Thursday, 30 November 2017

November Reckoning

This was a pretty expensive month for us and there was no money left over to put into savings, in fact we had to access some savings to get us to the end of the month ! However, this is why we have the savings in the first place and we are still on target to live on our base income for the year !

Expected expenses included renewing the car insurance and having a 5 week month so more money was spent on petrol and food. MasterShoestring also needed some new clothes because he had grown again. He is now into a small man's size which makes it worth buying slightly more expensive stuff as it should do him for a while. Unexpected expenses were repairing the car after it got petrol in it instead of diesel and having to pay for physiotherapy for my back. In the end the physiotherapy is definitely worth it as I am now getting better quicker and can still work, so it kind of pays for itself !

Another unplanned for expense for this month was buying a ferry ticket for next July ! We had various options for next year's holiday but then there was 20% off a very low price for the ferry crossing so that it would be 25% less than we paid this year, last weekend. I investigated travel options on the other side and decided that it made sense to book the ticket and pay for it at the discounted price and then sort everything else out later. There was just enough in the holiday savings account to cover it, but it did add to the overall total.

Food prices have definitely risen but shopping week to week rather than doing one bulk shop at the start and a few top ups seems to be more expensive for us in spite of the good yellow-stickered bargains. So in December it will be back to a bulk shop at the start of the month ! Next month I'll have to look at the total food spend over the past few months and see if I want to raise the total budget overall !

I'm looking forward to making plans for the New Year in December and coming up with the final totals for the year !

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Orange Jelly

We are not fond of the bits in marmalade so make this easy orange jam alternative which would also make a great, quick gift.

1 litre freshly squeezed orange juice (you can buy this if you can't find a good deal on oranges)
1 lemon - juice and zest
500g light brown sugar
8 sheets leaf gelatine or vegan equivalent

Place the gelatine in cold water. Put the orange juice and stage in a large pan, stir until sugar is dissolved on a low heat and then bring to the boil for 1-2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest. Add the gelatine to the pan and whisk off the heat until dissolved. Quickly pour the orange mixture into clean sterilised jars which you have been keeping warm on a low heat in the oven. Fill to the top, put the lids on tight and then turn upside down.

Refigerate the jam when you have opened a jar, but ours usually disappears on the same day !

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Homemade Hampers

A homemade hamper is my " go - to" gift for close family members when I'm not sure what to get them. MissShoestring will be getting a 'hygge' hamper to help with all those little touches when she buys her first home in the New Year. It will have a cosy throw, some candles, a book about Hygge and some chocolate and possibly a few other little treats for a cosy night at home. All wrapped up in a shopping basket which can be re-used. The cellophane can be bought off ebay or saved from a hamper you got and then how you decorate it is up to you. I like lots of curling ribbon and a pine cone or two !

USAShoestring will also be getting a gift hamper this year but his will be full of British food which is hard to buy in the USA !

A hamper does not need to cost much and is ideal if you are not very crafty. They can be as large or as small as you want and means that you can customise the contents so that people get what you know they can use !

Monday, 27 November 2017

Yellow Stickered Bargains

So on Friday I managed to get quite a few reduced bargains and all for an extra £1.24, so that was still well within the tiny grocery budget for this week. So what did I get :-

a packet of nakd snack bars in berry flavour for 28p, we would never normally buy these as they would be too expensive;

8 bottles of Ashbeck sparkling water, 2litre size for 30p for all of them, these will come in handy over the Christmas holidays to mix with our homemade grape juice and homemade elderflower cordial;

3 tins of Mexican refried beans at 14p each, normally I make these from scratch but this was cheaper;

a tin of black beans for 8p, these are normally 80p a tin, so a big saving here and delicious in chill;

a packet of 4 boil in the bag white rice sachets for 8p, we don't normally eat much rice but this will come in handy for individual servings for a quick supper for MissShoestring;

a tin of spaghetti hoops for 2p, we don't normally buy these either, but at 2p it will make a quick lunch for someone;

finally a packet of 4 organic kiwi fruit for 34p.

A good haul of bargains to help stretch the grocery budget and a few treats so I was well pleased.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Stir Up Sunday

Traditionally today is the day to make your Christmas Pudding and allow all the family to have a stir. The name comes from the collect for the day in the Church of England which calls for the Lord to 'stir up ' the faithful and get them ready for the season of Advent. You are supposed to stir the pudding from East to West in honour of the Wise Men from the East and make sure you add a few charms to the pudding mixture to bring the eaters 'good luck' ! We always add the charms on Christmas Day when we re-heat the pudding. They are always wrapped in large squares of silver foil as well, to avoid anyone having the bad luck of biting on them by accident and needing a trip to the dentist for a chipped tooth !

Today is a good day to bestir yourself and have a look at the calendar ahead and make sure that you have made plans. Do you have cough and cold supplies in ? What about if someone gets a stomach virus ? Are you ready for Advent? Calendars? Wreaths? Events? Menu plan for when it gets busy? Have you worked out a Christmas Dinner plan? Any presents need finishing off? Planning now, like making puddings now means that you can relax and enjoy the season as it unfolds with no spending hangover in January !

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Stir Up Weekend

Tomorrow is traditionally the time to make your Christmas pudding but why not have a go at a cake as well if you haven't already made one ?

This recipe has been used as our Christmas cake recipe for quite a few years as it does not contain eggs.

12oz self-raising flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1 1/2 oz margarine
8oz soft brown sugar
8oz sultanas
6oz currants
5oz raisins
1oz chopped candied peel
2oz glace cherries

Grease tin and line with greaseproof paper. Mix together flour and spices. Rub in margarine and mix in sugar. Stir in all the fruit. Pour in half a pint of water and stir.

Turn mixture into tin and bake for 1 hour at 180c, then turn down oven to 160C for 30-40 mins until cake is cooked. Turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack. If you want to keep the cake then freeze as the small amount of fat and no eggs means that it does not mature in a tin !

Friday, 24 November 2017

Frugal Friday

After a week where we had to get the car repaired, when it accidentally got petrol in its diesel engine and I had to pay for physiotherapy on my back, we found ourselves counting how much we have left until December 1st, definitely no Black Friday shopping for us !

I did use the Tesco vouchers we got to order a year's subscription to 'Kitchen Garden' magazine. We have had this magazine before and as well as motivating us to cultivate the garden it also comes with free seeds, which have added up to a substantial bonus over the year. Sort of a free gift with extra free gifts !

I got a few yellow-stickered bargains last Friday night and will try again tonight, but have a very small budget of £10 for this week's shopping so we'll see whether the reductions are large enough to make it worthwhile spending precious pennies on them !

I also went to a jumble sale last weekend, which I was really looking forward to, but they wanted 50p a book and £1 for each item of clothing so apart from paying the 50p entry fee, I left with nothing ! A very frugal visit ! That's the second time I've been to a jumble sale and thought the prices were too high. The library that day were selling off stock at 5 books for £1 which was much better value, but I didn't buy anything there either, just got 5 books and 3 magazines for free !

MrShoestring and I ordered a Christmas present for each other from Amazon, he wanted a soldering kit, which I would never have thought of, so we combined the order and saved on postage. It does spoil the surprise somewhat, but we also buy/make something we don't know about, so there is still some surprise element. After more than 15 years of giving him a Christmas jumper he finally confessed two years ago that he didn't like any of them, so we agreed that we would ask one another for ideas rather than trying to guess ! The money saved on postage will buy the little surprise !

I washed out some plastic bags for re-use and I have made a menu plan to 1st December to use up food we already have rather than buying the usual staples on Friday. This should mean I can keep the grocery bill within budget and inspite of unexpected expenses will finish the month with a little bit in the bank, if we are careful ! We did get a couple of cinema vouchers in the post from the Nielsen shopping survey so might go to the cinema tomorrow as a treat !

I hope that you had a good week !

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 !

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Easy Homemade Gift

I made a couple of these last year for Miss and MasterShoestring. All you need is a metre of fleece fabric and some scissors. 

Lay the fleece out on  a clean floor or table and draw a chalk line at either end to show how far up you want the fringe to be. Then snip up to the line on both sides to create a fringe on the scarf. Brush off the chalk and there you have it, an attractive fleece scarf !

You can adapt this method to make skinny, narrow scarves or thick, wide ones, more like a stole. You could also use a wider piece of fabric and make a blanket the same way.

To add a personal touch you could embroider initials in the corner or add a motif or some sequins. It's so easy to do you can decorate as you wish !

Fleece is easily available in fabric shops or online, or do as I do and watch out for garments to up cycle in charity shops and jumble sales !

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Easy Recipe for Advent

Here is a very easy recipe to try out now and then enjoy with guests during Advent.

3 egg whites
150g brown sugar
125g dark chocolate grated
250g ground almonds

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and stir in the sugar a little at a time. Lightly fold in the grated chocolate and the almonds. Spoon walnut size blobs onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. It is very important to use baking parchment as otherwise the macaroons will stick. Bake in a pre-heatred oven 150C for 25 minutes. Leave to cool for a bit, but not completely, before lifting off the paper with a a spatula.

Enjoy !

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Christmas Cards and Gift Tags

This weekend I took my own advice and went to check on the Christmas stock - no gift tags left and only a few cards ! So I had to start making ! I always save the cards from the previous year to help with this.

Here are a few of the 70 gift tags I made by cutting round the good parts of old cards and then punching a hole in the corner with a hole punch. I don't add string at this point as I always put it round the parcels and leave an extra length to attach the gift tag. I wasn't going to make so many but then I remembered that the rest of the frailly always come looking for gift tags on Christmas Eve after the shops have shut !

I made 20 cards altogether and you can see a few of them above. I didn't have quite enough old cards to make the 30 new ones we needed so later on I used some crafting paper to make a few more modern looking ones. All the above ones have had Season's Greeting printed inside with an ink pad and stamp. The modern ones still need that to be done, so I suspect there will be some more crafting done over the coming week !

Have you got Christmas crafting plans ?

Monday, 13 November 2017

Buying an Electric Toothbrush

Last week my electric toothbrush stopped working. They all eventually stop working because the rechargeable battery inside them can only take a certain number of recharges before it stops working. I dislike this sort of built-in obsolescence and think it is very wasteful but a hand toothbrush or a battery operated one do not do such a good job of removing plaque. 

I used to have to visit the dental hygienist every 4 months and with the use of the electric toothbrush have cut that down to every 6 months. Since a visit costs £45 a time investing in a decent electric toothbrush is a saving, not to mention not developing gingivitis ! I have very tightly packed teeth, so a very good clean is important.

Over the years I have tried very expensive brushes and very cheap ones and my conclusion has been that you do not need a very expensive brush with lots of features to do a good job, you just need a reliable fast brush and a good cleaning head. Features such as travel cases and buzzers which tell you to move onto the next part of your mouth are unnecessary, as are 2 minute timers, you can use your watch.

This meant that when it came to replacing the toothbrush I knew to look for a basic model. I prefer ones made by Oral B as that is what the dentist recommends and I have had good service from them. The last toothbrush lasted over 5 years, used every day. Then I researched prices online, including the cost of postage and eventually found the model I was looking for on Amazon at the cheapest price and I had a gift card from Swagbucks I could use there. Spending a gift card on a toothbrush is not very exciting but since it brought the cost down to under £20 seemed like a good idea ! I then added a small book, which I can use as a stocking filler, in order to reach the £20 limit to ensure free shipping. Ordering the book was cheaper than paying the delivery costs. So I ended up paying less and getting more !

Ordering online was cheaper than buying locally and I was pleased to be able to take care of this chore in the warm !

Sunday, 12 November 2017


They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

Laurence Binyon

I love this 'Ode to Remembrance' and today will be thinking especially of all the young men whose graves we saw in Belgium over the Summer, not just soldiers and airmen but all the partisans of the maquis.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Getting Ready

Looking in the diary I realised that it is only 3 more weekends before the start of Advent. It is very late this year, on into December because Christmas Day falls on a Monday, making the last Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve the same day.

So I decided that it was time to start checking for the advent calendar, we re-use ours from year to year and other supplies, like baking ones that we will need in Advent. I also checked last posting dates and wrote them into the diary. That was so we are not caught out when posting parcels and cards but can get them ready earl;her enough for second class.

Next I need to have a look at the wrapping paper and card supplies and think about a pudding and a cake. This year MasterShoestring's allergy problems are so much better that although I'm still allergic to marzipan I've promised we can have a cake topped with marzipan and icing as he's never had one. MissShoestring will help with that so I don't have to.

I've also priced up mincemeat and worked out whether it's cheaper to buy or make. Similarly I've started to look at turkey prices. We need a fresh one as the frozen ones contain additives which we can't have.

Then, time to look at the homemade decorations and plan which new ones we will make. All this is quite fun on a rainy, cold November afternoon, but will be less so when December arrives, so get planning now and enjoy the season of Advent when it arrives.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Frugal Friday

It has been quite a thrifty week round here and I managed to get a few treats in as well.

First of all I downloaded a free ebook and then found another one I wanted, so that made 2 free books. I also pureed all the Halloween pumpkins and put the flesh in the freezer for loaves and muffins later in the winter. 

I went to the library, instead of the jumbles sale and now have 5 new books to read for free. We made tortillas, refried beans, apple and blackberry crumble, chocolate cake, quiche, salsa, picked a few more tomatoes from the greenhouse, made bread, baked potatoes, yoghurt and granola and used up the cornflakes I bought for my Dad instead of buying Weetabix.

We washed out plastic bags for re-use and scanned all our shopping with the Nielsen scanner, so I nearly have enough points for 2 cinema tickets. I cashed in some Swagbucks for an Amazon gift token and used it to get £5 off a new electric toothbrush as the rechargeable battery in mine was finished. This seems like a luxury but saves money on dental cleaning !

I received some free Christmas cards and labels in the post and also a free GCSE revision guide for Science when I registered as a professional at the CGP website. Finally, I managed to get 3 free tickets for 'Wonder' at the cinema next Monday, so MasterShoestring is looking forward to coming on an outing with us !

How was your week ?

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Eat Well for Less

We don't often watch television just now but turned it on on Monday night to see if there was anything interesting on. Lo and behold, it turned out that the episode that was on had been filmed just down the road from us. We had a lot of fun spotting the locations and people that we recognised !

We also learned a few things and have been watching an episode a night on the iPlayer ever since. We eat more frugally than the people featured but are always looking for new tricks, including :- putting spinach in scrambled eggs, making meatballs out of sausages and poaching them in tomato sauce and that it is worth paying extra for good quality honey !

If you haven't seen the programme yet, do take a look, it's well worth it even if you don't depend £200 weekly on groceries !

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A Quick and Thrifty Supper

MasterShoestring has been learning to cook some simple supper dishes so he can help us out on very busy days and also gain some basic cooking skills for when he leaves home.

He made pizza last week and now he knows how to make a tomato sauce used it again in the is quick pasta dish for this week.

Tomato and Bacon Pasta

300g pasta of your choice
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
5 rashers of bacon
1tbsp oil
1 tsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Put the pasta on to boil with a drop of oil in the water to stop it sticking. In a small pan heat the 1 tbsp of oil and once it is hot add the chopped onion and crushed garlic, stir until the onions are brown and then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, the herbs and salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes and whilst that it is cooking grill the bacon.

Once the sauce is ready crumble the bacon into it and add to the drained pasta. Add fresh chopped herbs to garnish and/or parmesan cheese.

Eat before it gets cold !

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

How many clothes does a young man need ?

MasterShoestring has grown again ! he was complaining this morning that his school shoes are too tight as well ! Replacing the school uniform is no problem as we got a blazer in a larger size and shirts and trousers at a discount price at the start of the Summer holidays. So those are hanging in the wardrobe ready to go.

Replacing the casual wardrobe is more of a problem as at 15 MasterShoestring has distinct ideas about what will do and what will not ! So for instance , the Superdry jacket above is definitely 'in', but at over £80 not so 'in' my budget ! So we have come up with a compromise, we have made a list of things he has got to have and a budget for the whole lot. If we spend a lot on one item then we will have to spend less somewhere else !

Here's our list :

School uniform - PE kit, trainers, 5 short sleeve shirts, 5 long sleeve shirts, 3 trousers, blazer, tie, pair of school shoes, 1 suit and good shirt and tie for interviews

Nightwear - 3 pairs of pyjama, a dressing gown, pair of slippers

Casual wear - 5 T shirts, 5 casual shirts, 5 jumpers, 3 pairs jeans, 2 pairs tracksuit trousers, 1 pair trainers, 1 jacket, 2 pairs shorts, 1 swimming trunks

Underwear - 10 pairs underpants, 10 pairs socks

Armed with our list we can now look through the cupboards and find out what he actually needs. Then we'll go and try on some things, then we'll source the chosen items as cheaply as possible, probably using the internet !

That's the plan, I'll let you know how we get on !

Monday, 6 November 2017

A Good Crafting Book

I ordered this book for free using an Amazon voucher that I got through Swagbucks. I had seen it in the  Book People catalogue and the library did not have it. I often look in the catalogue and put a ring round the ones I would like, then I either get them for free using Swagbucks or order from the library.

I hadn't had a chance to look inside it for real and it is even better than I thought it would be.

There are 7 sections, each covering a different type of gift, from jewellery to gifts for pets. There is also a section on making unusual gift wrappings, such as pyramid shaped boxes. Many of the gifts I had not seen before, such as a foldable draughts set and I will definitely be making quite a few things from the book in the future.

With holiday giving not too far away I thought that it was well worth letting others know about the book so they have plenty of time to do some holiday crafting too !

Sunday, 5 November 2017

The Library instead of the Jumble Sale

On Saturday I was excited that there was a jumble sale early when there haven't been any for ages. However, just as I was getting ready to go MissShoestring said to me " Oh, a jumble sale, what do you need ?" The answer of course was nothing !

So I put the £1 entrance fee into the Poppy Appeal tin and went to the library instead !

This was the first book I found, MrShoestring is reading the series and this is one he hasn't read. If I had seen it at the jumble sale I would have bought it for him, but instead I borrowed it for free.

This was the next one I found and I am really looking forward to reading how she manages all those sheep and 8 children !

Then I was very pleased to see this sequel, as I have read the first book called " A Field Full of Butterflies' and hope that this one is just as interesting.

I also got a memoir by Jeremy Paxman and a couple of short stories by Norah Lofts, which is my equivalent of a box of chocolates.

Just as satisfying as finding them at the jumble sale but no mopey changed hands !

Saturday, 4 November 2017

What to do on a Busy Day !

Yesterday was a really busy day and I still am not sleeping well because of the back problems ! I was determined that we would not resort to takeaway food so what did I do ?

First thing was to get up a few minutes earlier so I had time to stick a meal in the crockpot, a simple one which would keep warm for hours and wouldn't matter if people came in to eat at different times for their supper.

The second was to work out where I was supposed to be when and build in some margin, Fridays often  mean delays on the roads and building in some margin meant that I had time to take detours rather wasting time sitting in traffic.

Thirdly, I took a picnic lunch and tea with me. I was tempted not to as I knew that I would be too busy to eat at the usual lunch and supper times but I knew that if I counted getting home at a certain time to eat I would probably be delayed, end up hungry and go and buy something. Just as well I did as I left the house at 0845 and didn't get back in until 2200 ! I did end up eating lunch at 1130 and supper in a lay-by but the food was good, home cooked and frugal and my trusty stainless steel thermos kept a hot cup of tea 'on tap' all day !

I ended up spending no money, being well-fed, having the family well-fed and meeting all my obligations just with a little planning ahead !

However, it almost made me realise that I don't like days that busy and maybe I should plan ahead not to have another one !

Friday, 3 November 2017

Frugal Friday

Wow, it is Friday already, the week seems to have flown by ! Not quite so many frugal things done this week as I had to watch my back, but savings were still made.

Unexpectedly, the Economist magazine tried to woo MissShoestring back to subscribing by sending her a free copy so we all got to read that, MrShoestring especially likes it for commuting as it contains lots to read but is very lightweight. We watched our final free discs from Lovefilm as the service has now been discontinued, but they very kindly sent us all the discs in the series in the final package so we could finish it off and not be left wondering 'what happened next?'

MasterShoestring discovered the discount card from the Dule of Edinburgh scheme so that might come in handy as he looks for new clothes as he has grown again. Fortunately he is a very slim build so could just about squeeze into last year's confirmation suit for this year's 'Beyond School' day at school where they had to wear business dress and be interviewed by a local employer.

I got a free Oceans poster from the Open University and some free Christmas stickers from the Tesco Toy catalogue, handy for stocking fillers. I also downloaded a free ebook and found quite a few yellow stickered bargains on a Friday night at Tesco. We discovered that the best time to go is around 7.30pm and picked up lots of discounted fruit and vegetables and some chicken dishes and sausage rolls. So we'll be trying again this week.

I washed out some plastic bags, pureed a Halloween pumpkin and made all the bread from scratch. We also made ice cream, salsa and tortillas. Sob the freezer is looking nice and full.

This coming weekend MasterShoestring would quite like new clothes and some expensive fireworks so I'm going to have a think about providing the maximum 'bang for a buck' !

Hope you had a good week !

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Another free e-book

I don't think that you need to be old-fashioned to load the washing machine nor a housewife but the picture made me laugh! I think the only time that will be seen as old-fashioned is when the clothes can crawl to the washing machine by themselves and you can turn the machine on via your smartphone !

However, the illustration reminded me to let you know that Kate Singh is offering another of her ebooks for free over the next few days. It is called "The Return of the Old-Fashioned Housewife" and is a collection of writings from the blog. Lots of useful ideas for frugal and thrifty living and you can't get a better price than free !

The book is available for free to download at Amazon fro Kindle or the Kindle reader on your PC, which you can get for free. So free all the way !

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Easy Gingerbread

This new gingerbread recipe was very popular at yesterdays's Halloween tea !

1 cup treacle/syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup margarine
1/2 cup dairy free milk
2 cups self raising flour
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder

Mix the treacle, margarine and sugar together by beating with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients and stir together until well-mixed. Place in a ready greased loaf tin and bake for 50 -60 minutes at 190C. Leave to cool before turning out.

MasterShoestring likes this cut into large slices with some margarine and/or jam but it is very nice with icing over the top too !