Egg Yolk Cake. + Rhubarb Egg Tart.

Two recipes, because we need something to do with all those egg whites after the yolks are used up in the cake! All of this is absolutely terrible for you, whatever diet you are or aren’t on.

Yolk Cake.

Ingredients.

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 200ml extra thick double cream
  • 300g mixed white and icing sugar
  • 300g flour and raising agents
  • a dash of vanilla

Utensils.

  • mixing bowl and whisk
  • greased or nonstick cake tin

Recipe.

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. Mix together the egg yolks, egg, sugar, cream and vanilla into a smooth paste is formed.
  3. Fold the flour in gently.
  4. Mix in any raising agents.
  5. Pour into the cake tin.
  6. Bake for 30min. A skewer should come out without residue, but still be sticky to touch.
  7. Leave to finish cooking in its own heat.
  8. Jon says that keeping it in a tupper is essential to preserving stickiness.

Rhubarb Tart.

Ingredients.

For the crust:

  • 150g flour
  • 100g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • cinnamon to taste

For the filling:

  • 8 egg whites
  • 300g rhubarb stems
  • 250ml double cream
  • 5tbsp sugar
  • 1tsp thin vanilla extract

Utensils.

  • 2 mixing bowls with forks
  • whisk
  • greased or nonstick tart tin

Recipe.

  1. Mix the pastry ingredients into a firm dough.
  2. Press into a cake tin and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  5. Fold in the cream and whisk some more.
  6. Stir in the sugar and vanilla.
  7. Clean and chop the rhubarb stems.
  8. Place in the tart base.
  9. Pour the egg mix on top, ensure even and flat distribution.
  10. Bake at 160C until firm, puffed up, a little brown on top but still jiggly.
  11. Leave to cool before slicing.

It was a way of using up a few eggs and some cream, I suppose. Probably also two of the most fattening dishes I ever make. Oh well. At least they’re cheap. 😛

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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The Garden Haul Comes In.

Interrupting the recipes for a quick update on the garden foods.

Well, we’re not quite there yet. Beans are not yet ripe, neither are tomatoes. Still got plenty of greens to harvest, as well as around 4/5 of the potatoes. The carrots and beets and turnips could do with another growth spurt too. But both in preparation for moving and because things ripen at different speeds, a load of stuff has already been coming in.

The raspberry bushes. Not actually “ours”. Wild-seeded.

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Raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrant jam prep.

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This year’s attempt at restocking the jam supplies. Got blackberry jam to make soon, then elderberry jam and apple sauce. Hopefully plum jams, but we don’t grow our own so that depends on overstock from neighbours.

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Just a little peek into the top of our bag of frozen blackberries. Pretty much every time I’ve gone out, I’ve been picking early blackberries and freezing them. The picture doesn’t show it well, but the bag has around 1.5-2L of blackberries in it. They will need rinsing from frozen, defrosting gently, adding to however many fresh ones I can gather as September advances, then stewing down for more jams!

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The very last batch of rhubarb. Probably going to be a tart, or maybe a sweet sauce for topping a flan. Now’s time to move the plant roots into pots, to move down to our new place, ready to plant out next Spring.

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Around 1/10 of the potatoes, because we ate half of this batch before I took a photo. Digging them up 1/5 at a time, starting with the shallow ones, to prevent parasites and rot from getting them first. They’re possibly the starchiest potatoes I have ever had. 😀

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And finally some of the greens we are growing. No pesticides, so a bit nibbled, but fine to eat.

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Here are some fresh greens, early beans and herbs being prepped for a stew.

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In short, the garden is serving us well this year.

Sadly my pea plants were not as robust as the beans, though, and produced only a handful of pods before succumbing to the sun during my week of absence. There’s always next year, though!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

5 Things You Can Make For A Baby.

I know, it’s been forever since I posted regularly. But there’s been a wedding, a load of jam to make and far too much baby stuff to catch up on. Should be back to blogging now though!

Anyways, here are five things I plan on making for our baby. None are truly bare essentials as in I could buy them at a store or DIY them some other way. But sewing saves money, reduces stress and keeps me from buying every cute thing I see. So if you’re going through the same acquisition urges, here are five things you can make, rather than buy, to save some money and spare your sanity.

1: A nappy bag.

Retail price: From the stats used in my WIP “Baby Budget Diary” book, the average nappy bag costs £50.

Materials cost: Nothing so far! I had almost everything I am using from ages ago and I am repurposing a lot of freebies.

I know I don’t need to make one. A sports bag can be grabbed for a couple of £ and the gods know it’s simpler. But every single penny I can save is a lifesaver when it comes to this new budget book project, and, to be honest, I kind of want a cute, personal nappy bag.

2: Sleep sacks.

Retail price: £20 a piece, total £120 for the first year. I’m gonna faint.

Materials cost: £3.50, and only that high because Jon and I fell in love with this Doctor Who print sheet fabric. Is Doctor Who gender-neutral? Yes, it is. Shhh…

If you want your Winter baby to be as warm as possible and sleep safely blanket-free, you will need sleep sacks. We actually bought a second hand one for £1.50, but usually they cost over £5 even second hand, and I’d rather make some nice, personal, robust ones that can be used by the babies to come.

3: Flannel wipes.

Retail price: From my Baby Budget Diary statistics, a year of disposable wipes costs £310.70 on average.

Materials cost: £0. Free felt and fleece!

Well worth making, for many reasons. Firstly, you have to use cotton and warm water on a baby anyway for the first few months. Secondly, it’s £310.70. Thirdly, all you need is to cut nice big squares of plush fabric, big enough to cover your hand, and probably around 50 of them. You can make them pretty as well and hem them, but the basic is cutting. I will likely be done in an afternoon when I sit down to do this. Couple of days if I decide to sew. Might even drag out the sewing machine!

4: Bibs and burp cloths.

Retail price: According to my Baby Budget Diary stats, £15 average for the first year.

Materials cost: £5 for the bits I’ll use.

I actually spent £20 total on all the fabric I bought this last month. But not all of it is for bibs and rags. Not all of it is even for the baby! Around £5 will go into bibs and rags. So it’s not cheap. But they’re easy to make. Great if you need stress relief. Probably not worth it if you don’t like sewing.

5: Stuffed toys.

Retail price: The average baby’s first Christmas costs £272. Assuming an even four way split between stuffed toys, rattles and travel toys, books and educational tech, that’s £68 on stuffed toys for year one.

Materials cost: Will probably use around £10 worth of fabric at the most.

Stuffed toys are awesome to make. They can be super-cute, you know they’re safe, they are completely personal to your child, you know how to fix them when they break… just win, win, win!

So there you have it, five things I will be making for my baby. I will try and make travel pillows, lactation pads and swaddling blankets as well, but they’re not quite as exciting to talk about.

What things do you like making for babies and kids in the family?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… make some quick Christmas treats.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone is a bit pressed for time this season. So what’s worse than remembering you have no goodies to give guests or passersby? Of course, we can always buy a few, but if you want to stand out and cut costs in a relatively stress-free manner, here are some super quick treats to make.

1: Shaped Flapjacks.

Simple, quick, can add as much or as little as you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • an equal balance of wet and dry fillers

Recipe:

  1. Mash all the wet ingredients together.
  2. Fold in the dry and stir until smooth.
  3. Pour out into a flat baking tray.
  4. Bake until firm but springy.

Then, just use a cookie cutter to cut them into adorable shapes!

2: Cocoa Dusted Meringues.

Meringues are actually really easy to make and the cocoa dusting makes them extra luxurious.

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 175 caster sugar
  • 2tsp sweetened or unsweetened cocoa powder

Recipe:

  1. Heat the oven to 140C.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until peaks form, but its still smooth.
  3. Slowly whisk in the sugar.
  4. Place dollops on baking paper on a baking tray. Put in the until pale and dry.
  5. Air cool. Lightly sieve cocoa over the top.

To mix and match, try making cocoa or caramel meringues and dusting with white chocolate.

3: Woven Biscuit Baskets.

More of an arts and crafts than a culinary crafts person? Make some simple sugar cookies and cutesy them up by handing them out in these adorable baskets!

Link.

4: Cute Biscuit Jar.

Or you could also look up some cute ways of decorating mason jars and candle jars to become snack-containers to give to friends and family.

5: Snowman Ice-Cream.

An adorable pudding you don’t need to make on the day!

Instructions:

  1. Roll out two or three differently sized ice cream balls per snowman. Pick a pale ice cream!
  2. Stack them up.
  3. Use raisins or chocolate chips for the eyes and buttons, maybe the mouth.
  4. Use strips of candy and fruit for a scarf and the mouth if you didn’t do it in raisins or chocolate chips.
  5. Use a round slice of chocolate wafer and a round chocolate (like a peanut butter cup) for a hat.
  6. Use thin slices of wafer for arms.
  7. Put back in the freezer until needed!

6: Festive Fruit And Cheese.

For something simple and adorable, make a festive cheese board.

Instructions:

  1. Lay out crackers and sliced hard cheeses in triangles until you’ve formed a tree.
  2. Sprinkle crumbly cheese for snow on the ground.
  3. Make a snowy log of goat’s cheese.
  4. Decorate your tree with half grapes (baubles) and ribbons of apple and pear (streamers).

And those are a few quick snacks to hand guests at parties and passing friends these holidays! Cute, cheap, festive, simple.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 Cleaning Tricks To Save Time And Money.

Keeping on top of household cleaning usually either takes a significant time investment or costs some money to outsource some of the work, either by paying for labour or by buying a fancy gadget. But there are a few tricks to making the most of what you already have and what you can buy cheaply to save a lot of time.

1: Vinegar and newspaper.

Uses: Cleaning windows and tiles, deodorizing fridges and vegetable boxes, killing mold and reducing the effects of mildew.

How: Spray vinegar water on dirty windows and tiles and wipe with newspaper. Wrap fruits and vegetables in slightly vinegary newspaper. Layer the fridge drawer or vegetable box with newspaper. Spray moldy and mildewed items and areas with vinegar.

Pros: Cheap, easy, you probably have some at home already.

Cons: Everything smells of vinegar, at least for a while.

2: Silica damp absorbers.

Uses: Preventing damp, mold and mildew, reducing the intensity of smells.

How: Place anywhere where condensation occurs.

Pros: Highly effective at controlling damp and related issues.

Cons: Can be pricey if your home is very damp and you use many.

3: Old t-shirts.

Uses: Dish rags, dusters, shoe and leather polishers.

How: Cut into hand-sized squares and write its use with permanent marker, to prevent mixups.

Pros: Cheap and easy.

Cons: You need old t-shirts to do this.

4: Shower time.

Uses: Washing delicates, large items and heavy items.

How: Pre-soak in the bath or shower, when you shower take a moment to scrub and rinse the items.

Pros: Saves some time and stops you getting your clothes wet.

Cons: Need to assign extra time to the shower and have somewhere to store the items until you can wash them.

5: Caustic soda crystals.

Uses: Unblocking drains, stain removal, limescale removal.

How: Apply carefully to the problem area, don’t get them on your skin, leave to soak and then rinse.

Pros: Quick and effective cleaning.

Cons: You have to buy caustic soda crystals, they can be hazardous to people and animals.

6: Thick bleach.

Uses: Stain removal, smell removal, whitening, mildew tackling.

How: Use neat for big issues, dilute for smaller ones. Apply and let dry. For fabrics, rinse.

Pros: Really cleans.

Cons: Slight yellowing of fabrics. Strong smell. Hazardous to people and animals.

7: Lemon juice.

Uses: Adding shine, clean fragrance and removing mineral residue.

How: Use newspaper or a cloth to apply lemon juice to a dull tile, a smelly item or something affected by limescale. Leave to dry on.

Pros: Cheap, you probably have it, great smell.

Cons: Possibly an allergen.

8: Walnuts.

Uses: Shining wood, reducing the appearance of scratches.

How: Rub the kernel of a walnut over dull or damaged wood.

Pros: The oils protect the wood, add shine and don’t cause harm.

Cons: Topups will be required. Potential allergen.

9: Like with like.

Uses: Removing grime, gum, grease or sticky residue.

How: Find a substance that is made of a similar thing to your stain. Use it to gently blend and lift the stain. White wine for red wine, peanut butter for gum or chocolate, olive oil for bacon grease. Then, gently dry the item.

Pros: Removes the substance most efficiently.

Cons: Will still leave some residue. Generally not suitable for fabrics.

10: Boiling water.

Uses: Cleaning floors, fabrics, furniture, dishes, pans, etc.

How: Pour boiling water directly onto the item or into a bucket from which you can use a sponge on a stick or a mop to clean the item.

Pros: Lifts grease, kills bacteria, evaporates quickly leaving little water, cleans stains and gunk.

Cons: Some items may be too sensitive for boiling water. You could get burned.

And those are ten tricks I use to make cleaning cheaper, easier and faster.

What are your favourite cleaning tricks?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

9 Insanely Cheap Online Shops!

Everyone loves a good bargain. And I for one am happy to use charity shops, reduced-price sections of supermarkets, value high-street retailers and farmer’s markets to try and get everything at an awesome price.

But what about the savvy online shopper? And what about items you can’t find in your home town? I’m sure you’ve already got your own go-to websites or stores for certain things but, just in case, I’m sharing nine incredibly cheap online shops with you!

1: Hidden Fashion.

Hidden Fashion - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Hidden Fashion is a UK clothes store that sells all sorts of fashionable, current clothing for men, women and children. They do deliver worldwide, but expect to be charged by the kilo, which could add up outside of Europe!

They seem to work with high street surplus, so the quality goes up and down depending on the season and where they got it from, sort of like 99p stores, if you’re familiar with them. There is a lot of variety and the sorting tool makes it easy to find whatever you want.

Their clothes are some of the cheapest I’ve seen around, at £5 or less for everything. I wouldn’t use it for anything fancy as you may not get the best quality, but for one-off items and everyday wear I would definitely recommend it. Delivery costs for the UK start at £2.99, so really you’re paying £4-8 per item, but when you can get leggings or shoes for £1, it’s probably worth it.

2: Nut Site.

NutSite - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Another thing that can get expensive in stores are seeds, nuts and grains. It seems the little packets come with a surcharge that makes them crazily expensive, but at the same time nobody buys them in large enough quantities to drop the price.

Nut Site is a US based wholesaler for nuts, seeds, candy, you name it. Pretty much everything in bulk. Which means that as long as you’re happy to deal with 10kg of peanuts, you can save a good few dollars compared to in-store prices.

As far as I can see, they don’t offer free delivery. But if you try and make a purchase from them, please tell me what delivery options they have and how reasonable the pricing is!

3: Buy Whole Foods Online.

Buy Wholefoods Online - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And if you’re from the UK, definitely try out this site. It’s basically the same deal as Nut Site, except I actually have personal experience shopping there and they’re great.

They have a wide variety of nuts, seeds, legumes and grains, as well as organic foods and specialist products, all at next-to wholesale prices. They offer free delivery on UK orders over £30 and deliver to various European countries, with free deliver on orders over £100.

The delivery service is fast and trackable and the quality of the foods is excellent, especially when you can buy crushed nuts and seeds to cut your costs.

4: A’Gaci.

A'Gaci - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

A’Gaci is a US-based store that sells reasonable quality womens’ clothing. They have some high street stores, but if you’re not near any of them, you may not know about their clothing.

The lines are fashionable and, whilst the prices aren’t exactly dead cheap, you can get top-end quality for mid-range prices. Shopping online with them is apparently very easy and the delivery costs are reasonable even for small purchases. Though, be warned, they only deliver to mainland USA, that is, excluding Hawaii and Alaska.

5: 5.99 Fashion.

5.99 Fashion - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

For a middle ground, try out 5.99 Fashion. Every item besides the sale is $5.99! They have a good range of surplus clothing that is often trendy and comfortable. And the sale area lowers the prices even further, down to $0.99!

They also stand out as a clothing store that not only offers womens’, mens’ and kids’ clothes, but also plus-sized clothing (up to 4XL and 18 tops and size 24 bottoms, as of writing this) which is all at the same reasonable price, often present in the sale area and just as cute, fashionable and suitable as the regular sizes. They also offer free returns and exchanges, to make any less flattering purchases that little bit less embarrassing and expensive.

6: Everything £5.

Everything 5 Pounds - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

For a similar, UK-based store, check out Everything £5, where, you guessed it, everything besides sale items will be exactly £5! Again, there are some delivery costs, so it all depends on the weight, but even a few pairs of boots, which would be quite heavy, come up at flat delivery, so you’d probably have to be buying a crate to make delivery expensive.

And it’s another site with reasonable plus sized clothing at the same price as regular sizes, in fashionable cuts and up to 4XL, or UK size 44. So if you’re a British plus sized woman, this store will offer you the same benefits as 5.99. The only difference is that their policy on refunds doesn’t seem quite so kind!

7: Tesco clearance.

Tesco Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Another thing worth checking out is the clearance sections of supermarkets and general stores. Not the reduced aisles, the clearance on their online stores! You can snap up some straight-out-the-warehouse bargains alongside your grocery shop by checking out Tesco’s online clearance section!

8: Walmart clearance.

Walmart Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And if you’re from the USA, have no fear: Walmart also has its own online clearance section for you to peruse a couple of times a week.

9: Argos clearance.

Argos Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And for all sorts of random things, have a look at Argos’ clearance sections. After all, if you’re shopping at Argos anyway, it’s no trouble to sneak a peek at the clearance!

And those are nine online stores where you can get all sorts of awesome stuff cheaply and save your family money on clothes, household goods and expensive groceries.

Where do you like to shop online? Have any hidden bargain stores you’re just dying to share? Please mention any! And feel free to share your experience shopping at any of the above stores. All input appreciated. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 Ways To Get Cheap And Cute Clothes.

Regardless of how we want to dress, we all want to dress nicely. And dressing nicely can easily become expensive. On the other hand, all my clothing, including shoes, suit clothes and a fur coat, cost me around £100, at my closest estimate. I recently overhauled some of my wardrobe thanks to Hearthie’s expert advice and got seven new tops and a pair of shoes for £7. And I feel pretty cute in all of it, to be honest.

And the truth is, cheap cute clothes didn’t stop when your older sister had her last growth spurt and have to give you that perfect, tags-new dress for free. There are still loads of ways of getting adorable clothes at low prices.

The first five are for the unadventurous, those with little time or those wary about germs and bacteria.

1: Charity Shops.

This is where I get most of my clothes. The reasons being that it’s quick and easy to nip in whilst you’re about town, you can browse a wide variety of clothes and usually try them on first, it’s going towards a good cause and they’re cheap.

Some people are concerned about hygiene, but, as someone who volunteers at one and has been round the back of many others: they have this thing called a “steamer”. It’s like a cross between an iron and a hoover which they use to clean and iron all clothes. The steam is so hot that light exposure could easily scar you. Anything obviously soiled or that smells when we steam it is thrown into the rag pile. So yes, they’re clean!

Example.

2: Vouchers.

An easy way to get brand new clothes at discount or even insanely cheap prices is to use vouchers. It’s up to you how far you go. You could go for 10% off, or work out which vouches you can use in conjunction and whether you can use them with any other discounts or during a sale.

There is also a surprising number of vouchers available online, so if you’re short of them, try searching for the store and “voucher” or “coupon” online. You’re bound to turn out some reasonable results.

Example.

3: eBay.

If you want brand new clothes and are short of vouchers or reasonably-priced stores, you can always turn to eBay for your every clothing need. With a simple search function, easy categories and clear pricing, you’re bound to find what you want, brand new, at the lowest price available.

Example.

4: Wholesale and Clearance.

You can do this in stores and warehouse sales, but it’s far more convenient to do it online. If you are happy to sell on any surplus, some stockists do sell-offs of orders that weren’t collected, oversupply or just small wholesale jobs for the odd customer.

The other option is clearance, either from a warehouse or a regular store. The clothes may be out of season, not selling or just the last in the batch, but you can find some amazingly good deals on trendy, seasonal and brand new clothes when you work out where to look for them.

Example.

5: Presents.

This one is fairly simple. Over the year or over the months leading up to your birthday or Christmas, compose a list of items you would rather not spend money on and drop hints or directly give it to your relatives when the celebration is getting near. That way anyone who wasn’t sure what to get you can contribute to your wardrobe. Another way is simply saying that when you get gifts, you love to get shoes, scarves or something trendy for the season and see what they surprise you with!

The next five ways of getting good clothes on the cheap are for the more adventurous and crafty. They may be messy, hard work or a little more questionable.

6: Swap Shops.

These are gaining popularity, but sometimes viewed with caution. Basically, you show up with clothes, get a sticker for every item you donate and then put the stickers on any item you see that you want. There is always the risk that there will be nothing you like, rarely will be dressing rooms and can become a mess. But, if you’re trying to completely change your wardrobe, it may be the best way!

Example.

You can also go for the online experience, which is cleaner and easier.

Example.

7: Volunteer.

I’d recommend volunteering at charity shops, clothes banks or rag merchants. Often anything that doesn’t sell is available to staff at discount rates. You can also buy assorted items sent for the rag heap at rag prices, which are usually a few pence a kilo, making a shirt only 20 or 50p. If anything is damaged you will have to bear that in mind, but often the only thing wrong is that nobody bought it on time, or someone put it into a rag bag rather than donate it to charity.

Example.

8: Updo.

Regardless of where you got them, you can also improve, mend or freshen old clothes to make them look better, turning something free or very cheap into something you would have paid good money for.

You can take plain t-shirts and add some sparkle to them, turn trousers into shorts or skirts, mend holes and tears and basically turning something drab or broken into something wearable.

Example:

Stripy fabric cut into a skull-shaped patch, tartan fabric, beads, silver thread and cross stitch. Shorts from cutoff jeans and tartan fabric.

Plain top decorated with stripy fabric cut into a skull-shaped patch, tartan fabric, beads, silver thread and cross stitch.
Shorts from cutoff jeans and tartan fabric.

9: Freebies.

This one is where most people will draw the line. Basically because, unlike charity shop items, new clothes or hand-me-downs, you don’t really know if something free is clean, hygienic or in good condition.

Generally, if you can check it first you will see any serious problems and if you wash it when home it’s fine. Try finding things on freebie websites and learn when, where and from whom to buy. Just as you’d be happy with a pillow from a neighbour, but not one left outside a university dorm, there are places and people to accept freebies from.

Example.

10: D.I.Y.

And the final option is to just make whatever you want. There are thousands of awesome patterns and tutorials out there, teaching you how to do everything from crochet to making a ballgown. So hone your crafty skills, because you’ll soon get bitten by the crafty bug and not know when to stop!

Examples:

So those are the top ten ways of getting the clothes you want at the price you want. Beauty was never so affordable!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What is your top thrifty shop? Where do you go when you want something cheap and cute? All hints, tips and ideas welcome. 🙂