Monday, 16 July 2012

Devil of a Den

Our Second Reception Room is a bit of a multi-purpose room, I suppose many are.  It is in the main Hubby’s den and had become a bit of a dumping ground.  This is his room to practise his musical instruments (piano, guitar, flute, very talented) and also play his big boy toys (or not so big) Wii, PS3, as we have no children it is in effect his play room J

So I spent a good portion of today deep cleaning/ tidying the room so it went from this


To this





Today has flown by quick clean/tidy of the house, stripping bed, laundry and a jaunt into town to collect mum and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary present.  They are impossible to buy for but enjoy going away on short breaks with a local coach company who are excellent at providing holidays for pensioners J and we have all clubbed together (thank fully we are a big family) and bought them a short break away.  I then popped to the bank to pay in a cheque and then to Sainsbury’s to buy some cake making ingredients in preparation of the great bake on Friday. 

It really was a day for ducks today hopefully it will be a tad better tomorrow J

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Organisation is the Key

I firmly believe this, if you are organised, know what you have and plan what you will do / need then you wont needlessly overspend.  I have been and continue to be guilty of this as in my bid to conquer the world one cupboard at a time I have unearthed things that due to my disorganization I would have been oblivious to owning and bought more that I didn’t need i.e. the small pharmacy of plasters and cold remedies, as well as enough pens and stationary to rival a local WH Smiths J 
I am on a weeks leave (yeah) I’ve taken this leave as the Golf Open is coming to town and I can’t face the huge traffic jams the 40,000 plus anticipated daily visitors will create on top of a long commute, so I’m avoiding it all and having a week pottering around the house. 
So my agenda for this week is tackling all those jobs that I don’t normally have time to do
Monday
2nd reception room, this is hubbies den, also clothes drying room on rainy days when I cant get the washing on the line.  I am going to sort out cupboards and drawers and deep clean. 
On the menu – from the freezer homemade cottage pie and veggies
Tuesday
Kitchen – spring (well summer) clean, emptying all the cupboards/drawers and deep cleaning from top to bottom.  My ebay auctions will end so will spend the evening, parceling up. 
On the menu – left over cottage pie and veggies
Wednesday
Upstairs or the guest suite, we live in a dorma bungalow and don’t actually use upstairs with the exception of the small bedroom which I have turned into my hobby / craft room.  The other larger bedroom and bathroom are saved for guests, so I will be giving it a good clean and make up the bed etc and also sort out my card craft stuff J.  Plus trip to the post office to post ebay items. 
On the Menu – Pasta Amatriciana
Thursday
House clean – just the normal weekly cleaning of the house from top to bottom, laundry and ironing, all ready for the weekend
On the Menu – From the freezer homemade chilli and rice
Friday
Back to Baking – its my parents 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday and we are going out for dinner as a family at my friends Italian restaurant.  I am making the cake (yikes) well lets hope it goes better than my nephew’s birthday lol – so I have set aside this day just to devote to creating the masterpiece and I will also do some card making and make them their anniversary card.
On the Menu - From the freezer homemade veggie curry and naan bread
Saturday
My whole week will be a no spend week as I am safely ensconced at home and whilst I normally cut my own hair, hubby has convinced me to have a little pamper and get my hair professionally cut and coloured for the evenings celebrations.  This is money from a little win fall.  Hubby gives a £1 a week to the church by his school 49 club, half this money goes to St Vincents De Paul who run a daily soup kitchen for the homeless and those on low income and the other half goes to the winner of the Saturday lottery bonus ball – there are several hundred people in this club and hubby won this week £170 – we gave half of that winnings £85 to St Vincents De Paul as an additional donation and hubby has insisted that I spend the rest on me – incrediably indulgent and took some convincing on his part, but it will be lovely. 
On the menu – ummm mouth is watering at a meal out J 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Part Two - Conquering the World .....

...one cupboard at a time.   Today I decided to tackle my wardrobe, I don’t have masses of clothes but crickey a very messy wardrobe.

I decided to embrace the tried and tested filtering system of if you don’t wear/use it or you don't love it/sentimental then it has to go.  A large bin bag full of rubbish/ torn/ broken, and one large bag of items to be listed on ebay and another bag straight to the charity shop, whatever doesn’t sell on ebay will also be donated. 
Order is once again restored

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

On the menu this week

A little late this week J

Well it’s the usual for breakfasts and lunches, however on the teas menu this week

Monday               Mushroom Risotto
Tuesday               Cottage Pie, cabbage
Wednesday          Homemade Veggie Pizza
Thursday              Sausage and Bean Hotpot (hubby won’t be home until 9pm so it’s an easy click   
                            ping for him at work and me at home)
Friday                  Veggie Curry and Naan bread
Saturday              Fish fingers, oven chips and beans (niece is coming for tea, it’s her choice and I
                            can’t be bothered cooking another meal for us)
Sunday                 Roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings

Going back to Sunday's blog I don’t ever judge, we all walk our own path but I am lucky that I am still in a financial position to be able to buy the best meat I can, however I manage to do it financially and still remain within my frugal constraints due to a change in how much we eat.  We did use to eat meat 7 nights a week, I can’t believe it actually however as part of my journey to consume less as well as save money I now pepper my week with vegetarian meals.  This week sees 3 nights wholly vegetarian and one night fish (can you call fish fingers fish lol J) thus reducing my 7 nights of meat down to 3 and I can honestly say we don’t feel as though we are missing out or even consciously realise the meal is vegetarian.    

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Days without agenda

I love days like these, free days, days when I am committed to no-one but me, a day to do exactly as I please (well kind of).  I started the day early, cut hubbies hair, now I am no hairdresser but he is, shall we say, folically challenged ha hum J and all it takes is a number 3 over his barnett once every 4 weeks, it looks grand after and saves an easy £70 - £80 per year. 

Whilst hubby was in the shower I whipped through the downstairs with the hoover, tidied the house, loaded the dishwasher, made the bed and generally put everything in order.  I then showered and got ready before we went to mass.

Returning home I decided to do some batch cooking, I made cottage pie and sausage and bean hot pot to stock up the freezer, along with making hubbies couscous salad for this week’s lunches (only 4 this week as he’s taking his kids on a field trip on Friday so I will be making him butties for ease), before tackling the ironing. 

Now all of this may not be everyone’s choice of a free day, but whilst I have been as busy as the busiest bee it has been completely my choice, I could have just curled up with a book – something I plan to do after posting this, it was the choice that is the liberating thing.

Cooking master class – well more amateur class

Cottage Pie

There are a million different tweaks to this recipe, this is just mine, I love cottage/shepherd’s pie, its filling, hearty and nourishing, real soul food and considering we seem to be still in winter, is a suitable recipe for this time of year.

So I start by gently sweating one large chopped onion



I then chop 10 carrots and half a swede, but just add whatever amount you want


Add a pack of mince; this one is 800g and brown



Add a dollop of tomato ketchup; this really gives the mix a kick and mix through


Sprinkle a large tablespoon of plain flour and mix and cook out



Slowly add 800ml of stock (2 beef stock cubes with boiling water) mixing all the time



Add seasoning and some mixed herbs, pop the lid on and simmer on a low heat for 30 mins before portioning out into dishes



Now you can make a batch of mash, but I really couldn’t be bothered and decided to top the pies with thinly sliced (half a cm) potatoes, bake in the oven for 25 mins, quick, low fat and easy.  This batch has made 7 hearty portions.



Sausage and Bean Hotpot

I really enjoy this recipe, again hearty winter food; it’s healthy, nourishing, and low cost and tastes so good.  This makes 2 meals (4 portions) on the ratio of hubby has 3 sausages to my 2.  All you need to add is a wedge of bread and you have a cracking supper,

Select 10 sausages, try and make them quality sausages, I would rather eat less meat i.e. reduce the quantity of meat and have several veggie meals a week than reduce the quality.  Mine are finest pork and herb


Gently colour in a pan with 2 large onions sliced



Add 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, chicken stock (400ml made with one chicken stock cube), herbs, a good pinch of chilli flakes and seasoning



Rinse two tins of Cannellini Beans and add, stir, cook without lid on for 20 mins


And portion up


Now time to just curl up with a book, you will note that I don't advertise, no ad ons, no advertisements, if I recommend anything its just a genuine post I am not nor will I ever be paid to recommend anything, I see this as just two friends chatting over coffee J I am currently reading Emma Kennedy's The tent, The bucket and me - if you were a working class child of the 1970's it will completely resonate, it is a cracking read, I picked up a copy from the library yesterday and have struggled to put it down, its funny, real and warm, so if you are popping to the library I would recommend picking up a copy - Have a great week Cxx

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Day of Reckoning


It has been 6 months since I started in earnest my frugal journey; I had been a mere dabbler before.  I kicked the year off with just over £18,000 of debt (apart from the mortgage) and a steely determination to not only clear this debt but to make a conscious and permanent change to my consumerist ways.  I am a novice and I’ve had good days and bad days but that steely determination has remained, admittedly waivered occasionally but thankfully it still remains)

On 1st January 2012 my debt was thus:

Credit Card         £5294.54
DFS                     £678
Car Loan            £5000
Student Loans   £7240

Total Debt           £18212.54

So 6 months in:

Credit Card         £0.00
DFS                      £0.00
Car Loan              £2000
Student Loans     £7240 

Current Debt     £9240

My credit card for the first time in years is clear and so it shall remain.  I have made the final installment on a sofa from DFS and I’ve cleared (by overpaying) £3000 off my car loan.  I purposely chose a car loan that allowed you to pay early without penalty, the interest rate is slightly higher (put it was only slightly 0.25% higher) and I am determined to clear this loan by September and by paying early (4 years early) will have saved over £1200 in interest!

So what’s left, well £2000 on the car loan and £7240 student loan (sorry the Government is last on the list).  The car loan due to it being a higher interest rate takes precedent so I will be throwing everything at that.  Now whilst I will throw as much as possible, I won’t forget to add to my working capital savings, the little pot of money which will ensure I don’t have to rely upon my credit card when the unexpected happens, i.e. the bed breaks J and I can get off the merry go round of getting into debt whenever a big bill either planned or unplanned drops on the doormat.

Reflectiing upon the first 6 months ..... I have survived, I haven’t bought any new clothes; apart from my 40th birthday (and most of that was courtesy of Tesco clubcard vouchers) we haven’t eaten out; there has been no weekends away, no expensive day trips; I haven’t shopped for anything that hasn’t been an absolute necessity, always asking the same question whenever I consider a purchase do I want it or do I need it – if it falls in the former it remains in the shop. 

I have made do and mend and I have fallen back in love with baking, we have eaten incredibly well whilst reducing the grocery bill by 2/3rds, we have enjoyed such simple pleasures, walk on the beach, browsing for a new book in the library, watching an old movie curled up on the sofa, gardening and crafts and I honestly feel richer for it.  So its more than I've survived the past 6 months I honestly think its been one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

So here’s to the next 6 months, I hope to continue to learn and I thank the other frugal bloggers and you my dear followers for your inspiration and ideas, as I continue my journey to financial freedom – Happy Days

                                               

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Where did it go?

This is a usual question on a Sunday evening, where did it go?  It, of course, being the weekend, which seems to have disappeared in a haze of hospital visiting, cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, shopping and entertaining.  Today being Father’s Day mum and dad came for the day, they have just left and I am finally settling down at 6.30pm zapped of energy, trying the muster up the enthusiasm to get organized for the week ahead.   I think I need a weekend to recover from my weekends J
So with a full and busy work week ahead I need to get busy this evening to ensure we are ready.  Just starting hubby’s Couscous to ensure he has his lunches for each day, it’s a pain on a Sunday evening but making batch lunches saves a headache through the week.  Then checking the freezer and cupboards to ensure I have all our teas sorted for the week:
Weekly Menu
Breakfasts
Hubby - Weetabix, skimmed milk and Cranberry juice
Me – Porridge and Coffee

Lunches
Hubby- Couscous Salad, 2 apples, 2 bananas
Me – Soup and granary bread

Dinners
Monday               Chilli Con Carne* and Rice
Tuesday               Pea and Ham soup* and bread
Wednesday        Pasta Amatriciana*
Thursday             Scrambled egg on Toast
Friday                    Curry* and Naan Bread
Saturday              Homemade Pizza
Sunday                 Steak pie*, veg

*All homemade but courtesy of batch cooking and the freezer, ensuring we have nourishing, homemade but quick to prepare evening meals J