Monday, 30 May 2011

Small Snowballs

Its that time of the month again, payday is here and busy working out whats what for the forthcoming month. At the moment I feel demoralised and things aren't necessarily going to plan. I have let things slip and then that brings me down. I'm trying this month to be more organised, with money , my time and family life. Have paid £500 off the credit card, which in itself is not an insignificant amount but I would have like to have paid more. My target of having the card paid off by summer may now stretch into autumn. Still tomorrow is another day and you never know what the day may bring!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Death of a cake stand

As I mentioned previously, I always like to have a rummage at the church table top sale. Before Christmas I found a cake stand ( I don't know why I bought it because I never eat cake - that is of course a bit fat lie !! ) When I asked the nice lady she pondered for a moment and then said 50p. I was highly delighted as they are so expensive to buy new. So my cake stand has been living with us happily , that is until yesterday when my husband dropped something on it. I was upstairs and heard the smash up there. When I came down half of it had smashed into tiny pieces. At least it was only 50p so no great loss but perhaps there is a message there somewhere to eat less cake ?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


I spent some time wondering around Tesco's this evening. My daughter has a class and I have an hour to fill but I don't really want to go shopping so I will have to find some other way to occupy myself in future. As I write I find more arguments not to go , I don't like Tesco, its layout or much of its produce and I also find it quite expensive.  Anyway moan over, back to the story ! I came across some Basil reduced. It was £1.19 reduced to 24p. As it is a living plant I thought I would buy it, take it home and see if it survives into next week. I'm not good with plants so I'm hoping it will be ok. It is now living on the windowsill and the kitchen smells great. I think that it will be a nice ingredient to have to hand , if it survives that is !

Monday, 23 May 2011

How to clean your make up brushes.....cheaply

I don't wear make up often but I do have some and I think I will start wearing it as it is a waste to have things lying around unused. The make up is from my previous life buying expensive products and rarely using them. I decided to get my brushes out and give them a clean. The brushes themselves were expensive and as I am not spending that kind of money again it will pay me to take care of them. Make up brush cleaner can be expensive and the high end brands can be over £10. I have heard of people using baby shampoo so I thought I'd give it a try. When I looked at the baby shampoo in the supermarket I initially looked at Johnson's, it was about £2 per bottle but as I looked around I noticed the supermarkets own brand lurking on the bottom shelf at a more respectable 17p per bottle. I guessed that as it is a baby product it must be of a certain standard and not too chemically. I rinsed the brushes then washed them individually in the shampoo and then rinsed again. I left them to lie flat for a few hours on a flannel , then overnight standing in a cup by an open window. This morning they were dry, revitalised, feeling soft and ready to use again. I did wash my daughters hair with the shampoo last night. I wouldn't use it again for actual hair washing as it didn't lather up enough and it didn't seem to spread into the hair as easily as a regular shampoo. I will however definitely use it again for cleaning the brushes, well worth 17p !

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Free Tickets to Alton Towers

Yesterday we spent the day at Alton Towers. We had some free tickets from the newspaper a while ago and we were allocated yesterdays date ,which was great to be able to go on a Saturday. We had four free adult tickets which cost £39 each ! My daughter was able to bring her friend and they had a super time. I plucked up the courage to go on the 'Rita' ride and my daughter and I queued for about 40 minutes. As we neared the carriage I began to have second thoughts !! The ride goes from 0-100 km per hour in approx 2.5 seconds. My daughter was so keen to get on the ride I really couldn't back out. So off we went ! She loved it, I hated it. Needless to say that was my only thrill seeking experience that day. Its easy to see how much money they make at these kind of places. Car parking is now £6 per day and there were thousands of cars ! I took two kids ponchos with us for the girls to wear on the water rides, they charge £5 each for the ponchos, ours were free from the Sea Life centre. It was a great day, even better that it was a great day for free.

Friday, 20 May 2011

£5 off at Morrisons

A kind colleague gave me a £5 off coupon for Morrison's that came in the newspaper at the weekend. I hadn't intended to go shopping but as we were running perilously low on toilet rolls and other items I thought I could go and stock up and get the £5 off. We were low on other store cupboard ingredients as well. Tea bags were on offer £4.19 a box or 2 boxes for £5 so they went in the trolley. We found some reduced meat which we put in the trolley although the freezer is fit to burst. We got 2 lamb leg steaks for 45p each reduced from £3.19 each, a pack of beef braising steak 25p reduced from £2.92 and 5 packs of sweet chili chicken fillets 35p each reduced from £3 each  = £24.30 of meat for £2.90 ! To get £5 off you had to have a minimum spend of £40 so I was adding it all up around the store. At the till it came to £39.55 ! I had to throw a chocolate bar in to get it up to £40 so I could use the coupon.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A gift of £20 ? No Thank You !

After Christmas I paid off my credit card with Nationwide. It had a few hundred pounds on it and I hadn't actually spent on it for over twelve months. So since New Year its had a nil balance and the lovely people at Nationwide have noticed this. I received a letter from them this morning telling me they were giving me a gift of £20. How wonderful I thought until I read the rest of the letter. In order to keep the gift I have to spend at least £1000 on my credit card during the months of May & June. If I don't , then they reclaim the gift in July. Well I won't be doing that, the letter has been shredded and is now in the recycling bin. I wonder how long it will be before they send me another mailshot trying to entice me to spend money. I'm sorry Nationwide, the computer says no !

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Your Hired

Its that time of the year when The Apprentice comes back and each week we tune in. Tonight Lord Sugar sent his candidates off with a shopping list of items that they had to get for the cheapest price. I sent my husband out to pick up his salad for work , by himself with out Karen or Nick to watch over him. He did well. He came back with the salad and a few other items. He followed my route round the supermarket picking up the whoopsies as he went. This is what he bought ; Leaf salad 20p reduced from 95p, Spinach & Rocket salad 20p reduced from £2, Pate 27p reduced from £1.33, Blueberries 30p reduced from £2, Mini Sausages 19p reduced from £1, 2 Pizza Express Pizzas 59p each reduced from £4 each and my personal favourite, almond croissants 50p reduced from a £1. Frugal Apprentice, Your Hired !!

No Trousers But Five Dresses

Here is the blog that I was going to put on last week when Blogger went down. Sorry its a week late but better late than never. I went shopping that day with my mom to Shrewsbury. She has wanted to go there for a long time and we had never got around to it so as we were both free that day off we went. I had high hopes that I would succeed in the quest for black trousers but it wasn't to be. Instead I ended up buying five dresses which is surprising as I rarely show my legs ! We went into an outlet shop and I picked up four there. Now they are all black and it does look like I am off to a witches convention but I like black and I think you can team it up with different things, scarfs, accessories etc and break it up a bit.

The one with a cowl neck and belt should have been £37. It was 99p ! The v neck one should have been £35 and it was 99p! The scoop neck should have been £40 and it was £2.99 and the one with the ruffled front also should have been £40 and it was £3.99 . The blue dress was from another shop , should have been £40 and was on the sale rail at £7.50. This one also has the added bonus of a brooch on the waist.

I had originally intended to wear the 99p ones as winter house clothes as they are woolly but when I tried them on they are too good to lounge around in. The one with the ruffle looks completely different on, it is quite shaped and the material is the kind that seems hard to crease. The scoop neck also comes with a belt. The blue dress is quite floaty and has a bit of a ruffle at the side. The v neck looks good with a belt and you could wear it on its own or perhaps with some leggings or thick tights. Total Spend was £16.46 = 5 dresses, 2 belts and a brooch.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Cash Count

I have looked at the bank accounts this evening. Its two weeks until payday and at present I have £92 to last until the end of the month. Its not all bad, the freezer is full and there is petrol in the car. Some people may think only £92, but I am pleased with that. Once upon a time it would have been a debit balance. Every month a cycle of getting paid then going overdrawn again.When you are living with an overdraft its very hard to get out but that particular hurdle is behind us now. Sometimes I feel like big sister who has to hold every ones pocket money but I know that it will eventually all come good.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Fashion By Mom

Recently my daughter saw a top that she wanted at the shops. It was ok, had a few decorations but it was £11. I told her it was too much and that we could do better. She gave me a strange look. Now I am no Stella McCartney but I was willing to give it a go. I remembered that I had lots of buttons in my sewing box, some going back 15 years when I first left home. The items that the buttons belonged to were long gone so there were just lying around the bottom of the box ,unloved and unused. My daughter was watching me curiously. I began by finding pairs of buttons and arranging around the neckline of the plain vest top that my daughter already had. When I was happy with the arrangement I began sewing. I started with one side and then worked in symmetry sewing the other side. I had one odd button so I used that for the middle. After about 40 minutes it was finished. My daughter really likes it and has been asked where she got it from. People are quite shocked when she says '' my mommy made it''. I supposed people think its easier to buy it off the peg but with a little bit of thought and a few buttons I made something a little different. What do you think ?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

So much to do

Today I have so much to do. I'm going to have to put making the 'To Do' list on a 'To Do' list itself! I don't know where to begin. There's washing, ironing, homework to be done. I want to try and take something back to the shops and return books to the library. Getting things ready for work and school. Collect daughter from sleepover at grandparents - factor in extra half an hour as she doesn't want to go home yet !!! Cook breakfast & dinner, Wash up after breakfast and dinner. Bath time, Bedtime and anything else in between. Its really no different from any other day but today I feel tired and swamped. Also on a Sunday I start thinking about work on Monday, which then annoys me further as I am mentally wasting my own time !!! I think I'll have a cup of tea then make a start.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Chinese Food Friday

Last night we had Chinese food for tea, home cooked of course. We started with a noodle kit. These are on sale at Morrison's at £2.99 per box but we had ours from Home Bargains at 99p per box. The kit included meat marinade, ginger & black bean sauce, shitake mushrooms and noodles. We bought some diced chicken from Tesco which was £2.19 for 365g and also some fine green beans which were 40p reduced from £2. Added to that was some mushrooms, onions and carrots from our stock . We also added beansprouts 50p and prawn crackers 35p both from Asda. The individual ingredients come to £4.43 so you could round it up to £5 to include the mushrooms, onions and carrots. So for three of us, you are looking at £1.66 per each. There was loads, it was really tasty and we had seconds. I have a flyer from a local takeaway and their equivalent Black Bean Chicken is £4.00,  Plain Soft Noodles £2 and Prawn Crackers £1.20. You would need probably more than one portion of chicken from the takeaway as each portion tends to be bulked out with veg. The photo doesn't really do it justice, it was tastier than how it looks !

Friday, 13 May 2011

Table Top Sale

My daughter goes to Brownies at the local church hall and each week they have a table laid out with various things for sale. I always have a look and see what goodies they have lurking around. One week I narrowly missed out on a huge box of Lego that cost £2. This week I have picked up the items on the photo. Two framed pictures for 75p each which will do very nicely for my walls. Also 5 tea cups, 5 saucers and 5 side plates which I intend to use for the rare occasions that I have tea and cakes. They cost £1.50 for 15 pieces, not bad at 10p per piece. 

??? Blogger ???

Just a test blog folks. I haven't been able to get into Blogger for over 24 hours and have just tried to put a new post on, don't know if this one will go through. Normal service I hope will resume shortly !

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Fish Pie Ambitions

One of my culinary ambitions is to make my own fish pie. It sounds simple but given the various ingredients I don't want to mess it up. Last week when we were out shopping we came across some fish stock cubes and salmon fillets , both reduced. I have never bought the stock cubes before , they were reduced from £1 to 25p so I thought I'd give them a try. There is also the added bonus of a fish pie recipe on the back so for my first venture I will follow that recipe. The salmon fillets my husband spotted at the supermarket reduced from £3 to 49p. ( He also picked up the breaded camembert reduced from £3.50 each to 39p each). The plan is to pick up the ingredients when I see them reduced ,freeze them and then when I get everything I need , I can get cooking. The recipe suggests adding boiled eggs in the pie but I will give that a miss ! I just need to pick up cod, haddock,and large prawns. The recipe sounds so delicious I can hardly wait !

Liebster Blog Award

Big thanks to Karen from My Frugal Life who has awarded me the Liebster Blog Award. I was really chuffed when I saw Karen's comment yesterday. Yesterday coincidentally was my blogs two month anniversary and also passed the 1000 view marker. Thanks again to Karen and everyone else who takes time to read and comment on my snippets !!
Rules of the Liebster say that I must nominate another blogger with less than 100 followers and the results of my nomination go to......Frugal Down Under. This is a blog that I really enjoy and I hope you will too if you haven't seen it already .

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Why I hate shopping.

Today I went off on the search for black trousers, armed with time, money and positivity. Straight into the local Marks and Spencer's which was nice and quiet as it is Sunday. Was able to walk around the displays without the crowds , looking at the goods at my own pace without being pushed and shoved. Despite my best efforts I could not find any suitable trousers. The main problem being lack of sizes on the shelf. I want to try them on in store and buy them there and then. I don't want to order and pay online to have the problem of waiting for the postman, the package arriving when I'm not home and having to make a special trip into town to collect them from the main Post Office, then to get them home and they don't fit....grrrrrrrrrrr.....I speak from experience!! What I will have to do is go to a larger store and see if I have any luck there. This is why I hate clothes shopping. Whilst in M&S I bumped into a friend and she asked if I have time for a coffee. I did have time but found the coffee shop a tad on the expensive side. My husband asked if I wanted a cake with my drink, I had already noticed that the cakes started at £2 per slice so I declined. As I am a bit of cake monster , I would love a slice of cake with my drink but its just too expensive. They had a Victoria sponge at £2.50 per slice and having a quick peak there was at least 10 slices. My mom bakes and an equivalent sized cake that she makes cost less than £1.50 per cake. It just goes to show how much money they make. My tea was £1.60 and to be honest it wasn't that nice. Its easy to see how you can squander your money, tea & cake there would have been at least £3.60 per person. It was however good to see our friend and have a nice chat over a cup of tea.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Trouser Shopping

I am being forced to go clothes shopping this weekend for black trousers. I really don't like clothes shopping. I tend to have items that I wear to death and that is the reason why I have to go shopping. I noticed yesterday that my faithful black trousers have gone threadbare just by the seat. I can't risk wearing them to work anymore as I don't want to subject the public to the horror of a view of my bottom. I'm not at all adventurous with clothes and tend to play it safe , hence the compulsory black trousers. My last pair was from Marks and Spencer's so that is where I will start, if I am lucky I could be in and out within 20 minutes.
In addition to the trouser situation, the heel also went on my faithful black boots. I've  had my boots for about 2 years and wear them all the time. I get them resoled and heeled when I need but looking at the heel it has split vertically and I'm not sure they are repairable. I will have to take them into the cobblers shop and see what he says. Luckily I have a pair in reserve. The boots were so comfortable that when I saw another pair on sale I bought them to keep for a later date.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Another school project - on a budget

My daughter is learning about the Greeks at school and sure enough school send a letter home to advise they need to come dressed as a Greek Goddess for Greek Day at school. When I was at school we always made our own costumes and that was all part of the fun but nowadays parents tend to just order everything off the Internet and subsequently all the kids look the same. So I told my daughter we would make our own! I started the costume by 'stealing' a skirt that my mom had put in the charity shop bag. It was a brand new ( with tags!) white linen skirt from Marks and Spencers. I cut off the waist band and diagonally cut the skirt to make arms and a neckline. I then sewed it at the top to make wide shoulder straps. I don't have a sewing machine and I didn't want to pay a seamstress to do it , so I sewed it a few times to reinforce it. Once on ,it was the perfect length although a little bit see through so my daughter wore some white leggings underneath and last years summer sandals , that still fit. I needed some bits and pieces to adorn the outfit. I initially thought about gold ribbon for a belt, none in stock so off we went to a local fabric shop. Inside they had a bargain bin of oddments so we had a mooch through. Curtain tiebacks were in there for £1.50 a pair. I found the perfect gold tieback which was originally £31.99! When I got to the till we were charged 75p ! I cut the regal tassel off the tie back ( it was too big and heavy to keep on) and there was a good length of rope to go around her waist and shoulders. From a local Oxfam shop I found the gold brooch and the bangle at £1 each. So here is the finished costume, cost £2.75..... what do you think?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

More Food Bargains

I have been to Sainsburys this evening and picked up some reductions. The freezer is now full to the brim but this should last us a good while. I have tried to capture everything as best as I could on the photograph. Here's what I bought;
Cooked Chicken Breast - reduced from £2 to 59p - bought for sandwiches
Cooked Ham with garlic and sage - reduced from £1.99 to 59p - bought for sandwiches
3 tubs of pasta sauces; three cheese and carbonara - reduced from £1.40 each to 49p
Spaghetti Bolognese - reduced from £1.78 to 59p
6 Pork Sausages - reduced from £2.59 to 79p
Coq Au Vin - reduced from £6.00 to £1.49 ( serves 2)
Puff Pastry -reduced from £1.20 to 39p
2 packs of kippers - reduced from 89p each to 39p
Mashed Potato - reduced from £1 to 39p
Garlic Baguette -reduced from 90p to 30p
Pizza Express Vitabella Pizza - reduced from £3.99 to £1.39
Ham Pizza -reduced from £1.65 to 79p
Tomato & Garlic Pizza Bread - reduced from £1.69 to 79p
Lamb Neck Fillets - reduced from £13.67 to £4.86

Some of it is for quick meals and accompaniments. The pastry I want to have a little dabble at making things. The lamb neck fillets is something I have read/heard about before but I have always found it to be expensive so I thought I would buy it on offer and give it a go. Need to look up some recipes but a fellow shopper said the neck is very nice and has a sweet taste. The Coq Au Vin looks delicious, it has 4 chicken breasts in so probably would serve more than 2 and you couldn't buy the breasts for £1.49. My husband likes Pizza Express but if you eat in , it is very costly. I hope to stay away now from the supermarket for a while and just eat whats in stock.

Back to Work Blues

Today was my first day back at work. With the Easter break, shift patterns and a bit of annual leave I have been away for two weeks. I have to be honest had a good break , the weather has been good, have relaxed and the time has passed by at an acceptable pace not too fast like some holidays. Nevertheless today was complete pants. It sounds ridiculous but whenever I have time off I always feel weird when I go back in. I kind of have the feeling that you used to get if you were called to the headmasters office. I know its ridiculous to feel like that but I have never been able to shake it off. As I walk in through the main door , I wonder '' what has happened in my absence?''. Well the answer was not much. We have been short staffed so my work really hasn't been done so I spent today catching up. I also checked my emails to find an email addressed to me about a problem that someone at senior level had spotted. On our system it leaves a trail so you can see who has done something and when. Looking at the system it took me all of two seconds to see that the problem was not caused by me. Then I took five to take my heart out of my mouth ! Something like that sticks with me for the rest of the day and I am then paranoid, checking all my work. That aside it was nice to see my colleagues and have a bit of Royal Wedding chat. Back home for a nice cup of tea before I start making dinner. See you soon.

Monday, 2 May 2011

School Project

My daughter starts a new school project when she starts back at school tomorrow ' Recycling and Sustainability'. Over the school holidays their homework was to make a Garden Buddy which will be hung in the schools vegetable garden to ward away the birds. The Buddy had to be made with items that would have been otherwise thrown away so over the last three weeks we have been saving things to use. We made the Buddy today, although sunny today it was also very windy so we had to keep retrieving things that had blown around the garden. The Buddy is actually a girl and and she has been accorded some lovely red lips! Here's how we made the Buddy ;
Head - Tomato tin, Blue Hat - lid from washing detergent bottle, Body - Large squash bottle, Arms - Wire coat hanger, Arm decorations- Made from silver wrappings, my daughter based the tassel design on one of Elvis Presley's stage costumes!, Legs - String and Milk Bottle tops, Feet - Yogurt pots.
I'm looking forward to what she learns on this project and what she can teach me !!