Sunday 30 August 2015

One year on

It’s a year since I started this blog and it seems like a good time to take stock.

Before I had this Frugally Challenged blog I already had Trundling Through Life but I wanted somewhere to muse on how it is to be frugally challenged.   As I have said many times over the past year, I know all the frugal theory but I’m not so good at the practice.  However, I still live below my means, I am retired (and so not saving for retirement) and I am in a much more fortunate position than many.  I simple want to be able to do as much as I can with my resources and that includes my time and my possessions as well as my cash.  My underlying principle is that I can have anything I really want – but I can’t have everything I want.  I have to work out what it is that I really want and my answers may not be the same as anyone else’s.

During this last year I’ve faced my habit of hoarding food.  I’m getting better and this blog has helped but I know I still have a long way to go on this.  I don’t waste much food but I know that if I controlled my food stores better I could eat more healthily and more economically.  The quest for food stock control is on-going and I doubt if it will ever be fully solved.

My other huge hoard is of craft material.  Making good use of my craft stores is a good way to save money or rather not to continue to waste it!  I make bags, quilts, clothes, whatever for myself, for my friends and sometimes for charity.  I have also given away quite a lot of stuff to be used by Brownies and various other groups. 

And then there is The Mess, exemplified by The Room of Doom.  My hope was that 2015 would be the year that I would have less messy places and I am happy to say that this is true.  I've still got far too many messy places but there are less of them than there were on 1st January 2015.

Thank you for your encouragement and your interest.  I wonder where the next year will take Frugally Challenged?

Thursday 27 August 2015

In praise of slow cookers.

I love salads.  I love fresh fruit.  I love all the wonderful flavours of the summer.  But regardless of all that, there is something wonderful about the first rice pud of the season.

Image result for slow cooker tesco
Today I realised that action needed to be taken to avoid wasting some milk so I found rice, sugar and butter from my stores and I dragged the slow cooker out of the cupboard for the first time for several months.

There's something magic about cooking in a slow cooker.  Bung in a few ingredients, switch on, leave it for a few hours and voila! dinner is served.  Tough meat becomes tender, flavours meld together, and the electricity meter is scarcely troubled.  Good, wholesome food is on the table and there's always some left to freeze for another day.  I even bought mine in a Tesco Clubcard boost event so it has always been a bargain!

Truly it is one of the joys of cooler days.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Using the stash

OK, who recognises this?

You buy things for a project.
You put them in a safe place.
You forget where the safe place is.
By the time you find the stuff you've gone off the project.

Anybody else recognise themself?
It's me, many times over!
Plenty for the Christmas cards

Anyway, my 2015 project was to have fewer messy places and as I have worked, fairly steadily, to achieve this goal, I have found the graveyards of many projects so I have decided to use a few things up for Christmas.  

Someone will get a lap quilt

So here's the stash stuff I've found ready for my Christmas cards and the stuff for a lap quilt.

Couldn't resist this fabric!
Although I did but this lovely fabric to personalise it for my intended recipient.

I'll put the progress reports on my other blog in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

MOOCs again

I was quite surprised that my commenters hadn't heard of MOOCs and I thought it might be helpful to be a bit more specific about places to find them.

My own usual portal is  Courses on this site are mostly offered by British Universities although there are a few others.  The course I mentioned, "Managing my money" is offered by the Open University and shown on the FutureLearn site. Students are not necessarily UK based - "Nutrition and Wellbeing" which I have just started has students from Australia and New Zealand and doubtless many other countries but it is offered by the University of Aberdeen. is an American based site but trails courses from all over the world - the list of institutions is truly impressive.

MOOCs are also offered for professional development so don't be put off if the first course you click on looks too hard or specialised for you.  The various sites cater for all sorts of people and your only real probem is deciding what to do first.

These are high quality courses which, amazingly, are free to use.  You won't qualify as a brain surgeon but you will find out more about our world.


I love MOOCs!  Well, bully for me!

MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses.  The ones I do are all free and each takes about a month to complete.  The first I did was called Managing My Money and it was about basic personal finance from creating a household budget to looking at the Chancellor of the Exchequer doing the same thing on a much larger scale.  Since then I have studied a couple of Shakespeare's plays, Kitchen Chemistry and Understanding Numbers for Science.  

This week I have started Nutrition and Well-being.  It's organised by the University of Aberdeen.  It's entirely on-line and there is no written work to submit but there is a very active on-line discussion board.  There are activities to complete and videos to watch.  There's no exam and no qualification, just the sheer joy of learning something new.

Since I left school forty five years ago most of my learning has been directed towards career goals and I see these courses as a chance to re-explore things which I abandoned all those years ago.  

I want to keep my brain going!  I love crosswords (and I'm just learning to do cryptics) and sudoku.  I enjoy writing for my two blogs. .  MOOCss are another way of doing this.  So I'm off now to look at a few macronutrients.  See you later

Sunday 16 August 2015

Reporting in

Back at the beginning of July I said I was going to try and spend no more than a pound a day for four weeks and I haven’t reported back for ages.  Well, I didn’t manage it but my July food spend was £45.46 which wasn’t brilliant but wasn’t bad.  I’ve really been attacking the food stores.  My fridge now looks amazingly well organised and my food waste has been low just three bread rolls and a couple of lemons.  I managed to defrost the freezer so I’ve got a much better idea of what’s in there.  The tinned goods store hasn’t gone down much but that’s OK.

I am plodding on with the decluttering of the sewing room but it really is plodding.  I’ve had a couple of weeks when I just can’t work up the energy to do anything so I need to take myself in hand.  However, I’m not into beating myself up so it’s gently, gently here at Frugal Follies.

So that’s my ‘fessing up.  It’s now a new week, so I’m hoping that tomorrow I shall be full of vim and vigour.  Well, it’s a nice thought.

Friday 14 August 2015

Immorality in the kitchen

Gradually, slowly, bit by bit, I am decluttering the kitchen.  It's not easy because I have to enlist the help of friends to reach some places but I am getting the feeling that I am winning.

However, there is one cupboard, a corner cupboard, which still has to be tackled and the next willing friend to come around is going to be very unlucky.  In that cupboard is a hotbed of iniquity and immorality.  It is the cupboard where I store my storage tubs. 

I save all sorts of recyclables to reuse as freezer and fridge containers.  I wash them carefully and put them away but tubs breed.  What’s more, because they are creatures of no restraint, the resultant offspring are totally unpredictable and lids and tubs are produced which bear little relationship to each other.

Whilst my views on many things are liberal I find this sort of activity in my kitchen cupboards totally unacceptable and I have therefore decided to come the heavy and impose restraints.  No longer are unmarried tubs and lids allowed into the cupboard.  They have to be stored complete or not at all.