Saturday, 28 February 2009

FREE ALAN DART EASTER CHICK AND EGG KNITTING PATTERN!

This free, downloadable pattern is available from the Alan Dart website. It is very frugal to make as it requires only small amounts of yellow, white and oatmeal coloured double knitting yarn (helpfully, the exact weight for each colour is given), oddments of orange and black yarn for eyes and beak and only 5gms of stuffing. If you wanted to include some chocolate in your Easter gift, you could put small miniature choclate eggs in the shell. Start now and you'll have plenty of time to make several for Easter! Get frugal knitting!
Get your free pattern HERE.

More free Easter knitting patterns HERE

Sunday, 22 February 2009

BASIC PANCAKE BATTER RECIPE

It's Shrove Tuesday on the 24th February - otherwise known as Pancake Day. Traditionally we eat pancakes on this day because it is the last day before Lent ( a time of abstinence or giving things up) and it was seen as an opportunity to use up eggs and fat that were not allowed during this time. I like my pancakes just with sugar and lemon juice, but really you can fill them with anything - golden syrup, chocolate spread, toffee and bananas, fruit and cream - the list is endless! So here's the basic recipe for the pancake mixture:
Equipment needed

Mixing bowl

Scales

Sieve

Whisk

Measuring jug

Tablespoon

Small non-stick frying pan (about 7" or 18cm)

Spatula

Ingredients

220g/8oz plain flour

a pinch of salt

2 medium eggs

1 pint of milk

About 50g/2oz butter (or margarine)

Juice of 2 lemons

Sugar to sprinkle

Method

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a dip in the centre of your flour and break the eggs into it. Whisk in thoroughly
until the mixture is smooth (this may take some time and an electric mixer is better for this if you have one). Gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time. Let your mixture stand in the 'fridge for half an hour. To cook, melt a little of the butter (around half a teaspoon) in your frying pan and ensure it is really hot before spooning in 2 tablespoons of your pancake batter and as soon as you do this tilt the pan to evenly coat it with the mixture.it will cook fairly quickly, so keep looking under the edge of the pancake to see if it is a light gold colour, then flip it over using the spatula, to cook the other side. When cooked, tip out on to a plate and sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice, roll up and keep in a warm, very low oven. Repeat until all your pancakes are cooked. This is the time when you probably need an assistant to "sprinkle and fold" for you as you cook!
More Frugal Recipes!
Happy Frugal Pancake Day!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

WINTER FUEL PAYMENT FOR OVER 60's CLAIMED YET?

Are you eligible for the winter fuel payment? Have you claimed yet? All claims for the 2008/9 winter fuel payment must be received by 30 March 2009, so check if you can claim. If one person in the household is 60 a claim can be made.
This is a payment that you should get automatically if you are receiving a state pension, but there are a few cases where you may fall through the net! Men (and some women*) who become 60 and do not claim their fuel payment until they are 65, could be missing out on up to £1250!
You can claim back for past winters (providing you qualified at the time, but only for 97/97, 98/99, 99/2000), forms
HERE.
More info HERE.

* the state pension age for women is gradually changing between 2010 and 2046 (to eventually become 65 years) and so it could be possible for women to reach 60 years and not be in receipt of state pension, and so miss out on winter fuel payment.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

FRUGAL BROCCOLI STALK SOUP!

Yes, I really have just made and eaten a soup made from broccoli stalks! You see, when my husband shops with me and we buy loose broccoli, out comes his pen-knife and, after I've selected the broccoli heads I want, he cuts off the excess stalk! Well, he always says, broccoli is expensive and stalks weigh a lot! He's right. Last week I was shopping on my own, sans pen-knife and without the necessary knack (or strength!) to twist off the stalks by hand. So, when preparing the veg for Sunday dinner my other half was horrified to see I had nearly 6 ozs (whoops- showing my age there!) - I mean about 175g, of stalk. Now, my broccoli cost £2.29 per kilo from the Co-Op - so the stalk that I was about to throw in the compost bin had cost me over 40p!
Now, I've never made broccoli stalk soup - in fact I don't think such a recipe even exists, but my frugal side took over, and, bearing in mind that broccoli stalk is probably good for us, I thought it must be "soupable". Soupable is my new word for anything left-over, cheap or out of date, that could possibly be made into soup and frozen. Well, Dear reader, I made it and, before letting it loose on my unsuspecting readership, I've eaten it for lunch - and it was just fine!
So without further ado, here is the recipe:
Ingredients
a knob of butter* (about a heaped teaspoon size) or a tablespoon of oil.
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 large-ish broccoli stalks (chopped and outer layer peeled off), around 175g - but actual amount is not very important, it just makes the soup a little thinner if you have less.
500mls vegetable stock (I used a stock cube)
Freshly ground black pepper.

Method
Melt the butter or oil and very gently fry the onion and garlic (lid on the saucepan) until the onion is soft. Add the chopped broccoli and stir. Fry gently for 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock and stir well. bring to the boil, turn down the heat and cover the saucepan. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. When cooked, add a few twists of ground pepper and allow to cool. Liquidise when cool. This will make a thickish soup and can be watered down a little if desired. Should serve 2 fairly generously or perhaps 3 (depends on the exact amount of stalk).
Serve with garlic bread, toast or stale rolls warmed to soften in the microwave. Enjoy!
*tastes a little better if you do happen to have some, but not desperately important.
More Frugal Recipes!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

FREE THEATRE TICKETS FOR UNDER 26 YEAR-OLDS!

The Arts Council England, in association with Metro, has just launched a new scheme, A Night Less Ordinary, to offer thousands of free theatre tickets to anyone under 26 for all sorts of theatre events including dance, comedy, musical theatre, plays, tragedies, modern mime, circus and more. You have a choice of over 200 venues throughout England - just enter your post code on the home page and find all the participating theatres nearest to you. Get your free tickets HERE!

More ideas for the school holidays HERE!

Monday, 16 February 2009

SAVE MONEY ON YOUR ACHES AND PAINS!

The cost of some over-the-counter painkillers is shocking. To show you just one example: Superdrug is selling Neurofen 200mg at £1.89 for 16 tablets, but they are also selling generic Ibuprofen 200mg tablets (pharmaceutically the same) at 99p for 16 tablets! Almost half the price! It pays to know exactly what you are buying - and never be afraid to ask the shop assistants if there is a generic alternative for any medicines you need.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

YET MORE FREE OR CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Visit the Natural History Museum in London, open from 10 am to 5.30 pm every day - free entry (but there may be a small charge for special exhibitions).
Visit the Science Museum in London , open from 10 am to 6pm every day, free entry (but some charges apply to special exhibitions).
Winchester City Museum - plus check out other FREE activities in Winchester HERE.
Take a walk around the historic village of Lacock in Wiltshire, - the setting for many TV series and films - download a planned walking map HERE.
Stroll around the Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire - FREE
Visit Caen Hill Locks in Wiltshire - a flight of 16 locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal- FREE, unless you partake of refreshments at the café at the top!
Visit Baylham Farm near Ipswich, £2.50 for children, £5 for adults, and see rare breads of sheep, goats, pigs and cattle and feed them.
Visit Brighton Toy and Model Museum - £12 for a family ticket (2+2), a fascinating collection of all the toys our parents, grandparents and great grandparents played with.
Visit The Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton, admission FREE.
Visit Brighton Museum and Art Gallery - which has just undergone a 10 million pound refurbishment project - admission FREE.
Stroll around Brighton Marina, check out over 1600 boats berthed there and go window shopping at the retail outlets - FREE.
Visit Shoreham Airport, park on the grass alongside the access road and watch small planes and helicopters land and take off while you eat your picnic FREE - or if you prefer, sit inside the restaurant alongside the airfield, with coffee and cake and get an even closer view!

Stay at home and have a baking session with the kids - well, not exactly free, you may have to buy some ingredients, but get them involved in making the shopping list and helping with any shopping, after they've chosen their recipe from the BBC's CBeebies cooking pages!
For some more industrious and creative fun, visit Disney's Printstation for games, colouring, loads of printables to create bookmarks, door hangers and much more - all with your favourite Disney characters.
Set off for a walk/ride/skate in your local park, sea front promenade or cycle route. 75% of us in the UK live within 2 miles of a cycle route. Check HERE for your nearest routes.
Get them gardening - it's not too early to start planting some seeds for the window sill or shed, projects, colouring and games at BBC's Gardening With Children.
For your little 5-11 year-old footballer, Tesco have some free 2-hour introductory football skills sessions, given by qualified coaches at 37 locations across the country. Check HERE for your nearest.
Asda are offering free sporting sessions for kids in the school holidays - to find your nearest and print out your voucher visit Asda Sporting Chance.
The Big Draw, at
Norwich Cathedral, Wednesday 29th October, 10.30am - 3.30pm. Free really huge event open to all. This year's theme is Saints and Dragons. Meet and make dragons. Find out about saints and their strange and inspiring lives. Contribute to the largest drawing in Norwich, and add to the smallest. Brass rubbing, dressing up, painting, crafts, puppet making, and collage - you name it - we do it in the Cathedral.
Coventry Transport Museum
There’s lots to do at Coventry Transport Museum - admission to the museum is free.

If it's raining, visit the Planet Science website - lots of things to do and find out about.
Get them busy making Origami models - this site has printable shapes and decorative papers to make every kind of thing you can imagine!
There are plenty of "Kids go Free" and 2 for 1 offers at the Visit England site. They have a 6-page list of places to visit all over the country, just a pity it's in alphabetical order and not grouped by place!

Try combining forces with a friend or neighbour - do either of you have any skills - knitting, sewing, crochet, embroidery, making bird boxes, papier maché, origami or anything similar? Get together with your children and have a "skills" day - rope in any grandparents, aunts or uncles and ask them if they have a skill they can teach your kids, in return for lunch! Go to your local library in search of "How To" books and see how inventive you can be. Scrounge cardboard, newspaper or fabric from family, or the recycling! If you really have to, buy cheap stationary items in Tesco or Poundland and fabric scraps from the charity shop. Put a sheet or blanket out on the floor at lunch time and have an indoor picnic!And finally, allow 30 minutes at the end of the day for clearing up, giving each child a task to help out!
Have a Frugally good time!
More Ideas for School Holidays!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

HOW TO MAKE A SIMPLE TOMATO PASTA SAUCE


This pasta sauce is simple, cheap and can be made with store cupboard ingredients. You can vary the herbs and using dried if you don't have fresh ones. You can also use wine instead of the stock - not very frugal, I know, but if you happen to have a glassful sitting around in an already opened bottle, then use it! Serves 4 and can be just poured over cooked pasta or used as a base for a bolognese sauce. Ingredients: 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 small onion, finely chopped (red or white onion- doesn't matter) 120ml stock, made with half a stock cube in boiling water (or use left over gravy or wine) 1 can of tomatoes (400g), chopped roughly 1 tsp chopped, fresh thyme (or half a tsp of dried) 1 tsp sugar 2 tbsps basil, roughly torn up (or use 1 tsp dried) 2 tbsps flat leaf parsely, chopped (leave out if you don't have any) freshly ground black pepper Method: Gently fry the onion, garlic and thyme in the olive oil for 5 minutes so that the onion is soft, but not at all brown. Stir in the stock (or wine if using) and the tomatoes and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Season to taste with the black pepper and stir in the herbs and sugar. You can leave the sauce just as it is if you like a lumpier consitencey, or liquidise for a smooth sauce.
More Frugal Recipes!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

BBC'S VICTORIAN FARM - GET HENRY STEPHEN'S BOOK FREE

If you've been following the BBC's great series recreating life on a Victorian farm, like me, you may be interested to know that you can get a free a copy of the book the trio use as their "bible", The Book of the Farm by Henry Stephens. If you've not been watching, you should! This series ably illustrates a really frugal way of living. In these times, not only was there a shortage of money, but there was a shortage of just about every commodity. The Victorian farmer and his family had to make use of every crop that they grew on their farm and every part of any animal they kept. They wasted nothing. Read it here!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

FREE VALENTINE CARDS


Well, if you are really, really skint it's possible to get your Valentine's cards for free - providing you at least have a printer and some ink in it!

tescovaluecards
- really cheap! Your desired recipient may actually never speak to you again!

mintprintables
- cutesy ones!

presentationhelper
- more designerish and modern!

janbrett
- a Valentine card generator, flowery, frilly and pretty!

hooverwebdesign
- funny, cartoony type designs!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

FRUGAL SPROUT SOUP

Now this frugal Sprout soup is really frugal! Don’t throw away all those outer leaves from your Brussel sprouts when you prepare them for dinner – use them to make sprout soup! Yes - it may sound strange – but it tastes lovely! Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients
15g (½ oz) butter or 1 dsp olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion peeled and finely chopped
1 level tsp sugar
300g sprout trimmings, checked over and rinsed in a colander (or you can, of course, use sliced sprouts – not so frugal, though)
1 vegetable stock cube, made up in a jug to I pt (500ml) with boiling water
Method
  • Melt butter (or heat oil) in a saucepan and add the sugar and onion, cook gently over a gentle heat (covered) for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until onion is a pale gold colour. Do not brown or allow to catch on the base of the pan.
  • Add sprout trimmings to the pan, stir and continue to cook gently for 4 or 5 minutes until they have softened slightly.
  • Add the vegetable stock to the pan, bring back to the boil, reduce heat and cover the pan, leaving to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Purée the soup, either in a liquidiser or with a hand blender.
This makes a reasonably thick soup and could be diluted a little with more stock or water.
Serves 2 generously as a lunch and will freeze well.
If you want to dress it up a bit you can use stale bread, cubed and fried in oil to decorate and then add a swirl of cream (not so frugal!) or milk and a twist of freshly ground black pepper.
Enjoy!

Monday, 2 February 2009

GET YOUR PHOTOS PRINTED FOR FREE!

Here is a great little site that brings you all the latest free photo printing deals. The free prints are per customer so each family member can claim their freebies. The site is regularly updated and you can sign up to be informed by email when there are new offers.
Get those photos off the computer and into albums!
www.freephotoprinting.net