Hello Dear Reader,
When Christians Against Poverty get in touch with me and ask me to promote their CAP Money courses that are run all over the UK, I was more than happy to promote them. I’ve had a chance to support their work locally a while ago and can testify first hand the difference it made to the lives of family. Debt is utterly vile and those who peddle credit prey on the most vulnerable. CAP are launching this campaign in readiness for the 16th September when it will be 100 days until Christmas but why wait until then?
It’s 133 days until Christmas and even though I see the festive period as a Christian festival and not a ‘shop-fest’, I will make plans in good time. I have guests to feed, we’ll have time off work and there will be an increase in the demands on my budget.
I will buy expensive joints of meat throughout September and October and freeze them. I will buy a frozen turkey as soon as they appear in the shops and put that in the deep freeze. I will buy extra logs in the early autumn and fill my shed, the space by the shed and cover them in a tarpauline so I have plenty of heat for the winter. I will start to add to my pantry cupboard from September onwards: dried fruit, sugar, tins of meat and fish, tins of fruit and vegetables as it will help my budget over the winter months and of course over the Christmas period too.
But what if you haven’t got a grip of the family finances? Families desperately try to sort out money and keep getting it so very wrong. It could have been me and there by the grace of God go I. It could be any of us. If I lost my job? If I were renting and the landlord wanted the house back? If I couldn’t afford to get the best deals. Many families really struggle and end up with crippling debt and can’t see any way out.
I met families at a work shop who told me that if it wasn’t for the help of CAP, they could have lost their homes and with continuing support were not only getting out of debt but learning real financial skills to ensure their families had a sustainable budget to work with.
Can I ask, that if you have a twitter account and if you could follow Christians Against Poverty that you could support their campaign in financial education and their promotion that families have a credit free Christmas. Here’s the link https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/30033-do-christmas-without-credit that if you have a blog – can you promote it? If you have a twitter account can you re-tweet? Could you pop something on Pintrest? Can you get something on Instagram? Here I’m talking to thrifty people who have an interest in saving money but someone, somewhere might see this, a tweet or a pin for the very first time and may seek help with debt or family budgeting? If you can help us get that thunderclap heard, it would be so helpful for many many families. If you could tweet a link to this blog as well then it will help get the message out there and spread the message from CAP.
Here’s my contribution to a credit free Christmas.
1. Have realistic family expectations, start talking budgets now. It’s no good raising any children’s hopes about anything the family can’t afford. Discuss what can be afforded and not.
2.Set a budget per person, why not try and be creative and set a target of £2.50 per person and yes, I do believe it can be done.
3. Start looking in freeads, car boot sales, jumble sales and charity shops for good items such as toys and clothes. You’ll be surprised how good some items are. I buy board games, jig saws and books for our own amusement but many are as good as new.
4. Get to know the £1/99p store. A little gift here and there. You could make up: a make up bag, a toiletries set, stationery can make lovely gifts and spread the cost by spending £1 or £2 a week to get a few gifts together.
5. Long life food gifts: chocolate last for ages and buying a few bars here and there to spread the cost.
6. Start adding to the food cupboard now, tinned goods such as ham, fish and fruit can help the family budget over the Christmas period especially when there is more heating to pay for.
7. You can pay energy bills on line and can over pay by making a direct payment through your online banking (if you can read this then you’re online) and each payday, add whatever additional payment you can make. Christmas is expensive when you are off work and the lights and heating are on, it’s an additional cost that needs budgeting for.
8.Supermarket savings schemes, such as saving stamps that can be purchased weekly. There are fourteen weeks until Christmas and saving £5 a week is £95
9. Buy Christmas meat and freeze it week by week. The meat prices shoot up in December so don’t wait. A gammon joint one week, a large family sized chicken another, a joint of pork or beef another time. Get it in the freezer before the prices rise.
10. Don’t let this happen again. When our children were small, we saved for Christmas and birthdays all year. We bought gifts throughout the year and hid them. We bought and still buy wrapping paper and cards in the New Year when they are cheap.
Over to you Dear Reader, some one might read this for the first time and might want some advice on not only a credit free Christmas but a credit it free life. Can as many of you as possible leave a message of advice on: budgeting, saving for Christmas and birthdays, how to spread costs and expenses.
When I’ve asked for your help in the past you’ve stepped up and been so wonderful and I’d appreciate your comments as one of them might be just the help someone needs.
Love Froogs xxxx
You will then need 250g of chopped smoked streaky bacon, or do what I did and use a pack of lardons from Aldi! You will also need two average red onions, finely chopped.
Dry fry the onions and lardons together in a non-stick pan, don’t add any fat and once they have cooked. Leave them on a plate to cook completely.
Next, you will need some finely grated cheese. I always grate my cheese this finely, it melts really well.
Roll out the chilled puff pastry. Lay out the cooled onions and bacon.
Roll the sausage meat out with some flour and add to the centre of the pastry and bacon and onions.
Glaze with beaten egg.
Sprinkle with cheese and dust with smoked paprika.
Bake at 200 for 15 – 20 minutes. If the underside has crisped (no soggy bottoms thank you!) then they are cooked. Look at the lamination on those!
Cheesey, sausagey, baconey, onioney, spicy and buttery pastry all in one mouthful! This is more cottage cuisine that anything posh but my family love these!
The buffet for Christmas Eve is coming along nicely!
Come back tomorrow for the you know what, which I’ll get ready tonight.
Love Froogs xxxxx
Hello Dear Reader,
I don’t celebrate the solstice but I do look forward to this date! I don’t like the winter darkness and love the date of the winter solstice as it marks the return of the sun. Day by day, even if only for a few seconds and then a few minutes, the days get longer. I can only imagine what it must have been like, in the depths of winter without artificial light. It’s no wonder our ancient relatives brought evergreens, fire and a feast into their homes at this time. Short days and the dark must have dragged.
Spring comes early in Cornwall, by January, snow drops and daffodils will be poking through the lawn and by the end of March the trees will have their green foliage back. I can be a proper misery at this time of year and really notice my mood lift as soon as December has passed. Even though it’s not necessarily warmer, it is noticeably lighter. Whilst some people feel quite down in January, I really get my bounce back and love the newness of a new year and the forthcoming new season.
April can be a real turning point here. I’ve had beach days in April with bare feet, and finding a sheltered spot to feel the sun on my face. I may not like this time of year but, and thankfully may I add, I know the seasons change really soon and this short lived gloom will be gone for another year.
I’m going to have a dig around at the back of our store cupboards to find our decorations. I seldom buy new ones and use the same ones every year. I’ve stuck cards to doors and found my quilted Christmas table runners for the side board and the table. I’ve a few ornaments that light up with a tea light and that’s us set.
Hello Dear Reader,
I’ve been working with a local community group and have cooked them Christmas lunch and will cook for another group tomorrow. Here’s the menu I used and every one enjoyed and I’ve costed this for a family of six. There will be plenty of turkey left and I will write another blog tomorrow of recipes that you could use.
Here is the menu
Starter – Roasted Butternut Squash and sweet potato soup.
You will need
1 Butternut squash – peeled and chopped – 79p – Aldi
1 pack of sweet potatoes – peeled and cubed – 79p – Aldi
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped 20p
4 tablespoons of oil or butter – 10p
2 litres of chicken stock from stock cubes – 8p – Aldi
£1.86 – (you will use half and freeze half) so 12 small portions at 15p a cup full.
Add all the ingredients to a roasting dish and toss in the oil.
Roast on a medium heat, 180 for 20 minutes or the veggies have started to brown.
Remove and place in a large saucepan.
Add the stock, made from cubes and boiling water and use a hand stick blender to blend until smooth.
Serve in tea cups and saucers.
The rest of the soup? Place in a freezer container and freeze for another day. You can make the soup the day before. Measure the amount of cupfuls you need into a microwaveable container and just re-heat for lunch. Don’t serve with any bread. You just want this to be a small starter.
Main Course – Roast Turkey and all the trimmings (pigs in blankets, stuffing balls, gravy, honey roasted parsnips and carrots, roast potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower in a cheese sauce)
All of this can be prepared the day before.
Turkey – 1 frozen turkey crown – will feed 6-8, £9.99 – Aldi – I bought all of the below from Aldi – DEFROST FOR 24 HOURS SO REMOVE FROM FREEZER THE DAY BEFORE
1.5 bag of potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters. £1.50
1/2 bag of carrots – peeled and cut length ways into quarters. 27p
1 bag of parnips – peeled and cut into quarters length ways – 79p
1 pack of stuffing – 39p
1/4 tub of instant gravy 20p
1 cauliflower, cut into small florets 75p
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets 45p
200g of grated mature cheddar (twice as much as normal but push the boat out for a special meal) 90p
20g of cornflour – 5p
1 litre of milk – 49p
1 pack of butter 95p
1 pack of 12 pork sausages – 99p
1 pack of streaky bacon – 12 pieces – 99p
1 pack of beef dripping – (poor man’s duck fat) 72p – Morrisons – don’t sell this in Aldi
£19.43 (There will be plenty of turkey left over – probably half of it) – The meal, for six actually costs £14.43 so £2.40 each. It’s double our usual budget, and there’s the starter and dessert, but it is a day of celebration.
Lunch at 12 noon.
Switch the oven on to 200 at 8.00 am
Place the turkey on a deep roasting tin and use 1/4 pack of butter and rub it all over the turkey crown, season with salt and pepper and cover firmly in two layers of foil. (Butter here comes in 250g blocks).
Place in a hot oven at 8.30 am. Remove every hour and baste with the turkey juices and butter. (I don’t crisp up the skin as we don’t eat it. Nor do I want to have a ‘here comes the turkey’ song and dance bringing it to the table. In fact! When we have ours! I cook it the day before and re-heat on the day. So, I don’t remove the foil but keep it moist throughout the entire cooking)
Par boil the potatoes – drain and leave in the pan
Par boil the parsnips and carrots, drain and leave in the pan.
Make the cheese sauce
In a microwaveable large jug or bowl (that will hold two litres)
Add 1/4 pack of butter – place in microwave for 1 minutes
Remove and blend in the flour.
Add the milk and stir well.
Microwave – remove and whisk every two minutes to blend.
When thick – add the grated cheese and blend until there are not lumps.
Leave to one side.
Prepare the cauliflower and broccoli and place in a pan covered with water.
Stuffing balls – make up as per instructions on the pack, leave to cool. When cool, form into balls and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and leave to one side.
Pigs in blankets – Wrap a bacon rasher around each sausage – place on the same tray as the stuffing balls, they will cook at the same time.
At 10.30 remove the turkey, keep the lid on to keep it hot. I fold a towel several times and create a sort of tea cosy to keep the turkey hot but still it’s resting.
Turn the oven up high and place a tray with dripping in the oven on the top shelf.
Heat until smoking hot.
Remove and carefully, using a long handled spoon, place the potatoes into the hot fat. Coat in fat and return to the oven. These will take 3/4 hour to 1 hour to crisp up.
At the same time – place the cooked parsnips and carrots onto a shallow baking tray – season well and coat with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of runny honey and 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Toss well and roast.
Check the spuds and roasted veggies after half an hour, reduce the heat of the oven if needed.
I have three shelves in my oven, on the bottom shelf I place the stuffing balls and pigs in blankets. These will cook in 20 – 30 minutes.
At 11.30 bring the cauli and broccoli to the boil and microwave the cheese sauce. When the cauli and broccoli are cooked, drain well and pour the cheese sauce over and keep warm.
At 11.30 , you can slice the turkey and then recover to keep it warm.
Just before 12 noon, get the plates into the oven and remove the gravy from the fridge and place in a pan and re-heat on the stove.
Remove the oven roasted items and place on the side so you have one dish next to the other.
Get the family ready and plate up as required and pass to the table.
Sit and eat!
To everyone who asked for advice, I hope that helped.
I will be back tomorrow with the Chocolate Brownie recipe you all loved and some recipes of what to do with the left over turkey.
Love Froogs xxxx
Hello Dear Reader,
I didn’t post my giveaway for yesterday as I was in the kitchen from eight until two in the afternoon. I wasn’t much use when I got home and just put my aching foot in the air for a few hours. It’s good to take time to do nothing sometimes.
I sorted out some phonic cards. I bought them for a student who’s long since left my charge. Teachers will identify with this, we often willingly spend our own money if we think it will help. I’ve kept them but really don’t think I will need them again. If you live locally to Liskeard, or if I can drop them off to you, then leave me a message (I won’t publish it if you specify) and you can have them. I get to Plymouth every day, if you live there and can meet me to pick them up get in touch too.
Until tomorrow and yes there will be another give away!
Visit Sue – who’s also taking part in the #adventchallenge
and Pensive Pensioner who’s also taking part.
Love Froogs xxxxx
Hello Dear Reader,
That made you sit up and take notice!
Now, before you say, that’s not very romantic, I need to add that we are blissfully married and every day is full of lots of love. Now, that’s out of the way I can tell you that we buy our own Christmas presents! We don’t spend much at all really. In the past, when we had to pay back money we didn’t buy each other anything at all. Now things are financial comfortable, we have all we need and that means we can buy each other something for Christmas and birthdays.
I buy mine for me and he buy his for him.
Sorted and that’s the way we do it. It’s a reverse surprise, we have no idea what we’ve bought but we know we’ll both like it.
I have no idea what he will get himself. He only knows about my present as he reads this.
So here goes.
I saved the Tesco points from buying diesel and have £11.50 in points, I used the Club card Boost and doubled those points to buy some perfume from Tesco Direct.