The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Vicky Challenge. New ways to save!

Not being a full week since the last Vicky Challenge I thought things might be a bit light on! But no! I have a ton to report!

Also now we are in the swing of things,  I am finding tracking my savings easier and a pretty much a normal thing, I want to add to The Vicky Challenge. So each week there will be something extra, usually a theme. Something that might find us NEW ways to save. This weeks theme is Aldi!

But first my savings...

I potted more parsley seeds and cut back some herbs and cleared some things that have finished producing. Making room for some new seedlings.

Chloe came back from the farm and visiting my brothers farm with buckets of figs! There are two types, big plump purples ones...

And green ones with pink inside.... they are from different trees, three all up.

I have bags of them, in the fridge, in bowls, baskets and simmering on the stove. 
Figs here are ridiculously expensive. Mostly they are sold in plastic containers of six. They are over $1 each. I mean per fig! So I have over $300 in figs just now!

When Chloe headed off on her trip she took Andy's fruit picker he made me and a ladder, knowing the figs were almost ripe. My niece Alex also helped and she climbed right to the top of the trees. Alex is a rock climber. Handy!

The sun was setting and Chloe thought of my blog and what a good picture the huge fig tree would make!

I made jam... ten jars so far and more on the way.

There are so many things you can do with jam. I want to use lots of figs fresh and baked but many were soft and I have no hope of keeping up. So jam it is. But jam can be:
Gifts towards a kitchen or basket of goodies present.
Donations to a fundraiser/stall.
Goes on toast, scones, warmed as pancake syrup.
Stir into plain yoghurt to make flavoured.
Add to muffins or cakes. Berry jam extends berries in anything.
Fill a sponge.
Fill jam drop biscuits or jam doughnuts.
Make a jam tart.
Glaze meat or chicken.
Make bread and butter pudding.
Make buns or scrolls and fill with jam. Then add icing.
Use instead of ice-cream topping and nuts.
Flavour a milkshake. 
With puff pastry and cream you have little danish pastries or desert treats.
My Dad puts plum jam into a curry.
To name a few! 

We didn't go out for Valentines Day. I made a special dinner. Predictably it included figs! 

I made figs stuffed with goats cheese and wrapped in Prosciutto and baked...

A baked brie ...

This is really really easy and so good! All you do is slap a brie or camembert on to puff pastry. Top with nuts and cranberry, wrap and bake. Let it cool down to just warm or it is too runny! Then serve with a little salad. There are variations on this but this is the usual one I do. It seems really fancy but it's not!

I did pear, rocket and balsamic vinegar. Somehow the pear and the cheese are so lovely.

For desert I made a Chocolate Brownie. I used a packet mix for this as Brownies are totally unfamiliar to me so sorry no recipe! 

This also gives me a heap of slices for Andy's lunch box all week.
I am reading an old book called "Living on a Little" by Caroline French Benton... one of the tips is when making a cake to seperate away a little of it,  make into another tiny cake and change it in some way so that you get an additional serving. So if making a plain cake she might make a tiny cake just big enough for desert and add jam into the middle or ice it differently. Then you have a spare desert or afternoon tea or treat. It is as if you have another cake.
Taking this advice I separated away two small serves of Brownie Mix. They look really cute like chocolate bars. So that is another nights desert plus a gift.

I can tell I am going to get a lot of tips from this book!

I will say we saved $100 on going somewhere fancy as we have some years.

As usual I made the lunches = $100 saving.

So not too bad for a short week. $540 or so.

On Friday night I met Cath and Wendy at Aldi at Hallett Cove. Also Laine, Cathy and some other lovely ladies.  It was a fantastic night! I learned so much! 
For those that don't know Aldi has been in some states of Australia for a long time but our state has never had an Aldi and I had never been to one. But Helen, Wendy, Cath, Kaye, Fiona (and others!) have all told me how much they save shopping at Aldi. Many people say it reduces their grocery bill by half. 
Truly I thought surely it couldn't reduce my own bill by so much? But after Friday night I know it will. Maybe even more. 

This will not be a help to everyone, if you don't have an Aldi or it is too far away... but for the SA ladies who have not tried it or anyone who has one and hasn't been this could be a game changer!

I was impressed with everything! I have signed up for the emails and the catalogues are being delivered to my letter box. The fresh produce was  Australian or even better South Australian and beautiful as was the meat. Even the pizza bases, bread, biscuits etc I noticed were all Australian. 
Wendy and Cath were able to tell us what products they use and love and others joined in. One lovely lady was from Holland and she had shopped in Aldi for many years. Everyone was so helpful. 
Talk about a steep learning curve! 

I bought dark chocolate for Andy. He says it is beautiful! 

The price was amazing. And something I noticed is that cheaper products in our usual stores have hideous packaging. Aldi things all look first class. 

The skin care is famous. I had already read up on that and the blind tests where Aldi products have won major competitions world wide. Most of it is around $8.
I bought two serums. So far I am so impressed with them! For anyone who shops at cosmetic counters this would amount to hundreds of dollars a year difference in one product.

I wrote down a lot of prices of things we regularly use. Olive oil, pasta, shampoo and so on. Things like the Olive Oil, I noticed was about half price plus Australian made lovely olives. 
Many things were well under half price. I particularly noticed feminine hygiene products, laundry powers and liquids, the whole fruit and veg department... all well under half our local supermarket.

I had the best night! This is me (looking so excited!) with Wendy and Cath.

This was an experience that is going to save us a fortune. Last year one tip alone from The Cheapskates Club saved me over $500. It would be impossible to add up the savings from tips I have adopted. But what amazes me is still finding new ones and this workshop was one of them!

When I got home I sat and had a cup of tea and an Australian made Aldi biscuit that was delicious. I thought what a lovely night! I am a total convert! If the average Australian family spends $200 a week on groceries then they are able to save over $5000 a year changing to Aldi. That is a lot. 

How did you go this week? I hope you had some great savings and are also some new discoveries!

Today I am making more jam and we are having roast chicken and figs for dinner. I have a lot of figs to deal with! xxx


  1. Annabel, I am glad you enjoyed your ALDI outing. I thought you would. You definitely will save money by shopping there. We didn't get many figs this year as the many fig trees were infested with a new pest. Every year there seems to be a different if the fruit fly isn't enough to contend with here in Queensland. Perhaps next year we will get a better harvest. Enjoy using up all those figs :-)

    1. Dear Nanna Chel, I want to tell you and your daughter that heart shaped cake pans were in Wollies for $2.50. Woolies supermarket not Big W with the Valentines Day stuff all marked down. Really lovely red tins. Don't know if they would be there but thought to tell you. This was today.
      I hope you have figs this season. They are so nice and useful in sweet and savoury things I find. With love

  2. Hello Annabel, you have had a great week, free figs is such a blessing. The Aldi workshop sounds like it was great. I have 3 Aldi within a 20 minute drive of my place but I don't often go there, maybe I need to start going!.
    My savings this week were: I made cheese and bacon rolls/ muffins twice this week saving me about $15 , I had my centa care subsidised cleaning done as usual saving me $72 for a fortnight.i bought a sizzix big shot machine for $70 less than the original price so I am saying a $70 saving. I had 4 no spend days so I am counting that as $40 a day x 4 = $160 and I was given 7 meals from my parents so a $50 saving and finally I made 4 cards using the sizzix machine , a saving of about $20 . So in total for the week it was a saving of $387, I am happy with that .have a great week Annabel and everyone reading this. Love Barb.

    1. Hi Barb!

      I love useful little manual machines; the Sizzix machine sounds like a lot of fun!
      I am looking forward to seeing your new card productions that result from this investment.
      Rachel Holt

    2. Dear Barb, I can't wait to see what you can make with this machine. It sounds like heaps of fun.
      If you know someone going to Aldi and you can get a ride then that would be great. Many basics I always use were so much cheaper. I can't wait to go back!
      Your parents are wonderful! What a help they are. Having family support is the most special thing.
      You have had great savings! Have a great time with your sizzix machine I can't wait to see your cards! with love

  3. Annabel,
    Oh all of those figs, lucky! That is a very big savings and rightly so! They are expensive. We have been doing a fiscal fast which is similar to the no spend challenges except we don't spend on anything unless we have a gift card of find money which worked out good because we having been working at my Mom's house getting it ready to sell. But even with no spending here is what we did:
    I got 29.44 in groceries free using store rewards and coupons which included 6# of lemons and pouches of rice to add to the pantry.
    was given a paper 1.50
    used a $10 CVS gift card to get free batteries
    got a few good sized sample of pet food 2.00
    we shoveled snow for a few days for a friend that has a business and made $320
    We split and stacked wood which I will count later
    Not familiar with brownies? oh the travesty Annabel they are one of my favorites! LOL

    1. Dear Vicky,
      I like your no spend challenge. It is a good idea. You did well with it!
      It was awesome earning that extra money with the snow shovelling. You had a very busy week!
      I didn't grow up with Brownies, they are more recent in Australia I think. And I cheated. BUT they turned out great... chewy and gooey in the centre. Well Andy went mad over them. Have a weeks supply too!
      Maybe you better teach me how to make them properly with your best recipe? With love

  4. What a wonderful gift of figs, Annabel! And Chloe's photo of the sunset behind the tree is gorgeous :) I am hoping we will get to eat the figs that are currently ripening on our tree...but not sure the possums will let us. I have draped the tree with solar lights, but you may remember what happened with all our peaches...:(
    Aldi will be a big help to your shopping budget. I am a fairly recent convert and also still working out what is good. I look forward to seeing what you recommend xx Fiona

    1. Dear Fiona, Oh I hope you get figs too! I have been making jam again today and we had roasted figs with our roast chicken.
      The weekly special buys at Aldi amaze me, I didn't understand how this works but now I will be there asap when there is something I want. But the usual stuff is amazing i.e. the basics I mentioned like olive oil and so on. I recommend the hundreds and thousands biscuits! lol The serums and the chocolate so far!
      With love,

  5. Hi Annabel

    Sounds like you had a fantastic time exploring Aldi. I used to buy the dark chocolate and it was really a wonderful treat. I liked the red tin salmon for when I am making quiche (I bought some home on the plane last year when I went home for a visit as it was around $5 and up here it is $8 to $10 a tin). I have always used the skin care range and get Mum to put some in each year with my Christmas or Birthday presents. It really is a treasure trove of goodies.

    I know that since moving here our grocery bill has doubled as our nearest Aldi is over 600km away, but the thought has crossed our minds to take a trip with the trailer and do a massive shop. We have been thinking if we put $10 away each week then we could go down once a year and turn it into a holiday at the same time. Need to think more on this one.

    My saving this weeks were

    *not buying a coffee when we got to town $5.00

    *savings on DD5's canteen lunch $12.00

    *petrol (as the school gives us an amount for the month due to us doing they shopping instead of paying us) $50.00

    *receiving 3 bags of clothes and a bag of books for DD5 $100.00 +

    *making all meals at home except canteen days (they are free) and the lunch in town yesterday $100.00 +

    *$25 off our shopping (they have this on for 3 weeks and we can use the card for school) this saves us the $25 off our shop each week

    *purchase a 3 piece set cup, dinner plate and bowl for DD5 Easter present for $8.70 at Myers saving me $15.00

    So I am happy with this lot of savings

    Hope you have a wonderful week ahead and that Andy enjoys his chocolate

    Aly xxx

    1. Dear Aly,
      The bag of clothes and books was great! You had good savings!
      I understand about the more expensive groceries in the country and the distance. But your distances are greater than mine used to be. I was one hour from a regional centre and an hour and a half from a larger one. Yours are much more. But if you did holiday on a driving holiday near an Aldi I would stock up as much as you could fit in the car that is for sure. Or even if someone was coming your way if they could pick up a few thins for you, it all helps. The tuna in the suitcase for instance!
      Have a really good week. With love

    2. Aly saving up and taking a trailer to Aldi is not as silly as it sounds - I can remember on one of our trips back from Victoria the motel owner was saying that he was heading to Costco (at that stage the only one was in Melbourne and we were in Naranderra in NSW) - he hooked up a trailer and went and stocked up there and also Aldi.

      Where would be your closest Aldi, perhaps planning a trip around when the deliver truck has been so some help from some locals may be needed. Not impossible to organise just a bit interesting.


    3. Before my parents got their own Aldi they stocked up and carried non perishables home 500 miles when they came to visit us. It saved them a ton of money over the years.

    4. Hi all

      Thank you for the comments above this has really helped me come to a decision that this is what we shall do.

      Lynette our closest Aldi is over 600km away.

      Annabel if people visited that would be handy but Mum finds it too difficult to get here now

      Lana that is a long way. Yes this is what we are looking at doing with non perishables like flours, tinned items, pastas etc. Having shopped at Aldi for a long time prior to our move almost 4 years ago I really did notice the difference.

      Aldi has been approached about having a store here but apparently the warehouse they have is too far for them to come here. It was suggested they build a warehouse here and service Far North QLD also but they did not seem to want to do that. Oh well just have to save and make that trip


  6. Hello Annabel, I'm so glad you loved Aldi. I absolutely do. And keep an eye out in May for the ExtraLift skin care range - it really is something special, I'll be posting about it on my blog too.

    I'm trying to make fig jam - just waiting for enough figs. Only a few ripe enough at the moment. I suppose it will be like every other year and they'll all be ready at once and I'll be going day and night for a week :) Oh, and if I have enough (and enough time) I'm going to try making glacé figs - perfect for Christmas/birthday/thank you/Father's Day gifts.

    I'm making pasta sauce at the moment. All the tomatoes have ripened at once and I have two styro fruit boxes and all my large mixing bowls full of them, plus the crockpot going and two stockpots on the stove. Even if I were to buy the Aldi pasta sauce it would cost around $180 a year. I'm using home grown produce and herbs to flavour it so I'll have enough pasta sauce for at least 15 months (about 65 packages/jars) and the only cost will be the electricity and gas.

    Have a lovely week.

    1. Dear Cath, I will be watching for that Extralift. I love what I have already and am so impressed.
      I have been making more jam today. Plus we had roasted figs with dinner. Very nice!
      The mass pasta sauce cook up sounds wonderful. That is the basis of many future dishes. And very good for us too. I know the feeling of a kitchen full of produce but it is a good one just a lot of work! But an investment in the whole year!
      I hope you get plenty of figs. My friend makes the place figs then dips them in melted chocolate. These are amazing and beautiful gifts. They are beautiful! Many thanks Cath, with love

  7. Hi Annabel, sounds like a great night at Aldi!
    I bought some beautiful figs at the Farmers Market yesterday (obviously not free but better priced than supermarkets & absolutely delicious). For lunch today I tried a new salad....rocket leaves scattered on the base, figs sliced and scattered on the leaves, a few hazelnuts scattered across, a small amount of goats cheese crumbled on the top, with a very small touch of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, & little bit more of olive oil mixed with a little of Dijon mustard and a little bit of honey. Simple, quick to make, a great way to use up some leftover rocket leaves, goats cheese I'd bought reduced price and some leftover hazelnuts from lots of Christmas cooking. Delicious :)

    1. Dear Wendy, That salad sounds beautiful! I love those flavours. I have rocket and goats cheese from the baked figs too! Thank you! With love

  8. Hi Annabel, glad you had such a good night with the girls, ive saved a lot of money changing over to Aldi's, but i've only managed to do that over the last 6 months and im glad i did. I love their chocolate to, Actually there's nothing that i havent liked yet from Aldi's except their potato's, it seems that almost everytime i buy a bag of spuds from there i end up throwing half of them away, mmmm maybe i should actually say something to them :) Have a great week xoxo

    1. Dear Karen,
      That is all good to know... except for the potatoes thank you! It is really a big thing to be able to save so much and weekly. What a help! You have a good week too! with love

  9. Annabel I dream of fresh figs. My poor little tree does nt enjoy our humidity at all. Right now there is a bug munching away on t leaving the leaves looking like skeletons. I am going to persevere. Have I told you I dream of fresh figs? One day. This week has been a go to work then come home week. I was told last week that due to a numbers drop I won't be required full time teaching for the rest of the term. Anyways I'm hoping I will get 3days/week. Find out Wednesday. So this weeks savings have been packed lunches and coffee pod from home, $125. 2 full drop curtains for classroom from Vinnies saving $30. 2 new to me classroom posters from Vinnies saving $10. Hubby's food bank shop saving $20. Gifted 3 limes $2. Used up over ripe bananas for muffins, $15. TShirt and Satin nightie from Vinnies, $25. Made a choc caramel slice for my turn at providing afternoon tea at staff meeting. I used what. Had in the pantry, saving$20. This weeks savings $247.

    1. Dear Jane,
      I think down here the dry heat agrees with figs luckily as these trees are very old and have never been looked after at all.
      I hope it works out for you that you get what you feel is ideal as far as teaching days goes.
      I bet the caramel slice was a hit at the staff meeting!
      That is a very good amount for the week. Good luck on Wednesday... With love

  10. Annabel, I am SO happy that you now have access to Aldi!. I've taken full advantage of them since I retired 18 months ago. I hadn't previously as I worked approx. a 10 hour day with a 3 hour round commute and so usually opted for sheer convenience of the Woolworths just around the corner. My "retirement" was not my idea but the result of redundancy (no payout) and came about 5 years earlier then I had planned on financially. And so I am on a journey of discovering ways to cut costs but still live well. Aldi has proved a winner. I can honestly say that my grocery (and household items etc) spending has been reduced always by a third and very often a half!. Sometimes I can't find a few items, but generally i find 95 to 100%. I now shop monthly (just freeze milk butter, bread - their rye is VERY good!- and some vegetables) and pop back to replenish fruit, salad vegetable etc every 10 days or so. Their stock is constantly being updated and improved on. Can't recommend them enough. So very happy for you. :-) Glennis

    1. Dear Glennis,
      You had very long days when you were working! I can see your life would be so different now. It is a shock when things change unexpectedly. Many ladies here have had various thing happen that have drastically reduced their incomes. One thing though is time. When we are home and have time there are new ways to save and as you say having more time has allowed you to shop at Aldi. I am glad it has helped you so much! Thank you for mentioning the rye too.
      I hope the Christmas challenge and the Vicky challenge both help you find some new ways to live well and cut costs. Even now I still find new ways. And enjoy it! Many thanks for commenting Glennis, with love

  11. Dear Annabel, Your excitement over Aldi is palpable! :-) one thing that is also marvellous about Aldi is their no questions asked refund policy. They are fabulous on this at our store! I love their chocolate, especially dark almond.

    I saved more on groceries than I spent this week! Really cheap yogurt at NQR only 50c a litre. All sorts of fruit and veg bargains. A new greengrocer has some good prices that even rival Aldi! I used an e-voucher (Woolies) for $10 to buy dog food half price again this week. I also topped up our supply since it is half price and saved quite a good amount that way. Valentine's day items were less than half price today, so some suitable items were put away to be used for other occasions. I earned another $10 from spending $50 at Woolies, and will buy half price items with that as well. I have almost enough points earned for another $20 flybuys dollars at Coles, but will include that another week.

    A new discovery for me this week was signing up for free magazines online through our library service through Zinio for Libraries. This has saved me $40 on magazines so far! There are lots there, and current issues as well. I have the brand new Marie Kondo book out called "spark joy" which was $40!! I love the library! :-) It saves me heaps! My daughter has been hiring endless crime series on dvd from there too lately. It is exciting when they see the potential for savings by using free services as well.

    All up my total was $295 this week. I bought two handbags at the Op shops, one was Jag, the other a Jimmy Choo copy. I took the name plate off and replaced it with a bar brooch I had here. It is a nice bag, but obviously not genuine. I just liked the colour and style. :-) they are in good condition but second hand, so put as a conservative $60 savings over getting something new.

    I loved the pictures of the fig tree! It is enormous! My favorite ice cream is Maggie Beer burnt fig. Yum! There is likely a recipe online for something similar. $300 worth! Wow! That is an amazing bounty for you Annabel. Just imagine how the value will end up being enormous from made product!!

    The book you mentioned is just adorable! I found it on project gutenberg for free on ebook. I also found one she wrote for little girls and some others she had written. Gorgeous! Thanks so much for mentioning it. xo

    1. Dear Kaye,
      I am only early into this book and it is so old and quaint yet really good! Some pearls of wisdom in there.
      I love your idea of putting a brooch on the handbag!
      Kaye today at Woolies the Valentines Day stuff was practically being chucked out. I got heart hasped cake tins (red) for $2.50! I got four, three will go into my gift cupboard! Thrilled!
      You have had great savings.
      Yes I am converted to Aldi. The workshop helped me a lot i.e. understand how the weekly specials work and a whole heap of things. Plus it was really good fun!
      I am so glad you had a good week. The library is a big savings and source of so many things its amazing.
      With love

  12. Hi Annabel!

    "Living on a Little" sounds like an inspiring book. I hope we hear more from it! It really seems to me, right now, that striving to live a simpler life means enriching it. Similarly, the little things can be so life giving.

    Thank you for sharing your kitchen work with simply beautiful produce! I am taking in your uses for jam.

    Our shopping days are fairly simple; my husband and I shop together, & make a travel day of it. Our focus, these days, is keeping things simple; saving money; avoiding the 'big smoke'
    (100, 000 population!) & supporting small towns when their prices are right. Recently, prices have been reducing in a number of products, & permanent price matching in stores helps further. For bread & gas bottle refills, we are happy to pay a little more in a small town to save on fuel and excess stress associated with city shopping! It's working.

    Are there any special techniques for adding slivered almonds to your fig jam? Are they roasted first? Just as well we cannot taste and smell over the internet! You'd have nothing left!!

    Rachel Holt

    1. Dear Rachel,
      As I read this book I will include any tips I think are lovely or useful. The extra little cake with a difference I really liked!
      Ages a ago I did a post on the uses for jam and in comments I got a whole heap of extra uses. Many more than I thought. Now I use it in so many ways.
      Re the almonds... they just go well in fig jam. When I was little Dad and I loved fig jam. It had sparce almonds and it was kind of a competition to get the almonds. So now I make it with plenty of almonds! I use whole blanched almonds, raw. I make the jam and add the almonds in about the last hour. They cook this way and are beautiful. Once you try it with almonds there is no going back. You could use slivered also I think but maybe add them in even later.
      I will give Dad some jars of this jam. He just loves it. Also it goes with cheese. i.e. like quince paste or fig paste goes with cheese this is much the same thing really.
      I hope you have some figs to do this. Have a great week! With love

  13. Hi Annabel,
    Aldi is great isn't it? I started shopping there a few years ago and am a total convert. Oh, and what was the $500 Cheapskates tip?! I have just joined the Cheapskates Club, loving it.
    Those figs and the trees just beautiful. I am trying to strike some cuttings, but it will be many years before I can hope for figs.
    Re brownies: the recipe on Wendy's website - My Abundant Life - is easy and just divine (thanks Wendy :)
    My savings this week were making jars of pickled onions, beetroot and also jars of pesto. I used the basil flowers this time and it was lovely.
    Have a great week.

    1. Dear Peach, Last year the $500 tip was I read a members tip that was she was saving a fortune at discount chemists on scripts. For some stupid reason I thought discount chemists were good on makeup etc but I didn't know the scripts were so different in price. I thought a dollar or something maybe... So on the basis of this tip I wrote down the scripts I regularly buy. It is a lot as Andy has had a heart value replacement due to a birth defect in his heart. So he is on blood thinners and several things. So I wrote down what we pay and headed off to the nearest discount chemist. And it turned out the prices were half or under. For us this is well over $500 savings a year, actually over $600. Also each time I go I get discounted dish detergent or toothpaste or something as well. So that one tip was my biggest saver last year and it is an ongoing saving. Sometimes one change is big!
      I better head over to Wendys. How did I not know that!? Thank you!
      Pickled onions, beetroot and pesto sounds beautiful. We would enjoy all of those! Thank you Peach! With love

    2. I add chopped walnuts and glacé cherries. Yum!

  14. Dear Annabel, I love the photo of you at Aldi. I can see you are brimming with enthusiasm, so it tells me there are some great offers at Aldi. I wish we had Aldi up here. I would love to hear more about your trips there. I too, am taking notes with your uses for jams. I haven't made a jam yet, but would love to give it a go. Your gigs sound heavenly. Also, your baked Brie sounds delicious. I am hoping to go to Woolworths today, so will look out for one of those baking pans. Thanks so much for the heads up. We have saved money by my DH doing all the work in baby proofing everything. DH moved the to up on the wall and we moved things around, it looks really good now. It feels all fresh and decluttered. Of a night we have both been pottering- him in fixing his fishing reels and me on learning to crochet. So lovely. Sending you lots of love. Love, Bridge

    1. Dear Bridge,
      Well done on getting ahead with the baby proofing. I was telling Lucy that for devices like things to keep doors shut and drawers etc Ikea are really good, they are in the baby section. Many stores charge a lot for some of this stuff so if you need it Ikea is a bargain.
      The baked brie is terribly easy and divine. The key is let it cool down to warm then serve. Its a good treat!
      I like the sound of your evenings! That sounds like us! Its lovely!
      Also if you cave a few cups of fruit, try the jam in the microwave. Once you have done it you are set for life!
      I hope you are having a good week! With love Annabel.xxxx

  15. Isn’t Aldi the best? I’m so happy for you! Of course some of the products are different here in the U.S. but I recognize the chocolate. I buy spices at Aldi, honey, peanut butter, cocoa powder for my baking, and so many things! And they have wonderful clearance sales!

    Chloe’s photos of the fig tree are lovely. It looks like they were having fun!

    My big savings for this week is having (finally) finished the tile back splash in our kitchen. We still need to caulk, but I’m hoping my father will help with that because he’s so good at it. Having it done lifted an enormous weight from my shoulders.

    In other happy savings news, our auto insurance went down this time, presumably a loyalty discount. It was a nice surprise! We also pay for six months at a time, which is a savings over paying each month.

    I used supplies on hand to help a friend’s daughter make Valentine’s Day gifts for her mommy and daddy, which meant I indirectly gave my friend a Valentine as well. I made up the corsages and boutonnieres for our church to give widows and widowers, sparing the church from having to purchase them from a florist. I also made a lovely batch of cupcakes for my husband and daughter for Valentine’s Day.

    My kitchen counters were covered in drop cloths for nearly two weeks while the various steps in tile installation were in progress, so creative cooking was required. I made Mater-ade (homemade sports drink) rather than buying the commercial stuff for my daughter when she had the sniffles, made granola for about half the cost of store-bought, cooked several meals in the crock pot/slow cooker, and made soup from pantry & freezer ingredients by modifying a favorite family recipe. Eating at home got me back on task with the tile more quickly than if I’d had to go someplace to pick up carry-out/take-away.

    Annabel, you’ve given me a good excuse to keep closer track of what I’m doing to save. Thanks for that! Have a lovely week, everyone! Blessings, Leigh

    1. Dear Leigh, Well done on the work you did on that splashback! I saw it and it looks great!
      You did very well with no kitchen. I remember that, we had the BBQ out the back and a table with the kettle set up etc.
      You have done a massive amount this year already! It is all enormous savings. With love

  16. Wow, your new Aldi's store sounds great. We don't have a hygiene or cosmetics section at any of the Aldis in my U.S. state. But they have great deals on other items. I'm very blessed to have a discount grocery near me.

    My savings from some good buys at the discount grocery, a home haircut, homemade pizza for 10,making my own laundry soap, and framing pictures with frames that I already had (also husband cut the glass for one): $78

    One thing I'm especially grateful for is that my husband didn't feel pressured to make a big to-do about Valentine's Day. He just bought a funny card and a single red rose. Nice!
    Thank you as always for the inspiration! Those figs look fabulous. I can't wait to hear more wisdom from that book.


    1. Dear Leslie,
      It is weird there is so much variation in the Aldi stores. I found the cosmetic section wonderful but not fully stocked yet. There is a product I am told only comes out once a year in May and that it is incredible... I never knew any of these things.
      As I read Living on a Little I will share more for sure. I loved the extra little cake with a variation!
      Well done on your savings, pizza for ten and the framing are really good! With love

  17. Oh, fig jam! My favorite!

    I don't know how we would have raised 5 children without Aldi. I am so glad you have them near you now! So many of their products are just better than anything I can buy at the regular grocery store.

    Brownie mixes are the way to go as making them from scratch is expensive with the large amount of butter needed. I like to boost the chocolate flavor with a half cup of chocolate chips. I like the idea of the small cake when making the large one. I made red velvet cupcakes for Valentine's Day and most are now tucked up in the freezer. We take out two after supper and they thaw quickly for an evening treat and it keeps our portions small.

    1. Dear Lana,
      It sounds like Aldi has helped a lot of families. I love that. It kind of makes me mad with the other stores.
      I feel better about my use of brownie mix thank you! Andy loves it so much and can't stop saying so.. so it was a success anyway! Red Velvet cup cakes sound gorgeous. That is something I have never made but looks so luxurious!
      Thanks Lana, with love

  18. Before I was married I worked as a live in carer for an elderly couple on a property. They had their own orchard and I would help then preserve their apricots, peaches and figs. They used to make a slit in the bottom of each fig and place a blanched almond inside, they then made a heavy syrup and preserved them whole in jars. They would slice them and use on top of bread etc. They tasted beautiful. I also shop at ALDI. I think it saves us money but I don't buy everything there. I find that if you do a lot of home baking they only stock the bare basics. No choc chips, baking powder or yeast. I personally find some products such as the biscuits too sweet but the dark chocolate is delicious. Best price on free range eggs at $3.99 per carton. The only thing I have to watch is not buying too much stuff from the centre isle. It is all very tempting and puts my bill up considerably.

    1. Dear Therese,
      Those figs sound delicious and what a good idea! thank you for telling me this I might see if I can find this method online.
      I can see how the centre isle will be tempting! I have already seen amazing things! One thing was sleep sacks for babes and Lucy saw the price and went !!! so in that case it was such a saving to her. So I will try to keep it like that! That is cheap for free range eggs! Thank you for this, with love,

    2. I bought chic chips at our Aldi last week. They are not as nice as others but fine in a biscuit. It will stop me nibbling in between.

  19. Dear Annabel, a week that includes figs, brownies and Aldi, has to be a good week! You will be amazed at how much Aldi will save you, not just on useful pantry items, but on the little luxuries..the chocolate and the skin care is a good example! When you see it, the Caviar one in the blue and silver packaging is utterly divine.I had a frantic week of birthday cake baking which I know saved around $500..the price of made to order celebration cakes is crazy due to the work involved. I can't claim much else, but I'm happy with that. Great work everyone! Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      The caviar is the one I am after and they didn't have it yet. This one was compared to La Prairie in UK tests. I am waiting for it!
      You cakes were gorgeous and will be remembered forever! Just wonderful well done! With love

  20. Dear Annabel, it sounds like you have had a great week. That is just wonderful that you were able to get all of those figs. Thank you for all of the tips for using jam. All we put it on here is toast and biscuits (the scone type, not the cookie;) but I am going to get a little more creative. And brownies are one of my favorite things! I bake from scratch mostly, but brownies are one of the exceptions. They are so easy, but some of the mixes are actually very good!
    I am glad ALDI was such a hit. Our nearest one is over two and a half hours away and I have never been, but I have read a lot about it. If I'm ever near one, I will make it a point to go. We have a Texas grocery chain here that we are very happy with, as their prices are very low and they always have good sales. Many of the products come from Texas too, so that is good for us. It does make me curious, though, to see how a trip to ALDI would compare!
    Last week, most of my savings actually came through shopping. I saved $39.37 on grocery specials and I saved $89.03 buying name brand second-hand clothing. I don't really care about the name but in this case it is higher quality. We took a trip to the city (a rarity) that was planned around sales and I saved $118.22 at the craft stores. That makes it look like I spent a fortune but I actually spent nothing because I combined sales and coupons and paid with a gift card from my SIL. So now I have plenty of craft supplies and I'm very happy about that lol! Aside from that, we ate a meal at a friend's house ($12), bathed the dog ($5? no idea what that costs), paid a bill in person (.49), and painted an iron table that had been left here by the previous owners ($10). So my total savings was $274.06.
    I hope everyone has a good week to come! Love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey,
      I am glad you have a good store to shop at. We all have to do the best with the stores near us. If you are travelling then check out an Aldi but too long a distance and time and fuel can be too much.
      It is lovely you have lots of craft supplies! That is happiness to me and also potential gifts and lovely things!
      Well done on all your savings. The table sounds good I am imagining what that is like? Iron tables here might be very pretty and fancy.
      I hope your week is going well! With love

  21. Dear Annabel,
    What a wonderful week you have had---figs, Valentine's and Aldi! We don't have Aldi in our area. I am so happy for you with the difference it will make in your budget!

    I finally totaled up my savings for this far in February at $389.80. I think I may have over looked some things, but I am still pleased.

    I was able to use some discounts to get a rose plant delivered to our granddaughter for essentially free. There was some confusion about the delivery and I ended up on the phone trying to get it straightened out. I think they were trying to cheat me, but after getting to speak to the supervisor, I hope it is resolved and the plant will arrive tomorrow. Once it arrives, I plan to call again and let them know what I think of their service and see if they will give me a credit for the delivery being late as they had offered.

    I got several books for free for my Kindle. Got a few things free or cheap at the grocery store.

    I made a large batch of soup, chocolate chip cookies and most meals.

    We have had unusually warm weather, which has led me to do quite a bit of planting and tending of plants. Still working with citrus. A co-worker gave our daughter a lovely bag of salad greens.

    I continue working on decluttering and cleaning. Baby steps are better than no steps😀.
    Have a good week!

    1. Dear Elaine,
      Well done on beautiful cooking and gardening! And good savings!
      When I am decluttering or tackling any big job that is daunting me I use the FlyLady method of put on a timer for 15 mins and go like mad on it. She says you can do anything for 15 mins. I do that everyday until it is done. Well it is amazing. It is staggering what it achieves yet doesn't sound like much! So that is how I clean and declutter!
      I am looking forward to autumn here... and soup making! I am ready for the change! Hope your week is going really well and the rose arrived. with love

  22. Hi Annabell,
    I am glad you were able to shop at Aldi. I live in S California we do not have Aldi yet. Maybe coming soon.
    The figs sound lovely. We had a warm week here in The 90s
    It is suppose to be winter here, Funny weather. We did our normal saving things. Cook at home,pack lunches and snacks. Freeze ripe fruit for smoothies. Wash in cold water. Hang to dry. We continue to sort thru boxes. I found a entire spring and summer wardrobe packed up in a couple of boxes, Very fun. I had a chance to wear some this week.We continue to donate things. It is a frugal activity to do this because we discover treasure as we sort and donate. I put fig jam over goat cheese on pears cut in half and core removed drizzeled with olive oil and baked until lightly brown. Serve on a bed of rocket.
    I mix the fig jam with lemon juice and olive oil to make a dressing.
    I have some tests that will hopefully get authorized by my
    insurance this week. Praying for authorization to go thru very soon and positive results on the procedure.
    With much love

    1. Dear Patti, Thank you for your fig jam ideas! Jam is amazingly useful and versatile.
      I love how you are finding things and having fun as you unpack. I hope you have more good finds like the clothes!
      I hope your tests go well and you get your insurance authorisation. With love

  23. How blessed to have such an abundance of figs! I love Aldi, I am in WA and the first store is opening up this year. I am too excited about it. In the past when I have visited friends in Vic I always stock up on supplies from Aldi. Their chocolate is the best! x

    1. Dear Mel,
      Thank you for another comment you made re chandeliers! I love them. A black one would be really dramatic and spectacular!
      I am glad you are getting Aldi too. I knew SA and WA were the next frontier! Sounds like you know what to expect better than I did... it is amazing to me that I can save so much each week now! Big difference!
      We get one near by soon, meanwhile I am happy to drive about 25 mins to the nearest one! With love

    2. Mel, I am in WA, too, near Seattle! Where will the new Aldi's be located? Hope it's close. Shirley

  24. You had a great week Annabel, those figs will be great in jam, cooking and fresh......My favourite fruit. I have a small fig tree but didn't set any fruit this year.
    Your valentines day dinner sounds yummy, I had a baked dinner cooked for me and after work I picked up a cheesecake and cut it into heart shapes to serve it and poured raspberry sauce over the top...look lovely but forgot to take a photo.
    Aldi is great isn't it, you will save heaps.
    The book sounds like a good read and if you get any good tips please share.
    Hope you week is going well. Love Debbie xx

    1. Dear Debbie,
      Cutting heart shapes out of cheesecake is a lovely idea! I love cheesecake love love love!
      The Living on a Little book is so old fashioned and quaint but there are some pearls of wisdom in there! I will add them in as I go as I think essentially many thing never change and economy and lovely living are beautiful things. Hope your week is going well and not too busy! with love

  25. Knew you'd love Aldi. I've been a convert for about 8 years I think.
    You looked very glam in your photo and very happy.
    Great photos of Chloe's efforts at the farm.
    Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona,
      We have had to wait so long for Aldi! I am so glad they are here. Its changed SA in an instant.
      I love those photos too! They had fun and returned with so many figs I was thrilled. Last night made fig, goats cheese and proscuitio pizza was amazing! with love

  26. Good Morning!
    We lived less than a mile from an Aldi when I was growing up....this was in the 1980's. I recall as a pre-teen being embarrassed that my Mom shopped there. What a foolish young lady I was! Well by the time I was a young wife and living a couple states away, and no Aldi, I would stock up on my favorites when I went home to visit Mom & Dad. By then I'd learned to value of money and saving. LoL

    It took several years to have Aldi move into Tennessee. When my boys were young my hubby and I would take the week's budgeted grocery money, start my shopping at Aldi and pick up the remainder at Kroger. They selection was much thinner 20+ years ago. Now pretty much anything you'd like you can find there.
    Glad you enjoyed your workshop, sounds like it was a blast!
    Loved the pics of your fig tree. Everytime I see mention of figs I think of Jesus telling Nathaniel he saw him under the fig tree... Enjoy your bountiful harvest :~)

    1. Dear Kathryn,
      I was like that when I was young. I often went shopping with my Nan and Pa. They always had the specials catalogues and went to several stores for the specials. As a kid I found that tiresome. Now I wish I had known how hard they were working to do the best for us all with their budget and cooking as they always fed us a lot of beautiful food.
      I also think of figs and also olives in a Biblical sense and of how ancient they are. Beautiful!
      With thanks Kath, love

  27. Annabel,
    For you who gives so much, I give you my favorite brownie recipe and do hope you give it a try! This is a vintage recipe from a 1950's cookbook and it is so easy!

    1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
    1 cup white sugar
    2 squares of unsweetend chocolate, melted and cooled (or, as I tend to do, 6 tbsp cocoa powder plus 2 tbsp oil)
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8 inch pan (I use the butter wrapper!) Mix butter and sugar (you do not need to use a mixer. I do it all by hand). Add the eggs and blend. Add chocolate and blend. Add the flour and mix. Scrape into the pan. Bake for 35 minutes. That's it! So easy and so deliciously chocolately and fudgey!


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