Thursday, 15 August 2019

Help!

I don't often get defeated by vegetables but these peppers?  chillis? in this week's wonky veg box are new to me.  

I'm not wildly keen on chilli and as far as peppers go I buy a few for salads and sauces but they aren't among my favourite vegetables but as these came in the box I'd like to have a go.  So, can you identify them?  I've put a £1 coin on to give an idea of size.

Then, what can I do with all this bounty?  Help!

Saturday, 10 August 2019

August activities 7 Dippy stars again


Dippy is getting the Jane problem sorted!  He sent me one of his collars which needed refurbishment and I made him a collar to match Jane's bag.


Here he is I'm sure you'll agree that he's a very handsome fellow.  

His only problem might be that I too have a garment in the same fabric.  Curse these humans!

Friday, 9 August 2019

August activities 6 Veering into the kitchen

Although most of my August Activities will be of the crafty variety I shall have the occasional foray into the kitchen and that's where I was yesterday.

When I went to Lidl  found three packs of six chicken drumsticks in the "Waste Not" section at 70p a pack.  At that price no way will they be wasted especially when I also found packs of button mushrooms at 20p a pack.   I bought shallots (full price) and found some red wine in the freezer.  I've now got five packs of chicken in red wine in the freezer.  If I were feeling posh I might have labelled them Coq au Vin but I wasn't feeling posh.  The remaining drumsticks were roasted to have with salad.

There was also Aberdeen Angus diced beef reduced so that was cooked, again with mushrooms and shallots but this time with stock and I've got three packs of braised beef in the freezer.

I was on a roll and found a pack of mince which I'd bought (reduced) a couple of weeks ago and frozen so I combined that with some Quorn which I had been given, a few chopped onions plus chopped mushrooms, grated carrots and some beef gravy also from the freezer.  Today I shall cook mashed potato and complete several cottage pies.

And while I was at Lidl I even found these roses in the reduced section.  Not a bad shopping trip, methinks.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

August activities 5 Introducing Dippy


Dippy is a retired greyhound of my acquaintance.  He takes care of a friend of mine, name of Jane. 




I made this picture bag at Dippy's request so that if Jane wanders off passers-by will know to whom they must return her.  




Printable fabric from stash and the poppy lining and handles are leftovers from a skirt I made last month.  

Sunday, 4 August 2019

August activities 4 Helping a Brownie

I'm disabled and I often need help so it's a deeply appreciated pleasure when I can give help.  Marie is a Brownie of my acquaintance and she's very keen on taking badges, both at Brownies and at the swimming club.  What she isn't keen on is sewing her badges onto her Brownie blanket and neither her mum not her grandma is much help in that direction so I've become badge sewer in chief.
A couple of weeks ago I received her latest batch of badges, three for swimming and one for Brownies so today I set to with my needle.  Marie is away on her holidays at the moment so it will be waiting for her when she returns.

Just a small project to report today but I've also been working on two more projects which I'll report on soon.  

Saturday, 3 August 2019

August Activities 3 Hats

For several years I have knitted a few hats to send to the Sailors Society.  This charity exists to help merchant seamen, including giving warm hats to sailors working in extreme weather conditions.  The Society distributes more than ten thousand hats every year.  Each hat is hand knitted so that as well as giving physical comfort they give the recipient the great feeling that someone s/he has never met has spent time making knitted hats for them.

I live on an island (Great Britain) and I know we all depend on merchant seamen for an awful lot of the things we use everyday, whether it's food, or textiles or any number of other things.  I rarely think of the people who bring all these things from overseas but this knitting is a little way of saying "thank you",  



I try to send about ten a year but although I enjoy knitting them I hate sewing them up.  Recently I've taken to knitting them on circular needles but  I had three which still needed stitching up so I've now completed them and they will be in the post this week.

Friday, 2 August 2019

August activities 2 Twiddlemuff

So here's my first no-longer-PhD.

Maybe you can't see what it is so I'll tell you.  It's a twiddlemuff.  And maybe that has left you none the wiser.

It's a double thickness hand muff with bits and bobs attached inside and out.  It's designed for people with dementia to have something to occupy their hands and maybe to keep them warm as well.

I've knitted mine using all sorts of bits and pieces of wool from my stash including two very fancy yarn leftovers from knitting scarves.  I found a couple of metal keys and some beads from my craft box and I attached those too and a few ribbons finished it off.  Everything must be firmly attached so it can't be pulled off easily.

This is mine before I turned half inside and stitched it up so you can see all the attachments. 

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Oh dear!

It has to be said that budget-wise July was disastrous.  Instead of saving my hoped-for £400 I managed to set aside a mere £37.  There, that's the worst bit over with.

I had a trip to London to go to a garden party at Lambeth Palace.  The rail fare was about £100 (but that was paid in June), taxi fares came to £45, a new blouse £55, skirt £55 and sandals a further £55.  Add to that essential repairs to my laptop which were £140 and a replacement iron at £70 and maybe you can see why the budget was such a disaster.

I had a very whoopee moment when I discovered that my energy economies had paid off but sadly the very next day I got a letter telling me that my Civil Service Pension is to be reduced by almost the same amount.  Apparently I have been paid the wrong amount for quite a long time.  As it wasn't my fault I don't have to repay it but my pension will be reduced.  Shame about that as my retirement earnings have been slashed as well.


Tuesday, 30 July 2019

August activities 1

Each box is at least one PhD.  And there are several more boxes!
I need a project!  Well, actually I don't.  I already have several projects half done.  So, I've decided to make August a month of creativity when I shall try and complete a few things.  I may also make some things from scratch but using stuff from my stash.  This is a frugal project as its aim is to make the best use of things I have rather than acquiring even more.

You might not want to hear this but there are from 1st August there are 146 days to Christmas so, like it or not, some of my creations will be Christmas related as by the month there will be only 115 days. 

Friday, 26 July 2019

A Whoopee Moment

I've just had my six monthly statement from my energy supplier and they've reduced my direct debit by £28 per month!  Definitely a whoopee moment!

When my last statement came I was £90 in debit.  This was mostly pre-Smart meter but over the last six months I've really kept an eye on those figures and I am now £40 in credit.  Next month I shall be doing my annual comparison to make sure I am on the best deal I can find.

I've achieved savings by various means.

I reduced the time the heating was on each day during the winter.  I usually get up around five o'clock but I stayed in bed a while longer.  I set the timer to switch off earlier in the evening too and enjoyed curling up in a blanket and a shawl.  

In the summer I switched off the boiler most of the time.  My shower runs off the hot water system so I need to have it on occasionally but I found that half an hour every other day gave enough hot water for me.  My tank has good built in insulation but I also put the winter duvets around it - I don't know if that helped but it certainly won't have done any harm.  

I used my air fryer as a mini oven as often as I could.  It uses less electricity than even my small top oven.

Although a near fall has made me abandon outdoor clothes drying I haven't used this as an excuse for using the tumble dryer.  I set up a clothes airer in my conservatory which is very well ventilated, not to say draughty, and dried almost everything on that.  I am hoping to set up a clothes line in the garage this winter.  

My energy bill is always likely to be fairly high - I need to charge my mobility scooter most days, I have no gas fire to keep me cosy - but I'm certain that pounds are better in my pocket than in the energy company's bank account.  

Friday, 19 July 2019

Never let it be said . . .

. . . that I overburden you with reading on this blog!

I have two blogs, this one and Trundling Through Life.  Over on TTL I write about how I see the world and how  I try to make sure that my eyes see what is good and kind in the world around me.

This blog though, is supposed to be about frugality, decluttering and similar themes.  When I first came to Blogland there seemed to be a lot of blogs but many of them have disappeared over the years.  I really miss "Frugal Queen", "Frugal in Essex", "Bonnie the frugal apprentice" and "Baroness Prudent Spending" among many others.  Others have appeared but I rather miss the old favourites

I wonder if they had the same problem as I do - what on earth can I write about?  Frugality is a bit repetitive.  Frugal Queen included her faggots recipe many, many times.  Others write about soup, car boot finds or yellow sticker shopping or the wonders of home grown produce - whatever their speciality happens to be.  It's a case of more of the same - is that why bloggers run out of steam? 

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

More wonky veg


I was in Lidl fairly early yesterday morning and I grabbed a wonky veg box whilst I was there.  This is stuff which is still OK but needs to be sold fairly quickly.  This what I got.  That's 1 pear, 3 bananas, 3 mushrooms, 1 tomato, 1 cauliflower, 1 mango, 1 satsuma. a bunch of red spring onions, 1 aubergine, 1 swede, 1 bag spinach, and 665g carrots.  Definitely not bad for £1.50.


I have had several of these veg boxes now and I've realised that what I really enjoy is the challenge of using everything so as soon as I got home I set to.


I'd also got two packs of low fat Aberdeen Angus mince from the reduced section whilst I was in Lidl.  One pack went into the freezer but I got a pack of breadcrumbs (made from the heel of a loaf) from the freezer and combined the mince, breadcrumbs and an egg in the food processor to make 18 meatballs which I fried before putting them in the slow cooker.  I made the sauce from the aubergine, mushrooms, and tomato plus a bag of frozen Mediterranean veg, a couple of onions. a bag of sliced mushrooms (frozen from a previous veg box) and a carton of passata.  I've had a portion and it was lovely!


The cauliflower will be cooked today and made into cauliflower cheese to be frozen.  The mango will be pureed and frozen in portions to be eaten with yoghurt.  The spinach will be very nice with scramblers over the next couple of mornings.  The swede, onions and carrots are in no danger of going off anytime soon so I'll keep them for a few days.  The satsuma is in the fruit bowl and the pear has been given away.


And the bananas?  They seem to have disappeared!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

End of the month

I've reviewed my finances for June so here's a brief report.  

First of all I am back on track as far as living below my means goes as I managed to set aside over £400.  My total for the half year is well over the £2400 target so the May blip was just a blip.  I've had a drop in income so I'm pleased to have managed this so well.

Food purchases have again been too high at £165.  I was doing quite well almost to the end of the month then I needed to take food to a family event and I just couldn't be bothered to do the home-made thing so I spent too much.  There, I've said it!

I've spent over £100 on railway tickets for a special journey this month.  This will be a very expensive day out!  Petrol has been high again as I've had quite a sociable month.  

I've needed a lot of paid help, especially in the garden.  However, this improves my quality of life and is important for my personal safety so that's how it has to be.  

Friday, 14 June 2019

A Semi Finished Project

Amy came but did she have anywhere to sleep?

If she'd come just a month earlier the answer would have been a resounding NO!!!  That was definitely A Project.

By the time she came I'd used a rich mix of decluttering, dash-and-stash and disguising stuff and she was met with 

But I have to be honest, dash-and-stash had been quite important so quite a bit had to go back so it now looks like this.


There's still a lot of stuff but each of those boxes contains a single UnFinished Object so I can now finish a few and maybe have the room looking a bit more like when Amy came than how it looked before she said she was coming.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Reporting back

A little while ago I posted about receiving an offer from Amazon Prime.    I did as they asked and streamed a film and last Thursday I got the promised code.  It's a useful deal for me - there are some things which I  get from Amazon regularly, especially stationery which I need when I work.  The deal was only for items which are sold by Amazon so it doesn't include items just sent by them.

This seems like a good time to mention something else which I use regularly, namely Icebox.  This is an extension which sits on my Chrome browser.  When I choose something on Amazon the button for putting something into my basket now says, "Put it on ice".  The item sits in my Icebox for  a day and then, if I still want it, I can order it.  There are ways to bypass the icebox but it's a bit of a faff so I don't often do that.  Usually I just wait a day and order then.  Sometimes I change my mind so that's a saving!  

Monday, 3 June 2019

Money in May

Definitely a 'fessing up post.  I really haven't done very well.

I have only managed to set aside £280 rather than the £400 I had hoped for.  My monthly average is still well above £400 this year so I'm not despondent, just disappointed.  

Food purchases have been a lot higher at £165, way above budget.  In my defence I have to say that a friend is arriving today to stay for a few days and part of that expenditure has been putting a few goodies in the fridge, freezer and liquor locker.  I've also booked and paid for some activities for us although she will pay me her share when she arrives.

The killer for the budget has been paid help, always necessary for me.  My cleaner comes every other Thursday but that meant she came three times in May.  I've needed a lot of help in the garden too.  It is in employing help that disability becomes very expensive!  £235 expensive!

May has also been a very sociable month.  I go out for lunch with several groups of friends and in June, July and August it is often difficult to organise dates so May gets busy.  

Thank goodness for a new month! 

Monday, 27 May 2019

Variation

One kind of post I read with avidity is when the blogger does a round-up of thrifty things she has done that week.  Most of the time I'm just ticking the ideas off in my head as stuff I do already, but sometimes there's a thought I've never had before.

I'm not about to start doing posts like that but I thought that a variation might be a themed collection of how to save the pennies.  You know the sort - how to cut the supermarket spend, how to economise with water etc.  So here''s my first stab at this - how to reduce the cost of laundry.

First and foremost in my list would be to do as little of it as possible!  My great ally here is aprons.  My apron goes on almost as soon as I get up so my "good" clothes are kept cleaner.  I like a good big apron that wraps most of the way round me..  The one I've got on at the moment has very visible bleach splashes on it - thank goodness I was wearing it or I would have ruined a tee shirt!

My other two allies are my eyes and my nose - used clothes are checked and sniffed and if at all possible are put back on hangers.  That's a safer bet in winter rather than in summer but it definitely reduces the wash load.  (I realise life might be a lot more complicated if there are children in the household.)

I chose a washing machine with very good ratings for both energy and water usage.  I can wash at 20 degrees (that would be about 50 Fahrenheit) and can do quite a short wash or a half load.  I rarely use laundry powder or liquid as I have an Eco Egg which is supposed to cost 3p a wash but I reckon mine will last for a lot longer than it's supposed to.  (It was only £16.13 when I bought it in November 2017.  I've just changed the pellets for the first time and I've got enough pellets for two more changes.)  I don't use fabric conditioner but I've found my clothes have been softer since I stopped using laundry powder.  

So far as I can I air dry my stuff.  I narrowly missed injuring myself when I fell last time I pegged my sheets on the line so they now have to go in the dryer - I'm not happy about that but personal safety is important.  However, both bed linen and towels are half dried naturally to cut down on dryer time.  For the rest it's either the clothes line or my clothes racks.  

I'm sure I must have missed things and I'm even surer that you, Dear Reader, will have more ideas on how to cut the cost of laundry, so it's over to you.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

A Quick note for Amazon Prime users

I live in a very rural area and Amazon Prime is very useful to me for deliveries.  However, within my membership are various other "benefits" of varying degrees of usefulness.  One of these is Amazon Prime Video which I have used twice in about five years,

However, this morning an offer popped up - watch at least five minutes of a film or TV show on Prime and you'll get a £5 Amazon credit next month.  I've got a film running now without any sound (not actually watching it but only you know that!) so I'm hoping I'll get my credit.  As this is costing me nothing apart from a little electricity it seems like a good idea.

If you are a Prime user it might be worth logging in to Amazon to see if the offer is available to you.

Monday, 6 May 2019

BOGOF!




I record all my income and expenditure so I have a pretty good idea of where the money goes and sometimes how I spend isn't as pretty as it could be.  

In some ways I am very good.  My food waste is minimal.  I check the fridge and take a shopping list with me each time I shop.  I've reduced my monthly spend by 15% over the first four months of this year (compared to the same months last year) but I know I could do better.  

My big downfall is "bargains".  You know, BOGOFs (Buy One Get One Free), yellow stickers, special deals and the like which tempt me away from my list.  I usually eat the stuff but it's really not a good way to shop.  The cupboards and fridge become jammed up and I can't see what is in there.  Often too the deals are on products which are more expensive than the items I would normally buy.  

Another silly habit is being careless about portion sizes.  I cook far too much.  I don't throw it away - I was a post war baby and I learnt from an early age to eat everything on my plate - but to be honest it's just as wasteful to eat food I don't need and don't even mention the other sort of waist!

I'm sure other people have their own danger areas but them's my two pennorth!  

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Auditing April

Each month I do a review of various things including what I've written about on my blogs, how active I've been, special days out and, of course, how the finances are panning out.

Well, first of all the good news.  I have again smashed my target of living below my means by £400.  I've been doing a little paid work recently and I sold over £50 worth of stuff on eBay so that has helped.  

Then there's the rest.  Groceries were £127 which is way over my target of £100 but I honestly don't think £100 is enough so I've revised my target this month to £120.  I don't want to live on lentils: cooking and eating good food is pure pleasure. 
Not so good was my motoring budget.  I did 945 miles in the month.  I've been doing sick visiting, bereavement visiting and marriage preparation interviews but I really can't see why I have done so much motoring.  I have now Taken Myself In Hand.  

I've been watching the Smart meter monitor doing its thing in the kitchen.  I've fiddled with the timer on the boiler (I may do a post about that soon) and I'm whittling away at my gas consumption.  As yet this has had no impact on my day-to-day finances as I pay by monthly direct debit and I haven't fully paid for my winter usage.  


Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Summer bedding

I love my garden in the summer.  It's quite a small garden and I fill it with as much colour as I can - but colour comes at a price.  Gardening is very limited by my disability.  

Cleome, beloved of butterflies
The cheapest thing would be to grow everything from seed sown direct into the garden (especially from collected seed) but that needs very regular weeding until the flower plants are big enough to defeat the weeds.  I can't bend down for very long (and can't kneel at all) and the gardener isn't here enough to do that.   I shall however direct sow candytuft, poppies and maybe a few wild flowers.  

Garden-ready bedding plants are very expensive.  Last year I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw annual cosmos at over £1 per plant!  This year I have used a windowsill propagator and sown seeds for cosmos, cerinthe and cleome.  I've got a yen for cleome in my garden but I've a feeling it may not be easy to germinate and grow.  Still at £1 a packet it's worth a try!

Cerinthe, or Honeywort
Small plug plants can be good value and this year I bought a "lucky dip" of 270 plugs for £20 which I think is pretty good. I got begonia, gazania, petunia, impatiens, stocks and lobelia in my selection.  I also bought 45 extra impatiens (£9) as I like them around my north-facing front door. I've potted them all on using fibre pots to minimise root disturbance when they are planted out

I am gradually planting a few more perennials.  For these I am hoping to take cuttings from friends' gardens. I had a message last night to say that someone has grown me some dianthus, a favourite of mine as I love the clove smell.  


Thursday, 4 April 2019

Qwirkle and coffee

It was a lovely morning out.  We played Quirkle - and just in case you've never Quirkled this picture is a completed game .  It's a good game, easy to learn, demanding a little concentration but not so much that you can't chat while playing.

Quirkle and coffee
My friend Sarah and I enjoyed a couple of games at her house on Tuesday.  We also enjoyed a pot of coffee (or three), some soup which Sarah had made, and some hummus and crudites which I had made.  We could have played Bananagrams or Rummikub or Triominoes or quite a few other games which we have each acquired over the years but Tuesday we played Quirkle.  Two games.  We each won one.

I think one of the most important aspects of a thrifty lifestyle is having friends who share your values.  Sarah and I exchange homemade gifts for Christmas and birthdays and we have (without any discussion) scaled down our gifts as we have got older and our incomes have got smaller.  We go out for occasional meals but we are happy with far less than we used to have.

It is difficult to be frugal if your friends want always to be out splashing the cash, if Christmas is about swapping huge gifts (or bragging about how much was spent on the children/grandchildren).  It's tricky if your common interest is an expensive hobby or a liking for overpriced fine dining.  

Frugality is much easier when it is shared with friends.




Monday, 1 April 2019

Sometimes I surprise myself

Sometimes I surprise myself and March was one of those times.  Despite having to have a lot of paid help, despite having my trundle truck repaired and despite paying for wood for a new fence and new gate, I still smashed my target of saving £400 and managed to save £500.  This was helped by it being a "free" month for Council Tax (I pay over ten months rather than twelve).  My hope is that I will save £5000 this year.

I've kept my grocery budget below £100.  Only 8p below but still below.  I have a lot of food in my stores in case of a Brexit disaster and I don't want to run those stores down too much yet, but I needed to do a bit of rationalising and that has helped.  As have getting the cheap vegetables from Lidl and the free stuff from my neighbours.  I've also reduced my motoring.  And I've tracked all my expenditure - no "Money-gone-walkabout" during March.

So, a new challenge for April.  This month I want to make a little money rather than just restrict my budget (although I am still working at £400 saved each month) and with that in mind and also my aim of decluttering, I want to make £100 by selling unwanted stuff.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Even better than a Lidl veg box.

I've been feeling slightly envious this week - my next door neighbours are off to Spain for several weeks.  However, this has definitely been A Good Thing for me!

The first phone call came Thursday.  Could I use the remaining contents of their fridge and freezer?   Now I am definitely a girl who doesn't need to be asked a question like that more than once so I'm now better off by two packs each of cheese and butter, about a dozen Yorkshire puds, plus peas, mince and pizza are all happily in my stores.

The second call came Friday. How would I feel about the contents of the vegetable rack?  I'd feel very grateful, that's how I'd feel!  Which is why I'm now making a butternut soup and I've got all this lovely stuff in my fridge!

I think that must be a whole week's groceries for me - and all free! 

(I shall make them something when they come home though.)

Monday, 25 March 2019

Just a small thing

I really enjoy doing puzzles, especially Sudoku.  I keep some by my bedside and do a few before I go to sleep.  There's something about managing to solve a problem which I find very relaxing and it helps me nod off.  I also keep some by my armchair, maybe slightly harder ones, to entertain myself in a quiet moment.

However, in January I realised that I had spent over £8 on puzzle books and I wondered if I could cut this down a bit.  I also realised that I was throwing out a lot of paper which is printed on one side only (junk mail, stuff I need to print for Sunday use etc.) and I decided to solve two problems at once.  I went on line and found various Sudoku sites and settled eventually with 1sudoku and I'm now able to print six sudoku to an A4 piece of paper.  I print a selection every week, fold them and pack them into  an Amazon packaging sleeve.  I can pop a pen into the sleeve and it's even more convenient than having a book - I even use the sleeve as a hard surface for writing!

Printer ink is probably the most expensive fluid to come into this house but even taking that into account this is great - and although the paper still has to go to recycling eventually, it has been very well used before it goes.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Disability

It's expensive being disabled!  I've been trying hard to make sure that I save my target £400 this month but it won't be easy.  This week I had to have repairs done to the Trundle Truck (mobility scooter) and that cost £90.  It set me wondering about just what being disabled costs me.

First what it doesn't cost me.  I have a Blue Badge which means that I get some free parking.  I can park on the street if necessary but I don't like to take advantage of that if there is a car park nearby and occasionally car parks are free to disabled badge holders.  Even if they're not I still prefer to use car parks rather than be in the way on a street.  

I don't have to pay VAT on goods and services directly related to my disability.  This meant that I didn't pay the tax when I bought my scooter and I don't pay it on repairs.  I still have the rest of the cost to find so that was £90 this month as well as the £275 on repairs and maintenance just before Christmas

I can't kneel or sit on the ground and I can't bend to do jobs so I can't manage without the help of a gardener/handyman and a cleaner.  I have to buy a ridiculously large car to transport my trundle truck which means that my fuel bill and road tax are also high.  

Although I am entitled (because of my age) to have a free bus pass it would be no use to me because I need my trundle truck wherever I go.

None of this is to complain.  I know I am very fortunate in that I have enough money to do all this and enough ingenuity to make every penny count.  It is written in sheer frustration at the two ladies who had a very loud conversation (making sure that I could hear) complaining about having to pay 50p for two hours car parking when I had mine free.  

Friday, 15 March 2019

Reducing food waste

That wonderful box of vegetables had to be sorted fairly quickly.  I decided that I had to edit my fridge as well so that I could use the vegetables in there as well.


First I chopped the leeks, added a potato and some stock and now I have a pan of leek and potato soup.  My menu re-planning meant that I had to use some calabrese so I dug my bag of bits and pieces of cheese (mainly the crust of Stilton) and now I've got some broccoli and Stilton soup.  Those corn cobs were probably the tattiest vegetables in the box so I stripped off the kernels, found a few sticks of celery and a sad looking parsnip in the fridge and I've got mixed veg soup.  That needs a bit of oomph so I'm thinking a bit of chili might not go amiss.  My soups will be frozen tomorrow.  


The mushrooms from the box were wiped and sliced and they're now in the freezer ready for my next Bolgnaise sauce or beef casserole.  Some of the bananas were for eating today but the rest have been made into banana ice lollies.  The avocado went on toast for breakfast.  One apple was eaten for pudding today.  The cabbage, the apples, the satsumas and the nectarine are all sound enough to keep for a few days.  I shall use the rocket and watercress tomorrow.

I had bought some flat mushrooms before I got the veggie box so I've stuffed those with goat's cheese, sprinkled on a few breadcrumbs made from crusts and they are in the freezer.  

While I was in Lidl I bought some Italian style chicken chipolatas which had been reduced to 70p.  I'd never had them before and I won't buy them again.  This seems to me to be a good way to look at yellow sticker (or rather Lidl equivalent) food.  I might have seen chicken sausages and thought them worth a try as they are lower fat than the pork equivalent.  I've eaten some for lunch, the rest may go in a casserole but I certainly wouldn't recommend them.


Thursday, 14 March 2019

Thank you, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

Just over three years ago HFW presented Hugh's War on Waste, a short series of TV programmes including one which highlighted how much food is wasted by supermarkets before we even get our paws on it.  He also showed just how much food is wasted in homes and all sorts of other waste and those too had a big effect on me, even though I have always thought I was pretty good on food waste.

Getting back to the supermarket waste, HFW showed how supermarkets were being just too picky about the cosmetic standards of vegetables which they bought in, and how much good food was being discarded by supermarkets themselves.  One result of all this was that several supermarkets now sell "wonky" vegetables which I think are more fun than the Class One stuff.


Yesterday I took advantage of the cheap vegetable boxes in Lidl.  Usually I can't do that from my mobility scooter but yesterday the store was very quiet.  Just look at my box!  Isn't it beautiful!


I unpacked it and found three leeks, a bag of rocket, a bag of rocket and watercress, a cabbage, nine bananas, three pieces sweetcorn, four red onions, two satsumas, five apples, a box of mushrooms, a nectarine and a cabbage.  And the cost of this box of deliciousness?  £1.50.  ONE POUND FIFTY PENCE!  Unbelievable.  I shall need to use the sweetcorn and mushrooms very quickly but the rest is superb.

I've rewritten my menu for the week and will take time this morning to prep and use the stuff really well.  

Friday, 8 March 2019

The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory

I'm a great one for writing things down.  I record my energy usage on a daily basis. I check and note my weight and the number of steps I take.  And I write down every penny I spend.

Each day I check my bank and credit card accounts and count the money in my purse and work out what has disappeared since yesterday and where it went.  I know a lot of people don't record their spending to this degree but I have found it helpful.  Maybe there will come a day when I trust myself enough not to have to be so "accountable" either.  The only person I am accountable to is me!

Once a month I create an account of all that I have spent and what I have done.  To use fashionable language I have made myself much more mindful of where the pennies go

Before I retired I was far less obsessive about it but I realised that I would have to be more careful now that I have a reduced income.  The amazing thing is that I feel as if I have an increased income.  It feels as though I have more money than ever I had!  I go out for lunch several times a month, I have a few mini-breaks each year and yet I never have to worry and I can save for treats or the inevitable rainy days.

Flylady used to have the acronym FACE - Financial Awareness Continually Empowers - maybe she still does.  Knowing what I've got and where what I had went to has certainly empowered me.  And writing it all down makes it even more real. The faintest ink is truly more powerful than the strongest memory.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Smart


A few months ago I got  smart meter, supplied by my energy company.  Just in case you're not familiar with them I'll explain that the energy company can now read my meters remotely and I shall never again be asked to supply a reading.  The fun bit is that they also supplied me with a monitor which sits in the kitchen and nudges my conscience.


A few weeks ago I was at a dinner and there were four households represented at the table.  All four of us had smart meters and monitors but the other three just kept their monitor in a drawer and didn't bother to use it!  I wanted one so that I could save money but the smart meter will not save you anything - it just gives information so you can do the saving if you want to.

And I do want to.  I read my meter daily and each day rack my brains to think of the things I did the previous day which used energy.  Gradually I am becoming better at reducing my consumption.  I will need a least a year of figures before I know how much I have saved but I am sure that the habit of turning the thermostat down, that using my insulated cafetiere rather than boiling the kettle several times, and all the other little economies I make will make a difference.

One of the things that has helped is this little "dry fryer" which I was given for Christmas.  Actually it's really a mini oven and it uses far less power than even my top oven but I can cook small meals, eg a chop and a jacket potato or a shepherd's pie rather quicker than in the top oven.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

It's been a long time!

Well, hello if you're reading this - which you are, of course!

Thank you for coming here.  It's a very long time since I wrote on this blog but this feels like a good time to come back.

Thing is, I want to save some money.  Now I'm never going to be an extreme frugalleur (and I don't feel the need) but I'd like to have a wee bit more money to spend on the things I choose.  It's not just things for now, like holidays, but my more long term well-being with enough money to last into my old age.  I'm sixty seven now so I'm no spring chicken, but my lifestyle for the next ten, twenty, maybe even thirty years depends on the choices I make now.  My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all lived into their nineties so who knows!

Anyway, I want to live below my means by £400 per month.  That means I've either got to get more money in or it means I have to let less money out.  It sounds so simple!

Lets see how I go.