Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Frugal Fun No. 14 - Hot summer

Hey friends!

We're back from our holiday and I've been having so much fun tending my garden since we returned.

Summer has launched into crazy hot/dry weather right off the bat, so I've been out in my yard every day with the hose. On hot afternoons the kids love running through the hose while I'm watering, which makes me smile. Simple things.

J helped me sow several varieties of seeds in the garden last week - lettuce, kale, carrots, beans and snow peas, using seeds I ordered last summer.  I've mostly been bringing the hose out for their benefit. Unfortunately my cat thought one of the newly planted gardens made for an absolutely sublime toilet spot, so only a few seeds have sprouted there and I'll need to sow more.

I also went to Bunnings last week and bought a couple of zucchini plants, as well as some lettuce, spinach and coriander plants to tuck into holes in my garden, since all my spinach went to seed with the hot weather and turned bitter.

While I was at Bunnings, I did something I've never done before. I bought slug pellets. This felt like such a defeat for my organic garden, but I'm tired of planting things only to have the slugs and snails gobble them up before they get established. The pellets were super effective at killing the critters and I've been able to harvest strawberries all week with no slug holes in them.

To water around the back garden where the hose doesn't reach, I've been collecting my washing machine water each day in a watering can. I do have an outdoor tap around the back, but haven't purchased a hose for it yet. The washing machine water is working great and it's frugal to use it instead of fresh water because we pay for our water usage and disposal in Auckland. Also, I'm sure the plants benefit from all the extra nutrients in the dirty water too, and I use ecostore washing powder which is also good for the garden.
In non-gardening frugal news, I'm so glad I painted the bottom story of our house before summer started. The lighter paint is having a noticeable impact on the heat inside our house. We don't have any electric method of cooling our house and since it's north-facing (and we live in the Southern Hemisphere), we get all day sun. I'm really glad I've got light paint on the walls now to reflect that sun back away from the house instead of getting absorbed by the black paint that used to be there.

Down the bottom of Kitekite Falls. 
On our first day back in Auckland after our holiday, I took the girls to KiteKite Falls with some good friends of ours. It was spectacular! I hadn't brought togs, but I ended up going for a swim anyway because the water was just so inviting.

Up the top of KiteKite Falls - moments before my swim. 

I cooked up 1KG of dried black beans in my stock pot, which transformed into about 15-cups worth of cooked beans. I used one cup of the cooked black beans in nachos and froze the rest in 2-cup portions for future meals. 

I hand-sewed a birthday present for one of my nieces today. It's a couple of pillows and blankets for her Sylvanian Family dolls, which I made using some of the fabric I still have left over from when I helped sew sheets for NICU babies with my church ladies group. 

The girls and I spent an hour today purging the house of books and toys we no longer need. I'm keen to get our garage/office cleared out and organised for homeschooling, so the more stuff we can de-clutter the better. I also gave away our pram last week because it was taking up room in our garage/office and we didn't actually need it anymore. J went for one last ride in it to say goodbye on the way to the op shop. We are now a pram-less family, and boy does that feel weird. 

I took my kids and one of our neighbour's girls to the zoo last week after school for a couple of hours. We spent a lovely afternoon there. It was very peaceful because it was just before closing time. We have Friends of the Zoo passes, so it didn't cost us anything for my family to go and we got a discount on the neighbour's ticket too. I brought ice cream from home in our new Thermos Funtainers for the Zoo trip and that was a success. The ice cream stayed perfectly frozen inside the Funtainers and everyone loved it. (I'm not a Funtainer affiliate or anything, I just really like them.) We only have three Funtainers, so I shared one with S, L shared with J, and our neighbour got to eat ice cream from her own one. 

S has also been taking stuffed pasta to school in her Funtainer, and it's staying hot until she's ready to eat it. I'm really pleased I bought them, and kind of wish I'd got a couple more now so Paul and I could have one each too. 

I made Mexican Rollups last week for dinner using homemade refried beans and the ends of a couple of salsa jars, a little bit of cooked chicken, some sour cream, cheese and tortillas. I froze lots of extras for Paul to take for his work lunches. 

The kids got to perform three times over the weekend in a couple of different Christmas pageants - first as angels and then as stars. It was very cute. 

Yesterday I took L and J's bikes to the bike shop to get some repairs. I thought the repairs were going to be major, but it was just some screws that had come loose and there was no charge. Five minutes later, the bikes were back in the car and I drove the kids to Western Springs for a sunny mid-day bike ride around the lake. We saw lots of cute baby swans on our meander. For snacks we brought a homemade scroggen mix and water. 

Since our neighbours cut down the privet trees that divides their property from ours and we can see them now, my kids have been over to their house most afternoons for a play and a swim in their spa. Today I walked upstairs and found neighbour kids from three different houses hanging out in the girls' bedroom. It made me so happy because this is exactly the kind of childhood I've always wanted for my kids - popping in and out of neighbours' places in the sunny afternoons and evenings after school. It's what I had as a kid, but which seems so difficult for kids to have these days with all the after school activities and scheduled play-dates going on.

Tonight S told me she's going to cook dinner tomorrow night. She's menu planned and we're going to have sandwiches and cut-up vegetables. Looks like I'm getting a night off cooking. I'm going to enjoy that.

Now it's your turn to share your frugal successes. Tell us in the comments below or on the Craving Fresh Facebook page what you've been doing to save money lately so we can be inspired by you.

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