Hello and welcome to my blog. I've been getting some thoughts & feelings, exasperations and the odd happy moment down on the blog which helps my sanity and, I hope, provides a little entertaining read for you for a couple of minutes!

Right now I am mostly concentrating on getting through a rocky financial patch which I really hope will be cleared (all being well) by the end of Summer 2013. In the meantime I need to concentrate on continuing to do well in my "new" job (actually got it in Sept 2011 but it still feels new!) and living my life as frugally as possible.

Thanks for stopping by and if you leave me an encouraging comment, it'll make my day. :-)

Monday, 26 March 2012

A Calmer Day...

Hi there.  Thanks for your comments on yesterdays ranting post.  Happy to say I am a lot calmer today.  I am glad I am not the only one who is angry & frustrated about things though.  Well, not that I ever seriously thought I would be.  But it's good to get some feedback anyhow.

I have had the day off (using up straggling days of annual leave as the holiday year starts again in April) and it was another cracking day today.  I sat outside this afternoon on our little patio area and enjoyed sunshine for a while.  No sun cream on....I am sure I am vitamin D deficient after what feels like an eternal winter indoors in jumpers and cardigans so I was going to get some sun on my skin! 

I enjoyed watching the bees and the odd butterfly in the garden, flitting between the springtime flowers and I had the odd ladybird come visit me too.  My second Approved Foods order arrived early afternoon and there were some already chilled bottles of ginger beer in the package (I guess it gets cold in the back of that delivery van!) so I enjoyed sipping that in the sunshine.  A neighbour in a nearby property had their non obnoxious music on relatively quietly and her little toddler was making cute little toddler noises which all made for nice backdrop sounds for once!  Aaahhhh it was lovely.

I have a friend coming over soon who I haven't seen for a good 6 months so I am looking forward to a cup of tea and a shared Twix (!) and a good catch up.

Back to work tomorrow (sigh) but at least the weather is supposed to be great for the rest of the week so that should make for good cycling weather.  Looking forward to Easter now - especially as I have some more time off then as well! 

Here's hoping you get a nice big Easter Egg (and if not...buy your own!).  But I should be posting again before then.  Here's something to whet your Easter appetite though! 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Anger & Sunny Days Don't Mix!

Hello there!  What a lovely weekend it has been once the fog has lifted in the mornings.  Bright sunshine and mild temperatures.  Beautiful. But I am so angry and it feels so wrong when it is so gorgeous outside!


So this morning we wake up to the news that the Tory party Treasurer has resigned over the cash-for-access scandal.  Absolutely no surprise to me though.  All I ever remember from the previous long running Tory government was sleazy scandal after sleazy scandal.  Buttock Face Cameron might like to pretend that's all a thing of the past but I don't think so.  Oh no.  Too much rich old Etonian boys back slapping networking going on in that party for it to ever change.  At the end of the day, when do the Tories ever give a rats ass about anyone that doesn't earn a lot of money, grant favours or open doors for more of their kind or chase foxes around the country for sick pleasure?  They don't care about the working classes and their struggles, they never have and they never will so he can ham it up in front of the cameras as much as he likes but he doesn't fool me one bit.  And George Osborne is even worse!

So anyway that was enough but then on a visit to Frugal Queen's blog I discover they want to put VAT on Cornish Pasties as well!  Now that really did p*ss me off!  This is an outrage!  Not only is it completely stupid it is a potentially damaging blow to our friends in the South West.  It will affect people in that beautiful part of the country where they pretty much do depend on tourism and tourism money to prop up the local economy.....but it's not just tourists who buy pasties is it?  I am going to Cornwall later in the year and truth be told, 20% on a pasty isn't going to make much difference to my decision on buying one.

If it wasn't the locals themselves buying their own produce I guess the practice would never have lasted as long as it has.  Plus they must ship out lots of locally produced goods to places all of the UK and maybe beyond?  Adding 20% to the cost of their goods is surely going to hit hard? 

It's one thing showing the world your sleazy Treasurer who obviously can be dispatched promptly and it can all be denied and it will all die down I'm sure....it's all a bit anonymous if you know what I mean?  But this is proper personal for a lot of people.

Here is the link to an online petition.  Please please please sign it.


Some of you might think I am a bit nuts getting passionate about this, especially as I don't even live in the area!  I do visit though and I love it down there.  But it makes me mad because it is lots of things like this that this useless, cold, hard hearted shambles of leadership which keep chipping away at this country at a time when we need all the encouragement and nurturing we can get to keep on producing and selling.  But they seemingly don't care at all.  They are the most short sighted bunch of tits I have witnessed as a government since I can remember governments.  Yes the Labour leadership got the country in debt but at least they tried to help people.  And they didn't cause the recession in 2008.  Rich, greedy bankers did.  This shower have done nothing since they came to power that I can think of, which has helped this country.  I cannot think of one thing at all.

So that is why I am angry today and I am even more angry that Buttock Face and his cronies have made me feel like this on such a lovely day.  B*stards!

Anyway apart from that I'm fine.  How are you?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

New Weekend, New Washing Machine, New Love for Approved Foods!

Well hello there, and how are you today?  Very well I do hope.

Ahhhhh it is Saturday, just before 1pm and I have been up for quite some hours and have finished all my main chores for the day, I've had a nice shower and done something with my battered nails too.  A quick push with a cuticle hoof thingyjig, a quick file of any rough nails and then a slick of Rimmel base coat to give them a bit of a shine and they're done.  Now I feel vaguely presentable again!  I'd love to be able to afford a professional manicure once a month (like I used to have....in the old days) but it's completely out of the question.  It is one of the things I'd pay for again though if I had more spare cash as it's so relaxing and I use a self employed local lady so it helps her too.  Much cheaper than a salon as well.   Oh well, maybe one day.

I digress!

If you're not interested in white goods you can skip this section:

Well, the new washing machine was delivered and plumbed in yesterday so after the required "initial wash" was done (a hot wash with no laundry and it took ages) I did two more loads, one of which was on overnight.  Sorted that this morning then put on some more so I am getting there, catching up.  The new machine is very quiet, has a taller drum than the previous one (which seemed deeper going backwards if that makes sense) but it is still a 6kg load so I can get a decent load done at a time.  I like it, though most of the cycles take a very long time.  There is a time saver button you can use to cut it down by about 50% but that still means 90 minutes in some cases!  As I am not married to a mechanic and I don't work on a farm, most of the clothes aren't that dirty so I can't see me using most of the long cycles at all.  I did read that Hotpoint machines to have long cycles.  Luckily there are a couple of options for a quick 30 minute wash and another for 60 minutes which is OK.  I registered for the free 5 year parts guarantee as well.  12 months from purchase covers parts & labour then after that it is free parts, but you have to pay for engineer's time.  I suppose it depends on how much the engineers charge per hour as to whether it's worth having! 

<Washing Machine Data Ends>

Yesterday our first Approved Foods delivery arrived!  I am so impressed with the service!  I was kept up to date through the week with delivery information, being told it would be delivered Friday, then a time came through as well which was handy for hubby who was at home yesterday waiting for washing machine.

The good were well packed and everything was delivered in good condition.  Last night, watching a film we feasted on some plain poppadums and some mango chutney we already had rather than shop bought chip & dip!  So that was great.  I have some Twix's chilling in the fridge.....9 Twix for £1.50, my word that's crazy!  Twix heaven.  They are my favourite chocolate bar.  Although I also like dark chocolate Bounty too.  Hmmm I can feel a Harry Hill "fight" coming on!

Anyway I am just so excited about it, like a kid who has been accepted into some sort of club!  I will definitely be looking at the site frequently (reads:  daily, probably) until the novelty wears off a bit.  I have signed up for some alerts as well as I can imagine the disappointment if you miss something you need or use frequently.  I have recommended it to so many people already so let's see if they go for it and if I earn any credit. 

Oh and Attila, I had a big bowlful of millet rice this morning with added sultanas and it was delicious!  I forgot how much I liked it.  I will definitely be stocking up on that.  Best before date was April 2012 - well it certainly won't be hanging around that long that's for sure!

Well lunchtime is here and my tummy is telling me so, so I am off to make some beans on toast and then see what else I can do today for free!

Bye for now.


Monday, 12 March 2012

Quick Update.....

......argh!  Repair quote for washing machine was £200 to £230.  NO. WAY.

Friend offered us a washer dryer in her garage but unfortunately too big for the machine space in our teeny kitchen (impossible to change without ripping the whole kitchen out).

So, shopped around for the best I could find online tonight and found one the right size (Hotpoint basically, same as now) and bought it through Quidco.   Delivery & plumbing in on Friday.   Could do without this...but can't do without a washing machine.

Thanks Atilla for the comment on Approved Foods!  I replied to you. x

Night all, I am off to cry into my bank statements.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Approved Foods - I've Taken the Plunge!

Evening all,

Well as most of you, like me, follow Frugal Queen's blog, you will have no doubt seen the recent post about Approved Foods and her recent delivery.  I had been meaning to check them out for a while now but kept forgetting so this inspired me to have a little look around.

Well I am quite excited tonight as I have placed my first order which will be delivered some time mid to end of this week.  My basket was somewhere in the range of £90 RRP but my total to pay (including delivery of £5.25) was £26.53.  Completely bonkers bargains!  I'm so happy.

We make a lot of stir fries, chillies, curries and the like in this household so Thai red curry paste, red chilli paste, poppadums and basmati rice were some of the first things in the basket.  I have also bought spicy cous cous (which I love), some Twix bars (my favourite), breakfast cereals, loo roll, other types of sauce, some pears in cranberry sauce which I intend to make a few crumbles with and/or eat with cream or yoghurt perhaps.

A few other bits & bobs made their way into the basket too which will be used up and I will be back to browse the site in due course.  I could have gone completely mad tonight but I would like to place a modest order to start with to see how it goes and what the goods are like, plus as always, you've got to have the money to place the order haven't you no matter how much of a bargain it all is!  But after reading so many positive things about it, I have high hopes.

If you have also used them and found some superb savings, do share!

Well I think we're going to need to save every penny even more as the washing machine decided it was going to start playing up today.  On spin mode it sounds like a rumbling tank coming over the brow of a hill!  Not good.  Something metal seemed to clang earlier and it sounded like a coin or something was rattling around in there from time to time (it wasn't) so I am guessing at some sort of spring or bearings or the like have gone pop?

I have left a voicemail for a local guy who fixes machines but if he says it's over £100/£125 to supply parts & fix it (and replace the rubber seal which is a bit icky after 5/6 years of service no matter how much I try and clean it!) then I might just see about a new one BUT I don't want to.  I want it to be repaired and I am really hoping it will come in less than that to get it back working.  I have no idea how much I should expect a repair bill to be!

I don't expect it to last forever but if it could last another 12 - 18 months I would be so grateful, as we'd have finished paying for the windows by then and hubby will be contributing a bit more due to his last OU module being paid for by that time.  Fingers crossed then!

I am back on the bike to work tomorrow for various reasons but luckily it is supposed to be mild for a few days at least so that's good.  Mind you I *have* to take the car Tuesday so if it's going to rain at all....let it be Tuesday!

Apart from essential fresh groceries which I bought today (£5.67!) and the on-line Approved Foods purchase, I haven't spent any other money at all.  This is the norm now really.  I did find myself craving another day out perusing the local charity shops but I have resisted!  I have a friend coming to see me at the end of the month and we've said we'll pop 5 miles up the road to the nearest little market town which has a grand total of 2 charity shops which we'll have a browse around so I have that to look forward to. 

I have had a bit of a clear out today to put things in the Age UK charity bag which is being collected Tuesday.  Luckily they are happy to take all sorts so I have been able to get rid of a few bits that we got for Christmas presents but were never opened (sad isn't it?) or used, I have also been ruthless about a few bits in my wardrobe which may have been fairly costly (compared to now) but hey, I don't feel comfortable in them, they are just taking up space and I would like to hope someone in the same circumstances as me might stumble across some of the items and like them and be able to pick up a bargain.  Like the hot pink cashmere mix cardigan with beautiful ruffle front (that I just feel like a trussed up chicken in) or perhaps they will fall in love with the pretty little silver sparkly handbag that I bought for my wedding day but has sat in a drawer ever since.  I will never use it again, I am not a 'sparkly babe' type woman!  Some days I am more rock chick and others more floaty sleeved hippy!

Part of me thinks I should keep the bag as it was my wedding day bag but hey, I didn't keep my wedding dress (though I did get it altered and wore it again once to a party!) and I sold my silver wedding shoes so what's the point?  My wedding ring and my husband are the only things I really need to keep! 

Well time to make a lunch for tomorrow then settle down for some Being Human before getting ready for bed and another week. 

I hope you have a good week whatever you are doing.  Take care and thanks for reading.


Monday, 5 March 2012

The Start of Another Week

Good evening all - thanks to those of you who have commented recently, it's nice to know I am not just talking to myself! 

So here we are at Monday again.  I have the house to myself tonight as hubby is out so my evening has consisted of the following:

* Washing up & clean up kitchen after a quick 'n' easy Monday night meal of veggie burgers, oven chips & beans!  It is our only "fast food" of the week as neither of us can be bothered on a Monday night but it's still reasonably healthy and much cheaper than a real fast food take out.
* Making a menu plan for the coming 7 days.
* Taking delivery of the monthly delivery of vegetarian freezer stuff, soya milk and the other bits I can't get from ALDI.
* Watching SuperScrimpers (actually thank God its finished now...I felt duty bound to watch it but didn't really learn anything new though I appreciate some people had their hearts in the right places).
* Doing another quick online shop with Tesco to get the 'offer' tofu stock up delivered on Wednesday and a few other required bits which prevents a 8 - 10 mile round trip drive with the added temptation of impulse purchases.  The £3 delivery charge would easily be swallowed up by the petrol and extra spending I am sure plus the things I ordered on offer saved at least that anyway.
* Made packed lunch for myself & hubby for tomorrow.
* Dug out a quick & easy recipe for a soup to make tomorrow for me which uses up a left over leek.  It contains soft cheese so hubby won't eat it but it will be a good freezer food for me.
* Sorted out a load of white washing to go on overnight & hubby can hang it out tomorrow after work (mid afternoon) for a while as no rain forecast tomorrow - but not much wind either :-S    May have to finish off in tumble dryer but if they can get even half dry I will be happy.

I was supposed to give the bathroom a good clean tonight as well but it's too late now and it had a once over at the weekend...it can wait another day or two at most!  There are not enough hours in the day sometimes.

Well I don't know how it is where you are but Winter feels like it has returned where I am!  I am very cold tonight and it's been pretty nippy all day.  We had some sleety snow yesterday and I think Winter is trying to have one last crack at us before Spring fully springs - what do you think?

Have a great week and I hope you all have something nice to look forward to or perhaps something unexpectedly lovely happens for you.  Bye for now.


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Relaxing on a Rainy Sunday

Good morning to you all. 

Well it is pouring with rain here but for once I am not glum about it.  My part of the country is officially in drought so we need it.  It's supposed to pour down all day....so let it!  I don't really have to go anywhere today though I am tempted to drive to the large Tesco store on the other side of town to stock up on marinated tofu which Tesco have at three for a fiver (it's normally >£2.00 per box) as we do use this at least once a week.  But we'll see.

Yesterday was such a lovely day with my friend.  I only see her about once every 2/3 months and she's the best company in the world and I love her to bits.  She has MS, her own financial difficulties and she lost her Dad recently to cancer but she still remains as cheerful as she can and tries to be optimistic.  She's an inspiration. 

So I picked her up at 11.00am and we then drove on to a little market town about 15 miles away from her village where we looked in most of the charity shops, had a bite of lunch in a cafe (my treat seems she spoiled me rotten last time we met up pre Christmas) then found bargains in the QS store there as well.  Time for a quick cup of tea & a chocolate muffin (naughty!) in Greggs at 4.30pm before returning home.

We chatted loads and just enjoyed each others company.  Perhaps in a way it is good that we don't see each other all the time as possibly it would lose its value?  I don't know.  All I know is when I come home from a day out with her, I feel so happy and if I have spent money it's been money completely brilliantly spent.

Speaking on which, apart from the lunch, what else did I buy?

Well I found a fabby pair of black bootleg jeans for £2.99....complete bargain of the day as they fit brilliantly.  They are drying under the porch as I type and I can't wait to wear them!

I also managed to find a lovely simple top with slightly puffed sleeves in my favourite blue colour:

It was £4 which was a little high for a charity shop considering the simpleness of it but the colour is perfect and I had to have it. 

In the same shop I found a pretty little Per Una cardigan (also £4) in mixed fabrics including silk.  It is going through the handwash cycle at the moment (as per label) with some liquid soap especially for delicates and Ecover fabric conditioner and I hope it will look, feel and smell fabulous afterwards. 

It fastens with just one brooch like button, has pretty fluted cuffs and a kind of handkerchief hem and looks great just over a vest type top with jeans (and it will go with normal trousers too).  That was in this colour which also suits my complexion:

So those were my charity shop finds which I was very happy with.

In the QS store I managed to pick up some more bargains totalling £13.47.  I got a pair of black jersey type palazzao pants (trousers!) which best friend advised looked great, very flattering/slimming.  They are perfect for lounging around at home in when I get sick of wearing jeans. 

I also got a very pretty, decorative slimline scarf with various colours in that suit my complexion and match my rain mac which is a coral colour.  Total bargain at £1.99!

And finally I found a longline vest top which was in a blue & pink messy print fabric which reminded me of something from the 80's but perhaps a tad subtler!  But it was a bargainous £1.49 (reduced from £7) and looks so much better on than it did on the hanger.  My friend I think was a little unsure when I picked it up but I'd said "Sometimes things just look better on!" and in this case I was completely right!  It's seriously cool, I love it!

You know shopping for clothes is fantastic when you're with someone like my best friend and you're both on the same wavelength i.e. look for bargains.  Also we had agendas i.e. I wanted some more casual trousers and tops in the right colour or style and she was on the hunt for tops that suit her and possibly more work clothes too.  She also found a bargain pair of curtains for £7 in emerald green to match her recently painted kitchen diner which is now a light sage green.  So we both went home happy.

I was so content last night.  Hubby had made a delicious tofu, broccoli & cashew nut stir fry on basmati rice and I had a glass of wine (which he'd bought me as his pay day treat, bless him) and all felt good as we settled back to watch a couple of episodes of the Battlestar Galactica remakes which we've recently started re-watching.  Lovely!

So that was my Saturday and I still feel relaxed and happy.  I hope you've had a good weekend so far too with something very pleasant to cherish as well.

Bye for now.
x x x


Friday, 2 March 2012

A Day Off....Apparently!

Well my long awaited day off arrived.  I did have a lie in!  I had full intentions of getting up when Hubby had left the house for work but I managed to fall back asleep till 10.00am!

Well I got out of bed as soon as I woke up feeling a bit annoyed with myself BUT hey, it was my day off and I did have a bit of a late night last night. 

I hung out the overnight washing, then took my meter readings as Atlantic had emailed me to ask for readings ready for this months bill, then I made myself a bowl of porridge and a cup of tea.  I took my time over my breakfast before putting the laptop on to submit those readings.  I braced myself....

So, the gas bill will be £187 and the electricity will be £112.  The electricity is not horrendous I suppose (for three months over Winter) but the gas, albeit coming in a bit less that I thought it would do, is pretty bad considering for a lot of the very recent cold weather we still had the heating off for long periods of the day and sat wrapped up in blankets not wanting to move off the sofa at all!  Can you imagine what it would have been if we'd have had the heating on as often as we'd have liked? 

It's not been pleasant at times but we've coped and of course there are people in far worse situations than us.  The bill will be paid and we've still got the roof over our heads.  Things in the news every day make me constantly challenge any internal (and sometimes external!) whinging I might do when things aren't going so well.

I digress....

So after that I began tackling emails & post, writing a cheque for the window cleaner who had been (and I'd hid behind closed curtains as I was far from presentable!) and then the housework.  I usually do housework on Saturday mornings but I am hoping to meet with an old friend tomorrow.  So I thought I'd get it out of the way today.  That kept me busy!  (And warm!)

Eventually it got to past lunchtime and it was time to get myself sorted with hair wash & shower.

Lunch was 21p ALDI spaghetti on toast and a banana before hubby got home mid afternoon after picking the car up from garage (£93 later....sigh) so I made him some lunch too.

Time for a walk after that!  It looked pretty inviting outside so I popped out to a couple of shops to get fresh bits and bobs.  It took me in a square circuit around the area I live in and it was COLD!  The intermittent sunshine was nice though and it was good to get out for an hour or so.  Fresh air and a free workout.  Well not free if you consider the shopping but you know what I mean!

I had a Tesco points voucher to redeem so happily I got a bagful of groceries for £5.85 which will see us through till midweek next week.

I was happy to get home for a sit down briefly then I started to make dinner.  A yummy leek, mushroom and cashew nut risotto.  With the exception of the risotto rice, all ingredients were from ALDI so pretty reasonable.  The recipe calls for a small amount of white wine so I bought a small bottle from ALDI and the balance went into a glass for me to sip on whilst stirring the dish!  Mmm lovely.

Here is the link to the recipe if you are interested.  I use Pure margarine rather than butter, omit the parmesan and use veggie stock and it comes out well.


Hubby washed up and I have brought all the washing in and done a bit more tidying now I am sitting on the sofa watching an old Doctor Who and writing up my blog.  It feels good!

So here's hoping for a nice day with a good friend tomorrow (we may visit charity shops....) and then I STILL have another day off to chill before work on Monday.  I love long weekends!