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 (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  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


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

Monday, 13 February 2017


Some time ago as the result of an error on their part Amazon gave me a pack of Sugru.  It's brilliant stuff!  It's mouldable glue but according to the pack it can be used to fix, bond, cushion, replace, create and seal almost anything.It has to be kept in the fridge and it doesn't last for ever before use, so I decided to have a go at a couple of things which had been bugging me.

First of all the kitchen dustpan.  It's a really useful bit of kit as I can use it as a door stop as well as what it was really intended for but the handle fell off the pan.  I put a small piece of dowelling inside and lined up the two parts together before creating a new join with Sugru.  It's wonderful!

Then crochet hooks.  Crochet hooks don't wear out but sadly the joints in my hands aren't as flexible as they were and these days I like a crochet hook with a grip.  I've now made one for just one of my "gripless" hooks, making a custom designed grip and it seems great.  If this works out I shall use up some more of the spare packs on other hooks.  It needs to air-cure for a day but then I'm hoping that once again my hook will be good to go.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Crazy pricing!

I had a great (and slightly crazy!) day out this week.  I'd always wanted to travel the East Coast Main Line north of York,  I think Michael Portillo's programmes have inspired me but I didn't want to get off the train: it was the countryside I wanted to see and besides, I rather like train travel.  My journey was (sort of) free but I decided to look at the pricing.

My nearest station to this line is Newark and usually I would drive to Newark and board there.  I wanted to travel first class because I need leg room and it is fun to eat at one's seat.  Meals are complimentary in first class on this line.  So I started to look at prices.

An open first class return ticket is £366 !  No way!!

So the first trick is to advance book.  The train I chose (which was the cheapest that day) was £45.50 each way.  

Next apply my Senior Citizen Railcard and the fare drops to £30.50 each way.  Suddenly the cost of my day out is looking much more reasonable at £61, less than 17% of the full fare.

But let's take it a step further.  Tesco vouchers can be swapped for Red Spotted Hanky vouchers.  £5 Tesco buys £10 Red Spotted Hanky.  My fare is now just £30.50!

What else can I trim?  As I said above I usually drive to Newark and pay £14 for a day's parking on top of the cost of the drive.  However, I have discovered that a connecting train from my local station is free if I have booked main line travel so I saved £14 plus the cost of the drive as someone drove me to the station in case I needed help boarding at our unmanned station

And it was a wonderful journey.  I had booked disabled assistance at Newark and Edinburgh so my transfers were easy.  I had a delicious breakfast, a tasty lunch and an unending supply of coffee, all included in my fare.

So my trip cost me just £30 in Tesco vouchers plus £2.50 for ticket postage and booking fee.  Not bad for a great day out.  

PS  Tesco vouchers can also be used to purchase a railcard.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Another win

I've been comping again and I've had another win! 

Charming fellow isn't he!  He's called a Double Poppin Dino.  Drop the balls on his back or spin the roller and he makes sounds and of course balls pop out through his mouth or his tail.  

Not quite the thing for a Rather Senior Lady but just the job for the present box or for sale on eBay.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

A busy month ahead

You may remember that way back in August I wrote that the kitchen floor has to be replaced and it was not going to be a quick or easy job.  I reduced my freezer stocks, I organised help from various people, I started to sort things out.  So my freezer stocks reduced, my cupboards got sorted and I got my head around thoughts of disruption and I heard NOTHING.  Christmas came and the freezer got refilled, life happened and the cupboards became unsorted and my friends kept asking when the floor would be done.

Last week I checked up and it looks as though the maintenance file for my house has got well-and-truly misplaced so I got a visit from a rather bigger cheese who is now trying to sort it.  Which means I now need to sort things as well.  To be fair I need various kicks in the posterior to get my whole life sorted as I am quite amazingly disorganised and untidy so February is Get It Sorted month.  It is also a fun month so it will be busy!  My great friend and gardener and handyman Jack came on Monday and we started to sort the garage so that the kitchen stuff can be stored in there.  The photos were taken after two of us had done a whole day's sorting and we'd taken two car loads to the tip!!

I shall probably move out while the work is done so I'm hoping that when I move back in it will be to a more organised home.  (Just noticed pigs preparing for take off.)

Monday, 2 January 2017

Cheep entertainment

January often starts out as a rather bleugh sort of time here at Frugal Follies.  Somehow Christmas isn't quite over, the weather is a bit grim, and my get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone.  Planning is quite exciting but action is lacking.  Ho hum.  

I look out of my window and it's not the prettiest of sights.  The glorious lights of Christmas are disappearing and the flowers of spring are still a while away.   It's raining or it's foggy.

But bleugh isn't really an option!  I don't want to feel this way!  I need plans.  I've decided that my first plan is to revive my bird table.  I ran out of wild bird seed a while ago and the bird table has been sadly neglected.  I received some gift tokens for Christmas.  So, I have now bought new bird food, Jack has moved the bird table so I can see it from my window and the birds can be watched again.  

Things are looking up already.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

What will 2017 bring?

In answer to my own question - I really don't know what 2017 will bring!  What I do know is that whatever happens, it will cost!

I know many costs - energy costs, water charges, council tax all leap to mind.

Other things I more-or-less know.  Broadband, telephone. petrol.

Some things should be readily controlled but have a way of wheedling money from my purse - groceries and socialising nudge my conscience here.

For some costs I have a rough idea but there could be nasty shocks.  The item hammering my brain is the cost of repair and service of my car.  It's needed incredibly little attention thus far but that can't last.  I'm putting a little aside every month against the dreadful day and hoping that it won't be too dreadful.

So, what I need is a "cushion" fund.  This isn't really an emergency fund, more a way of levelling out the bumps in spending.  This month I'm going to try and wallop the grocery bill and wallop it hard.  There's loads of stuff in the cupboards and the freezer, and the winter vegetables are just about ready in the garden.  (The Brussels sprouts are already being eaten.)  

I shall be ready financially for whatever 2017 may bring - hope you will be too.