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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 goes....it'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....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