Monday, 3 December 2012

Mince Pies

You know Christmas is nearly here when you eat your first mince pie! So here's a recipe to make a batch and get that 'Christmas is coming!' feeling...

225g cold butter, diced
350g plain flour
100g golden caster sugar
280g mincemeat
2 tbsp of milk
Icing sugar, to dust

1. To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, then mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Combine the pastry into a ball, adding a tbsp of milk if necessary to bring the dough together, although it should remain firm. Knead briefly.

2. Preheat the oven the 200℃ (180℃ for fan ovens)/400℉/Gas Mark 6 and grease 18 holes of two shallow muffin trays.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured board to around half a centimetre in depth and, using a cookie cutter slightly larger than the muffin tin circles, cut out 18 'bases' and press them into the tins.

4. Fill each pastry base with a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat. Be careful not to overfill.

5. Gather up the remaining dough from the bases, roll out to the same depth as previously and this time use a cookie cutter around the size of the muffin tin holes to make the tops. I used stars and hearts, but you could make full lids or use any shape you please.

6. Brush the tops lightly with milk (or a beaten egg if you prefer the glazed look) and bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden.

If you want to make these in advance, they can be frozen after step 5. Mince pies make a lovely gift or treat to take to a friends, if you can resist gobbling them all up.

PS How do you eat yours? Hot? Cold? With cream? With brandy butter?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Loft Insulation

This may appear to be boring premise for a post, but bear with me here.

Did you know that you can get loft insulation entirely free of charge? Installed and everything. If you receive certain benefits you may even be paid for it to be fitted. This is because energy companies need to meet certain targets and this is the easiest way for them to do it. Money Saving Expert has a really useful guide to who offers what.

I got mine installed by British Gas, it was quick and easy and there has been a noticeable improvement already, hurrah!

Best of all, you can now buy 'stilts' designed to fit to your joists and support boards, so you can still use the loft for storage.

I can't stress enough how much of a difference this makes for absolutely no cost.

Here's our loft (halfway through the boarding process):

PS How nice is the brick arch in our loft, what a shame to have it hidden away!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Saying 'thank you' with cake

'Thank you' is something that I find myself needing to say on a very regular basis at the moment. Thank you for letting us use your shower, thank you for giving us a lovely off-cut of wood, thank you for feeding us dinner, thank you for the lift to work... and so the list goes on!

My favourite way to say thank you is with cake, so I thought I'd share this caramel shortcake recipe, which is an easy thank you favourite!

For the shortbread:
125g plain flour
50g caster sugar
100g butter, softened

For the caramel:
50g unsalted butter
50g light brown soft sugar
1 x 397g tin condensed milk

For the topping:
100g milk chocolate

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 15cm square oven proof dish. Mix the flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. Knead into a dough and then flatten into the tray, using a potato masher to help press it firmly down. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until lightly golden, then leave to cool.

3. To make the caramel, gently melt the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a pan until the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until it has thickened slightly. Pour over the shortbread and leave to cool.

4. Melt the chocolate slowly in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave. Pour over the caramel, which should be almost set.

5. Cut into squares.

6. Wrap up and pop in the post/on someone's desk/through a kind friend's letterbox.

THANK YOU everyone who has helped out so far with the house in any way, shape or form, I am very grateful (and promise to make you cake too soon!)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Magazines on a Budget

I decided to treat myself to a house magazine subscription for the renovation project to motivate and inspire me. Magazines aren't cheap though, especially house magazines, but fear not, a thrifty solution is at hand! You can save up your Nectar points or Clubcard points and spend them on a magazine subscription as a treat (or maybe a gift for someone?) see here for Nectar or here for Clubcard. Even better, Clubcard have deals on 10 popular titles at the moment, meaning you need even fewer vouchers to pay for your 'reward'.

I went for Real Homes, which is a bit out of my little house's league, but inspires me to try and get the look on a budget.

But having already read this month's Real Homes and after a long day at work, I found myself in the magazine aisle and happened upon Style at Home, which at £1.99 was far less bank breaking than most magazines. I thought I would give it a whirl and I am sure glad I did. Style at Home features people who spent a few thousand pounds on a kitchen renovation (not hundreds of thousands!) and suggests buys from Next, Wilkinsons, Dunelm Mill and other places I might actually afford to be able to shop. I would definitely recommend it if you need a bit of inspiration on a budget!

Any magazine suggestions that will inspire the thrifty renovation are most welcome, please!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Furnishing with Freegle

I love the idea that something you no longer have a use for can go to a good home and online communities Freegle and Freecycle are the perfect way to do this. You post a 'wanted' or 'offered' items and others can see your post and reply, simple.

Here are my ten top tips:

1. Be clear in your offered ad descriptions- detail the size, colour etc and also your location and when would be convenient for the new owner to collect

2. Most groups send a summary email everyday- sign up to receive daily digest emails, then you won't need to keep checking the website

3. Be quick! If there's something you really want, make sure the emails come through to your phone and reply as soon as you spot it- chances are if you want it, someone else probably does too!

4. When you reply to a post, be polite, succinct and flexible (nobody wants to read a long story about why you'd be the best person to have the item)

5. Be patient and be prepared to wait for replies if you post a wanted ad- it's bad etiquette to re-post wanted ads frequently

6. Remember that it's free- don't ask for anything ridiculous and be grateful for all offers you receive

7. Give and take- it's important not to just always browse the offers, but to give stuff too. I make a rule that for everything I receive from Freegle, I will post something too

8. Keep up to date- mark offered items as 'collected' and wanted items as 'received' to save your time and other peoples

9. Say thank you- it's always nice to drop someone an email afterwards thanking them for the item

10. Be careful- these online communities tend to be lovely, safe places, where people want to share what they no longer need, but think sensibly when agreeing to collect items and bring someone along with you, just in case

Here are some of the free things we've found for the kitchen at Thrifty Terrace:

And a slimline dishwasher, which is perfect for our small kitchen and a real luxury in our otherwise spartan home:

We have also given lots away lately, including our old bath tub, which I'm told is now being used on an allotment to grow carrots in!

Why not have a look- you'll be surprised at what you can find!

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Apologies for the prolonged absence, this is what has been keeping me so busy!

I will be back soon and hopefully my broken camera will be back with some better pictures of our thrifty renovation.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Old Kitchen Drawer Revamp

This is my new kitchen:

Hmm, not so inspiring. Sadly, we cannot yet afford a new one (but that doesn't stop me dreaming on Pinterest).

In the meantime, I'm doing a quick revamp of what we've got, to at least try and make it more habitable for the next few months. I quite like the shabby chic look of one of the (two) existing units:

Today, I'm renovating this drawer from the unit above:

So that every time I open it, there's a tiny little bit of calm amongst the chaos of the rest of the house.

Here goes...

1. Firstly I gave it a super duper clean and removed all of the old lining and the old fixings:

2. I then lightly sanded the drawer to prepare it for painting. I used Dulux Kitchen matt emulsion in Frosted Steel and a small roller to apply, as I prefer the finish a roller achieves:

3. I gave it a few coats...

4. ... And then a few more, until it looked covered (I did 3 coats, which used the whole tester pot):

5. I then used some d-c fix adhesive film to line the drawers (I chose mid blue with tiny light blue polka dots, but look at all of the choice on the d-c website:

6. Here's the finished product (apologies for the quality, had to use my phone for these!)

7. Only trouble is now I want to re-paint the outsides too!

P.S. Check out i heart organizing for some inspiring drawer lining projects, ahhh!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Instagram Challenge- Week Twelve

85. Sneaky bit of eBay shopping

86. New oven from Freegle :)

87. First ripe tomatoes from the tomato plant

88. A lovely old bus parked in Cirencester

89. Cafe by the lock

90. Packing up the Lodge

91. Cows on the common

Follow me on Instagram @thriftylodge

Friday, 17 August 2012

New Neighbour Cookies

When we spent our first weekend at the new house, we wanted to meet our new neighbours. I am very excited about having neighbours, having lived in a little lodge that's a bit out on its own. So I wrote them a note suggesting they should pop in and baked a batch of oat and raisin cookies:

I was a bit disheartened when nobody came at first, but later that evening, nearly everybody was out in their gardens enjoying their decks (see my garden pinspiration for more whimsical dreaming about our plans) and we got to meet them all. They were all lovely and it's made me even more excited and even less inclined to want to do this as a speedy project to sell on, much to Dave's amusement.

On the Sunday, next-door-but-one, who had been away the previous day. knocked on the door and look what they had made for us:

And they were super lovely, just like their cakes!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Home Made Make Up Remover

I've been waiting for my make up remover to run out so I could try this homemade eye make up remover by a thrifty mrs, one of my favourite bloggers.

You may remember I obtained the bottle in this post to use for the task (a Starbucks frapuccino bottle from my local supermarket, in case you're wondering). It's probably wholly impractical for the task as it's glass and I'm rather clumsy, but it looks great in the bathroom. Apologies for the quality of the photos, DIY Dave was at the new house with the camera, so I used my phone.

If your existing make up remover bottle is easy to fill (mine was not as it had a nozzle), you may find it easier to use that.

Anyway, a thrifty mrs' instructions were really easy to follow, so I did just that. The only thing I would add is to do a test run with plain water first to check your bottle is water tight, as you will need to shake it to mix the oil and water every day before use.

1. Pretty bottle, all cleaned up and ready to go:

2. There are just 3 ingredients: cooled boiled water, olive oil and rose water:

3. Stage one:

4. All of the 'ingredients' added:

5. Shaken up and ready to use:


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Instagram Challenge- Week Eleven

78. Home made iced coffee

79. Gu pudding- special treat after a stressful week

80. An amazing lime green caterpillar

81. Dave's present/subtle hint- my house gift to him

82. Wild flowers at a beautiful garden party

83. Kitchen 'shabby chic'

84. New house book- Dave's house gift to me

 Follow me on Instagram @thriftylodge