Friday, 26 August 2016

Childhood Treats

Writing about pop yesterday started me thinking about childhood treats.  Pop was very, very rare back then.  It never appeared at home, only if we were out for a day and we called at a pub on the way home.  A bottle of fruit squash appeared at birthdays and Christmas but otherwise it was water or milk.

The oddest treat I can remember was sandwiches cut on the diagonal.  Let me explain.  In our house sandwiches were normally cut "square", i.e. the cuts were parallel to the sides of the bread.  Birthday sandwiches were cut on the diagonal, as most sandwiches are cut today.  Don't ask me why diagonally cut sandwiches were considered to be a treat: it's totally illogical but I think Mother was very crafty in making me THINK that they were a treat.

And maybe that's a skill which I need to re-learn, the skill of finding modest treats, inexpensive treats, simple ways of making things special.  Too often treats are associated with spending money rather than taking care or using imagination.  My current favourite treats of this sort are freshly ironed sheets and vegetables put onto the table in pretty serving dishes.

Anybody got any more ideas?

Thursday, 25 August 2016


That's what it was called in the days of my youth.  Pop.  I can't remember when I last heard a youngster call cola/lemonade/fizz "pop" but that's what it is.  (Note for Americans lemonade means lemon fizzy here.  We also have old-fashioned lemonade which is more like yours.)

I'm a bit of an addict.  Actually I'm a lot of an addict.  I drink far too much of it.  Until a few years ago I was a tap-water-left-in-the-fridge-for-a-few-hours kind of gal but somehow the can of coke or lemonade has taken over my life.  Just as some people get into the habit of buying coffee out almost every day I'm in the habit of three or four cans of Coca Cola or Schweppes lemonade and cola is one of the few things where I am fussy about brands. 

Last night I had a Tesco order and was horrified to realise that of the £66 I spent £39 was for pop!  In my own defence I haven't bought any fizzy for two months but even then it is crazy.  I've now checked the fridge and the store cupboard and I have 140 cans having taken advantage of special offers.  

This lot has to last until the new year.  128 days.  The most shaming thing about this is that I can even think of it as a challenge.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Making the best of a disaster

I had a feeling of uncertainty each time I walked across the kitchen.  Something didn't feel quite right.  The vinyl flooring was lifting slightly.   Nothing major - or so I thought.

As I am planning on redecorating the kitchen this year I decided to ask the landlord to check.  So a chappie came.  You know the sort of chap.  Favourite phrase is "Tut, tut" uttered just after a rapid intake of breath.  Drives you crazy.

Unfortunately he couldn't even manage a "Tut, tut".  The kitchen floor will have to be replaced.  I am not looking forward to it.  Emptying a kitchen so that all the floor standing cupboards can be taken out is not a prospect which fills me with glee.  The thought of all that mess doesn't make me happy.

I don't know when all this joy will be visited on me.  The surveyor has to come and this will not be a cheap job so the landlord will need a budget.  Oh dear.

So, I have decided that one sensible thing would be to eat down my food stores to minimise the stuff which will have to be stored whilst the kitchen is out of commission.  Ah well, that should benefit the budget.  

And as the contractor will have to make good I won't have to pay someone to decorate the kitchen myself!  

Friday, 12 August 2016

Comping update

Earlier this year I decided to have a go at doing on-line competitions.   You may remember that I won some fridge storage boxes but there have been other wins.

So far this year I have won, those fridge storage boxes, a one hour life coaching session (interesting experience), tickets to a West End show, tickets to a country show, a pair of "designer" trainers, two books, and my latest win, a selection of Milton hygiene products.

Now entering a competition for Milton products might seem strange for a childless woman in her sixties but the first prize was a whole-house spring-clean.   Anyone who knows my housekeeping habits would think that to be a good idea and the cousin whose daughter is expecting her baby will receive the products I don't need,  Can't be bad.

Further update  The postie has just been!  The Milton stuff has arrived but so has a parcel of books from a competition I didn't know I'd won!!!!  Postie enjoyed my glee.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Sometimes I quite like Amazon

Actually, my life would be a lot more difficult if it were not for Amazon but it's not really my favourite company.

A couple of weeks ago I received a parcel of stuff I hadn't ordered.  The address label was correct for me but I hadn't ordered the stuff and when I checked my account I hadn't been charged for it either.  So, grumbling under my breath at the necessity to waste my time contacting the company, I started an on-line chat.  I won't go into details but the result was that I was asked just to keep the things or donate them to charity.  I think the total value of the things would have been about £30.

Two items went to the charity shop but with a big "Whoo Hoo" I kept the third.  It was a pack of Sugru.  Sugru is mouldable silicome which sets just by being exposed to the air.  I'd heard about it and wanted to try it and now I could do so at no cost.  The pack I got would have cost £12.99.

It is fantastic!  I mended the handle of the bowl of my Magimix.  I was making do with a bowl with a broken handle as a new bowl would have cost £42.12.  I had a lovely play with the sugru (it's just like playdoh!) and I've saved myself £42.12,  This is the handle with the repair - you may have to look extra hard to see it.  It has been through the dishwasher several times since it was repaired.

Quick update.  I've just had to contact Amazon about something marked as delivered but not actually received by me (the reverse of the above situation) and they have refunded my money and given me an extra month Prime membership in compensation.  The non delivered goods were worth £8 and an extra month prime is worth over £6 and I get my stuff anyway.  Thanks Amazon!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Surveys 2

A couple of people have contacted me to ask about the survey sites I use so here's some of the lowdown.  I must repeat what I said in the first post about the huge numbers of screen-outs and the very low rate of pay but if you want to have a go I can suggest several sites.  Please remember that I am UK based although some of the sites I mention operate in different countries.

Have a look at  This is a site which sends one or two invitations to me each week.  A survey earns me 50 points and when I have collected 50000 I get a payment of £50 via BACS.  The surveys are well written and if I get an invitation I know I will be able to complete the survey - no screen-out.  It takes about a year to earn £50 so don't get too excited!

I get a lot of invitations from Toluna but I also get a lot of screen outs which is very frustrating.  However, I complete enough surveys to get a £15 voucher every six weeks.  Until recently I had Tesco vouchers but last time had Sainsburys but they offer garden vouchers, book tokens etc.

If you care to e mail me (go to my profile and there is an e mail link) I can send you referral links.  Good luck but don't expect to get rich quick. 

I'll write about some more sites another day.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Frugally Challenged

I was reading blogs for quite a while before I took the plunge myself.  Maybe you are in that position now.  You need some sort of user name (maybe your Real Life name?) so you can leave comments on other people’s blogs.  I was reading a lot of blogs about living very frugally and I have to admit I was amazed at the lengths that some people go to in order to save money.  I was very aware (and still am) that I wouldn’t be going as far as some people so rather tongue-in-cheek, I chose the user name “Frugally Challenged”.

I was brought up in the fifties when the make-do-and-mend mentality was much more prevalent than today.  The sleeves of my school sweaters always had darns in them.  There was no choice in the food I ate – I had to eat what I was given and clean my plate and whether I liked the food was totally irrelevant.

In some ways I’m glad those days have gone.  It is only in recent years that I have learnt to listen to my body and stop eating when I am full.   My body shape tells me that is a lesson I should have learnt much sooner.  In other ways I think the ideas of my childhood were absolutely right and I am re-learning and re-adopting them.

Each of us has to choose the right level of frugality.  I am aware that my standard of living is lavish compared to many as I have an adequate pension which allows me to satisfy many of my wants as well as my needs.  However, there are still things I want to do, ambitions I want to chase, dreams I want to do more than dream.

I want to live a rich life, rich in experiences rather than possessions, but experiences can cost money so I want to live as frugally as I comfortably can.  My choices may not be yours (nor yours mine) but the choices I make are allowing me to have a great time in retirement.  I’m no frugal expert:  I am definitely Frugally Challenged.