Archives for category: Uncategorized

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Today I joined Twitter. I’m still to decide how I feel about it. After spending hours setting up an account and fluttering through the giant birdcage that is Twitter, I feel like I have achieved very little. I have wished Daniel Radcliffe a happy birthday in hopes of getting it to ‘trend’, gathered 3 followers and lost 1 already.

Not a very fruitful afternoon. And it’s sunny outside! Here in Scotland, sunny days are hard to come by, so I really should be making the most of it. At least I managed to get the washing hung out in the garden.

My money saving tip today was to talk my darling hubby out of going out to dinner. I’m sure we can find something good to make at home at just a fraction of the cost. I did my supermarket shop online today as well, so at least I’m practicing what I preach! It’s being delivered on Monday night. Also, we’re going fishing this evening (off the harbour), so if we catch anything, that’s free food!

Nobody has visited my blog today, I’m guessing it’s because it’s the weekend. So I thought I’d try a bit of reverse psychology and tell people NOT to read this post. Sorry if you thought it would be more interesting. A post like this is very much a result of a very sleepy me! Happy Saturday!

In other news… I had the best night last night, chilling with my bestest lady friends. Gossip and food fest are just the best Friday night activities…. This morning I tried Chocolate Sugar Puffs, they kinda just taste like Sugar Puffs but they turn the milk brown…. The chilli plant has been repotted and is settling into it’s new home nicely!… The big batch of soup from the allotment is nearly finished, fortunately father-in-law has kindly donated another turnip from his allotment to go into the next batch!

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Morning! So I’ve got that Friday feeling, which only happens to me once a month as I work alternate weekends (and on my other weekend off I’m off the Friday as well – yay!). I’m pretty excited today as I’m going to a friends house after work for dinner and movies and gossip! There will be five of my oldest friends, we’ve known each other since before high school so there’s always plenty to catch up on.

My husbands always moaning that he doesn’t have enough money to meet up and hang out with friends. He seems to think that he MUST meet his friends in the pub and that he MUST order several beers. I disagree. Some of my favourite days/nights socialising in the last year have been at home or at friends houses.

My friends and I have revived ‘the sleepover’, and could happily spend the night chattering away, watching movies, and, of course, eating junk food! I should state now that we are all in our late 20s (very late, 30 is looming!), so we probably should have grown out of sleepovers by now, but we would all argue that it’s one of the cheapest and most relaxed way of socialising around.

We’ve done pot luck dinners (everybody makes a course so there’s plenty for everyone and nobody has to shell out on the cost), ladies that lunch (we all got our glad rags on and made lunch and afternoon tea – it was awesome!), barbecues, even breakfasts! It’s all been at someone’s house, on the cheap!

Don’t get me wrong, I love a night out too! But there’s nothing worse than going on a night out when your skint, worrying about spending money you know you shouldn’t be spending, especially when others are egging you on – ‘Go on, have another drink!’. Frugal times are best spent with frugal friends at home!

In other news, I have started reading the Harry Potter books again from the start (the end of the movies has left a huge gap in my life, until the box set is out of course!). Also, and this is the best thing, I think I might get paid today. Here’s hoping! Will check my balance on the way to work. It’s been a tough month money-wise, so this pay-check is most welcome!

I have spent £1 today. Mainly down to working a 12 hour shift, taking food to work and only taking 2 out of the 3 breaks that were due to me (2 coffees @ 50p each = £1!).

During my coffee break I chatted to an intern during about supermarket shopping and how easy it is to spend more than you planned. She told me she usually shops in the convenience stores ie. the ones that hike the prices up just because they’re in a busy area. She does this because she doesn’t have a car. Isn’t that ridiculous?! She has to get 2 buses to the nearest supermarket so instead she just accepts that she has to pay more for her groceries than everyone else- crazy talk.

Before we had a car, my husband and I would catch the bus to the supermarket and rush around trying to get everything we needed before the bus home. Most of the time we’d end up missing it as we’d get distracted by products on offer or freshly baked cookies… Or anything really. Supermarkets are clever. They make you spend money that you don’t want to spend. They make you buy products that you really know you shouldn’t (hands up who’s bought Ben & Jerrys ice-cream because it was on offer or it was conveniently placed? Heck, I have 3 packs of Sugar Puffs at home just because they were in offer, buy 1 get 2 free?!? Go figure.).

Have you thought about buying your weekly shop online? The idea seems quite indulgent. Choosing all your shopping online and then someone else selects it for you, packs it and delivers it to your door. Yes, there is a delivery charge, usually about £3. Chances are, if you get a bus to the supermarket and back you’ll already have spend close to that anyway. The intern I was speaking to told me it was £5.60 for her & her boyfriend to take a trip to Asda. Not so indulgent now, huh?

There’s another reason why online supermarket shopping could save you money though, even with the delivery charge. If you shop in the supermarket, you might go with a list and a budget in mind. Inevitably, you’ll leave with extra stuff and having spent more than intended (you might even forget to pick up stuff you wanted but going home with things you didn’t need – how annoying!). If you get to the check-out and the nice lady say £38.70 but you only planned to spend £30, you don’t put things back. That would be awkward, especially with the people in the queue sighing, huffing and giving you the evil eye. Instead you just accept that you have overspent. We’ve all been there.

Online you can pick up what you want, but also put back as much as you like! It’s never embarrassing because you can faff about as much as you like at the check out. Nobody’s watching! Everything is easy to find and its not a problem if you change your mind. You can be as frugal as you want and nobody’s looking over your shoulder as you count those pennies back into your purse. Try it, you might just surprise yourself as to how sensible you can be!

I’m so proud of myself today. I spent exactly £1.36 today. That. Is. All.

I did a little shopping yesterday to pick up breakfast food to take to work this week so breakfast consisted of:
2 broken up ryvita biscuits with Greek yogurt, muesli (on offer for £1, usually £2.46) blueberries (£2, large punnet) and cherries (£1 on offer). Yum yum, very filling and healthy too!
I had a coffee from the machine at work for 50p (no Starbucks or Costa!).

My husband made a big batch of soup on Saturday and divided it up into little portions and popped them in the freezer (clever hubby!). So I grabbed one of them for lunch, it had thawed nicely by this point and I zapped it in the microwave for 2 minutes. I bought a slice of bread and a portion of Philadelphia Light for 36p from the canteen and another 50p coffee from the machine. (we have free water at work from the coolers so I had a few glasses throughout the day)

I’m so pleased about not spending anything! It’s such a great feeling!

Banana loaf is done! I had a couple of bananas that were on there way out, perfect excuse for some baking methinks! I have used cherries in this recipe too and managed to snap up a small punnet for just £1 at my local Asda! See my previous post here for details of the banana loaf I’m attempting to recreate.

I struggled to find the recipes that I’d used the last time I made the gluten free banana and cherry loaf, so I adapted one I found at this link.

I made the following alterations to the ingredients:

250g gluten free plain flour (I used Doves Farm plain white flour blend)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon glycerine
pinch salt
115g butter (can be subbed for sunflower oil for the dairy free lot – about 80ml or 1/3 cup should do)
115g dark brown soft sugar
2 eggs, beaten
500g mashed over-ripe bananas
10-12 fresh cherries – optional
50-100g chopped nuts or a couple of handfuls whole nuts (I used a mix of hazelnuts, almonds and pecans, chopped in food processor) – also optional
2 tablespoons natural yogurt (dairy free variety is okay)

I blended all the wet ingredients (butter, banana, glycerine & eggs) and gradually added the sugar. I then sieved the flour, bicarbonate of soda and xanthan gum into a large bowl and gradually added the wet mixture, folding it in. The mixture was a little stiff & doughy so I added the yogurt to loosen it off. At this stage it should be thick but it should move if you tilt the bowl, a bit like cement! I then added the nuts to add a bit of texture. I used the blade attachment on my food processor (pictured) to chop the nuts, about 4-5 pulses was enough, be careful not to chop them too much or they’ll start to form a paste. I then added the cherries, tearing each one into several pieces and disposing of the stone.

Spoon the mixture into a loaf tin, either lined with greaseproof paper or greased well with butter. Pop the tin in a preheated oven at 150 degrees for a fan oven or a little higher for a conventional oven and bake for about an hour and 15 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

This was not my most successful loaf but I think that’s because I had the temperature up too high (I used the temp recommended on the recipe I referenced but I think for gluten free it should be a bit lower. I also have a fan oven so think that may have played a part!) The top of my loaf is a little crispy (burnt) but the middle is gooey and just dense enough.

I made a light glaze with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons yoghurt and about 50-75g icing sugar (so its still a bit runny) and brushed it on the top. Alternatively you can make a cream cheese and icing sugar mix. Start with a small amount of cream cheese (add a slice of banana if you want to add some extra flavour) and add the icing sugar, the consistency should be thick like a paste. Sprinkle some icing sugar on the top to finish.

I’ll remake this again soon so may update it again if I can improve on anything.

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A couple on months back, we had a banana cake-off at work: me and a colleague, Lesley, agreed to make banana cakes for our colleagues, who would then judge the winner.

At the time I was really keen on making cupcakes, so I decided to make banana flavoured variety (with real banana though, not artificial flavourings!). I stumbled upon a recipe on the internet and produced 2 dozen tiny cakes. They were not my best. I usually ad-lib a bit on recipes as I’ll usually see more than 1 recipe for the same thing & somehow combine them. But sadly, on this occasion, I stuck to the recipe and the results were not the best. I iced them with a banana & cream cheese icing (which I ended up making far to much of!). However, I lost the cake-off to Lesley – she made a wonderful banana & date loaf, which everybody enjoyed, except for my good friend Freyja, who is Coeliac so couldn’t have any of them due to their gluten content. I left work a little bit disappointed, as I knew I could do better.

At home, I still had excess banana icing, and I still had some super-ripe bananas, so I decided to have another go to try & redeem myself! I felt a little guilty that Freyja had not been able to enjoy any of the cakes due to their gluten content, so I resolved to make a gluten free banana loaf.

I came across a few recipes online and combined a couple of them, although they weren’t gluten free. If you’ve ever tried gluten free baking before, you’ll know that it can be tricky. The flour is of a different consistency and is usually more powdery once baked. There are many varieties of gluten free flour, I used Doves Farm plain white flour blend.

To combat the powdery texture I used glycerin with the bananas and substituted some of the caster sugar for golden syrup. I also used xanthan gum (also from Doves Farm) as an alternative binding ingredient, as gluten generated by wheat flour is the element that holds everything together. As another little ad-lib, I added cherries (mainly because I had a punnet in front of me and they were delicious!).

I popped it in the oven and, once cool, used up the leftover icing. The downside to making a loaf is that you don’t get to try it before you unleash it on the world (or my colleagues). Thankfully, it all worked out and everyone enjoyed it.in fact, some people preferred it to Lesley’s. It is my gluten free greatest success to date. And I don’t remember the recipe!

So today, I am hoping to recreate the amazing banana & cherry loaf. I have the super-ripe bananas & am picking up some cherries at the shops – Tesco have some on special buy for £1! I feel like the gluten free variety of this loaf really worked and added a lightness, not usually found in a loaf.

I plan to document my every ingredient, sieve and blend. Hopefully I will then be able to share with you a recipe for a gluten free banana (& cherry) loaf that works.

I’m just about to heat up a portion of our homemade soup that’s stashed in the freezer. Yum!

For other ways to alter recipes, see Living Shalom’s blog post here:

Simple Adaptations.

Evening all! I’m a little bit off topic today with only a snippet about my budgeting efforts at the end of this post. I’ve mentioned the new Potter movie a couple of times in previous posts so I’m going to let you know my thoughts. I went to see the movie on Saturday night with a group of friends who are all HP enthusiasts. I thoroughly enjoyed the finale of Harry, Ron & Hermione’s adventures. In fact I’d say it’s the best one yet.

My only issue was the scene in which Harry ‘dies’. Even in the book this scene annoyed me a little, but right up there on the screen it was most cringeworthy. I realise it was necessary to have a scene between Harry & Dumbledore but that level of brightness was extremely harsh on the eyes and was a bit too much like heaven’s gates – just too cliché.

If it was me in JK’s position, I would’ve set the scene in a more mellow location, perhaps a table at the Three Broomsticks or Madam Puddifoot’s or even Dumbledore’s office at Hogwart’s. It could have still been shot in a hazy, pseudo-reality way, but it would’ve been easier on the eyes and maybe a bit less cringy!

I loved Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall in this movie. Mrs Weazley (Julie Walters) is great too, especially when she calls Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) a bitch when she goes for Ginny: ‘not my daughter, you bitch!’

In other news, my intentions to save money have been fairly unsuccessful today; I took a zip-bagged home made soup (with father-in-law’s allotment grown onions and courgettes) but stupidly forgot I had it and left it in the fridge at work. I have a day off tomorrow so plan on sleeping late and I might make some bananas that are about to go off into banana bread. I’ve also promised my husband I’ll do a large roast chicken for dinner & sandwiches for work on Wednesday. Very domesticated for me – wish me luck!