Tag Archives: frugal

Fun, free and family things to do…

I don’t about you, but my family is still feeling the financial squeeze.  The news might be full of economic recovery, but just at the moment, we aren’t necessarily feeling financially flush.   We still want to have fun together at the weekend, but the budget doesn’t stretch to a theme park or a meal out in a restaurant.  So, what can we all do together which is free and fun.


Now, I don’t have children yet, but I hope that will change soon, and I still like doing stuff with my Godchildren and other children belonging to friends and family.  So here is a selection of ideas which will cost minimum money and create maximum fun.

egg and spoons

1. Organise a day at the races, without leaving home.  3 legged races, sack races, egg on a spoon race, wheel barrow race – anything like that.  If you want to, and the weather is decent, then you can have a picnic in the back garden, play a bit of full garden tennis or croquet, make the day a teddy bear’s picnic and then perhaps end the day with a barbecue, or roasting marshmallows and making smores over a fire pit or chimnea.  That sounds so much fun.  I want to do this right now!


2.  Scavenger hunts are not just for Easter.  You could write up some clues and hide stuff around the garden and then whoever finds most items gets a prize.  Or how about going for a walk around the neighbourhood with a list of things to look for?  You can tick them off the list as you find them.   Or you could go for a walk in the country and look for stuff to use for rainy crafty afternoons.


3.  What about getting out into your local neighbourhood?  Check out online if there are any community organisations which needs some extra hands.


4.  If the weather is good, have a water fight in the back yard.  Take the dog to the park and throw balls for them.  Teach the dog a new trick (good behaviour only), visit a farm, build a back yard fort or a dog house, or maybe set up some wildlife hotels for the creepy crawlies which might inhabit your garden.

playing cards

5.  If the weather is rubbish, then time to sit down with a family jigsaw or the favourite board game.  Maybe play on the Nintendo Wii and have a bowling or golfing tournament.  You could also break out the packs of cards and play fish, or snap, or even poker (but only using matchsticks!).


6.  Dig out your old favourite DVDs and have a movie afternoon.  I personally LOVE Star Wars marathons, or perhaps watching lots and lots of Criminal Minds.  I have series 1-8 on DVD and for some reason, watching the FBI catch serial killers is very relaxing!


7. You could rearrange a room or two if you have the will and the energy.  Maybe swop some of the furniture in one room for that of another.  Or perhaps swop the children’s rooms over if everyone is agreeable.


8.  How about baking something?  Or creating a romantic candlelit dinner, or doing up a piece of furniture that is desperate for some care and attention.  Maybe have friends over for a meal, or even drive to a pick your own farm to collect a load of strawberries and then come home and make jam.

kite flying

9.  You could go on a bike ride, fly a kite, watch some birds from the conservatory, attend an auction (but be careful with waving your hands), go out with your digital camera and see what cool camera angles you can come up with for normal stuff.


10.  Start a book club, have a craft day at home with the favourite craft, make homemade cards, start researching your family tree (but be careful; that can get expensive if you go to the wrong websites!), write a letter to someone, or even write silly doggerel verse poems to each other.


There.   I can’t wait to try them all!




What can Onions do for us?

Continuing with the theme I decided on for this week, I was in my kitchen last night cooking dinner (chicken and mushroom risotto if you are interested!) and as I was weeping over the onions, as I always do… I wondered whether they are good for anything else other than flavouring food and clearing my tear ducts out regularly.

3 onions

But first, what types of onions are there out there?  I am sure there are thousands of different types of them, but the four sorts which get used most in my kitchen are the brown onions, Spanish red onions, Spring onions (also known as scallions or green onions) and Shallots.  I use brown onions most regularly because they are inexpensive and easily procured from the supermarket I frequent.  I love using Spanish red onions as well due to the colour they add to the dishes I cook, and the fact that I love to eat a rainbow for the boost in antioxidants we get.  Spring onions are essential in salads and I love to use them in any stir fries we may have (and apparently their green tops are a great source of Vitamin A, so I need to use them more than throw them out!).  Shallots are the cordon bleu onion.  Posh recipes always have shallots in the ingredients, and the reason is that they have the best flavour.  They are therefore difficult to source at a reasonable price, but they are eminently growable!  (I might have a look in my seed catalogue.  You know.  For research purposes.  Ahem.)

spring onions

So, onions are ever present in cooking, frugal and taste great, but can they help your health?  Well, yes, they really can.  I was surprised to find out that they are a member of the lily family, and that the Phytochemicals in them improve the working of Vitamin C which gives you improved immunity to bugs and colds.  Onions also contain chromium which helps to regulate blood sugar.

red onions

Onions have been used for centuries to reduce inflammation and to heal infections.  Raw onion encourages the production of good cholesterol (ie HDL) and this helps to keep your heart healthy.  Onions have a compound called Quercetin which is known to play a significant role in preventing cancer.  That is huge.


Apparently onions scavenge free radicals, reducing the risk of stomach ulcers, which has got to be a good thing, and if you ever get bitten by a honeybee (because they bite, they don’t sting!), put onion juice on the area for immediate relief from the pain and burning sensation.


I shall be looking at onions a little differently when I use them.  And perhaps not curse the eye pain and tears they give me!

What can Oats do for us?

For the first time in nearly 5 weeks, this morning I was struck down by a case of writers block.  I HATE that feeling of looking despairingly at a blank screen thinking “what on EARTH am I going to write”.

writers block

So, I took off to the kitchen, did some dishes, made some breakfast, poured myself a coffee and thought about a good topic.  I am clearly having one of those indecisive kinds of days, because I was looking around for breakfast possibilities and I was going through the usual list.  Cereal, Toast, Eggs.  Nothing really lit my fire.  So, I thought “Oats.  That will do”.

Aha!  My neurons began firing and I thought “I wonder what oats can do for us?” Off to do some online research.  (Isn’t Google utterly fabulous?!)

oats 1

We all know that Oats are a great source of fibre.  Apparently, because it is a source of soluble fibre it promotes heart health, but it is also a source of insoluble fibre and that helps the old digestive system.  These things can seriously pack a punch!

Oats are carbohydrates with a low Glycaemic Index which means they provide a source of slow burning energy.  You basically get more bang for your calories.  As they fill you up, it can really help with weight control.  They are also wholegrains.  Wholegrains are AWESOME for the body.  Great for anti-cancer and anti-heart disease diets, and the best thing is, it doesn’t matter how you eat them.  Just eat them.  Quick oats, pin oats, instant oats, rolled oats, they are ALL oats.

rolled oats

Oats have been proven to reduce blood cholesterol, they contain loads of vitamins and minerals (including being a fabulous source of manganese) and to boot they are convenient and quick.  What is there not to love!

Oats are frugal and a great way of adding texture to food; they work in meat dishes, pancakes, muffins, breads, all kinds of things to make the expensive ingredients go that bit further.

tablespoon of oats

Oats can also make an appearance in your beauty routine.   It is a gentle exfoliant, so if you put a teaspoon of oats in some facewash all those dead skin cells which make your skin look a little dull will come sloughing off and you will look radiant!  Also, if you or your children are suffering with a rash or itchy skin (like eczema, chicken pox, nappy rash, all of the above – poor kid!) you can make a bath bag using a muslin cloth.  In the middle of the cloth, put a tablespoon of oats, gather the cloth up and secure it with string or an elastic band, and then put it under the taps so the oats gets wet.  The bath water will get a little milky, and it is that substance which will help the itches go away.  After the bath has been run, put the parcel in the water, and even dab the bag on the itchy bits to get the most out of it.

I am quite pleased with that for a day with writers block!  Off to plan the rest of the weeks blogs!