Saturday, 26 January 2013

ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL CHARITY SHOP FIND!

I know I'm always banging on about the wonderful things that can be found in charity shops, but I bought this lovely zig-zag crochet blanket last year and have been meaning to post it up here ever since! 
In true shabby chic style, it has a riot of random alarmingly bright colours, which although they would seem at first look to be too clashy, really work! It is also expertly crocheted with a very firm close tension and no loose ends - and all for £2.99!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

JANUARY IS NATIONAL SOUP MONTH!

How appropriate that January is National Soup Month (who does decide these things?) and it is very cold and snowy!
Soup is frugal, filling, usually low-fat, low calorie and easy to make, so you can't go wrong! 
Soups can be made from left over cooked veg or meat, bits and pieces from the 'fridge that need using up, veg that has been reduced in the supermarket or excess veg from your allotment. There's a few things that you really need in the house all the time to make soup really easy; potatoes (used in some recipes to thicken soups), big white onions, stock cubes, some spices, black pepercorns, tins of tomatoes and a liquidiser or stick blender. 
Here's 8 of my own favourite recipes for soup - enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

COURGETTE & MARMALADE CAKE


We love courgettes and this year growing them seemed easy - we only had 6 plants, but boy, did they reward us! It made us more inventive with our recipes and we hunted down many a different way to eat them. This Courgette and Marmalade cake was a real favourite and used up some of our crop! The recipe makes a large-ish cake and now, after my first attempt (pictured), I prefer to cook it in a loaf tin as it cuts easier, with less crumbly waste. Cut it into 6 thick slices and then cut those slices in half top to bottom as it gives you 12 pieces, and that may be difficult to do if you cut 12 thin slices.
You will see there are variations given to use up anything you have - of course the taste will vary, but it will be just as nice! It's not worth being precious over a recipe if you want to be frugal!

Ingredients
225g/9ozs self-raising wholemeal (use white SR if you can't get wholemeal)
225g/9ozs grated courgettes (better grated by hand- they get slushy and too wet in a food processor)
125g/5ozs butter (or margarine)
125g/5ozs soft brown sugar (but white granulated will do)
2 medium eggs, beaten
125g/5ozs lemon marmalade (but orange or lime will be just as nice if it's all you have)
175g/7ozs mixed dried fruit (or use any leftover combinations you have - or using just sultanas is nice) 
Small amount of icing sugar
Grated rind and juice of a lemon (before you grate pare a few pieces of rind off with a sharp knife to shred and decorate with - see pic).

Method
  1. Grease and line either an 8" round cake tin or a large loaf tin.
  2. Put dried fruit, lemon juice and  grated rind in a bowl to soak for 20 minutes.
  3. Mix in courgettes and marmalade and stir well.
  4. Cream butter (or marg) and sugar together in another bowl until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add beaten eggs and beat again.
  6. Add courgette, fruit and lemon mixture and flour then mix well.
  7. Turn mixture into your tin and bake for 55 minutes at gas mark3, 325degreesF/170degreesC.
  8. When cool remove from tin, mix the icing sugar (about 2 heaped tablespoons) with a very small amount of water - add water slowly a few drops at a time as you want it to be quite stiff. Spread icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with the shredded lemon rind.
Enjoy!

Monday, 21 January 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 28

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Visit the site for more information.
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

SNOW IS SOOOOO FRUGAL!

A weekend of snow has added 4 more days (17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st Jan) to my YONS! (Year of Not Spending).
I have not left the house except once to buy groceries and once to collect someone from 25 miles away in the snow - scary!  
I have made parsnip soup, cooked a roast, done laundry, tidied, read, watched TV, spent waaay too much time on Pinterest and blogged - but not bought anything.  
Yay!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

FRUGAL SPICY PARSNIP SOUP

I love the spicy twist to this frugal Spicy Parsnip Soup! It serves 4 (good size helpings for lunch) and is thick and creamy and great with toast, crusty bread, garlic bread or whatever you have. 
I particularly like the fact that everything is just roughly chopped, no grating or garlic crushing because it all gets blended in the end anyway!

Ingredients:
Splash of oil (any will do)
Knob of butter (or marg if it's all you have)
1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of Garam Masala
A small piece of fresh ginger (about 3cm) peeled and roughly chopped
6 average sized parsnips peeled and chopped into chunks
500ml milk (you can substitute coconut milk or make up powdered milk if you like)
1 litre of vegetable stock from a cube
freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic, ginger and Garam Masala for about 10 minutes, when the onions will be soft and sweet.
Add the parsnips and stir well for a couple of minutes on very low heat until they are coated in the spicy mixture. Add milk and stock, cover with a lid and bring to the boil, turn down to a low simmer for 25 minutes.
When cooked, leave to cool a little for a few minutes then blend with a liquidiser or stick blender season with a couple of twists of freshly ground black pepper.
Reheat if necessary and serve.
Happy frugal eating!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

YONS UPDATE!

My YONS is going very well! No spends on 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th January, but I have bought a long-sleeved tee shirt to wear in bed as it's got really, really cold here just in the last few days - but it was only 0.99p in a charity shop - so I think I can be forgiven for that! It looks almost new as well, so I'm happy and I've contributed to a good cause!

FRUGAL LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

This leek and potato soup is simple and has only a few ingredients - and it's absolutely delicious! It makes enough for 4 bowls.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter, oil or margarine
2 leeks (trimmed and sliced)
1 large onion (peeled and chopped)
1 large potato (peeled and cubed)
1.5 litres of stock (I use a stock cube made up to 1.5litres)
100mls milk
Freshly ground black pepper

Method
Melt the butter in a pan and a gently fry the leeks, onion and potato until soft, but don't allow anything to colour or catch on the pan.
Add the stock and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and add the milk. Whizz up with a stick blender or liquidiser and reheat if necessary - serve!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

MORE ON MY YEAR OF NOT SPENDING...

Well, despite a bit of a rough start, my YONS is going quite well; no spending on the 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th!! And none today - hint: stay home unless you absolutely HAVE to go to the shops!
I fell off the YONS wagon yesterday and couldn't resist a scarf in a charity shop (£2.50) as it was a colour I'd been looking for for about a year and I also found a very necessary reel of cotton thread to shorten my curtains (0.50) - but I'm still positive, because I know what I've spent - and it's not much.
And there I think is the most important part - the knowing. Just the simple act of recording everything I spend is keeping that spending to an absolute minimum. To me a day without spending is another "saving day" - towards my goal, which is to have a fair amount of my salary left at the end of the month!
Happy YONS!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

MY FRUGAL YEAR OF NOT SPENDING...

As of today, my frugal Year of Not Spending is not going well - today's expenditure was £156 - yes, the exhaust on my car suddenly fell apart - great way to start the year!
On the up side, I spent nothing on January 1st, and only necessary expenditure (bread and washing tablets) yesterday, so I will not be downhearted - I'm just going to get on with my "not spending" again tomorrow!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

HAPPY NEW FRUGAL YEAR!

Happy New Frugal Year to all my fellow frugallers! Don't be downhearted - now all the Christmas and new year stuff is safely out of the way, we can set off on another money-saving year!
I've just moved house and am really broke, so my new year is going to begin with the idea that every day I SPEND NOTHING (and I mean NOTHING), is an achievement! My last big spend was yesterday, a much needed piece of furniture for the new house, but now I'm stopping.
I have a plan, every day I am going to keep a diary of my expenditure - right down to the last penny, and if I can get to the end of the month with some salary left then I will save half or use half to buy a necessity (and boy, do we need some stuff!). My overall goal is to save towards a house extension and, although I'll never have enough to pay for it myself, every penny saved is one less we have to borrow! And borrowing is actually not on our "to do" list at all!
My Year Of Not Spending (YONS) will go like this for every item I may need/want:
Do I have to have it? (Is it really necessary?)
Can I get it free? (Think Freecycle or Freegle - I'm signed up to both, locally and you can ask for something you need as well as browse the offers or buy items using points from loyalty cards).
Can I make it for nothing? (look around the house/garden/garage/shed/loft - do we have something to use to make something else?).
Can I get it from a charity shop (I've recently bought much needed curtains, lampshades and duvet covers already, for my new house).
Can I sell something I don't need to pay for it?  (think Ebay, boot sales, Gumtree etc.,).
I'm sure it's not going to be easy, but I'm going to try - so let's see where I am this time next year!