Saturday, 2 December 2017

Advent Challenge


Another of my favourite sites at this time of the year is the Bible Society Advent Challenge.  This is an Advent calendar for thoughtful grown-ups with maybe a bit of help from children.
  

Each day there is a Bible thought but there are also caring actions.  This could be as simple as letting someone in ahead of you when you are driving, doing a bit of litter picking, or buying someone a bunch of flowers.  Each day there are three suggested actions to choose from.  I have to admit that occasionally none of the suggested actions is suitable for me but I substitute with actions like visiting a lonely person or donating to a food bank.

This year there are also craft activities.  (There may have been crafts in previous years but I don't remember.)  There are models to cut out and make each day for children to build their own nativity set - just print the sheets, add colour and glue and there you are!

Space travel


The last century has seen huge advances into outer space with missions being sent high above the earth to find out what happens up there.  Most of the information which these mighty craft send back is far too difficult for me to understand.


However, there is one extra terrestrial mission which has been going on for several centuries and in which I take a keen interest.  On just one night a year men and women, girls and boys, have gazed up into the heavens in the hope of seeing a string of reindeer pulling a huge sleigh full of presents and a jovial gentleman wearing a highly unusual red flying suit.

The great thing is that recent advances in technology have made it possible for us to see that stout gentleman in his cosy suit as he goes about his business.  Although his sleigh travels faster than the human eye can see it, photographic advances mean that special cameras high in the sky can trace his path and take special footage which can be slowed down for us to see.  Satellites enable his course to be followed with great accuracy.

The agency responsible for tracking Santa is NORAD (The North American Aerospace Defense Command) and although most of their work is highly secret they share their Santa knowledge with anyone who cares to visit to their Santa Tracker (hover for a link).  From early December they make available archive footage of Santa's journeys in previous years, they have a free on-line Advent Calendar of games to help train Santa watchers and lots of useful information about him.

This Frugally Challenged Santa Follower thanks everyone at NORAD for this chance to expand her knowledge  and she recommends their website to all her readers.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Rice up against hunger!

Sometimes what is needed is something teeny tiny.  Or even better lots of teeny tinies.  

You may have realised that I spend quite a lot of time sitting.  I can't stay on my feet too long, that's just the way it is.  I do all sorts of things whilst I sit - I sew, knit, complete puzzles, enter competitions, complete surveys and quite a bit more.  I read blogs, surf the net, exchange e mails and all the rest of it.

But there is a very special site which I have been using for years and which I love.  It's Freerice.com.  Through this site you can give rice through the Word Food Programme and it won't cost you a penny.

All you have to do is answer multiple choice questions on maths, science, language, humanities, or geography.  You even choose how hard the questions are.  For each correct answer ten grains of rice will be given through the World Food Programme.

I love it.  I've expanded my vocabulary, brushed up my geography and even ventured into maths problems.  The site is entertaining and free to use.

No matter how little money you've got you can make a charitable donation this way as no money is asked for.  There's not much that is tinier than a grain of rice but neither is there much which is more vital.  

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A Comping update

You may remember that back in August I won a £500 fashion voucher.  I spent about half on me and half on Christmas presents.  The presents are considerably more costly than I would normally buy but the recipients know this is a one-off and their chance to share in my good fortune.  However, that's a nice chunk off my usual Christmas shopping bill, I've got most of my presents bought now, and I've got some special clothes for the Christmas season.

Today I visited a friend who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and sadly it is beginning to be more evident so I came home feeling rather sad.  Nothing can take away that sadness but I was cheered a little by the news that I have won another competition, this time for a sturdy pair of winter shoes.   I had quite a choice but these will be very useful.  

Back in the summer I won a rather nice hotel break which I gave to a friend and her husband.  She is coming to stay with me for a few days and she is treating us both to a spa day while she is here.  

Not bad this comping lark!



Sunday, 15 October 2017

Small habits

Small habits.  We've all got 'em.  You know, the little things you do which save money but they're so much part of your nature that you don't even think about them.  I haven't always been a thrifty gal but since I've retired I've acquired new habits which are now second nature.  

Small habit number one has to be budgetting and tracking.  I use budgetting software (which I won!) and every purchase is recorded.  At the end of each month I do my personal financial report, telling myself what I have spent on the house, the car, treats etc.  Just being aware of what I spend has a restraining effect on spending.  I set goals each month, some of which I share on this blog, and review my success or failure and why I got the result that I did.  I also keep a spreadsheet called "Essential budgetting information" on which I predict cashflow so I can move money into the current account if needed.

Small habit number two again involves this laptop quite a lot.  Many people can save money by growing things, using public transport etc. but disability means I can't.  However, when I sit down for necessary breaks I always pick up the laptop and do a survey or maybe a few competitions.  Neither brings in a huge income but together they make a small but significant contribution to the budget.

Habit number three involves not a laptop but a good old fashioned notebook.  In it I note my shopping needs thus avoiding unnecessary trips to the shops.  I also note guide prices so that I can stock up when I see a staple (eg laundry powder) at a good price.  I also write down things to research before I buy.  Yesterday, for example, I was looking at plants in a garden centre and almost bought a skimmia but noticed that there were several different varieties available.  I don't trust the glowing terms which growers use to try and get me to buy so I noted the varieties available and will check before I invest my garden tokens.  Hurrah for notebooks of the use-with-a-pencil kind.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

It's the little things

Yes, it was more than a little crazy to have two rooms decorated at once.  The problem is, I can't do it myself so I have to "get a man in".   It is cheaper to get him in once to do two rooms than to get him here twice.  

I need help with quite a few jobs (not just decorating) which a non-disabled person would do easily, which means I have to be careful with my cash.

Last year I was very happy with my water bill, especially when I compared my consumption to the national average for a single person household at https://www.ccwater.org.uk/households/using-water-wisely/averagewateruse/.  The UK average this year is 66 cubic metres  with 45 cubic metres per annum being considered low.    My consumption was 25 cubic metres and I really don't know how I did it.  I have needed next-to-no water for the garden this year (I have to use a hosepipe as I'm not safe carrying buckets).  I am naturally careful with water.  I keep a jug by the kettle and boil only what I need.  I take navy showers  and never take a bath.  I'm careful in my usage of the washing machine and dishwasher.  I've got a water filled bottle in the cistern.  However my house is clean, I don't go thirsty and (as far as I know) I don't pong!

These seem such small things though.  But they do show that small things add up.  Next year I shall pay £7 per month less for water.

And I could have wept at the amount of water which the plumber had to drain off before replacing the tank!


Friday, 13 October 2017

What a week!

This was never going to be one of the best weeks of my life but oh dear!


I had decided that I wanted to get some decorating done.  The "dining room" in particular needed a little help and I decided to have the hallway done at the same time.  My dining room is rarely used for dining but it is often used for sewing, sometimes used as a bedroom and I have previously called it the Room of Shame on this blog.  



Anyway, I had to empty the room for the decorator to do his bit.  Add to that the stuff from the hallway and my general untidiness and you will see that even at the start of the week I had a problem.

I decided to sacrifice the sitting room.  


Anyway, the decorator moved in and I went out as much as I could.  Until he said, "Did you realise that you have a large bulge in your hot water tank?"  No I hadn't realised and once I did realise I was rather uneasy!  Phone call to the landlord and visit from plumber.  I had to empty the linen cupboard.  The tank was replaced.


The plumber and the decorator have now gone their separate ways and I have my home to myself.  Not that I can relax exactly.  This is my sitting room this morning.  The plus side of this photo is that I know I can find my vacuum cleaner and Father Christmas is giving me a cheery wave.  


I may be some time.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Went the month well?

Yes, I know, it's six days into the new month but I still want to review September.

By 25th September I had spent 

Coffee              £10.44
Apples              £1.80
Potatoes            £1
Dried apricots   £5.50
Bread               £1.10
Ham                £2.80

leaving me £7.36 in the budget.  I spent a further £4.80 on fruit and veg so I ended the month with £2.56 so I was within budget.

Food waste was definitely minimal last month.  There was a little - apples. lemons, and a bread crust.  I regret the lemons  which should have been cut into wedges and frozen in ice cubes.  The bread crust too should have been made into crumbs and frozen.  However, the apples - c'est la vie!  I was given quite a lot of fruit which was lightly damaged and although I cooked and froze quite a bit there's no point in freezing too much.  Damaged fruit won't keep without cooking and preserving.

My freezer is a bit emptier but I still want to eat down a little more before I start preparing for Christmas.

So, this month.

I had a Tesco delivery on Wednesday but spent only £20.21 on groceries, the rest (to use vouchers etc) was booze for Christmas presents

My budget (including the Tesco stuff) is £100.  Yesterday I went to our local market and to Wilko and spent £11.30.  I have a fridge full of very usable goodies and £69.48 in the kitty.  No problem.

In other news, postie has just delivered the clothes I ordered with my £500 comping win!!!!  Who's a lucky girl?

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

What do you call it?

Maybe you don't have it.  Maybe you are incredibly organised and don't need the category.  Maybe you are happy-go-lucky and there's an awful lot of it in your budget.

I call it WIGIG.  When it's gone it's gone.  It's the money which I set side for miscellaneous purchases.  This month I've bought key chains, the Highway Code, a few pamper-type toiletries, a Sudoku book, a screwdriver among other things.

For some its WAM - walking about money.  For others its Miscellaneous.  

But what do you call it?  I'm curious.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Lightbulb

I came over all unnecessary yesterday!  

Mr Tesco sent me some vouchers.  That seems to happen quite often these days.  He send me a voucher to spend if my shopping basket exceeds a certain amount.  In this case I could spend £50 and save £7 but I have to get the order on or before 2nd October.  I went into on-line overdrive and managed to sort a basket of £50.07 which would cost me £43.07 (plus £1 delivery) so I would "save" £7.

But I wouldn't really save anything.  I would spend £43.07.  True some of that would be things I need like eggs, bread, butter,  One way or another I really will need those things very soon.  Soon after that I will need pasta, olive oil.  In the not-too-distant future I will need Braeburns, Stilton, celery and tomatoes.  (OK, Stilton might not be a necessity for you, but it keeps me happy.)

You get the picture.  When I sit down coolly and rationally, I can see that rather than a £50 delivery from Tesco a couple of much smaller spends from Lidl would save me far more than £7.  Yes, in a few weeks I will need a delivery.  But not yet.  The moths can stay in my bank account for a few weeks longer.  Even Mr Tesco sent me £5 vouchers to use next month if I need to.

Monday, 25 September 2017

It's been a while

Just over a week to be exact, but I'm still sticking to my challenge.

The Savoy is no more!  I had a Savoy cabbage at the beginning of the month but I've wasted none of it.  It went down the hatch as part of a pasta dish, as the wrapping in stuffed cabbage, and in some bubble and squeak all of which I reported but since then the remainder has been split between a salad and steamed veg so just the stalk got binned.

The lentils have been more problematic.  At the beginning of the month I made a lentil based salad and I've used a few in soups but I've come to a decision.  I don't like lentils.  It's not so much that I don't like the flavour but I don't like the texture.  I'm not sure why really.  I put a few in a shepherd's pie but regretted it.  I've got about 200 grammes left but don't know what I shall do with them.  They're OK for the present.  Maybe I shall make some soup but I can't say I'm looking forward to it.

Food purchasing has been minimal.  I've bought
 Coffee              £10.44
Apples              £1.80
Potatoes            £1
Dried apricots   £5.50
Bread               £1.10
Ham                £2.80

(The ham and bread were for sandwiches for a bring-and-share supper.)

So I've spent £22.64 leaving £7.36 for the next five days.  Do-able.

However, I have started to think about the gaps in the stores.  There are very few!  Next week I shall have to buy eggs, butter, pasta, fruit and maybe a sliced loaf for sandwiches.  I shall also buy frozen prawns which have been wonderful for adding just a little something to fried rice or pasta or Chinese noodles.




Sunday, 17 September 2017

Spuds I like

Today I've been out at North Willingham, a village about five miles outside Market Rasen which is itself no metropolis but it counts as a town in these parts  as it has a population of almost 4000.  We have small towns, small supermarkets in these parts but sometimes there are wayside stalls when someone wants to sell their surplus stuff.

As I was on my way home I saw this box outside a cottage.  It is brilliant!  Someone has created a slope on the top of an old plastic box and attached a plastic bread tray with a hinge fixing.  Inside they have screwed a cash box firmly to one wall and the spuds are in plastic bags ready to be taken. 

The potatoes are Marfona which is a good bet for boiling, roasting and baking - a useful all rounder.  The sign says "10lbs for £1" which is a bargain.  When I got home I weighed and checked them,  I had got 11lbs for my £1.  Spuds with butter, spuds with cheese, spuds with beans.  Yummy!

I still have £16.76 in the kitty.  

Friday, 15 September 2017

Spending!

What to spend my precious £19.56 on, that is the question.  A special treat?  Cream buns, maybe, or a couple of juicy chops?


Sorry, nothing so risque.  My indulgence - apples!  I've been given quite a lot of apples recently but they have all been cookers so I splashed out £1.80.



I love Braeburn apples.  I often have one (or two) for breakfast with some peanut butter, a combination I have discovered only recently.   I'm not a cereal girl.  I like variety in my breakfasts as much as I like variety in other meals.  I've got a cunning gadget which makes slicing them beautifully a total doddle.



£17.76 remains.  As do fifteen days.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Have a cuppa

Despite having spent most of my working life in Christian ministry I have never been a "More tea, Vicar".  I loathe the stuff.  I used to tell my parishioners that I drink my coffee naked, which is not a pretty thought until you realise that it's the coffee which is naked i.e. black, no sugar.

Anyway, I digress.  Tea.  I never drink it but I am an Englishwoman so it's always in the house.  Except when I forget to buy any.  Because I need so little I don't buy any until just before I run out and then I buy a small pack of teabags.  This is a dangerous policy as sometimes I do run out and I find inability to offer tea to a guest to be embarrassing.

However, most hotels have a hospitality tray in the bedrooms and there are always teabags and sachets of instant coffee.  I therefore remove a few teabags each time I am away from home and keep these for "emergencies".

Yesterday I used the last regular teabag for a friend.  This is now an emergency as I don't want to spend any of my precious £19.56 on something I don't like.  So I searched out these.  Saved!


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Reviewing things

This eat-down of food stocks was well overdue and, I can promise you, it is no hardship.  I'm using it as an opportunity to try new recipes using odd things in my stores but I'm also enjoying meals that I have cooked and frozen over the past few weeks and months which has meant that I have not been cooking every day.

My fridge is the neatest and tidiest that it has been in months and my bank account is feeling happy. 

One thing which I have noticed over the past few years is that I have been getting better at organising the shopping once I get home.  At one time I would come home, put stuff in the fridge/freezer/cupboard without too much care and then flop down with a coffee/coke/gin depending how shattering the shopping expedition had been.  These days I spend at least as much time putting shopping away as I spend preparing to go shopping.  Vegetables are removed from poly bags (or the bags pierced in several places), cheese is grated and frozen, meat is split into usable packs etc before the drink is poured by which time I have definitely earned a gin.  Maybe this portioning is more important for me as I live alone, but unpacking groceries carefully seems to get very little mention in advice for canny shoppers. 

I haven't been shopping again yet - the coffee purchase from Amazon has been my total expenditure so far,

This virtue will be the death of me.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Fifties Fast Food

When I was a child, back in the 1950s, fast food just hadn't been heard of.  Mother's idea of a convenience food was a ready made loaf of bread.  Everything I ate at home was cooked from scratch at home.  Mother baked bread, cakes, biscuits and pastries. We ate seasonal vegetables often grown by my Father.  Mother made copious quantities of jam so that hunger could be satisfied with thick slices of bread covered with jam.

Mother didn't go out to work but she worked very hard at home.  Open fires created a fair amount of dirt, children coming in from playing brought in more, and a husband who worked on the steelworks did his bit too, even though he was a "white collar worker".  Cooking, baking, mending, gardening, and looking after a family all took time and shopping had to be done almost daily in homes where there was no fridge.

The busiest day of the week was Monday.  On Monday every self-respecting housewife did her washing.  We had an electric washing machine and mangle and when I was about eight Mother acquired a spin drier, quite a feather in her cap!  But even with those "labour saving devices" washday was hard work.  There were no easy-care fabrics, tumble driers were still in the future and if the weather wasn't kind laundry had to be dried indoors which meant an endless rotation of clothes horses so everything got its time near the fire.  And don't get me started on the joys of ironing!

All this meant that meals on a Monday had to be easy so well organised housewives planned ahead and made sure that there were leftovers from Sunday dinner.  (I'm a northerner, the midday meal was always called dinner.)  In our house that meant that on Monday we had either cold meat and fried potatoes, pancakes and gravy, or bubble and squeak.

So yesterday I had bubble and squeak.  I'd cooked some extra cabbage yesterday when I made stuffed cabbage so I fried a few bacon lardons and mixed mashed potato (from the freezer), cabbage and bacon and made patties and fried them.  Scrummy!




Monday, 11 September 2017

I've spent some money!


Well, you know how it is!  The offer was too good to resist.  Amazon had six bags of my favourite coffee for £10.44.  The same thing from Tesco would cost £18 and that's on special anyway!  It would normally cost £3.59 for just one bag at Tesco so I was buying it only very occasionally.  I've recently been buying an acceptable coffee for about £2.20 a bag from Lidl so six bags there would have been £13.20 and I like this sort better.


I would need coffee in the next week or so anyway.  I get through a bag a week so even though this is "hoarding" in one sense, I am convincing myself that it is sensible shopping.  I have now reduced my available budget to £19.56 so maybe by the end of the month I may regret it.  We shall see.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Further in to the Savoy

That savoy cabbage isn't going to beat me!  I decided today that a little more would get used in some stuffed cabbage, a dish I'd never made.

Googling came up with quite a few recipes and they all had a lot of ingredients - and I mean a lot.  I decided to make it up as I go along.

So I sweated a finely diced small onion in some olive oil, added a little garlic, parsley. cumin and cayenne and when the onions were soft I added some frozen minced lamb.  I like frozen mince,  It's the same fat content as fresh mince, it's cheaper and as it's a free-flow product there is no waste.  I covered the pan and left it to cook slowly.  After about ten minutes I added some cooked rice and again left it to meditate.  


Meanwhile I took several large cabbage leaves and removed the bottom part of the central rib.  I boiled the leaves for about five minutes then removed them from the pan to drain.  Then I heaped each one with the mince mixture, folded them over tightly and put them in a dish,  I covered the whole lot with a tin of chopped tomatoes.


I cooked the whole lot at 170C for about an hour.  I left it uncovered as it looked very moist

It was delish and it's a one dish meal with protein, carb and veg all in the one dish.

I still haven't spent any money!


Saturday, 9 September 2017

Saturday night indulgence

It's hard to remember that many everyday foods today were luxuries in my childhood.  Pineapples were exotic and hardly known as a fresh fruit, chicken was definitely a treat and prawns were a once a year indulgence of a few ounces still with their shells on and eaten during the annual trip to the seaside.

My how things have changed!  Pineapple is available at a very reasonable price all year round and chicken is one of the cheapest meats.  And prawns, ah prawns are always in my freezer.

So tonight a few prawns came out of my freezer and got combined with rice, peas, sweetcorn and egg and I had a delicious egg fried rice.


And I still haven't spent any money on groceries this month

Friday, 8 September 2017

Energy

Each year in the autumn I review my energy bills and each year I change tariff and usually change supplier as well.  I usually go for a "fix" i.e. my gas and electricity will be supplied at the same price all year no matter what the market price of fuel does.

Usually I sign up with one of the Big Six energy companies (British Gas, nPower, EDF, EOn, Scottish Power and SSE).  No matter which company you sign up with it's the same gas and electricity, it's just the billing which differs.  I always have on-line billing and pay by monthly Direct Debit as both these factors help in getting a good deal.  The market is now diversifying with lots of smaller companies entering the fray and last year I signed up with G B Energy who offered me a very attractive tariff.

Sadly it proved to be too good a deal and at the end of last year G B Energy went bust.  However, the regulator, Ofgem, stepped in which felt a bit scary but the instruction from Ofgem was, "Don't panic.  Sit tight.  You're not going to be cut off"  With a few days I was transferred to Co-op Energy and kept on the same tariff.  Ofgem and the energy industry often come in for a lot of criticism, including from me, but I was very impressed on that occasion.

That tariff is coming to an end in a couple of weeks so I had to go looking for a new one.  This time I have gone with a collective switch through the Money Saving Expert Cheap Energy Club.  Obviously I will be paying more than my last year tariff but I've got the best deal I could find.  

Sorry this post isn't in my usual light-hearted tone but I've still spent nowt on nosh and yesterday's menu was especially unexciting.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Season of mellow fruitfulness

For various reasons I haven't grown vegetables this year.  However, I still get homegrown vegetables.  Just not grown at my home.

I'm not feeling 100% at the moment (eye problems) and yesterday was a very lazy day food-wise.  I had apples and peanut butter for breakfast, and cheese sandwich for lunch.  I have to leave an hour between taking medication and consuming food and it's left me in a not-too-bothered-about-what-I-eat sort of mood but my dear friend from along the road rang and offered me home-grown lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber.  I found a few bits and pieces to add to that so my evening meal was rather more tempting.  

Today I think I need to spend.  Apples.  Unless, of course, I can find someone with apples to give away!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Food to match the plate

I hate opening the fridge and hearing the contents sniggering at me.  That's what the savoy cabbage was doing, I swear.  There it sat, mocking me.  "Why did you buy me?  What are you going to do with me?  Can I just sit here looking gorgeous?"

Well let me tell you, no cabbage is going to get the better of me.  I'm going to munch that brassica down to the last leaf.

The first six leaves have gone and very nice they were too.  Not got a clue if this dish has a proper name but here you go.
Meal to match the plate!

Put pasta on to cook in boiling water.

Meanwhile fry bacon lardons gently in olive oil until cooked but not crisp.  Shred a few leaves of savoy and when the pasta is cooked and draining, add the cabbage to the bacon to wilt it a little but keep it crunchy.  Stir in the cooked pasta and maybe a tablespoon of cream.  Consume.  Not bad.

I buy packs of cooking bacon and cut it into lardons before I freeze it in packs of approx 100 grams so this recipe was really a quick assembly job.  And I've still spent nothing.



Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Souper!

I had rather a busy day yesterday and all I fancied was a bowl of soup.  Something made me look in the tinned goods cupboard rather than the freezer which was odd as I'm pretty sure I have soups in there.  (Yes, I know I need a new freezer inventory and once I have eaten some of the stuff in there I shall make one.  For the moment it's freezer diving.  OK?)

Anyway, there on the shelves was a tin of Lobster Bisque.  Yup, not your average can of mushroom or mixed veg but a rather expensive can which I have absolutely no memory of buying,  In fact I'm even wondering if it came in a hamper when I won a raffle.  

And it's "best by" date was June 2015.  Well, "best by" means "best by" in my book and this was not on the way to the bin any time soon.  When I opened it it looked fine and smelt fine.  And it tasted fine.  Very nice in fact, with a bread roll from the freezer.

And mentioning bread from the freezer, I've made another loaf to put in there.  Maybe that's why the freezer still bulges.

But my purse isn't getting any thinner either,

Monday, 4 September 2017

Sausages

I found a packet of sausages in the freezer whilst I was digging.  I'm rather partial to a sausage so I cooked them.  I had two with beans for breakfast (that was a treat!), two went into a Toad and Tadpoles (hover for the link) and the others will make a sausage casserole.  

Bonus nosh was that I went to a church which was serving cake.  Carrot cake.  With cream cheese topping.  It would have been rude to refuse.  And I'm never rude.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Still no spending

Three days is hardly dramatic for no spending I know, but I'm writing the blog to help me remember what I did when as well as making me, in some measure, accountable.

Yesterday there was plenty of the tomato and courgette soup left so that was lunch sorted.

Eating down sounds as though it could be very boring but I've got some Stilton in the freezer so a portion of that with some celery made my other meal.  No complaints there, I can promise!


Saturday, 2 September 2017

Rescued

Once again I've been scrabbling in the fridge.  The most perishable food is there so it has to be the first area to be checked.

Living in a rural area I'm sometimes offered gifts of tomatoes at this time of the year and you won't be surprised that I never say no.  I turn some into sauces (for the freezer) and some into chutney but the rest are for eating raw or for cooking.   Very occasionally one or two get left for a little longer than is good for them and that had happened this week.  Two tomatoes were looking very sorry for themselves so I found a few friends for them: an onion, a courgette and some stock and voila!  delicious tomato and courgette soup.  Served with a chunk of home-made bread and it's a feast for a king.


Friday, 1 September 2017

Let the eat down begin

In a spirit of great enthusiasm I started September yesterday!

I decided to tackle the lentils first. I had a few salady bits and pieces  which needed eating up and I thought I could combine the two.

First I cooked the lentils.  I'd noticed when I was looking for lentil recipes that some lists of ingredients include dried lentils and some prefer cooked (or tinned) ones so I decided to cook 200 grams dried lentils and then weigh them again once cooked and drained.  The result was 498 grams of cooked lentils.  I now have the information to convert any quantity either way.  Cunning, I feel.  And now I've written it on this blog I have information I won't forget.  Doubly cunning.

I then peeled and deseeded a cucumber and chopped it, halved the cherry tomatoes and a couple of tomatoes which my neighbour grew, the tail end of a root of celery and a red onion and combine the lot in a bowl with some of the cooked lentils.  I made a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing including a little garlic and poured that over.

Not the most exciting recipe I've ever made but it made a tasty lunch.  And it was a no spend day.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Get your act together!

It's a long time since I did an "eat down" of my stores and it's about time that I got my act together.  The freezer is bulging at the seams!  I've got plenty in the tinned and dry goods store.  And what is even more important is that my budget needs a helping hand.  I'm contributing to a (replacement) boundary fence this month and I'm having the hall and dining room decorated next month.   (Can't do it myself - disability and ladders just don't mix)

So, the food budget for September is £30.

Among my stores are a few ingredients which I rarely use.  I've got a Savoy cabbage and apart from steamed cabbage (with bubble and squeak next day) I haven't got a clue so I shall be trying new recipes there.  I've also unearthed a packet of green lentils which I have no recollection of buying and (as yet) no idea what I shall do with them.  Further finds will no doubt be made!

I started this blog three years ago as today with a similar project but have never had the need (or the courage!) to repeat.  It could be an interesting month.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

And the winner is



 

Mama, could you e mail me your address, please?  There's an e mail link on my profile page.  Many thanks to everyone who entered.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Quick reminder

Just a quick reminder that you have until midnight tomorrow to win these three books.

Just post a comment on this post.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Sharing the winnings!

I've just sorted a giveaway on my main blog so that someone can have some of my comping wins.  Comment over at http://trundlingthroughlife.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/giveaway.html (UK only) before Friday.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Happy little comper

As far as comping is concerned I am definitely on a roll.

This year I've won

A dinosaur toy

Various books

Some Nickelodeon Blaze toys

Salad spinner, salad dressing shaker, salad servers and vegetable slicer

A DVD copy of ‘Delicious’

A pack of paint and other equipment for upcycling

£50 voucher decorating materials

A picnic hamper

A short break

An Amazon "Echo"

And this morning I found out that I have won a £500 fashion voucher.

Monday, 7 August 2017

A girl needs to indulge (well, this one does!)

I had to go to Brigg today so I called in at Lidl, bought a pack of their Deluxe Scottish Beef Burgers and a pack of seeded buns and this is what happened. 
With a gherkin, a couple of leaves of lettuce and some mayo mixed with horseradish my longing for a burger was satisfied.

And McDonald's wouldn't have served it on a Haddon Hall plate!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Talking down

I try very hard.  This week it feels like I've been batch cooking for Britain.  I'd been digging in the freezer and had found various meats (mince, chicken thighs, casserole beef and the like) and decided to be good and make things like moussaka, beef casserole, chicken thingies as well as some rather nice fish pies.  I've got a couple of meals a week for the next couple of months and I'm feeling a bit virtuous.

But tonight I didn't fancy moussaka, casserole, chicken thingy or fish pie.  To be honest what I really fancied was KFC.  I got as far as checking the menu on line.  But it's quite a long drive to KFC so I checked MacDonalds.  Not quite so far.  But either way the nutrition choice was rubbish.  Even MacDonalds is a nineteen mile round trip.  

So I did the best I could and made a very quick pasta dish.  Nutritionally rubbish still but I didn't have to waste petrol driving anywhere as everything was in the cupboard.  Just some pasta, a tin of salmon and a tin of soup.  

When it comes to frugality I am definitely frugally challenged, some times more than others.  Tonight I did my best and I don't think I did too badly.  I even nipped out to the garden to get a garnish.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Well I never - or did I?

A rather nice picnic hamper!
Just look what postie brought today!   

It's actually a fabric hamper with an all-round zip.  Inside are four each of knives, forks, spoons, plates, napkins and glasses plus a corkscrew and a serving board.  


I already have a (real) wicker hamper but I think this would be easier when I go out on my trundle truck.

The really exciting thing is, I don't know why it's arrived.  I'm assuming it's a competition prize but I have no recollection of entering a comp for a hamper.  It appears to be linked to a film (Their Finest) which came out last year which means that as a prize it is very late - not that I'm complaining!




Monday, 3 July 2017

Toads and tadpoles

I'm a great fan of traditional British food.  It's good stuff, usually pretty economical.  The ingredients are easily available.  It carries me back to childhood.  And so many dishes have such wonderful names!

Bubble and squeak.  Spotted dick.  Star gazey pie.  Roly poly pudd'n.  And toad in the hole.

As a name Toad in the Hole does not sound very appetising.  Who would want to eat a warty amphibian?  All true Brits know that it is a delicious combination of sausages and batter!

Until very recently I hadn't cooked it for many years but it's had a renaissance here at Frugal Follies.  I've given it a bit of a twist in that I've started to put vegetables in as well as sausages.  Hence it is now toad and tadpoles.

This recipe serves one very greedy person.  

40g plain flour
1 egg
60ml milk

Beat these three together to create a batter then leave it in the fridge for an hour.

Heat the oven to 190C, Gas mark 5.  Put a glug of oil in a small ovenproof dish and heat in the oven.

Put two cooked sausages and a selection of vegetables into the hot oil.  So far I have tried onions, broccoli, carrots, green beans, peppers, and all have been good.  Pour the batter over and return dish to oven.  Cook for about twenty minutes and don't open the oven door for at least fifteen minutes.

Serve with gravy

Sunday, 2 July 2017

How is it going?

In the middle of last month I said that the last nineteen days of June were going to be much better than the first eleven.  I bemoaned my lack of energy, the bleugh feeling, and I said I wanted life to be a little more purposeful.  So how has it been?

Not bad, is the short answer.

I've been swimming three times.  Swimming isn't easy for me but I have been going with a friend and we have kept up each other's morale.  I don't think I'll ever get back the standard I had (that would be unrealistic as the years go by) but I am now almost enjoying the sessions.

I've put the garden back into order.  I had to admit defeat on doing a lot of it myself.  Bending at the knees and maintaining my balance is very difficult so whatever I did meant bending from the waist.  I can easily bend from the waist but if I stay bent I then feel very dizzy when I stand up!  Anyway, I managed to find some help and although my garden isn't as wonderful as in previous years, it is now a pleasant place to be.  Photos will appear on my other blog over the next few weeks.

I've made a very good start on sorting the conservatory/utility room/back porch.  Until very recently this was a pleasant place to sit but since my kitchen repairs it just hadn't recovered and even getting laundry into the machine was a challenge.  It will soon be a useful room again.

I've organised a family picnic (report here) which I enjoyed.  I seem to do an awful lot of visiting of the sick and housebound and it was good to get out with some of my extended family.

Friday, 23 June 2017

A Very Lucky Girl

Each morning when I get up I settle down for an hour with a cup of coffee and I enter competitions.  Lots of them.  In May I did over 5000 entries.  So the law of averages means that occasionally I win things.

Today I have received this rather nice box of furniture paint which also includes wax, a brush and a project booklet. I'm not into upcycling furniture but I know someone who will make very good use of this prize so that's one Christmas present sorted.  

I also got an email saying that I have won a short UK break.  That will most likely be taken by me but as I enter so many competitions I can't remember the terms and conditions of this particular one so I'll keep you posted!

I've never had two prizes in one week before so I am feeling very lucky today

Monday, 12 June 2017

The Power of Positive Thinking?

In the spirit of taking myself in hand, I decided to go for a swim today.  Swimming is not easy for me.  A bilateral mastectomy, extensive surgery on my legs and years of "comfort" eating have all taken their toll on my body but years ago swimming was always my favourite sporty activity.  I was never very good at it so the pleasure never came from delighting in my prowess and nothing has changed, except that I'm much, much worse now.  

Maybe that it is an advantage.  I was never any good at it so I don't need to waste time bemoaning the fact that I'm still rubbish at it.  How's that for a bit of positive thinking?!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

19 days

The last month I have been so lethargic!  I came home from a holiday and sort of flopped and didn't get my act together.  Not good.

Today on my way home from church my mood just lifted.

First I saw Pete who has been helping with my garden and I asked him to a few hours work for me.  That felt like the lifting of a huge burden.  

When I got home I decided it was a good day for a bacon buttie.  A real treat and a real mood lifter.

Then I looked back at previous Junes and back in 2014 I had exactly the same mood lift on 12th June.  I started a project file called "I have nineteen days to make a difference; 19 days in which to move my life a bit nearer to how I want it to be".  so, as from tomorrow, June is going to be a purposeful month.

There, I've committed myself!

Today is Sunday and I just want to cook a nice lunch, do a bit of sewing and a lot of thinking.  

Friday, 19 May 2017

Reeling

In an idle moment today I decided to google "Food budget for one UK" and one of the first sites to come up was Edinburgh University giving advice to new students coming from overseas.   I'm still reeling!  They suggest that a student needs a food budget of £145 to £260 per month.  It may be that life would be more costly for an overseas student with a diet which would be unusual in this country than for those of us for whom the supermarkets design their product ranges, but this seems very high to me.

They may have limited cooking facilities and even more limited cooking skills and almost certainly would have higher energy requirements than an older woman like me.  They would probably not have access to a garden, allotment or even much of a window box.  There are probably factors which I haven't even thought about.

So how much you reckon a single student would need to budget? 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Still here!

I still haven't reported back about my new kitchen floor and I'm not going to do a proper report for a little while.  Suffice it to say that the floor looks good and I have had a MAJOR sort-out of cupboards and drawers!  I had two cupboards removed so had to make space in the other nooks and crannies for quite a bit of stuff.  I have booked a decorator to come and make the place look respectable but he can't come until the end of May.  After that there may be photos.

It has to be said though that the kitchen feels as though it has lost weight.  I have given away or slung quite a bit of stuff and most of it I can't even remember.  My cupboards and drawers are clean and well organised and cooking is much more pleasant.

All this has led me to look at other places in the house and once again I have tackled The Room Of Doom a.k.a. my playroom.  I have been getting rid of more and more stuff and soon I shall be able to photograph in there too.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Sugru again

String is One Of Those Things.  It should be a nice well-behaved product which lives in a drawer and waits until it can be useful.  However, any string which comes into this house seems to have a mind of its own.  It doesn't stay in the drawer, preferring to go exploring all areas of the house and garden.  What's more, like the fairy tale children leaving a trail of crumbs, string leaves a trail behind it as it unravels from its ball and goes out to play.


I have been tempted by "things" to put string in but so far I have resisted little pots like this one.  Spending £5.80 or even more would give my string even more ideas of its own importance.  String is to be kept in its place in every sense of the phrase.




So I made my own string tin and I have to say that I'm rather proud of it.  I used a pretty tin and some of the Sugru which I received as a freebie some time ago from Amazon.  I've pierced a hole in the lid and moulded the Sugru into a holder for a small pair of scissors.  Actually I think its better than the fancy jobbie shown above, as mine has a place for scissors

Note for UK readers.  Amazon has Sugru as a "Deal of the Day" for today only.  

Monday, 3 April 2017

Minor, but hot, disaster!!!

When I sorted out my kitchen ready ready for the floor to be renewed I "edited" my herbs and spices as some were well put of date.  Among those I replaced was cayenne pepper.

Yesterday when I served up my lunch it was so spicy I couldn't eat it!  I had forgotten that a new jar of cayenne pepper would be considerably hotter than an old one.  

Today I have made another casserole but this time with no spice at  all.  I then combined both.  Much better.

Good job that I like it as instead of freezing five portions I've had to put nine into the freezer!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Being challenged - frugally - in April

March has passed by in a whirl!  I've got a new floor in my kitchen which is very nice but I'm still trying to "edit" the contents of the kitchen which isn't so nice.  My kitchen has been spring cleaned but I can't get it decorated for several weeks so the chaos isn't over yet.

I've got a short holiday booked in May so I've decided to try extra hard to look hard at what I spend and how I spend it.  Even more I want to look at how I use what I've got.  And of course I want to look at how I can make a little.  In other words I want to step up to the frugal challenge.

First on the list is making best use of what I've got so today I dug deep in the freezer, found a bag of chicken thighs and made serendipity casserole.  That's lunch sorted for tomorrow                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Cooking from scratch?

I think I cook from scratch almost all the time, but do I?  I assemble things which have been processed elsewhere.  Today I made a tomato sauce.  However, I used ready made passata and lazy garlic and the olive oil had been pressed from the olives.  The onions and mushrooms were chopped by me! I happened to have mushrooms which needed using up but usually I'd have used tinned mushrooms for cheapness.

So do I cook from scratch?  I suspect that we are all the same - it's a compromise between cost, convenience and common sense.  Where do you make that compromise?

For what it's worth. here's my recipe

225g onions chopped
15g olive oil
35g lazy garlic
1 carton of passata
300g mushrooms, sliced

Heat the oil and add the chopped onions and garlic.  Cook gently for about five minutes.  Bung it in the slow cooker.  Add the passata and mushrooms.  Cook on high for an hour then reduce heat and cook for a further three hours


I've costed this at £1.65