I was poking around in Aldi tonight when I saw a whole lot of those new-wave ‘cupcake’ containers in the special aisle.

Don’t let me get started on how they will slide around there, beneath the fancy clear plastic lid which says, hey look at me, I’m a baking wanker.  Sorry, this was going to be an article for The Australian Women’s Weekly, because they have a huge readership and a whole section devoted to such butchy type things as cooking.  But now I have been rude and it’s only the first paragraph, it’s pretty clear that the reason you are reading this here on my blog (should it be the feisty blog, or the thrifty-living blog? don’t ask me this side of my periods (and that’s periods in plural because ‘just flippin’ ‘cause))…

What has happened to the battered cake tins and Tupperware containers we grew up with?  I’m harkening back to a time when you made your own biscuits and cakes, and Danish butter biscuits were seriously posh in their posh Danish butter biscuit tin and something old people kept for special occasions.  And you can be damned sure they kept the tin afterwards to put buttons in or they went to the shed for nuts and bolts.

I mean hardcore cake tins that did the rounds of the back of a four wheel drive with a work dog and the kids in the back and the smoko esky?  Yeah, and all those crackled crusty bits of icing and chocolate cake which us kids couldn’t get enough of.

Back when cupcakes were FAIRY CAKES – and do NOT get me started on the Americanisation of fairy cakes.

Let’s have a look at having one of those WCCs (Wanker Cupcake Containers) says about the person touting it around.

  1. This is your first time baking and you want Donna Hay to pat you on the f*##$%ing back for it as if you just lost your twee cooking virginity.  You even used flour and eggs, and like, real food, and like like – like not packet food.  You have gourmet coming out of your aerating backside.
  2. You want everyone to know that you are carrying something big and they’d better not get in your way on public transport because your precious cupcakes are more important than anything in the world.
  3. Alternatively, you are an experienced baker, and you want everyone to know that you are serious about your fundraising muffins for the school fete.  They have been decorated with sugary-shit out of a packet flowers and crap that you never made, but you are a great home cook, and nobody – NOBODY – is going to bake better than you.  Also, you have delivered them in the boot of your four wheel drive, instead of just putting them on the back seat like a normal person.  You want everyone to think what’s in the boot is a huge haul, but frankly, call me when you’ve made five dozen fairy cakes and not the miserable two dozen obese cupcakes that sit side by wobbling jowl with each other.
  4. You say baking instead of cooking.
  5. You cannot convert Fahrenheit to Celsius and vice versa.
  6. You are too gutless to take potluck with your fairy cakes falling over in the tin on a ride over a rough road, or under the care of children who have been told not to eat any.
  7. You have no idea how annoying your bench-hogging fancy cupcake container really is – seriously, it needs an island of its own.
  8. And you have absolutely no idea how good the inside of a cake tin smells when it has been sitting in a hot cupboard facing the sun.

There, I feel better. 


If you don’t have an apron, tuck a clean tea towel into the waistband of your trousers.  When you have finished making a mess of yourself, put the tea towel straight into the laundry basket.

c. Kylie Lawrence 2013.





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New Storage Containers From Pre-Loved Cake Platters

With all the bulk cooking going on at my place over recent weeks, the competition for plastic containers to put the resulting meals in to freeze, has upped. 

I refuse to succomb to purchasing new storage containers, because enough takeaway or other containers come into our kitchen, to warrant patience.  With the turn-over of dishes to the sink, it doesn’t take long to find enough containers to hold a good-sized stew or whathaveyou.

Last night as I emptied the dish rack, and went to put the disposable cake container that oh so recently contained my delicious white chocolate birthday cake, I had a brain wave.  A brain wave I wasn’t even looking for (hey, they don’t all spontaneously combust in one’s head, or arrive by design).

The right way up, it is a mere cake platter with lid.  Turn that cake platter upside down however, it is a brand spanking new food container… with a lid!  Woohoo!

Why send a perfectly useful plastic container straight to the recycling bin after only one use (although technically one becomes three because the cake was scoffed in three visits to the fridge)?

As you can see from the pictures below, it is all about perspective, and of course, that adage, waste not want not.  With a diameter of 18 cms and a depth of nearly 7cms, that pre-loved plastic cake container is perfect for storing:

  1. Left-over dinner to take to work tomorrow;
  2. Biscuits or fairy cake treats to give a friend;
  3. Buttons and bobbins and threads that are clogging your sewing basket;
  4. Ribbons, stickytape, bows, and other gift-wrapping furbellows;
  5. Seed packets, love letters, and spices.

From humble disposable plastic cake container to…

... a nifty new storage container absolutely free!

Gorgeous photos!  (First ever on this blog.) And look at that hand model!  Oh, it’s all poise!

What would you do with a handy new storage container like this one?

c. Kylie Lawrence 2012.

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Garage Sales in Posh Areas

Rich people have as much crap as anyone else.  Some of it is actually very good crap. 

Think stuff such as designer clothes, shoes, and furniture, if you go in for that sort of thing.   And just like people in lower socio-economic suburbs, they like to get rid of it from time to time, to make way for more.

Personal taste aside, this is particularly handy when you need to furnish a room, kitchen cupboard, or wardrobe on a limited budget. 

A friend of mine once purchased a fabulously comfortable, plump, classy couch with beautiful silk Jacquard covers for a hundred dollars, at a garage sale in an affluent area.  Buying this new from a shop would have set her back over a thousand dollars plus antimacassars and plastic covers.  Several years later, she had it steam-cleaned for seventy dollars.  At a garage sale we held in our flat, even though it was packaged with a bookcase and television set, she sold it for two hundred dollars – DOUBLE what she had paid for it nearly ten years ago!

The first time I went to a garage sale in an affluent waterside suburb of Sydney I had accidentally moved to post-devastated-but-relieved break-up, I made the mistake of picking the only house lived in by hippies.  Hippies are great – I’m a lentil-eating, sarong-wearing, incense-burning hippy – but some of their stuff is downright cruddy.  Same goes for students – their stuff, that is.

Students can often only afford to buy crap to begin with, so by the time they have finished abusing it, it is quite possibly in the next to worst possible (slight exaggeration) state you could expect to assault your eyeballs on a bright and breezy Saturday morning.   I should know.  I was a student myself once…and again.  And no, that’s not a degree in anything, that’s a state of fiscal reality.

Who else would pay six dollars for an old vinyl kitchen chair, and lug it home over her shoulder and a bridge for a couple of kilometres?  Or buy a second-hand fruitcake tin to make the world’s most expensive Christmas cake?

Anyway, so I moved to this affluent suburb, quite by chance; the future brother-in-law of an old school friend had a fantastic room to sublet, very much like the one I had fantasised about.  I had never been to a garage sale before, and had visions of rich people’s junk being acquired for insidiously pocket-friendly sums.  Well, the house belonged to these hippies.  Or maybe it didn’t belong.  Maybe they found it or it found them.   From having walked past their place on several occasions, I concluded that candlelight was more of a turn-on for the mysterious inhabitants of this grungy-looking house, than electricity.  If they weren’t squatters, they were the next best thing.

It was a very chilled-out scene in the overgrown front yard (which Posh Neighbours had clearly neglected to report to the Posh Council). 

Their stuff was not only old, it smelt old, and musty, and full of incense.  I had enough old whiffy, emotionally-charged clothes with attachment issues (them, not me of course) from my student days, without adding one more dead person’s dodgy coat to my collection.  I think one or two of the best-loved ones may have been dragged out of coffins.  Their taste in alternative music was good of course.  But if it was good, it would have been played to death in some neo-Nirvanic moment, so I didn’t need any scratched tapes or CDs to add to my meagre collection, all of which had to survive the tape-mangling antics of the radio Santa Claus gave me for Christmas in 1985.

So I left the hippies sitting in their cruddy old dilapidated armchairs in varying shades of turd-brown and toilet moss green, and wandered home in a state of disappointed reality.

For three years I lived in that posh eastern suburb, a broken woman (not), and not once did I ever darken the driveway of any garage sales, although I sobbed silently after their homemade advertisements sticky-taped to telegraph poles.

The hippies have gone, and their old house torn down to make way for an ugly set of cement-rendered luxury apartments, the edifice of which has about as much character as the grey dish cloth  I saw on the counter at a Newtown café I once harassed my friends to share lunch in with me.  Don’t get me started on other people’s dirty dishcloths.  It might lead to other people’s crap.

Of course, the best bargain was the pile of crockery I espied on the back seat of a mate’s car.  He had found it on the side of the road, and brought it home to a sweetheart who looked at her beloved dinner set on the shelves, and said no way Jose.  So he offered it to me.

I do hope that my early naive foray into garage sales in posh areas inspires you to get out of bed next Saturday morning.

c. Kylie Lawrence 2012.

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Give Your Old Kitchen Sink Brush New Life in the Lavatory!

A couple of weeks ago my flatmate threw out a perfectly good kitchen sink brush, and replaced it with a brand new one from the mysterious cupboard beneath the sink.

I couldn’t believe it. The brush was still in perfectly good nick – the plastic bristles barely scratched despite several months of washing dishes – and barely distinguishable from the new one.

This morning, as I prepared to decamp to my sacred space with coffee and a couple of lovely slices of homemade wholemeal and sunflower seed toast, and was washing the bread knife, board, and the spoon I used to decant olive oil onto my bread (with a sprinkle of curry powder – yum!), and noted the new brush hanging next to the window, I had a brainwave.

Save money and avoid wastage: give that unloved kitchen brush new life in the lavatory as a toilet brush.

With its long handle, and scrubber head, an unloved kitchen sink brush is perfect for cleaning the lavatory.  Let’s face it, dunny brushes are usually the last thing any of us think of replacing. It just sits next to the pan, waiting to burst into action on cleaning day, or the next time….. well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

If your usual dunny brush is looking sad, unloved, and disgusting, and you are ready to send it to the recycling bin, replacing it with a pre-loved kitchen sink scrubbing brush may be the solution for you.

Waste not, want not.

Isn’t this a little leaf of abundance?

c. Kylie Lawrence 2012

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A Leaf of Unexpected Abundance

Something mysterious has been happening over the last couple of days.  People keep offering to give me things, or have given me things.  Nice things!

I am sure that there is a lesson in here, beyond the flow of gratitude.  The items on offer are all things I need, or which are/will be of benefit.  When people give me things that are too nice or expensive, my first reaction is no, I couldn’t accept it.  I feel guilty.

But – and this is no excuse for accepting gifts – when you think about the joy that giving gives (!) people, denying them that opportunity creates an obstruction, blocking the good energy they give out.  Where does this good energy go?  Certainly not back to the sender, because you have just thwarted their joy.  So what happens to this joy, this stymied good will?

I don’t know.  Perhaps it is squashed like a box, altering expectations about the good, value, etc, in giving.  It’s almost another form of ingratitude – this fear of receiving other people’s generosity.

Some people don’t like to receive things because they don’t want to feel obligated to give back to the giver.  Others do it for the best of intentions.  For example, if somebody wants to give you something that would cause them no small amount of disadvantage – it’s easy to say thank you, but no thanks.

Edited: 8th of April 2013

Wow, I was looking for another post draft and found this one.  Well it’s about gratitude, and that’s one of life’s good things, so I am going to post it today!

Our relationship with gratitude reflects our relationship with the universe.   We often deserve more and better than we believe we do.   For instance, I find it easier to give, and enjoy that.  Giving and receiving obviously share a reciprocal relationship:  they are just opposite ends of the spectrum of good things.

Opening ourselves up to say, “Thank you, I will enjoy this,” brings gladness to the giver, and, if you let it, gladness into your heart.

Overall, this gladness gives good energy to the Universe, and I believe that the Universe deserves as much good energy as we can give!x

c. Kylie Lawrence 2013

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Turn That Pan Upside Down

Two weeks ago I had a craving for the taste of homemade vegetarian pizza.  What?  You didn’t tell us about it two weeks ago?  You slack tart.

That’s right:  a craving for a delicious vegetarian on wholemeal base pizza.  I think it had something to do with the arrival of a block of cheddar in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, my round pizza tray and biscuit tray rusted out and went the way of the bin ages ago.   Which left cake tins and a couple of  vintage enamel  pudding  trays of varying sizes.    But I like food, and refuse to p’fart around using the oven for a tiddly little pizza the size of a pancake.

The only baking dish of sufficient size to sate my appetite was last violated by a meat-eater who no longer lives here, although the residue of his enthusiastic meat-roasting survives…baked on, much like my vegetarian beliefs.   This wouldn’t matter if there were foil or baking paper in the house to avoid any carnivore flavouring, but there wasn’t any.

So just like a frown,  I turned that pan upside down, dusted it with plain flour and cooked one heck of a delicious vegetarian pizza on the bottom of the pan.  If you don’t want to use flour, line the surface with foil or baking paper.    Now because the walls of the pan added another couple of inches height to the pizza, I recommend you checking how close the pizza is to the electric elements at the top of the oven.

It was just fine.  The pan AND the pizza.  Although I did somehow or other burn and scrape the top of my palate with hot cheese – ouch Mama!  On a more pertinent note,  I didn’t spill flour on the bottom of the oven.

On the shelf below, I cooked raspberry biscuits…. in Nanna’s pudding basin!

c. Kylie Lawrence 2012.

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No Fash’tard I.

Fashion runs in a parallel universe to karma.  That is to say, what goes around, comes around.  

For a person who is either ahead of fashion or behind it by at least two years, thirty, or when the moon is high, three hundred, I am the last person to label (pun intended) myself any sort of fashion or style expert.

This is not to suggest that if prehistoric moss tunics or space-age aluminium trousers suddenly make their way onto catwalks  that you didn’t hear about them here on Leaves of Abundance first.   Actually, you did.

I’d rather just feel happy and warm in what I am wearing, and suspect that you might do so too.   This does not include  prints, turned up shirt collars, or anything which Mum has deemed feminine.   We laugh about it now, but her refrain of old, ”Why don’t you wear something more feminine?” has put my finger on the vomit button numerous times over the years.   There is more than one way to skin a puddy tat when it comes to expressing one’s femininity, or masculinity, whichever your preference.   In other words, I love flowers, but I’d rather wear them in my hair.

Now and again, as a reformed teenaged dag, it’s a little too easy to take a small amount of pride in the occasional (as in very occasional) compliments that have come my way from funky and fashion-conscious people… and the occasional small child with truth serum pouring from their lips.

So I hope you will enjoy my tips for making yourself feel good in what you wear, enjoying and enhancing your wardrobe on a limited budget, and a few other observations about this whole clothing caper.

c. Leaves of Abundance 2011.

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5 Simple Ways to Save a Few Dollars

When we are on the go, and getting out the door to go to work,  it can be tempting to take the easy option with fueling up when you have barely woken up.  But what happens when the easy option – which tends to reflect our wants, rather than our needs – starts burning a hole in the old pocket?

In order to save money you have to at least not spend it.  Right?  Wouldn’t you like to have five easy no-spend/small spend methods to stop money leaving the house when you do?   Try these ones on for size this week.

  1. Stop buying takeaway coffee.  Drink what you have at home or what’s on offer at work.
  2. Have a no-convenience store junk food week.  If you must eat snacks on the go, take fruit, nuts, biscuits, or muesli bars from home.  I personally cannot justify putting biscuits and muesli bars in my weekly stores basket at the supermarkets and fruit shop, because I consider them extraneous to my needs.  But you might find purchasing a whole packet or box of them at the supermarket an economical alternative to the silly prices for individual items at corner shops.
  3. Eat a decent breakfast at home, to avoid temptation at the shops.  ”But what if I can’t stand eating breakfast first thing in the morning?”  That’s easy.  Take breakfast makings with you…. and bypass the takeaway coffee and banana bread and muffins on the way there.
  4.  Take a refillable water bottle with you, and fill ‘er up with tap/filtered water you find in your travels.  
  5. Make your own lunch.  Why spend five or ten dollars a day on takeaways, when you can spend five or ten dollars a week on something you have created yourself?

Now guess which ones I do….

c. Leaves of Abundance 2011.

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If you enjoy learning how to make a few savings in your life, like I do, I hope you will enjoy my handy and sometimes irreverent hints for bringing a little ease into your life. 

If they help you, I would love to hear about it.  If you think they are worth a quibble, feel free to go away and think about them overnight…

Disclaimer:  The information on this blog is for entertainment purposes only.

c. Leaves of Abundance 2011

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5 Tips to Prepare for Rental Inspections


A few months ago, our new property manager visted to conduct a rental inspection of our flat.  Although we always keep a clean home, we made sure that we were well prepared. 

If you are a tenant, read on for some handy tips gleaned from years of experience, to make your next flat/house inspection day easier for you and your house/flatmates.

  1. Make an effort.  If this was your place, you would want to see that your tenants were looking after your place, and not giving you reasons to put the rent up or change tenants.  It’s easy to make the beds, open the windows to let in fresh air, put the washing and dishes away, and rubbish out, vacuum and mop those floors, clean the bathrooms and toilets, catch those cobwebs, and clean those windows and mirrors.
  2. Get the tidying up happening now.  Leaving it to the last minute will stress you out, you will discover things you had overlooked such as scuff marks on walls, etcetera, and you might forget to ask pertinent questions.  If you are anxious, the property manager might also wonder what you are hiding.
  3. Make a list of necessary repairs.  This is as good a time as any to ask for them, as the property manager can see why you need that drain unblocked, or that section of fence repaired, or that the stove really is on the blink, or that you weren’t joking when you said the plumber needs to pay a visit.
  4. Be at home to welcome your property manager in.  Be prepared to walk him or her from room to room, or leave them to it and chat (ie, debrief) afterwards.
  5. When the inspection is over, treat yourself to a cuppa.  You deserve it!

Re point 1:  All that cleaning must have added a smidgin of something to the property value, because about a week after our inspection, we received a notice from the landlord, informing us that rent was going up thirty dollars a week.  Dear oh dear!

c. Kylie Lawrence 2013.


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