Five fabulously frugal things I did this week (28 April)

Picture of pale pink quince blossom to illustrate my five frugal things this week post

Quince blossom, on the tree growing in the herb bed

 

Not quite sure where this week went. The kids are back at school, my husband’s back at work and I’ve done a bit of writing. We’re looking forward to a whole load of friends coming to stay for the bank holiday weekend, so I’ve knuckled down and done some (if not enough) housework. Here’s my round up of the five frugal things we fitted in!

 

Picture of two home-made meringues on a wooden board. A thrifty, frugal way to use up egg whites.

Meringues in the sunshine

Made easy peasy meringues

Why did no-one tell me how easy meringues are to make?

I used a couple of egg yolks in attempts at a cookie recipe (it was hopeless, let’s not go there). This left a couple of eggs whites to make me feel guilty. I do hate throwing food away. I tried making meringues when we first moved, as something Agas are meant to do really well. Turns out if you have an 80-year-old converted Aga, not so much. The simmering oven wasn’t even warm enough to cook meringues, and that’s really saying something. They just oozed to death over 24 hours.

Anyway, I thought I’d try again now we have an electric cooker. I whipped the egg whites up into stiff peaks, gently mixed in 2oz / 56g caster sugar per egg white,  spooned the mix onto a baking tray lined with grease-proof paper and bunged them in the oven. That’s it! I followed Delia’s instructions to heat the oven to 150 degrees, then turn it down to 140 degrees straight after putting the meringues in.

Cook for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven, but leave the meringues inside while you wander off and do something else for four hours or so. Ta da, meringues that were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Bliss.

 

Screen shot of a Samsung smartphone menu showing the mobile data button in green, which I should switch off when on wifi

See that green button that says ‘mobile data’? Wish I had before.

Rang up about a hefty mobile bill

It’s all to easy to think “yeah, yeah, bin” when a bill comes through the letterbox or an email pops up.

This week I was really glad I read the email with my monthly mobile bill. Not because it was three times what I expected (ouch), but because it inspired me to check the charges and call the company. I’d been whacked with £2 a day for exceeding my data allowance – and that really mounts up if it happens half way through the month!

So I rang Virgin Mobile to find out why, as I thought I used free WiFi networks wherever possible. The good news from a frugal perspective is that they kindly promised to refund half the charges.

More importantly, they talked me through switching off mobile data whenever I’m on WiFi, to avoid going over my allowance in future. I think the call centre lady was surprised at the depths of my ignorance, but in case anyone else is similarly clueless, turns out there’s a “mobile data” button one screen back, and I should only switch it on when I need internet access but I’m not on WiFi. (Short pause for the technologically competent to bang their heads on their desks). It hasn’t been an issue before, so fingers crossed it’ll be fine in future, without switching to a more expensive tariff.

 

Picture of two Mister Maker by Toucan box craft boxes bought on offer from a 60 day free trial of Kids Pass

Banish bank holiday boredom  for £1 (she says hopefully).

Nabbed a couple of Toucan craft boxes for £1

Remember I signed up for a 60 day trial of Kids Pass, a discount pass for families, for just £1 ?

Well, I got an email from Kids Pass offering a free craft box as part of a Mister Maker Club subscription, plus the chance to add a box for a sibling for just a pound. Normally, the boxes costs £6.93 each including postage.

I duly signed up, and two personalised boxes arrived today, just in time for the bank holiday. If I don’t want to pay any extra, I can cancel in the next week or so. With great self-restraint I haven’t ripped them open, so will have to wait for the children to discover what’s inside. They’re designed for children aged 3 to 6, so maybe a bit young for my two, but I thought it was worth giving them a whirl.

Could yet be £1 well spent if the weather is rubbish over the next few days. If you’d like to try one too, you can also get a Mister Maker craft box for £1 using this link* or a 60 day trial of Kids Pass for £1 here*.

 

Picture of a free Lets Grow Together Goodness Gang Garden sticker collecting card and seed pot

Mini seed pots free from East of England Co-op

Claimed free seeds from the Co-op

Currently, our local East of England Co-op is giving out tiny seed pots for free (as mentioned in my post about where to buy seeds for less). You get a sticker for every £5 you spend, and need 4 stickers to claim some seeds. My kids are keen on the colourful packaging, and this week I picked up some beets to go with last week’s carrot pot. We’ve watered the soil discs, planted the teensy seed mats, and now we’re waiting for signs of life. Many cheers for free seeds and maybe even some free veg too!

 

Picture of the brass band, complete with uniforms, red berets, gilded embroidery, tubas and trumbones for the parade of beavers, cubs, scouts and explorers on St George's Day in Long Melford.

Brass band leading the St George’s Day Parade.

Was grateful for free parking

Last Sunday, I drove the children over to take part in the St George’s Day Parade in Long Melford, together with hundreds of other local beavers, cubs, scouts and explorers.

That sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Yet it was a big deal for me, because I don’t drive, and it was the first time I’ve ever driven my children. (Don’t worry, I do have a licence from decades ago).

There’s a longer post to write about driving and our move to the country. For now, I was extremely grateful I could take advantage of free National Trust parking at Melford Hall, rather than trying to squeeze into a space between the hordes of other parental cars. An unexpected way to make the most of National Trust membership!

 

So now, over to you. Any thrifty successes to celebrate? Suggestions for a bank holiday on a budget? I’d love to hear, so do comment below.

 

I’m linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five fabulously frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through it will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Many thanks!

9 Comments

  1. April 28, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    It’s horrible, that sick-to-the-stomach feeling you get when a huge, unexpected bill arrives. And it’s even worse when you realise you could have prevented it! Still, I wouldn’t beat yourself up over it because if you didn’t know, you just didn’t know, and you definitely won’t have the same problem in future. And it’s great that they refunded so much of it! Well done on your frugal week and the driving too 🙂

    • Faith
      April 28, 2017 / 7:42 pm

      Thanks Lee! I’ve been really focused on the mobile data button since finding out what on earth it is! Fingers crossed for next month’s bill.

  2. April 28, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    Well done you on driving them for the first time. That is brilliant!

    • Faith
      April 28, 2017 / 7:43 pm

      Thanks Katy. Didn’t get off to the best start, with my son shrieking from the back of the car: “But Mummy’s driving! We could all die!”. Cheers son.

  3. Alice
    April 29, 2017 / 9:14 am

    Well impressed by you DRIVING!!
    And i shall stay away from your killer AGA in future
    My top frugal success this week was a plain beanie hat for school for older son, reducced to 50p in tesco!!

    • Faith
      May 1, 2017 / 3:22 pm

      Excellent beanie savings, thumbs up for Tesco.

  4. April 29, 2017 / 2:57 pm

    That’s annoying about the mobile data. If you have WiFi switched on it should always dominate data usage..ie make it free. Love home made meringue.

  5. May 2, 2017 / 7:59 pm

    Would like to mention the Co-op for bread, it’s excellent. I love their jalapeno bread and their olive bread, not to mention their onion mini-baguettes, and even their Ancient Grains sliced bread is superior to any other we’ve had, and none of it is expensive. If their jalapeno and olive bread was sold in a fancy ‘artisan’ bread shop, it would be at least double the price, so if you have a Co-op nearby, then do consider this bread.
    PS We have just speculated to accumulate: we have bought a season ticket to our local Paignton Zoo, £92 for two retireds. That means once you’ve visited three times for the two of us, after that it’s a bonus. We have now visited three times and also one to Living Coasts, which you may enter with the Zoo pass. So we had a lovely afternoon and only paid for ices and a ride on the little train which took us around Gibbon Island. It was lovely and we can visit as many times as we like between now and next April! A lovely place to walk, get exercise away from traffic and see animals as well. And 10% discount on all purchase in the Zoo, coffee, meals, ices, the gift shop. What’s not to like?
    Margaret P
    http://www.margaretpowling.com

    • Faith
      May 3, 2017 / 8:49 pm

      Hi Margaret – Thanks for the tip about Co-op bread, sounds delicious! Hope you have a great time making the most of your Zoo membership. Can really make sense if you visit somewhere often enough.

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