Thursday, 23 November 2017

More Homemade Gifts

A teacup candle is an easy gift to make. Find an old teacup, melt down the stubs of wax you have saved and use a tea light for the wick. I melt the wax in an old tin I have saved for that purpose and place it in a saucepan of boiling water. Then a use a set of tongs for pouring the wax into the tin cup. I also wait a bit to let the wax cool slightly, just in case the teacup might crack.

If you are looking for more good homemade gift ideas Brandi at The Prudent Homemaker has just started her Gift a Day series again. You can find her at :-

Additional ideas are under the tab 'Make' where you can find lots of her Gift a Day posts from previous years.

Good luck with your gift making !

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Advent Stollen

A stollen is a German fruit bread which is often eaten at this time of year. Christmas ones usually have marzipan through the middle but we like it plain with butter for breakfast. Here's a recipe to make 2 stollen, one for eating now and one for the freezer.

300g sultanas
100g candied lemon peel
100g candied orange peel
200g almonds
4 tbsp lemon juice
750g flour
fresh or dried yeast
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 litre milk
300g butter or margarine
100g sugar
icing sugar for dusting

Chop up the peel and the almonds, pour the lemon juice over and cleave to soak for 30 minutes. Put the flour in a bowl and stir in the sugar and vanilla essence, cup the butter/margarine into small pieces and scatter on top of the flour. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and add this to the flour mixture. Knead to a smooth dough. (I always need extra flour for this bit)

Leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Knead in the peel, sultanas and almonds and leave to rise for another 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 halves and roll out each piece into a wide rectangle. Fold the sides of the rectangle into the middle, with one slightly overlapping the other, to make the distinctive 'swaddled' shape of a stollen.

Place each stollen on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, to make sure they don't stick, leave to rise for another 30 minutes.

Bake at 190C for about 60 minutes but keep checking in case you have a fast oven. The stollen is done when it's brown on top and sounds hollow when you knock it on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar before eating. Delicious !!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Buy Nothing Day

Traditionally, the Friday after Thanksgiving in the USA is known as Black Friday, the day when the retailers can expect that their profits go into the 'black' as people use the long weekend as an opportunity to buy gifts for the holidays.

Over the last few years this trend has been exported to the UK too. I have had a look at the 'bargains' being advertised, but there is nothing we need, so on Friday we shall be supporting the other new tradition of making Black Friday a 'buy nothing' day !!

There is a website to help with all this which is UK specific and well worth checking out -

Hug your friends and family, read a story, make some crafts, cook a meal but don't go shopping !!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Lots of free ebooks

Head on over to where she is giving away lots of her ebooks on frugal living to celebrate Thanksgiving. I find her frugal living books very practical and inspirational and she says that she will not be making them available for free for a long time after this, so well worth grabbing a title you don't have yet !

Happy reading !

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Ten Things to do on a Cold, Wet Afternoon

Yesterday it was a really grey afternoon, cold, wet and getting dark early. What to do without spending any money and with 3 teenage boys over ? Here are a few ideas !

1) Light the fire - instantly makes indoors cosier.

2) Have a board game tournament -involves all.

3) Dress for the weather and go out anyway - the boys did this and went to play football in the deserted park !

4) Bake something - the boys devoured it on their return !

5) Have a little nap in front of the fire - I enjoyed this one !

6) Do a craft - get ahead for the coming season.

7) Read some old magazines and decided which ones to keep and which ones to throw away.

8) Do a housework task you have been putting off, cleaning out a drawer or cupboard can be very satisfying.

9) Ring or email a friend, gives your heart a warm glow !

10) Watch a film - the boys enjoyed this one too.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Yellow Stickered Bargains

This was one of my bargains last night, a pair of fancy rubber gloves reduced from £3 to 30p, cheaper than the cheapest gloves for sale for full price !

I also got 4 little tins of spaghetti hoops and sausages for 4p each and a 500ml bottle of washing up liquid for 3p, the only thing the matter with the washing up liquid was that the label was dirty.

I left the fruit and vegetables and other reductions because they were not low enough, but I was well pleased with the few things I did get.

They also had Cadbury and Mars selection boxes for £1, which was cheaper than buying the contents separately or the equivalent at the discount supermarkets. So I snapped up a couple of those to add to some hampers I am making for MrShoestring and USAShoestring.

All in all, well worth going out in the cold for !

Friday, 17 November 2017

Frugal Friday

Quite a quiet week, although hefty on the spending front as my new 'zero gravity' chair arrived to help with the rehabilitation of my back. The nice thing though was that with all this frugal living I can afford it from savings !

We bought sone reduced bread this week and stuck it in the freezer, at 800g for 31p I can't make it that cheaply ! I made yoghurt, granola, tortillas, quiche and raspberry cake from scratch and scored 3 tomatoes from the polytunnel, which is a record for November ! I also washed out a few freezer bags for re-use. They had only had fruit in them so should be OK.

I made our own Christmas gift tags and cards using some cards saved from last Christmas and will make some straw stars to put on the last of them using straw I already have. I also used a discount voucher at Tesco to pick up a cheap Christmas cake and chocolate Advent calendar as MasterShoestring has never had either of those things and is now well enough to try ! We'll see what he thinks compared to home made !

I received a £5 LovetoShop voucher for completing a Correctly Delivered survey for the Royal Mail and sold a book on Amazon to pay for one that I've got on pre-order. I also ordered a pair of cinema tickets using the points from the Nielsen shopping survey. I'm hoping that they arrive in time for us to go and see the new Paddington movie.

MissShoestring showed us all the Christmas adverts on her laptop last weekend and we had a lovely time laughing and oohing and ahing over them, especially the Paddington one. Our television service is only via the internet at present because a big oak tree breaks up the satellite service until it loses all its leaves. Since it's one of the last to do that in the Autumn we don't see any adverts at present ! I suspect this is a good thing !

I hope you had a frugal week too !