Monday, 17 October 2016

Water on my brain

I don't often give much thought to water although Wateraid is one of my favourite charities.  It's just that sparkly stuff which appears when I turn the tap clockwise.  However, this last weekend two things happened - first I got the annual water bill and secondly the drain which deals with water from the kitchen is not happy.  This has meant that I can't use the washing machine, the dishwasher or the kitchen sink.  Instead I've had to wash up in a bowl then carry the water outside to an alternative drain.  This is not my idea of a fun way to run my life.  

I decided straightaway to keep cooking to a minimum and to use batch cooked meals from the freezer when I am fed up with sandwiches.  Microwaving results in far easier washing up than does cooking from scratch.

However, I decided to look at my water bill in more detail than I normally would.  I have a metered supply and I pay £17 each month by direct debit so that's about 56p per day,  My bill tells me I use 37 cubic metres annually.  (The £17 is also surface water and waste water disposal.)

I consider I am careful rather than frugal with water.  I take navy showers; the loo often has yellow water in it, I make sure I wash only full loads in the washing machine and the dishwasher.  However, disability makes hand watering in the garden very difficult and I'm not keen on the other measures suggested on some other blogs.  One friend think's it hilarious that I bother with "if it's yellow, let it mellow" whilst another tells me there is no way that using a dishwasher can be economical with water no matter what the manufacturers tell us.

I wondered how my water consumption compared with the national average so I checked with the Consumer Council for Water.  The average water consumption for a single person household is 54 cubic metres.  My 37 cubic metres doesn't look bad at all.

PS I'd just finished writing this post when I got a phone message to say that the plumber is on his way.  Normal kitchen activity can be resumed!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Inexpensive kitchen equipment

The first thing I do each morning is to put the kettle on for a coffee.  No day starts without coffee here at Frugal Follies.  I don't drink tea at all so coffee is my go-to drink and each day I drink four or five mugs.  I have my favourite blends and they don't include any instants!

The problem with coffee is two fold.  Firstly it can be messy and secondly it can be expensive. When I use a cafetiere/French press  coffee grounds seem to get everywhere when I wash it.  I know that a machine would cause less mess but machines are expensive and those disposable pods are not exactly environmentally friendly.  I don't want another large gadget on my kitchen worktop either.

So I use a reusable filter.   This handy gadget is stored in a coffee mug in the cupboard and then I use a scoop of coffee in the filter in the mug.  It needs less coffee than a cafetiere and also less water.  It has handles to allow it to rest on the edge of the mug.  The grounds are kept in the filter to be tipped into the kitchen bin but nothing else gets thrown away. 

I still like to use cafetieres when I am entertaining.  They are more elegant and because I use them more rarely I enjoy the sense of occasion.  Will I replace my filter when it finally wears out?  You bet I will!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Kitchen equipment 2

Magimix 4200

When I retired all I asked for was a recipe book - but a very special recipe book.  I wanted people's favourite recipes, written out in their own hand so I had something very personal.  Someone then mounted all the recipes in an album and I have the most personal of reminders of the people in my old parishes.

But those lovely people also had a whip round and I got a cheque as well.  I decided to spend some of the money on a good quality food processor to help when making up the recipes.  I'd had cheap ones before but had hankered after something better so I bought one of these.  It's one of the gadgets which stays on the work surface all the time because I use it so much.  

Cheese is grated and frozen as soon as I buy it so there is less temptation to nibble.  Homemade coleslaw knocks the shop bought version into a cocked hat.  Soups are wondrously smooth.  (I have a hand held blender but this Magimix is much more thorough.)  Old crusts are made into breadcrumbs before freezing.  Items needing chopping whether it's to make stuffing or make Christmas pudding cause me no headaches.  Lemonade is a breeze.

I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.  My Magimix is versatile, strong and valued.  It helps me use up tatty ingredients in soup, makes cheese and other ingredients "go" further, and generally is a great ally in the kitchen.  

Would I replace it if it broke down?  Well, part of its value is that I treasure it because it was part of my retirement gift so I will be sad when it can process food no more but I think it will see me out anyway.  If it breaks down before I do, I will probably replace.  

Friday, 23 September 2016

Kitchen equipment

I am told that I am a very difficult person to buy presents for but I suspect that could be said of most ladies "of a certain age".  We just don't want more "stuff", we get picky about toiletries, we don't want calorific treats - the list of what we don't want goes on and on.

All this means that if I express the smallest interest in something there is a real danger that someone will remember and I receive it for my birthday or Christmas.  I happened to mention yoghurt makers last year and this came in my stocking.  It's an electric model from Lakeland and it makes lovely yoghurt, about 500g at a time.  I've had a lovely time buying various live yoghurts and using them as cultures.  I've also bought Easiyo and some dried cultures.  

I like the dried cultures best.  I make a batch using UHT milk and skim milk powder, eat it, and use the last little bit as a culture for the next lot.  Some of the yoghurt gets turned into cheese and if one ignores the initial cost of the machine, it's very economical. 

But there's the rub.  I can ignore the cost of the machine as it was a gift.  I make a batch most weeks and I reckon it's about 20p per 500g cheaper than an equivalent natural yoghurt so over a year I will have saved £10.  I'd have to make and eat steadily at that rate for two years to break even and that ignores the cost of electricity.

I like my yoghurt maker.  I find it convenient and I enjoy the yoghurt and the cheese that I make.  Will I replace it when it breaks down?  I doubt it.

Friday, 16 September 2016

A September joy

It's sad when the runner beans come to an end.

It's sad when the curtains have to be drawn earlier and earlier each evening.

It's sad when lovely summer clothes have to be packed away to make room for warm jumpers.

But today I knew a special September joy for one of the joys of winter is to load the slow cooker before going out and then come home to the tempting aromas of a lamb casserole just waiting to be ladled on to the plate.

Maybe winter isn't so bad.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

I'm a winner!

It's only a month since I last posted about comping but I've had another win!  This time I've won some cosmetics including a "wide awake pen"  (supposed to do wondrous things to the area below the eyes), a cleansing balm. a set of six bronzers, day dew, mascara, lipstick, and an eye liner.  Some will go into my own dressing table, some may be Christmas gifts.  

Monday, 5 September 2016

Free Learning

It's a while since I did a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) but I'm starting one today and one next week,  Both are free.  Just go to

This week I'm starting a course on Cyber Security, something which concerns anyone using t'interweb.  This one is offered by Newcastle University and it's a three week course exploring practical cyber security including privacy online, payment safety and security at home.  The organisers reckon you will need about three hours a week to complete the course which sounds to me like nine hours very well spent. 

Next week I'm starting another MOOC:  Financing Fundamentals, Managing the Household Balance Sheet.  That's a four week course again needing three hours per week.  It's offered by The Open University

These free courses use videos, quizzes, short articles and interactive games to teach important subjects in an interesting way.  I don't normally do more than one at once but I think these two subjects are so important that I don't want to miss out on either!

Most Futurelean courses are available to students in other countries to but I am aware some aren't and unfortunately I have no means of checking availability outside the UK but why not nip over to and see what's on offer.