Saturday, 31 December 2011

Taking advantage of the post-Christmas sales...

I love to shop in the sales at this time of year and I enjoy hunting out the best bargains!  My daughter needed new school shoes and I managed to get her a pair from the Clarks sale for just £12.  Her new coat was half price in the Next sale; for £15 she now has a lovely, warm, waterproof (and washable!) coat to see her through the remainder of the school year.  For myself I bought some maternity wear in the Next sale; at half price or less, I managed to get a selection of tops and tunics in modern maternity styles from £4-£8 each.  I needed a new handbag (I really did!  This was a need, not a want.. honest) and I had enough Debenhams vouchers to cover the £16 for the bag, which had a 20% discount in the sale.

My best bargain to date was most unexpected - I usually shop with a list and try not to deviate from it - but in this case I felt I could make an exception!  In Superdrug today I found a blue cross sale bin with all items in it costing just 10p.  I bought two bathroom cleaner sprays, two packs of bin liners, a pack of food bags, a pack of two toothbrushes and a bottle of disinfectant... all for the bargain price of 70p!

Have you managed to find any really good bargains on your travels?

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

My Christmas cake finally finished... on Christmas Eve!

Each year I make my own Christmas cake - gluten-free, of course.  Despite feeling pretty ropey for most of November this year, I still managed to make my cake.  Sadly it wasn't fed as much brandy as I would normally have liked, and I didn't get round to icing it until Christmas Eve - but nonetheless it was a success and we have just over half left to keep us going for a while longer!

Did you have a go at making your own Christmas cake?

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Homemade gift hampers...

Pine cones that we collected, sprayed and glittered.
A while back I purchased a wicker basket for £1.50 from a charity shop with the intention of filling it with lovely things and creating a gift hamper for my Nana.  My daughter and I collected pine cones to help fill the basket; we sprayed them with gold paint and gold glitter and left them to dry.  Just before Christmas I assembled everything together.  Here's the final result!

The Baileys miniature was a free sample; the Vera Lynn CD was brand new and still sealed from a charity shop; the Thorntons truffles box was the "free" pack from a 3 for 2 offer; the cellophane was recycled from a gift I received earlier in the year; and the gift tag recycled from one of last year's Christmas cards.

Frugal, but impressive once assembled; my Nana loved the thought that had gone into it!

Did you have a go at any homemade gifts this year?

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Making Christmas gift tags...

Old Christmas cards cut unto tag shapes

Matching ribbon added to the tags
Once Christmas is over, I cut up all my Christmas cards into tag shapes for the following year.  I collect little pieces of ribbon throughout the year, mostly by cutting off those little loops of ribbon that are sewn into clothing for hanging them up.  Then at Christmas time when I unpack the decorations, I match the ribbons up with the tags and there you have it - colourful, recycled, free gift tags! 
Homemade Christmas gift tags
I also do the same with birthday cards to make birthday gift tags.

Homemade birthday gift tags
Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Friday, 9 December 2011

In the frugal kitchen this week... bacon, leek and lentil soup

Cook bacon bits and leeks together...

Add any other veg lurking in the fridge (and beef stock mixed by a lttle helper, if you have one)...
Add it all to one big pot alongside a generous handful or two of red lentils and some herbs and seasoning...
When cooked, I like my soup this consistency thanks to a potato masher...
Portioned up and ready for the freezer!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

My favourite Christmas treat... mince pies!

Homemade gluten-free mince pies with whipped cream - ahhh, heaven!
I absolutely love mince pies.  I cannot stress enough how much I love them; the smell that fills the kitchen as they're baking in the oven; the hot, spicy stickiness when biting into them; the dollop of whipped cream on the side.... ahhh.  Not great for the waistline, I know - but one a day over the festive period isn't too bad, is it?!

These beauties are gluten-free, but don't let that put you off - I've never had any complaints from my non-coeliac tasters!  I haven't noticed any mince pies in the Free From section of the supermarket - if they did do them though, they'd cost £2 or so for 4 mince pies... mine are far cheaper and I'm sure much more delicious!

My lovely daughter isn't keen on mince pies; however, she loves cutting out the shapes.  After all, it's just like playing with play-doh and I have an array of Christmassy cutters! 

These mince pies also freeze beautifully; though I rarely get them as far as the freezer.  A few days in a cake tin and they are usually demolished!

The recipe I use is a Glutafin recipe and I always have excellent results with this - gluten-free pastry isn't easy!

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Monday, 5 December 2011

A bun in the oven... and I don't mean baking!

We've been delighted to discover that we're expecting a new addition to our frugal family!  Yes, I am pregnant - 11 weeks!  So the last few weeks have been a bit of a blur as we've absorbed the news and I've been coping (just) with early pregnancy symptoms! 

So my thoughts and planning are turning to next year; acquiring what we need for the baby at as little cost as possible, along with budgeting for my maternity leave.  As I am the main wage earner, there will be a big impact to our household's finances if I choose to take extended maternity leave.  Ideally I'd like to do this; but in reality there's a whole lot of number-crunching required to see what's possible.  I'm lucky in that I receive a fairly generous maternity package from my employer, so I will receive full pay for almost 5 months - a lot more generous that some workplaces.  I then have the option to take additional leave at statutory maternity pay - however, this is only around £128 a week, and would only cover my mortgage payments.  So we need to work out what we can save, what we can cut back, what we can do without and how we can manage while I'm off. 

Fortunately we have a few months ahead of us to work out all these things!