Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Chilli Addicts

Good evening and welcome to my new follower Teresa Alcantara, thanks for joining.

One of the ways that we saved money was to change the way we shopped for food. We often used to shop and just throw things in the trolley, like sheep, going round buying the same things each week, not looking at the price/size/weight. We all know that most things can be made cheaply and easily at home but its also convenience. One of the things we used to buy was Mexican taco sets, averaging around £2.50 per box for taco shells ( which always break when you eat them) taco mix and salsa ( which no one liked ! so always got binned ). However I liked taco's and made them with chicken or beef mince, always a tasty snack. Now recently , ie Bonfire Night !, I tried Chilli for the first time. Well actually the second time, the first time I thought it was that bad it put me off for years. So on Bonfire Night I liked it and decided to make it myself at home. It turned out remarkably like taco's but not as expensive. I used mince, onions, chilli powder, can of tomatoes, squirt of tomato paste so those ingredients came to about £2. No kidney beans though as I don't like them ! Then I had cheese and instead of taco shells I used Tortilla chips from Morrison's 25p a bag. The beauty of the tortilla chips is they are ready to eat and don't have to put the oven on to warm through. Anyway , my chilli was a big hit and we have had it now about 4 times. Last week I made a big batch of food and made Chilli on Tuesday and we ate it Friday evening. Nice and quick just warmed through on the hob and very tasty.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Buried Treasure !!!

Last year I bought this years Christmas Cards. It was Christmas Eve and we were at Lichfield Market. A stall was selling all the cards for 20p each, previously £1 upwards. I got all the family cards for about £1.20. Now I can't find them. Its most unlike me, I keep everything organised and all the Christmas stuff, Easter stuff etc all together. Its driving me mad !! I just hope I find them before Christmas because I don't want to buy more, but worse case scenario I will make them so its not all doom and gloom. Anyway back to the point, I have been searching for these cards high and low when I found a bag of paperwork. You know the kind, I'll keep this all together and sort it out later. I began searching through the bag when I came across my buried treasure. Morrison's saving stamps £81 worth :-) I began collecting these last year when my husband was being made redundant so I could get the Christmas shopping with them. Somehow  ( and I don't know how ?? ) they got stashed away in this bag with paperwork and forgotten about. So much for me being organised eh ? Nevertheless it was a great surprise and kind of takes the edge of the missing card situation. The good thing about the stamps is that they are not dated so you can spend them whenever you want but if you want to use the free bonus stamps , they have to be redeemed in November or December. Have you found anything you had forgotten about ?

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Church Christmas Fete

Fete season continues, today the Church fete and later in the week the school and village fete. Last year we got to the fete about an hour into it and there was nothing left. This year we arrived promptly just as it began and picked up some goodies. For me, I bought two new Prestige circular cake tins at 20p each, and two more pots for my collection, a little blue one 50p and a large one £3. I also picked up a little blue and white jug for 30p. When I eventually move house I would like a little blue and white collection , maybe in the kitchen. My daughter found a game of Cluedo for 50p. Back home we checked it out and only the lead pipe piece is missing, so I'm sure we can improvise on that. A well known catalogue shop is advertising Cluedo at £15 so we had a real bargain with that, if she gets bored with it we can re donate it. We also picked up a brand new cotton blouse for my daughter, 50p still with the original price tag of £9.50. It is the next size up so I am keeping it for next summer. She also bought a brand new packaged ,charm style chunky bracelet, silver with 4 chunky heart charms .This was also 50p, I've seen similar in the shops for upwards of £5. I love mooching round the fete's , you can get the retail therapy fix for a fraction of the price and often the stuff can be brand new. Whilst there we took advantage of some home made bakewell tart, well it would be rude not too wouldn't it  !!
Cluedo - It was Miss Piggy Bank at the Church fete with a 50p piece

Nice cotton blouse, brand new with tag only 50p

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Making Progress - At Last !!

Been rather busy this week but feel like I am making progress and getting things done finally. No overtime at work but that has allowed me to concentrate on doing my own stuff. Meals have been planned and organised well. Monday we had a pork joint which we also finished off on Tuesday. Whilst I was doing tea on Tuesday I cooked a cottage pie , which we ate yesterday and also cooked a chilli, which we are eating tonight. There is loads of chilli so if we have any leftover we can have it tomorrow with wraps that I cook on the George Foreman. The wraps are tasty and quick so can't go wrong. Yesterday and today I have knuckled down and gotten on with painting. Its a bit of a foxtrot around the upstairs as I have to paint an area, put the furniture back then start again somewhere else. Then whilst the paint is drying in our room I have done the same in my daughters room. Yesterday was first coat and I have done the second coat today. I have also done part of the landing. I have painted upstairs in magnolia and have got about half a tub of paint left plus another full one. At this stage I'm not sure if I am going to do downstairs in the same colour, whilst I have got the paint it could look at bit 'samey' but then again when the house is put up for sale , I will inevitably get knocked down in price so in some respects it doesn't seem worth the time/effort/cost to paint it a different colour. Its being repainted to sell,  not for us to live in and whilst certain colour schemes may be your taste its not everyone else's so I may play it safe and stick with the neutral colours.After painting all day it seemed second wind kicked in, so then I cleaned the bathroom, kitchen and hoovered all through and then went shopping afterwards. I got to bed and was exhausted. This afternoon I am going to sit down and have a look at the bank accounts and work out our expenses for December.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Painting, Pasta and Pancakes.

I've been so busy this week I haven't had much time for blogging. More hospital appointments and overtime at work has occupied my time. I'm looking forward to getting some extra cash in my pay packet to put towards my 2012 savings goals. As my bank account depleted quickly I have been using up freezer and store cupboard ingredients. I have been to the shops as I am collecting the Morrison's receipts to claim the £25 voucher at Christmas but I have been buying non perishables that I can stock up on. A while ago I decided that I would dedicate a day a week towards getting jobs done at home in readiness for the house being put up for sale. Time has flown by and whilst I have got lots of decluttering done, the other jobs haven't. We decided in the week that we would spend today painting the bedroom. We managed to get quite a bit done so we will resume again next weekend. Hopefully we can get the redecorating done by New Year, not re papering just a lick of paint for a fresh look. Afterwards I cooked pasta for tea, Puttanesca. Recipes can vary but generally you can throw anything in, I usually use sausages for the meat but today I used diced pork from the freezer. It was OK but the sausages are tastier. Then after tea we all fancied something sweet. My husband suggested getting a Key Lime Pie from the local Spar but at £4 I declined his kind offer. Instead we had pancakes, tasty plus the pancake mix is only 7p from Morrison's. We have our pancakes with a spread of Nutella on top. We are going to relax this evening and watch the film ' Knowing' on Channel 4. I remember seeing this advertised a year or so ago at the cinema but films seem to come round to TV quickly these days, so it hardly seems worth paying to go sometimes. Have a nice evening :-)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Thinking ahead for 2012

Like lots of people I have been thinking ahead for financial outlay that I will have next year. I want to save as much as possible. We have very recently paid off the credit card so now we have no debt but so far this month I have found it almost impossible to save anything. We have had a few social functions and cash has just seemed to disappear down the plughole. Partly our fault, I think that mentally we have let things slip as the card has gone so no debts to pay , but now more then ever we need to be focused to achieve our own goals for the future as opposed to repaying debt from the past. I am lucky that I have bought all my Christmas gifts so I don't have that cost to worry about. We have been invited out for Christmas and New Year so food costs should be minimal. We have bought gifts for the host's and items so that we don't arrive empty handed but we won't be going mad and stocking the larder completely for the few days of Christmas. Some of my costs for 2012 are unknown , others are fixed , but here's what I have listed for the moment;

Move House - £ ????????????? Save as much as possible

Senior School - Budgeted £400 for the uniform and other unforeseen costs. Hope to have some left over :-)

Daughters School Trip £200 - They haven't decided the exact cost but last year was £160

Car Tax - £225 - A necessary evil :-(

New Laptop - £300 - Ours is old now and slowly dying. I don't think it will last much longer

Devon - £200 - We have been invited to stay in the summer so although we won't have to pay for accommodation, we will have to budget for petrol and other costs.

So far the fixed costs have totalled £1325. It's quite scary when you stop and think about the costs you will have to pay out. This is on top of utilities, food and other monthly outgoings. I am going to show my daughter the list, I wouldn't normally show her the normal list of outgoings, but I think that it will be good for her to see how much these things cost and to picture visually the financial outlay incurred. A lot of children think that the cashpoint 'gives' you the money, if only !!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Remembrance Sunday

We have been out this morning to the local Remembrance Parade. I have gone each year since I was a small child and now my daughter is in the parade with the girl guides. I had relatives who served in both wars who luckily all survived and returned home. At the Cenotaph the town congregated and the local clergy read the names of all the fallen servicemen. So many names  and so many of the same surname, it makes you wonder if they were all from the same family.

Saturday, 12 November 2011


Good Evening and a big hello to my new follower A Penny Saved.

I've had quite a busy time over the last week. My daughter had her confirmation so lots of preparation for that and then the event itself. I feel like I haven't stopped all week, getting in the car and driving back and forth from place to place. A hospital appointment where I was told something 'should'nt cause me too much bother'' but since I have looked into this , I think it should be investigated a little more so I have to follow that up. Also some overtime at work, very useful but tiring. Then all the usual house and family things to do. We went off today to a local church fete. Not much there to be honest but I did find this little marble pot for £1. I do like my little pots and this will live alongside my other recent find on the mantel piece. I saw an oval mirror for a pound but on close inspection the frame was a plasticy veneer, had it of been wooden I would have snapped it up and given it a bit of a refurb. There are fetes locally over the next two weekends so I hope to find some more gems.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Toy basket starts a new life

Hello and welcome to my new followers Jeanette and Aurora, thank you for joining.

Over recent months we have been decluttering and sorting things out ahead of putting our house on the market in the New Year. I have thrown away, recycled and donated lots of things and been surprised by the amount of stuff that we had. I was sorting through my daughters mountain of possessions and came across her old toy shopping basket. Unlike lots of plastic toys it is quite sturdy and robust but as she no longer plays 'shops' anymore she has no use for it. Then it occurred to me that I could use it. Like many households we have phones chargers, leads and general bits and pieces and I thought I would use the basket to house all these odds and ends. It now lives on the shelf in the cupboard and it is really handy as when I need it I just grab the handle and as it has holes in it , I can spot what I need quickly. I suppose it looks a bit wacky but it is out of sight and does the job.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Another bargain jacket

I got lucky again this week at the church clothes rail. I picked up this little black cotton jacket for my daughter, its age 12 and had a button missing at the back. Luckily the spare was still inside on the label. Its a nice jacket, I wouldn't mind one like it for myself. It has a big round scoop collar and three quarter length sleeves. She teamed it up with her new jeggings and it looked really good. Its from New Look so she was pleased with that. I paid 50p :-)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Frugal Friday Feast

Friday is always a busy day for us. Activities after school and then shopping on Friday night. We hadn't planned for tea so decided to get something from the supermarket. We ended up having a bit of a frugal hot buffet, cheap but tasty. This is what we had ; Meat ball pizza from £3.60 to 69p, King Prawn Thai noodles £2.49 to 45p, 2 packs of Spinach & Ricotta Beef Patties £3.49 to 49p each and for dessert 2 packs of Gu Hot Choc Souffles £3.29 to 49p each. The Gu's had the glass ramekins which we will use again which is an added bonus. Full price it would have cost £19.65, actual price £3.10 - not bad for 3 people !! The beef patties only had 4 per pack and they were not that big, they wouldn't be worth £3.49 each. I also had 2 packs of Gu Pots Au Choc for today , £2.19 each reduced to 49p. The Gu's are delicious but not worth full price in my opinion. Tonight we are off to a Bonfire party, lots of jacket potatoes and hot dogs ! Have a safe Bonfire Night :-)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Goodbye and good riddance to our flexible friend

Hello and welcome to my new followers Lula and Scarlet, thank you for following.

Today we have paid our credit card off. We have made the final payment and now have no debt other than the mortgage. We are back where we started 16 years ago, no cards, no loans and no finance. The money in the bank is ours and not sitting waiting to be paid to some high street bank later in the month. Its taken a very long time to repay the debt and we have had to re assess our spending habits and lifestyle. Someone who I know spends lots of money each month on store cards and despite moaning about a lack of money, continue to do this on the basis that they 'look good' in the latest threads. They look down their nose at me as I am not 'as up to the minute' as they think they are, I have the last laugh though as I am not in debt for last years fashions.