Nice tree, but no snow.
With the children back at school, we've been slotting back into a normal routine.
During term time, we tend to mix dashes to school with a merry-go-round of swimming, Strikers, guitar, Beavers, Cubs and Brownies. (Yes, you did read that correctly. Two children and yet all three of Beavers, Cubs and Brownies. Go figure).
My working week has been a dollop of tax returns with a side order of writing about tax returns, and now I'm just cursing the anti-climax of hardly any snow. I wanted blankets of picturesque white stuff, to gaze at while wrapped up warmly inside. Maybe next week!
In the mean time, here are my five fabulously frugal things for this week.
Stewed apple - virtue in a jar
Made stewed apple to cut food waste
Some of the apples we've been given were looking a bit soft and wrinkly. Rather than ignoring them until it was too late, I peeled and cored all five, chopped them roughly, and chucked them in a saucepan with a splash of water.
I softened them over a low heat, and made a couple of jars of stewed apple.
The stewed apple has several other benefits, quite apart from extending the life of the apples and avoiding food waste.
It tastes great on top of porridge or with natural yogurt, as part of the New Year's Resolutions I mentioned last week about healthy eating on a budget.
Plus, it's not just a money saver, but also a time saver. If I'm in a hurry, I'm more likely to snack on something sensible when it's handy in the fridge. A winner all ways round.
Jellytastic. Anyone else nostalgic for Tupperware?
Raided the storecupboard to make snacks for the children
It's fair to say, however, that my children are less enamoured with stewed apple as a snack.
As part of my plans to use up the contents of our cupboards, rather than spending extra money on food, I unearthed a packet of strawberry jelly.
One packet made six little pots for the fridge (anyone else nostalgic about Tupperware?). They went down very well as an after school snack for several days.
Hoping for inspiration for healthy food, fast
Borrowed rather than bought a book
Continuing with my resolutions to get fitter, not fatter, I wanted to check out a copy of the Hairy Dieters: Fast Food cookbook.
It promises lower calorie recipes that only take half an hour to cook. I'm not really up for supposedly healthy eating that involves scything entire food groups from my diet, and rather than existing solely on almond milk and quinoa, I like their approach of hearty meals that are full of flavour.
Sadly, I have discovered that merely buying a book does not cause pounds to drop off - unless you count the damage to my bank balance.
So rather than shelling out for yet another cookbook, before I know whether I'll actually like any of the recipes, I reserved a copy from the library.
We're very fortunate that our local library is still alive and kicking, and a great resource for borrowing books and DVDs.
Looks good so far - I've spotted several budget-friendly recipes like breakfast cranachan mixing the oats and berries with natural yogurt, plus ham and pea fritters, white bean and tuna fishcakes, blackeyed peas and greens, and a fish crumble.
(And if you fancy getting your own copy, rather than borrowing one from the library, The Book People are offering the Hairy Dieters book for a bargainous £5.99 rather than £14.99)*.
Sadly, filing my tax return did not enable me to levitate. Swizz.
Did my tax return, avoided a £100 fine
I may not have found the inner peace promised by HM Revenue & Customs, but it's certainly a great relief to have filed my tax return online.
I don't why I always leave it so late - the tax year finishes on April 5, but somehow I never get round to it until January. Perhaps it's the threat of a £100 fine if I don't get it in by January 31 that finally focuses my mind...
Anyway, I dragged the bulging "tax" file out of the filing cabinet, and after much poring over bank statements and reference to my trusty excel spreadsheet, it was finally done.
I've also written an article for this weekend's Sunday Times with some top tips for completing your tax return - so the payment will be something to add to next year's taxes!
Sunshine slanting across the Railway Walk, earlier this week.
Got out in the fresh air
One thing I've been really enjoying this week is getting outside in the fresh air. I spent a whole chunk of November and December with my head down typing away in front of a screen, so it's been good to get out of the house.
I'm still plugging away at the Couch to 5K running programme as part of my New Year's Resolutions, with a short run every other day. At the weekend, my daughter asked if I could come out with her to ride her Christmas bike, so we went along the Railway Walk so she could hurtle over the hills and hummocks beside the track.
The colours may be muted greens and browns, but the sunshine slanting across the path was very beautiful. There are still robins, pigeons and blackbirds darting around, and plenty of dogs and dog walkers. Best of all from a frugal perspective, bike rides and runs are completely free once you've shelled out for the initial equipment.
Anyone else got some frugal triumphs to share? Submitted your tax return, or dreading the day when you will finally get round to it? I'd love to hear!
I’m linking up with this 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!