Saturday, 3 August 2013

Frog on the blog and other frugal faves!

A few of our school holiday frugal favourites so far?

1) Frogs are absolutely top of the list!

I'm always very happy to see a frog or a toad when I stumble across one in a pond or on a path but I've never intentionally set out to go amphibian watching, so when Son announced that he was off to search for frogs ands toads in the post-heatwave rain, I doubted he would have much luck. How gratifying to be proved wrong! If you know when and where to look, there are more frogs lurking around than you'd think. Pick a damp evening at dusk, and poke around in the shade of a leafy hedge and you might be rewarded with the sight of a lovely froggy like the one above, photographed in the hedge by our allotment. There have been several frog spotting expeditions and most of them have resulted in frog sightings.

2) And whilst Son has been busy closely investigating the fringes of the allotment, I've been harvesting a bumper crop of redcurrants and gooseberries, along with some of our other staples like lettuce and spinach and planting up some sprouts and kale for winter. Our allotment always looks rather pathetic compared to neighbouring patches that are lovingly tended by retired gents with way more time for allotmenteering than us, so it's good to feel that our humble efforts produce something!

3) We've been to and fro to the library. 

I've finally taken back my June borrows, which were all quick picks: 

Rip it Up by Richard Wiseman (a fervent argument for the psychology of William James; in a nutshell, if you want to be certain way or develop a certain habit, then take action, act 'as if' - act the way you want to feel or be and the rest will follow) and The Thrifty Forager by Alys Fowler (I only browsed this one - lots of nice pictures but if you want to be a successful thrifty forager then you probably have to take note of William James and get out there and forage, rather than sit on your backside leafing through coffee table books on foraging!) 

My absolute favourite for June was The Wisdom of Donkeys by Andy Merrifield. Strapline: Finding Tranquility in a Chaotic World. I picked this up because I'm always up for more tranquility, but actually I thought it would be a twee read. Wrong! Part travelogue (the French dwelling, Marxist urban theorist (!) author plus donkey set off on a tour of the Auvergne, although we're never told exactly where, or shown any maps, and can only guess at the trip's duration), part donkey (history, geography, anatomy, psychology, behaviour, donkeys in literature (with the notable exception of Eeyore), therapeutic uses of, maltreatment of, lessons we can learn from...), and part autobiography, I found this a really good read. It was insightful, gave me food for thought, and made me appreciate donkeys all the more. The book transported me not only to France, but also to the very town in Devon where I grew up and even the self-same residential home for the elderly where I had my first part-time job as a teenager - the residents there now enjoy therapeutic visits from a donkey.

Meanwhile Son has signed up for the Creepy House library summer reading scheme and despite being a sometimes reluctant reader has enjoyed Jeremy Strong's Killer Tomatoes and the second Tom Gates book, and Daughter is ploughing through the Laura Marlin mysteries by Lauren St John.

4) Our part of North Wiltshire is not what I'd consider the classic Wiltshire landscape of rolling chalky downlands so we were pleased to discover a corn field worthy of a real Wiltshire crop circle virtually on our doorstep when we ventured along a new-to-us footpath on an evening walk.

5) With the kids at home, there's a constant chorus of "I'm hungry!" or "What is there to eat?" Filling them up with plates of noodles at lunchtime is cheap and helps reduce the hunger pangs somewhat but doesn't solve the problem entirely!

Homemade pot noodles for one person:

2 tsp Thai curry paste
3 spring onions, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped or grated
mugful of vegetable or chicken stock
handful of frozen peas (or sweetcorn)
150g sachet of noodles
sesame seeds, to finish (optional)

Fry the curry paste, stir in the spring onions and carrot and cook for one minute. Pour in the stock and add the peas. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes or until the carrot is just cooked. Stir in the noodles and heat through. Scatter with sesame seeds if desired.

From 101 Recipes for Kids, BBC books.

How's your summer? Any favourite redcurrant recipes or easy recipes to fill up growing children? Any good summer reads (kids or grown-ups) to share, summer walks or wildlife watching in your area?


  1. Thank you for the book ideas will look for that donkey one on the library website. Watering the poly tunnels always results in a couple of frantic frogs jumping about in shock!

  2. I cut my grass this evening (it was VERY long)and had several frogs jusmp out of it before they got chopped. Think they took refuge under my large Rosemary plant. :o)

  3. My children love redcurrant jam, so that's what my redcurrants always turn into.
    Filling up children in summer is always a trick, isn't it, because you don't want to heat the house up. I try to have one baking session a week, and fill up the freezer with muffins etc, which we then defrost as needed. Giant pots of home made hommus with vegie sticks and crackers. Pesto to put on pasta. Then they can eat lots of fruit and home made icy poles.
    Enjoy your summer. I am looking forward to some warm..

  4. When my kids were younger, they went out many summer nights looking for frogs and toads. They mostly found toads and caught them when they could. Those toads provided a lot of entertainment.

  5. We haven't been finding many frogs/toads this year, but have found plenty of good books at the library. When it was hot the only thing my boys used to ask for were frozen fruits. I would stock up, it was more expensive than Popsicle but better for them and being frozen they didn't eat nearly as much as they did before freezing them.

  6. Frogs and toads are the animals I am most afraid of. I know, I's a totally silly fear. I think it is because they jump so fast and I think they are going to jump on me. Lizards, snakes, newts- none of these bother me so much as a frog.

  7. What a cute frog :) When I was doing fieldwork we would see green tree frogs hanging out on the windows sometimes - they are lovely.

  8. Still unsure of the difference between toads and frogs. I discovered one on the lawn when I returned home late one evening last week but it didn't hang around long enough for me to see if it was warty or not (it was dark and I presume it wasn't keen on my little torchlight). I just hope whatever it was hangs around and eats loads of slugs!