Monday, 30 July 2012

Instagram Challenge- Week Ten

64. New pedals for my cycling to work adventure (I've pinched Dave's bike- a most thrifty move as it saves me buying a new one as mine is too heavy for the daily commute, but Dave's bike has those frightening ones with toe caps. This would end in me wobbling off at traffic lights, so I think these are a wise investment!)

65. Potatoes gifted from a lovely friend's allotment

66. Hehe- but in all seriousness I must get my eyes checked- this is a great reminder

67. My future project- flats conversion (maybe if I win the lottery?)

68. New poster to attract samba recruits

69. Blueberry muffins

70. Supporting Team GB from the living room!

Follow me on Instagram @thriftylodge

Sunday, 29 July 2012

July's Seasonal Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

More muffins to follow on from June's seasonal muffin recipe, but this time with yummy seasonal blueberries. This recipe is from Nigella- see here for the original.

Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

280g self-raising flour
60g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
4 tbsp butter, melted
175ml milk
1 pack of blueberries (use Value/Basics ones as you can't taste any difference in muffins)
Pinch of salt

1. Wash and drain the blueberries, roll in a light coating of flour wrap in a tea towel and set aside to dry completely.

2. Preheat the oven to 210℃/425℉/Gas Mark 7. Line a muffin tin with 12 cases.

3. Sift the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl.

4. In a separate bowl beat the eggs, then add the melted butter and the milk.

5. Add the liquid ingredients into the flour mix and stir 10-15 times- do not over-stir or the muffins will become tough.

6. Fold in the blueberries and spoon into the muffin cases bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and well-risen.

7. Remove and leave to cool for as long as you can resist!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

July Sales

Today I did something that I'm kind of not proud of. Well actually my thrifty self is very proud, but the bit of me that believes Christmas should only happen in December, not so much.

I went to Hobbycraft to buy some purple ink and they might have maybe had a big bin of Christmas rubber stamps for £1 each and I might have gone a little crazy....

OK, so I also got some felt reindeer and Christmas trees. I feel guilty even thinking about Christmas in the middle of July, but I'm sure I'll feel very smug come Christmas time!

That my was my little splurge for the month as this whole house-buying malarky is so expensive, but if you've got some spare cash for the sales, there are some great ones at the moment- my favourites (for window shopping only!) are NextHabitat and Accessorize.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Instagram Challenge- Week Nine

57. Chocolate buttons- regressing to childhood

58. Thrifty tip- buy a washing up brush to use to clean muddy shoes- much cheaper than a 'shoe brush'

59. Loving the street-based adverts for Love Parks week- attended zumba in the park and looking forward to samba in the park next weekend- hurrah!

60. Made lemon cupcakes for my new team at work

61. Home-made burgers and vegetable skewers

62. Gearing up for the Olympics in Kent (visiting the family)

63. Lovely large daisies in the garden

Follow me on Instagram @thriftylodge

PS The lack of 'normal' posts is due to nearly completing on the house (eek!), so very busy but back soon!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Instagram Challenge- Week Eight

Week eight- really?! Where does time go?

50. Sewing project I need to finish before we move

51. Thrifty tip- keep your butter packets and use them to grease cake tins

52. Strawberry sponge cake for a visting friend's Birthday

53. A cute note left for me on the washing up pile!

54. UN Forum 2012- great day, lots of fascinating speakers and thought-provoking talks

55. Walk in the woods

56. First tomatoes appearing on our tomato plant, hurrah

Follow me on Instagram @thriftylodge

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Giving to Charity

I have been feeling very inspired this week by a thrifty mrs' post what not to donate to charity shops. It's very tempting to sell everything you no longer need on eBay for a bit of cash, but it's important not to forget charity too!

This week I gave a dress and a pair of shoes to the charity shop:

And even though it's only a small donation, at least it's something. I detect a slight warm and fuzzy glow...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Friday 13th Facts

I've always been fascinated by superstition, probably because I'm not at all superstitious and am forever being told off for opening my umbrella inside etc. I thought I would share some fun Friday 13th facts:

1. People who have an irrational fear of Friday 13th are known as friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobics, which comes from the Greek for 'Friday', 'thirteen' and 'fear'
2. Friday13th happens between 1 and 3 times a year (in 2012, it's 3 times and they fall exactly 13 weeks apart!)
3. In Spain, it's not Friday 13th, but Tuesday 13th which is considered to be unlucky
4. The Costa Concordia sank on Friday 13th April 2012
5. Over the past 400 years, the 13th has fallen on a Friday more often than any other day
6. Both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment. In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose.
7. In Ontario, Canada, the number 13 is skipped in the numbering of highways
8. Fidel Castro was born on Friday 13th August 1926
9. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is said to have avoided travel on the 13th day of any month, and would never host 13 guests at a meal.
10. Margaret Thatcher was born on Friday 13th October 1923
11. The US Seal has 13 stars, bars, feathers in the eagle's tail, 13 bars in one claw, 13 olive branches in the other.
12. Many hotels in Las Vegas, including The Venetian and The Palazzo have no 13th floor
13. But it's all OK, because for pagans, 13 is actually a lucky number!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thrifty Spinach & Feta Cannelloni

Big bags of fresh spinach are always in the reduced section of our local supermarket (we're talking 15p for a huge bag). Spinach turns quite quickly and is no good to eat raw in salad once it's beginning to go a bit 'funny', but it's still great to cook with and as it reduces down so much, you can use the whole bag up at once, forming the basis of a main meal. Even better than that, spinach is super good for you, full of vitamins A and C and lots of antioxidants. 

Today, to start off my new 'Value Taste Test' (more to follow) I cooked a low-fat and thrifty spinach and feta cannelloni, using Everyday Value lasagne sheets (39p for 250g), a bag of reduced spinach (15p for 260g), half of a block of Everyday Value (noticing a theme here?) 'greek style salad cheese' (75p for 200g) and half a tin of Everyday Value chopped tomatoes.

Spinach and Feta Cannelloni
100g Everyday Value 'Greek style' salad cheese (feta, to you and I)
1 bag spinach, cooked and drained
125g lasagne sheets (half of an Everyday Value box)
200g Everyday Value chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
25g parmesan, grated
Salt, pepper and nutmeg to season

1. Place lasagne sheets in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Add a drop of olive oil to prevent sticking and separate sheets gently with a knife. Leave to soak, meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200℃/400℉/Gas Mark 6.

2. Mix the drained spinach with the feta, season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.

3. Drain the lasagne sheets and spread out across the base of an ovenproof dish and, using a tablespoon, spread a dollop of the spinach and feta mix onto each lasagne sheet.

4. Carefully roll the lasagne sheets up and line up in the tray.

5. Mix the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and pepper in a bowl and spread over the top of the lasagne sheets. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan.

6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes and serve with fresh salad.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Instagram Challenge- Week Seven

43. Guitar- Dave trying his best to teach me

44. New slimline Kleenex (OK this is really sad, but I love that it's half the size and therefore half the packaging- saving the planet one tissue box at a time!)

45. I confess I may have maybe forgotten a photo today, so here is an advance preview of Silverstone on Saturday

46. I want to learn how to do this at home

47. The only break in the weather at Silverstone came just in time for the aerobatics display

 48. Wedding party by the sea- beautiful purple theme

49. Trying my best to get back into running

Follow me on Instagram @thriftylodge

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Instagram Challenge- Week Six

36. Hot air balloon over The Lodge

37. Moo business cards sample pack arrived in the post 

38. Leaving flowers from my department

39. Summer wedding

40. The kitchen garden at Tyntesfield (a stunning National Trust property just outside of Bristol)

41. More freebies with the August edition of Glamour- balance Me Lip Salve

42. Samba- caixas

Find me on Instagram @thriftylodge

Monday, 2 July 2012

Healthy Chickpea Falafels

Weeks of the stress of trying to buy a house/being ill/the lead up to my new role at work have resulted in very little exercise and rather a lot of comfort food. So it is that I must turn to Slimming World Free Foods Cookbook. First up- chickpea falafels (from the book) with my recipe for vegetable cous cous.

Cumin-Scented Chickpea Falafels with Vegetable Cous Cous (Serves 4)

1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
2 x 400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp finely grated ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp fresh coriander
1 small egg
Salt to season
Fry light for spraying

Cous Cous salad to serve: 200g cous cous, 400ml vegetable stock and whatever veg tickles your fancy- I used 1 small onion, half of a red pepper and a couple of stalks of asparagus.

1. Whizz up the onion, carrot, chickpeas, garlic, cumin, chilli powder and the ground and fresh coriander in a food processer (this was a bit time consuming with my teeny tiny blender bowl!) Pulse and process for 1-2 minutes or until blended, but still fairly chunky.

2. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg and add to the mixture. Season with salt and, using your fingers, mix thoroughly to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for 6-8 hours to firm up and allow the flavours to develop.

3. Preheat the oven to 200℃/400℉/Gas Mark 6. The book says to line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment and spray lightly with Fry Light (I just stuck them in a non-stick tray as below). Shape the chickpea mixture into bite-sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Spray lightly with Fry Light and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden and firm.

4. Whilst the falafels are in the oven, chop and lightly stir fry the veg (or go raw if you prefer) for the cous cous salad. Place the cous cous in a large bowl and pour over the veg stock, allow to soak in for 10 minutes or so, then fluff up with a fork and stir in the veg.

5. Remove the falfels from the oven and serve on the cous cous salad, garnished with chopped coriander.

Revel in the healthy deliciousness!