Five frugal things I did this week (23 Feb)

Picture of dwarf daffodils in the sunshine

Sunshine on miniature daffodils

This week has gone by in a whirl. It all got off to an unusual start, when I headed up to Manchester for the JD Williams and Time Inc event as part of the mentoring week I won. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to write a longer post about the #DontTellMeICant event – I’m just hanging on to get hold of a video clip.

Before I left, we had a family outing to Kentwell Hall. This was not remotely frugal, due to the entry cost and substantial tea, featuring great slabs of Victoria sponge and coffee & walnut cake. But the kids had a great time running round the story trail, trying out the stocks and spotting assorted animals. I particularly liked the snowdrops, ice house and dovecote, and luckily we managed to divert the children from commandeering a boat on the moat. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon before I disappeared for a couple of days. Saving money isn’t an end in itself – it helps us splash out in other areas.

Elsewhere, here’s my round up of our five frugal things this week.


Picture of a descaled kettle spout filter

Scale free kettle filter! All the glamour, all of the time

Vinegar to the rescue

Ever have issues you put up with, and only really notice when other people point them out?

It took weekend visitors for me to realise that yes, our kettle is a bit of pain to fill up via the spout.  Easy to discover the cause – the plastic filter in the kettle spout was coated in limescale (#housekeepingfail).

I was about to add Viakal to our shopping list, when I thought I’d give it a whirl with vinegar, instead of spending money on yet more chemicals in yet another plastic bottle. I just used apple vinegar from the back of the storecupboard, as the vinegar I’m least likely to use for cooking. I left the filter soaking for a while (an hour?) and now it’s clear of limescale! I even gave the chrome kettle a surreptitious wipe, so it’s back on sparkling form.

More on how to use less plastic and cut costs


Using up fruit and veg

Before disappearing off to Manchester, I vetted both fridges for food that might be about to go over.

I chopped up the wrinkled peppers with butternut squash and red onions, to make pasta with mozzarella and roasted veg for dinner. There were enough roasted veg for me to eat some with cous cous, as a packed lunch on the train the next day.

Bendy carrots, onions, broccoli stalks, fading celery, the last of a savoy cabbage, a couple of potatoes and a stock cube all went into a winter veg soup in the slow cooker.

Recipe for leftover stalks and leaves soup, if you’re keen to cut food waste

Finally, I retrieved apple slices rejected by my daughter, peeled them, and stewed them with a bit of water and sugar, to eat with porridge the next morning.

Throwing food away always feels like putting money in the bin, so I was glad we could eat the fruit and veg instead.


Swiped some shampoo and shower gel

Confession time. In hotels, I regard toiletries like shampoo, conditioner and shower gel as fair game. I figure if I’ve already used some of the contents, the hotel will only throw them away rather than leaving them out for the next guest. Sadly, I’ve now run out of the Aromatherapy Associates products from my hotel stay thanks to a fab competition win.

Reckon the Malmaison in Manchester had seen me coming, when I stayed there on Monday night for work. I was most amused to see “The Best Shampoo You Will Ever Steal” sitting by the sink. With that prompt, I figured it would be rude not to sweep them into my toiletries bag. All helps delay stocking on up new supplies of shampoo and shower gel!

Where do you stand on hotel toiletries? Thrift or theft?


Picture from inside the Lowry Theatre, looking out over the water

Views out from the Lowry Theatre

Took the tram not a taxi

Tuesday’s work event was held in The Lowry Theatre, an amazing building by the waterside, with views over to the skyscrapers of Media City. I’d shared a cab there, so when the sessions finished I had no clue where I was relative to the train home or even a taxi rank.

Luckily the nice man at the ticket desk was able to direct me to the nearest tram stop, on a direct line to Piccadilly station. So for £3 I got a tram straight to my train, far cheaper than a taxi.


Picture of the gap in our garden fence where a couple of panels fell down in the storm

Look no fence

Got a couple of quotes for our garden fence

Turns out our garden fence wasn’t sturdy enough to stand up to recent storms, and a couple of panels collapsed. Thankfully we didn’t lose another tree. I looked online for recommendations for local fencers.

One guy quoted to replace the whole lot for £400, which I’m sure would look really smart.

The second fencer clocked that we can’t see the fence from the house, as it’s hidden behind a yew hedge. He suggested just buying a new fence post, and reusing the old panels with a kickboard along the bottom next to the soil. That way, it would be easier to replace the kickboard if it rotted in future.

At £150 to £190, I’m happy to repair the fence rather than replace it, and glad I got more than one quote.


Now over to you – any thrifty tips to share? What’s been your biggest saving this week? Do let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear.

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.


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  1. 25th February 2018 / 10:27 am

    Cant wait to read about your JD Williams event. Im going to check out your stalks and leaves soup recipe as I often throw away the broccoli stalks.

    • Faith
      25th February 2018 / 1:11 pm

      If you do chop up broccoli stalks for soup, make sure you simmer until they’re properly soft enough. I also like nibbling on thin slices of raw broccoli stalks.

  2. Fifitr
    25th February 2018 / 12:45 pm

    I regard toiletries in hotels as really useful things that mean I don’t have to carry bottles around with me (but I do take them away if I’ve started but not finished them). If I travel for up to 3 nights I aim to pack everything in my handbag so the fewer toiletries I have to fit in, even travel size ones, the better. Some people will find that odd, but I often travel where I’m away for several nights but not in the same location for each night, so not having to haul a case to a different hotel each day or take it round with me during the day is a real boon as I tend to go to several places each day as well.

    • Faith
      25th February 2018 / 1:12 pm

      I am in awe of your compact packing skills. For a while I got used to taking everything in a single carry on sized bag, after my luggage missed a few flights, but now I’m back to indecisiveness and wild over-packing.

  3. 25th February 2018 / 2:07 pm

    I’ve never stayed in a hotel with free toiletries so never had the chance to nick them! but I would if I did!

    • Faith
      25th February 2018 / 3:57 pm

      Yes, never seem to be any freebie toiletries on our family camping trips! I’ve done quite well with three work trips in the last couple of months, thankfully all covered by other companies.

  4. Sue
    26th February 2018 / 11:47 am

    If I’ve opened them, even just to sniff, they are mine. I travel with miniature toiletries as I travel really light, so what I pick up on one trip I usually use on the next.

    The same in cafes or restaurants any sachets, even the little paper salt and pepper ones, if I’ve picked them up thinking I will use them and then don’t they come home with me. Better that than in the bin.

    I then take my stash of mini condiments when we go on self catering breaks.

  5. 4th March 2018 / 8:58 am

    I do exactly the same with hotel toiletries – I stayed in a mega-expensive hotel with work and somehow got upgraded to a suite which was filled with Molton Brown toiletries. Then when I came back from the event, they’d turned my sheets down, left a magazine and some sleep spray on my bed and a little mini box of chocolates on my pillow. All of which came home with me ha ha

    Thanks so much for joining in with last week’s linky, I’m so sorry I’m late with commenting and sharing. 😉

  6. 7th March 2018 / 3:20 pm

    I always take hotel toiletries. I keep them organized in my bathroom cupboard and they are life savers when I run out of my regular shampoo and conditioner. I have a favorite scent, which is rosemary and mint that a lot of hotels in VT use. Whenever my mom stays somewhere that uses that scent of toiletries she saves them for me.

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