Wednesday, 14 March 2012
As this experiment draws to a close; I said six months and six months it was, a week ago; I thought that I would bring you all up to speed on our progress. In my six months of blogging I have covered frugal shopping, frugal cooking, frugal gardening, frugal craft and kids activities, how to have a frugal Christmas, frugal cleaning and other various tips for living a frugal lifestyle. Everything that I have blogged about I have tried, though not all has continued. I must be honest!
I still haven’t sewed those dresses for Little Lady. I know that sewing clothes for her myself instead of buying them will save me money, especially with a versatile pattern that I can use again and again. And yet, the fabric is still sitting in my cupboard, along with my sewing machine. Perhaps large sewing projects are just not for me. On the plus side, I haven’t gone and bought any more summer dresses for Little Lady. But, I must not waste the money I spent on fabric and patterns, I WILL sew those dresses! Maybe next summer..
I stopped baking bread. I know it saves me money, and I still recommend it! But, after falling pregnant with baby number two and suffering once again from appalling morning sickness, the smell of bread baking became a major turn off. I still can’t stomach it. So, we are back to buying bread in bulk when it’s on special and freezing it. I guess it’s a good thing I never bought that bread maker. Mum and Dad can have theirs back since it is now gathering dust on my kitchen bench.
It took me three months to get my veggie garden underway. The plot was dug and fertilized thanks to my lovely Hubby, but then morning sickness started, Christmas got in the way and then we were off on holidays. But, finally I got those veggies planted and mulched, and they are growing away beautifully! I’ve also started my compost heap and I now keep a compost bin on my bench. It’s a good feeling knowing that I’m now reducing even more waste. Despite my slackness with getting it all started, I am starting to reap the rewards! Last week I baked spinach and ricotta pastry parcels made with my own spinach and rocket. My tomatoes are starting to ripen, and after a good feed, my radishes and carrots are growing again. I think a combination of frost and then a heat spell may have been too much for my beans, which are looking very sad, but I did manage to get a load of them off the vines before the weather got to them. I’ve also got some potatoes which have started sprouting, that I plan to plant.
I still make my own laundry liquid, but I must admit to going back to regular washing powder for Little Lady’s cloth nappies. My home made liquid did the job, but it wasn’t completely getting rid of the smell or the stains. But, that is the only washing job where I use supermarket powder. And as for LL’s excema, it still hasn’t come back thanks to me discovering a more natural detergent. All other washing is done with my own liquid.
I’ve said before, that I am only human. I am not perfect, and despite all my good intentions, there are times when we fall off the wagon.
However, there are a number of things that have now become a daily and weekly part of our routine. I bake from scratch (and I really enjoy it!), buy fresh produce as cheaply as possible, make my own snacks (those yummy muesli bars!), use cloth nappies and cloth wipes, clean with vinegar and bi-carb, buy in bulk and freeze and actively seek out frugal recipes for meals and treats. Looking for frugal recipes has almost become an obsession! I’ve also become quite the avid gardener. Little Lady and I really enjoy getting outside and digging, weeding, planting, transplanting, mulching and making plans. That part of our frugal lifestyle is giving me a lot of joy. We will also be adding to our frugal garden very soon, by purchasing some chickens.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly how much money we have saved, because most of it has been spent on the never ending list of expenses. But I can tell you that, thanks to our frugal lifestyle, over the last six months, we were able to; pay off the credit card; buy three new bookshelves and a bedroom suite for Little Lady (since the baby is moving into her old bedroom); have a lovely weekend away, just hubby and I, at a hotel in the city for our 5th anniversary; buy a dryer; and I was able to spend some money just for myself, and visit a girlfriend in Newcastle for a weekend. We were also able to re-finance and pay off the car! There are still weeks when the bills mount up and money is tight, but thanks to our new lifestyle, we are now managing to pay everything without resorting to the credit card.
The verdict; this frugal lifestyle works for us! These relatively simple changes have made a huge difference to our financial, as well as our physical and emotional, wellbeing. I no longer feel that we are wasting Hubby’s hard earned money, and thanks to our new lifestyle, we have been able to do a number of things that, six months ago, we didn’t think we could afford.
This will be the last entry for this blog. Thank you for reading, I hope I’ve been of some help to you all.
Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I love my Enjo. For those of who don’t know what Enjo products are, I encourage you to look them up. They sell cleaning cloths and fibres for every cleaning job you can possibly think of, designed to be used only with water and their own chemical free cleaning agents. The fibres are specifically designed to pull dirt and bacteria from deep down in surfaces, leaving them spotlessly clean and germ free. And they really work!
With mine and Little Lady’s sensitive skin, I have always been an advocate for chemical free cleaning. Besides which, most of the cleaning products you buy in the supermarket are hugely overpriced, and full of who knows what? I do have to admit, Enjo products are not cheap. In fact, it will cost you $200 or more to set yourself up with your basic Enjo household cleaning products. But, they are top quality and last for years.
So, again we come to the difference between living cheaply and living frugally. Living frugally does not always mean spending the least amount of money. Often, it means spending money in the short term, to save money in the long term. Think of growing a vegetable garden, or buying chickens. It costs money and time to do both, but in the long run, you’ll be collecting veggies and eggs from your own backyard for free, instead of buying them each week.
The purpose of this week’s blog is not to encourage you to go and spend all the cash you’ve been saving on Enjo products. But, it is to encourage you to look for ways to clean your house frugally, instead of using overpriced, chemical-filled, supermarket cleaning products. Your wallet and your body will thank you!
For every day cleaning jobs in the kitchen and bathroom, I use my Enjo products. But, I also have a wealth of cleaning tips that I’ve picked up from other mums, including my own, and various frugal living blogs, websites and magazines. This week, I share some of them with you!
- Grimy surfaces ie. Stove tops and soap scum on bathroom surfaces. Any surface where you would usually use some kind of household spray or gel to cut through grease.
You will need: Bi carb soda, White vinegar, a clean cloth or chux and a pair of old stockings or pantihose. Sprinkle the bicarb over the surface and pour enough vinegar over to cover it. The bicarb will start to fizz. When this happens, take the pantihose and scrub the surface. The wetter the pantihose are, the more abrasive they will become, removing grime. Wipe over with a clean, damp cloth to remove the excess vinegar and bicarb. For more delicate surfaces, simply use a damp cloth, sprinkled with bicarb and wipe over.
- Cleaning windows and mirrors. You will need: A large bowl of warm water, white vinegar and paper towel. Add ¼- ½ cup of vinegar to the warm water. Soak a paper towel and rub over the surface. Dry with another piece of paper towel. Also suitable for cleaning the interior of the fridge.
- Mould. You will need: A spray bottle, some clove oil, a clean cloth and water. Add ¼ of a teaspoon of clove oil to 1 litre of water (the measurements need to be exact!) in the spray bottle. Spray over mouldy surfaces and wipe with a damp cloth. Clove oil is a natural mould inhibitor. Not only will it remove mould, it also helps stop it from growing back. The ¼ teaspoon to 1 litre water measurement can also be used for soaking items that have become mouldy ie. Soap racks and other bathroom items, clothes and shoes. Simply rinse, or wash as normal afterwards.
- A grimy microwave. You will need: Bi carb soda, white vinegar, water and a microwave safe bowl. In the bowl combine 1 tbsp of bicarb, ½ cup vinegar and 1 cup water. Cook on high for 1 minute, until just boiling. Remove and wipe over the interior of the microwave with a damp cloth.
- Smelly and blocked drains. You will need: Bicarb, white vinegar and boiling water. Pour half a cup of bicarb, followed by half a cup of vinegar down the drain. Leave for half an hour and then pour a full kettle of boiling water straight down the drain. If the drain is still blocked, repeat. A badly blocked drain may also need to be plunged afterwards.
- Carpet stains. You will need: two large bowls, warm water, a grease cutting dishwashing liquid eg. Palmolive, paper towel and two clean facecloths. In one bowl squirt a small amount of dishwashing liquid and fill with warm water. Fill the other bowl with clean warm water. With one facecloth soaked in soapy water, rub gently over the stain until it starts to disappear. With the other facecloth soaked in clean water, blot the stain to remove the soap. Use the paper towel to soak up the excess water.
- Shining silver or silver plated cutlery. You will need: a baking dish, aluminium foil, bicarb soda and boiling water. Line the baking dish with foil, place silverware inside and sprinkle ½ - 1 cup of bicarb over the top. Cover with boiling water and soak until the tarnish disappears. Dry well.
Undiluted white vinegar can also be used for:
- Killing germs –simply wipe over surfaces with a clean cloth.
- Wiping bench tops.
- Cleaning cloudy glasswear –wipe over with vinegar soaked cloth and leave for a few minutes before rinsing.
- Removing paint spatters- with a vinegar soaked paintbrush.
- Unclogging the pores of a steam iron- fill the iron with vinegar and leave to steam on full heat for 4-5 mins before draining. Make sure to repeat this process with water before ironing any clothes.
The best part about cleaning with Bicarb soda and vinegar is that are CHEAP! Clove oil is not, but will last for a long time. I recommend wearing rubber gloves if using undiluted vinegar, it can be harsh on skin.
Saturday, 21 January 2012
What a glorious weekend we have been having in Melbourne! Beautiful weather, and with a busy week behind us, Little Lady, Hubby and I have been enjoying a quiet couple of days pottering around the house, playing at the park and eating some yummy home made goodies and delicious meals. It really is my favourite way to spend a weekend.
I wanted to share with you, a couple of frugal recipes that I have discovered over the past week. If you are looking for new, budget friendly recipes, I recommend purchasing a copy of either “Super Food Ideas” or “Recipes Plus”. Both magazines are less than $3, and are available at either Coles or Woolworths. Both of these recipes are courtesy of “Super Food Ideas”.
When choosing new recipes to try, I always look for two things;
1. That the recipe is fairly quick and simple. Not that I have a problem with producing delicate, fiddly food, in fact I quite enjoy it! But, for everyday meals and snacks I always go back to the quick, easy options.
2. Cheap ingredients that do not necessitate an extra trip to the shops. Again, I’m more likely to use the recipe regularly if the ingredients mostly consist of things that are always in my pantry.
Ham and Corn Muffins:
Hubby was given a 5kg ham as a Christmas gift from one of the company’s clients. I love ham, but I can’t eat that much of it! So we are left with a lot of ham in the freezer. This is the perfect recipe for using up that particular Christmas leftover, and is also a great option for the school lunchbox. Can be frozen.
2 ½ cups SR flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
¾ cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp chopped chives (can be omitted)
100g shaved leg ham
2/3 cup grated tasty cheese
125g can creamed corn
1. Preheat oven to 190/ 170 FF and grease muffin tray.
2. Combine flour and sugar in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add milk, egg and oil and mix until just combined.
3. Add chives, ham, cheese and corn and mix.
4. Spoon mixture evenly between muffin holes.
5. Bake for 18-20 mins or until golden brown and just firm to touch.
6. Serve hot or cold.
Peach Melba Upside Down Cake:
I love canned peaches. I’m not a huge fan of fresh peaches, although I love apricots and nectarines, but canned peaches I could eat every day. This cake is lovely warm, and you could try substituting peaches for another fruit if you so desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
825g can peaches in juice, drained well, thinly sliced
185g butter, softened, chopped
¾ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup SR flour
½ cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 180/ 160 FF and grease and line a 6cm deep, 22 cm base round cake pan.
2. Arrange peach slices in two circles, overlapping slightly, over the base of the pan.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, caster sugar and vanilla for 5-6 minutes or until light and creamy.
4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
5. Sift flour over butter mixture and add milk. Fold until just combined.
6. Spoon mixture over peaches in pan, gently smooth surface.
7. Bake for 45-50 mins or until a skewer, inserted in the centre, comes out clean. Stand in pan for 5 mins, and then turn onto wire rack to cool.
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Who’s New Years resolution was to save money in 2012? Then this is the blog for you. My (growing) family and I have been living frugally for almost 4 months now. There have been a few stumbles and hiccups along the way, but hey, nobody’s perfect. The point is, we are doing our very best to use our money wisely and save where we can, and the results are beginning to show! I am excited to see what 2012 brings, especially as this is the year our family expands from three to four. A new baby will no doubt bring more financial pressures, so our living frugally experiment is sure to be very helpful.
Over the Christmas/ New Year period Little Lady and I spent two weeks at our church camp at Freshwater Creek, at the gateway to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. Hubby was working, but came up to join us when he could, and we all enjoyed some beautiful weather and much needed relaxation time. The day after arriving home however, Melbourne turned on it’s best performance and we were shrouded in a week of winter-like conditions. This meant no outside play, no beach, no walks, no playground, and also meant that Little Lady and I caught horrible chesty colds. After two days of this, the weather took an even further turn for the worse, which resulted in a 6am trip to the emergency room with a very sick little girl who ended up getting croup. So, with a sick toddler in the house, that also meant no more visitors. Little Lady perked up after 24 hours, but, still being under house arrest meant that I had to get creative with activities suitable for entertaining my very active almost-two-year-old.
This got me thinking about all those other mothers out there suffering through the schools holidays, trying to keep their children entertained and busy. Going to the movies, bowling, aquatic centres and the zoo are all great activities, but the cost adds up. Fast. And thus was born my latest list; Holiday Entertaining for The Frugal Family.
1. Visit your local library. Remember books? At the library you can borrow them for a whole month. For FREE! They also have DVDs and audio books available. For FREE! Just make sure you return them on time.
2. Get online and check out what’s happening at your local shopping centres. Over school holidays, most shopping centres run activities for kids at a minimal cost. Some of them are even (here’s the magic word again) FREE! These could be craft activities, shows featuring popular TV characters, petting zoos, interactive dance demonstrations and gardening workshops.
3. Cook. With the evolution of shows like Masterchef, every kid wants to cook right? And there are so many child friendly recipes available now. You don’t even have to buy them! Everything’s available online. So put on aprons and start cooking. The ingredients don’t have to be expensive, no matter what you make, I guarantee the kids will love it.
4. Make popcorn, close all the blinds, get comfy and have a movie day at home. Borrow DVDs from the library for free, or for a minimal cost from your local rental place. Again, make sure you return them on time.
5. Have a water fight. Gone are the days where we could run under the sprinklers, but a few buckets, some water pistols and some water balloons can be just as fun.
6. Build a cubby. Indoor or outdoor, it doesn’t matter. Some chairs, a table, some old blankets, or a big tree in the backyard are all you need. Bring the dolls and teddies and have a picnic. Or, bring out the water pistols and nerf guns, and the cubby becomes a fort. Hours of fun!
7. Make playdoh. Cheap and simple, I have a fool proof recipe that I have been using for years. Some rolling pins, cookie cutters and plastic cutlery, and your littlies will be happy for ages.
8. Craft. Paint, draw, glue, make pasta jewellery, sew, knit, make puppets, paper mache, clay, beads, stickers, the options are endless! My personal favourite is emptying the recycle bin and constructing various things with masking tape and glue.
9. Visit the local playground, kick a ball and play hide and seek.
10. Visit your local botanic gardens, have a picnic, go for a walk and feed the ducks.
11. The beach. Always a winner.
12. Lego. I bet nearly everyone has a box of lego lying around somewhere. Combine it all and build a mega city.
13. Ride bikes. There are safe bike tracks everywhere. Take a picnic.
14. Invite some friends over and play board games.
15. Sensory play. Rice, shaving cream, sand, “slime” or coloured water. One for the littlies, but I bet a lot of bigger kids will love it too.
School holidays need not be expensive. These are just a few ideas that I have come up with. There are so many cheap things to do if you get a bit creative. Just remember, parental involvement is mandatory for most activities. So, embrace your inner child and enjoy yourself!
2 cups plain flour
4 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup salt
2 cups boiling water
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. If necessary, add extra flour until you reach desired consistency. Store in a plastic bag.
Thursday, 15 December 2011
First, an apology; I have been very slack with my blogging of late and for this I apologise. It’s a busy time of year, and I often find that by the time I get Little Lady into bed at night I’m ready for bed myself! Also, this will be my last blog entry for the year, as on Boxing Day we are headed off to Freshwater Creek for 2 weeks. So, I will not be blogging again until mid January. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year. Thank you for following my journey over the past three months.
What are the essentials on your weekly shopping list? Bread, milk, toilet paper, washing powder, soap, butter, eggs? Those items that we use daily and always seem to be running out of. Over the past three months I have talked about a number of these items, and I will be discussing more in coming entries. Because, after all, if these are items that we buy and use all the time, then these are areas of our lives where we’d like to save money right? Today I’d like to discuss that most essential of essentials for mothers with young children like myself; baby wipes.
Take a look inside the nappy bag/hand bag/ pram/ stroller/ car of any mother with children under 3 years old, and I guarantee you will find baby wipes. Essential not only for nappy changes, but for sticky fingers, spills, spews, snotty noses and little accidents, let’s hear it for the humble baby wipe, friend to mothers everywhere! But with so many uses, baby wipes run out quickly and need to be purchased on an almost weekly basis by most mothers.
Personally, I buy my wipes in bulk. Cheaper in the long run, and it means that I only have to purchase them once a month. But, in the last few months I have discovered even better ways to save money when it comes to baby wipes.
The humble face washer for example. Everybody has a stack of them in the bathroom cupboard right? I have discovered that a damp face washer does just as good, if not better job, as a baby wipe. Well “duh!” you say? Sure, but did you know that by putting a damp face washer in a zip lock bag and popping that into your nappy bag or handbag, you’ll save on baby wipes when you’re out and about? A face washer will clean dirty hands and face, plus any spills on the pram or stroller, quicker and more efficiently than baby wipes, and it can be rinsed and used again. When cleaning up Little Lady after a snack or meal when we are out, I will easily use 3-4 wipes at a time. That’s money being tossed in the bin.
So, that’s one saving. But the main purpose of a baby wipe is for cleaning dirty bottoms, so they’ll always be an essential purely for this reason right? Maybe not. Again, the humble face washer comes to the rescue.
A frugal friend of mine was telling me some months ago, how she made her own cloth wipes using flannel, which she used when money was tight. Buy a length of flannel or soft cloth, run a seam around the border and they can be dampened, used in place of baby wipes, and washed. Not being overly fond of spending hours on the sewing machine, I bought a couple of packs of thin, soft face washers from Big W which I now use in place of wipes. One pack of 12 is $5. I keep them in an old icecream container filled with water so they stay wet and put them through the washing machine with my cloth nappies.
These two changes have meant the purchase of baby wipes is no longer a weekly essential. I now only use them for nappy changes when LL and I are out and about. Cloth wipes can still be used when you are out of the house though, simply by damping them down and popping them into a zip lock bag.
However, if you are a user of disposable nappies, or you simply don’t like the idea of more pooey laundry, I have another solution for you. I was sent a link to the following blog, http://thehomemadeblog.blogspot.com/, by another lovely friend of mine. It contains a recipe for making your own baby wipes. The solution for the wipes can also be put into a bottle and simply poured onto a cloth.
So, there you go! Another supermarket essential, that doesn’t have to be an essential anymore!
Recipe for Homemade baby wipes:
2 Tablespoons Baby Shampoo
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Drops Tea Tree Oil (Or Vinegar)
2 Drop Essential Oil (Any Scent You’d Like)
2 Cups Water
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Cut roll of paper towel in half. Pour 1/4 of the liquid in the container bottom then put the cut side of the paper towel roll into the container. Pour the remaining solution over top of the paper towel roll.
3. Let stand for ten minutes and then remove the cardboard center from the roll of wipes. Pull your homemade baby wipes from the center to start using.
Sunday, 4 December 2011
When Hubby and I first announced that we were expecting Little Lady, one of the first questions my Father-in-law asked was, will you use cloth nappies? Not the type of question that I was expecting since most people want to know things like; the due date, whether or not we were finding out the sex, our chosen hospital, what we were hoping for gender wise, how long I would continue working etc etc. However, it didn’t take much consideration before I answered his question with a resounding “No!”. Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything worse than puddling around in my child’s poo and as far I was concerned cloth nappies were only going to add to the mountains of washing that invariably begin to pile up when a child enters the household. So, disposables it was.
However, after a few months of buying box after box of expensive disposables, as well as numerous bouts of nappy rash and constant leaking, I began to reconsider.
Cloth nappies have come a long way since I was a child. The “modern cloth nappy” is designed to be super absorbent, made with natural fibres, comes already assembled and fastened with either Velcro or press studs, can be simply tossed in the washing machine, no soaking required and is available in a range of cute colours and patterns. Gone are the days of nappy pins, plastic pants and folding, scrubbing and soaking. They are also, in my opinion, a great money saver.
I was horrified when I started to calculate how much of my monthly grocery budget was going on nappies, not to mention wipes. Of course it’s not strictly necessary to buy the most expensive disposables available. There are, after all a number of “budget friendly” brands out there. However, after trying nearly all of them, I came to the conclusion that, in the case of my daughter, the “budget friendly” options generally turned out to be simply, cheap. They leaked, ripped or disintegrated and were not suitable for more than 2 hours wear, and I felt that I was simply wasting my money because I was going through so many. So, when one of my friends started a business selling cloth nappies, I decided to try them out.
One modern cloth nappy will set you back on average, $25-$35. Most brands also offer packages where if you buy a certain amount at once, the price per nappy drops. If you are prepared to wash a load of nappies every day, then 12 should be enough. Little Lady has 18, which means that I can wash every second to third day. To buy 12 cloth nappies will cost you about $300.
A box of Huggies disposables (the only brand that consistently works for Little Lady) will set you back about $30 if you buy them on special, which gives you about 100 nappies. This will last you 2-3 weeks depending on the age of your child and the number of nappies they go through each day. Going by these calculations, it will take you 10 boxes of disposable nappies to make up the cost of 12 cloth nappies. The average child will wear nappies, full time, until the age of about 2 ½. This works out to be about 70-80 boxes of disposable nappies, costing you 2-2.5 thousand dollars. For one child.
It’s a contentious issue, Disposable vs Cloth. Everyone has their own opinion on which is ‘better’ and which is cheaper. There is no denying that disposables are convenient and easy to use. And many mothers find that the cheaper disposables work just fine. Cloth nappies are cheaper to buy in the long run, can be reused for subsequent children, and are better for the environment, but they require more effort in terms of washing.
So, which is more frugal? Cloth nappies. The savings are not immediate, but they will build up over time, despite the cost of extra water for the washing. Even if I purchase a few extra cloth nappies in preparation for baby no. 2’s arrival next year, and purchase a box of disposables now and then for emergencies, holidays and long days out, I am still saving money in the long run.
I have to admit, I haven’t always been so dedicated with my cloth nappy use. There have been times when I simply couldn’t be bothered with the washing, and Little Lady would spend weeks in disposables. But, for the purposes of this experiment, I had to get serious again. I wash every second day in my energy efficient, water saving front loader washing machine, I hang my nappies on the line or clothes airer and they are dry the following day. I don’t use cloth nappies when we go away, but, if you are staying somewhere with a washing machine, there’s no reason why you can’t. When baby number two arrives I know I will be washing every day. But, I am happy to do this for the sake of saving money. Plus, in my opinion, there is nothing cuter than a cushy, cloth nappied bottom!
There are other ways to save money when it comes to nappy change time. I will be covering these in my next entry.
Monday, 28 November 2011
I’m afraid we’ve fallen off the wagon a little lately. Hubby and I recently found out that we are expecting our second child, and pregnancy has not been kind to me. We’re still saving money on our grocery bill, going to markets when possible and using our own laundry liquid etc. But constant nausea is not really conducive to hours in the kitchen baking, and when most of the food that you eat doesn’t stay where it’s supposed to, you tend to just buy whatever food is appealing.
As a result, we’ve slipped back into some naughty habits; buying take away and convenient snacks. Not only that, but all my Christmas planning has gone by the wayside, we actually had to buy supermarket bread because I couldn’t stand the smell of it baking, my vegetable garden is still unplanted (although it is fertilized and dug thanks to my darling hubby!) and the fabric for LL’s dress is still uncut and unsewn.
I have to be honest. We are not perfect. All of our good intentions are still there, but pregnancy has taken over my body so completely that my main focus has been to simply try and get through the basic day to day tasks of running a household and looking after a toddler.
However, a bout of gastro recently put all of this into perspective. Little Lady came down with it first and then I caught it. I have never been so sick in my life. For two days I quite honestly wanted to die. But since then, regular morning sickness doesn’t seem quite so bad. So, the time has come to “suck it up” and get back on the wagon again!
So, this week I have started baking again.
Firstly, I decided to try my hand at baking bread from scratch. As in, not using the bread maker. I found a recipe for a cob loaf on the “Taste” website. It was delicious! And actually quite a bit easier than I thought it would be. I did find it to be a bit cakey and it dried out quickly, so I prefer to eat it toasted. The only special ingredients that you need to purchase are a bag of bread flour and some yeast sachets. Should you wish to try your hand at this recipe, you can find it here http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/24208/cob+loaf
The other day I really had a craving for chocolate cake. Nice, moist chocolate cake with chocolate butter icing. I found a recipe in an old issue of The Australian Womens Weekly. This particular recipe is great because it uses cocoa instead of cooking or dark chocolate, making it nice and reasonably priced. It does call for buttermilk, but I tweaked it so that you don’t have to use it. I hate buying buttermilk. It’s not cheap and it never gets used before expiring. The cake turned out to be beautiful, exactly what I’d been craving, and I’ll definitely be making it again.
“Tweaked” Chocolate Cake recipe:
1 cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
150g melted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 ½ cups self raising flour
1/3 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten lightly
2 cups caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla exctract
1. Pre heat oven to 180 (160 ff). Grease a 26cm square can pan and line base with baking paper.
2. Combine water, vegetable oil, butter and cocoa in a medium saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until just boiling.
3. Meanwhile, combine flour, milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl, stirring to combine. Whisk in hot cocoa mixture, mixing until mixture is smooth.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 mins, or until cooked when tested. Allow to cool for 5 mins before turning cake onto a wire rack.
125g of butter, softened
¼ cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
3 cups sifted icing sugar
1. Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. (I found an electric mixer was quicker and easier).
2. Spread icing over cooled cake.
This cake is delicious on its own if you don’t wish to make the icing.