Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Meal Planning

I have a busy few days ahead and I have done a stock check of whats in the freezer and meal planned accordingly. I feel like all I have done lately is stock check but you need to know what you've got before you buy more. Here's what we are having;

Tuesday - Fish with jacket potatoes
Wednesday - Enchiladas - have all the ingredients in stock
Thursday - Have been invited out for tea :-)
Friday - Beefburgers
Saturday - Going to an outdoor prom so weather permitting it will be a picnic supper
Sunday - Spaghetti and Meatballs.

I am trying to get my freezer down again so I can defrost it. I hope that once empty I can do a big batch cooking session and fill the freezer back up with home cooked meals ready to warm through quickly.

Monday, 29 August 2011

School Uniform Stock Check

Its that time of year again when you have to buy new uniform so I have had a stock check today to see how we are fixed. I try and buy bits and pieces throughout the year to keep costs down but as this is my daughters last year at primary school, I am conscious not to buy stuff that won't get worn so we are going to try and make do with what we have. I have got her to try on last years uniform, the blouses are tight and so are the summer dresses so they will be donated to the school shop.
Winter Coat- Last years is still OK, fits well and has plenty of room. No replacement needed.
Fleece Jacket - I got one in the sale a few months ago in the school colour, reduced from £12.50 to £5.
School Cardigans - Still fit but I may have to get a new one. They have the school emblem sewn on so I can't get them from the supermarket. A new one will cost £15 but I may check in the school shop the first week back see if anyone has donated one in a bigger size.
Blouses - Managed to get a pack of 2 M&S blouses a few months ago for £3. My mom also bought her a 3 pack recently so she has 5 new blouses to wear.
Skirts- Last years still fit although a little short, I have told her to wear these with thick tights. She had a bigger size in stock from last year, when I got the other skirts from M&S. They had a deal on buy 2 get one free. Effectively the big skirt is the free one and it is quite long so will do nicely for this school year.
PE Kit - Lasts years fits so no replacement needed.
Pumps - Got these in the sale a while ago, reduced from £6 to £3.
School bag - Had to get a new one as last years had ripped and she will now have to carry a folder so the bag has to be big enough. Got a rucksack style bag which is big enough, reduced from £20 to £10. The bag also has reflectors which I like for the dark winter evenings.
School tights - I always buy these in summer when they are reduced. I got 2 three packs in the M&S sale a while ago, reduced to £2 per pack from £9.
Long socks - 5 pack , again reduced to £3 in M&S sale.

So all in all, not too bad and not much expense. Next year see's me buying the senior school uniform, so I will start saving each month from now so that next summer I have a lump sum to get it with. I can't stock pile for that as I don't know which school she will get a place at until early next year.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Car Boot

We have had a car boot this morning. Awake at 4.30 then set up shop by 5.30am. We were mobbed when we first arrived and got rid of some X Box games straight away. We sold mainly clutter from around the house, old clothes, old toys and other bits and pieces. We also sold the home brew equipment that had been in the loft for 15 years, we got £17 for two barrel's and two buckets. We didn't have a pasting table or a ground sheet so we had to improvise. When I was in the loft I found the plastic wrapping from when we had our suite 6 years ago (yes we have also been storing wrapping for many years ! ) and we used this as the ground sheet. We took drinks and snacks with us although before we left I was lured by the smell of onions to the hot dog stand, however we did share the hot dog which cost £2.50 out of our profits. We had a productive morning all in all, lots of clutter gone and we made £92. We are going to give our daughter some of the money as we did sell a lot of her stuff, albeit clutter. Back home now enjoying a well earned cup of tea.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Free Family Day Out- RAF Cosford

Today we headed over to RAF Cosford. Its about half hours drive from where we live and the weather was good again.  Admission is free but you do have to pay for car parking which was £2 for us. We went there as my daughter is learning about WW2 when she goes back in September and they have a hanger with lots of WW2 planes and things. Its quite interesting and you can meander round the hangers. They have some tiny planes and some huge ones. They do have some other things such as tanks, military vehicles but its not a bad afternoon out. We managed to dodge the cafe and gift shop and took our own drinks along. I did pick up two replica newspapers which were the editions for Battle of Britain and D Day Landings. These were £2.99 each and make for interesting reading as they include news stories and adverts of the day. I thought these were a better alternative for reading material on WW2 than just a history book.

Friday, 26 August 2011

With Thanks...

Welcome to my new follower ' A Tale from Toadstool House' and thank you for your comments on my posts.
I also wanted to say thank you to everyone for your kind words of encouragement following yesterdays blog. Circumstances today have prevented me from doing any extra exercise but I have done lots of extra walking at work today and used the stairs instead of the lifts, every little helps !! I intend to do some type of exercise over the weekend. At home I have a Wii and Wii fit, Just Dance, Michael Jackson The Experience ( he must have been so fit to dance like that !!) and also a Zumba DVD , none of which I have used yet for exercise purposes so a mini goal is to use them in the very near future.
Karen ; I share some of the same 'hates' as you, photos especially. I found my wedding day quite stressful having lots of photos taken !!
No Spend Days ; I don't mind swimming once I am in the water but I hate the 'walk of shame' getting into the pool. This is probably the fastest I ever walk ,to quickly get into the pool before anyone sees me. To add to the horror, our local pool has the showers poolside so everyone can see you showering which I think is a bit intrusive
Savings for Travel; My weight loss/exercise is also for health reasons but I would like to get into smaller clothes, truth be known :-)
Vix ; Thanks for the link , I will look into that over the weekend. I actually used to swim there as a child, we were bused there from primary school for our swimming lessons.
Angela; I think that the GI diet would be helpful to me as well and you have done so well with your exercise so far, it is a great achievement and I bet you feel great for it as well.

Thanks again everyone and have a great weekend.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Positive Mental Attitude

I always strive to have a positive mental attitude but there are times when I am knocked down very easily. There are a number of 'bags' that I am carrying and the debt was one of them. I am now very close to having it all paid off and it feels great. It has given us a real boost and shown us that although something may seem hard at the outset, you can achieve success if you apply yourself. So the debt is almost gone but I have the other 'bags' to unload. One of the 'bags' is exercise. You probably read this and think what on earth am I on about but it is an obstacle for me that I need to address. I am overweight, in part due to a medical condition. I can't do anything to change that and people probably think excuses, but I have medical notes to prove it and if somebody does'nt believe that, frankly I don't give a damn. But I will be honest , I am also lazy. In certain areas of my life I can be very organised and structured but here I am just idle. I completely lack enthusiasm to get up and do things. In part it is due to physical appearance, I hate having my picture taken and hate the idea of people looking at me . I know in all probability they are not looking at me but I feel self conscious. When I was a teenager I was very slim and self confident but as I got older that changed. I used to walk everywhere and be physically active but then I learned to drive and that was it. I have also worked my adult life in offices so that also doesn't help, sitting down all day. Anyway I could completely bore the pants off you so I will cut a long story short. Today my husband had the car and I didn't want to stay home like I would usually do. The weather was nice and my daughter and I walked to visit some relatives who live not far away. We probably walked about 4 miles there and back and we had a very pleasant time. I feel tired now and my legs feel achey. I read other blogs of people walking miles each day, if you are one of those people reading my blog you are probably thinking pull yourself together !! The fact is I need to incorporate more exercise into my sedentary life and I need to make time to do it. I feel great almost being debt free so I want to feel equally great being fitter and slimmer. I'm sorry to waffle on about my exercise phobia but sometimes you just have to put it out there.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Evening of clutter

We have had a productive evening tonight and have been up in our loft decluttering. Hopefully we will be having a car boot sale this weekend sometime so we have put aside a heap of stuff that we want to get rid of. The loft is beginning to look clearer, in the ten years since my daughter came along we have periodically used it as a dumping ground. We have sectioned little areas which is a bit more organised. We have an area of stuff to keep, decorating stuff, Christmas stuff and other areas not yet tackled. It is more tidy instead of just being a big room full of junk. We had empty cardboard boxes just lying around, they have gone. Lots of toys and baby stuff to go, despite pulling on the heart strings we have been a bit ruthless to get rid of the clutter and hopefully make some money. Realistically she will never play/wear the stuff again so it makes sense for it to go and also when the joyous day arrives that we finally sell our house, we would have to sort it all out anyway. Hopefully the little bit of time we spend decluttering now will save us time and effort later. My daughter has been out today so it was good to sort out in her absence, because she keeps putting everything back in her room !

Message for Mrs Moneypenny

I have just read your blog and left you a comment. However if you are having problems you may not get to view my comment so I thought if I left you a message on my blog , you may read it and know you've had a reply. Hope this makes sense !

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Cinema, Lunch and Christmas Pressie all for £10!

Today my daughter and I have had Girls Day, we do it from time to time and spend the day together. I like us to have a nice day for not a lot of expense. We started the day by going to see the kids film showing of Kung Fu Panda 2 at the cinema at Star City, Birmingham. Most cinemas now have kids showings at weekends, recent films but for a fraction of the usual cost. This film came out in May this year so its not on general release now but at the kids showing you can see it for £1.25 each. Had we of seen it in May it would have cost us ( at peak times) £8.30 adult and £5.30 child ticket, so its worth waiting to see it a few weeks later. We took our own drinks and snacks, naughty but saves money. The man next to us said he had bought two drinks and popcorn and it cost him £11 !! After the cinema we went for lunch at Pizza Hut. I had a voucher for regular pizza & salad for £5 and the kids eat free offer is still on, which you can use with the voucher. My pizza should have been £8.95 and my daughters meal should have been £3.99 but all I paid was £5 so we saved £7.94. I never buy a drink myself as I find them to be too bloaty so I have a sneaky sip of my daughters which is refillable anyway included in the cost of her meal ( which was free ). So far we had been fed and entertained for £7.50 !! After Star City we went to the nearby Fort Shopping centre. My daughter had a £15 birthday voucher to spend at WH Smiths. We walked all round the store choosing what to buy, in the end she chose a toy £5, two books £9 - on offer buy one get one half price (£5.99 plus £3), a new pen for school 49p , some sweets and 10x 1p toys ( see my previous blog) . The shops have lots of sales at the moments, it easy to pick up lots of stuff but I resisted the temptation. Last stop was Boots. I had a £5 No 7 money off voucher that I had been given recently. I picked up a Christmas gift for someone, some fake eyelashes £7.50 but only £2.50 to pay with the money off voucher. So another gift in the kitty and a nice day into the bargain, and only £10 of real money spent, cash not credit !!!

WH Smith 1p Bargains

A week or so ago I had an email from Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert and one of his features were 1p bargains at WH Smiths. Various end of lines were going through at 1p each but depending upon which cashier you got , some were taking them off sale and not putting them through. We went into WH Smith at The Fort, Birmingham earlier and came across some advertised as 1p on the shelf, Puppy and Ocean in my Pocket. When we paid the cashier put them all through so we got 10 for 10p !! My daughter had these some time ago and I think they were about £1.49 each then. The packs we got today contain a packet of sweets and the collectible toy figure and luckily all the ones we have got today , my daughter hasn't got already. I think it is just pure chance if you go in and A/ if they have any at all and B/ if they will sell them to you !!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Drunk Man

I saw something today and wondered what to do. When I was upstairs in my bedroom I glanced out of the window and saw a man staggering along the street and then he sat on a wall opposite. At first I thought maybe he was unwell so I watched him for a while. However as he sat he was shouting obscenities, loud and crude. He then was trying to make his way along the path and to be honest , it was something like a from a comedy show. He continued to bellow and kept spitting as well. I found myself watching him for sometime as it made me feel anxious. People did pass him periodically and one person stopped to check if he was OK but he just kept shouting vile abuse. I went downstairs and looked out again about 20 minutes later and he was still there. When I checked again about 15 minutes after that he was gone. He was not actually doing me any harm but what do you do? I wondered if you should call the police, get him moved along but is that wasting police time? If you were to approach him , could he be armed and would you suffer any repercussions? I really dislike situations like that, being subjected to other peoples bad manners/behaviour especially when you have children with you. What do you think ?

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Catch up day

Today I haven't set foot outside of the house. I have been busy cleaning and sorting. Have taken advantage of the nice weather and washed two of my winter coats which are quite thick and heavy. To be honest I am sick of the sight of them. I have had them since 04/05 but they are so warm I am loathed to get rid of them.
I have been sorting out my daughters old clothes. I have decided to have a car boot in the next few weeks and I will try and sell lots of stuff (clutter) so I've had to take out the name labels out of my daughters clothes. They are the embroidered ones so I can use them again ! My husband went to the supermarket yesterday and found 5 twin packs of salmon fillets for 79p each , total £3.95, which should have been £4 each. Not bad for 39p a fillet, we love salmon in our house so they will be gobbled up soon. Today he has come back with a pack of duck breast fillets at 59p reduced from £4.32. We are working our way through the freezer at the moment, having lots of chicken dishes from the mountain of reduced chicken we got a few weeks ago. Now the holidays are over I am going to get back into the meal planning and cut down on the big supermarket shops.

Theft Update

Hooray !!! Got the money back and we can now access online and telephone banking again. My husband went into the branch and they told him '' they have no idea how these people keep doing this'' which suggests that it is an ongoing problem. So no news unfortunately as to who/why and where these culprits are. My husband is in the process of opening a new bank account elsewhere as we have now had about 3 fraud incidents over the last few years with the same bank. The new account offers an easy switch service which will transfer all the direct debits/bills etc and promises to be a stress free process, we shall see !!

Monday, 15 August 2011

More Fashion by Mom

Here is a quick little craft project I have done this evening. Recently I bought my daughter this plain black shift dress from the Scope charity shop, in almost new condition for £2.50. My idea was to jazz it up a little and she could wear it at Christmas time. I remembered that I had a broken bead necklace, with black faceted beads. I found it out and sewed it around the neckline of the dress. It took me about 20 minutes to sew it and I sewed it on at roughly inch intervals to try and keep the beads looking fluid. Here is the finished garment, what do you think ?

Broken clasp on necklace
Close up of neckline

Nearly there

I phoned for a credit card balance earlier and now the balance is a little over a £1000. Was so excited ! I will be able to pay a nice chunk off that later this month. I felt like telling everyone at work but then you have to tell the whole story and frankly not every ones interested. No news yet regarding the on line fraud. I did tell my work colleagues about that and  a long discussion followed. I think one colleague thought we just stood at the cashpoint with a sign saying ' help yourselves', they didn't seem to grasp it was taken without our consent !!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Nice Day

Thanks for your kind comments after yesterdays blog and thank you to everyone who takes time to read the blog. Please feel free to leave a comment if you would like. I do like to look at other peoples blogs so if you are new to my site , say Hi and I can have a look at your blog too ! Have had a very pleasant day today. went for a family picnic and spent the afternoon eating sandwiches and cake and having a good chinwag ! Lovely walk in the fresh air and sunshine, felt so much better afterwards. I am back at work tomorrow after a fortnights leave so have lots to do this evening. See you soon.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

On line theft

The high of the holiday turned into a huge low today. My husband tried to access his account on line to find it had been suspended. He telephoned the bank to learn that his account has been hacked and the virtual thieves have helped themselves to over £1100. The bank says we will get the money back but have to go through the process, telephone and Internet banking suspended, go into the branch etc etc. I find it annoying on so many levels; the bank didn't telephone us as they don't have our telephone numbers.  How very odd, where do they get our number from when they call you for a quick telephone survey ? Also they allowed two large debits to go through when there was insufficient funds ? Yet we have had card payments embarrassingly declined for paltry amounts when funds have been available but the bank explains this as security checks when you query it. Over the last few years we have had a few experiences of fraud with this particular bank, but we have applied today for an account elsewhere. We don't live that far from Howard at Sheldon branch, we may have to go in and give him a telling off.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Holiday Bargains Part 3

Sorry for the Bargain Trilogy but Blogger is being a complete pain this evening.

I like to pick things up when I see them and keep them as gifts for Christmas and Birthdays. Some people may find it a bit sad that I am buying Christmas presents already but it saves me time,money and energy in December. I now have about 90% of my presents bought.

The black school shoes were £16 from £32.

The black bag I have bought for a Christmas gift, it came complete with dust bag as well, reduced from £29.99 to £10.

Holiday Bargains Part 2

Black shoes £5 from £38.

Blogger is being naughty, here are the rest of the bargains.
Stocking filler for my daughter, £1 from £8, headband.
Clarks trainers for my daughter £16 from £32, old ones were size 2 !!
Pink stone with silver bale £6 from £12. I have the silver chain already at home. Christmas present for my niece.
UV suit for my nephew for Christmas, £4 from £12.

Holiday Bargains Part 1

I picked up some bargains whilst I was away , what do you think ? Brown Leather shoes for me £16.49 from £54.99.

Rare find for me, charity shop items that fit. Brand new with tags £4.99 and £3.30.

Wooden beads from Folk Festival £1

Back home

Just arrived back home from Devon. Holiday over now for another year, time to start saving again! Washing machine is on and I am busy opening all the mail. Kettles on , time for a nice cuppa ! Have had a lovely time and will share my holiday bargains with you very soon. Bye for now.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Family Holiday

Tomorrow we are off to Devon for our family summer holiday. We have been looking forward to it for ages, both the holiday and the time off work. We have been to East Devon a few times before so know whats there but its the first time our holiday has been planned in great detail. Previously holidays would comprise of me, my husband , our daughter and our flexible friend. We would just float through the holiday not really thinking about what we were spending, buying things needlessly and putting things on our credit card willy nilly. It is silly now when I look back and also very irresponsible. A typical day would comprise of home made breakfast in our accommodation, or a full English in a cafe if we were feeling a little lazy. Lunch out somewhere then go out for a meal in the evenings; drinks, meals, side orders and deserts, not good for the wallet or the waistline. Its very different this time around. We are staying in self catering accommodation but we plan to eat our meals in the cottage and not eat out. We are taking lots of stuff with us that we have bought over the weeks in with our regular shopping. We have some unwatched DVDs that we want to catch up on in the evenings and my daughter is taking some of her books to read. We are taking my daughter to a park called Crealy, at the moment they are doing a weeks free admission with a day ticket so we intend to go there , firstly for a full day and any spare afternoons we may have. I saw on another web page recently about a park called Haldon Forest, so we want to go there and spend time walking and having a a picnic. If the weathers good we will also spend time at the beach and hunt for fossils. There's lots to do without spending a fortune. I am also going to keep a spending diary, I find this very useful when I am away from home as it keeps my spending on track. One huge plus point for this holiday is that we saved up for the accommodation and paid with cash, lovely jubbly as Del Boy would say.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Black Country Living Museum

My husband had to use the car today so rather than stay home ,my daughter and I went out for the day using the free Day saver bus tickets. I also had in stock a 2 for 1 entry for the Black Country Living Museum. The museum is in Dudley so not a million miles away. When we got on the bus the spiteful lady bus driver wouldn't let me use the Day saver for my daughter ,as she is not an adult so I had to pay £2.50. The bus journey took about 40 minutes but it was like travelling on a mobile greenhouse as it was so hot here today. Straight off the bus and into the museum. They were advertising an offer whereby if you paid for a day ticket today they would give you 12 months free entry. I was surprised to find that I could use the 2 for 1 coupon. So I paid £13.60 for me and my daughter was free (£7.10 was child price) and I can return as many times as I like until next August ! We made our way round the museum , it is an open air museum and all of the building's are real local ones that have been saved from demolition and removed brick by brick to the museum site. There is an underground coal mine, trams, 1930's fairground and lots of little houses to mooch round. We saw a film in the 1920's cinema, which was 'The Vagabond' starring Charlie Chaplin. My daughter couldn't believe that this was what they used to watch in the 'olden days' ! We had fish and chips cooked in beef dripping, they are so tasty. They don't serve them in newspaper anymore but do come wrapped as they would have years ago. We went into the Workers Institute where they had some tables and chairs, a welcome sight on such a hot day ! There was also activities for children, my daughter made a kite and has been playing with it all day. A quick go on the fair then back home on the bus. One last treat was something that my daughter spotted at the bus stop when we were on our way there. A cafe was advertising a free drink upon sight of a bus ticket. So when we got off the bus we headed over there and as the cafe was about to close , we had drinks to go. I had a lovely cappuchino and my daughter tried a latte, drinks should have been £2.30 each ! The nice lady even gave us a few vouchers for a 5 item breakfast at 99p each and kids eat free ! I said to my daughter that we could go during the holidays and have breakfast one day for a treat.
Fish and Chips cooked in beef dripping.
We have the exact same fireplace at home.

Here is the sign we spotted for the free drinks.

Some Black Country Wenches having a slanging match in the street !The one in the hat ended up having a bucket of water thrown over her.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel

Well here we are in August and where has the time gone? At the moment the weather is lovely and we are enjoying the school holidays. I am off work and trying to get jobs done around the house amongst other things. One of my goals this month is to eat our way through the meat we have in the freezer. Another goal is to declutter and have a car boot sale whilst the weather is still good. We have made another payment yesterday towards our flexible friend. Hopefully soon we will be waving a permanent goodbye to our flexible friend and his hold over us will be no more. Each month it is great to see the balance reducing and we now have about £1000 left to pay which is really good. This time last year we were just repaying the minimum amount and not making any progress. We were away over the weekend and I was really good, kept to my budget and even came home with money. No stupid spending ,no impulse buys and nothing on the credit card .Everything was bought with cash and I kept a spending diary so I did'nt lose track.