Super Simple Banana Bread

I know that you may be sick of hearing about banana bread because there was a real fad for baking it during the lockdown, but I love making it and I always get asked for my recipe. In true Sensibly Frugal Living style, there is nothing complex or fancy about my recipe.

What you will need:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 115g butter
  • 150g brown sugar (you can use any sugar you have)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • Mix dry ingredients together
  • In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together with the banana
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients, but try not to over stir
  • Pour it into a lined loaf tin
  • Bake for 55-60 mins at 170.

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5 Ways to Curb Impulse Buying

To coincide with my latest IGTV video, I wanted to re-share my post from 2019 on how to curb impulse spending. With shops opening and restrictions easing in the UK, we may feel the urge to splurge, but follow these tips to try and curb the urge.

Sensibly Frugal Living

Do you really need another pair of shoes? What’s wrong with the appliance you already have at home? These may seem like logical questions to ask yourself before purchasing an item, but impulse buying isn’t about logic. Impulse can be costly. Here are my 5 tips and tricks on how to curb your impulse buying.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

  • Ask yourself three questions. 1. Do I need it? 2. Can I buy it cheaper/ second hand? 3. Can this money be better spent elsewhere i.e savings, a holiday, clearing debt? Having this mindset is a great way to avoid buying unnecessarily, and to remind you of your financial goals.
  • Give yourself a 2 week period to think about the item before you buy it. Taking yourself away from the shops, spending a little time weighing up the pros and cons, and then making a rational decision about whether…

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17 Uses for Fresh Mint

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I have many mint plants in my garden, and I harvest them all throughout the summer. I have done a post similar to this one last year, but I have many new ideas to add this year to help you make the most of any leftover mint you have or if you have mint plants in your garden.

You can find my quick IGTV video over on my Instagram account (link at the bottom of the post).

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Mint and Banana Face Mask

Blend together one banana and a handful of mint leaves until they form a paste. Spread it over your skin and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing.

Foot Soak

Fill a tub with warm water and add in some mint leaves that you have rubbed in your hands to break them down a bit. Soak your feet for 15 minutes.

Bug Repellent Mister

Steep 2 handfuls of mint leaves in 500ml of hot water. Allow it to cool and decant it into a spray bottle to use around your windows or on garden furniture.

Minty Ice Cubes

Place a small mint leave into each ice cube mold before filling with water and freezing.

Sunburn Relief Bath

Steep mint leaves and black teabags in a lukewarm bath. Black tea is supposed to aid in drawing out the heat and the mint is cooling.

Mint Tea

Mint tea is as simple as it sounds. Simply steep fresh or dried mint leaves in hot water. Allow to cool slightly before drinking.

Mint and Sugar Body Scrub

Mix granulated sugar and blended mint leaves into a paste with a little olive oil. Use this as an exfoliating scrub in the shower.

Mint Infused Oils and Vinegars

These are a great idea for DIY gifts. Clean out glass jars or bottles, add in about a handful of mint leaves and then fill with either vinegar or olive oil. Leave to infuse for a few weeks.

Mint and Rosemary Facial Tonic

Steep mint and rosemary in boiling water and allow to cool. Strain it out, and then decant into a bottle (preferably with a pump). You can wash your face with the tonic or pump it onto a face cloth to apply to your face.

Mint Hair Rinse

Follow the instructions for the tonic above (leaving out the rosemary if you prefer), but make a larger batch to use as a hair rinse. This can be made in a jug to use after you shampoo your hair.

Mint Dessert Syrup

Mint syrup is great for snow cones or ice cream.

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of mint leaves

Combine all the ingredients in a pan and boil until the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, simmer for about five minutes on a low heat. Remove from the heat and leave for 30 minutes before straining.

Mint and Lemon Balm Mouthwash

Steep 1 tbsp mint leaves and 1 tbsp lemon balm leaves in 500 ml of hot water. Allow to cool, and then strain and decant into a jar or a cleaned mouthwash bottle.

Dried mint and Rosemary Wardrobe Sachets

I dry my herbs in the microwave on short blasts, but you can do it in the oven or using a dehydrator. Old tights make a great material for wardrobe and drawer sachets. Cut them into sections, tie one end, fill with the dry herbs, then tie the other end.

Mint Tincture

Mint tincture is great for indigestion. Fill a jar 75% with fresh, chopped mint leaves, then pour over vodka until the jar is full. Place in a dark cupboard and shake the jar once a day for five weeks. You can then strain the mixture and bottle it up. Use a dropper to relieve symptoms (just a few drops).

Mint and Basil Pesto

  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper

Blitz together in a food processor. This is great on pasta or pizzas.

Mint and White Vinegar Cleaner

Place 2 handfuls of fresh mint in a 500ml jar or bottle. Pour white vinegar on top. Screw the lid on tight and let it infuse for about 14 days. To use, decant it into a spray bottle about half full, and fill the rest up with water.


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Repurposing a Basket into a Planter

Baskets can make cute little planters for the garden. They are also cheap in the charity shops, and I’ve managed to get some for free. There are a few tips to bare in mind when repurposing in this way, so I have included a small tutorial.

You can find my quick IGTV video tutorial on IGTV and Instagram: Sensibly Frugal Living

  • The first big step in making your basket ready for planting is to line it with some sort of plastic. I used a plastic bag. Simply line your basket with the plastic, cut a few small slits into the bottom, fill it with compost, then cut off the excess plastic along the rim.
  • Pot up your chosen plant.
  • You can disguise any of the plastic that may still be visible with mulch, pebbles, or gravel.
  • Make sure to keep your pot somewhere sheltered and more protected from the elements to prolong its life.

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Growing Seedlings in Egg Cartons

Cardboard egg cartons are not only a good shape for starting off seeds, they are also compost friendly. If you eat eggs they also work out as a free, and you can always ask family and friends to save their egg cartons for you.

Simply fill each hole with compost, sow your seeds, and keep the soil moist. I would put these on a tray to prevent water seeping through the bottom.

Note: Keep you egg shells. Using smashed eggs shells to make a barrier around your seedlings can prevent slugs from eating them.


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Can You Sow Out of Date Seeds?

Have you got a stash of seeds that you forgot to plant? Do the packets have a use by date that has expired? Don’t chuck them in the bin, check to see if they’re still viable. Yes, seeds have a lifespan, but the dates on the packet are just a guide. It is the manufacturer placing a best before date on them to let you know that you may have more success germinating them before that date. It doesn’t mean they won’t germinate after this date.

I test seeds viability by first reading the information on the pack. You must find out when is the best time to sow the seeds and whether to start them inside, outside, or under cloches/ in a greenhouse. If you don’t plant the seeds in their optimum conditions, they won’t germinate regardless.

If the seeds are quite old, I also like to leave them to soak in a little water overnight to quickly boost moisture content and soften the hard, outer seed coat.

Plant the seeds in a germination tray (you can make your own by using small yogurt pots or egg trays). Plant the seeds according to the packet recommendations, water them in, and then keep them in a warm place like a window sill or a greenhouse. You must continuously keep the soil moist and check the seeds for germination. Some seeds have a quicker germination period than others.


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Slow Cooker Jacket Potatoes

Whenever I post about my slow cooked jacket potatoes on Instagram, I get lots of comments from people who had no idea you can cook them in a slow cooker. You certainly can, and yes, the skin goes crispy (probably not as crispy as in the oven, but good enough for my family.)

I love cooking jacket potatoes in the slow cooker as you can just set them off f and they’ll cook without any fuss.

There are some tips for getting crispier skins:

  • Prick the potatoes all over with a fork.
  • Rub in some oil and salt.
  • Wrap each potato tightly in foil before putting it into the slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for about 6 hours.
  • I would advise turning the potatoes half way through, as the areas that touch the slow cooker crisp better.

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  • Frugal Growing Tips

    I always get asked for vegetable growing tips. I only have a small vegetable patch, but I wanted to share some of the tips I have learnt to help you grow healthy vegetables.

    Sunflowers and Tomatoes are Best Buds

    Photo by Justus Menke on Pexels.com

    Planting sunflowers near your tomato crop will not only attract bees to pollinate the tomato blossoms, but if you have an aphid problem, they will be attracted to the sunflower stalks more than your crop.

    If You Have Caterpillars Check For Butterfly Attracting Plants

    We had issues with caterpillars eating our strawberries and tomatoes. When we were told to check if we had buddleias growing near by, we found we did have some growing in both of our gardens. These plants are also known as ‘butterfly bushes’. These were quickly relocated.

    Slugs Like Beer

    A DIY slug trap is great if you have an infestation or are trying to work out what keeps eating your crops. Take an old yoghurt pot, fill the bottom with a little beer and a teaspoon of yeast, then dig a hole and place the pot in the ground in your vegetable patch. Make sure you leave about a half inch above the ground to stop other bugs falling in. The slugs are attracted to the beer and yeast and they can’t get back out. Check your trap in the morning.

    Slugs Don’t Like Egg Shells

    Photo by Netaly Reshef on Pexels.com

    Crushed egg shells are painful for slugs to slide over. Use this to your advantage to protect your seedlings. Make a ring of egg shells around them.

    Potatoes Love Horseradish

    We now grow our potatoes in tubs, but if you grow in the ground, planting horseradish around the edges of your crops helps your potatoes build up disease resistance. Horseradish is also known to repel pests.

    Insects Don’t Like the Smell of Garlic Either

    Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

    Grow your garlic, onion, and chives etc around your vegetables. Insects are repelled by them.


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    5 Frugal Ideas for Your Garden

    Some of the gardens you see on social media look so beautiful, but you know they cost fortune to replicate. If you are not looking for a garden overhaul or landscaping, but just want to make a few changes, then read on:

    Painting Plant Pots

    A good way to create uniform in your garden is to have a colour scheme, especially with plant pots. You can also make use of your current pots, instead of having to purchase more. Pick a colour scheme and paint/ spray paint your pots to match. Even plain white works to create uniformity.

    Paint/ Stain Garden Furniture and Fencing

    Painting / staining your woodwork in the garden not only jazzes it up a bit, it protects it against the elements. Be sure to use the correct outdoor wood paint. Looks of people are painting decking and fencing a popular teal or grey at the moment to be on trend. Whatever you choose, the effect will brighten your garden and create uniformity. Bold choices work well in small spaces.

    Vegetable and Herb Planters

    If you are looking to start a vegetable garden, but can’t dig up the ground or don’t have that option, start a planter patch. You don’t even have to buy expensive planters; simply drill holes in the bottom of storage boxes or use the pop up fabric planters that are not as expensive.

    Wildflower Garden

    If you have the space to throw seed bombs and let nature do the rest, then a wildflower garden may be what you need. Wildflowers don’t require much maintenance from you, they’ll find their own way and create a cottage-esque feel to a garden. Perfect for people who are not very green fingered, and add beautiful colour to a space.

    Solar Lighting

    You don’t need fancy lighting to add ambience to your garden space. You especially don’t need to hook anything up to the mains electric. Solar lighting can be an inexpensive option that requires only some sunshine. Whether you go for simple fairy lights or a more elaborate design and colour, lighting can really change a space on a budget.


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    Repurposing: Simple Storage Ideas

    Storage can be an issue for us all. I have some nifty repurposing ideas for tidying and storage solutions in the home.

    Washing Basket Toy Box

    Takeaway Tub Drawer Separators

    Cardboard Bow Holder

    Cereal Box File

    Cutlery Drawer Jewellery Tidy


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