Thursday 31 January 2013

January Review

Well, I made it to the last day of the month and stayed within my budget :-)  I am thrilled to report that I managed to save £217 despite a few unexpected expenses including paying for the final module of my course.

Food total was £250.01 which included an order from AF for sports drinks powder that will last for months!

Petrol total was £231.29 which included a 120 miles round trip to visit my parents.  Any trips into town have loads of errands to make it worthwhile.

Extra income this month was zero.  Partly because the craft boutique still haven't paid me for my December sales and partly because I haven't re opened my Etsy shop yet.  I still have a load of stuff to put on Ebay and loads of books to sell on Fatbrain.

All in all, a good January :-)

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Keep calm and carry on

It's been one rollercoaster of a week here.  Death and illness puts a lot of stuff into perspective.  But I'm happy with my life and am grateful for the good things in it so won't dwell on the negatives.

I still haven't got round to re opening my Etsy shop or getting my website ready to sell directly.  So many things keep conspiring against me (mainly time!!)  But I have been stitching.  These wee dog brooches are Royal Stewart tartan.  They're so small (only 5cm) I guess it's hard to tell what tartan they are.  But still love making them.  The best bit is adding the stuffing and seeing them come to life :-)

The local craft boutique has requested more owl and dog cushions.  They are my big ticket items at £30 each so I'm more than happy to put in the hours for these fellas.  Each one takes about 2 and a half hours to make. I'm (im)patiently waiting for my delivery of cushion stuffing so I can finish them off.
My January food budget has been successful! :-)  One day left and I've overspent by 1p.  One single penny!! I am so thrilled especially as I included dog food in the total.  I've worked hard to make sure I haven't wasted a single scrap of food and that we've eaten healthily.  The above chicken was rescued off a chicken carcass before I popped it into the slow cooker to make stock for soup.  It was enough to flavour a risotto for me.

This is my house in the snow.  I love my house and wish dearly I didn't have to move.  But I do so it's still for sale.  I had two viewings recently.  One couple's feedback was that it was too remote and was too much work for them.  The other couple haven't even bothered to respond. 

No point in getting annoyed about it.  I'll just keep calm and carry on as usual

Wednesday 23 January 2013


I needed a few bits n pieces at the supermarket today.  All I have left in the food budget now is £4.25 to last 7 days.  Eeeek!

And the snow arrived with a vengeance.  Eeeek! We were properly snowed in for a day.  The teen was off school as I couldn't move my car.  Fortunately today I was able to dig it out enough to move it.  It's a 4x4 but I've never needed to use the 4WD.  Today I locked it on and basically ploughed my way out towards the road.  I can't get it back up to the house so I'll leave it near the gate for the time being.  Bit of a pain walking the few hundred metres in deep snow with shopping though.

Dogs love it.  I was trying to photograph them through an open window when Emma jumped up to see what I was doing.  She does make me laugh :-)

Monday 21 January 2013

Watch the birdies!

I'm ignoring the fact that it's just cost me £680.24 to fix my Aga. I'm not going to get upset that the snow has been so heavy it looks like I'm going to be snowed in for a few days. And I'm not thinking too much about the fact that my first born is 26 today.  If I'd had a pound for everyone who says I can't have a 26yo son.......

I just love this photo I took on Saturday.  I have a bird feeding pole and have loads of wee birds who visit it. Blue tits, cole tits, chaffinches, siskins, 3 pheasants, a pair of wood pigeons and 3 robins.  Yes, 3 robins!  They're supposed to be territorial and people say you only get 1 per garden.  Ok I have a large garden but when I noticed that there were 3 of them I had to try to get a photograph.  It's taken me ages but I finally did it.  Imagine my surprise when I uploaded some this morning and realised I'd finally done it :-)

My dad didn't believe me that 3 robins could feed together without fighting but they do.  They even hang onto the fat ball feeder!  They're supposed to be ground feeders but I've seen them use the bird feeder.

My next target is my woodpecker.  I hear it regularly but have only seen it once.  It was on the fat ball feeder.

Watch this space!

Sunday 20 January 2013

More month than money

There are 10 more possible spending days to go until the end of the month (I'm not including today as it's a no spend day and I'm at home any way) and there's only £13.56 left in the food budget.  I also have £2.92 in Brand Match coupons which makes a total of £16.48.  Eeek!! I'm getting just a little bit worried I might not pull this off.

Logically I'm telling myself there's plenty of food and basics ingredients in the cupboard and freezer.  It's all about re educating my habits and not doing a top up shop when I don't really need to.  Main source of pressure is usually the Teen who's always looking for 'something nice' to eat.  I have 16 eggs so can see some cake and biscuit cooking happening this week!

Thanks to my food budget there seems to be a few more pounds hanging round my bank account but sadly my Aga has decided to pack in so a call out to the engineer is urgently needed.  Last time it happened I was almost £200 for labour and parts.  The kitchen is rather cold (there are no other heaters) but would be colder if OH hadn't put some thick insulation in the roof space.  Why does heating etc always break down when the temperature drops and there's a few inches of snow on the ground???

Friday 11 January 2013

More bargains!

Sometimes it's just luck if you hit the supermarket at the right time for yellow stickers.  I love it when things are only 10p but I try not be disappointed if they're not at that price yet.  This little haul below was a lucky one costing me £3.50
6 half pint tubs of organic double cream (from a local dairy!) @ 34p each, punnet of apricots 39p, bag of organic rocket leaves 29p, mixed veg 24p and a pizza 54p
The cream was turned into butter and buttermilk.  Both nicely portioned out to suit my regular cake recipes and popped into the freezer. My banana loaf recipe is in ounces hence the 5oz tub but my Madeira cake is metric!! I haven't frozen butter before but know loads of folk do it so I'm giving it a go. 

And the apricots became jam.  The hungry teen  loves home made apricot jam especially on pancakes.  Not a big amount but enough to last us a wee while.

My new freezer is up and running.  I've never had a chest freezer before so it's taking a bit of getting used to.  I've been filling it up with turkey bolagnais sauce, sliced lemons, lemon juice and lime juice ice cubes (got a bargain bag after Christmas, 1 ice cube is 1 tablespoon) and a few other bits n pieces.  Today is going to be curry and pizza making day.  I'll make a batch of bases and sauce for freezing then putting a pizza or a curry together should take a few minutes whenever the teen feels peckish!

Monday 7 January 2013

It's freezing time!

I'm ridiculously pleased with my new freezer.  I spent my Christmas money on it as it's far more useful to me atm than clothes or something frivolous. 

Having a second freezer could be viewed as a luxury but since the aim of the game here is to save money in the long term it will pay for itself over and over in the coming years.  My kitchen freezer is bursting at the seams.  I live 15 miles from my nearest supermarket so popping out for bread cos I've run out isn't an easy option.  I like to keep at least 2 white and 2 wholemeal loaves on standby (the hungry teen can eat a lot of toast and sandwiches!!!) and that fills a whole drawer.

I've got a big supermarket delivery coming later so will be filling up my store cupboard as well as batch cooking meals for the freezer.  It's the first time I've used this supermarket's delivery option.  They offered £12 off your first order so I've got £12 worth of flour, sugar, coffee etc to store.  Only problem with deliveries is that sometimes an item isn't available so if they didn't have any turkey mince then some of my meal planning is up the spout!!

Fingers crossed!

Sunday 6 January 2013


For some reason Blogger won't let me load photos today.  Ah well, you'll just have to imagine them!

My AF order arrived on Friday.  I am so pleased with the savings I made.  At the bottom of the invoice it tells you how much you saved on RRP.  I saved £89.63!!  I'm so tempted to stock up on more bargains but need to be cautious about busting the monthly budget in my first month.

The Lucozade sports powder works out at 10p a serving.  Comparing that to the supermarket one I normally buy means a saving of £79 over a year :-)

A visit to my parents on Friday resulted in my first NSD (no spend day) of the year.  My lovely mum knows that money is tight and sent me home with a car load of leftover food and loads of clothes from her wardrobes.  We had great fun clearing them out.  She just can't resist a bargain so had lots of items still with their tags on.  Some I'll keep and some I'll try to sell on Ebay. 

I'm pleased to report that I'm making progress on my 2013 healthy plans.  Last week I made 3 gym visits and so far everything is holding up.  I'm sticking to my 3 cups of coffee a day, that's tough for me!  But it's better for me to drink less cafeine and it's saving money.  Having my 5 fruit and veg everyday is easy to do.  The drinking water is harder so need to work on that one.  I like sipping hot water with lemon in it so maybe that's the way to do it instead of cold.

Once I can load photos I'll report on my clothing budget progress

Wednesday 2 January 2013


This wee lavender heart was my first handmade gift of the year.  It was for OH's mum who gave it a big seal of approval! Very pleased that I've started my handmade gift giving with a positive response.  It's my nephew's 19th birthday next week and I have to confess I'm stumped for a handmade gift for him that meets his approval.

I need to do a big supermarket shop today or tomorrow so am working on a weekly meal plan.  I used to do this when there were 5 of us and there was lots of coming and going with after school activities and evening events.  Then it was to make my life easier but now it's all about saving money.

I forgot to post that the 'cost' of my Christmas dinner was just over £42 :-) Well within my points value.  And there was enough leftovers to last several days.  I've even got some of them in the freezer for future use.  This convinced me that with careful planning I can do this on a regular basis.

Last night I placed my first order with Approved Foods (AF) They sell discounted food online.  It's usually out of date, short date or just surplus end of lines.  I've been looking at them for ages and was registered but since I rarely buy packaged foods I didn't place an order.  Until I saw they had sports powder at £2.99 for a 1.170kg tub!  It's normally £18.99!!! I got 4 so I'm hoping this will last the teenager all year and save me a small fortune buying sports drinks.  I'll work out the numbers when it arrives.

One day into the new year and I've made a good start :-)

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

I don't make resolutions but I do make plans for the upcoming year.  Here are this year's plans.  I'm sure they'll change as the year progresses especially if the house sells and I move.

Health and Fitness


·         Go to gym 3 times a week minimum – Monday, Wednesday and Sat evening/Sunday morning

·         Stretch EVERY day

·         Drink more water (2l a day), less coffee (3 cups a day max)

·         Take multi vitamin EVERY day

·         Must have 5 fruit/veg a day

·         Be in bed by 11pm on school nights

·         Target for weight loss 12kg (get back to 64kg)

·         Aim for Women’s 10k in May

·         Aim for Half Moon walk 8th June in Edinburgh

·         Aim for September half marathon

·         Wear knee brace or strap knee when walking dogs

·         Take G out on his bike




·         Declutter weekly by taking ‘stuff’ to charity shop or dump every Friday

·         Sell as much as possible through ebay, Fatbrain, Musicmagpie, car boot sales, garage sale etc

·         Paint kitchen

·         Replace hall carpet

·         Paint living room and replace carpet

·         Get outside rendering fixed




·         Put up greenhouse and use it!!

·         Put stone chips down side of dog garden

·         Use fleece on raised beds

·         Plant fruit trees in tubs

·         Rescue wormery




·         Continue to save £120 per month

·         Use cash to pay for food and petrol

·         Pay off credit card and cancel Premium Club

·         Get on supply list

·         Advertise tutoring services

·         Set and stick to a weekly budget for food, petrol, entertainment

·         Put earnings from The Tartan Tower into savings account

·         Sack window cleaner!!



·         Make a weekly menu plan and stick to it!!

·         Try a new veggie meal every week

·         Put at least 2 meals a week into freezer by bulk cooking

·         Build up store cupboard supplies




·         Keep to £120 annual budget by making use of ebay, charity shops, castoffs and making own clothes (that’s £10 per month)




·         Make/recycle/buy from charity shops  as many birthday presents as possible

·         Ask for practical presents for myself and G


Creativity (The Tartan Tower)


·         Research costs of going to CL Christmas Fair

·         Join Craft Scotland and other organisations

·         Design kits for making cushions etc

·         Research new product ideas

·         Add shop to website

·         Approach other outlets

·         Add more items to Etsy


Creativity (General)


·         Finish red crochet blanket

·         Finish ends of pink chunky blanket

·         Finish sock leftovers yarn

·         Use all remaining sock yarn to actually knit socks

·         List all yarn and make plans to use it

·         Sort out all craft materials and get rid of unwanted stuff

·         List all fabric and earmark for projects


Personal Development


·         Finish Module 4 of course and get certificate

·         Read more books