Friday, 7 August 2015

Five Things To Do When You're Flat Broke

If you're like me, and most of your socialising and revelry occurs within the first two weeks after you get paid and the following weeks are mostly spent lounging around in your pyjamas at home wondering if you have enough money in your purse for a bottle of wine from the corner shop, then you know how frankly rubbish it is when you get to your long awaited day off work and realise you have no money left to actually do anything! I have become something on a expert on doing fun things for little/no money thanks to this vicious cycle and so I thought I'd compile a list of Things To Do When You're Flat Broke. Some of these things need a tiny bit of money/pre planning and some need nowt.

Take a really long bubble bath

There isn't a bad mood that cannot be cured by a gloriously long bubble bath. But you have to do these things right. You need lots of bubbles so if it's the end of the month and you don't have much money left, or much in the way of bubbles, then scour the end bits of all those bottles you never quite got around to finishing and mix them together. The bath needs to be the right temperature too so keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't cross the fine line between lava hot and miserably tepid. You need some nice relaxing music too, so fire up Spotify and choose your favourite classical album. Movie scores are great as well, as are some of the Spotify curated playlists. I recommend Camille Saint-Saens' The Carnival of the Animals, The Harry Potter Soundtracks (for a very magical bath), and this 'Coffee Table Jazz' playlist. You can also add in other options like candles, a good book, and a glass of wine for optimum destressing.

Make flavoured syrups 

For this one you will need one cup of sugar & one cup of water. That's basically all syrup is. You can fancy it up by adding vanilla, lavender, cinnamon, cardamom pods, rosemary. Basically you can experiment with whatever you have in your cupboard. It's one part syrup to one part water, in a saucepan, heated and stirred until the sugar dissolves/the ingredients infuse flavour into it. You can use the syrup in coffee both hot & iced, but it's great in all sorts of things like on top of ice cream or pancakes, or in cocktails. Once it's cooled your can put it in a glass bottle or jar in the fridge and it keeps for up to one month. It also kinda feels like you're a domestic goddess but really you're just dissolving sugar in water.

Make a blanket fort

If anyone ever tries to tell you you are too old to make a blanket fort please delete that person from your life because they are incorrect. Blanket forts are a magical dreamland that will remove you from all the bad in the world where you can get all cosy and watch movies & drink hot chocolate. You can invite over a buddy or be on your own or share it with your cat. For added cosiness add fairy lights and a hot water bottle. Once at university I made a scarf/blanket fort in my bedroom with one of my friends and I didn't take it down for like 5 days. It took over my entire bedroom. It was amazing.

Paint your nails all fancy

If you like nail art but you can't afford to go to a salon you can just do it yourself at home! You don't need a bunch of fancy equipment either. The more you practice the better you'll get so you could start off just painting a different colour on each nail and work up to polka dots & stripes- plus it doesn't have to be perfect! I've posted here about how to make a dotting tool from an old cork and a pin but if you do have a spare pound or two, Poundland sell lots of nail art supplies that are great! I've gotten brushes, striping tape and gem/stud wheels from there before! They have some lovely glittery topcoats too. Once you have a mini collection built up from a bit here and there every month you can whip out your tools and have sparkly, dotty, colourful nails in no time.

Make bread & soup from scratch.

Do you know how easy and cheap it is to make your own bread? All you need is strong bread flour, salt, lukewarm water & a sachet of fast action yeast. That's it. They're the kind of things you can just have lying around in your cupboard for ages and take out for a rainy day. The bread flour & yeast sound fancy but you can basically get them both in most supermarkets for less than £1 each. And soup is basically just stock and a bunch of vegetables chucked in a pot and simmered together  until the vegetables are cooked so you can blend it all together. Bread making is an ideal 'rainy day with no money' activity because it's relaxing, it makes your house smell cosy and it takes a few hours to do it. I've covered a basic soup recipe before, in this post. My favourite bread recipe is from Great British Bake Off: How To Bake. I am going to post it here for you now because I can't find it online & it's basically the only bread recipe I've found that doesn't put butter, oil or sugar in the bread, which are totally not necessary. I've placed it after a cut because it's kind of long! Happy Cheap Baking!




Makes 2 Medium Loaves

700g strong white bread flour
2 tsp crushed sea salt flakes (or 1 tsp of table salt would do the job if you're cheap like me)
1 x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
roughly 450 ml lukewarm water (NOT too hot, it should be around body temp)

  1. Put the flour & salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the sachet of yeast. Mix well, then make a well in the centre.
  2. Pour the lukewarm water into the well.
  3. Mix the flour into the water to make a soft but not sticky dough. If it feels kinda dry add a touch more water. Too sticky/sloppy? Add more flour.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface (when I make bread I have to keep re-flouring my surface. The book doesn't say this but I need to once it starts to stick to my hands/the worktop and it hasn't affected my bread in any negative way. ) Knead thoroughly for 10 minutes- the idea is to stretch out the gluten so you want to stretch & fold your dough so it gains elasticity and becomes silkier- you'll notice the difference. 10 mins feels like ages so put on some jazzy music and set a timer. You'll feel kinda zen afterwards.
  5. Return the ball of dough to the mixing bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise until doubled in size. It'll take 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of the room. DON'T let the dough rise & stick to the cling film. I speak from personal experience, sigh.
  6. Once your dough has grown in size, 'punch' it back down, ie, knock some of the air out of it. Knead it lightly on a floured surface for a couple of minutes to evenly distribute the gas bubbles, then divide your dough into 2 equal portions and form each one into a smooth ball.
  7. Dust some baking paper with flour and place your loaves on them (not too close together or they'll stick to one another as they grow)- dust them with flour on top & cover loosely with clingfilm. Leave until the loaves have doubled in size. Towards the end of the second rise preheat your oven to 230C and put two baking sheets/trays in the oven to warm up, PLUS a roasting tin at the very bottom of the oven.
  8. Once your loaves have doubled, uncover them, sprinkle with more flour (and some seeds if you're feeling fancy), slash the tops with a sharp knife (you can do a few slashes or a cross if you want it's up to you). Transfer them, on the paper, to the hot baking sheets/trays and put in the oven. Pour a cup of cold water into the hot roasting tin (this creates a burst of steam and helps the crust get nice and crisp). Bake for 15 mins then reduce the oven temp to 200C and bake for a further 15-20 mins until your loaves are golden brown (use your best judgement because sometimes I find this takes longer than the books says, sometimes even up to 40 mins). Leave to cool. Sometimes the crusts will crackle as they cool and this is THE BEST THING EVER.


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