Sunday, 23 April 2017

Charity Giving and Happy St George's Day!


Happy St George's Day!
Charity Giving

After my year of 'Do More Good' I would like to carry on with the theme and 2017 is running away from me already so when I did the top up shop on Saturday I took 4 new-ish paperback books to donate to the charity sale table in Sainsbugs.  By the time I had paid for my shopping 3 had been sold, so potentially £3 to charity. Yay!  The few eBay sales I have had have generated a few pounds to H4H via eBay Giving (around £5, I think) but I really need to readdress my Food Bank donations because there was an article in last week's free paper declaring that the shelves at the local FB are almost empty.  It was put down to a big increase in families with 5 to 9 children attending the FB.  I though those days of big families were almost gone.  Apparently not....
This year I am thinking of volunteering at a H4H fundraising collection day in a local supermarket.  I've never done it before, have you?  Did you find it worthwhile? Or should I be looking at other ways to raise funds?
Anyway, thanks everso for popping in, have a lovely St George's Day x

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Toothy Update and Week 3 Total

Once again, I would like to thank everyone for the kind responses to my last post.  Janice's diagnosis was correct, OH has a 'dry socket' where his back tooth was removed.  A clot didn't form so the gum hasn't healed :(   We made another visit to the dentist on Tuesday who cleaned out the socket and applied a paste of clove oil amongst other things to try to seal the bone and help with the pain.  He is not in as much pain now but food keeps getting trapped and he is finding it difficult to eat normally.  As he is not eating meat, it has been easy on the food budget this week.  It's been mainly HM soups, mashed potatoes, cheese pie, simple steamed veg etc so :

Week 3 Total £38.13       This included a bottle of  Aldi wine

I have felt so sorry for OH that I haven't felt like eating elaborate meals either but I really do need to increase fruit and veg consumption for both of us so I will concentrate on vitamin filled foods next week.  There is a veggie cider hotpot in the oven at the moment which I hope OH will be able to eat (albeit slowly!).  He won't be home from work until 8.30pm so I'm going to test it now.  I forgot to eat lunch so I'm ravenous :/

Yum, that was lovely....fridge bottom carrots, a leek, an onion, half a head of broccoli, a few sprigs of cauli all cooked in a pint of veg stock with a generous 1/4 pint of cider thrown in.  Sage and black pepper to taste, then sliced potato (par boiled for 10 minutes) placed on top and sprinkled with grated cheese.  Oven 180 for 45 minutes.....  It makes 4 portions so we will have the same again tomorrow.
I have bought 2 big pots of plain, thick, Greek style Bio yogurt and I intend that both of us will have a portion every day.  OH to help combat the effects of the antibiotics and me...well....just because I like it!  I have felt quite stressed by worrying so it will help settle my mild IBS symptoms too.
On a happier note, today has been a lovely, warm, sunny day.  Even now at 5pm it's warm and cheerful.  Frost and snow is forecast for next week so I will enjoy the warm feeling today.  I do hope you are all having a share of it in the UK.  If it's still cold in your own country dear friends, then stay warm and snuggle in.
Thanks so much for popping in and commenting x

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Toothy Troubles at Easter

Firstly a big thank you to all who commented on my last post regarding breadmaking.  You had me smiling, giggling and laughing out loud as many of you, it seems, have been in the same boat at some time.  From doorstops (Kim) to hockey pucks (Jackie) you all know how it feels to fail!  Thanks so much for the tips too.  I won't give up.......yet... ;)

I haven't posted for almost a week but we have had a bit of a trauma.  After having a certain tooth filled several times over the years along with emergency trips to the dentist when the filling broke or came out completely, OH was persuaded that it finally needed to come out.  His own dentist couldn't (or wouldn't?) do it so he was referred to another surgery ( a big dental chain) in a town further out of our area.  His appointment duly arrived (Tuesday last) and I drove him to the surgery.  He was due to have an intravenous sedative as well as cocaine injections so I had to stay and drive him home.  Golly, was he woozy afterwards!  I knew I couldn't support his weight as he is almost 6 feet tall to my 5' 3" so we had to sit it out in a waiting room afterwards for almost an hour.  Fast forward 24 hours and he was in pain and convinced that something was wrong.  A dash back to the surgery revealed that he had an infection in the extraction site.  Where on earth had that come from? and so quickly too?   He has now been given a course of strong antibiotics which seem to have done nothing to resolve the problem.  He finds it difficult eat anything so everything has to be either mashed or soup and the pain is waking him up during the night.  Paracetamol only seem to dull the pain for a couple of hours.  He's working over the whole of Easter and has gone in today but I keep expecting him to come home early.  I only hope that work can take his mind off the pain a bit.

To cap it all the extraction cost £56.40 so BOOM! that's our £50 rainy day money spent :/  And NO! it wasn't eating my bread that did it !!  LOL

As it has been difficult to meal plan and be cost effective this week, almost the whole budget has been spent therefore:

Week 2 £49.57

Bargains this week include 3 packs of veg from Morrisons for £1 and a pack of 3 good sized leeks for 20p from Asda which resulted in a big pan of leek and potato soup for the invalid (tasty even if I say so myself!)   I won't need to feed visitors this weekend as they are on holiday.  That can only be good thing for the budget at the moment..... :(

Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone and thanks so much for popping in and commenting.  I really appreciate it x

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Sunny Sunday Savings

Happy Sunday!  The sun is shining and Spring is here!  As I've said before, we are not allowed to grow veg here but, once again, we have sneaked some seed potatoes into a big tub ( actually, two tubs this time!) and our strawberry plants are putting on a spurt now that they can feel some warmth at last. 

Yesterday I decided to bite the bullet and try bread making.  What an unmitigated disaster :/ 
It looked ok whilst proving .......

So I divided it up for the second proving after bashing it about a bit......

This is the might say.  Overcooked? yes, a tad (the oven must have been hotter that it should have been) Solid? yep.  Edible?  Well we ate the one on the left well buttered with some pasta bake, the one on the right is still languishing in the kitchen wrapped in foil.  The bread, when cut, looks and tastes a bit like Ciabatta not what I intended at all.  Go can laugh... my OH did and he texted a photo to DD who rolled about laughing too :)  B*ggers.

I did my top up shop yesterday and spent exactly £20.00 (how did that happen?) but that included a bottle of wine, some loo rolls and some cake and ice cream for the GC.  We sat in the garden and enjoyed a drink and a lovely sunny afternoon together.

Therefore the total for week 1 is £39.90

£10.00 has gone into the 'saved money' pot and the 10p has been left in the housekeeping purse for next week (oooh big spender!)

Thanks everso for popping in and enjoy your evening x

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

April Challenge

Did anyone watch the new series last night on ITV Save Money: Good Food?  It was very similar to a previous series (on a different channel?) but concentrated on using fridge/freezer and store cupboard stocks more effectively to feed a family of 4.  They also explored the merits of supermarket 'Value' or 'Basics' items, this week being cornflakes, baked beans and smoked salmon  (really? I never buy the stuff)  anyway, the value items were deemed to be no less nutritious than the branded stuff.  I have long suspected that taste is what matters here.  There is often less sugar and salt in the value items (a good thing, yes?) so if the family will eat it without complaint why not buy the cheaper version, or even cheat a bit and decant it into a branded box so that they think it's their usual brand :)  I tried a basic brand of teabags costing 60p for 40 instead of the usual £1.20 for the same amount.  I popped them straight into the kitchen container so that no one knew they were different.  Not a soul has commented and the tea is drunk just as eagerly as before.  I can't tell the difference in taste so they will be bought again.  If you are a tea connoisseur you might beg to differ but we enjoy it so it stays. The baked beans we eat are always a supermarket brand too. 
I think that this will be the way to go to keep the food bills stable at the moment because prices are definitely creeping up but the food budget is fixed.....

I buy very little meat as I don't eat it and OH is coming around to more veg based meals on a regular basis.  He still has to have his weekly fix of bacon butties, ham sandwiches and the occasional meat and 2 veg but the non-meat purchases are keeping the spend down.  April is a 4 week month as far as the food shopping is concerned so I am going to log my spend as I go.  £200 has been earmarked in the account (ie £50 per week) and I tend to do a 'big' shop on a Monday and a 'top up' on Saturday.

Morrisons has an offer on of 3 packs of veg for £1 so I bought a swede, 1.5kg Maris Piper potatoes and a 1kg pack of onions, all of which are British.... BONUS! (there were also leeks or cabbage if you preferred ) Some of the spuds were roasted on Monday to go with a bit of chicken and some leftover sprouts from the fridge.  I need to use up some fridge bottom salad stuff before it's wasted so it will be cheese salad butties for lunches for the next couple of days.  Fish and HM chips tonight....yum :)

I will not be buying our usual weekly bottle of wine until Saturday or OH will open it and it will be gone! I might check out Aldi for that.  If he wants beer before then he can buy his own!

Two new followers seem to have appeared so 'hi' to Jules (I thought I had you before?)  and also to someone else new  I can't quite see who it is  :/  I do hope I won't bore you to tears straight away.....

Here we go.....

Week 1:  Monday £19.90

Thanks everso for popping in, have a brilliant evening ( or day, as appropriate) xx

Saturday, 1 April 2017

No April Fool !

Borrowed from Google
Good grief it's April 1st already!  Who stole March??  I was determined not to be a fool with my  our :/ money in March never mind April so I have spent some time (quite a lot of time actually) online, checking price comparison websites and haggling reductions as advocated by Martin Lewis and his team (SUPER chap!)
Successes as follows:
Main car Insurance:     renewal quote £329  Paid £260 (haggled it down)
Second car Insurance:                         £237          £167  (
Caravan Insurance :                            £260          £182   (rang around for quotes)
                                                            £826          £609
In addition, I checked the bi-annual electricity bill and we had been overcharged by £90  I very quickly queried it before I paid the bill.  This is why I try not to set up DD s for some things unless it gives us a big saving.  It's easier than trying to get our money back once the DD has been paid. 
The first 3 months of the year are heavy on bills as most things seem to be due at once;
ground rent, rates, water & sewage charges, caravan parking spot, home insurance, LPG top up etc 
Thankfully, the money has been put aside week on week so although our account is pretty much depleted there is still a small balance in there.  The amount saved by haggling and shopping around will be left in the account towards the next round of bills.  Council tax has been pretty much frozen again this year, an increase of just £23 which isn't bad considering how strapped for cash the council seems to be.  We DO have a DD for that as we know in advance how much we will be charged.
I am so relieved to get it all sorted at last and to know exactly where we stand.  We have had loads of  birthdays to buy for too so I have been eBaying like a maniac and on Thursday last I sold a couple of pieces of scrap gold jewellery to a lovely dealer chap we know for £50, which was a bit more than I was expecting.  That has been put aside for emergencies. 
I'm now debating whether or not to suggest to friends and family that we cut down on gifts a bit more this year.  Already I tend to send the adults a handmade card with a scratchcard in for luck and the children get money to spend as they (or their parents) wish but we have 2 extra small children to buy for now so thinking ahead to Christmas do I suggest we don't buy for the adults at all ??  DD and her family will be the exception of course.  I stick to a budget but I enjoy choosing something special for them :)
Do you intend cutting down this year? And have you haggled to reduce your bills in any way?
The food budget will remain at £50 a week and will have to cover non-food items like loo rolls, cleaning stuff, toiletries, washing powder etc as well as feeding visitors at the weekend.  I am hoping for a small weekly surplus which will be saved in a pot for Christmas 2017.  Can I do it, I wonder?
A warm welcome to my new follower Pauline Williams, it's lovely to have you aboard :)
Have a wonderful weekend everyone x

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Happy Mother's Day to Mums Everywhere

I just want to wish all Mums, wherever in the world you happen to be,  a very

Happy Mothering Sunday
Enjoy your day x

Thursday, 23 March 2017

God Bless

I was going to write an upbeat post about financial matters but the events at Westminster yesterday have to take priority.  I am heartbroken for the innocent victims; the mother with small children, the policeman simply doing his job, the two people who ended up injured in the Thames, the tourists caught up in the wicked act which caused such carnage, the people with life changing injuries and all their families. 

It would be too trivial to write about mundane matters today....

Oh, and I don't normally swear but I say to Katie Hopkins " Shut your mouth! You only speak for yourself!  People are NOT cowed, simply in shock. The terrorists WILL NOT WIN "

God Bless you all my friends and keep you safe xx

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Manic March and I'm Home!

Where on earth is the month disappearing to?  I'm sure there's a malevolent being which gobbles up days in great chunks so that the month has barely begun before it's halfway through.   Anyway, I digress.  We spent the whole month of February based in Bridgnorth despite previous plans to decamp to Cornwall halfway through.  The weather forecast was not good and high winds were predicted which is a nightmare when planning on towing a caravan nearly 200 miles!  So....we stayed put.  The site, Stanmore Hall, was very nice.  We had a lovely view of the lake with it's ducks, geese and a resident Heron which I was never quick enough with my camera to snap a photo of.  We were warm and cosy.......

The caravan shower room contained all my favourite toiletries which I had saved up for the very purpose and we were attached to the mains water tap and drainage so that I could shower without leaving the warm environment of our vehicle......

There was an abundance of wildlife the whole time including two peacocks, well strictly speaking one peacock and one peahen which were mother and son.  The poor father got attacked by a dog and died. 

We walked and rested and walked again.  We visited Bridgnorth town where there were some fantastic charity shops (I picked up a few bargains too) and The Old Mill antiques centre where I could browse for hours and had to be dragged away on more than one occasion!

There was an M & S Simply Food and we bought a meal deal consisting of a large pie, mash and fresh cream roulade which cost just £6 the lot.  It could easily have fed 4 but we were a bit greedy and ate the pie, mash and half the dessert in one sitting (insert a shamed, blushing face icon) :/

On another occasion we went in to buy milk at exactly the right time for YS bargains.  We couldn't resist all the sweet treats for just pennies, it was too good to miss.  These lasted us for several days and we eked out the fruit bread by toasting the last few stale slices.  It was delicious.

Our normal food budget was just enough each week to keep us ticking over and we ate out twice a week using our saved cash of £68 plus hubby chipped in by paying for one of those meals from his own cash.  There was a super pub a short drive away, The Bandon Arms, with 2 meals for the price of one.  Two meals plus 2 soft drinks came to less than £20 and we ate there twice.  Breakfast was usually cereal, fruit and yogurt or toast or croissants.  If we went out for the day we took sandwiches or a banana and I always carried a bottle of water to drink.  A small bottle from a multi-pack cost 12.5p instead of paying up to £1 a bottle in a shop.

As we didn't make the trip to Cornwall, we had £20 left from the diesel fund which has gone back into the piggy bank for our next trip.  I have no idea when that will be but I sincerely hope it will be to Cornwall this time.  With that in mind we will be adding to our £2 coins in the piggy bank in the weeks to come.

I am happy to report that my health is slowly picking up.  My vertigo lasted a good 2 weeks followed by a tummy upset which I put down to a re-emergence of the IBS I suffered from a few years ago.  To cap it all I hurt my neck the first weekend we were home!  I was struggling to remove the soap dispenser from the washing machine when I felt the bones in my neck crunch followed by a shooting pain down the side of my neck.  Good grief, when will it all end ?

The blog title Manic March is how I feel about the last couple of weeks.  I don't feel my feet have yet touched the ground.  We have so many bills to pay including insurances, car services etc that I seem to have spent all my waking hours chasing up quotes and looking at comparison websites.  I'll tell you more about that in my next post.

For now my painful, stiff neck and I wish you well.  Thanks everso for popping in x

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

February Freeze

Just a quickie today, I'm afraid.  February Freeze refers not only to the potential weather conditions but the condition of my blog.   I will be taking a blog break during February.

I managed to see the GP yesterday and I have something called Episodic something or other  :?  I had never heard of it but it is basically Vertigo which comes and's to do with the inner ear.  I am no wiser now except that the condition usually resolves itself in about 4 weeks apparently. One down, 3 to go then.  My swollen thumb and painful arm are...guess what... arthritis and it ....guess what....comes with age.  Great, in other words put up and shut up!!

Our last bit of shopping for January came to £8.59 making a total for the month of £98.23 which is fantastic.  Target achieved :)

The piggy bank of £2 coins saved throughout the year spewed forth a respectable £80 for diesel.

During the next month we will draw the usual food budget cash every Monday but also have £68 in the kitty for our 'eat out' fund so are all set to go. 

Thanks so much for the replies on my last post (and for the sympathy, I am very grateful). Internet access will be sporadic during February so I might be able to read some blogs but not comment.  Rest assured I will still be with you all in spirit :)

Have a lovely month and we'll catch up in March.

Stay warm and safe x

PS forgot to say we have WATER! The main is still not mended but they are pumping water in to the system so that we can at least wash and cook.  Hurray!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

A Precious Commodity

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post.  It seems the GP service in some areas is great but in others pretty dire.  I still feel rough this morning, quite light headed and wobbly but I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon at least.  To cap it all my right thumb has swollen up for no apparent reason.  The pain extends up my hand into my arm right up to the elbow and it's difficult to carry anything.  I'm a walking disaster at the mo!

Speaking of disasters...we have a broken water main in the village.  It has been spewing precious water for several days....

We had no water at all yesterday from sometime after 9.30am  The family came to visit in the afternoon and with 6 of us using the loo it became a bit of a logistical nightmare :/  When we realised there was a potential to have the water cut off we filled the kettle and a large bucket (for flushing the loo).  Boy did we need them!  Luckily, I already had some bottled water to drink and DD brought some large potatoes (already washed at home) and a tin of baked beans, I had beans and some grated cheese so we had a scrumptious tea of crispy baked potatoes with cheese and beans...yummy....The washing up was a bit trickier.  We waited to see if the water came back on but, no, I had to heat bottled water in the kettle.  This is noooo good for our food budget!!  OH managed to buy some water on his way home from work but I don't think I will include the cost in the challenge as OH paid for it and it was a necessary spend.
When there is a problem with mains water it often comes back on quite discoloured and gritty and I'm loathe to let it flow through the combi boiler until it has cleared.  Repairing/replacing the boiler would be horrendously expensive. To avoid this we don't use the hot taps for several hours after restoration of supply.  I know I'm likely to absentmindedly turn them on so I turn the tap handle to the cold setting instead of tidily in the middle where I like it to be :)

We don't flush the loo for a while either....

And I have refilled the bucket just in case....

DD brought me some HM leek and potato soup yesterday so I'll have some of that for lunch today with a wholemeal roll....

At the moment we have water, albeit a bit discoloured and smelling strongly of chlorine, but we have a slow flow.

We are so lucky in this country to have clean water at the turn of a tap and don't realise it until it's taken away.  Any tips on coping without water in an emergency?  What do you do?

Thanks everso for popping in.  Stay safe and warm x

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Our NHS, a gripe

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post.  It seems the creeping price increases are not a figment of my imagination but are happening not only across the UK but in Canada too.  I fear this is only the tip of the iceberg....

Welcome manicstamper, it's good to have you join us :)

The bad news is I feel awful.  Maybe I picked up a bug somewhere but I've had a recent cold which is now leaving me.... but leaving me with dizzy spells :(   It's affected my digestion too as I feel quite nauseous most of the time and the feeling kept me awake half the night.  Try as I might I just couldn't drop off until at least 3am.  Consequently, I feel like a wet lettuce today.  I tried to book in to see the local GP and the earliest appointment is on Monday afternoon! What is that all about?  A person could be dead within 4 days!  Our NHS has certainly seen better days :?

How long do you have to wait to see your GP?  Are children given priority?  A sick child could deteriorate very quickly if not seen for 4 days.  What is your experience?

Thanks so much for popping in x

Monday, 23 January 2017

Creeping Prices

Other bloggers have mentioned it and I am certainly noticing the stealthy increase in prices week by week at the moment.  Some increases have been 10% but others much more.  The tins of broken grapefruit I buy have gone up from 35p to 50p and the ice lollies for the GC up from £1 to £1.10  for example.  I don't know whether it's a drop in the value of the pound which is causing it or whether Brexit is just an excuse for a hike.  Will the pound shops have to be rebranded 'One Pound Ten' shops I wonder .... !! :D

When I bought my little VW car 6 years ago it came with the promise of FREE MOT's for LIFE!  (for my car ...not me!) Great, I thought, money saving at it's best.  3 years later my MOT cost £29 as free was 'unsustainable' they said.  I have just had an email saying that £29 is now 'unsustainable' and my MOT this year (and I quote) has "a slight price change" to £39 ! Now I don't know about you but I don't feel that a hike of almost 34.5% is a slight increase.  I know it's still cheaper than the RRP but still....I feel quite cheated.

Today's shopping came in at £25.57 which included a bottle of wine @ £3.75 as well as some Gaviscon @ £3.78, which I like to keep in the caravan 'just in case'.  There are also a couple of things for the crate of holiday groceries.

Total spend so far for January is £89.64

I really want to cap spending at £100 so there's not much left to play with :/ watch this space....

Thanks everso for popping in x

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Forgotten Loo Rolls

I saw these bows in the card shop yesterday, reduced from 99p to 29p. A bargain not be missed because I can use them throughout the year for birthdays.

Well folks, just 9 days to go until the end of the month.  I don't know how much further I can stretch the freezer and cupboard contents but I am determined to try.  If I can come in at under £100 for the month I will be pleased enough.  I forgot we were low on loo rolls though when I did the 'big' shop so had to go out and buy some.  With a bit of a juggle in Superdrug (the assistant was more than helpful and I didn't hold up the queue as no one was behind me) I paid £2 separately for these 9 rolls which topped my loyalty points up to £1......

meaning that I could use them to get £1 off the toothpaste so that it only cost me 48p....

I know I could possibly have bought it cheaper elsewhere but the poundshop had none and it suits my sensitive teeth.

In Boots I used loyalty points for a free travel size talc for the hols.  I don't shop in there as much as I used to as the local store tends to be a bit pricy but it saved me £1.25 nonetheless.

Total spend so far £ 64.07

Have a lovely week ahead x

Friday, 20 January 2017

Another Free Shop

Nothing much to report since my last post.  The weather continues to be foul with either a frosty start, which I don't mind, or several days of mist and fog which never lift all day.  Roll on Spring, I say....

Yesterday we did a top up shop in Sainsbugs and bought bread, Activia yogurt (8 pots for £2), handwash, value washing up liquid and some veg for the weekend. Two little pots of Limoncello dessert were on offer at £1 saying "buy me..."   I gave in and treated OH to a bit of lemon-y lusciousness :D The total cost was £5.70 and I used some more Nectar points so only parted with £1.70 cash.

I think that brings the spend for January up to £61.59 so far.  I am running out of stuff from the freezer to use as a basis for meals so will need to buy fish and meat next Monday and might have to make a meaty stew for OH to last him for a couple of days, just so that he doesn't feel deprived at all :)

How are you all doing with eating down the freezer and cupboards?  Any unusual meal combinations that I might not have thought of?

Have a lovely weekend and thanks everso for popping in x

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Free Food!

Yesterday we needed milk and a TV guide so I popped to Sainsburys where I decided to use some Nectar points instead of cash.  I bought milk, yogurt, cooked meat (for OH's sandwiches), rice, bread, tea bags, tinned fruit, Quorn, and a reduced beef in black bean sauce for OH, butter (for baking) cereal, a nice bottle of red wine and even a plain black T shirt for me costing £4. The total spend was £26.89 so I used £25 worth of points leaving just £1.89 to pay.  All I need to buy now for next week is some fresh fruit and veg.  I'll check Aldi on Monday for their Super 6.  This means that I can save most of the food budget for next week.

Total cash spent so far in January £59.89

Free food feels so good! :)

Thanks so much for popping in x

Friday, 13 January 2017

A Cupboard Sort Out

It was snowing when I woke up this morning.  Nothing too thick and heavy, mind you, but accompanied by a biting northerly wind so it felt freezing.  I stayed in bed until the heating had been on for half an hour to warm things up a bit then set to sorting out an untidy store cupboard.  Everything was taken out and the shelves wiped down with Dettol spray cleaner (I like the clear one), My baking tins are always falling out so I put them neatly into a plastic box and put my knife block, chopping board etc neatly beside it.....

I'm really glad I decided to tackle the job because I found a forgotten pack of part baked bread right at the back...

luckily in date.....

as well as finding two packs of cocoa which I use for baking.  I will give one to DD as she does a lot of baking with the GC ....

Everything has been put back neatly on the top shelf and I actually know what I have in there now!  The cup a soup has been bought only because it was on offer at 50p a pack in Mr M and it's handy for OH if he gets hungry when I'm out :)  There are still lots of things to add to meals for the month in order to stretch the budget.....

This is my new reading matter.  I saw it in the Oxfam shop for 99p and as I really enjoyed watching Downton Abbey I though this might be a good read too .....

That's all for now as I need to start the tea.  Have a a lovely evening and stay warm x

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Food Plan and A Street Cat Named Bob

Well the good news is....Grumpy is a bit less grumpy today!  Thank you for your comments on my last post.  Pam has a wonderful idea, she suggesting cancelling the date next year completely, no cards, no pressies and NO steak or wine.  It might be a jolly good idea :)

I've done the meal plan for this week.  I bought steak (obviously), plaice (on offer at 2 generous fillets for £2), bacon (for OH's weekend breakfasts) and cheese.  We already have Quorn fillets and 2 eggs.  The plan is for:

Monday: birthday meal as explained (leftover veggie lasagne for me)

Tuesday:  Quorn fajitas using 3 Quorn fillets (75p) 2 peppers from a pack (66p) a red onion (10p) and fajita spice which I bought for 19p a while ago.  I used 5 tortillas from a pack of 8 which I bought for 19p and popped in the freezer. Absolutely lovely!

Wednesday: Plaice, chips and peas

Thursday: Cheese omelette and salad (the last two eggs bulked up with cheese and shared)

Friday: sausages, roasties and assorted veg with gravy

Saturday: ??  OH on a late shift so he will only feel like jacket potato or beans on toast which will be fine for me too.

Sunday:  Pasta bake (so that if the family come to tea I can bulk out the bake to share and serve with crusty bread and salad)

Breakfasts : bacon for the weekend for OH otherwise cereal or toast this week

Lunches have been/ will be sandwiches, beans on toast, jacket potato or soup with HM cheese scone.....

cor... I LOVE cheese scone....  :)

Desserts have been/ will be the last few mince pies with custard or ice cream, HM cake or fruit (we have apples & grapes)

I had to buy kitchen roll and tissues this week but the spend came in at £28 which isn't at all bad for us.  I will try even harder next week to shave a little off the spend.

We treated ourselves today to the 11am showing of A Street Cat Named Bob.  It made me weep to see how some people have to struggle with coping with life but it has made me even more determined to continue to donate to the local Food Bank.  I was so pleased that there was a happy ending for James and £3 each for coffee, biscuits, a seat in a warm cinema and fresh determination to help others isn't half bad :)

Has anyone else seen the film? Isn't Bob wonderful?

Thanks everso for popping in and stay safe everyone x

Monday, 9 January 2017

It's Grumpy's Birthday!

It's Grumpy's birthday today!  And he has spent the day being a miserable old sod too.  We went food shopping together and he has snapped and sniped at me the whole day as if it's entirely my fault that he's now a year older at 67.  It wouldn't be so bad but I reached the same milestone in November 2016 and took it on the chin.  Good grief, he has had some lovely cards, a new case for his i-pad, a couple of bottles of his favourite beer and two very respectable gift cards totalling £30.  To cap it all the post contained a cheque for £25...a win on the premium bonds!  The only time he cheered up was when I dropped him off at the village pub for an hour, then collected him in the car as it was pouring with rain.  He has had his favourite meal of steak and chips and a bottle of red wine too ( that's £8 out of the week's budget, not that I mentioned that fact to him :)  If he's not careful he won't have to worry about reaching 68 ://

Anyhow, I am preparing a food plan for this week and will let you know how much I spent in tomorrow's post ....

Stay safe everyone x

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Figures Are In and Nice Stuff

Nice Stuff

I wanted to start this post with a couple of up-beat items :)  I saw this part work in the newsagent and couldn't resist it.  For 99p you get a decent size piece of Aida fabric, 6 lots of embroidery thread and 6 needles as well as some instructions and ideas.  I won't be buying any subsequent mags as they become more expensive (and addictive) as they progress but this is a real bargain.  I really want to try a bit of cross stitch this year and this is the cheapest way to do it.....

O2 Priority Moments have come up trumps again; this time with a code for a FREE can of de-icer from Halfords.  I had none left so that's £2 saved, thank you O2 :)

Time now to do the sums for the year so folder and notes ready.....

A cup of coffee and the last home baked cookie to hand.....

The Verdict

It seems we do not have surplus funds after all :/  We would have done if we hadn't had an unexpected bill for ground rent to pay before the end of December; over £1700 worth...eek.  We hadn't expected OH to have to give up the post of Warden this year so hadn't put the money away.  It has wiped out our surplus (which would have been around £500) as well as our contingency fund.  Looking on the bright side we are not in debt so .....onwards and upwards.... This weekend will see me eBay-ing like a mad woman to get back some cash in our contingency fund for February.

I have listed potential outgoings for 2017 with an uplift of around 5% as I think prices will be increasing throughout the year until they find their own level after Brexit.  The total has been divided by 12 to give the monthly figure we have to leave in the account to cover the bills.  As I said before, our food budget will not be increased and I will be trying not to spend it all, as it's one place where we may have 'wriggle room'.  It will be FUN! (insert a cheesy grin emoji)

Once upon a time I used to enter loads of competitions and won a few lovely prizes (never any money though) but a couple of weekends away and oddments too.  In 2017  I am going to rekindle my interest on comping but not by post (too expensive) just online entries and hope for something nice :)

Do you enter comps?  Any nice wins lately? Do tell!

Take care everyone, thank you too for all your encouraging comments on my last post. Thanks so much for popping in x

Thursday, 5 January 2017

January Juggle

Welcome to 2017 everyone, I do hope the new year is getting off to a grand start for you all :)
Thanks too to everyone who left good wishes on my last post.  All the comments are much appreciated and returned three-fold.
The title January Juggle refers to the jiggling of finances which occurs every January.  Household expenditure is examined with a metaphoric magnifying glass to see where costs can be cut and potential increases catered for well in advance of the actual bills.  I have yet to add up last year's totals but a quick glance at the books is encouraging.  I'll update you on the totals soon (if you're interested that is!)
Earlier in the week we popped into Asda for some milk and I spotted their January mag.  There are 37 budget recipes and the mag is FREE.  We are not usually near to an Asda but a free mag is not to be sniffed at :) and I look forward to reading it cover to cover.

My Christmas presents were mainly toiletries and chocolate biscuits; both very welcome gifts, but a friend bought me this planner/ shopping list.  She knows me well!

It's not very clear in the photo unless you click to expand it but this week we have eaten....

Monday & Tuesday ....veggie hotpot (lots of veg like carrots, onions, leek & broccoli topped with sliced potato and cheese.  I simply microwaved Tuesday's portion to reheat it.

Wednesday.....cheese pie & baked beans (carb heavy, I know, but we like it and the weather is literally freezing)

Thursday....crispy jacket potatoes, grated cheese and lots of salad (I know it's cheese and potato again :/ but it was yummy)

and yet to come :)

Friday .....needs to be fish and homemade chips with peas

Saturday...Quorn lasagne with roasties and lots of assorted veg (I have bits of all kinds in the fridge & freezer to use up)

Sunday....more of the same (whatever is left over)

Breakfast has been porridge or cereal with tinned fruit and a dollop of thick, creamy Greek yogurt.

Lunches have been sandwiches, toasties, HM quiche (using half a pack of ready made pastry from the freezer) wraps etc (including salad stuff where OH didn't object) Most of these are portable to take with us if we have to go out.

Desserts and snacks have been HM biscuits, HM Eccles- style cakes (using a ready rolled sheet of puff pastry from the freezer @ 3 for a £1 from Her0n foods) jelly (not for me..yuk!!) with a scoop of ice cream (on offer at £1 a tub from Mr M) making OH very happy.  Tonight I have used up some stale bread by making a slab of bread slice; a kind of luxury bread pudding courtesy of Marlene @ Simple Living's blog.  I really am trying to avoid sugary snacks and cakes for a while but there would be mutiny from OH if he didn't get his fix.  The bread slice makes 8 hearty slices to keep him happy :)
edit: forgot to say we have apples, grapes and 2 bananas for snacking :)

The food budget has come in at under £30 despite needing to buy things like loo rolls, kitchen roll, toilet cleaner, vinegar and olive oil so I'm happy with my first shop of the new year.  On Saturday I intend to clean out the store cupboard whilst OH is at work so that I can better plan for next week once I know what we have in there.  I'm also aware that I need to add meat and fish to the food plan for next week so I'll buy those first and see what cash is left.  There's still lots of veg left in the fridge which I don't want to waste so need to incorporate that somewhere.

I have accumulated £31.46 worth of Nectar points....

and 168 Boots points ....

I'll use those a bit at a time to eke out the budget.  The Boots ones will probably be used for liquid soap or toothpaste or something and the Sainsbugs ones for food.

Phew, this has turned into quite a lengthy post...sorry....I'll stop now!

Thanks everso for popping in x