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All our travel and days out posts in one place….

All our cooking with kids posts in one place….

All our school holiday ideas in one place….

Crocktober – the third week….

We’re still enjoying taking part in Crocktober  but I’m starting to run a little short of ideas now so it looks like Google is going to be my friend this week. ;-)

Monday

 beef stew

We had beef stew on Monday although I got a bit potato happy with it and it looks in the photo like it was actually potato stew!  It was delicious though and tasted really nice with some home made Yorkshire puds!

Tuesday

Beef stew pie

Last nights beef stew leftovers went in a pie although I strained most of the gravy off so the pie wasn’t soggy.  The gravy was heated up separately and poured over the pie.  Don’t tell anyone but I used ready made pastry as I was in a hurry although I did get it in the reduced section if that makes you feel better though.

Wednesday

No tea needed tonight as we were out until quite late so we had tea out.

Thursday

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Thursday was homemade hog roast day although the piece of pork we bought was a lot fattier than it had looked so it took me ages to separate the meat from the fat once the joint was cooked.  Once I had though, the meat was so lovely in a bun with some stuffing and some apple sauce.  My favourite meal of the week by far!

Friday

homemade-tomato-sauce

Today was dedicated to topping up my freezer supply of homemade tomato sauce which I use for everything from pasta sauce to pizza toppings and from a base to tuna pasta bake to a sauce to cook chicken in.

Saturday

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We tried jacket potatoes in the slow cooker today and they were a huge success.  It was just me and Miss Frugal for tea as the boys were at the pictures and got snacks there and this was the perfect solution.  She had her favourite tuna and cheese topping and I had some mince and onion from the freezer on top of mine.  They’re super easy – all you do is the usual prick the potato, rub in some olive oil and sprinkle some salt on them, wrap in foil and cook on high till they’re done.  Mine took about 4 1/2 hours.

Sunday

I’ll show you later – I’m planning to make slow cooker rice pudding.

It’s not too late to join in with Crocktober – you can find lots of inspiration over the Crock-Pot UK Facebook page if you want to join in.

(PS sorry about some of the photos, I’ve lost my camera’s memory card…. again!)

Have an attitude of gratitude….

Every week for about the last six weeks, I’ve read Polly’s lovely 52 weeks of gratitude post and every week I’ve commented to say how lovely her post was and how important it was to be grateful for the small things in life.  I’ve probably even said a few times that I would be joining in and writing my own but I’ve never got around to actually doing it until today.

When you're aged 9 and 12, pretty much anything is fun if you've got your wellies on an you're out in the rain!

When you’re aged 9 and 12, pretty much anything is fun if you’ve got your wellies on an you’re out in the rain!

  1. This is my favourite time of year and I love that the nights are drawing in – we had a gorgeous walk on the beach in the dark one night last week and we loved it.  It turns out paddling in the sea is even more fun in the dark when you’re wearing your wellies!
  2. After all my worries, Miss Frugal has settled in beautifully to her new school despite not knowing anyone when she started in September.  I genuinely couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone – she has lots of new friends, she’s joined new clubs at school and her teacher thinks she’s settling in really well.
  3. Master Frugal has found something he loves to do – Judo.  He is really enjoying his judo classes every week and I think it’s going to be something that he sticks to.
  4. Miss Frugal is teaching herself Yoga from Youtube and the expressions on her face are enough to make me smile anytime.  She concentrates so hard that it can’t be relaxing in any way but it relaxes me just watching her so I’ll keep on encouraging her.
  5. My slow cooker is on and I can smell the pork shoulder cooking away.  We’re having it in buns with apple sauce and stuffing with gravy which makes me more excited than I possibly should be!
  6. I’m on track for my quest to be completely done for Christmas by the start of December – I have almost everything that I need and because I’ve started shopping so early, I’ve got some fab bargains including £60+ worth of things from Claires for £10.
  7. I have Skittles vodka AND cherry ice cream in my freezer.
  8. My car no longer sounds like a tank and it didn’t cost a fortune to get it fixed.
  9. I have some new bedding and it’s so nice – it’s like new bed feeling every night.
  10. I have discovered heart shaped marshmallows which make hot chocolate even more super awesome.

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How to cheat when making a show stopping Birthday cake….

I love to bake but I’m well aware that my skills don’t necessarily match my level of enthusiasm.

My cakes don’t always turn our the way that I plan and even though I’ve made some good ones in the past, I’ve also had a few disasters!  My last few Birthday cakes for the kids have been sucessful though so when Miss Frugal turned 12 a few weeks ago, she asked me to make a cake for her.

She had a look through my Instagram pictures for some inspiration and was torn between the last two Birthday cakes that we’ve made:

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cake 2

Then she had a look through the photos of some of the people who I follow and she spotted ‘THE’ cake.

It was one of those that had Kit Kat fingers around the side and Maltesers on top and as soon as she it, my previous efforts were no longer an option!  Unfortunately, after a week where everyone but me had taken it in turns to be ill, I really had no energy to make the cake and I was so far behind on everything that I didn’t really have time either.

But I didn’t want to let her down so I popped to the shop at 9’o’clock the night before her Birthday to buy the ingredients when I walked past the ready baked cakes.  A large chocolate fudge cake *fell* into my trolley, as did two boxes of chocolate fingers and a large pack of Maltesers.

When I got home, it took me about two minutes to push the chocolate fingers into the icing around the edges of the cake and a further 30 seconds to empty the packet of Maletesers on to the top of the cake.  The next day, I was able to present her with this little beauty:

How to cheat at making a birthday cake

It looks homemade because of my wonky craftmanship with the chocolate fingers but looks like a good standard of homemade-ness so she was over the moon with it but didn’t question if I’d made it or not.  I didn’t comment on this one way or the other (apart from hiding the cake box in the bin) so she thinks I made it from scratch. ;-)

I know this isn’t the most frugal of cakes and I could have made it cheaper myself from scratch but sometimes, you have to balance the time that something will take you when you really don’t have the time with the extra cost.  This time it was worth it to me, next time I might have more time so I’ll make it myself.

What about you, do you have any kitchen cheats?

10 reasons you should love your local library….

reasons to love your library

Do you take advantage of everything that your local library has to offer?  I bet you don’t.

Here’s ten reasons why you should visit your library more often….

  1. Free internet access although you may need to book in your time in advance.
  2. Free Word processing facilities – ours has Microsoft Word, Spreadsheet, Excel and Powerpoint that I know of.   The only thing you pay for is to print of any of your work.
  3. They often have an excellent reference library with lots of local historical data including things like births and deaths, ordinance survey maps, council meeting minutes and lots more.
  4. They will have stacks of info about local clubs and facilities.
  5. Lots of libraries hold drop in clinics with local MPs and Police Officers.
  6. You can often hire the meeting rooms in your library for free if it’s a local community group or for minimal charges if it’s for another reason.
  7. You can hire DVDs and CDs to use at home.
  8. They’re great for spending time with the kids just sat down letting them bring you any books that they like the look of.  This really encourages a love of reading from a young age.
  9. Most libraries have regular drop in craft sessions for youngsters.
  10. Finally, the most obvious one – Books.  They have an ever changing wide range of books that you can loan for free.