Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to one and all.  May 2018 bring you health and happiness in everything you do.

I'll be back very soon x

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas From Worcestershire

Firstly another warm welcome to two new followers; Cherie and AKM, lovely to 'meet' you :)

I'll be signing off for a couple of days for our full-on family Christmas, but I want to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.  I know that people in Australia, New Zealand etc will begin festivities long before us so I wanted to get my greeting in early.  May your Christmas be everything you wanted but above all may it be happy.

Thanks so much for popping in wherever in the world you happen to be.  See you in a couple of days x

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Cheap, Delicious & a Warm Welcome

Firstly, a warm welcome to my new follower Chris.  I think I have another too but can't work out who it is.  Hello anyway!

After drizzly rain during the night we awoke to a damp and dismal December 21st.  I realised, as I lay there trying to come to, that today is the shortest day of the year!  Hooray! Tomorrow we will be on the right path to Spring with a couple of minutes of extra light each and every day. Yes, I know there's a long way to go as we are only just entering Winter proper but we have turned a corner. Yay!!

We fancied a walk so drove to town and parked in the car park where you can have 3 hours free parking.  It's further away from the centre of town but within easy walking distance.  A re-furbished Mc Donalds re-opened recently...

  It has all the new technology. You can order and pay at a machine and your food will be handed over in no time....

We tried to order 2 coffees as they are only 99p each, hot and tasty.  What? We can't pay with cash? Why not? Oh the till can't accept cash at the moment and we need to use our cards?  No thanks....(cue: hasty exit, muttering about the world's going mad)

Next stop was Halfords.  O2 Priority Moments is offering a free set of AA/AAA batteries at Halfords and we decided to claim a set.  No problem! 4 x AAA batteries for FREE. Excellent!  Then I spotted this....

All drinks were just £1 per cup.  OH had coffee and I decided on hot chocolate.  The drinks were piping hot and delicious and there was a quiet seating area in which to drink them....

At the bar-type seating there was a row of electric sockets so you could charge a phone, tablet or laptop whilst you drank too.....

I think we'll be using this facility again.  Top marks Halfords!

Now we are back home in the warm and I think it's time for a pre- Christmas drink, just to get us into the spirit of course :)  Just a small one, mind you, it is only 3pm :)

Enjoy your day everyone, no stressing! x

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

I Have It Nailed (I hope!)

We had to go into town today to go to the bank and I happened to pop into m & s.  All items in a big section right by the door were half price! I got some super pyjamas for my friend's January birthday for £12.50 instead of £25 plus a lovely bag of toiletries for £8.  I was well pleased.  Loads of little bitty things were on at £3 or £4 pounds  each so I nabbed a couple to put in the 'emergency gift' drawer.

The freezer is full to bursting, the cupboard is full of tins and packets and I have £10 left to buy the fresh salad stuff at the weekend.  Phew! The budget worked well this year ;). All bills have been settled right up to the end of the year.  The LPG has been topped up and paid for too so we can now relax into the festivities.

Our Christmas will run like this (all being well)

Christmas day: a lazy start and a cooked breakfast, no turkey dinner for us, we don't want one.  Afternoon over to DD who will have cooked and eaten their own turkey dinner.  I will be taking something for dessert at teatime.  We will arrive before the Queen's speech so that we can listen / watch it together, then games, laughter, a glass of wine and a buffet tea at around 6pm with lots of nibbles and salad.  Home latish (for us) Cue: a good night's sleep;)

Boxing day: DD and family to us mid morning, pub lunch in the village (our treat) so that we can all have a good walk there and back. Home for coffee, more wine, mince pies and whatever else takes our fancy.  Buffet tea at 6pm ish with more laughter and high jinx! 6.30pm the two tiddlers and the two 'big boys' can watch Jurrassic Park on TV whilst DD and I wash up.  Relax......and BREATHE

 I will let you know if it all goes according to plan !

Are you ready yet?  Stressed or de-stressing?

We are going to the church carol service on Thursday evening and I'm looking forward to it very much.

Take care everyone x

Monday, 11 December 2017

More Snow & A Power Cut

The snow continued to fall yesterday, we had a brief respite and then it began again.  OH managed to get home from work but he said that the main roads had still not been gritted.  Now it's exceptionally cold and the temperature is forecast to drop as low as -12C tonight. Aarrgghh!

I had just prepared the cottage pie and popped it in the oven about 4.30pm yesterday when the lights went out (as well as the cooker) A frantic scrabble revealed a good torch plus several tealight candles so that I could at least see what I was doing...phew. After literally a couple of minutes the power came back on...double phew! And the pie carried on cooking.  As I was dishing up the meal at 5.15pm poof! the power went off again so I re-lit the candles and we ate our meal in a romantic candlelit glow :) Talk about good timing.... The power was back before bedtime, luckily.

Today it was a steady trek to the Post Office where I bought some fresh rolls and lovely freshly sliced ham for OH, then it was back home to make some warming vegetable soup for lunch.  There is more left for tomorrow.  I foresee lots of staying at home and pottering on the horizon.  What a wonderful excuse to do some crafting! ;)

Take care everyone, wherever you happen to be x

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A Winter Wonderland!

A heavy snowfall overnight meant that I awoke to a Winter wonderland yesterday.  I needed potatoes so decided to clear the car of snow and pop into town.  No way!  Beneath the snow was a heavy layer of impenetrable frost....

Instead, I trecked (very slowly and gingerly) into the village to buy some (overpriced) spuds and spent the day pottering, cleaning and watching some Stargate SG-1 I had recorded :) (I LOVE that series!)  By 3pm the sun had melted the snow on the paths so I went back to the car which was, by now, also pretty clear and decided on the spur of the moment to pop into town after all.  The main roads had been gritted and were clear so I managed to get to Mr M easily.   I bought lots of fresh veg and salad stuff as well as a few staples like butter, flour, milk and bottled water.

I'm so glad I did because the snow began to fall again in the early hours of this morning and it's sticking.  OH has gone to work as you can see from the footprints....

Heaven knows when he will get back.  He's just texted to say that the main roads are ungritted and pretty ropey.  I just hope the gritters will be out later on or OH could be sleeping at 'You Can Do It'

There will be no usual 'big shop' tomorrow by the look of it but I have the makings of several meals.  Tonight will be Quorn cottage pie & veg (4 servings) then we can have:

Quorn Lasagne (4 servings),
Fish, chips and peas
Vegetable soup
Jacket potatoes (with cheese or beans)
Beans on toast
Egg on toast etc
So we won't starve.

This afternoon I will make a large fruit cake and maybe some more of the golden syrup cookies I made yesterday. The recipe is from The Hairy Bikers 'mother knows best' cookbook page 201. They are really quick and easy to make and no more than 10 minutes in the oven. 

We are due an LPG top up but I have checked the gauge and the tank is 45% full so we can last up to 3 weeks if we have to, although I really, really want the tank full before Christmas in case we have more snow later.  That's one disadvantage of not being on mains gas.  You can live on a knife edge in Winter in case the gas runs out, then no heating and no hot water! We have an electric fire in the living room so I can turn down the heating and stay in one room until this evening.  Baking will warm the kitchen up nicely and the oven is electric so no LPG wasted there.

Do you have snow? Are you well prepared?

Take care and thanks so much for popping in x

Friday, 8 December 2017

Christmas Bonus...Yay!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last post.  It seems I am not alone in being organised this year.  Many of you are too, as well as being uber-frugal. It really does reduce stress levels when you begin early because you are spreading the cost as well as giving you time to seek out reductions in price.

I wanted to add to the GC's gift bags ( I like to give a well stuffed one!) so made these....

The fairy one is much prettier than it appears in the photo as the images were die cut from purple mirri card.  I have attached a sticker on the back with a special message of love for each child.

Our December pensions have been paid into the bank along with the Government Christmas bonus of £10 each...Yay!  Now what to spend it on?  OH was desperate for a warm top so his has gone on this Slazenger fleece @ £9.50   I just rang him to see where he is (he went to the village for some bread over an hour ago) and he was in the pub.  No surprise where his 50p change has gone then :)

My £10 is still in my purse.  I intend to ponder awhile before I treat myself and just enjoy knowing it's in there.  The Christmas bonus has remained unchanged for decades, I can remember my mum & dad getting £10 each years ago. My dad passed away in 1989! The actual buying power of the bonus has dropped dramatically but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth :)

When I woke up this morning the world had changed to a very pretty white one.  It's still snowing heavily but I feel so lucky to be nice and warm and with fairly full cupboards.  Many people are not so lucky.  If I can get out tomorrow I intend to add a bit extra to the food bank box.

Thanks so much for popping in everyone.  Take care x

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

December Preparations

December already! The shops are full of lights, Christmas music and lovely Christmassy gifts.  The weather is just the opposite; dull, dismal and moist this morning, but I don't care.  Colourful flashing lights are on our Forsythia bush just outside the study window, cards have started to arrive and I have put up minimal decorations in the living room.  We gave up having a tree when we moved to the bungalow.  I can't stand the dust it creates (or dropped needles if it's real) and you can't clean properly for weeks but I do need a bit of bling and lights!

My cards have been written.  Some have been posted (to friends who'll be away in Spain for Christmas) and my gifts have been wrapped (in paper bought with Nectar points and using labels and bows left from last year).  I totted up what has been spent on gifts this year.  The total value of bought gifts (if bought at marked prices) is £273.50 but the actual cash spent was £128.50 I'm really pleased with all the savings.  I counted gifts bought with Boots and Nectar points as being free.  In addition, cash popped into children's cards came to £30 therefore a total outlay of £158.50 has been made (which I saved for all year)  I must admit, I've made a few gifts too but I think everyone has something they will like and we will begin the new year without having anything on a credit card!

I have begun to fill the freezer with goodies, am stockpiling tinned stuff (buying a little extra each week within budget) and it goes without saying that I am dropping stuff into the Food Bank trolley too.  I am READY!!

How are you all doing? Any more early birds out there?

Have a lovely day and thanks everso for popping in x

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Checkout Chuckle

Sorry for being absent for so long but life has been getting in the way in a BIG way.  I can't explain in a public blog but we have had bereavements, one of which shocked me to the core.  I am still devastated  but need to get back to normality....

I have just read Ilona's fantastic Black Friday blog post (Mean Queen) and agree with every word she says.  I too ignore Black Friday, which has somehow turned into a whole week of 'bargains' which I neither want, need nor can afford.  I am deleting Black Friday emails unread so that I am not tempted, any flyers through the letterbox go straight into recycling.  I only intend to buy carefully planned Christmas gifts.  So far I am well within my budget and, in the main, have finished my gift shopping.  All that remains is to stock the fridge and freezer so that we are not caught out by any really bad weather.  We will have some Christmas treats too.

On a different note (sorry about the pun!) I hate the new polymer notes, do you? When I did the 'big shop' at Mr M's on Monday I handed over what I thought was £40 only to be handed back £10 as two notes had stuck together.  I thanked the checkout assistant profusely for her honesty just as she handed me a till-printed coupon for a free eye test at Specsavers!! 'Nuff said!  We both rolled about laughing....

Take care everyone and stay warm x

Friday, 3 November 2017

Slow Cooker Bread Test

Marlene, from Simple Living blog mentioned having made bread in the slow cooker.  As my normal efforts are pretty dire I thought I would have a go.  I used 500g flour and for the first 5 minutes kneaded the dough in the big mixer.  A further 5 minutes by hand, then popped in the slow cooker lined with baking parchment (and on the high setting).....

After 45 minutes it had risen dramatically....

After 2 hours it looked like this...

I turned it over as the base was getting crisp and I wanted to brown the top a bit. A further 20 minutes and it was ready....
It was surprisingly tasty with soup, a bit crumbly but delicious and it made lovely toast served with a bit of real butter the next day.  Not a bit was wasted so I'll definitely try it again, maybe made with oil instead of butter and with a little bit less sugar.

Whilst the bread was cooking I found a ready rolled sheet of puff pastry which needed using up so I made pizza slice with a base of chilli tomato puree, onion, green pepper, tomatoes, feta and a sprinkling of reduced herbs. This was my half .....

The remainder of the pastry made f''Eccles cakes (fake Eccles :) for OH's munchy attacks....

Have a lovely day everyone x

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Best Laid Plans....

Thank you all for the good wishes yesterday.  It seems that many good women are born in November or under the strong sign of Scorpio :)

Well, yesterday didn't turn out to be the happy day we planned.  It was Son-in-Law's 50th birthday on the day too (which was why we were planning on having a lovely meal together) but he had a phone call to say that his father, who was in hospital, had taken a turn for the worse.  He passed away at 7.55am just before the family got there, so birthday celebrations were the last thing on SIL's mind.  I felt very restless and fidgety so OH took us off for a drive in the car.  We pushed SIL's cards through the door and stopped in the village for a pot of tea and a teacake on the way back.
Later on I had a text to say that the birthday meal was still on as the family needed to eat anyway but on arrival at the restaurant we discovered that the kitchen had no gas so couldn't prepare any food! For goodness sake what a day.  DD quickly rang around to find a nearby pub which had a table free and we did eventually eat together albeit a bit more sombrely than we had intended.  I didn't even fancy a glass of wine, I just had some water.  Now that's a novelty!!

I don't envy DD & family the next couple of weeks.  There's a heck of a lot of sorting out to do and already 'Big Sis' is being bossy, martyred and demanding all the sympathy....sigh....

End of BST

Since the clocks went back an hour at the end of British Summer Time, the nights are coming earlier and the mornings are colder and misty.  We had a bit of frost yesterday morning and the fog was quite thick at 8pm last night whilst driving home.  Winter is on it's way!  Janice from Jan's Jabber blog was expecting their first snowfall in Alberta Canada.  I love to see the first snowfall but get fed up quite quickly if I have to venture out in it.  I need to make sure the cupboards are full of useful stuff to make quick meals from...just in case....

Do you like snow? Or is it a pain in the butt?

Stay warm and have a lovely day wherever you happen to be x

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Another Milestone & A Bargain

Crikey... November 1st.... another new month and a step closer to Christmas.  For me it's a special day because....
I have stopped counting the years (whispers 68 of them!) and I'm just counting the joys instead. I've received some wonderful cards and OH is treating me to a meal out tonight with DD and her family and tomorrow night I'll be seeing my lovely brother & his wife too.  We have eaten home prepared meals from the freezer on Monday & Tuesday so no real cooking until Friday.  Now that's what I call a birthday treat!!

We popped out to buy fuel yesterday and whilst at Sainsbugs I used some of my Nectar points on wine for Christmas.  They had an offer on of 25% off 6 bottles, which I was happy to take advantage of :) so, by using £22.50 worth of points, 6 bottles cost me the princely sum of 82p  They will not be drunk before Christmas and one or two might be given as gifts, repeat....they will NOT be drunk before Christmas, they will NOT be drunk before Christmas :)

Have a lovely day everyone and thanks so much for popping in x

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Matters of Nectar and Bugs

Isn't it strange how you can go for months without feeling at all off colour then it's one thing after another, after another? OH picked up a nasty cold virus which he has very kindly passed onto me. Now he's back to being boing-y and energetic (well as much as a 67 year old can be) and I feel like death warmed up.  I felt it coming on, on Saturday evening when I developed a stingy feeling in my throat.  I was the emergency help, due to take GS to his football match on Sunday morning so I had to hide my feelings of lethargy and stand for 2 hours on the cold and windy pitch.  I expected to feel like cr*p but the match was exciting (and I don't really like football!) GS played brilliantly and his team won 5-0 so I quite enjoyed it.  I simply don't get all this shouting and yelling instructions and with a sore throat it was as much as I could do to hold a conversation, but it was very enjoyable.  I just hope I haven't passed my cold onto GS or anyone else :/

On matters of Christmas shopping....

A couple of weeks ago Sainsbugs had a Nectar points giveaway so I went to their service station to put my £10 worth of fuel in my car and look what I got....

I was amazed and delighted to win 5000 points worth a whopping £25!!  I popped into the store to buy a few items and to scan my winning points voucher and got another 200 points worth £1!

This made over £55 worth in total....
I have since spent £12.50 of my points on two lovely small gifts to take off my Christmas list, so effectively another 2 FREE gifts although I can't say what they are as someone might read my blog and it will spoil the surprise.  I still have £43 left and I will spend them carefully.....
Back on the subject of teabags, I bought some Mr M's every day tea and when I counted the teabags (yes, I know I lead a very sad life) there were exactly....40 !!! Hooray!!

Well my headache is subsiding a little, my cough is rattling but No sore throat, thank goodness.  It's time for PJ 's and Autumnwatch on the telly. 

Have a lovely evening and thanks everso for popping in x

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

I'm Excited!

I'm excited! I want to shout out loud.....

I have my first Christmas Presents!

Boots have begun to stock their shelves with Christmas stuff and I just happened to see some suitable gifts when I popped in with DD for something else.  I got 2 lovely gifts for women and one for a man which had a potential total cost of £18.50  By using my points and Boots' 3 for 2 offer I got them for FREE and I still have over £1 worth of points left on my card...result!

On Sunday morning I put the kettle on to boil for my first cuppa of the day, opened a new box of teabags and idly counted them one by one into my airtight empty! WHAT?? A box of 40 teabags contains only 38?  I tipped them out and tried again.  Still only 38. They are the cheapest Sainsbugs Fairly Traded teabags but I still felt cheated so I sent off a very polite email to Sainsbugs to query this.  By Monday I had received a very nice email to say they will be looking into this issue and that they will credit me with 400 Nectar points (worth £2) by way of compensation. I just checked and they are already in my account. Thank you! In all my 46 years of wedded bliss I have never before thought to count the teabags in a pack.  Have I been missing out all these years? Do some packs contain more?  Is it a hit and miss issue? Has anyone else ever checked theirs? Or am I completely nuts?  Answers on a postcard please ;)

Regarding Nectar points, I checked at the weekend and I have points worth £25.87 so far....

Add to this my free 400 points and I have £27.87 towards more gifts (jumps up and down in excitement! )  Today I received another email newsletter to say that from Friday to Sunday this week Nectar card holders will receive free prize draw points if they spend £10 or more and swipe their card.  It's well worth doing because the top prize is 5000 points worth £25 and you will get at least 200.  Go people! ;)

By the way, OH loved the sausage casserole.  He said it tasted slightly sweet but absolutely delicious.  It didn't need any extra liquid and served him 2 enormous portions.  If I had been a bit quicker I could have stretched it to 3 and frozen one of them.  Never mind I'll know for next time ....

Thanks everso for popping in.  Stay safe x

Sunday, 1 October 2017

It's October! Foodie Post

Thank you all so much for your comments on my last 2 posts. It seems that many of you can't help but notice the price hikes in the shops either and I can't see things stabilising in the foreseeable future.  A lot of belt tightening to come, I think....

Today is October 1st and the good news is that my food spends have stayed just within budget this month (12p left)
I have checked my store cupboard and freezer and still have the makings of:

Sausage casserole (slow cooker),
HM veg curry (I have never made one from scratch before so it will be a bit hit and miss!)
Quorn fajita wraps.
A few frozen prawns which OH can have smothered in Marie Rose sauce on a baked potato
 so potentially 5 evening meals if the sausage casserole serves OH twice.

 Leek & potato soup (twice)
Cheese on toast
Baked potato with baked beans
Sandwiches (egg perhaps)

My tasks this morning have been prepping sausage casserole for OH tonight......
2 sliced onions and 6 browned sausages (cut into chunks when brown)

 I only had 2 carrots left....

A jar of sauce 86p (I haven't bought this before so I hope it will be ok)

All put into the slow cooker to work it's magic. It should give hubby 2 good portions.  It might need more liquid but I'll see how it goes as it cooks.  As you know, slow cookers tend to create steam which adds to the liquid level anyway.  I'll let you know how it tastes in another post....

There were just 2 leeks left so soup is now bubbling away for my lunch and there should be plenty left for tomorrow....

Monday is' big shop' day so I need to get fresh salad stuff, veggies, fruit, some fish and not much else I hope :/
October needs to be a frugal month too. If I can spend as little as possible at the beginning of the month I might be able to keep some cash in reserve towards Christmas food.

Have a lovely day everyone and thanks so much for popping in x

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Century Reached

Today is my Mum's birthday.  She would have been 100 years old and I got to thinking how the world must have changed since 26th September 1917 when she was born.

 In many ways the changes are for the better:

Free healthcare,
Better housing,
Guaranteed old age pensions,
Washing Machines,
Television, for example
I'm sure you can all add much more to the list....

But I feel that some changes are for the worse. There can be a loss of community spirit with an 'every man for himself' attitude in some places.  We are far more mercenary in attitude whereas our parents never bought anything new unless the old item was broken.  Credit was shameful to them and my Dad worked long hours to keep us in a decent council house with coal for the fire and food to eat.  Holidays were few and far between and every penny was stretched until it squeaked.

Thank you Mum for passing on your knowledge to me and my siblings.  As a pensioner now myself I have sifted through my inherited frugal mindset to give me a sense of being able to cope come what may....
 I Love You Mum
Sleep Tight
Have a lovely day folks wherever you happen to be xx

Monday, 25 September 2017

Seeking Deals and Rocketing Food Prices

It's now officially Autumn, not just meteorological Autumn, but the real thing and the time of year when lots of bills start coming in including renewals.  I don't just pay the renewal price but do lots of research to try to get things cheaper.

My car is due it's annual service but it's almost £350 for a major one and I do so few miles that I'm thinking of leaving it until the Spring.  That will help keep my budget totals for 2017 in check.  It will need an MOT in December though and as the dealer has increased prices I intend to shop around for that too.  Every pound saved makes a difference.

OH is also checking broadband deals.  We are with BT and the contract expires on 23rd December when the price will increase from £28 per month to £54.99 per month :/  We use freesat for TV viewing so only need a fair broadband speed for emails and browsing.  We also pay 12 months upfront for the phone line (£205.08 last January) OH is wondering whether we can cancel the phone line and use our mobile phones to make calls instead but I'm unsure of the practicalities of doing that.  Has anyone else done away with their phone line? Is it possible to use a mobile instead of a fixed line on a long term basis?  The jury is out.....

Bloggers have been commenting on the rocketing food prices in the shops.  I totally agree.  I seem to get less for my money every single week and many of the Basics and Savers brands have disappeared from the supermarket shelves altogether. Mr M's basic butter has increased to £1.35 a pack. It seems only a short time ago that it was less than £1. I bought one of the last few packets of mixed dried fruit on the shelf this morning.  I really hope they are not discontinuing those as I use them in lots of HM cakes and puddings :(

 I am trying to cook simpler food to keep the cost down too; more jacket potatoes, soups, baked beans on toast, slow cooked casseroles etc and OH has meat of some kind only two or three times a week now.  Fish makes an appearance once or twice and it's often just fish fingers or fishcakes so that I can eat it too.  Hubby says he doesn't really miss meat all that much and it's more of a treat when he does have some.

The family came to visit at the weekend and I was unsure what to feed them on.  Mr M is selling packs of 4 x Estima baking potatoes for 50p and they looked lovely so I bought 2 packs plus a large block of mature cheese for £3.50. Tea for 6 of us consisted of  baked potatoes (microwaved then crisped in a hot oven) and I put out a bowl of grated cheese and some hot baked beans along with a bag of mixed salad (43p)  From the bottom of the fridge the remains of some YS'd cucumber (19p), sliced YS'd radishes (35p) and a red pepper.  Every bit was consumed with relish.  Even the children, who can be very fussy eaters, cleared their plates. Result!

A meal plan for tonight onwards is my next task. I spent very nearly £40 on the food shop (including £5 on a big pack of washing powder as it was on offer) and need to stretch everything to last for as many meals as possible.  Wish me luck....

Thanks so much for popping in x

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Christmas Thoughts

It really does feel like Autumn this morning.  Last night was very chilly indeed but the sun is trying to break through....fingers crossed :)

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post.  It was so nice to have 'get well' wishes, I just hope I didn't come across as feeling self pitying :/

Yesterday, my thoughts turned to Christmas. Yay! I love Christmas! But not the expense :(
Last year I had some cash from selling my handmade cards to a local shop.  This year I have my thoughts turned to ways of buying gifts for points not cash. I know I have Nectar points as I haven't spent any since last Christmas (well, post Christmas actually as I tried to eke them out as long as possible in January 2017) as well as some Boots points which I have been saving up.  I don't spend extra to get these points I just maximise the ones available.  For example, Sainsbugs have been offering extra points for a set number of card swipes in a given time so whenever near the store I buy a couple of items I need from there.  It's usually 8 swipes in 4 weeks so that's 2 per week and fuel purchases count too. I only buy items the same price or cheaper than elsewhere too, otherwise it's a bit pointless (lol....please excuse the pun, I couldn't resist it!)  So I have:

Nectar £25.61
Boots (as yet unknown)
M & S (ditto)

I also have a sealed pot to be opened in November

DD and I usually go Chrissie shopping the first week in November so I need to have a good think how to fund it this year. We have new babies to buy for this year too but I just want to put cash in a card for them.  I don't want to start having to choose gifts which might be totally unsuitable.  I'll start as I mean to go on.  We don't buy gifts for many adults in the family.  There is DD's family of 4, my brother and sister in law, and token gifts to 2 neighbours and a young couple we know. 

Perhaps I can make some stocking fillers again this year.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Lists done? Bought anything?

Have a wonderful Sunday x

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

An Apology and Autumn Arrives

First of all an apology for my long absence from my blog.  As soon as I get two new followers I go AWOL so a big welcome to Deb S and Janipi P  :)

I have had no blogging mojo at all for the last four weeks, I'm afraid.  My energy levels have been low and everything apart from day to day living has been an effort.  I got the results back from all my tests; kidneys, liver function, ovaries, and thyroid.  None of them showed any worrying results, thank goodness, so I still have no idea exactly what has floored me.  I feel a little better today apart from a headache so I need to soldier on and make sure I eat healthily in order to get my strength back (pause for some paracetamol....)

We managed to get through last month on a very tight budget although the bank account was squeaky by the end of the month.  There was just £9.48 left in my own account by the end of the third week and the annoying thing was that I couldn't withdraw £5 from that at any of the cash machines I tried...grrr... in the end I managed without by combing the house for every last bit of change.  Every handbag, pocket and potential hiding place was searched.  Boy was I glad when 1st September arrived!  The downside of this month is that it is now officially meteorological Autumn and it's getting colder.  Chilly mornings have meant that I have allowed the heating to click on (it's set at 13 degrees ) just for half an hour to make the start of the day a bit more welcoming.  We have not had an LPG top up since May so I feel justified in using a bit of what we have saved to warm us up first thing.  The heating is not needed in the evening as we can put the electric fire on if necessary and we tend to have a hot meal around 5.30pm which, in itself, warms us up.  I have brought out my fleecy blanket to snuggle into as I watch TV.  OH has always laughed at me when I use it but he actually shared it a couple of night ago when his legs were cold :D

I have been watching the news of hurricane Irma, the devastation, the flooding and the heartache.  My own heart aches for the people caught up in the storms.  We are so, so lucky here.......

Stay warm and safe wherever you happen to be in the world.  God bless you all xx

Monday, 14 August 2017

National Numeracy Challenge

I always thought I was ok with numbers and numeracy in general, enough to get by with on a day to day basis.  When I saw this challenge on the MSE website I clicked on the link and took the test.  Boy, it really gave my brain a workout and I scored 87 out of 100  87%...not bad... but not as good as Martin Lewis!  I think he got 98% The test is really good because it pinpoints any weaknesses (mine was interpreting graphs and pie charts accurately) so that you can work on any weak areas.  If you fancy having a go yourself the link is here:

It costs nothing but about 30 minutes of your time.  Go on I DARE you ;) x

Has anyone had a go yet?

Have a brilliant day folks x

Friday, 11 August 2017

On eBay and feeling Under The Weather

Another week has flown by in a flurry of activity.  DD returned home safely from the family holiday in Kos (sigh of relief) There was an aftershock whilst they were there but very slight so it didn't cause any panic and she said the hotel staff were very blasé about it.  They are quite used to it happening apparently.

It's been 17 weeks since OH had his tooth extracted and he still has a hole in his gum, albeit a tiny bit smaller.  He went to his follow up appointment and they have booked him in for another check up (no treatment given) for 30th January 2018!  He is totally fed up with the whole experience and I'm heartily sick of having to keep wiping water splashes off the bathroom mirror after his swooshing the cavity out 3 times a day still.  It's looking increasingly likely that the hospital is waiting for the gum to heal itself.  It's a very slow process.....

I can report some success with my decluttering and eBaying this month, thank goodness.  I listed some of my lovely glass which I couldn't sell at the car boot for more than tuppence halfpenny and have sold 4 pieces for a total of £120 minus fees...yay!  I really needed the cash this month so I am really pleased with the result.  There is a new baby in the family so £20 is winging it's way off to the family in a HM card.

Frugal In Derbyshire has been requesting eBay-ing tips in her post.  I've been selling on there for about 15 years now and find it very useful for me as no one needs to come to my home to collect stuff unless I allow it (as in the case of heavy or bulky stuff).
  •  At the moment Royal Mail have a half price promotion for medium parcels weighing between 2 and 5 kgs so now is the time to sell bulky stuff and post it out.
  •  For newly registered eBayers it might be a bit of a faff to get your account up and running as they need so much info these days and's free to list a certain number of items but they take 10% of a sale price including postage & packing so do remember to cost it in.
  • Save all kinds of sturdy boxes ready to post your item in.  It's very frustrating to find you've sold something and don't have an appropriate box.
  • I ask the supermarket staff if I can have the loose bubble wrap in fruit display boxes (ONLY the loose stuff, I don't want to whip it all out and damage the fruit!)  It's great to fill spaces and save money.  No one has ever refused me yet.
  • Good photographs are a must, you are allowed to put 12 in a listing.
  • Be totally honest with your description and take time to describe your item accurately.
There is so much advice out there on the forums too, have you found eBay useful?


On a different subject, I have still been feeling 'under the weather' so I gave in and rang for an appointment with my GP last Wednesday.  I couldn't be seen until the following Monday morning :? but I have had blood tests taken for liver & kidney function, ovaries and thyroid as a starting point.  Watch this space......

I have a stall at the craft fayre again tomorrow but I'm not holding my breath for any useful takings.  It's fun anyway.... :)

Have a great weekend folks wherever you happen to be, take care x

Friday, 4 August 2017

A Rooster Miracle

We have had another mixed bag weather wise over the last week.  Mostly rain but a bit of welcome sunshine this afternoon which we lapped up.  The grass was mown and more lettuce seeds sown as the first batch is almost ready for eating :)  The strawberry plants have revived thankfully, and although we lost all the remaining fruit the valiant little plants are putting out runners which we have pegged down in pots in order to increase the number of plants for next year.

I have always wanted to keep a few hens and never had the chance so OH surprised me with a gift... a metal rooster...and I love him!

When I opened the curtains yesterday morning I rubbed my eyes in disbelief, just look what had appeared overnight.....

Yes, our lovely neighbours had carefully placed not one but two hard boiled eggs beneath my rooster during the early morning!!  I fell about laughing and every passer by does the same.  Priceless!

The weekend is approaching so have a great one everyone wherever you happen to be x

Friday, 28 July 2017

End of Month Financial Review

Good morning everyone :)  Well, what a mixed bag of weather we have been having;  sun, wind, torrential rain, more sun, more rain..... It's been decidedly chillier than of late and today has dawned overcast.  Luckily I have nothing more planned than washing ironing and cleaning.  Oh joy! (insert a wry smile emoji) but first a review of my personal finances....

I think I have said before that my state pension goes straight into the joint account to help pay the household bills and my personal spending comes from a small works pension which goes into a separate account so that I know exactly what I can spend.  It's just £87 per month and has to cover fuel for my car (insurance, road fund licence, MOT etc are included in the household budget) birthday gifts for the family, as well as all personal spending such as crafting stuff and any treats like books, magazines etc.  I generally supplement this income with eBay sales, if I can find anything to flog that is. This month I have sold a couple of things but I have had several birthdays, anniversaries etc and it's my lovely grandson's 10th birthday tomorrow so money is going in his card too.  I have decided to give up buying the GC birthday gifts from now on as they prefer to choose their own.  I must confess it's much easier and less a waste of money than buying a toy which is never played with.

This has left me with £54.04 in my account to last until the end of August :/ I still need to buy petrol but will eke out the drop left in the tank for a few days yet. September will bring another round of birthdays and, of course, Christmas planning will begin (sorry to those of you who can't think of the dreaded C word yet!)  I plan to list a bit more stuff on eBay as I really do need to do a bit more decluttering.  Don't you feel much better after a good sort out?

Anyway, must crack on.  A big welcome to my new follower, Sally I think it is, it's lovely to 'see' you.

Take care all x

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Holiday ?? What holiday?

Well, school's out for Summer once more and DD has a holiday booked for next week.  Where do you think they are going? guessed it...Kos....  Last year it was Turkey and I was worried the whole time until they returned.  This time the family don't really want to go after the devastating earthquake, the little ones are scared, but the penalty on their Thomson holiday will be 100% if they don't go.  They lose the complete cost even if they choose another destination. A holiday is supposed to be relaxing .....isn't it?  Is anyone else due to go soon?

Today was the local Craft Fayre once more.  It wasn't well attended (again) because the school holidays have begun and people are whizzing off on holiday but I took a little more money than last month and had a laugh with the lovely stallholders.  Of course I agreed to do one next month too :/

The rain lashed down the whole of last night so everything is looking and feeling freshly washed and clean once more.  It was lovely lying in bed and listening to it.....

See you tomorrow.  Thanks everso for popping in x

Sunday, 16 July 2017

God Bless The Air Ambulance Service

God bless the men and women of the Air Ambulance service all over the country.
On Friday we had a bit of an emergency here.  A neighbour, who is a young 60'ish tripped over her flip flops and fell head first down the back steps of her home, knocking herself out in the process.  Within minutes of the 999 call a paramedic who lives locally arrived in his own car closely followed by a regular ambulance crew. God bless them all too.  Shortly afterwards we heard the shugging sound of  helicopter blades and a low flying helicopter circled slowly before landing in the small field nearby.  How they managed to land is a miracle.  In order to take off again the pilot had to turn around at almost ground level then lift off and fly backwards to avoid the electricity lines crossing the field.  My heart was in my mouth.  The neighbour has head injuries and broken ribs so she is in quite a state, poor soul, but she should recover given time.
The incident made me think how I've let my fundraising and donations slip a little lately.  The AA has no government funding at all so help is always needed. I intend to donate again as soon as I can.  I still support Help4Heroes by donating a percentage of my eBay sales but my Food Bank donations have been neglected compared to last year.  On Saturday I donated 4 items as cash is tight this month but I will ramp that up too next month.
We are so lucky in this country with our emergency services.
Have a lovely, safe and relaxing Sunday x

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Specs, Teeth and a Tenor

Saturday again!  I have suddenly realised that it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post but I confess that I've been feeling 'under the weather' for a while and not much interested in anything. The flashing in my eye is back but in the right eye this time and it's very disconcerting.  When I had it in my left eye it eventually stopped (after some months) and I kind of learned to ignore it but this is new and scary.  I have had to buy new specs too as my old ones, although the prescription hasn't really changed much, have started to fall apart.  A lens keeps falling out and they are loose all over.  I chose the cheapest frames I could find that I actually liked but they have still cost £236, an amount I hadn't budgeted for this year :/   Most of the cost has come out of my savings but I'm desperately cutting back on all other spending this month.  I've put just £10 worth of fuel in my car (usually £20 a month) and I'm just over 1/4 tank full so I hope it might just last another two weeks.

In addition to my eye problem I've had a delicate stomach.  I think my IBS has reared it's head again so I'm watching what I eat and trying to eat small and often.  It seems to be helping.  Jacket potato and cheese for lunch today.

OH had a hospital appointment come through to see about his toothy problem.  The socket still hasn't healed and he's still having to wash it out 3 times a day.  The consultant said that it will heal in time and the undescended wisdom tooth doesn't need to come out after all....sigh....he has to go back in a couple of weeks  for them to check the progress of healing.  If it's not healed they will (and I quote) "Do Something" .....bigger sigh......After more than 3 months it's no joke.....

On the brighter side, we took a trip to Stratford on Avon last Wednesday as the weather was warm and sunny.  Near the river was a young man who has been on the TV program 'The Voice'.  He had set up his sound equipment and was performing songs from the musicals for the eager crowds.  We sat and listened for quite a long time, eating our sandwiches, and he was lovely!  Coins were falling into his music case like rain so he must have made quite an impression.  His rendition of 'Bring Him Home' sent shivers down my spine.  He will be performing in September at Stratford ArtsHouse   I won't be able to go but I expect it to be excellent :)

Have a lovely day everyone, wherever you happen to be.  And a big welcome to my new follower Margaret (I think it is) x

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Awesome Knitting & Baking C*ck Up

Crumbs...another week has gone in a flash.  Somehow there just aren't enough hours in a day at the moment.

In my last post I promised to share details of the knitting exhibition which we found purely by accident in Honiton, Devon.  It was at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery which is housed in a lovely Georgian townhouse, the former home and studio of the artist Thelma Hulbert.  I was in awe of the knitting skills of everyone who contributed.....

I LOVE this clown!

A picnic.....

Vegetable garden produce.....
Beautiful knitted roses....

A sweet little blue tit.....

Yummy looking cakes....

Cacti galore......

This was a favourite, a bee hive!.....

The exhibits change every few weeks and, sadly, this one has now closed but for FREE admission it was awesome (donation made, of course)

Baking c*ck up!

As money was a bit tight by the end of last month I tried to eke out the desserts by making a lemon curd sponge using a fatless sponge recipe from an untried recipe.  BIG mistake!  It was so dry despite following the recipe to the letter but I was determined not to waste it.  It contained four eggs after all :/  I opened a small tin of pears, placed them in the bottom of a big dish, sliced up about half the cake and laid that on top.  I sloshed brandy over the sponge (it soaked it up nicely!) and emptied a tin of value custard (cold, straight from the tin) on top of that and chilled it. It made 4 good and tasty portions of pudding with a drizzle of cream one day and a dollop of ice cream the next. OH thinks I'm a Domestic Goddess ;)

Today is wonderfully sunny and I've had a wander around the local garden centre this morning.  I had enough cash for a pot of tea in the teashop too....lovely.

Enjoy your day wherever you happen to be x

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