Thursday, 24 December 2009

MERRY FRUGAL CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY FRUGAL NEW YEAR!

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

IT'S NEARLY CHRISTMAS! USE THOSE LEFTOVERS!

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

MAKE A LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS TREE FOR NOTHING!

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

MAKE SOME CHRISTMAS TUTTI FRUTTI TRUFFLES!


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.
Ingredients
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).

Method
  • 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

MAKE A QUICK TABLE DECORATION!


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

MAKE SOMEONE A GIFT OF ROCKY ROAD!

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.

Ingredients:
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

Method:
  • 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

FREE ON-LINE COLOURING!

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!).

CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS TO MAKE

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!

FREE CHRISTMAS COLOURING 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

DON'T PANIC - IT'S NEARLY CHRISTMAS!

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!

CHOOSE FROM 950 FREE BARBIE KNITTING PATTERNS!

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

THE VICTORIAN FARM

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!

KNIT A THREE FRENCH HENS TEA COSY!

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!

EASY KNIT TEDDY MADE OUT OF SQUARES!

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!

EASY CHOCOLATE FUDGE IN THE MICROWAVE!

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

KNIT A CUTE SHELF OR COMPUTER CLOWN!

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
HERE.
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

CHRISTMAS TO MAKE, BAKE, SEW AND COLOUR!

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!