Thursday 30 July 2015

Well, at least I made a start

One of my hopes in organising my sewing stuff is that I will be able to locate things quickly so I need a storage method which enables me to see at a glance just what I have.

I have a lot of smallish pieces of fabric, fat quarters or thereabouts so I decided to store them in the nine litre Really Useful Boxes which I use for craft storage.  I folded each separate piece of fabric on to cards measuring roughly eight by five inches and here is the result of my first days efforts.

These boxes can be stacked easily so I should be able to keep several boxes in a neat pile.  Well, that's the plan.

But there will be an awful lot of boxes.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

It has to be done

It's a fortnight since I wrote a decluttering post and I can't duck out of it any longer.  

If you read my other blog you will have read that I’ve joined a Santa Sack Swap and I’ve got to get crafting!  The problem is the same as it always is for me – I can’t get myself organise to do any crafting because there’s such a mess!

This particular mess is in my sewing room.  Well, I say my sewing room but like most people I have to use the room which is used for sewing for other things as well. In my case I use the same room as my dining room and my spare bed room and when it is needed for either of those purposes I have to pack things into boxes and shift the sewing stuff into my own bedroom.  And then shift them back.  And they are always in a mess.  And I can’t find anything.

I’m incredibly envious of Pam who looks to have a beautifully organised sewing room and mine will never be like that but I am sure I could make mine better than it is.


We shall see!

Saturday 25 July 2015

Kicking myself

Recently I watched a TV programme about "comping" i.e. entering competitions and I decided to have a go, just entering free on line competitions.  Like a good little comper I have a secondary Email address which I use for the purpose.  

Unfortunately I hadn't checked it since Thursday.   When I checked at 19.15 I discovered that I had won two tickets for tonight's Promenade Concert at the Albert Hall.  Starting at 19.30

Friday 24 July 2015

A Very Boring Post

It's ages (well, nearly a week) since I posted on this blog.  I am still here.  I'm still munching my way through the contents of the freezer and the store cupboard.  And it is BORING!

I had my tongue firmly in my cheek when I chose my user name Frugally Challenged.  I'm not very good at this frugality malarkey.  I manage my money carefully and manage to have more money than month more times than I have more month than money.  (You may have to read that sentence a couple of times!)  I have enough cash for a few treats because I choose carefully.

I try and make the best use of my possessions and my opportunities but I have many more of those than a lot of people and I know I am very lucky.  I take my hat off to those who live on minute amounts of money and still manage to have a great time.  Even more I take my hat off to those who make frugality and penny pinching exciting at times when others would just find it depressing.

So why am I writing this post?  Simply this.  It may be that someone reads my blog who does find frugality totally boring, who is longing for a splurge, who can't understand how anyone could possibly lead a joyful life limited by a lack of cash.

To you I want to say this.  Yes the limitations are boring.  No it isn't always thrilling to find new ways of cooking liver or herrings.  Yes the stuff hidden at the back of the cupboard may make for some very strange meals.  No the TV or a book may not be your chosen entertainment

But what is great is the brilliant night's sleep one gets when the budget is in order, the holiday planned and budgetted for and then enjoyed, the satisfaction of knowing that all next month's money is yours, not your creditors.

Nothing boring there.

Saturday 18 July 2015

Loyalty cards

I wonder if there is anyone in the UK who does not have some sort of "loyalty" card?  I seem to have a purse full but there are two which I find quite good.

The first is Boots advantage card.  Their points give me the equivalent of 4p in the pound for every purchase there and as I am a wrinkly this rises to 10p in the pound when I buy Boots own brand stuff, which is very handy when buying Number 7.  They also give extra discounts on spectacles but I find it cheaper to shop elsewhere for those.

My main use of a loyalty card has to be Tesco though.  I do most of my shopping on line these days so get my points credited automatically and I also get points on gas and electricity from EOn.  There is one other wheeze if you shop in store though.  Look at the bottom of your till receipt and you will find a chance to win a gift card.  Even better you can collect 25 extra points just for filling in a short customer satisfaction survey.  I nipped in the other day and spent £10.24 on flower, a newspaper and some cleaning materials so earning 10 points (plus an extra for using my own bag) but I still get my 25 points for doing the survey.  Not bad, especially as I shall be exchanging my points for vouchers for Prezzo or Pizza Express boosting those 25 points to £1.

And I've been enjoying fuel save too but that ends in August.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Thirteen on a Thursday

At last it is beginning to be more difficult to find things to give away.  Not impossible, but more of a challenge.

However I am a woman who likes the odd challenge so today I did a dash around the house for thirteen things to give away and this is what I came up with.  1 tablecloth, 2 dresses, 2 pair trousers, 1 skirt, 1 photograph album, 1 set gnomes, 1  tablecloth and five DVDs.

And although there were three gnomes in the set I counted them as one item.  I wonder if I will ever get to the state when I would have to cheat that one?  Dream on, FC!

Monday 13 July 2015

It can't be bad!

I'm continuing to live on what I've got rather than go out and buy even more food.  That sentence sounds really depressing but the truth is anything but depressing.

My freezer has some amazing things in it!  There are the ordinary things which I have batch-cooked and frozen like sausage casseroles and fish pies.  There are things which I have deliberately bought in large quantities like frozen peas and burger buns.  But there are also the treats which I have bought when they were available at a good price like my favourite beefburgers on offer at 50p instead of £1 or a pack of smoked salmon found on the RFQS  shelf and squirrelled away to be a "special something" when something special is needed.

Today I have had a really tasty lamb steak, bought at Farmers' Market a couple of months ago.  Lam is definitely A Treat but it wouldn't have been so much of a treat of I had left it in the freezer too long.

Update on the budget. Last Thursday I had £1.98.  Four more days have added four more pounds so I've now got £5.98.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Why is it that we have so many unexpecteds?

  On Thursday I was doing the ironing and suddenly the electrics failed.  The trip switch had tripped.  I reset it and again started ironing and again the switch tripped.  When it happened a third time I knew my ironing session was over.  And when I saw steam coming from a part of the iron where there should have been no steam emerging, I knew the iron was over too. 

I’ve had it quite a few years and although I knew that it couldn’t last too much longer I hadn’t really planned on buying a new one yet.  I like a steam generator iron as I find it easier to use especially when I am doing dressmaking but steam generator irons are not cheap.  I checked the reviews, I checked the prices on various sites.  I sorted cashback and I placed my order. 

And that was totally OK.  My younger self would have gone into panic mode at the unexpected expenditure but these days I budget for them.  I don’t know what the unexpected will be (how could I!) but I know that there will be unanticipated expenditure of some sort.  This year I have already had to have emergency repairs to my car, trundle truck and sewing machine and I have replaced the fridge and now the iron.  Almost every month there is something unforeseen.

 And yet the budget remains steady.  The younger me would have found that amazing.  The older me finds it boring and frustrating – and yet a source of pride because I know I have been prudent and set money aside for the inevitable rainy day.

And I know that I am indeed fortunate to have both the money to set aside and the self-discipline not to spend it.

Thursday 9 July 2015


Last Saturday I decided to restrict my food budget to £1 a day for four weeks to try and sort out some of my excessive food stores.  Yesterday I had my first spending session - £4.02 on fresh salad stuff and some strawberries.  As yet I have only herbs ready in the garden so lettuce, tomato and cucumber were needed. I've got peppers in the fridge and the radishes on sale didn't look very good so they were easy to resist.  That left me with 98p in the kitty to which I have added a further £1 today.

Food store attacks have included some custard which went very nicely with a rhubarb crumble which I had been given, orzo and goats cheese, and some meringues which cried out to be eaten with some strawberries.  

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Tesco delivery saver

I'm feeling a bit miffed about Tesco delivery saver as they have sent an e mail saying that from 23rd July the minimum spend will be £40 (not £25) and the surcharge for a too-small basket is £4.

Now I have to say that I have wondered how Tesco could be making a profit on the previous set-up but it is still a blow to me. 

A single person (pensioner) household does not use £40 worth of groceries each week.  There are some weeks when I don't have an order at all.    I have sometimes made my order up to £25 by buying postage stamps but even I don't write enough letters to make £40 weekly orders feasible.

However, I think it would cost at least £5 to visit my nearest supermarket so I don't think I shall be taking up their offer of a refund. I may just have a delivery once or maybe twice a month.  Some things I need to buy weekly (salad springs to mind) so during the summer months I shall be visiting the small greengrocery stall which sets up in Caistor twice a week.

And whatever I decide it makes good stock control even more imperative.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Could do better

I feel rather ashamed of myself.  I thought about the contents of the fridge and decided to eat the rest of a carton of quark with some pasta and mushrooms but when I get to the fridge the quark had decided to grow its own fungi.  Instead I had goats cheese with the pasta which was delicious but the quark was wasted.   Not good.

For supper I planned on eating of sandwiches left over from Auntie Hettie’s party and carefully wrapped and frozen but these were well past their best so they will all go.  In my defence I did try not to waste the leftovers but there were just too many so they didn’t get eaten and the remainder will go in the bin.  They’d been in the freezer for nearly three months which is too long and I should have had more sense.

So I haven’t spent anything since I started this eat-down but that’s the only claim I can make.  Tomorrow that too will change as it is market day and I want fresh salad.

Sunday 5 July 2015

One that got away

I've been pretty ruthless as I have gone around my house, giving away unused stuff and slinging broken stuff, but I haven't been totally ruthless.

In the depths of a dark cupboard in the kitchen I found my Czech cooker, an impulse buy about six years ago and never used.  Shame on you FC!  It was offered on a shopping channel for £69.69 but it is very like the Remoska sold by Lakeland at £149.99. 

And it really is shame on me.  This little beauty runs at 450watts and cooks a wide variety of foods.   Today I cooked a lamb chop and sauteed a few potatoes and they were delicious.  It didn't make my kitchen hot, it is easy to clean and my food was lovely.

It will not be going back to the back of the cupboard and it will not be going to Sally Ann.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Facing the obvious

I can no longer avoid it.  I keep looking at that amazing tinned goods list and I know I have to reduce the food stores.  There's nothing there that I regret buying but there's just too much of it.  The freezer is well stocked with goodies, the garden is about to come into its own and I should be able to manage on a limited budget.  So, for the next four weeks my total food budget is going to be £28, i.e. a pound a day.

My first area to address has to be the fridge as that is where the most perishable food is kept.  I can't do weekly menu plans - well, I can but I can't stick to them.  It will have to be one day at a time.

So Sunday morning breakfast will be breakfast biscuits which is my usual Sunday morning thing.  For lunch I've found a lamb chop which I shall have with salad and new potatoes.  Evening I think may be a sarnie, cheese and pickle probably.