A busy start to 2016!

It’s been a cold and busy start to 2016!  That is a good thing 😀

First of all we had a spattering of snow…..nothing like everyone up the east coast of the US and Canada….we don’t do snow properly in Western Europe 😉

DSCF2639.JPGThis is a photo of our back garden covered in what we call icing sugar! LOL  Well, really, it was enough snow to have all the children in the neighbourhood excited and sledging down every available hill and grassy slope!

This is just the perfect weather for hunkering down in your favourite pjs and make a ton of delicious and nutritious soup, isn’t it?  DSCF2624.JPG

So, I took a look in the cupboards and found a can of three bean salad, some red cabbage, pasatta, two onions, potatoes and carrots….the start of something good! 😉

I also added a healthy splash of Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce (pronounced wooster’shu 😉 ), and a vegetable stock cube.  I chopped to my heart’s content and whacked it all in the pressure cooker with water, of course, and went back to work…..yes, I was working!

And when I had finished my home was filled with the lovely aroma of homemade soup!

DSCF2626Et voilà!

I’ve been productive with baking …. I really do enjoy baking. I don’t enjoy cleaning up afterwards though. LOL Flour is a pest for clinging to surfaces that you thought you’d already cleaned! 😛

Chocolate chip cookies…..  DSCF2629.JPG

Shortbread…..  DSCF2636

Gorgeous, yummy bread rolls…..  DSCF2640

And, most hilarious of all…..exploding and expanding bread dough in the fridge, yes, fridge!! :-O

It was so funny to open the fridge one morning and see this!DSCF2642  It literally burst out of the tub and broke it! Argh!

I obviously seem to be using some kind of mega-yeast! hehehehe!

On the plus side of this, it made tons of rolls, pittas, and even a loaf! :-O

LOL Abundance!

Happy Frugalling! x

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Comfort Food: Stewed Apples on a Cold Winter’s Day

My first entry on Frugal Days! I’m excited to be sharing here for the first time and hope you will enjoy my debut enough to try it for yourself. A piece of great news: It’s super duper easy and you can adjust it to suit your taste.

In this case I had come across a reference in passing to stewed apples in a book I was reading, Gloria Zachgo’s Never Waste Tears, a post-Civil War story about Kansas homesteaders. This is not unusual for me, that books lead me to recipes, and some even contain recipes as part of their plot line. This one didn’t have instructions but I did find a nice home recipe online.

So stewed apples sounded simply lovely—I envisioned a fire in one corner and a plateful of tender apples waiting on a cold prairie evening. I was lucky on this one because I already had a lot of apples, a bowlful in fact, and though enthusiastic when I’d gotten them, I conceded inwardly that I’d likely grow tired of them if eaten alone.

The hardest part of this dish (and that’s only because it’s a tad tedious) was the peeling of the apples, but I eased the pain a bit by standing at a counter with visual access to a DVD in progress (Law and Order: Criminal Intent—Vincent D’Onofrio, mwah!) Once you do this, though, it’s all downhill from there. By the way, I used 10 apples, a tad more than the seven cups the original recipe calls for, but my apples were smallish, so it was still a good size fit for the amount of ingredients.

apple final

For coring and peeling the apples: Peeling them with a potato peeler was kind of a pain (or maybe I’m just lame that way!), so I cut off the top end, cored with the peeler and flipped it over so it would stand up, the bottom being flat. Then I sliced off the bottom (which was now on top) and then using the same sharp knife, cut/peeled the entire apple and cut it up.

At first I cut off more than the skin, but became accustomed to it quite quickly and by the third apple there was less waste. (I ate the extra that I cut off. 😛 )

From here you should have the following ingredients:

  1. 3-4 tablespoons butter (I used 3)
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  5. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I used 1/8)
  6. 1/2 cup water

Melt the butter in a skillet (I use cast iron and lower heat. Note: I use cast iron and highly recommend, but be aware cast iron heats up quite quickly and even the handle could be hot.

Add all ingredients except apples, and stir until it comes to a boil. You’ll see the mixture begin to thicken; at this point add in the apple slices and stir so they’re all covered. Lower the heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Then lower the heat again, cover and allow apples to stew for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

You may or may not need to add water as needed and time will depend on how thick or thin your apples are sliced–but do watch in the event they cook quickly. Also, you may want to adjust ingredient amounts to taste–per my taste I used less butter, sugar and nutmeg.

apples in bowl

You could eat these by themselves, on pancakes, with ice cream (my favorite: vanilla) or a variety of other ways.

Enjoy!

All aboard the HMS Frugality!

“All aboard, who’s going aboard!”

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a frugal lifestyle. Paying off one’s debts and changing how one lives is a journey. Hence the fact that we call our home the HMS Frugality.DSCF2620

We followed Elaine Colliar from MFin3‘s advice and we started with the food. I’m pleased to say that in only 6 days we have managed to stock the freezer with 16 portions – meals ranging from cottage pie to chili-con-veggie to cauliflower and potato curry. I’m quite pleased with that to be honest. It’ll be great to defrost a meal and not have to stand and prep.

So what’s the next phase, you ask! ❓

Finances…..bleurgh!  Yep the serious stuff. 😮

No one, not even accountants, want to come home from work and go through their bank accounts and sort stuff out. Fact. So, I don’t want to lump all that onto hubby as soon as he comes home each evening.  Therefore, I will have to suggest bite size 15 minute chunks to do each evening until we have all the fat trimmed off our accounts. You know what I mean, things we’re paying for and have forgotten about, magazine subscriptions, cable TV (if you pay for TV), etc.

Once all the fat is trimmed, I shall go through the figures again and see if we come out in the black or in the red….hope for black please! 😉

Then, one-by-one, I will go through the bills. This will be stage 3. Elaine Colliar suggests checking utility bill deals every quarter (every three months) to make sure you are on the best tariff. I think this is wisdom – right there! These companies do have a nasty habit of hiking prices up without informing their customers and we all have no idea until a fat, nasty-looking bill lands on our doormat!  Ain’t going there!  I thought about going through U-switch. If you know of any others, do comment kcKRAB6cjbelow and let us know – we want the best deals out there, after all!

So, let’s board this ship and move on to stage 2 sorting the accounts! 😉

God bless this ship and all who sail in her! 😀

The Best Slippers in the World!

I recently had the misfortune, whilst away visiting family, to discover, much to my own deep embarrassment, that both of my slippers had rather large gaping holes in them! :-O

I was mortified!  So the hunt was on for a new pair.  I like a ballerina pump-style slipper but without a sold sole. I like those sticky-rubbery pad things on the sole, so they’re more like a snuggly sock than a traditional slipper.

We went shopping and could I find something I liked? No!

I found something similar but with a sole and they were £12….my jaw dropped!  For a pair of slippers!!

So I had a revelation….crochet your own slippers, woman! 😀

Off to the internet, I went……. and found this utterly, GORGEOUS pattern by PurlBee.

I recently learnt to crochet granny DSCF2613squares. They are so easy to make, can be used for loads of projects, so now I keep a little stockpile for the future! 😉

The slipper pattern is made with 6 granny squares of 3 rows per square, per slipper. Easy-peasy!

12308698_1654286724826782_846390137333099301_n

This is the photo I took on my phone with it’s poor camera!

They are so cute!  A cross between a Turkish slipper and a pixie shoe! LOL

And here they are a few weeks after I made them, well worn! DSCF2615

Now I have found a love of crochet, I will keep on keeping on.  I am making a blanket for the bed, which may be completed by next winter at this rate! 😉 and lots of squares; one lot might end up as a groovy 70s-style cardigan 😀

Another good thing about making crocheted Granny squares is that once you get the hang of them, you can do them any time; while watch TV or even while working! 😉

IMG_20151120_120102

So, then, I hear you cry; why are these the best slippers in the world? Well, because a) I made them myself, b) they didn’t cost a penny (the wool was a gift for my birthday), and c) they’re so comfortable! Result!

Home-made crocheted slippers really are the best in the world!

Happy crocheting and frugalling!  x

 

 

New Years’ Resolutions

New Years’ Resolutions

First of all let me wish you all a great big, fat HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Let’s start as we mean to go on, eh?

Nah, that never, ever happens, right?  I mean, how many of you actually make New Years’ resolutions and rigidly, fervently, and religiously stick to them?

I know I don’t.

I gave up making resolutions at the beginning of each year when I was in my teens because, let’s face it, by the 4th January they were all broken anyway.

However, this year I have no choice.  This year we made a decision and we are going to stick to it.

This little house is now Frugality HQ, frugality is the name of the game, and watching every single penny is the necessity that drives this resolution.

I know many of you are in the same boat. Over spending, not keeping an eye on the accounts, using the plastic all-too readily can just spiral out of control over the years.   Well, not any more!  It’s time for all of that to change!

I remember Mr Micawber’s famous, and oft-quoted, recipe for happiness:
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” ~ Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

To this end I spent a long time over the Christmas period reading Elaine Colliar’s blog Mortgage Free in 3.
She is one extremely motivating woman and as I listened to her podcast I agreed with her that the first place to start is with food.  Sort out what you have, set a budget, make a list, and stick to it like superglue!

So, off I trundled to the kitchen and sorted out my larder cupboard. The result, as you can see is beyond a joke. It’s truly laughable!
If I wanted to add herbs and spices to something, I’m sorted. Yes, that is an entire shelf dedicated to herbage and spiceage! (And yes, I do frequently make up words 😉 )

There’s a lot of fish there, that’s a good start for stockpiling and there’s quite an array of gravies and stock cubes.

My mind went into overdrive. What can I do with all this stuff to start making a difference to my purse each week?

Recipe 1)  Chicken stew.

Hubby loves chicken. With a passion. He could eat it all day, every day. He never grows tired of it. Therefore, naturally, my freezer has a lot of it.  Also, in the deepest, darkest corners of the freezer I found a single packet of casserole veg. Good start, eh?  Well, not really. Those packets are quite small and not enough to make some to eat and some to freeze, but in order to use up what’s in the freezer and cupboards I went for it.

1 x casserole pack veg.
2x chicken drumsticks.
2 x chicken thighs.
2 x teaspoons gravy
2 x chicken oxo cubes. (stock)

I pre-cooked the chicken and hubby graciously stripped all the meat off. I, then, simply whacked everything else into the instantpot and set it on stew for 35 mins!  Hurrah!

Recipe 2)  Chili-con-veggie

I wanted to use up some of the beans in the cupboard so I go out my pan and set to! This recipe also is great for using that massive hoard of herbs and spices!
I’m not putting measurements for these ingredients because you can then adjust things to taste. Start out with a teaspoon and then add more if you want! 🙂

Onion
Garlic
Chili
Coriander (Cilantro)
Carrots
lentils
Split peas
Cumin
Cinnamon
Oregano
Smoked Paprika
Kidney beans
Broad beans
Can chopped tomatoes
2 x vegetable oxo (stock)
Tomato puree.

There was enough there for six people. Obviously, you can make it larger but I don’t have a bigger pan 😦
Add water until the lentils and split peas are cooked and season to taste.
I bagged it all up, into freezer bags – two portions per bag, and into the freezer it went!

Hurrah!  Success!  I’m feeling chuffed. I may not have reached the destination – being debt free –  but I  have started the journey!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step!