and looked very impressive!

 You can gift bunches of greenery from your garden, which also look fabulous wrapped in a bit of cellophane and double satin ribbon...

Similar to the first feather bouquet at the top of this post, I've made mini bouquets from the same sprays of feathers, and called them miniature feather dusters, gifting them to use for desks and cars to friends for Christmas last year. They too, were a big hit!

 Here's a larger version of that idea, again, a gift to a creative friend. This one was huge, as you can tell if you compare it to my lounge cushion beneath it, and was very well received.

These feather sprays were sourced online, and purchased for 15 for $2. That's fifteen pre-wired sprays of feathers, for $2. That makes the price of the miniature dusters about -65c, and this bouquet above, under $10!

It pays to keep your eyes peeled for these little bargains, even if you don't know how you'll use them!

This lavish ostrich feather arrangement is one I did for my home office. Again, a bargain from, the black and white ostrich plumes were on sale for just $20. I love them waving elegantly next to me, and they have made me smile for over three years now.

Annabel over at The Bluebirds are Nesting reminded me with her Christmas Challenge post this morning, that Bouquet Garni are another wonderful 'bouquet' to gift. These little bundles of dried herbs from my own garden, have graced many a hamper basket, and add scent and texture that can't help but make you smile.

 And finally, who can resist a bouquet of lavender. I dry these and use them in potpourri, bath soak, and as gift toppers. I adore my French Lavender and it grows like a wild thing here. Do some research and you'll probably find a variety that grows well where you live too.

My love of 'bouquets' of all kinds, saves me many hundreds of dollars every year. Just in the last three months, I've gifted bouquets that, had they been purchased at a florist or even a supermarket, would have relieved my bank account of over $1000. Instead, I've spent perhaps $150, and been in a position to bless many friends, teachers and family members with all kinds of pretty bouquets.

Do you gift bouquets? What are your favorites?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Stephanies Teacup and Mug exchange...The Mug & The Teacup..

 I've been a joyous participant in the Teacup and Mug Exchange run by Stephanie from The Enchanting Rose for two years in a row now. Each time, it's been fun both compiling a gift for someone, and being the happy recipient of one as well.

This year I chose to both send and receive twice...a mug to and from one lady, and a teacup to and from another.

My first parcel arrived from Elizabeth who lives in the UK and blogs at Small Moments. She spoiled me with all manner of pretties. 

A little box  hid a treasure trove of loveliness including a gorgeous rose embellished bone china mug, authentic British tea, Chocolate, slips of lace, a tiny chest filled with more lace, a divine mug rug pink striped and trimmed with more roses, and lush L'Occitane products. I was completely overwhelmed by her generosity and the sweet note that arrived with the pretty parcel. Thankyou Elizabeth!

I just adored the attention to detail from Elizabeth, from the colour co-ordinated prettiness, to the tiny chest filled to the brim with lace...

My second parcel arrived more recently, all the way from Canada from the lovely Lorrie.

 Deliciously pink frothiness in the tissue paper wrapping and a card featuring the Eiffel Tower, hid a gorgeous china teacup and saucer. Lorrie tells me that she has an entire dinner set in this pattern! Can you imagine sitting down to a meal with this framing your three meat and veg...sigh....

 Of course that wasn't all...Lorrie also gifted me some Irish Breakfast Tea, a silk sachet filled with lavender in the most fabulous shade of rose pink, a hand made tea wallet with some specialty teas inside...

....and a Paris themed teatowel which will look perfect in my kitchen!

Look at the detail in this little button on the Lavender sachet...just stunning.

I sent to two ladies, both internationally and had a bit of a saga doing so. Customs regulations are so strict these days!

As I neglected in the kaffuffle, to take photographs, I will have to let the ladies concerned, share what pretties I sent them.

Thankyou to Elizabeth and Lorrie and to Stephanie for taking on the mammoth task of organising such a lovely exchange.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Five Star Frou-Frou #46...

Hello all, and welcome to Five Star Frou-Frou!
This week, Amy from A Day of Small Things was a runaway with the tally for most clicks. She showcased her divine collection of vintage patchwork quilts. I don't know about you, but I am green with envy!
Three coats of white paint made the old cabinets look new and a carefully selected tile allowed us to keep the old counter tops in order to stay within budget. | A Chat Over Coffee
 Next in line was Leigh from A Chat Over Coffee. Leigh has been renovating and the results speak for themselves. Clean lines, and a new elegant look for her kitchen, all on a budget.

And finally, Gina at Victorian Wanna Be shared her stunning collection of replica Titanic dinnerware and genuine Titanic flatware. I think for any of us, the memories of the lives lost on the Titanic, remains a poignant one. I found myself wanting to reach out and touch the plates and beautiful silverware to see what stories they would tell. How special.

Thanks to all for sharing, and please make certain to make our guest features feel special by visiting and commenting.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Recipe in 4 sentences...Marinated and Slow Cooked Sweet Soy Chicken...

This is an old, old, really old family favorite here. 

I hope it becomes a favorite for you too.

Here it comes, in four sentences....
Marinated and Slow Cooked Sweet Soy Chicken 
Serves 4-6

Make a marinade from 2/3 cup plum jam and 1/2 cup soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon each minced garlic and minced ginger, heated gently until the jam dissolves. Marinate your chosen chicken pieces in this overnight. Tip the chicken and the marinade into a slow cooker four hours before you want to eat (it will look blackish brown on the outside, and that's fine), and cook on high for one hour, then on low for three hours. When you're ready to eat, remove the chicken, slice it on the diagonal or shred it if you prefer, and serve with sides.

This is brilliant served over rice, inside wraps or peking style pancakes, inside sushi rolls, rice paper rolls, or sliders. Add sides like coleslaw and mash or , or rice noodles tossed with steamed snow peas and carrots tossed in ginger and honey. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds for a special occasion. It's also fantastic the next day served on top of a salad of any kind, and remains moist, flavoursome and succulent.

Use chicken breasts or thighs, chicken pieces, drumsticks or wings. They're all delicious. This amount of marinade/sauce is good for about one kilo (2lbs) of chicken.
You will love this. It's been a favorite in our household for over 40 years, and every single time I serve it, someone asks for the recipe. 



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Homespun Year...Lavish French inspired trimmed pillowcases...

 I've been pinning dreamy lace trimmed French linen pillowcases on Pinterest ever since Pinterest first sucked me into it's vortex caught my eye. I have hundreds of them on my Lush Bed Linen board.

They're lush and lavish and lacy, and really...what's not to like? 

But there is that one stumbling block. The ones I frequently admire start at $98 each. That's not for a pair. That's for one. Sigh.

So what could be easier than making my own?

You like?

 I can't decide whether I prefer the buttery ivory vintage styled cotton lace and chiffon flounced version above...

..or the more lavish appliqued, beribboned and muslin frilled soft dove grey one below...

 It's okay. At this price and with very little effort, I can have many as I want.

I used inexpensive purchased pillowcases at around $6-$10 each, in white and soft grey.

I had on hand the following trims:

Muslin (Cheesecloth)
A remnant of cream chiffon
Ribbons in many different colors
Many lace trims
Bridal/Costume Appliques

I tend to snaffle these things from the bargain tables at my favorite haberdashery, and rarely pay more than mere cents per metre for them.

The appliques were just $1 each, as they were a shade of lilac that clearly isn't really in favor at the moment. They're the kind of thing that comes in a mirrored pair, and usually adorns the bodice of a costume or wedding dress. A dunk in a bucket of boiling water with a third of a bottle of grey Rit dye for polyester fabrics, where they swam around for several hours until I was happy with the shade of grey, remedied the less than stylish colour.

 A 20cm (8 inch) width of muslin was folded in half and stitched to create a double layer for my flounce. I gathered it slightly, and laid it along the open edge of my grey pillowcase, topping it with a sliver of pewter grey satin ribbon trim. I pinned all the layers together.

 I then added the applique`, pinning it into place.

 I carefully ran a line of small stitched along the ribbon, making sure I caught all the layers of muslin, pillowcase and ribbon with my stitching. I then stitched very slowly and carefully around the entire outer edge of the applique`.

 The white one was a little easier.

I cut a 15cm (6 inch) deep piece of chiffon, using the entire width of the fabric to create my frill. I left the edges raw to create a Shabby look, and gathered the material to make it fit the opening of the pillow case. Then this and my cotton, vintage inspired lace, were pinned to the top edge. Make sure you're pinning your trim to the single layered edge of your pillow case, not the one that's doubled, that keeps your pillow in place.

 Again, I carefully ran a line of stitching along the edge of the lace and chiffon, making sure I caught each layer in the stitches.

 A very lush and lovely result for a total spend of about $40, which was for the pillowcases, the appliques, and the grey dye. That $40 spend will yield me 6 embellished pillowcases. Even if I'd bought all of the trim, I'd have spent no more than a further $20 at the very most. So let's say I'd had to buy everything to start with, I'd have spent $60 for the six pillowcases, so that's $10 each.

That's a lot sweeter than $98 each! And I love them...

What do you think?


Monday, April 18, 2016

Hand made lingerie...

I've been so busy of late, and haven't had much time to post or share new projects.

This is a project my daughter and I completed a couple of years ago, and one that we've replicated many times since, so I thought it worthy of resurrection!

We made this set of bra top and French knickers in no more than an hour or two. We chose to use this set of instructions and template from Project Twenty Two...

They were both cut from a burgundy bed sheet that we no longer used as it didn't suit the bedroom d├ęcor any more. A pink quilt cover has been relegated likewise, to the sewing basket, and was used as the second toning colour in our French knickers. The lace trim on the bra cup is offcuts of a remnant of continuous curtaining, that I grabbed for a mere -60c at the local big name haberdashery. I love the remnants bin. You find the best stuff there for next to nix. Especially fab for projects like this that only use incy wincy bits of fabric.

I used ecru lace trim on the edges of the bra cups after zigzagging the edges, to save having to hem. Lace and binding cover a multitude of sins. I got a whole card, probably about 20 yds/m of it at the thrift shop a while back for just $2.50. This will be worn as a pyjama set, so in preference to traditional bra elastic and fastenings, we attached the bra cups to a bandeau which fastens at the back in a flat knot (we'll replace that with little pearl buttons and buttonholes I think).

This photo is not to show you the underside of my sewing. It's so you can see the pretty frilly straps.
For these straps, black elastic was resurrected from the bottom of the sewing box. I used long strips of sheet, cut on the bias, and attached using the 'stretch and stitch' method to get the frilly effect.

Matching French knickers were made using the Coletterie Madeleine Mini free-to-download pattern...

....which my daughter and her friend patiently printed out, matched up like a jigsaw, taped together and cut.

I ignored the elastic instructions, preferring to simply thread elastic through a channel for the hips, and leaving the legs plain so that they're more like a traditional French Knicker.

The little bow details were fashioned from scraps of ballet slipper ribbon which we have in abundance thanks to my lovely's dance exploits, and little polka dot buttons from the bottom of the sewing basket. They sit on the sides of the leg.

All in all, my daughter was  thrilled with such a pretty first time result, and we've made many a similar set of pretty lingerie since.

Give it a try. It's addictive!


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Five Star Frou-Frou #45...

shabby shoes
Hello all, and welcome to our little community at Five Star Frou-Frou!
I have been absolutely flat chat this week. It's my husbands 60th birthday tomorrow and we have a party tonight. I also had a huge fundraiser organised for my daughters Dance Troupe, and of course, the usual life tasks were in the mix as well. So Five Star Frou-Frou is a little late and I apologise.
 I'm going to list the top three most clicked today, with a more in depth list of features on Monday, as we really did have a busy linkup this week. Thankyou!
First up and most clicked was Jo's post at Anne's Attic, seen above. Jo inspires constantly with her creativity, and this post is no exception.
Secondly was a dreamy post from the lovely Shane at Roses Lace Brocante, and I can see why this one was viewed so frequently. Shane always shares the most divine images, and she's outdone herself this week. Take a peek...

And finally, from Mary at In the Boondocks, a clever way to use what you have on hand to help organise your closet. Mary always has great practical tips for recycling and upcycling, and this one is a beauty!
Pretty Boxes for Organizing Clothes in the Closet
Thankyou all.

Can I just make a few comments on what I've observed about linkups in my time both hosting and linking...

I once worked in Advertising and Marketing, and I've noted many similarities between linking at a Blog Linkup, and placing an advertisement in your city newspaper.

In advertising, you only use your best images, utilising the cleverest minds in your business (and others like agencies) to make the most of your advertisement. Key issues include using clear photographs, eye catching slogans, inviting colors, and engaging text. You make sure that you are very clear about what your 'product' is by having great headlines, and detailed information in your ad.

If you follow these guidelines, a great photo, an eyecatching description, and detailed content, you too, can be a feature!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Insourcing value in the home...

My weekly Insourcing totals are all about placing a financial value on what I do in the home. Why do I do this?

Well, firstly, if I wasn't here due to illness, accident or other absence, my tasks would all have to be outsourced, and my family would either need to fund somebody else to do what I do, or they would have to do it themselves. Either way, that would be a tough call.

Secondly, much of what I do, truly does have a significant retail value. From making scented candles, to embellishing gorgeous linen, to upcycling thrifted vintage clothing...these things all cost big dollars if you have to buy them at full retail value. And that of course applies, to house cleaning, dog washing, manicures, pedicures, hair treatments, facials, and entertainment too.

If I can save my family the equivalent of a good weekly salary, by insourcing what we need, then there is no need for me to find a job outside the home. Instead I can be here, being the glue that holds my family together. I can smooth their path and my own, by simply being 'available'. I cannot put a financial value on that. It's priceless.

So for example, last week could easily have been an expensive week. A 60th birthday celebration is approaching, my daughter had friends over as it was still school holidays, and having exhausted many of our own 'fun' ideas during the first week of holidays, boredom was a distinct possibility!

Certainly we let our hair down and saw a movie, window shopped at the local Shopping Mecca, and enjoyed a Latte` at a trendy cafe`. But overall, we entertained ourselves at home.

The spools of lace were dragged out, and we trimmed pillowcases, sweatshirts, sheet turnbacks, and thrifted denim jackets, very prettily. You don't know the meaning of the word 'chaos' until you set teenagers loose with a sewing machine, and an endless supply of lace! If they could have stitched some to the dog, they would have!

Then we played with sequins. We always have a stash of those around here too.

 So sequins were added to some of the lace, some sneakers, the denim jackets, and some costumes currently in progress.

That kept everyone amused for two days, thus saving at least $100 each time. I don't know about you, but even a casual visit to a the local Shopping Mecca seems to leave my wallet lighter by that much and more! So we'll call that a $200 saving, PLUS a saving on gifts to come, as we generated at least $500 worth of lace trimmed linen pillowcases, and denim jackets, to gift to friends. Have you seen the prices of the fancy lace trimmed pillowcases and denim jackets currently in favour??? Insane! So, not bad for a bit of tinkering with lace and sequins! If you can sew a straight line on a sewing machine, or sew on a button (a sequin is easier!), then you can do the same.

So between what we saved in staying home for Chai Lattes with cafe style cakes and fancy burger lunches, and what we generated in gifts, we've insourced about $700 right there. That's not to be sneezed at. Of course it also means that I am home to supervise and be here to chauffeur my teen and her friends, and that, in this day and age, falls into the very valuable category of 'peace of mind', so cannot be underestimated.

We also made several decorations for my husbands upcoming 60th birthday, including balloon weights, table centrepieces, and table confetti. This was lots of fun and with Pinterest at our fingertips, not at all difficult! There's a significant saving to be had there, judging by our reconnaissance mission to the local Party Supplier, where we could have easily spent $300.

So let's look at the list for this week:

60th birthday decorations 
$300 retail value for $30 outlay...insourced value $270

Thrifted denim jackets x 3, trimmed lavishly with lace
$300 retail value for $45 outlay...insourced value $255

Upcycled pillowcases x 12, dyed and trimmed with lace
$360 retail value for $60 outlay...insourced value $300

Home lunches and latte's x 5
$250 retail value for $50 outlay...insourced value $200

Of course, we did our manicures and pedicures with materials already on hand, saving $130 for the two of us, deep conditioned and straightened our own hair, saving $140 for the two of us, and bathed the dog and gave him his flea treatment saving another $35. So even there we added a further $305 to our savings and insourcing total, without even trying!

These are all tasks that many 'outsource' without thinking twice.

This is why the whole idea of tallying up our insourcing for the week is so important to us, and particularly to me.

This gives me an insourced total of $1330 for the last week.

I could possibly have earned that AFTER TAX in a fairly high pressure job, as I have in the past, and been happy to outsource all of those things. But I would not have had the luxury of being at home, spending valuable time with my daughter, my granddaughters, my husband and my family. To me, that's far more important!

What was your value in the home this week?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Five Star Frou-Frou #44... 
Hello Everyone, and welcome to Five Star Frou-Frou, where YOU get to promote your most fabulous recipes, prettiest projects and other snippets of goodness.
Last weeks most clicked entry was Pattie at Olla-Podrida's Slow cooker ham, and it's obvious why...this photo alone has me drooling!
And just so it's not all about recipes, look at this sweet rocking horse from Su at Butterfly 8)(8 adorable. 
Thanks to everyone for linking up so faithfully. To help the linkup grow, please make sure you get acquainted with other bloggers, as you would at any gathering. I've noticed the comments from our group are a! Please do the right thing and don't link and run. Nobody benefits if we don't all visit and comment. You are all darlings and I hope I can impose upon you to fulfill this part of our linkup requirements. Thank you all so very much.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Nannas Recipes in Four Sentences...3 ingredient Fruit Cakes...

My Nanna and Mum and other women of their era, didn't save Fruit Cake for Christmas and Weddings.

Back in their day, when ingredients like eggs, sugar and butter were scarce or impossible to obtain, they had to improvise, and dried fruit found it's way into many a cake or bun for sweetness and texture.

This fabulous cake has enjoyed a bit of a revival in recent times due to it's simplicity, wonderful robust flavour, and the ability to 'keep you going' for longer than a chocolate muffin!

I make these up in loaf pans, 8-10 at a time, and freeze them. They make a wonderful impromptu gift with a packet of Twinings teabags and some scented sugar like Cinnamon or Lemon Zest to either stir through your tea, or sprinkle on the warmed cake. 

They're also a great quick afternoon tea for unexpected guests, a wonderful dessert with custard or cream, and covered with fondant and tied with double satin ribbon and a Christmas themed decoration, yes, a gorgeous Christmas gift too.

Here's Nannas recipe, revised by me many times over the years, in just four sentences...

Depression Era Three Ingredient Fruit Cake

Soak 600gms (about 10ozs) of mixed dried fruit in 600mls (2 1/4 cups) of liquid....try milky tea, herbal tea like Raspberry or a favourite blend like French Earl Grey with 3-4 tablespoons of cream added to the brew for richness, and leave overnight in the refrigerator. Add 2 cups of self raising flour, pour into lined muffin pans, cake tins or a slab tin, and bake in a 180C (375F) preheated oven for 90 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in there for another 30 minutes, if you have an  older oven. If fan forced, the cake is done when it's springy in the middle when touched.
You may need to adjust the timing for your oven's peculiarities, or for smaller or larger cakes. A dozen of these in muffin tins will take 25-35 minutes, and a loaf pan about 35-50 minutes.

Here's my mix of roughly chopped dates, dried blueberries and cranberries, and plump raisins, soaking in Chai Tea...smells luscious!

And here is the same cake mixture, baked as small square muffin sized cakes. One batch was enough to make 12 small cakes and one small loaf.

I wrap these well and freeze until required, or decorate as the occasion dictates and gift them, wrapped in cellophane with huge ribbons on top.

It helps to use fruit that will 'plump' nicely with soaking, so raisins in preference to currants, dates cut into slivers are wonderful and add a delicious caramel flavour, and blueberries and cranberries are out of this world. Of course this still works with good old fashioned commercial mixed fruit too! 

These are so chock-a-block full of fruit, that you feel good eating them, and they are scrumptious with custard, cream or icecream.

On the weekend, I served the miniature individual ones to our lunch guests. I combined equal parts of pineapple juice and ginger syrup (we are fortunate to have a yummy Ginger cordial here so that's what I used), warmed it, warmed the cakes in the microwave and poked holes in them with a skewer, and poured the syrup over. After they'd soaked the syrup up, they were served with pouring cream, and they were scrumptious! 

The other wonderful thing about these is that they are more fruit than 'cake', and I use gluten free flour. So we don't get that feeling of lead in the tummy after eating them. They are deliciously moist and light.

 Honestly, try this one. You'll love it, I promise!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Insourcing #28...Teen School Holiday Fun and Recipes!

School Holidays always seem more challenging when it comes to insourcing and saving money. Especially when it comes to teens, right?

They want movies, they want popcorn, they want to hang out at the shopping mall with their friends...and money...always there's money involved.

We manage this by allocating two days each week to 'outings', where yes, we may spend some money. Sometimes a lot of money if it's a visit to a theme park or some other 'all inclusive' sort of activity. Well, holidays are for making memories too, aren't they? So we can't feel too guilty.

The rest of the time is spent enjoying our lovely home, and making our own fun. 

We have friends over, both adult and teen, we bake, we sew, we swim in the pool, we make jam and chutney and marshmallows.

In preference to spending up big on fast food or cafe meals, we buy fresh seafood or other perceived 'luxury' ingredients, and the teen child-woman experiments with Crab Omelettes and Oysters Mornay which honestly costs no more than the nasty aforementioned takeaway fast food. We make our own cafe style cakes seen above, and Thai Beef Noodle Salads, seen below. So, already, at sixteen years of age, our daughter knows she can replicate her favorite cafe' and restaurant meals for no more than the price of a single cafe meal.

Of course once upon a time, we were replicating Cheeseburgers and Chocolate Thickshakes and calling it McMummy's. What a long way we've come!

Here's the recipe for those four dishes, in four sentences...

Thai Beef Noodle Salad with Tangy Spicy Dressing 
Makes 8 single serve tubs

To a packet of rice noodles, cooked or softened, add 4 julienned carrots, half a bunch each of fresh Coriander (Cilantro) and Mint, and one Continental cucumber, cut into chunks. Pan fry some steak till medium rare, remove from the pan, and slice thinly once you've allowed it to rest for a few minutes. Toss with a dressing made with 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/2 a fresh chilli, sliced very thinly, 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, and 2 teaspoons of sugar, shaken till mixed well. Portion into cute little takeaway style tubs to make it fun.

Ingredients $20
Equivalent takeaway value at our local Thai takeaway $12 per tub ($96) 
Insourced savings $76

Oysters Mornay
Makes one dozen

Make a quick, thick mornay sauce by microwaving a tablespoon each of butter, milk powder and flour (we use gluten free) in a microwave safe jug for one minute, and adding a cup of boiling water, whisking till smooth. Season well, and spoon over fresh oysters on the half shell, topping with cheese and a pinch of smoky paprika. Bake, barbecue or grill till golden and bubbly, and serve 3-6 as an entree` or up to a dozen with sides as a main meal.

Ingredients $13
Equivalent restaurant value $36 minimum
Insourced savings $23

 Crab Omelette
Makes one generous serving for three people

Whisk 6 eggs with a dribble of milk and a large handful of freshly chopped herbs of your choice. Add a large knob of butter to a hot frypan, and pour the egg mixture in, gathering the sides to the middle as the edges cook, and tilting the pan to force the uncooked egg to the edges. When mostly cooked, add up to 250gms fresh crab (or tinned if no fresh is available), and a handful of grated cheese. Fold the omelette and cut into two or three generous triangles, and serve immediately with a side salad.

Ingredients $25
Equivalent Restaurant value $120
Insourced savings $95

 Date Cinnamon Ginger and Lime Cafe Style Cakes
Makes 12

To a Butter Cake Mix (yellow cake) made up according to the instructions, add a handful of chopped pitted Dates, 2 teaspoons of powdered Ginger, and a teaspoon of Cinnamon. Pour into muffin pans (we used a cute one with square shapes instead of the usual round, snaffled for the bargain price of $4 at the supermarket), and bake until they spring back in the middle when touched, about 10-15 minutes. Make icing by combining half a cup of Icing Mixture with a tablespoon of butter, a few drops of lime juice and some lime zest. Ice and decorate with single slivers of lime zest.

Ingredients $5
Equivalent restaurant or cafe value at least $5 each ($60)
Insourced savings $55

Of course, it's not all about food!

Drying Kaffir Limes

We've also sun dried some Kaffir Limes from our own trees, to use in Potpourri. We simply sliced the limes, and laid them out on a cutting board in the hot sunshine for three days. These make the potpourri smell lovely and fresh, and they're pretty to look at, in their own right. Kaffir limes are not good eating, and if you could smell them you'd know why. They have a very distinctive 'cleaner deodoriser' sort of scent that is lovely in potpourri or cleaning products, but not so nice to eat. It's actually the leaves that we grow the tree for, which we use in Thai and Indian dishes. Custom handcrafted potpourri is astoundingly expensive, and we have the ingredients now, between rose petals, dried lavender stems and flower heads and lime slices to make four sweet packages to gift. We saw some just yesterday that was $35 per packet, so I'll base my calculations on that price.

Ingredients nil cost...all from our own garden
Equivalent retail value $140
Insourced savings $140

Keeping cut flowers fresher for longer

I was fortunate to be gifted several bouquets over Easter, which I much prefer to chocolates these days! I love fresh flowers but there is a bit of an art to keeping them looking their best for as long as possible. Here's how...

Remove the flowers from their wrapping and have the bin nearby. Arrange several vases to accomodate your blooms, filling them about half way, and adding a pinch of sugar and a drizzle of bleach. This discourages mould and bacteria. Take each stem, and trim it to a length that will look pretty in your chosen vases, making a diagonal cut, not one straight across. This gives a greater area for the cut bloom to take up water.  Remove any foliage that would be under water in the vase, as this is what causes the water to become smelly and ultimate wilts your flowers more quickly.

Arrange your flowers to please your eye, and enjoy. Change the water every second day, trimming the stems a little each time, and remembering to remove any further leafy bits that will then be under water.

Your flowers should then last 1-2 weeks. Some will die more quickly, but at the moment, out of the four bouquets I received, I still have the equivalent of two in vases around the house. The Gerberas, Lilies and Roses always seem to go first in our hot weather, but the Chrysanthemums, Lisianthus, Alstroemeria, and greenery are doing just fine.

I'm going to call this a saving on buying more cut flowers at $35 a bouquet, so I'll call it...

Insourced saving $70
And of course we always take the opportunity of down time to do some creating. Here is a throw that was a joint venture between my daughter and I, each picking the knitting up to knit or purl a row as we felt we wanted, and enjoying the random outcome. This softest baby pink is our most favourite yarn, and we are now on our last ball, so I hope I can source some more!

Hand knitted throws are crazy expensive, so I'm going to call this a $65 saving on a bought throw, and an equal saving on an activity to entertain my teen daughter!

Insourced saving $130

 That's a total of $590 that we've kept in our bank account by utilising what we had on hand, or buying fresh ingredients and cooking at home over eating out.

Not only that, but my daughter has learned some new skills, as have the friends she's invited that were here at the time, and we've put our energies into making home the place we all want to be.
If I add in the usual things we DIY like hair straightening (saves $45 each time), manicures (2 of us at $25 each time), dog bathing (saves $20 a go), cleaning the house (saves at least $100), and the building project that my daughter and hubby have on the go that is saving us over $1000 (it's a gable for our entry gate) giving a further running total of $1,215 to add to the $590, we have a grand total of ....


 I call that one good week!

What did you DIY, insource, or learn to do this week?