Monday, 28 November 2011


It can't have escaped your notice that, despite the winter weather, many young women are wearing denim shorts - often over tights or leggings. These shorts have been popular for a couple of years now, but show no sign of getting any cheaper! But really, they are quite simple to make from an old pair of jeans - instructions HERE!
All those pairs of jeans with split or torn knees, that you don't know what to do with, can be used to make these shorts. Be frugal and keep the cut off legs of the jeans to make bags, cushion covers, jeans quilts or rugs.
Frugallers never throw fabric away!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


I don't want to be accused of sending more business to Tesco, but in this case I think it may be to our advantage! I'm talking about the Tesco Clubcard Big Voucher Exchange where Tesco will double the face value on your Clubcard vouchers for you to spend online or instore (scroll down the page to see what's included and what's not). Don't leave it too long as there's only 9 days left to do your exchange. You can exchange instore or online. You may be able to get some of that Christmas shopping done for nothing!
Bear in mind that offers from Tesco Clubcard Rewards are often 3 or 4 times face value, so check that there's nothing in the rewards section that you would rather have.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Yes, your energy provider will actually give you, for free, either loft or cavity wall insulation! What's the catch? Well - it depends how old you are, what sort of house you live in and who your provider is.
British Gas and EDF customers can get either insulation free - whatever their age. There are a few conditions (like not having a huge 5-bedroomed house) but it just seems to involve making an appointment for a free survey and then if all is in order they will book a date for the work to be done. Other providers do give free insulation to customers over 70 years of age - check your provider's website or give them a ring to find out.
British Gas say on their website, that it could save you between £135 and £175 per year. Worthwhile looking into!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


It's an old saying, but probably true, that most of us have hundreds of poundsworth of unwanted stuff in our homes, just gathering dust and filling up our cupboards. So, it seems it's the right time to try to get rid of it and make some cash for Christmas!
Check your cupboards and shelves for unwanted CDs, DVDs and books. When you've sorted them out have a look at Amazon and enter their barcodes or isbn numbers into the search box and see what your stuff is currently selling for. Amazon, as you list your item, will tell you how much you will get if it sells (bear in mind you have postal charges to deduct from that) and if you decide not to go ahead with the listing you can cancel it.
Ebay is everyone's best known selling place, but many things are selling for 99p - and take into account exit fees, Paypal costs and any listing costs and it may be that you cannot make any money at all! If you have shelves full of videos, the best place for them is probably the charity shop - they can't even be given away now and some charity shops will actually not take them at all.
Go through your wardrobe and take out everything that no longer fits or that you haven't worn for at least a year! Clothes in good condition sell well on on Ebay - particularly bigger sizes (18 upwards) and items from Next, M & S, Debenhams or any designer names are very popular. Shoes in unworn or near unworn condition also sell well, but make sure you photograph any marks closely and show the condition of the soles. Toys can also sell well if they are in very good condition and complete. Try advertising in your local free ad paper and Ebay if you can.
If you don't want to use Ebay, you can stick all your unwanted stuff in the boot of your car and do a boot sale - not easy, cheap or comfortable - you may have to battle early mornings, bad weather and a poor turn out - particularly in November/December! It may help to get together with a friend and share the pitch fee - that way you will also have company and someone to hold the fort if you need the loo!
If you have unloved ornaments they can be popular on Ebay - again, you need to decide what you want and set a price. If you believe any pieces may have real value, a visit to your local auction house with a boxful may be worthwhile to get some advice and possibly sell them.
And don't forget, if you are in work and can do any extra overtime now, it will help with costs both before and after Christmas!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


This free downloadable Student Guide to the costs of Uni from next year is a must for all those considering (and not considering) going to Uni next year. It takes all the panic and hype out of the whole thing and just tells you what you need to know.
Find out how student loans work, when and what you will start paying back when you've graduated, FAQs, doing your budget, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans, bursaries and more - all in plain uncomplicated English.
A very worthwhile read indeed.


As well as a free knitting pattern to knit a LittleBig Planet Sackboy, I've now found a lovely little Amigurumi Sackboy free crochet pattern which would make a lovely Christmas stocking filler. It has the pattern and full Youtube instructions to help you.
Get hooking!


A sweet Little Sackboy from LittleBig Planet to colour in on your computer, save and print out.


Hello Kitty is a perennial favourite with little (and not so little) girls and HERE are plenty of free Hello Kitty images that can be used for posters, greetings cards, invitations - or just to colour for fun!


Fave Crafts has a lovely collection of 30 Thanksgiving crafts offered in a free ebook download, including the lovely turkey door wreath pictured.
Also included are a Pumkin Garland, Thankful pins, Placemats and centrepieces.

Happy frugal Thanksgiving!

Saturday, 29 October 2011


My very last Halloween offering for this year is a wonderful recipe for Halloween flapjack decorated with cute little ghosts. You've just got time to make it!

Friday, 28 October 2011


This year's BBC Children in Need Appeal is on Friday 18th November 2011. If you would like to knit something to sell in support of the appeal, Knit Today has a great free knitting pattern for Pudsey Bear. This little fellow can be knitted in DK and will be very popular with all the charity's younger supporters!
Happy frugal knitting!

Thursday, 27 October 2011


I love browsing recipe books and magazines and drooling over cake recipes - well, we probably all do, but, when I decide I'd like to have a go at cooking one of those scrumptious looking creations, I lose all interest when I read something like, "take 6 eggs" or "use 6ozs of butter" or "the whites only, of 5 eggs"!
Really? Who can afford to chuck 6 eggs and half a pound of butter into a cake that'll be eaten in an evening (well, perhaps that's only in my house!) and will cost the price of a meal? But it is possible to find a happy medium- lower fat cakes are better for you, as well as for your wallet!
I have a few frugal cake recipes in my collection like my Frugal Parkin Cake (only 1 egg and 2 ozs fat), my (almost) Fat Free fruit Cake (2 eggs, no fat) or my Seedy Flapjack Bars (no eggs and only 6 tablespoons of very frugal Rapeseed oil), but I'd like more!
I'm gradually adding to my "frugal cakes" recipes - but it's taking years, so if anyone out there has cake recipes with lower amounts of fat and eggs (or any other expensive ingredient) - I'd love to hear from you!
Just send me those recipes. Please!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


These spiderweb Halloween decorations look fabulous - and, better still, are almost free! All you need is a black bin liner, scissors and some tape - go!


Netmums has free Halloween colouring sheets to print off, masks, decorations and more. something to keep the children quiet when you're stuck indoors in the rainy weather!

Monday, 24 October 2011


From pumpkin recipes (what else do you do with all that pumpkin fleshh - throw it away?) for shakes, lasagne, biscuits, cake and muffins, to new decorative ideas here are 20 great ideas for eating and decorating with pumpkins. There is sparkly lights in a pumpkin, grey and white silver studded pumkins, painted pumpkins, door numbers, centrepieces, a door wreath and much more.


Some more free Halloween templates to make your pumpkin Jack o' Lanterns. Choose from Frankenstein, Terrible Tombstone, Scary Skull, Creepy Pumpkin, Mummy, Mad Monster, Creepy Pumpkin, Nightmarish Smile, Classic jack o' lantern - or go mad and make them all!


Make it a Happy Halloween with this Halloween Bunting Template - just print out and string it together and you have a great party decoration!

Friday, 14 October 2011


This useful chart for a knitted Halloween pumpkin could be used for many different projects; for trick or treat bags, cushions, wall hangings etc.
Happy Halloween!


It's almost Halloween, but there's plenty of time to plan for your little ones' parties with these stunning ideas and pictures for a Halloween Candy Buffet and all the great, horrific recipes to make the Halloween candies which will also make great trick or treats! There are marzipan brains, severed fingers, chocolate witch hats, werewolf truffles, peanut butter eyeballs and much more!
Happy Frugal Halloween!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


It's a sad fact, but my sewing machine lies unused and pretty much inaccessible, in my understairs cupboard. It weighs a ton and last time I hauled it out to do some clothes alterations, a huge tangley mess appeared on the back of my sewing - but, for those of you who have your sewing machines at the ready for Halloween, here are 12 lovely pumpkin projects to make.
Included are: pumpkin footballs, pumpkin trick or treat bag, placemats, wall hangings, a mini quilt, a door wreath and much more.
Happy Halloween sewing!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


It's nearly Halloween and your little ones will be wanting to dress, up, party and trick or treat! trouble is, it all costs and in these troubled times should we, could we afford to even bother with Halloween?
Well, I for one, think that these are just the times to dress up, cook up, have a bit of fun and party - albeit very frugally! Just a few ghoulish items to wear and decorate with, some fun things to eat and you've done it! Sounds easy- doesn't it?
To start with - dressing up. If you have any bits and pieces left over from last year drag them out and see what you can do with them. Poundland has some great Halloween gear and it's cheap - well, it's, not surprisingly, £1 for anything! There are witches brooms, Halloween sky lanterns, skeleton outfits, gloves, Gothic dresses, brides outfits, masks, hats, make-up kits, jewellery, skeleton tee shirt tops, rats, glowing spiders, decorations, hanging skeletons and much much more. Okay, no-one is denying the dressing up outfits are a bit basic- but see what you can pick up to decorate them or match them with. Black leggings or jeans are always useful to use and if you have old black tee shirts see how you can make them into kids' outfits. On my weekly wander around the charity shops, I saw a beautiful black lace silky cobweb shawl - ideal to enhance a witches' outfit, jazz up that Gothic dress from Poundland or add to the ghoulishness of the Halloween bride's outfit. It's never too late to start your dressing up box- just remember to gather it all up and store it away for next year!
Halloween spooky food is a must - check out these great ideas for Halloween cakes and ghoulish drinks!
Turn your dining table into a graveyard feast (and loads more ideas for decorating your house), carve a pumpkin with these free pumpkin carving stencils , loads of other pumpkin themed craft ideas , if you can knit there's a pumpkin shaped tea cosy pattern and if you can crochet there's a pumpkin baby hat and decorations galore!
Happy Frugal Halloween!


It's autumn and almost Halloween and what better to eat now than butternut squash soup? As I type this I can smell mine simmering away in the kitchen and my tummy is rumbling!
So here's my recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or any other cooking oil you like or butter)
  • Half of a butternut squash, peeled and roughly cubed (the other half will keep for a couple of days wrapped in film and put in the fridge or you can double up the recipe quantities if you have a large enough pan!)
  • a large onion roughly chopped
  • a large potato peeled and cubed
  • a small bunch of sage leaves, roughly torn up (no stalk) or a heaped teaspoon of dried sage.
  • 1 litre of stock (I used a stock cube but you can use leftover gravy from a roast dinner and make it up to the litre with water)
You will need a large saucepan, measuring jug, strirrring spoon and a liquidiser, stick blender or sieve.
Heat your oil in the saucepan and throw in the onion, sage, squash and potato. Turn heat down, cover and cook for 10 minutes and, unless you have a very good non-stick pan, you will have to stir quite often as it will stick.
Add your litre of stock and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Cool slightly, and blend completely until smooth. As vegetables never come in set sizes, you may need to add a little more water if the soup is too thick, then season with ground black pepper and reheat if necessary. If you don't have a blender of any kind you can mash the soup with a potato masher. You won't have the same texture- but it'll taste just as good! Once cooled, you can freeze the soup or keep it in the refrigerator for a day or two.
Serve with toast, garlic bread or rolls. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


It's autumn, and an ideal time to think about how we are going to keep ourselves and our houses warm throughout the winter without spending a huge amount on heating bills! I'm in the middle of packing away all my summer clothes, getting out the winter ones and deciding what I need and what I need to get rid of (in the most frugal way possible, that is). I know I have plenty of scarves, gloves and one hat (not a very warm one I might add) so I'm going to knit myself a snood cum neckwarmer with some yarn I found at the charity shop. Charity shops are a good source of jumpers, mittens, woolly hats and gloves - start looking now for what you need.
We can keep warmer by rethinking our clothing- layers always keep us warm, but if you work somewhere warm, you need to be able to peel away some of those layers! But, if you are at home more, then before you flick that switch on the heating, think about what you're wearing. Start from the skin up - you may not own thermal vests and longjohns, but any long sleeved tee shirt and thick trousers with long socks or woolly tights will certainly make a difference to how warm you feel. Layer up with a jumper and then a cardi or fleece. I even wear a scarf most of the time indoors - well, it looks decorative, at least! If I'm working at home I never put the heating on until I'm ready to sit still either reading or at the computer. Hoovering the floor, tidying up, dusting and polishing, all keep me warm enough. I haven't tried fingerless mittens for working at the computer yet, but it's a good idea!
We don't have the heating on at night unless the temperatures have been glacial for days, that is, so we use a thick winter duvet with an overblanket. No-one in our house ever complains that they're cold! Thermal pyjamas, bedsocks and hot water bottles are also useful!
Once you do have the heating on you really don't want to see your heat escaping out through draughty doors and windows and up chimneys, so now is the time to do a check. If your windows are draughty and you can't afford to replace them, then think about installing a plastic film across them, not very pretty, I know - but most of the time it'll be hidden behind the curtains. Draught excluder tape also works quite well, but it doesn't suit all styles of windows. When we had old style sliding windows, we used to stuff all the cracks with crumpled newspaper which we didn't take out until spring!
Talking of curtains, the thicker the better - and always make sure they are behind your radiators if they are long- not in front. Buy or make extra curtain linings to hang behind your curtains - yet another heat saver. A heavy front door curtain makes a huge difference if you can feel a draught, (try to find old heavy curtains at jumble sales or charity shops) and, for internal doors, you can make up draught excluders from fabric scraps, make sure you have warm blankets and throws on your sofas and layer up your floors with more rugs if you have them.
We have a redundant chimney which does have a gas fire in the grate, but we just about never need to use it, so we bundled up a huge amount of bubble wrap in a carrier bag, tied the top with string and pushed it up the chimney - the draught stopped immediately. Do remember it's there though (we tied the end of the string to the fire basket to remind ourselves) before you light any fires!
Happy Frugal Autumn!

Monday, 3 October 2011


Well, as far as I can see from my shopping last Friday, it cost about the same as it always does. But I did notice that a sliced malt loaf that was £1.20 the week before last is now £1.28. So - how many "little" price raises have there been to fund the so-called price drops? I'm weary of it all - I don't want to depress myself further by checking each item on my receipts to see exactly how much I'm being ripped off by Tesco - but I know I am!
Read more about the Tesco rip off HERE.

Saturday, 24 September 2011


Rumour has it that the supermarkets are poised for a new price war initiative from Monday. Apparently Tesco is going to cut its 3 for 2 type offers in favour of consistently lower prices - mmmm, well, we'll see.
If they are trying to win back some customers from the likes of Lidl and Aldi, they're going to have to work harder on their confusion marketing pricing policies. We need transparent pricing for clear comparisons. We want to be able to see clearly that we are saving money - and do not need a calculator or a computer to work out just which product or supermarket is cheaper.
Tesco's PriceCheck promise is also failing me at the moment. I am consistently getting "Tesco was cheaper" - but half my virtual checkout receipt shows N/A beside the items I have bought. Conveniently, it seems, those items are not available in Asda! I have checked on My Supermarket and, with a few exceptions, that seems to be true.
So will be lured away from the cheaper stores? I'm going to bide my time and watch carefully what the prices of things that I buy every week do.
I'm also going to check that product sizes don't shrink along with prices too!
Happy frugal shopping!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


If you have children planning to go to university next year or after, all the media coverage about how much it will cost and what universities will actually charge, may have you worried and confused. The good news is, you don't have to pay any money up front and repayments, which start after the student graduates will be in worked out on how much they earn and only start when they earn above £21k.
The bad news is that, despite what the government says, most universities will indeed be charging the top rate of £9k per year for courses and this is likely to leave students with a debt of around £50k after graduating. This may make potential students nervous, given the economic climate and possible job prospects after graduation, but I do believe that it will concentrate their thoughts on exactly why they want to study at uni and what career they will follow.
It could be said that the charges will make a uni education elitist and that may be true, but in my opinion it will also mean that many unfocussed teenagers who just see university as the next step after college, but who have no career aim in mind, may be discouraged from studying for a degree. We can't yet forecast what effects this will have on our young people and their job prospects, or indeed the wider economic prospects of the country.
However, there are other ways forward. Careers can be forged from apprenticeships, or hobbies that turn into self-employment. Some potential uni students are turning to the Open University as a way of studying for a degree whilst working (even if their job is not well paid) as they will then graduate without any debt at all. Open University degrees are not free, but for people on a low wage the OU does give financial help. Of course, this means independent study, living at home and foregoing the partying lifestyle of a student away from home!
More very clear and useful information on student loans for next year is available from Martin Lewis on the Moneysaving Expert website.

Friday, 19 August 2011


Bunting is all the rage at the moment and I think it really does add a certain something to anywhere it's hung - a dark corner of a bedroom, in your retro camper, across the front of your garden tent or patio, down your fence - wherever it hangs it seems to brighten things up, so on my trawls around the internet looking for nice things to make (which incidently means most of the time I actually don't have any time to make anything) I have found a great way to make pretty bunting for (almost) free!
This is a great one for the kids to do as it is simple to make, but effective. All you need is old road atlasses, maps or magazines, a cardboard template in the shape of a diamond (use a cereal packet), glue stick, scissors and garden string or wool. You can make this bunting as glam or simple as you like. All you need to do is cut out your diamond shapes, fold them in half to make a crease, open out, spread glue over one half and fold over your string or woll at regular intervals - done!
Take a look at this upcycled bunting tutorial to get started.
You can vary your design and make your bunting as long as you want - if you use magazines you could choose all pink pages or any colour to co-ordinate with your room/garden/camper/car! If you happen to have any glitter, puff pens or old nail varnish around the house, you could add a this for a bit of sparkle too! Your design choices are endless, but just remember don't leave your bunting out in the rain!
Happy frugal summer!

Monday, 15 August 2011


I suppose you can never have too many dot-to-dots, activity sheets and colouring pages in the school holidays! I've come across another whole set of them on the netmums website.
are activity pictures with crosswords seasonal pictures, outdoor pictures, animal pictures, fantasy pictures and educational pictures all to colour. There must literally be a few hundred.
Enough to last to the end of the kids' summer holidays! 

More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


We've had a reasonable school summer holiday so far - fairly sunny, even with the odd downpour! But if you're in the middle of one of those wet days - what do you do with the kids? Here's a few free ideas:
  • Get out your photograph albums and look through them together. Kids love to see themselves as babies or toddlers. Get them to talk about the photos by asking questions like "when was that?", "who is that?", "what were we doing then?" or "where were we on holiday?" Kids love to show what they can remember and this also develops their communication skills.
  • Get the macs, umbrellas and wellies and go for a walk in the rain to do some puddle jumping. Good exercise and fun!
  • Get them storytelling. Sit together with cushions and duvets under the table or all on the sofa. Start them off with a line such as, "Once upon a time..." or something more dramatic like "Michael opened the heavy old door with difficulty. It creaked open and revealed..." Everyone has to take a turn at telling the next part of the story, it can be written down later - a good memeory test- and illustrated by all contributors!
  • gather together some junk (cereal packets, cardboard tubes, small boxes, plastic bottles) and have a junk modelling session with sticky tape and glue.
  • decorate old socks with buttons, felt and glitter to make into puppets. Put on a puppet performance when you've finished your creations.
Happy frugal fun! 
More things to do in the school holidays!


This lovely, almost fat-free fruit cake is cheap and easy to make as well. It divides into 12 chunky pieces and mixes in one bowl. Before you begin, note that the dried fruit needs to be soaked for at least 2 hours (or left overnight). You will need a 1kg size loaf tin to cook this cake in.
Ingredients: 1 tea bag, 300ml boiling water, 300g dried mixed fruit*, 175g dark brown sugar (actually any sugar will do but the cake may just be a little paler), 2 eggs, 225g wholemeal SR flour, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp baking powder.
* you can use up any dried fruit you happen to have - including mixes of sultanas, apricots, raisins etc., just as long as the combined weight is still 300g.
Method: Preheat your oven to 180 deg/Gas mark 4. Soak the teabag in the 300mls boiling water in a jug for 10 minutes, while you grease and line your loaf tin. Squeeze out teabag and discard. Put dried fruit in a mixing bowl and add the tea. Cover and leave for 2 hours. Mix the eggs and sugar into the fruit. Weigh out the flour, adding the mixed spice and baking powder and lightly stirring in the scale pan to mix. Mix flour into the fruit mixture and stir well. Spoon into baking tin, level and cook for 45-50 minutes until a skewer will come out clean. Allow to cool (just enough so you can handle it) before removing from tin and leaving to cool completely on a cooling rack.
To slice I always cut this cake into 6 big slices then cut each slice in half (from top to bottom). it's easier this way as the cake has so much fruit in it that cutting 12 thin slices is difficult.


Good to Know has a fantastic recipe resource in the shape of its 50 recipes for £1 per person. Whether you're feeling hard-up, bored with your usual dinners - or both, there's plenty of choice here and quite a few veggie options too.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Don't gorget this summer holdays, the National Parks are free to visit. There are 15 in England, Scotland and Wales- check their site for your nearest or try to include one in your holiday plans.
There is a searchable database of events such as Learning Bushcraft and Survival Skills, Young Volunteer Taster Days, Solar Gazing, Archaeology days, guided walks and much more.

More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!


The Woodland Trust has 150 free activities for children to enjoy this summer holiday. As part of its Big Summer Challenge 2012 you can find woods to visit, download free activities and print out an activity booklet to record your adventures!
More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Make this the summer that your child:-
learns to rollerskate, play chess, make cakes, crochet, knit, swim, read better, sew, ride a bike, learn French or whatever.
All these things are not necessarily free, but can be almost free or cheap, with a bit of planning. A personal aim for the six weeks achieves a goal, boosts your child's confidence and makes happy memories. You may have to draft in the help of a grandparent, auntie, uncle or neighbour with the necessary knowledge or skills, or search the internet for how-to tutorials - but it'll be worth it. You may learn something too!

More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!


Boredom Busters has over 30 ideas for keeping the kids from that terrible state - BOREDOM! Play dough recipes, games (indoors and out), brainteasers, gardening and much more.
More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!


Well, the title says it all - Disney's Family Fun site has loads to do - especially if it's raining!
More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!


Get a packet of coloured chalks from the poundshop and let your kids loose on your paving slabs - one slab, one complete picture. Take a photo of your budding Picasso next to their work of art, have a scrubbing brush, bucket and water to hand (if it doesn't rain that is!) and give a small reward for scrubbing it all off again! Your patio may even get to look cleaner than it was before!
More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!


If your kids still have the "Wimbledon" bug then this summer holidays they may be able to have a game of tennis for free in your locality. Tennis for Free has a great search facility on its site for you to find tennis courts that you can play on for free. Just enter your postcode in the search box.
There is also free coaching on offer, but unfortunately this seems mainly to be in the London area only.
More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!

Sunday, 24 July 2011


Another bright idea for keeping the kids occupied during the summer holidays is to stage your own Olympics. This is, of course, if the weather is dry! The school holidays is the time to make your garden work for you, but if you don't have one or it's too small, find your nearest park and use that instead.

Each child can choose to be a country and make themselves a flag badge coloured in on a sticky white label. Use everything you can think of for your "sports".
Here's some ideas - plastic drinks bottles filled with a little water or sand and bowled over with a football if you don't have skittles. A bucket or large bowl to throw a tennis ball or sponge ball into from a set distance or use basket ball hoop if you have one, hopping races, running races, welly throwing, running on the spot whilst being timed, press-ups or timed "stepping" using the doorstep if you don't have a posh stepper!

This is a good activity to do with other families using the park, perhaps with each family bringing the equipment for a "sport" and overseeing that event.
Keep a record of everyone's results and don't forget to have an award ceremony at the end!

More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Dorling Kindersley has more Fun Stuff for kids to do. There is Harry Potter Lego colouring sheets, a Lego knowledge Wordsearch and Spot the Difference, a Lego Minifigure Mashup where you can make up your own figure from various heads, bodies and weapons of Lego men, save and download to your computer, a Star Wars Lego Activity pack and X-Wing colouring sheet.
Lots of stuff to do!
More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!


There's something quiet and relaxing about colouring - I can't quite explain why, but I always did colouring alongside my kids and, as well as keeping them at it (there's always a competitive element there) it really was soothing! It's good talking time too and gets them talking about what they're doing, about colours and sometimes about anything and everything else as they know they have your attention all the time you're sitting colouring with them.
The Crayola site never disappoints and here they have over 1000 colouring pages to download and print out to keep your little people occupied for at least some of the summer school holidays!
More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!

Monday, 11 July 2011


The summer school holidays are almost upon us and those 6 weeks stretch ahead of us seemingly endlessly. But don't panic, Mumsnet has come up with 101 free things to do with the kids! There are rainy day activities, arts and crafts activities, things to do out and about, activities in the garden, creative ideas and things to do when it is sunny.
Even if you try 2 activities a day- this will take you all the way through those 42 days of school holidays!
Walks are free and good for everyone, but don't just think of walking as an activity in itself - if it's possible, walk to and from an activity such as a library or park visit. This takes more time, saves your petrol and helps everyone's fitness!
And always remember, the kids get to help set up an activity AND clear up afterwards!
More ideas for Happy frugal holidays!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


If, like me, you've looked at the ticket prices of even small festivals, with absolute horror, then this is one for you. Granted, you won't see those headlining bands, but you'll probably still have a good time - and for free!
Those clever people over at MSE have got together a guide to all free festivals - just search for one wherever you'd like to go!


The people at Earthly Pursuits have found and published for us the Ministry for Agriculture Allotment and Garden Guides from 1945! This free, fabulously frugal, resource has been scanned in and published on their website.
Each month gives you a guide to what you should be doing in the garden and allotment in straightforward English and with loads of tips.
In addition, there is even the No.1 Dig for Victory leaflet with colour plans to give you vegetables all the year round - just great!
Whether you're a newbie gardener or quite an expert, everyone will find something useful in these leaflets.


I've just this morning received a card from my local garden centre chain, The Garden Centre Group (used to be Wyevale) to say that all their flower and vegetable seeds are now half price. This is how I bought all my veg seeds last year and I have had no problems with germination at all as I believe they were all still in date when I planted them.
I may even have a few left over to use
next year, and I will sow them as "back up", for example I always find salad leaves germinate well even when out of date and we do eat a lot of these in the warm weather. I try never to buy lettuce from the supermarket in the summer!
Happy frugal gardening!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


National Express has an offer for coach travel this summer. Book 14 days in advance and you can travel anywhere for just £9. Terms and conditions apply and the offer excludes airports and venues.
There are also other moneysaving offers on the site, such as 2 for 1 entry to some attractions in London, Bristol & Birmingham and travel passes for a longer length of time:
7 days for £79

Footloose: 14 days for £139

Rolling Stone: 28 days for £219

Happy frugal travelling!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Tesco Price Check seems to be someone's good idea that's come back to bite them on the bum! First they have withdrawn their offer of doubling any price difference on refunding - now they appear to be using another tactic to avoid paying out the "difference".
Many Tesco customers are now getting a response from Tesco Price Check that says, "Sorry, unfortunately we have been unable to find your receipt details, so we cannot show you price check results for your shopping." This really is unbelievable - the receipt details show date, time, branch ID and some other numbers which I assume are checkout/staff ID and transaction ID - do they really believe we are stupid enough to swallow their excuse that they can't find our receipt details?
The receipt is essentially a printout from a database - they've got real problems in their IT system if they've "lost" so many of these details! Tesco treats its customers as if they are idiots.
Many people are now finding that they are getting this message, as have I - three times in the last couple of weeks - annoyingly enough, on three VERY big bills.
Some Tesco customers have been told by Tesco staff that the scheme is coming to an end - so it would seem they are keen not to pay out any more.
Perhaps we should all stop wasting our time entering receipt details into their Tesco Price Check website - and go straight to Asda to do our shopping!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


If you're anything like me, you probably have numerous kitchen appliances that are stainless steel - we sort of can't help it can we? Someone decides it's fashionable to have a steel fridge, freezer, sink, hob, toaster- whatever- and then it's almost impossible to buy anything else!
And the word "stainless" seems to be a bit inaccurate to me- all my "stainless" steel has finger marks and smears all over it! Wiping it with water doesn't always get it shiny again and I'm definitely NOT buying the stainless steel cleaning spray I've just seen in the supermarket for £4.06! Eeeek! What do they think we're made of? Money?
I have just discovered the ideal thing to clean stainless steel- white vinegar on a soft cloth. It's cheap, it sanitizes, has no dangerous chemicals, cuts through grease and doesn't scratch.
If you wanted to get a bit more posh- you could buy a spray bottle to fill with white vinegar and then spray it on and wipe off- but I wouldn't bother - it's just more expense!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


If, like me, you have a water meter then watering your garden can be expensive - and it doesn't seem to be raining much nowadays! My frugal tips for keeping the garden going are:
  • Have water barrels to collect the rainwater off your roof if you can, so that when it does rain you will get them filled and have some standby water for the dry times. We have two huge ones that fill in a few hours rain.
  • Leave your watering cans out in an unsheltered position- if it does rain then they'll catch some for you as well.
  • Don't water your lawn- grass is tough and it'll survive and green up when we next get rain.
  • Don't water flower beds - just check individual plants for signs that they are drooping, then water each plant at night.
  • Water your fruit and vegetable plants regularly- particularly salad - it's worth it.
  • Keep a washing up bowl in your sink to catch the water when you "just rinse" your hands for any reason, or wash fruit, salad or vegetables. You'll be surprised at how quickly the bowl fills up in a day. Use it to water those water hungry plants like runner beans or rhubarb or tip it into your watering can for later.
  • If you can, always water at night to prevent evaporation.
  • Always water at ground level around the base of plants - never from above and never over the leaf canopy - you want those precious drops of water to go where they'll do most good.
Happy Frugal gardening!

Thursday, 9 June 2011


Yes, you read it right - according to recent research by LV=, we in the UK have £50 billion poundsworth of junk in our homes!
Sporting equipment, clothes and books that haven't been used for over a year, make up the bulk of this "junk" and 10% of households say they probably have more than £1000 poundsworth of various bits and pieces they no longer use.
It appears that quite a few people are even storing junk for friends or family and 5% admit to paying for storage of their "junk".
This is madness. I have a tried and tested method of dealing with junk in my house:
  • If it's actually rubbish (empty boxes, paper, bottles, cans etc) then out it goes to the recycling or the bin.
  • If it belongs to someone else and I've had it more than 6 months - then it goes back to them - no arguments.
  • When did I last wear/use it? More than a year and it goes on Ebay (first choice) or to the charity shop, on Freegle, to a friend or relative, to the recycling bins - or last resort - the rubbish bin.
  • But before it goes to the bin I decide if it can be used made into or used as something else, e.g. old threadbare towels, sheets etc. are either made up into smaller towels/pillowcases, face cloths or torn up for cleaning rags.
I don't like filling up landfill with my rubbish, but I don't want it in my house either!
I know it's sometimes overwhelming when there's "junk" in every drawer, cupboard or on every shelf, but the answer really is - small steps, a little at a time, clear one drawer, or one shelf or one cupboard.
You will feel so much better - and if you manage to sell some stuff (and get back your share of that £50 billion!) then so will your bank account!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Millets have an "up to 50% off" sale across their store (online and in store). If you need cheaper camping equipment for your summer holidays or festivals it may be worth a look. They are also offering free delivery for online purchases over £20.
And if you find something you really need, then don't forget to go through a cashback website like Topcashback
who are currently offering 6.06% cashback on your purchases from Millets - all helps!
Remember to join up HERE and then go to Millets website through the Topcashback website to get your 6.06% cashback!

Friday, 3 June 2011


This does seem awfully early to be advertising school uniform deals- we haven't even got to the summer holidays yet! It gets earlier and earlier every year!

Marks & Spencers are probably a bit more expensive than some other places that sell school uniform - I suppose it's just a case of deciding whether the quality is better and worth the extra.

Anyway, if you want to get in early ready for September - (and can guestimate what size your kids will be then!) this is the deal for you.

Not only is there 20% schoolwear, but they are offering free delivery too - just use the code
UNIFORMS at the checkout. Free standard UK delivery applies from 2 June 2011 – 13 Sept 2011.
Happy frugal spending!

Thursday, 26 May 2011


I've just found this amazing offering from Dorling Kindersley - their Things to Do site. It's great!
There are children's clip-art, screensavers, activity sheets (like Richard Hammond's Bottle Rocket to make), recipes (I especially like the Puppy Dog Cup cakes) and interactive quiz games.
The adults are not left out either - there are Household Tips, quizzes, screensavers, widgets and recipes. Of course these offerings are all excerpts from their books, but even so - it's a great resource for a wet day!
More ideas for school holidays!


It can't have escaped your notice that it's half term next (or even this) week. The weather is impossibly changeable at the moment and paying for things to do inside is getting prohibitively expensive - particularly if you have children. But never fear, your old friend Google has come up with a massive countrywide list and map of FREE museums and galleries to visit. There are around 135 free museums (some with gardens) and galleries to visit for absolutely nothing!
Choose from subjects such as Air Sciences,
Roman Forts, Wool, Science, Transport, Railways, Armouries, Slavery, Earth Sciences, Glass, Rural Life, Media, Industrial, Marbles, Coal Mining, Football, History, Clocks, Natural History and more.
There has to be something for everyone!
More ideas for school holidays!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Yes, you really can make fabric conditioner from hair conditioner! And it's so much cheaper.
1.5l of Tesco Concentrated Fabric Conditioner is £1.93 (at 13p per 100ml just about the cheapest around)), but Tesco Value hair conditioner is 5p per 100ml and
Tesco Smooth Conditioner (with some nice smells) is 10p per 100ml. This works out so much cheaper when diluted as a fabric softener.
After much research on the net, I found that a dilution of 1 part hair conditioner to 10 parts water was the norm. I tried this and it didn't really work as it was a bit watery, so I make mine 1 part hair conditioner to 6-7 parts water- use any small container to measure out into a big bottle, screw the cap on, shake well and there you have it- great fabric conditioner (I can't see any difference to actual fabric conditioner in my washing).
However, I did notice something really useful - with a mixture made from hair conditioner I DON'T get a build up of black mould in the conditioner dispenser of my washing machine, whereas with fabric conditioner I do.


We had a roast chicken on Sunday, some more chopped up with pasta and salad last night and I WAS going to curry the rest tonight. I say WAS, because I have a bowl of home-made potato salad in the fridge which I made on Saturday and forgot to serve twice (don't ask!) - so we have to have salad tonight again - don't think potato salad goes with curry somehow!

So- I've fished out two ancient, wrinkly green peppers out of the bottom of the fridge, added a few cloves of garlic, a chopped onion, a chopped piece of fennel I bought reduced for 22p on the way home last night (had to buy salad leaves- mine in the garden haven't grown big enough yet) mixed it with some oil left over from a pot of olives and roasted the whole lot in the oven. When it's done I'm going to mix with the last morsels of chicken and a tin of Ratatouile and layer it with lasagne to serve with salad tonight - plus the potato salad! If I remember, that is...
Happy frugal eating!

Friday, 22 April 2011


You may think you have no time to make any more Easter gifts, but this one will take no time at all - it's an Easter Bunny balloon! Just follow the instructions HERE and in a few minutes you'll have your bunny - great to add to Easter basket gifts or use as a decoration around the house.
Happy Frugal Easter!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


The Woodland Trust is giving away free Royal wedding packs to help you and your little ones organise your Royal Wedding street (or garden!) party.
The emailable pack contains printable invitations, natural confetti (probably an idea of how to make it), Royal Wedding bunting, Pinwheel flags, leaf garland, cupcake crowns, menu, leaf doilies, Royal plate template, name badges, dandelion crown, picnic spotter sheet, spring play booklet, colour bingo, woodland wedding dress sheet, woodland adventure booklet, fairytale woodland stage, treasure hunt, treasure collecting bag and recipes for jam tarts, crispy hibernating hedgehog cakes, caterpillar tortilla rolls, honeycake, hedgehog cake and forest floor cake.
Just click the "email to me" arrow!
Happy Frugal Easter!


The Woodland Trust will email you a free pack to keep your little nature detectives busy all through the Easter holidays. The pack contains a Scavenger Hunt, a Nature Trail Kit, an Easter egg trail, spotter sheets, Easter bunny trail, a nest building challenge, Easter basket, rabbit mask, Easter card template, wordsearch, lamb jigsaw puzzle, Easter chick and rabbit art sheets, spot the difference and recipes for Easter Nests and Forest Floor Cake!
Just click the "Email to me" arrow and fill in your details to get it!

More things to do in the school holidays!
Happy Frugal Easter!

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Here's a lovely free crochet pattern for a chenille Easter Bunny and still plenty of time to make him!
Happy frugal Easter!


What have I done to save money this week? Well, apart from price-checking a month's worth of Tesco receipts and getting over £6 back in coupons, I have bought lots of little chocolate Easter eggs for my little peeps - Cream eggs, caramel eggs, Smarties eggs - all sorts! Most of them are 2 for 80p or £1, and my spend per person for a huge amount of chocolate, was around £3, just about what it would have cost me for a lot of cardboard and a very small amount of chocolate egg!
To finish off the gift I bought some "spring" looking party bags from Poundland (yes, for £1) and printed off some
"Happy Easter" gift labels to tie up the handles with (for free) using parcel ribbon left over from Christmas - done!

Happy frugal Easter!

Sunday, 20 March 2011


This a free pdf download of sensible, down -to-earth advice on feeding your family frugally. Budgeting, recipes and costs (although the costs may be a little out of date now) are included and the recipes are really good for beginners as well.
Just check out the CKM Home site and click on the purple book covers on the right. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (free) if you don't already have it.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


I love cauliflower and it's in season. All the more reason to try it again if you haven't had it for a while. Try it raw with dips or in salads and cook it in curries. it's filling and low in calories and has a low G.I.
Read more about this underused vegetable HERE and get a fabulous recipe for Cauliflower cheese HERE.
Happy Frugal Eating!

Friday, 11 March 2011


Yes, it's Mother's Day on Sunday April 3rd and I've found some lovely, simple, but professional-looking gifts to make. There's jewellery, cards, shopping totes, photo frames, flowers, corsages, candles and magazine files. They are modern and pretty and now you have loads of time to make them!
Get the instructions HERE.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Yes, it's Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday - time to whip up that pancake batter and juice those lemons! Yes, I do like my pancakes with sugar and lemon, but I really must try eating pancakes at other times of the year. They are a truly frugal food just a bit of flour, a couple of eggs and milk makes loads of pancakes and you can fill them with anything you like - fruit, jam, chocolate spread, leftover vegetables, meat etc to make a filling sweet or savoury snack or meal.
More information and my simple pancake batter recipe HERE.

Monday, 28 February 2011


T.J. Hughes has extended its offer of 20% off everything - no end date mentioned. Just add the code TJ20 at the checkout.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


Poundland have loads of cheap stuff to occupy your kids at half term - I like:

Ben 10 and Spiderman armbands
Spiderman and Barbie Swim goggles
Ben 10 frisbee
Sunflower bird feeders
A4 coloured paper pad
Pack of 40 colouring pencils
Pepper Pig sticker pad
6-piece doll's fashion outfits
Ben 10 Morph Lite
Funtastic beads set
Simpsons Slick Slime
Dinosaur Model to make
Disney Story books
Taz, Chuggington, Marvel Heroes, Beano and Bunty annuals
New schoolwork "help with homework" books
Camping stool
Wind-up torch

And each and every one of them just £1!
More ideas for school holidays!

Friday, 18 February 2011


February half-term is a great time to get the kids gardening. Spring is on the way and it's time for everything to start growing. If you begin in this half-term holiday, you can carry on and develop the gardening activities in the Easter holidays.
The Royal Horticultural Society has an edible frog pond to create - yummy! There are also colouring sheets to download, an ice mobile to make and fascinating horticultural facts.
The BBC's Gardening with Children website has more ideas. Gardening with your kids may not exactly be free, but you can improvise. Collect yoghourt pots and other plastic food containers and explore the seeds at your local garden centre or supermarket. Look for special children's mixed seed packets which may work out more varied than buying lots of packets of different seeds. Check dates and see what could be planted now and what should be done at Easter - but even now, it's not too early to start planning. Don't just think about flowers- lettuce seeds are great for coming up quickly and can be sown every couple of weeks in containers for a great crop all summer - buy mixed salad leaves seeds for the most interesting and colourful show.
Don't forget that by Easter there should be plenty of other seeds that children can plant. Lovely large seeds like courgette and squash can be planted one to a pot and will soon be sturdy little plants (keep up high away from snails!) ready to plant out for summer.
Children can then eat their own produce!
More ideas for school holidays!


Asda Sporting Chance is offering free sporting activities for kids in the holidays. Just sign up download a voucher and find a venue near you!
More ideas for school holidays!


Well, this week I have not been very inventive in the saving money stakes, but I have done a few things:
  • I have tried not to flush the toilet unless absolutely necessary as our water bills appear to have gone up quite dramatically in the last 6 months.
  • I have kept watching out for BOGOFF offers as I am running out of dishwasher tablets and today I've found one - still cost me over £10 (ouch!) but I have got 84 tablets for that.
  • I saved a bowlful of lovely gravy/sauce from yesterday's casserole and had it for lunch today.
  • I've only bought the Jordan's cereal bars today because they were 2 for £3 (they've recently gone up to over £2 and I'm not buying them all the time they are that price!
I've got to get busy and do better next week!


A whole week to keep the kids occupied without spending too much - how will we cope?
Well, by being inventive, active, educational and economical of course! Yes, I know, easier said than done - but I've got some ideas!
First, think about being outside as much as you can if the weather is dry. Doesn't matter if we don't see the sun or if it's freezing cold - as long as it's not raining, get out there!
So try a woodland walk- the Woodland Trust (very topical in the fight to save our Ancient Woodlkands) has a whole range of activities to download for free and free packs. There are bird spotting sheest with colouring and activities and as a last resort for a rainy day there are a great selection of online games on the site. There are quizzes and puzzle sheets too. So that's a bit of outside activity and something quiet and relaxing to do when you all get back home.
More ideas for school holidays!

Friday, 11 February 2011


What have I done this week to save money? Well, I'm afraid not very much. It's not been a great week for me one way and another and life, with all its intransigencies, has got in the way of my moneysaving.
The only thing I have done (or can remember doing) to save money this week, was to switch off the microwave at the wall plug. That little clock goes on ticking 24/7 and who needs it? How many clocks do we need in a kitchen? So now the microwave is off unless we want to cook with it. May be only a small saving, but it's a saving that's going on day in, day out, month in, month out, year in...well you get the picture.

Edit - just remembered- on Friday I made lunch from some of those "biscuits for cheese" we never ate at Christmas and some Gouda cheese that we never ate at Christmas, either! I am here to report that it was all delicious and I have suffered no ill effects! More money saved!
Let's hope I can do better next week!

Monday, 7 February 2011


Yes the ideal Valentine's present for a dieter a box of chocs they can't eat! This free crochet pattern is very cute, get it HERE!
Or you could trim that bottle of champagne with a crochet heart - free pattern

Then you can add to the ambience of your room by making and hanging a Valentine's Day heart mobile- get the pattern HERE!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, 5 February 2011


What have I done to save money this week? I'm going to keep asking myself that question every day, every week - just to keep my mind focussed on my spending (and saving).
Well, this week I have:
  • stored my roll-on deodourant upside down to get another week's (or maybe 2 weeks) applications. It works.
  • poured boiled water over my mascara brush, shaken off the excess and replaced it in the capsule. Has already given me another week of daily applications as my mascara was dry and running out. It's going to last next week as well.
  • Walked 100 yards across the shoppping centre to buy my usual shampoo from an independant pharmacy for £1.19 as Superdrug had put it up to £2.03!
  • Remembered that the so-called cheap chain stores are not always the cheapest!
  • Checked out the reduced counter in my local supermarket and bought 3 pineapples for 60p (not strictly saving money, I know - but we like it and only buy it when it's reduced).
  • Eaten Saturday night's leftovers for my lunch on Tuesday - mmm, Jamie Oliver Tapas!
Can't remember anything else at the moment - but I'm working on it.

Friday, 28 January 2011


Yes, everything's going up - petrol, diesel, clothes, food - everything that relies on road haulage - that's almost everything then - your savings interest rate is paltry and is not keeping up with inflation and you p[robably won't get a rise this year (or the next for that matter). It's grim - but I've decided to stop moaning and fight back, starting with these ideas:
  1. Make a decision - when my savings account reverts to a rubbish interest rate at the end of next month - I'm moving it. Rubbish rate? Then vote with your feet and WALK! Yes, it's effort I know - but if we all walk when we're offered derisory interest rates then perhaps it may just make a difference. At least we will have tried (and made a bit more money). Remember - the banks and building societies are relying on you being lazy and leaving your money to gather dust - and not much else! It saves them millions to pay for their own big, fat, yearly bonuses!
  2. Buy only when on offer. My washing up liquid is getting low - before it ran out I looked for an offer and found it - same price, same brand, different colour and perfume BUT, 50% extra in the bottle. Cereal bars have gone up in the recent VAT rise, but the ones I buy have gone up much more - so today instead of buying the fruity, virtuous, oaty, expensive ones (£2.02 a pack of 6) I bought the Cadbury's chocolatey, gooey, oaty ones (on offer at £1 a pack of 6). I won't always do this- but where possible I'm going to try!
  3. Make things last. While trying to get at the last centimetre of liquid soap in the dispenser, I resorted to adding some water - you know what? It didn't make any difference- still foamy, still cleans, still smells nice! I've read this tip before, but didn't really believe it could work - trust me - it does. I came straight downstairs and topped up the soap in the kitchen by one third with water. No difference.
  4. Use what I've got. I finished my shower gel and body lotion recently and couldn't believe that no-one (this year) bought me any for Christmas! So I went through my cupboards and drawers and dug out all those tiny tubes of shower gel, body lotion etc that come in fancy containers at Christmas - I collected them all together and before I buy myself a new shower gel or body lotion - I'm going to use them all up. Perhaps they may be a bit ancient - but I've not noticed any problems yet!
  5. Get some freebies. As before - gather together all those small sachets of shampoo, eye cream, perfume, moisturiser and conditioner that come glued to magazine pages or through Internet freebie sites and start using them up. You are actually making yourself money when you do this - as my Grandmother used to say, "Stock's as good as money!"
  6. Cut down on some electricity or gas. For 2 days this week, when it didn't rain, I hung out 4 loads of washing to dry and did not use the power hungry tumble dryer. I did not put the central heating on when I was at home in the daytime - I kept busy, then later, when I was cold, I put on an extra sweater. It works.
I'm not sure I'm going to be able to think of more things to do next week, but I've started - and so should you- just ask yourself "What am I going to do this week to save or make some money?" Do it this week and next week, plus each week try to add something new as well and soon it'll be second nature.
And you'll be richer.