Sunday, 17 November 2013

Free Things to do in Liverpool

This weekend was my maiden voyage to Liverpool and I had an amazing thrifty weekend exploring the city.

I completely fell for it, so here's my top five free things to do with the snaps I took on my phone along the way:

1. Liverpool Central Library

Incredible newly refurbished library with panoramic views from the rooftop terrace and an incredible reading room that looks like something out of Harry Potter.

2. Walker Gallery

Conveniently located next door to the library. Has a great blend of old and modern art, something for everyone.

3. Liverpool World Museum

Dinosaurs, a planetarium, a 5th floor cafe with a stunning view, a man who makes life-like model birds out of peanuts and cotton wool (!), an aquarium and great exhibitions of world culture.

4. Albert Docks

Incredible juxtaposition of new and old, amazing views, tall ships, restaurants and bars galore.

5. Liverpool Maritime Musuem

Fascinating exhibits, Titanic replicas and even a u-boat sinking missile!

If you ever get the chance to go, do! Although there's much more to it than The Beetles, I can't help leaving you with this amazing jelly bean art...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Home Sweet (New) Home

Why hello there! I'm back. Complete with a new job, a new town and a new flat!

Ok so the new flat is definitely not there yet, but I'm looking forward to sharing it with you soon :)

But for now, the priority unpacking...

Home sweet home.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Summer Salad Season VI

The MacBook is still not fixed, but hope is not yet lost (and I was secretly pleased when the man in the Apple Store referred to it as 'vintage') and so we venture into the final summer salad season post, wonky photos and all. This week's salads are not for those of you who eat lunch in close proximity to your colleagues as the theme seems to be 'slightly whiffy'!

Egg and mackerel on mixed leaf salad

Pesto pasta salad - leave stirring on the pesto as late as possible to keep it tasting fresh, but you can cook the pasta and prepare the salad the night before 

Tomato and mozzarella - can't wait to start growing basil again for the perfect accompaniment to this classic salad

Healthy home made coleslaw salad - mix shredded white cabbage with grated carrot, 2tbsp plain yoghurt and a dollop of mayonnaise

Tandoori chicken - I love how the avocados take the edge off of the spice in this salad (and 6 avocados for £1 in my local green grocer makes this deliciously thrifty!)

Next time, we're onto more hearty autumn salads (and I may have my eye on a few soup recipes too!) but for now, let's enjoy the last of the warm weather :)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Broken Laptop/Instagram Weekend

My laptop appears to have given up the ghost (this may have something to do with it being a veteran of 6.5 years) but I refuse to give up on it. Whilst I attempt to rescue my poor sick computer, here's an Instagram update of my weekend...

I'm trying out this £1 night cream from Tesco and will report back on my findings

I ate far too much delicious triple chocolate shortbread

I spent a sunny afternoon in Cheltenham

I had a free Starbucks coffee with my rewards voucher (a strawberries and cream Frapuccino, in case you're wondering)

I got given a beautiful, freshly-picked pumpkin- looking forward to cooking with it this week

I enjoyed the last of the summer sunshine watching a friend compete in a triathlon

Hope you had a fun-filled weekend!

PS You can follow me on Instagram @thriftylodge

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Back to School Blues Cure - Cornflake Cakes

I spent last week in sunny Cornwall and went back to work on Monday, which felt just like the first day back at school, when you accept that summer is over and feel the long year stretching out ahead of you. There's also a chill in the air in the mornings, dew on the grass and my calendar has flipped over to September.

I therefore decided I needed comfort food and made one of the best school-age snacks; cornflake cakes!

I can't call this a recipe, as all you do is melt some chocolate over a simmering pan of water and then stir in your cornflakes (mine had gone soft, which was the perfect excuse to make cornflake cakes!), but I can tell you it tastes delicious and thoroughly recommend you get making right away...

PS I love my polka dot cake cases, but how amazing are these flower pot cake cases from Lakeland?

Monday, 2 September 2013

September Seasonal Recipe: Apple and Blackberry Crumble

The blackberries are ripening beautifully here in The Cotswolds (and especially in my 'jungle garden'), which is the perfect excuse to make an apple and blackberry crumble.

2 cooking apples
400g blackberries
50g caster sugar

150g plain flour
75g caster sugar
75g butter
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4
2. Peel, core and slice the apples and then wash and drain the blackberries
3. Pour the fruit into an ovenproof baking dish and sprinkle the caster sugar over the top
4. Sift in the flour and sugar into a clean bowl
5. Add the butter to the bowl and rub until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
6. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes or until lightly golden

Apple and blackberry crumble is a classic, but if you want to branch out further into the blackberry realm then Pinterest is full of inspiration as always. How about coconut, blackberry and lime ice cream here or some blackberry lemonade here or if you're feeling really out there, blackberry glazed salmon here.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Lemon No-bake Cheesecake

A jar of lemon curd goes a long way and is a great thrifty way to add zing to a cheesecake. This recipe also doesn't require much butter, which tends to be what makes baking expensive. It's also super quick and easy and the results taste delicious. In my opinion, this makes it the perfect summer desert.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake Recipe

For the base:
200g digestive biscuits
70g butter
30g lemon curd

For the topping:
250g marscapone cheese
150g lemon curd
1 tbsp Lemon juice

1. Place the biscuits in a sandwich bag and seal to close. Bash with a rolling pin until crushed into fine crumbs
2. Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan over low heat, then add the biscuits and lemon curd and stir until well combined
3. Line a round cake tin with greaseproof paper and pour the biscuit mix into the base, press down firmly with a potato masher and pop in the fridge
4. In a clean bowl, beat the marscapone, lemon curd and lemon juice until smooth
5. Remove the cake tin from the fridge and spoon the topping on, smoothing with the back of a spoon
6. Return to the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours

This is a super thrifty version, but if you wanted to make an impressive dinner party desert, you could double up the topping to make it taller!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Free McDonald's Frappe

McDonald's are offering a free frappe through their app at the moment. I decided this was a good chance to try one as I was skeptical about the concept of a frappe from a fast food restaurant!

To get a code, you just need to log onto the app and the offer will come up on the home screen. Once confirmed, it will be saved in the ‘voucher wallet’ to use in store.

They offer a choice of caramel and mocha, I opted for the latter as I was in the car and in need of some caffeine. It was a bit over sweet with the whipped cream and chocolate sauce they pile on top (and was probably therefore horrendously bad for me), but was not a bad effort, especially for free!

Click to download the app for iPhone or Android. Hurry though as codes expire on 29th August!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Home Made Houmous

Making your own houmous is a no-brainer. A tub of houmous costs at least £1 and a tin of chickpeas to make your own can cost as little as half of that. Plus it's fresh and you can flavour it however you like.

1 tin chickpeas
1 glug olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg

It couldn't be easier- simply drain and rinse the chickpeas, then blend with a generous glug of olive oil and seasoning until your achieve the desired consistency.

I made houmous and roast vegetable wraps with sweet potato, butternut squash and peppers:

This would make the perfect picnic lunch. Store leftover houmous in an airtight container in the fridge, where it should keep for a couple of days.

PS When I have some more time on my hands, I want to try this butternut and harissa houmous, sounds delicious!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

August Seasonal Recipe: Blackcurrant Cupcakes

It's blackcurrant season, so go forth and pick fruit! Then bring it home and make these delicious cupcakes...

Blackcurrant Cupcakes (12 servings)

110g plain flour
110g caster sugar
65g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
125g blackcurrants

For the icing:
100g butter
200g icing sugar
Handful of blackcurrants

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200℃/400℉/gas mark 6 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition
5. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir to combine
6. Spoon into the cases and bake for 20 minutes until golden
7. To make the icing, beat the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk, then add the blackcurrants by pressing through a sieve using a metal spoon
8. Spread the icing over the cupcakes when cool and decorate with a few blackcurrants to finish

Simply pop in a tin and take to work to be everybody's favourite colleague!

PS If you still have blackcurrants left over, check out these ideas

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Summer Salad Season IV

This week, I'm mixing it up a bit a bit with some picnic leftovers and also using up some veg from the fridge for five super thrifty, super tasty salads:

1. Simple mozzarella, cherry tomato and pesto

2. Grated carrot, olive and mozzarella

3. Pork pie (yes this might slightly defeat the point of eating salad)

4. Courgette

5. Couscous, red pepper and goats cheese

Happy salad making!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Free Day Out: Natural History Museum

We are lucky to have so many fantastic free attractions in our capital city. One of my favourites is the Natural History Museum which I have very fond childhood memories of, but is somehow even better as an adult. Here are my thoughts on a day at the Natural History Museum to help you plan your visit.

The first thing you see when you walk in is 'Dippy' the dinosaur, who is housed in the most amazing entrance hall:

Entrance Hall

The museum is then divided into colour zones- red (changing planet), green (earth), blue (mammals and dinosaurs) and orange (Darwin Centre). We tried to see as much as possible, but you'd need a full day there to see everything. The museum is open Monday to Sunday 10.00-17.50, which should give you plenty of time to do just that!

It was quite busy when we went, which I guess is to be expected on a Saturday in the school holidays! The dinosaurs gallery (blue zone) was particularly crowded, but you can book in advance to beat the queues or try and go on a weekday when it's a bit quieter.


Whilst the red zone is still impressive, the 'Power Within' gallery which houses the impressive earthquake simulator is closed until January 2014 and this month the 'Vision of Earth' gallery is also closed, so don't go expecting to see any of these. You can use the time saved to hang out with the mammals for a while longer in the blue zone and admire the life size model of a blue whale, whose sheer enormity never ceases to amaze me.

When you start to get hungry, I'd recommend sitting in the Wildlife Garden (orange zone) to eat lunch whilst admiring the 'cocoon' architecture of the new building. From there you're well placed to explored the Darwin Centre and, if your legs start to get tired, to take in a short film in the new Attenborough Studio.

Then it's time to admire the wildlife exhibits in the green zone before re-energising in the Central Hall Cafe, which is in a beautiful room with high ceilings. Finally, head outside to admire the 'Sensational Butterflies' temporary exhibit (tickets can be booked in advance here).

Central Hall Cafe

For other great free days out in London, I've been using the Visit London app on my iPad. Visit London allows you to filter all attractions to show free days out and to shortlist your favourite places to go. The app and website are kept up to date with daily events as well as details of hotels, parks, museums, exhibitions, stadiums, river cruises etc.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Summer Salad Season III

Still in need of summer salad inspiration? Here are five more ideas for your lunchbox this week...

1. Cheese and pickle

2. Roast potato and sweetcorn

3. Mozzarella and beetroot

5. Mushroom and goats cheese

I've seen loads of good offers on salad cheeses in the big supermarkets this week, so stock up! The goats cheese for the salad above was £1 in Tesco, but I've also seen offers on ricotta, feta and mozzarella in the last couple of days.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Super Thrifty Cheat's Potato Salad

This potato salad would be fairly thrifty at the best of times, but when you manage to grab some supermarket bargains (and these items are ones I commonly find in the reduced aisle, not just a one off), it costs just pennies!

One quarter of a tub of dip
2 spring onions
Handful of new potatoes*
Salt and pepper

*I went to thrifty extremes as I had a tin of potatoes that my Grandma had given me (don't ask why, it's a Grandma thing!) but I would recommend normal potatoes, as tinned ones are a little questionable, if very thrifty!

1. Cook and drain the potatoes (or open the tin!)

2. Dice the spring onions

3. Put the potatoes and spring onions into a bowl and mix thoroughly with the dip, season to taste

As you can see, I only paid 11p for 4 portions of dip and 11p for 3 spring onions, which makes this a pretty good way to disguise the taste of tinned potatoes make a cheat's potato salad!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Free Newspaper When You Spend £5

Waitrose have improved their newspaper offer; now when MyWaitrose card holders spend £5, they can pick up a free copy of any of the following newspapers:

Daily Telegraph
Daily Mail
The Guardian
The Sunday Telegraph
The Mail on Sunday
The Observer

So now there's something for everyone!

Although I don't usually do my weekly shop at Waitrose, I do often pop in on my lunch break for a free tea or coffee and sometimes need to pick up a few bits. I went in yesterday to grab some baking supplies (watch this space!) and picked up my free newspaper:

Although Waitrose is generally a little pricier, they do price match on a lot of items and their Essential Waitrose range tends to be competitive with Sainsburys, Tesco and the like, so if you choose carefully, you can get a free newspaper worth £2 without spending a penny more on your shopping!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ikea Pax Built-in Wardrobe Hack- Part II

So in Part I of the Ikea Pax wardrobe hack, I showed you the frames and the Komplement drawer re-sizing. In Part II, I'd like to share the clothes rail hack and the construction of the wardrobe doors and 'roof'.

Re-sizing the Komplement clothes rail was pretty straightforward, as the ends could easily be removed so that the pole could be cut to size (using a jigsaw) and then re-fitted.

These were then screwed into place. Owing to the design of the clothes rail, we needed to fit another piece of 4x2 below the frame to affix the rails to:

Designing the doors was really surprisingly difficult. We liked our original Pax Bergsbo doors because the panelling gave some interest, but we didn't want the new design to be quite as complicated (mainly because we worried that so many panels would show any imperfections). I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, eventually settling on this as my favourite style.

The doors were measured up and then transferred onto free 3D modelling software Google SketchUp to check the proportions.

Once happy with the design, we purchased the MDF from B&Q, who offer a free wood cutting service in their larger stores. We had them cut the 24mm sheets for the doors to size and also a 6mm sheet into strips for the detailing. This is it all laid out (we did the final cut on the strips ourselves as this was fairly straightforward and allowed us to make it fit perfectly):

Each strip was glued and pinned into place using lost head nails, we then left them to set under every heavy object we could find and crossed our fingers that they'd stay stuck down:

Happily, they turned out pretty OK and were then ready to seal (with watered down PVA glue), prime and paint (apologies for the strange picture below!)

The doors and frames are painted in Little Greene 'Clockface' intelligent emulsion. We opted for butterfly hinges (from eBay) as we were worried that butt hinges would make all the measurements too difficult and result in gaps around the doors and I'm really pleased with the visual interest that they add.

The final step was the 'roof', which sits on top of the frame; we decided there was no need for glue or screws on this, providing the fit was good. To allow a bit of airflow, we used a router to cut two holes in the roof, as below and then slotted the roof into place.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the result. The wardrobes are a real focal point in the room and maximise the available space, well worth the hard work!