Monday 14 May 2018

Monday 2 April 2018

Lazy day - Day 14

I am feeling rather lazy today but I was determined to do a little bit of decluttering.  I managed to find fourteen books to go to the Oxfam bookshop.
No, I'm not sending my watch!

Oxfam book shops  are very well organised and I can gift aid stuff very easily just by giving them my Oxfam Gift Aid Registration Number.  Every few months they send me a letter telling me how much my stuff has been sold for and how much income tax they have been able to recover.

I prefer to give my clothes to the Sally Ann as they will give items to those who are in desperate need.  Also their shop is a bit of a social centre for people who have few places to go.  I feel that Oxfam asks a lot for clothes and thus excludes those who are in need.  

So I've now done Day 14 and Day 30 according to my "interesting" rules.

Sunday 1 April 2018

Starting at the end

One of my first targets was the wool drawer.  I receive from various people odds and ends of wool ready for knitting for charity but  it had got a bit out of hand!  I heard about a group of ladies who also knit blankets for aid charities so I decided to pass on some of my goodies.  

Here's the first part.  Some balls were quite small but I had finished sorting everything I weighed them all.  Just over 1.8 kilos.  That would be 36 fifty gram balls so I'm going to call this thirty items.  Day 30 using my own crazy rules.  I got this lot ready yesterday to deliver via church today.

Not a bad start.  And there's still plenty left for me to knit.

Friday 30 March 2018

Setting myself up for failure

I need a challenge but the challenge I fancy is one which I fear I can't meet.  How crazy is that!

The house needs to lose weight and so I've decided to take action.  April is my month to get radical.   I'm going to try and get rid of one item for day one, two items for day two and so on to thirty items for day 30.

However, I'm not necessarily going to make 1st April my one item day.  Far too straightforward!  There will be a one item day but it might be 12th April whilst 2nd April could be a day for thirty items to leave the premises.  However my days fall, 465 items should go before the month is through.

My reasoning is that it might be better to have the more demanding days at the beginning of the month whilst I've got maximum enthusiasm and to have a few less demanding days available for those can't-be-bothered days.  

Does that sound like a good plan?

My apologies if you read the earlier version of this post.  Not sure what happened

Saturday 24 March 2018

Only thirty nine days late!

Remember 13th February?  No?  It was thirty nine days ago, if that's any help.  Day before Valentine's Day.

On 13th February I was not feeling well so I didn't have the traditional meal for that day.  PANCAKES!  13th February was Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day.  And I just couldn't be bothered to make pancakes.

But pancakes must be one of the ultimate frugal foods and quite apart from that, they are one of my favourite foods.  So today was the day. 

Tradition now fulfilled even though thirty nine days late.  Honour is satisfied.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Experimenting with butternut squash

A butternut squash has been lurking in my fridge for a few weeks and this snowy weather has prompted me to use it.  

First I experimented with a sausage and butternut squash slow-cooker casserole.  I'm a bit of a handful-of-this and splash-of-that sort of cook so the quantities are vague but that's the joy of slow cooker casseroles.

So, brown 6-8 sausages and chop into chunks and put into the slow cooker.   Chop a couple of onions and sweat them then plonk them in the cooker as well.  Peel and cube about a third of a butternut squash and add that to the rest.  Add a large can of sweetcorn and about half a pint of stock then cook on high for 4 hours or until the squash is cooked and very soft.  This was OK but I think I may make a squash puree if/when I make this again

The rest of the squash went into soup.  Finely chop an onion and sweat it in a little olive oil in a saucepan.  Meanwhile peel and chop the remaining two thirds of the butternut and bung that in with the onions.  Peel and chop a potato and add that.  You could add half a teaspoon of chilli if the mood takes you and about half a pint of stock. Cook slowly for about a hour then check seasoning and blitz it.  More water or stock can be added if needed.  This was definitely the more successful recipe

Saturday 17 March 2018

Determined not to waste

I hate wasting food!  Just want to make that clear.

Last week I decided to make some soup and started with a sort of minestrone in mind.  I checked the fridge for stray vegetables and then chopped onions, carrots, celery and a stray pepper which was looking a bit unloved.  I fried some bits of bacon and then slung everything in the slow cooker with a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes, a glug of olive oil and some spaghetti broken up small. 

I think I went a bit overboard on making sure it was a good hearty soup because it was more like a stew but none the worse for that.  It was wonderful!

So a few days later I tried the same sort of thing but this time I had no bacon and I omitted the olive oil.  It wasn't a patch on the previous effort.

But I don't like wasting food so I threw in a couple of spoonfuls of pesto.  That improved it but it still wasn't a success.  I dithered and thought about freezing some of it to see if I like it better in a couple of weeks but I know from hard-won experience that I would just avoid eating it.

But thinking about the freezer reminded me that there was some Stilton left from Christmas so I fished it out and melted it into the soup.

It was wonderful!  It still is wonderful but it won't be wonderful for much longer.

The weather outside is grim so sitting inside seems like a good idea.

And funnily enough the soup seems to be disappearing.

Friday 9 March 2018


There can't be many homes where "disposable" plastic food packaging gets disposed of automatically - I hope!  It's too easy to think that recycling is enough - it's not.  Stuff put in the recycling bin still takes energy to be recycled even though it is not bulking out landfill.  Don't miss out the "reuse" part of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" - please.

Most people, I think, use (disposable) plastic containers with lids in the store cupboard and freezer.  I think butter or margarine tubs are great for single portions of soup, for example.  An old ice cream tub corrals my spice jars and another keeps the jams etc tidy in the fridge.  Craft supplies are neatly hoarded in hummus pots which are transparent and so I can see at a glance what's in each.

Old milk cartons often get cut in half, the top section making a handy scoop (with handle) if the cap is screwed back in or it will make a funnel if there is no cap on it.  The bottom half gets used to keep pencils neat and I roll my tights putting one pair in each bottom half so they can stay reasonably neat in the drawer.  Being square the pots sit together well.

Large circular plastic dishes make great microwave covers.  I rarely need to use clingfilm as these are much easier to use.  Smaller dishes are great plant pots and also get used for growing seeds which can then get potted on into yoghurt or cream pots.

Anybody got more ideas as to how more plastics can be reused?

Wednesday 7 March 2018

First win of the year - and a bonus

I'm still distinctly un-energetic and in need of the odd boost and a boost was what I found in my inbox today.  I've won this lovely selection of games.  Some will go in my own games cupboard and some will be kept to use as Christmas presents.  

And the bonus?   I've got a smile on my face - best bonus there could be.

Wednesday 28 February 2018

Dream a little dream

Readers of my main blog will know that February was not a good month here at Frugal Follies.  I had the worst cold that I can ever remember having and it has left me feeling very weary.  I just don't bounce back as well as I used to!

Most of the month has been spent either in bed or my arm chair.  The new feeding station for the birds has been a great boon as I can see it through my sitting room window.  I keep it very well supplied with various seeds and mealworms and, although it's not the busiest bird table I've ever had, the starlings have entertained my with their squabbles and I've enjoyed watching the blue tits working out how to get what they want.

But that is outside my window.  Inside. the house needs a lot of attention and even more I need to give myself a little bit of TLC.  And so I have been dreaming a little dream of actually getting my life back.  It really feels that way - all I have been able to think about is how ill I feel!

So March is going to be a one-thing-a-day sort of a month.  "Trundling through life", my main blog, is going to be about looking after myself and seeking joy but here life will be a little more purposeful.  I'm not promising anything big, just one thing every day.  Maybe write a letter, or tidy a drawer, or visit someone who rarely gets a visit.  They may not be the most exciting posts I ever make but they could be the key to my well-being. 

Monday 5 February 2018

Proud? Ashamed? Which?

I tackled the Dyson!  I feel proud about that.  It wasn't easy.  (Can you tell that I'm talking myself up?)

When I got it up on the table there were three screws which needed removing in order to get the soleplate off.  Two came out easily.  One didn't.  

Feeling resourceful I looked on line and found that the technical name for my problem is "a screw with a stripped head".  If nothing else this experience has expanded my vocabulary.  Sole plate.  Screw with stripped head.  

The recommended method for removing said screws is to get a large rubber band and lay it over the screw in the hope that the rubber will fill the gaps and allow extraction.

So I way-laid the postie.  Fortunately I feed him ice lollies in the summer so we get on very well.  He gave me a band and one extra for luck.  

Even my lucky band didn't work.  The screw remained firmly in place.  I was feeling like a helpless woman, a feeling which I deeply resent.

I also worked out how to use my new camera!
But then I had an idea and raided my crafting stuff for some long nose pliers.  Using those I managed to grip the screw and turn it.  Off came the soleplate and from then on it was a doddle to clear the blockage.  I've ordered new screws which will be delivered tomorrow.  I hope I still feel proud when I can finally use The Thing.

Because I also feel ashamed at how much I managed to get out of my blocked machine.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Fulfilling Dreams

I had to take early retirement (on the grounds of ill health) when I was fifty eight and I wasn't a happy bunny.  My early retirement income was inadequate and I didn't like not earning my living.  Things had to change.

It's now eight years since I retired and other pensions have now kicked in so I have an adequate pension income and, strictly speaking, no longer need to earn.  However, for me, that is only half the story.  I like the feeling of earning, I still have dreams to fulfil and over the years I've found ways to supplement my income.

I've written about two of those ways here - surveys and comping (entering competitions).  Surveys are very tedious to be honest, but I spend quite a lot of time on my own and with my feet up, so I've got time to do them.  The hourly rate is very poor.  I'm quite quick at doing them but I am screened out of the vast majority which I start and I reckon I get about £2 an hour overall.  Still, it's £2 which I wouldn't otherwise have.

Comping is very hard to quantify as, of course, it's largely down to luck.  As far as earning an income is concerned it's not really a good idea.  However, the prizes I win give me a bit of fun, they replenish the birthday present drawer and sometimes I am able to sell prizes on E Bay.

My biggest source of non pension income is when I fill in when no regular clergy are available.  The pay rate isn't huge but no-one ever went into Christian ministry for the money, I hope!  I get a huge buzz from doing the work and the fees pay for treats.

My earning potential isn't huge but it means that I can continue to fulfil a few dreams even in retirement.

Friday 2 February 2018

A Freebie - well, sort of.

I do loads of market research surveys.  They are not a method of earning extra income which I would recommend to everyone but I live alone so no-one is wanting my conversation and I need to keep my feet up quite a bit so online surveys are  OK for me.  The companies pay me in cash or Amazon vouchers and that makes a small but significant supplement to my pensions

Once I had been doing on-line surveys for a year or two I started to get invitations to do other things.  One of the "other things" is that I'm on a scanning panel.  This means that whenever I've been shopping I scan the bar codes for all my purchases (scanner provided) and send the information to the research company. It can be a bit of a faff to do it straight after going shopping but heigh ho, it's not really difficult.

In return for my efforts I get points which can be used to buy quite a wide range of goods.   I've been accruing points for about a year and I decided to use some of them to buy a camera -and it's arrived today.  Amazon lists it at £89.95 so suddenly that faffing around with a scanner feels a bit more worthwhile.

And maybe I can start putting a few more photos on my blogs.

Thursday 1 February 2018

Fun Filled Frugal Flinging February

I do like a bit of alliteration!

But it is February.

I need to be careful with the cash.

And the house needs to lose weight.

And I want to have fun.

So that's the agenda for the month.  

My first frugal challenge is to try and avoid flinging my vacuum cleaner.  This is one of the areas where I miss Jack, my gardener, handyman and friend who is currently waiting for a knee replacement.  I have a twenty year old Dyson DC01.  The DC01 was the original upright vacuum cleaner which Dyson made, and mine has been a real workhorse.  It's had to have its wheels replaced as I once had a wonderful cleaning lady who was very rough with vacuum cleaners and Dyson suffered.  It occasionally gets blocked because I expect too much of it.   However, Jack has always ticked me off and then sorted the problems.  It's now no longer cleaning, just re-arranging the dirt.

Now it's down to me.  I've found Youtube videos and I've found instructions on line.

I may be some time.  But I may save some money.

Saturday 6 January 2018

Railway journeys

I've chosen a new-to-me car but it's at Atherton, the opposite side of the country to where I live so I need to book a railway ticket so I can go and collect it.  This is always one of those projects which takes time.

My nearest station is Market Rasen, Lincolnshire so I searched for Market Rasen to Atherton, which is near Manchester.  I use a Senior Railcard which gives me 30% off on all fares and £28.50 came up as the cheapest.

However, I noticed that I would have to change at Barnetby, a station again not far from me so I search again, this time for a journey from Barnetby to Atherton.  This came up as £30.95.  How can that be?

I then decide to see if it would be cheaper to split my ticket.  The price is now £15.25.  Same train.  Same journey.  (I've decided to travel from Barnetby because I can get a lift there.)

Splitting my ticket does not mean splitting my journey.  It is the same train and I  do not have to get off the train, providing the train actually stops at the place where my ticket splits.

The site I used to find my tickets is  Don't forget that I also used my Senior Railcard which, of course, I bought with Tesco vouchers.

Thursday 4 January 2018

Some have frugality thrust upon them

Why is it that nothing ever goes to plan?  I'd expected January to be a minimum spend month.  Christmas is over, everything to be paid this month was planned for and I had few needs.

Except I have to buy a car.  This is a major headache.  I need a specialised vehicle and can't just spend a tedious afternoon trawling local forecourts.  Instead I have to travel considerable distances to view used wheelchair accessible vehicles.  This costs money.  I always have my cars professionally inspected before I buy.  That costs even more money.  And although I got a fair settlement from my insurers I decided that it would be sensible to buy something a little newer so that has cost money too.  Grr.

But Grr isn't enough.  I have to trim my spending, maybe delay a couple of things, look for extra cash wherever I can so that I can rebuild my reserves.

So this month I'm being super careful.  

My first target is grocery spending so today I've decided to make bread instead of buying it.

My subscriptions to three organisations are due this month but they could be delayed until February.  I'm normally very well on time but this year subscriptions will have to wait a month.

And I've decided to make a tinned goods list to encourage me to use a few more of those.  

Tuesday 2 January 2018

A Very Nice Man!

Sometimes I can't believe my own stupidity and tonight was one of those times

Whenever I have a home delivery of groceries I immediately set up a new basket ready for the next delivery, usually a month hence.  Then over the next three or four weeks I can see what I need and add or deduct from my basket.  Usually the system works well and my £40 minimum basket is very carefully chosen consisting mainly of cleaning materials, heavy stuff and frozen food, all of which I am only too happy for someone else to carry for me.

I had such a basket set up for tonight and had kept amending it over the past four seeks since my last delivery.  Unfortunately I had forgotten to re-check out the basket and I suddenly remembered at 23.50 last night.  Last amendments are at 23.45 so tonight the man arrived with about ten pounds worth of groceries to which would be added £1 for delivery and £4 because my total shop was below the £40 limit.  Not a very sensible way to shop.

But the delivery man was very sympathetic and said, he'd take the whole lot back "because he had been unable to deliver it" and I will get a full refund.  How's that for a nice man?

And how's that for a dozy shopper?

Monday 1 January 2018

A New Start and a Very Boring Post

Hello to anyone who is still reading this blog and a Happy New Year to you!

December didn't really happen on this blog but it did on my main blog.  I completed the Advent Challenge from Bible Society (see my last post) but I changed a few of the challenges to make them more suitable for a disabled lady living in a tiny market town who says hello to everyone she meets anyway!

I think my main "frugal" achievement in 2017 was managing to track my money in some detail for the final eight months of the year.  I've always been able to track my current account spending but haven't previously been so good with tracking cash expenditure.  I use YNAB (You Need A Budget) for which I won free software, and I count the cash in my purse each day then try to remember where it went.  I have a category called, "Money Gone Walkabout" for the mysterious disappearances but have needed to use that less and less.

This has meant that I now have very good information on which to base my 2018 budget.  I've decided that I won't have a main holiday this year but will have a couple of short breaks and some special days out.  I think this will cost less and bring me more joy.  I've checked my 2017 food expenditure which varied wildly month to month, and have a budget slightly reduced from my average spend.

My huge expenditure this year will be to replace my car.  I was in an accident (not hurt, not my fault) on 30th November and although the insurance company has made a fairly good payout, I still need to find a little extra from my savings.  Oh dear.