Monday, 11 February 2013

Cooking, Cleaning and Cash Generation!

Frugal February Continues

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who has kindly contributed to the Port to Fort Challenge. We are sticking rigidly to our fitness plan and, thanks to all the helpful advice, suggestions, recommendations, eBay, Regatta Outlet and the donations we have received so far towards the lifeboat fund, it is making it a most exciting and enjoyable challenge. Photos of the preparations can be found in the events section of McGonks' Facebook page here. It's a public page, so you can ignore the registration process if you don't want to join the site but still enjoy following our exploits to get fit enough to climb a mountain. Friend reckons we should take posh frocks and stilettos for the photo shoot at the summit, but I'm not too sure about that, as much fun as it may sound! :)

We are now approaching the £200 mark with the donations count, so please help spread the word that we can accept gifts/donations directly through PayPal by sending to or else by using the dedicated donations page via If you 'donate' via the page, PayPal charges for the transaction If you 'gift' directly, there is no fee, so the full amount can be transferred to PIRSAC lifeboat. As they say at the harbour, 'HELP KEEP THE BOAT AFLOAT'.

But I can't overlook the frugal living, so onwards and upwards with that campaign. Febrary, in similar fashion to January, can be an expensive month. Starting the year with £3,000 to pay for everything was a huge decision, but it is one that I do think can be achieved. There's no rent or mortgage to be paid and the council tax is not included within my £3,000 budget becauseit's simply not negotiable - it needs to be paid.

I've just renewed the household insurance and was pleasanty surprised when the quote arrived at approximately £165 for annual buildings and contents insurance for two of us. Had I still owned a car, I could also have taken advantage of the free AA Roadside Recovery option it offered! My fingers are crossed that the £38.38 cashback processes, but TCB is already showing that the transaction has been recorded.

Over the weekend, I made three batches of muffins - plain/vanilla, sultana and chocolate. It was a bit of a pest, as I could make only half a dozen at a time, having just the one small muffin tray, a silicone one I got secondhand, that holds only 6 cakes. Despite how UNFRUGAL it may sound, I don't mind the oven being on for three loads of baking - it helps heat the otherwise freezing kitchen - but I do object to not being able to batch bake. Amazon got another visit, where I found a 12-muffin silicone tray for a mere £3.53 and the offer of free delivery. Surely it must be a mistake? I've ordered one and paid using gift vouchers that I've saved from my Topcashback transactions and will let you all know if the offer is genuine and if the muffin tray is full size. (While checking my TCB account, I discovered another £15.98 available to claim, so that should be on its way soon. Excellent!)

Next on the agenda - laundry duty! I had completely run out of laundry liquid and had resorted to ordering a pack of detergent from Approved Food - Radion Washing Powder 800g for 99p - but I think it still works out more expensive than homemade. Now that the stove has been fitted, I can get back to boiling up a batch on the stove top without worrying about excessive electricity useage, so that is what I am currenty doing. I've just grated in the bar of soap and the place smells of lavender and teatree.

There's a load of washing in the machine in the hope that the rain stays away and lets me get it out on the line, but the airer can now be set up in the same room as the stove, so things aren't quite as bad as they have been. In fact, they are looking positively positive. I just need to organise all my crafting materials and move them into the 'new' room so I have, at last, got a dedicated workspace. On the subject of crafting materials, which involves the McGonks project, I would like to extend special thanks to Debbie B. from Dagenham for sending me a parcel of assorted wools and 'glitter brads' which are going to be put to good use for an order of 'goth McGonks' that I need to make. I have managed to source offcuts of black fur from eBay and it arrived at the weekend, so I'm all set for my next McGonk mission.

The chest freezer needs defrosted and inspected. A friend has emailed me a set of diagrams (sourced online) so I can check for drip trays and drains, as the problem seems to be water running from beneath the freezer, despite it still appearing to be fully frozen inside. Fingers crossed that it's something as simple as an overflowing drip tray! In all honesty, I would prefer the freezer be relocated to the outbuilding, but that depends entirely on whether or not my housesharing friend wants a freezer in what will become his studio workspace.

There have been no inbound telephone calls since setting up the new phones and I didn't make any out-going calls over the weekend. I did, however, remember to charge the batteries for the required 24 hours before plugging them in and testing to see they worked OK. The intercom button worked but nobody picked up the second handset when I tried it. I wonder why? :)

I'm now really hopng the weather improves soon as it seems about time to start focussing a little more attention on the garden. It is looking really neglected. The gate has been getting left open to allow the ducks into it so they have done a fair job of rooting about under the fruit bushes but the amount of rain and freezing winds has done nothing to tempt me any further than the greenhouse, so far. The worms in the wormery seem to be thriving in there and they were all looking foarly active this week, so they got a layer of peelings to start work on and produce me some worm juice for the seedlings that have come through over the winter.

Right, this was supposed to be just a brief update, but has turned into a saga. Apologies for that. I hope everyone is well and that you are all getting into the mood for switching from winter sewing to spring sowing. I have all my seeds at the ready, do you?



  1. Glad your fundraising is going well, hope you reach the £200 soon. I have been very lucky this last few weeks, I won a gift voucher from Joanna Sheen and a hamper of craft goodies in a competition. they said it was valued at £50 but have added it all up and its over £150 ! This means I have lots of things to pay forward to my favourite fundraisers at various charities. I cant wait to see the goth McGonks and will be first in the queue as Im a goth.

    Was just sat here with a muffin recipe in front of me wondering how to do a huge batch with a 6 tin muffin tray when I read your blog and remembered I bought a big silicone tray a few weeks ago - so thank you for helping me x

  2. Great price on the muffin tins; you will be able to bake 18 at once. Muffins and oatmeal (porridge) are among the mainstays of a frugal life, really. I use the universal recipe for muffins out of Tightwads Gazette, great for using up odds and ends.

  3. well, got the seeds - just need the weather!

  4. Muffin tray arrived today, it's a dark blue one and full size, so no more worrying that the price reflected a mini muffin tray :) Very happy with my purchase and can now make 6 each of plain, chocolate and toffee, as that's the varieties of cheap, bulk bought mixes I have. :)

  5. Hiya with your laundry liquid do you use a seperate pan and grater for this job or do you just use the ones you would prepare food and cook with? Also what size is the pan you use? many thanks Dawn x

    1. Hi Dawn, I use an ordinary food grater for the soap and a stock pot for 'cooking' it all together. Nothing toxic in it as you can use similar recipe for washing-up liquid. :)


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