Sunday, 26 March 2017

A Pause in Lent

Today I want to tell you about a small charity which is having a big impact. Mary's Meals, named after Mary, the mother of Jesus feeds over 1.1 million children at school across the world. The idea is that by providing a nutritious filling lunch for the children at school their hunger decreases and their educational attainment improves, providing a ladder out of poverty. The scheme also helps the community around the school by employing people to build kitchens and cook the food and by buying the food from local providers. It is a Win-Win situation for everyone involved and the aim is to make the local community responsible for the scheme eventually so that then the charity can move on and provide help somewhere else. 

You can find out more about the scheme at and the website includes stories from the children who have been helped and pictures of how the scheme adapts to local conditions. At the moment 93p out of every £1 goes directly to funding feeding and £13.90 is enough to feed a child for a year. I find this idea inspirational and am reminded of the bible story where the loaves and fishes from one person are used to feed a crowd of thousands !

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A Frugal Mother's Day Outing

The weekend weather down here is predicted to be very pleasant, around 15C, so why not take Mum out for an outing ? Around here there are lots different places to go, beautiful walks, stately homes, window shopping in old fashioned towns, teashops, garden centres, all lovely but not too expensive. You can also make it a zero cost outing if you pack up a picnic and take Mum to a local beauty spot.

We are planning a picnic outing to a beauty spot with a bit of a walk followed by afternoon tea at home. Homemade cake, card and flowers will keep the cost down and the meaningfulness high. For the Mum who lives in Scotland we have gifted some gadgets to make life a little easier, ordered online with free post and packing to keep costs down. A long phone call to catch up on news will also cost nothing using our free weekend calls.

Whatever you do have a lovely day !

Friday, 24 March 2017

Frugal Friday

The biggest saving this week was visiting the local garden centre with our garden tokens and discovering that they had a special offer on compost. This meant that we were able to get 900 litres of compost for free ! We were given the tokens last Summer and were saving them for buying compost for the vegetable beds but we never thought that we would be able to get as much as we did. We now have enough for all the beds and to have the compost 5cm deep across them. Fingers crossed that this results in an increased crop this year !

We planted out all the lettuce seedlings into a cold frame and re-potted the tomato plants and put them in the polytunnel, so far no slugs, which is good. MissShoestring enjoyed watching the last of the Six Nations rugby for free on terrestrial television and I enjoyed a 'cheer-me-up' visit to the library after a doctor's appointment, so no need to go into town twice.

We got free pallets for firewood, ate leftovers for lunch and made a geometry set for MasterShoestring's exams out of what we had already. I got a free local paper and MasterShoestring found lots of computer components for his Duke of Edinburgh project on Freecycle. We also made yoghurt, rolls and bread, homemade soup, cake and pancakes.

Finally, I got a £5 LovetoShop voucher in the post after I talk part in a survey for the Royal Mail, so that was nice.

I hope that you had a lovely, frugal week too !

Thursday, 23 March 2017

A not so frugal cake !

If you would like to bake a traditional cake for Mother's Day then a Simnel Cake is the one to try. The good thing about this is that it is quite heavy, so people only eat small slices and it takes longer to disappear than the chocolate cake. Once again this is a recipe without eggs so ideal for vegans.

3/4 lb plain flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 1/2 oz margarine
8oz soft brown sugar
8oz sultanas
6oz currants
5oz raisins
1oz candied peel
2oz glace cherries
finely grated rind of a lemon
1/2 pt water
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Grease and line with greaseproof paper a 9 inch tin. Sift together flour and spices and rub in the margarine. Stir in the sugar, fruit and lemon rind. Make a hollow in the centre and add the water, stir in the bicarbonate of soda and mix thoroughly. Turn into the tin and bake at 350F (180C) for 1 hour, reduce hear to 325F (160C) for another hour or until skewer comes out the centre clean. If the cake is getting very brown you can protect the top with a piece of foil.

 Turn out on to a rack to cool. Once cool cover the top with apricot jam and roll out a circle of marzipan to fit. Use the leftover marzipan to make 11 balls for the top. Grill the marzipan for a couple of minutes to get the brown effect on top.

Tie a ribbon around it and present it to your Mum !

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A Frugal Mother's Day Cake

This is  a really, easy cake and can be decorated as you wish. It is so easy that children could easily make it. We make it in a square dish as that makes it easier to cut into slices to eat !

2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 cup water

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into ready greased 9inch pan to bake. If you want to use traditional round pans this is enough mixture to fill 2 small pans. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes. Cool.
Ice the top as you wish and enjoy ! 

You can also use this mixture to make cupcakes and then it makes 12 cupcakes.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Frugal Mother's Day Flowers

Here, in the United Kingdom, it is Mothering Sunday this coming Sunday, 26th March. Traditionally, it is always the middle Sunday of Lent and was the time when sons and daughters in domestic service would return home with a gift for their Mothers. The gift showed off some of the new skills that they were learning in their job. Boys often brought a bit of leather or metal work and girls a cake, which is where the idea of the Simnel Cake, more usually eaten at Easter, came from.

Nowadays, we often give flowers and chocolates rather than a cake and a poker but this can be quite expensive so over the next few days I'm going to share some more frugal options.

If you are going to be visiting your Mother some time around Mothering Sunday a planted basket filled with plug plants from the local garden centre will be cheaper than the traditional bouquet and last a lot longer. You could even plant up a hanging basket, so Mum has something to enjoy all Summer.

This week at the garden centre compost, plants and baskets were on special offer so you could put together a little basket for less than £5 and a larger one for less than £10. Much cheaper than buying a bouquet.

Of course, you could also make your own bouquet from the beautiful Spring flowers in your garden and tell your Mum and that you had made it especially for her ! Even cheaper and really special !

If you can't be with your Mum on the day then a homemade card featuring flowers can also be a lovely, gesture !

Monday, 20 March 2017

Jumble Sale Haul

So I only spent £1.20 at Saturday's jumble sale but came away with quite a lot of books !

I like some of Nora Roberts' books so finding these for 20p each made it worth trying a few titles that I hadn't read, if I don't like them I can release them back into the 'wild' having lost very little !

This one is  for the next time we go up to Scotland, which we do fairly regularly. 

Finally, a lovely set of postcards with pictures of the interior of Clarence House. These will come in very handy for 'Thank You' notes and are made of very thick, quality card.

Total cost, if everything had been bought new, would have been £ 43.90 ! So well worth getting up early to go 'jumbling' !