Thursday, 24 December 2009


Before I give myself a day or two off for Christmas - I thought I'd just tell you about some emails I've already had today, telling me about the sales.
It's sale time - don't go out, don't do any more wrapping, or present buying (just kidding) instead, take a look at the online sales at Matalan, Debenhams and probably many others. You don't have to pay to park, you don't have to cope with the crowds or queue for a coffee - sit down with your cuppa in your own comfy chair and de-stress for a couple of hours!
Of course, it's much more frugal not to buy anything at all - however, if you have January and February birthdays to buy for like I do (or even next year's Christmas presents?), then there are a few 50% off bargains to be had.
All that said - look carefully at your presents tomorrow - dare I say it? You could consider some careful "re-gifting" - now that is very frugal!
Have a good Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Well, only one more shopping day until Christmas and, if you're anything like me, all you keep doing is dragging bags of food back into the house! I know though, that none of it will be wasted. In our frugal household we never ever throw food away. There's always something that can be done with leftovers. But before we start with leftovers, don't forget to save your sprout peelings and stalks (sorted to remove any manky bits of course) and make my Sprout Soup - delicious, freezes well and believe me it really does taste good!
Now here's my tips for leftovers:
Scraps, cubes, slices of mixed cheeses from the buffet - grate or crumble into a pastry case with a beaten egg mixed with milk - bake and you have a quiche. Even smaller pieces of cheese can be made into cheese sauce and frozen.
Roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, carrots - mash and fry for Bubble n' Squeak, serve with cold meat or fried eggs.
Any other veg, gravy, cranberry sauce - add some water, simmer together for 10 minutes, liquidise and you have a soup meal- eat or freeze for later.
Cold sausage rolls, savouries, bhajis etc from the buffet - reheat thoroughly and serve for a meal with baked beans and chips (not terribly nutritious, I grant you, but once in a while...).
Leftover custard- warm through in the microwave, melt in any of those cheap chocolates you've been given by the tinful, and pour over crumbled leftover Christmas cake or pudding in the bottom of a glass. Cool in the fridge until set.
Bread rolls - warm through for a few seconds in the microwave, butter and serve with bits of cheese, Christmas Chutney, any salad you have lurking in the fridge, one of those celery sticks we've always got left over and some pickled onions - a super Ploughman's Lunch!
I'll let you know if I can think of any more!
Merry frugal Christmas!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


This is yet another truly frugal Christmas idea - a Christmas tree decoration from an old magazine! That is literally all you need - tape would help a bit and you could always decorate with glitter if you have any.
I have made one for my desk - see pic - and it's sitting on my printer - but actually, I've just realised that I've not done it quite right! Oooops! Edit - I've now redone it (new pic, same mag, just refolded) and it looks a bit more tree-like!
Anyway, for a step by step guide to making your own tree go to Mad Maggie Designs where she'll show you how to do it properly!

Friday, 18 December 2009


These truffles are sort of like a white chocolate version of Rocky Road, but without the marshmallows. They make a good last minute gift either wrapped in a paper doily trimmed box or packed in a cellophane bag or small jam jar. You can vary the ingredients a bit to use up whatever you have.
200g white chocolate, broken up into smallish pieces.
50g dried cranberries (use sultanas or chopped nuts if you want to be a bit more frugal)
125g unsalted butter (salted will do if it's all you have).
150g green, red and yellow glacé cherries.
5 digestive biscuits smashed in a bag until crumbed (if you don't have digestive, use any plain biscuit).

  • Line a small square tin with cling film - the tin shouldn't be too big as you will not want the truffle mixture to be any thinner than about 3cm. If your tin is too big, use only one side and fold the cling film over to hold the mixture in place.
  • Chop the cherries into small pieces.
  • Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl, either carefully in the microwave a few seconds at a time, or over a pan of simmering water.
  • Mix the cranberries, biscuit crumbs and glacé cherries into the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.
  • Cover the top of the mixture with clingfilm and press down evenly to level the surface.
  • Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours, then turn out on to a chopping board and cut up into squares of about 2cm.
You can store the truffles for around 2 weeks in the fridge - if you can resist eating them, that is!

More ideas for Christmas gifts to make HERE!

Thursday, 17 December 2009


Yes, I know lots of craft projects are called quick when they actually aren't, but this really can be done in minutes and makes a bold table decoration with pretty much whatever you have!

All you need is an old round tray, a wreath base (but you can use a wire coathanger if you don't have one or just collect some flexible twigs and tie in a circle), a piece of tinsel (you can mix small scraps and it will still look as effective) and 3 chunky candles of varying heights.

Just wind the tinsel around the wreath evenly, lay it on your tray and group the candles in the centre. Done!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


I suppose, for most of us, time is running out to make our home-made frugal gifts, but, unlike knitted, sewn or crocheted gifts, cooking up a gift is so much quicker!

This recipe for Rocky Road is both mouthwatering and good to look at, plus it should make enough for 3 or 4 gifts.

15 oz of chocolate (milk is good and cheaper, or you could have a mix of dark and milk chocolate).
4 ozs of unsalted butter
3 ozs of digestive biscuits broken up into small pieces (around the same size as the marshmallows)
4 ozs of pink and white mini marshmallows
3 ozs of glacé cherries, quartered

  • Mix the biscuits, marshmallows and glacé cherries in a bowl.
  • Melt the chocolate (very carefully in the microwave, a few seconds at a time or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water)
  • Melt the butter (easiest in the microwave- but don't over cook it, like the chocolate, try a few seconds at a time) and mix it in the chocolate stirring gently to combine.
  • Stir the biscuits, marshmallows and glacé cherries into the chocolate mixture and mix well.
  • Transfer the mixture to a square or rectangular dish or baking tin and level the mixture. You want the Rocky Road to be about 2" thick, so don't use too big a dish.
  • Press down firmly with a spatula or palette knife.
  • Leave to set in the 'fridge and, when completely cold and set divide up into 1" squares - as the mixture is quite thick, this will give large enough chunks.
Put the Rocky Road into cellophane gift bags if you have them, but it's more frugal to use a small, clean jam jar, tie a ribbon decoratively around the lid and add a gift tag. Don't forget to say what it is on the label! If you have any scraps of fabric you could also cut circles out with pinking shears and cover the pot lids.

Store in a cool place and try not to start eating it!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


This site has several interactive on-line colouring pages that your kids can do. It's great (kept me quiet for ages!) and they can print out their work or clear it and start again. There are 19 pots of paint to choose from and all they have to do is click on the colour they want and put the dot at the end of the brush over the section they want to fill with that colour, then click - easy! This is great for developing fine motor skills and mouse control (as well as giving Mum and Dad some peace and quiet!).


This site has over 25 Christmas ornaments to make from cheap or free materials. There are loads of snowmen, Christmas trees, mini parcels, reindeer and more - all made from felt, beads and ribbon - there's even a Christmas angel made from coffee filter papers (I think she could do with some decoration and some facial features, though!).
Take a look and gather together some bits and pieces to keep the kids occupied!


If the thought of the schools breaking up this Friday fills you with panic, here's something to keep your little ones occupied for free, while you get on with the Christmas preparations.
There are 8 page sized Christmas themed pdf colouring sheets to print out on this site and there are all the usual suspects: Father Christmas, reindeer, Christmas trees, Christmas stockings, turkey, gingerbread men, toy soldiers etc., etc., - that's got to get you a few minutes peace and quiet!

Sunday, 13 December 2009


It's not too late to get everything ready and bought for Christmas - but it is too late to start panicking!
My point is that, if like me, you have lots of fiddly little last minute things to buy and do - then make a list - now.
This list supercedes all previous ones - check them and anything not done or bought, write on your final list.
This final list has to accompany you everywhere, to work, to bed, to the supermarket, to the shopping centre.
Keep it continually updated - check off what you've bought or done or add other tasks/items to it.
Then, if you're anything like me, your panic subsides and you feel in control and calmer - well, that's the theory anyway!
Happy listmaking!


I know I'm often posting about knitting patterns - but I just had to share this with you all - whether you knit or not -if you know a little girl with a Barbie doll, you have to take a look at this! Even if you have to print them out and get someone else to knit them for you, these clothes are fabulous! The site has 950 free knitting patterns for Barbie (including Christmas outfits!). There are also patterns for Shelly and Tommy, as well as 100 Bratz knitting patterns and all patterns are offered in several languages (Swedish, Danish, Dutch, English, French, Norwegian and Spanish).

More gift ideas HERE!

Friday, 11 December 2009


For any of you who missed the start tonight of this lovely second series of the Victorian Farm (Friday 9pm, BBC 2), do try and catch it on bbc iplayer- it's a real treat. Episodes 2 and 3 are on Friday the 18th December.
You can also read Henry Stephens' Book of the Farm (the farm bible for the Victorian Christmas team) free
HERE and, as an extra Christmas treat, the BBC have put 25 Victorian Christmas activities on their website - an Activity a Day for December, in videos - where our Victorian farmers detail such delights as how to make a keepsake box, mulled wine, Christmas cards, a picture frame, tree ornaments, sugar plums, gifts bags, scrapbooks, a wreath, wrapping paper and much more - all in the true spirit of frugality!

Happy Frugal Victorian Christmas!


This cute tea cosy has a Christmas theme, but would be a great gift for anyone who loves or keeps hens. It's quite quick to make, with minimal shaping - but the hens look really good on the top. It's knitted in double knitting yarn, but the main body of the cosy is knitted using 2 strands together, making it much quicker to complete. This method also allows you to use up 2 matching or contrasting colours that you may already have, making it just that little bit more frugal!
More gift ideas HERE!


This gorgeous little teddy is knitted in Patons Whisper yarn (or similar eyelash/ fur type yarn) and is just 8 little knitted squares which, very cleverly, don't look that! He just needs 2 x 50g balls of the yarn (which is now often on offer), a scrap of ribbon, small amount of stuffing and safety eyes and nose. This is a good knit for a beginner, (or a quick knit for the experienced knitter) but produces a great finished item. Once you've made one, you can vary the colours and sizes of your creations to make a family of different bears - the choice is endless!  
More ideas for gifts HERE!


This chocolate fudge recipe only has 2 ingredients and can be made by melting the chocolate in the microwave - no messing about with bowls over boiling water! It makes enough for two Christmas gifts - so that's got to be frugal! (If you can resist eating it all before Christmas that is!)
Happy frugal cooking!
More gift ideas HERE!

Monday, 7 December 2009


This great little clown is yet another cute gift - ideal to sit on a teenager's shelf or a workmate's computer. Knitted in double knitting you can make it from oddments or plan it around shades of the recipient's favourite colour.
Get your free pattern
Happy Frugal Knitting!
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!
More ideas for making gifts HERE!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


The Disney Family Fun site has an amazing Christmas section where they have pulled together everything you can imagine for you and your children to make and do this Christmas. There are Christmas recipes, printables, cards to make, decorations to make, gifts to cook and make, colouring in sheets to print off and much more. Most things are made with recycled materials or scraps of fabric or paper and card.
There's plenty to keep the kids occupied this Christmas!

More gifts to make HERE!

Thursday, 26 November 2009


This lovely little kitten would make a great stocking filler for a little girl and it takes only scraps of pink and white yarn. Get the pattern HERE!
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!
More ideas for Christmas gifts HERE!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


It's lovely to have candles at Christmas (and it saves on electricity!) and little tea lights are so cheap. If you run out of holders it's easy to improvise with a pretty jam jar, scraps of ribbon, holly, ivy or cake decorations!
My small candle holder was put together from a French yoghurt jar (yes the French put their yoghurt in glass jars!) with some ribbon I saved from last year's Christmas cake, ivy I picked from a wall near my house and a decorative flower, also from a past Christmas cake.
The larger candle holder I made from a Bon Maman jam jar (I sense a French theme emerging here!) more ribbon, decoration and ivy all from the same source. It really didn't take me very long and I suspect that more elaborate decorations could be made given more time and materials, but these frugal ones work very well for me!


Something to cheer up all those knitters out there! This little toy makes you smile just when you see the pattern! What a cutie! Pity I don't have anyone to knit him for yet! Knit the little Sackboy, from the LittleBIGPlanet™ game and make some lucky person out there a great Christmas present!
Get the pdf. HERE!
More ideas for Christmas gifts to make HERE!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!


This knitting pattern is just like Mr Bean's funny old bear - and would make a fun Christmas present for someone who likes Mr Bean.
Get your free pattern HERE.Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!More Christmas gifts to make HERE!


Do you remember the Digital Monkey on the tv ads? He seems to have made a great come-back on the PG tips ads with his old friend Johnny Vegas! Well, you can still get the pattern to knit him! Unfortunately, there's no photo on the pattern, but if you've forgotten what he looks like, (how could you!) take a look HERE and HERE!
If you want to get your needles out and create your own Digital Monkey to make someone a fun Christmas present, get the pdf instructions HERE!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Monday, 23 November 2009


Over Christmas and the New Year it's probably fair to say we use much more gas and electricity than usual. We have visitors, we are at home more, we cook more and use more lamps, Christmas lights and tree lights. So to try and cut your winter fuel bills here are 10 ways to save energy:
  • When you have visitors, turn your heating thermostat down - more bodies means more heat, so you don't need the temperature so high! Turn it down once everyone has arrived- that way the house will be welcoming and warm!
  • When your tree lights are on, turn off the main room light. You probably don't need it. Remember to turn any lights off anywhere in the house when you leave a room.
  • Make sure all your lamps and overhead lights have energy saving bulbs in them- they are expensive, but save you electricity and are usually guaranteed for around 8 years.
  • Cut down the length of time your Christmas lights are on - put them on when it gets dark and remember to switch them off when you go to bed.
  • When cooking, use the smallest appliance you can, like the microwave, slow cooker or grill and pack your oven full with several dishes when you do use it.
  • Keep lids on saucepans to cook food quicker (using less energy).
  • Try not to buy battery driven items, or invest in a charger and rechargeable batteries - it really will save you money in the long-term.
  • Keep room doors shut so that radiator thermostats can work properly, turning off the radiator when the room has reached the set temperature.
  • If you are going away turn off all those appliances that are sneaky electricty users e.g. the DVD player, radio alarm clocks and the microwave (do you really need another clock in the kitchen anyway?)
  • Only use the washing machine or dishwasher when you have a full load - probably not a problem over Christmas!
Happy Christmas saving!


We all like pretty Christmas lights - they brighten the dark winter days up to Christmas and cheer us up, but, they do use a lot of our very expensive electricity! I have recently been reading about a way to economise on this - LED lights!
Now, I'm not suggesting you bin your old lights and rush out and buy LED ones, (not very frugal!) but if yours happen to need replacing this year, perhaps you should think about the LED alternative before you buy.

LED lights use 90% less electricity than conventional lights so it's got to be worth thinking about!

Thursday, 19 November 2009


If you have a mucky box full of tiny wax crayon stubs that tiny fingers can't really hold, then gather them together (try to group similar colours), break them into even smaller pieces and place in an old bun tin (shaped moulds are even better if you have them) and melt them in the oven at 150 degrees for around 20 minutes (until all lumps are melted), then take out and allow to cool.

If you don't have any old tins that you are willing to sacrifice, then carefully line tins with foil to protect them.
You will have new (bigger and easier to hold) crayons to fill the corners of Christmas stockings!
More Christmas gifts to make HERE!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Well, my Christmas Chutney is made - what about yours? I have to say, I haven't made us much as I would have liked to this year, which may mean I don't give any as gifts! I was lucky enough to be given two carrier bags full of eating apples - I think they were Russets, and they made no difference to the chutney at all (except to the cost!).
I'm also ashamed to say, I've already eaten one jar and started a second - I suppose I should really make some more soon! Of course that's the beauty of chutney - it does taste great if you keep it. I once found a 12-month-old jar at the back of the pantry - it was great! It had a richer stronger flavour, but actually you can make it right up to Christmas Eve and then enjoy it all the year round with cold meat or cheese- mmmmm!
For more Christmas gifts to make click HERE!


You know those chocolate selection packs that seem to be popular every Christmas? Well, have you ever really considered how much chocolate you are actually getting for your money? You get tiny packets of chocolate buttons, tiny fudge bars, tiny chocolate bar, in fact, tiny everything - and they're not cheap. Why not make your own this year? Think creatively - instead of a load of plastic packaging, put your chosen selection of chocolate bars inside a mug, glass, make-up bag or pencil case (depending on the recipient!). The size and shape of most chocolate bars is ideal for this and you can buy mugs, glasses, pencil cases and make-up bags in pound shops - or even charity shops! Depending on your budget, you can also pop in something else that is small (keyring, lipstick, batteries, biro, little fluffy toy - the list is endless).Then at least you are giving something useful and fun!
More frugal gifts to make HERE!
Happy frugal present making!

Saturday, 24 October 2009


Yes, the horrible truth is that it is only a few weeks to Christmas and, as the TV pundits have just told as, many people only have 2 more pay days before then. Of course, quite a few unlucky people don't have any paydays at all, which somehow puts it all into perspective for me. I am already tired of the TV ads for expensive perfumes or even more expensive gifts from wherever and soon we'll be treated to adverts of tables full of party food, telling the lie that we will somehow be inadequate if we don't invite the neighbours in for drinks and piles of finger food!
Listen carefully to this advertising and you will soon realise that it tries to convince us that everyone else is buying their kids an X-box or whatever the latest "must-have" toy is this year. Well, I think many people won't have the cash to do it - and I hope those people don't use their credit card instead. I believe our children will grow up into better and more resourceful adults if they understand that there are things that their parents just cannot afford, that money has to be earned and that if you lose your job, or aren't very well paid, then some of these things just cannot be bought. But they can be saved for.
I'm reluctant to admit that cynical advertising, capitalising on Christmas, almost makes me want to cancel the whole thing! Actually I'll be starting my Christmas shopping soon and I'll be looking out for a bargain or two in the charity shops as well.However, I certainly won't be spending what I can't afford.
Happy Christmas Present Hunting!

Monday, 12 October 2009


These lovely Christmas gift patterns are certainly new to me - so I hope you like them. You can choose from Christmas throws and afghans, a lovely little dog's coat, a fairisle jumper, holly slippers, a Christmas stocking, a snowman family to crochet and crochet tree ornaments.
Get your free patterns HERE.
More Christmas gifts to make HERE!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Thursday, 1 October 2009


Yes, it's true, it can be done -I do it every year - buy stocking filler presents from Poundland! There's a sort of an art to buying from Poundland if you don't want to be buying complete tat and these are my tips:
  • Go with a list - most important. Know what you've already bought for the "stockings" so that you don't overspend.
  • Do not go on a Saturday!
  • Try to buy only branded goods if possible, particularly if it's smellies, cosmetics, sweets, etc., Obviously for stationery and "fun" type novelties, it's not so important.
So, what is there to choose from? Well, here's a few of my suggestions:
Packs of novelty socks: The Simpsons
Trainer socks
After Eight chocolate Santas -mmm, yum!
Packs of boot socks, or thermal socks - probably not the best quality, but you never know!
Black leather trouser belt.
Packs of Kodak, Sony or Panasonic batteries.
4 Gang socket.
Windscreen scraper
, Mars, Toblerone or Bounty - all 4 for £1.
Sensitive for Men shower gel.
Festive Boxer shorts.
24 shot disposable camera with flash.
Mini remote.
4 port USB hub.
Packs of blank CDs and DVDs.
You will find, of course, that some of these items will sell out quickly, or will not be available at your local Poundland (or perhaps any other!) but it's a matter of persevering with regular forays!
Happy Frugal gift buying!

Thursday, 17 September 2009


These knitting patterns are great to knit for a little girl with Barbie dolls. You can make a whole new wardrobe for very little outlay and use up your stash - there's even hiking socks for Barbie in this collection and some male and female fashion dolls' clothes of all kinds in this glamorous vintage collection.
Happy Frugal Knitting!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!For more frugal gifts to make click HERE!

Monday, 10 August 2009


Yes, Christmas! Well, what were you expecting?I know it's only August, but I'd really like to get in ahead of the supermarkets!! So, while they're all crowing about their "Back to School offers" (when the kids only broke up 3 weeks ago) I'm going to talk frugally about Christmas. At the moment the telly, the Internet, magazines, forums and newspapers are all full of advice on how to shop for food; we are being advised to plan our week's meal menus, check our store cupboards, make a list and then buy only those items needed when we visit the supermarket. I'm going to let you in on a secret - this advice can also be used and applied to your Christmas shopping.
Firstly - make a list - who MUST you buy for? I have a personal rule - I don't buy for more people than I did last year, (unless of course they have been born or married into my family since last year!). This keeps the upward spiral of gift giving in check a little.
Secondly - check your cupboards! If you bought anything last year that you shoved in the back of the wardrobe and found at Easter, or you were given any presents last year that you, your kids or your partner can't use, then think hard- who can you re-gift them to? (Making sure, of course, that it is not the person who gave it to you in the first place- or any of their close relatives!). Assign each re-gift to someone on your list.
Thirdly - make a shopping list of people left to buy for. Keep this list with you (I use one of the note pages in the back of my diary) and keep it up to date as you buy your gifts. Before you buy your first gift - decide on a budget. How many people do you have to buy for? How much can you afford (in total) for gifts - bearing in mind there are potentially several other costly Christmas items to buy (food, decorations, new outfits etc.). Divide this total gift figure by the number of people you have to buy for - and there you have your budget, per person. Of course I know you may want to spend more on your husband than you do on his nephew, for example, but now is when you make those adjustments to your budget.
Fourthly - start looking in the charity shops now- there are already plenty of "new" gifts to be had - this week I've seen a soft toy kit (£1.25 and unopened), a lovely Rowan knitting booklet (25p and looked new) and several gorgeous chunky bangles in wood and metal (all 75p each and looking like new). Just keep visiting your local charity shops once a week and you're bound to pick up some bargains. In this way some of the last minute stress is taken out of gift shopping and, when we get stressed and in a flat panic that at the last minute we won't get anything at all, we spend much, much more. Be warned- to fail to plan is to plan to fail - to give yourself a frugal Christmas!