Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Homemade Hummus

MrShoestring has been eating this a lot for lucy whilst are on holiday as it sticks to sandwiches very easily and it was easier to bring along tins of chickpeas than it was readymade hummus.

1 tin chickpeas in water
1 tbsp oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic pressed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 liquid from the chickpeas

Put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and whiz until smooth. Or if on holiday let MrShoestring smash it all up with a potato masher for a chunkier result !

This keeps for a week in the fridge !

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Saving money on GCSE books

MasterShoestring is going into Year 11 in September and last year when he started the new English course I got all the set books second hand via the internet. I saved a substantial amount of money compared to buying new and he had the same texts as everyone else.

He is doing the new GCSEs graded 1-9 and since this year was the first year of the new exams it wasn't possible to get any of the revision books second hand. However, with the results about to be published lots of people are about to be wanting rid of their GCSE revision guides and now is the time to watch out for them at good prices on book selling sites or even for free on Freecycle.

The other way we have saved on set texts is to order through the school, which gets a discount on a bulk order, this is especially good for the CGP guides and using Google Kerboodle which gives you access to textbooks and revision material for free if the school or yourself takes out a subscription. This is particularly good for Science books.

Good luck to everyone waiting on their results at the end of August and to all those going into Year 11!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Making Apple Pie Filling in the Slow Cooker

We decided to pick all the apples off one tree to stop the animals getting at them. This gave me half a laundry basket full of apples. Some of them have been eaten, some used in chutney but before they start to go bad it is time to put them in the freezer.

I always do this by cooking them down to make stewed apple as this takes up less room and is ideal for pies and crumbles in the Winter. Last year I discovered that it is much less work and cheaper to do this in the slow cooker.

I peel and slice the apples and place them in the slow cooker until the cooker is full. You can add a cup full of water if the apple is a bit dry, I usually do this with russets but not with the other sorts. Then turn the cooker on HIGH and leave for 4 hours. When you come back give the apple a stir and you have perfect stewed apple.

Right, off to peel some more !

Sunday, 20 August 2017


I have been thinking today about how much of the frugal life is about patience. Saving up for things, rather than going to buy them at once, making do with things, having the patience to mend things and so on. But I also thought that there is a great virtue in learning to do that. So frugal life not only builds your bank balance, it builds your character too ! Here is one of my favourite poems about patience.

Stepping Stones

I see a bunch of stepping stones,
they each appear one by one,
floating up to the surface.
I need to summon courage,
to patiently wait for the next stone,
sometimes the waiting makes me,
curious or bored or anxious.
But if I try to cross,
before my time is ready,
I will just fall and sink,
out of sight to the bottom.
But I need to 
be brave enough to wait
and strong enough to 
cross to the next stone.

Every place in my life,
I've had to cross a threshold,
by going over the stepping stones.
Each stone has had a purpose,
leading me to the place,
that I'm meant to be at, 
at that particular time. 

When the time is right,
for you to finally cross,  
your stone will be there.
Just remember to
believe in all of your steps,
for they'll get you,
where you need to go.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Another Lovely Trip Out !

Trustee business took me to the lovely East Sussex village of West Dean yesterday. Beautiful tiny village, so close to the sea hidden away in the fold of the South Downs. This is a gorgeous spot which people so often rush through on the way to the channel ports. I was lucky and the warm sun came out and it felt like there was nowhere better to be.

The village has a wonderful 12th Century church.

Even a white horse cut into the chalk just above the village. I can thoroughly recommend the forest walks too if the downs are a bit windy, which they were yesterday !

Friday, 18 August 2017

Frugal Friday

A quieter frugal week this week as MrShoestring and I were both away at different times visiting family and friends. We still did all the normal little things, which is just as well, as yesterday we got an enormous repair bill for the car ! We are driving to Italy next week and as the car is over 8 years old we thought that we better get it checked out. I've broken down in Italy in August before and did not want to repeat all that trauma and expense ! Anyway, 3 new tyres, several suspension things, a CVS joint and the brake fluid needed replaced before they said that it would be safe to drive across the Alps ! Fortunately, we do have car repair savings which paid for it all, but we have the savings because of all the little things we do every week, the sorts of things which are listed below !

I ordered cheaper Vitamin B12 capsules instead of just buying them at Holland and Barrett, I paid the same price but got 250 capsules instead of 100. We picked early apples, blackberries, the last of the blueberries, cucumber, courgettes, marrow and tomatoes. I made chutney with the marrow and some of the apples, it smelled amazing !

We also made bread, tortillas, rolls, soup, tomato sauce, iced ginger cake, date and apple flapjack cake, fajitas and pizza. We painted all the woodwork on the outside using trade quality paint ourselves. This paint is expensive but lasts, which means we have to paint less frequently. I weeded the driveway and out down cheap salt instead of weedkiller to stop them growing back.

I got a free dental check-up using our tax credit exemption card and re-used some aluminium foil. I downloaded some free ebooks for the Kindle and renewed books at the library online rather than driving in specially to do that. We enjoyed a couple of films using MissShoestring's Netflix subscription rather than going out !

I hope that you had a great week too !

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Every Penny


Every penny counts ! That is certainly true for those of us living on a shoestring and is the name of Kate Singh's new e-book which is available for download for free this week on Amazon ! It is not a book of tips or a schedule for thrifty bill payment but rather an autobiographical fragment which shows how she gradually matures in handling money.

The book is USA based and so some of the information about house buying does not apply here in Europe, but what I find so encouraging about this story is that she shows it is never too late to get to a better place and writes in a very warm and encouraging tone.

The whole book is a like a lovely chat with Kate across the fence and if you are feeling a bit down or worn-out with all your penny pinching I thoroughly recommend this gentle, quick read for helping you feel encouraged once more !