Saturday, 17 March 2018

St. Patrick's Day

We have a connection to Ireland through my mother's side of the family and enjoyed a fascinating visit there a few years ago, so view St. Patrick's Day with a certain fondness. This was one of our favourite rhymes for the day when I was at school:-

One green shamrock, in the morning dew,
Another one sprouted,
and then there were two.
Two green shamrocks, growing beneath a tree;
Another one sprouted,
and then there were three.
Three green shamrocks, by the cottage door;
Another one sprouted,
and then there were four.
Four green shamrocks, near a beehive
Another one sprouted,
and then there were five.
Five little shamrocks, bright and emerald green,
Think of all the luck
these shamrocks will bring

There were actions to go with it too, but I think the family would look at me strangely if I tried it with them now !

Happy St. Patrick's Day !

Friday, 16 March 2018

Frugal Friday

Friday again and I think we had quite a quiet week on the money-saving front as I have been working on an assignment for college in all my free moments !

Last weekend we moved the lettuce, radish and tomato seedlings out of the window sill in the house and onto staging in the polytunnel. We did this because such warm temperatures were predicted for this week, so fingers crossed that they survive the big dip in temperature over the weekend. The only thing left indoors now are some alpine strawberry seedlings which are still too small to go into the big tunnel.

I spent very little at the supermarket and whilst I was there picked up a free local newspaper and a free magazine with a few interesting recipes to keep for Easter. We also got a free Sunday newspaper this week as MissShoestring gave us her vouchers, she only wants to read the paper online. We gave up the Sunday paper when we had a family as it was too difficult to read it with all of them round ! Now they are nearly all grown-up it was quite a treat to have one !

I downloaded a free ebook and went to the library in the next village to fetch MrShoestring the next book in the series he is reading, that saved us the library reservation fee. I also cancelled a library reservation I had, as it won't come in time now for the assignment I'm writing because the deadline is this coming week. That meant I got the reservation fee refunded.

We ate quite a few leftovers this week and I put half the vegetable curry I made into the freezer for later. We also made chapattis, bread, yoghurt, granola, sticky toffee pudding, peach cake, pizza, leek and potato soup, quiche and pancakes. We bought more potatoes from the farm shop at 40p a kilo, making this a saving on the supermarket prices.

MrShoestring changed the battery in my watch himself using a battery we had bought the last time I needed one as they are cheaper in multi-packs. Doing it ourselves saved around £8 as it is quite expensive getting the jeweller or Timpsons to do it round here.

We have a quiet weekend planned as I must finish that assignment ! Nothing like work for stopping you spending !

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Saving Money on Fuel

The other day, as I was driving back from a job, I noticed that the petrol price per litre over on this side of town was 5p less than it was locally ! On a tank of fuel that would make £1.50 difference in price and over the course of a year add up to well over £50.

I have joined the free price alert service at

which tells you once a week where the cheapest petrol and diesel can be found in your area. But it wasn't telling me about the cheaper stations close to where I work, so I widened the search to up to 10 miles from home and they came up.

From now on I'm going to make sure that I fill up on the way home from work rather than locally, but I'm not sure if I understand why 10 miles makes such a difference. Looks a bit like pricing to match what they think people are prepared to pay ? Well I'm not prepared to pay more than my work colleagues so I'll take the cheaper price every time !

Do check locally and see if the same sort of price fixing is going on in your area, it could save you quite a bit of money !

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Onion Bread

This is jolly tasty and can be made into all sorts of shapes, an ordinary loaf, a plait, even little rolls and best of all it is very easy ! Great with soup and as the cold weather is supposed to return at the weekend could be a handy thing to have on hand !

1 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
350ml water
1 chopped onion
550g flour (use wholemeal, white or a mixture)
25g oil
plenty of ground black pepper

Put the yeast and sugar in 50ml of warm water and leave in a warm place to get frothy. Mix all the other  ingredients together including the 300ml of water and once the yeast is frothy add that too. Turn onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes, add extra flour to stop the dough getting too sticky. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. Knock down and shape. Leave in a warm place to rise for about 20 minutes then bake at 200C for 40 minutes for a loaf or plait and 20 minutes for rolls. Leave to cool on a wired rack before serving.

Remember this is a savoury loaf so don't leave it lying around so that another member of the family tries it with jam ! Yes, that has happened !

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Year of Less

I got an email last week from the blog of Cait Flanders to tell me that this book had been reduced to £1.66 for the Kindle edition. I have a book budget of £3.50 a month to pay for bargains like that and library loan charges so decided to snap it up !

I've been reading Cait's blog since back when it was called ' A Blonde on a Budget' and so had wondered what would be in a book that wasn't on the blog. Well, this is divided into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year long shopping ban she undertook. It turns out that it is much more an autobiographical book than about saving money. If you are looking for ideas as to why people spend money, especially to meet emotional needs, well this is your book. However, if you are looking for ideas about how to pay off your student loan, this will only give you big picture ideas, rather than frugal tips.

I enjoyed the book because of the insights it gave into the author and how it shows that you can get through difficult times without resorting to retail therapy. It didn't take me long to read, a couple of hours at most and for that reason I'm really glad that I got it for a cheap price and for the Kindle. If I had paid full price I think that I would have been expecting a bit more for my money and would have been immediately thinking of selling it again as it does not contain any really new information for us. 

The other thing that was interesting for me about the book was that it gave me a good insight into how insecure some young people are and that makes them vulnerable to the advertising of products that always appear to promise a better lifestyle, more popularity etc. if you purchase them. The author also talks about her regrets in not learning all the skills her parents have, for instance basic car maintenance or sewing skills. That made me realise that before MissShoestring moves out we better check up on her basic DIY skills !

Monday, 12 March 2018

March Challenge 2

So I am not really sticking to the menu plan and think that we will have lots of food left over at the end of the month. For instance, having an unexpected Indian meal for Mother's Day means that the planned meal was not used. It doesn't really matter, as the ingredients can just be saved for another day. However, the other thing I had not reckoned on was that MasterShoestring would start going out with friends at the weekend, now that the weather has improved and that MissShoestring would put an offer in on a flat, which means that she is often suddenly having to stay in town when she had planned to come home. This means that over the past week I've had quite a few leftovers ! I also made unexpected sticky toffee pudding after discovering that MasterShoestring is very tired of blackberry and apple puddings having eaten them every week since September ! I had all the ingredients in the larder already and two helpings were eaten as soon as it came out of the oven !

I have re-jigged the menu plan for this week to take account of all the leftovers and meals not used last week, so now it looks like this !

Monday - pancakes, pork sandwiches, leftover pork roast dinner and leftover sticky toffee pudding

Tuesday - boiled eggs, leftover soup and bread, vegetable curry and chapattis, tinned peaches

Wednesday - waffles, egg sandwich, pizza and salad, steamed pudding

Thursday - toast, leftover pizza, leek and potato soup, rolls, oat biscuits

Friday - fried eggs, leftover soup and bread, quiche, potato wedges, ratatouille

Saturday - help yourself breakfast, leftovers, tortillas and salad, ice cream

Sunday - help yourself breakfast, leftover tortillas, roast chicken dinner and appal and blackberry crumble

I only spent £6.23 at the supermarket this week and it looks like that will be even less next week as I have everything in for the menu above !

Sunday, 11 March 2018

A Lovely Mothering Sunday

I am enjoying a lovely day off today, admiring my beautiful bunch of tulips which the children gave me and looking forward to an Indian meal and cheesecake with cream which MissShoestring has arranged!

Mothering Sunday need not be an expensive occasion. The tulips are lovely but I would have been just as happy with bouquet of daffodils from the garden, which are just starting to appear and the meal is great, but anything I don't make myself is a treat ! I don't really need a card to know that I am appreciated the odd 'Thank you' and 'I love you Mum' are more than enough!

I found the survey in the latest edition of 'Good Housekeeping' interesting. It had asked mothers of all ages what was their favourite gift for Mother's Day and overwhelmingly people replied that a home-made card was the thing they liked best. Just goes to show that it really is the thought that counts !