Friday, 27 March 2009

DIY Frugality

DIY is a great way to save money and it can be far simpler than you think. We live an old cottage I renovated some years ago, and our son lives in a five year old property 160 miles away. The paint on the ceiling over our shower was flaking and on son’s bathroom ceiling had also started to flake badly and where there had been a plumbing leak the water had seeped through and stained the kitchen ceiling.

If you have this sort of problem then there is an easy way around it, and it worked in both properties.

First, wearing a mask of some type if you’re working over head height, rub the flaking area with fine sand paper and remove as much of the offending areas as you can without going overboard. Then, brush on a heavy coat of PVA and leave it 24 hours, then paint over the top of it. In the case of the stained areas these were just cleaned off with a normal (gentle) surface cleaner and were not rubbed down.

If you find that there is a reaction and the surfaces you have just covered start to bubble do not panic! This happened with our son’s bathroom but as the PVA dried so the bubbles went completely down. The surface bubbled again when painted but again went completely down and many, many months later, all is still well, no flaking and no stains.

Easy and cheap, the 2.5 litres of basic PVA I bought cost less than £4 from the local DIY store. Or you could call a painter and decorator in...

Thursday, 19 March 2009

2 Frugal (Friday) Recipes from another Era

The other era is actually the early 1940s, when food rationing in the UK was in full swing and frugality tested the talents of the UK’s housewives, and hopefully a few househusbands as well. These two recipes follow the needs for those days. Those needs were for meals that were nutritious, tasty, quick and easy to make using a small number of readily available fresh ingredients and as little power as possible.

Savoury Cheese Bake
1 cup of grated cheese
1 ½ cup of breadcrumbs
1 cup of milk
1 egg
Pepper and salt for seasoning, but go easy with the salt as the cheese will already have some in it.

Warm the milk in a saucepan and add the cheese and breadcrumbs, season and allow it to soak for two minutes. Beat and add the egg, mix the ingredients well and pour into an ovenproof dish. Cook in a moderate oven until the mixture is a set golden brown.

Corned Beef Hash
1 small tin of corned beef
1 onion (sliced)
1 carrot (sliced)
1 beef stock cube dissolved in ¼ pint of water
4 potatoes

Dice and boil the potatoes for mash
Heat up some cooking oil in a frying pan and brown the sliced onion and carrot, mix the corned beef well into the stock mixture and add to the frying pan and simmer until reduced to a thick liquid. Mash the potatoes and serve pouring the hash over them.

For even greater frugality you can thinly slice the potatoes, brown them with the onion and cut down on power by not having them as mash. If it’s a meal for one, (half ingredients) and you want to be even more frugal, you can eat it straight out of the frying pan and cut down on the washing up!

These two recipes will provide meals for around 80p $1.2 per person. Nouvelle Cuisine they are not, but for those on limited budgets and ingredient availability they were perfect, and so will still be perfect.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Uses for old/used wine bottle corks... a Corking Idea?

The wine growers or bottlers names and trademarks on wine bottle corks are often a work of art, and as I hate to throw things away, I collect and reuse them wherever possible. Corks are perfect for protecting the points of sharp objects, pins, knives etc from damage or accidental personal contact, but there are other uses, for instance:

If you have any Champagne / Cava / sparkling wine corks then simply cut a slit in the top and they can be used as a place-name holder. The other place name holder uses four corks, two corks glued side to side on the lower half and glued top to bottom on the upper half so leaving a space between them for the place name.

The seed holder and spreader (I find it so much easier to just tap them out evenly rather than using my fingers) is simply a piece of old plastic pipe, cut to shape at the business end with a cork to close off the open other end. The workshop door stop, which became necessary when I changed an inward opening door for an outward opening, is simply a cork nailed to the woodwork with pin nails, small headless nails that are driven a little into the cork so they do not protrude and mark the door.

Corks make a great sanding block for small areas and tight curves, simply wrap or glue sandpaper around one. If you get fed up with having to look for the oven gloves when you are using something on the cooker, then as you can see, the corks makes a perfect insulation. If you don’t have those kitchen cabinet doors that close on their own but are fed up with the bang when yours do, then simply cut a thin slice from a cork, a kitchen knife will do this, and glue it to the inside of the door, this cuts the noise down a lot.

Double left click to see the images in greater detail.

I could go on, but I am sure you have ideas of your own.

To see what others are doing click HERE.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

It’s Frugal Friday on Thursday

Before you despair for my sanity (you may not be alone there) I know that it's Thursday, but I may be out tomorrow so here is my offering a day earlier than intended and to see what the others are doing see here.

I hate items that only have one use. Like Mrs. Average we have collections of bottles and jars that have second use potential and I will chose to purchase some goods, such as coffee, where the jar it comes in can be reused. Last week we bought four small jars of coffee rather than a large one because they fit in the fridge when filled with our home made yoghurt, (see earlier post for the recipe). But what do we do when faced with items that logically have a single use?

Several years ago I was given a battery clock that I put up in my workshop, sadly its case decided to disintegrate and I was left with the works which I put to one side.

When shopping in France recently, we live near the English Channel ports, I bought two 6 bottle (wooden) cases of table wine, but could not bring myself to burn the fronts in our fire because they looked so attractive.

Then the answer to the problems of what to do with the items came to me and you can see the result in bringing the two together in the image, double left-click to enlarge. Not only is there no waste I have a ‘new’ clock for free! Now that must be frugal.

How do you reuse the seemingly unreusable?