Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween, Peeps!

I have been unable to post this last week as our broadband allowance has dwindled drastically :-(

This is possibly due to DH buying himself an early birthday present of an ipad...hmmm.... Normal service (ie blog posts) will resume tomorrow when our allowance resets.  See you then,

Thanks for popping in x

Friday, 24 October 2014

Further Economies and Broken Promises

Firstly a big welcome to my new follower, kristieinbc, lovely to meet you!

Further Economies

A few weeks ago I was asked to test some fabric conditioner.  As I like to do these things properly I carefully measured out the recommended dose in a little plastic medicine cup (you know, the sort you get with cough medicine bottles) and the thought struck me that I could be using far too much as I normally just tip the liquid into the cap to measure the dosage for my load of washing.  If that is the case could I be using too much washing powder too?  So....I am conducting an experiment.....
This big box of powder should give 45 washes.  It was on offer at £7 which works out at almost 16p per wash. Can I reduce the cost? Let's see.....

Now I add a stroke to my 5 bar gates each time I scoop some powder out.  I am hoping to get far more than 45 washes.  This is probably the most boring experiment that my readers have ever come across so I apologise in advance and I will forgive you if you stop here!  It will, however, help me to decide if a) I am wasting money and b) if I am polluting the environment unnecessarily.  I will post the results at a later date.

Broken Promises

When we downsized to our bungalow I agreed to manage without my trusty dishwasher.  How much washing up can two people create, I asked myself.  DH agreed and volunteered to take a turn with washing the dishes.  Fair enough, I though, dishwasher was made room for.  Yesterday, I finally heard those longed for words " I'll wash up the breakfast things while you have a shower"  Great! After 5 years!  I took a leisurely shower and strolled back into the kitchen.  Look at the time! We have to out by 11am!

Lawks! Look at the sink!  DH is nowhere to be found.  Guess who washed up....again....

My Small Treasure for today is that the wind has died down and the day is calm and peaceful.  There is no damage in the garden that I can see and I will go out later and check it all properly.  I hope you have all been lucky too.  Has anyone's fencing (or worse) come down in the wind?

Thanks for popping in x

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Why The Wait?

First of all a big welcome to my new followers: The Reason I Save and A Heron's View, lovely to have you along.

Two weeks ago my dear Father in Law was taken ill at home and we had to call in the GP for a home visit.  The lovely lady doctor came at 4 o'clock in the afternoon , six hours after the initial call but failed to find a reason for him feeling so ill so she asked us (DH and I) to meet her back at the surgery within half an hour and she would book him in for some tests.  The tests were conducted at the Surgery the following week.  He now has an appointment to go back for the results on 3rd November...what??  This date will be 3 and a half weeks since the onset of his illness.  Bearing in mind that he is 92 he could either be better or have snuffed it by then!  The NHS is failing our old people.  He lives alone, not in care but fending for himself as best he can.  We take him food, take him out in the car once a week and ring him every day.  How much harder must it be for others who have no-one to help. Does anyone else feel that the NHS is slipping into oblivion?

Changing the subject completely, a friend emailed me this and I had to laugh...this is my Small Treasure for today......I know exactly what she means!

Thanks for popping in x

Monday, 20 October 2014

God Bless and Goodnight

This is just a short message today on the sad news that Lynda Bellingham OBE has passed away.

God Bless and keep you in His care, Lynda. 

Our hearts go out to her family at this sad time.

(photo courtesy of msn entertainment)

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Frugal or Mean?

Welcome to my new followers; Trudie & Blondie.  Lovely to have you aboard.

I have been asked the difference between being frugal and being mean.  Yes, there is a difference in my opinion and it is just opinion.

I think frugality is in living within your means, shopping carefully and buying what you need, not necessarily what you want. It is in living life to the full but enjoying the little things, the Small Treasures that are there in everyday life.  It's not about denying yourself everything pleasurable but in budgeting for those things.  If you enjoy a takeaway or a night out on a Friday, for example, you allow a certain amount in your budget to cover the cost.  If money is tight right now, you don't do it.  I don't see the point in paying thousands of pounds on a credit card for a 2 week family holiday only to have sleepless nights worrying how to pay it back and the same goes for Christmas.  Just in case you think that is mean you should ask my grown up children if they have had happy holidays and Christmases.  We still talk and laugh about the fun we had as a family (elderly parents were catered for too!) My Grandchildren are no happier than when we spend the day crafting together (their electronic gadgets are put aside) and they are so proud of what they have made (costing literally pennies to make).

Meanness is in holding on to every penny you own, not giving, not sharing, not chipping in.  I know people who will go to a function only if it is free and someone else has done all the work.  They will fill their plates until they overflow and wrap half of it up to take home.  And, no, it's not because they are needy, they are mean. 

Worse still is meanness of spirit.  Some will not donate to foodbanks because, and I quote " they will only drink and smoke it all away ".  Huh?  Programmes like Benefits Britain make it look as if all people on benefits are scroungers, not so.  I know of a case where a small child needed an organ transplant to save it's life but this could only be done at a hospital miles from home.  The child's father had to give up his temporary job in order to take and be with his child during that time.  He was not entitled to benefits as he had 'voluntarily' given up his job.  He had no money coming in whatsoever.  His wonderful workmates held a fundraiser to help him out in the short term.  Foodbanks are a lifeline for so many people right now.  It shouldn't be so in a relatively wealthy country like the UK but it is.  I donate on a weekly basis and wish I could do more.

How do you feel about it? Is there a difference between frugality and meanness?

My Small Treasure for today is that the sun is shining brightly, there is a brisk breeze scudding the clouds across the sky and the day is mine.  Off to put the kettle on and do a bit of crafting...  ;)

Have a wonderful Sunday and
Thanks for popping in x

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wedded Bliss

Welcome to my new follower, Scarlet :)

Today is our Wedding Anniversary, exactly 43 years, two lovely children and two gorgeous grandchildren since the day we said 'I do'.  It hasn't always been easy.... DH sold his car for the deposit on our first house and we had no furniture other than a second hand bed but we have lived and laughed together and we are still here.  We have got through lean times, better times, redundancy, sickness, and have sometimes sailed pretty close to the wind. We do, however, make a great team.

This was in my Sister's card....

For a long time we haven't bought presents for each other mainly because we live over a hundred miles apart and the postage is horrendous but also because it just seemed sensible not to.  I pop scratchcards into birthday cards too and sometimes the recipient has won a pound or two.  My Sis won £10 on the one I sent for her anniversary and she bought a bottle of wine with it.  As far as I know no-one has become a millionaire yet!  Nothing for us this time either....
Thanks for popping in x

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

On Campervans and Stags

We had a great day out yesterday at the NEC in Birmingham.  It was the Caravan & Motorhome Show.  It never ceases to amaze me how big and bold the enormous RV's (recreational vehicles for the uninitiated!) have become.  How they can be driven around some of the narrower roads is quite beyond me. This one, a double axle giant, has a storage compartment big enough for a couple of bikes.

But this was my favourite....

A lovely VW camper.  It's so sweet! and a lovely sunshine yellow colour, but not mine at this price, I'm afraid...

You can even buy a camper van with an electric engine but they are so very pricey and you don't buy the battery outright, you have to hire it at a cost of £61 per month so it's not a cheap option...

We took some bottled water with us and some snacks and were actually offered (and gratefully accepted) 3 free coffees each throughout the day.  We worked out that we spent 8 hours walking around so no wonder our legs ached by 6pm!  As usual, we came away with some literature and found these in the bottom of the plastic carrier bags....

Now I love a good pen, these free ones should last us a while and the waisted ones are very comfortable to hold.

Christmas Cards

I have made a good start on my cards.  I made this one this morning. The colour in the photo has come out a bit too red as the light was poor but the stag is cut from light brown felt and I stitched his red bow and bell onto him before attaching him to the card with double sided tape and a bit of PVA glue on his legs.  His little bell swings free and jingles.  I think my GS will like him. All elements are from my stash but I reckon the card cost around 30p in materials.  Much cheaper than a bought card.

I know it's a bit late but I'm wondering whether or not to make a Christmas cake this year.  The downside of making one is that I will inevitably eat some, well...ok...a lot!  To bake or not to bake, that is the question...

Does anyone have a recipe containing no calories?? ;-)

Thanks so much for popping in x

Monday, 13 October 2014

Kindness and Homelessness

First of all I want to thank my followers old and new for bearing with me whilst I try to understand all this technology stuff. Welcome: Frugal in Derbyshire, flourgirl and  Deb; thanks to Chickpea for being patient, and many, many thanks to Simple Living and Pam for your very helpful advice. 

As I write this tonight the rain is lashing down and outside it is very cold and miserable.  It's on nights like this that I worry about the homeless.  I wonder how they are coping.  Have they found shelter? Can they spend a dry night anywhere?  All the old places they could possibly have used seem to be barred or locked up.  On occasions, canal boats near us have been broken into and slept in which is not nice for the owners but I hope the culprit slept soundly and moved on. 

We are here indoors, warm, fed, and listening to the rain.  I find it comforting but realise how lucky we are.  When the children were at school I could never settle down until they were home, especially in the wintertime.  I loved it when the family were back and I could draw the curtains, bolt the door and keep us safe.

If only everyone could do that....

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Technologically Challenged

I have been asked by several other bloggers if I could add a followers bar to my blog (Frugal in Derbyshire, thank you) The answer is I would if I could!  I have fiddled and twiddled with my blog, read instructions and messed about to the extent I thought I had ruined my blog completely.  In the event I have lost my 'View my complete profile' link anyway :(   I am hopeless with technology.  I keep getting an error message and I cannot make the followers bar work without changing to a Google + profile which looks awful.  Darn it.....  I do have two lovely followers but I have no idea how they managed to do it, geniuses that they are.  My DH has offered to 'have a look' but he is just as likely to ruin the whole thing as I am!  If I suddenly disappear off the face of blogland you will know what has happened :-/ 

Watch this space.....

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Autumn Chill and Comfort Food's a chilly one here today.  I was up at 5.30am to take hubby to work at 6.30am and I really didn't want to get out of my warm bed.  The heating is timed for 7.30am which didn't help at all :-(   but I bit the bullet and forced myself out.  It was pitch dark and very misty so I needed all car lights blazing.  I thought retirement meant getting up when you felt like it!  Luckily Morrison's opens at 7am so I could pop in on the way home to save time later.  This was on offer at £2 for 350g .....

So my thoughts turned to this for lunch....

I got 4 huge locally grown baking potatoes for £1 from the market.  One of them weighs a whole pound! This was the smallest at 12 oz.  Topped with about 50g of cheese it's perfect comfort food.  One of my favourite lunches for just over 50p.  I could have had some salad with it but didn't really want any today. Does anyone else have favourite cold weather food?

The family are coming round later for tea and it will be thick pork sausages (vegetarian for me ) roasties, carrots, peas, cauli, parsnips from the garden and lashings of gravy.  Feeding 6 people it will be a darned site cheaper than a takeaway.

Thanks for popping in x

Thursday, 9 October 2014

On Sewing and Memory Lane

It's been almost 2 weeks since my last post which was made on what would have been my mum's 97th birthday. I felt a bit sad and since then my thoughts began drifting down memory lane.  Whilst having a sort out I found this in my (long unused) sewing table.  It belonged to my mum and seems to date from...would you say the 1950's?  It looks as though it has never been used but I do remember my mum mending things often when we were children.  Strangely, although she worked in tailoring until she got married she never made us children any clothes.  Everything we had was bought new for birthdays and Christmas but in a size so enormous that the clothes lasted several years!  We never had a lot of clothes but mum made sure we were clean and tidy for school.  My secondary school uniform lasted me from the age of 12 until I left at 16!  Anyway, I digress....

I decided to do a bit of sewing to make me feel closer to my mum and to try to get back the crafting skills I abandoned once the children grew up.  I used to knit quite well and sew a bit (although in a wonky kind of way).  I used the aforementioned sewing kit and had a lovely hour making these.  I used felt and beaded ribbon raided from my card making stash and some new wadding which I ordered a week ago.  I feel quite pleased with them and more will be on the way, I think.

I try to hand make a few Christmas gifts every year and had another brainwave.  I have some chipboard plaques with pre-drilled holes in and I decided to make gifts with them.

I bought a tester pot of Apple Crush emulsion from Wilkinsons which cost £1 and painted the plaques with it.

After they had dried thoroughly I decorated them and added a hanging ribbon and a 2015 calendar tab (£1 for a pack of 10)  Ta dah!  I know my Sister, Daughter and Best Friend will like them so they will become stocking fillers.  I have other ideas for decorating them and I know some of you will be much better at it than me.  The costing for this one is:

Chipboard plaque 52p
Emulsion(tiny amount) 5p
Ribbon & gems  about 10p
(from stash)
Calendar tab.  10p

TOTAL  77p

The only trouble is that my dining table now looks like this and will remain so for several days :-/

Does anyone else find it hard to tidy away 'stuff'' in progress?  Oh, for a dedicated craft room, (sigh)

Thanks for popping in x

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