Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hi everyone,


2013 has been pretty awful for us from the start (YKW). Even this weekend was bad, as both my lovely Son and Husband have been to A&E. My Son had major lung surgery twice (both lungs but in different operations) in 2010, when he suffered a spontaneous pneumothorax. He hasn't felt well for a while and worried that there was another problem. After tests, they decided that he's fine, just odd feelings that will happen because of what his lungs have suffered. Then yesterday morning my lovely husband went in with chest pains (he's only 38), but after tests they decided that it was muscular and although he's in a lot of pain and discomfort, it's pulled muscles not his heart...thank God!

2014 needs to be full of thriftiness, frugal changes, happiness and positive thinking. I will try hard...

I'm not looking forward to Christmas, but we will do our best as usual and create some lovely memories for Daisy. She's 15 months old so won't remember when she's older, but as you know she will have her scrapbooks which are documenting her life through photos and little snippets that I write.

Hopefully all will go well...

Sometimes I think we need to think of others and realise that for some people, Christmas is a sad and lonely time. We see Christmas on television with all the adverts as a wonderful happy time spent with the family and with plenty of everything. In reality, some people don't have a happy family or don't have enough, but they will cope and will get through it because they have no choice...

I have more than enough...I have plenty.

I hope our food will take us well into January.

My family situation isn't good, but I am lucky because I have some loving family members who love and care a lot about me...I am grateful for my family and feel fortunate.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and 2014 is kind to you.

I probably won't be back until January to wish you a Happy New Year and tell you about my plans for my blog. I'm looking forward to making changes in my daily life and can't wait to tell you about them.

Thank you for reading, thank you to Frugal Queen for sending readers my way, thank you for your kindness and comments and thank you for following me on my journey. It will continue in 2014...

Lots of love,

Mandy xxx

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Tinned potatoes

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I needed to use up some bacon that was open. I fried it while poaching eggs and warming beans in the microwave. I was going to cook hash browns to go with it, but that meant putting the oven on just for them (not economical for our electric bill), so I opened a tin of potatoes, sliced them and fried them in fat I had saved from cooking sausages another day.

You're probably what! That's not very interesting...but...we actually don't like tinned potatoes! I bought them back in the summer, thinking I would try them in a potato salad, but never did! I think the flavour from the sausage fat helped, but they were actually quite nice.

The point of this blog post...I bought something but it had been sat in the cupboard for months uneaten.

...I used it up!

...I saved on my electric bill.

...we had potatoes to go with our sort of fry-up

...I know now not to waste my money on things we probably won't eat just because they're cheap.

Potatoes are quite expensive, but I will stick to what I know works for us (or we go without).

Have you ever bought something just because it was cheap???

Thanks for reading,

Mandy xxx

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Making the most of the food we have...

Hi everyone!

A quick post to let you know that I have started to look at what I have in my cupboards and use it up before it is too far out of date.

I had some pastry in the fridge that needed using up before it past it's use by date, so I made a treacle tart. I used porridge oats that have just gone out of date and golden syrup that has been open for a while. I rolled out the pastry and baked it for 10 mins. I added the oats and syrup and baked it. A simple pudding that used up bits and bobs that needed using. A few years ago I would have thrown all of those ingredients away because of the dates.

Yesterday we had roast chicken, roast potatoes, stuffing, roast parsnips, cheesy leeks, sprouts, carrots, broccoli and gravy. I made my easy chocolate mousse because we had a guest for tea, Auntie Harriet. My son, Ashley works until midnight so she spends her evenings alone. It's something we should do more often, especially when we have a casserole which can easily be stretched to feed another.

Tonight I shall be using up the bacon I have opened, so I will be looking through my thrifty recipes later. My meals will be planned around what needs using up. I really cannot afford to be throwing anything away now. There is still some treacle tart and chocolate mousse to finish off for pudding.

My Christmas food shop will be complete by this evening (MY OH is going straight from work). The list is short, but the queues will be long!

I've done some wrapping, using paper left over from last year. I've only bought one roll of pooh bear paper for Daisy's main present etc. I recycle cards by making them into tags, so don't buy these either. More wrapping will be done later and cards written.

I'm getting there!

Thanks for reading and thank you for the comments left on my last post,

Mandy xxx

Monday, 16 December 2013

My weekend...

Hi everyone,

I thought I'd tell you about my weekend... it has gone so quickly and not that much achieved! I always have a plan in my head of what I want to get done each day, but normally only achieve half.

On Saturday we went to Toys 'r' Us and Mothercare in Northampton. What an eye-opener! I cannot believe the amount of money being spent at these retail parks, yes it's Christmas,and some people will have saved up for this time of year, but I saw people just pick up toys and throw them into their trolley without even really looking at them. There were loads of families getting cross with their children because they wanted to pick up toys and look at them. It's a shame that the children had to go too. They were bored and started to mess about! There's enough stress at Christmas without creating more for yourself. Shopping online would have been a better idea???

Why do so many people feel the need to be glued to their phones while shopping???
They could be looking at a shopping list, or calculating how much they have spent, or comparing prices with another shop, but I suspect they were on social media. I saw lots of men (mostly older than me) playing on their phones. They didn't appear to be actively shopping (no trolley or goods), just busy not looking where they were going! I wonder how much time each day is spent on a phone? I use mine to phone people, text and for the calculator. I don't have a smartphone. I am a blogger, I write a blog and I read blogs. Sometimes it's for entertainment purposes, but mostly to learn new things, but I don't sit on facebook all day. I tend to watch videos on youtube rather than watch the tele, but it is while doing something else like my ironing. I would love a smartphone to nosey around on instagram for ideas and interest, but I cope fine without. 

We purchased what we needed for Daisy, having written a list and thought about each gift and how much fun and enjoyment she would get from them (as well as their educational value). We couldn't get everything we wanted in there, there was a load of rubbish looking toys for older children, but thankfully the pre-school section is good, so we headed over to Mothercare...

They has 20% of all toys!!!

Daisy loved the freedom of being able to walk around with Grampy safely while Grandma shopped. She did choose herself a rather large pair of Spiderman boots though! The 20% savings really did make a difference and we travelled home again.

The day was finished off with my favourite tele programme...Strictly Come Dancing! I love it and have my two favourites...Susanna and Sophie. I have been voting for Susanna and Kevin for the past two weeks (I only vote near the end) and was convinced they would go. I was planning to switch to Sophie if they did.

Yesterday we did our usual fortnightly shop, only getting the turkey towards my Christmas stash. What a nightmare! I hate shopping when it's busy so we go early, but everyone else now has the same idea. It amazes me how rude and ignorant some people can be! I waited for some to pass without so much as a smile in return, I even had a staff member give me a cross face when she was in my way. I stood back to let her pass with her trolley of rubbish and she didn't thank me and a smile was definitely not going to happen. MANNERS COST NOTHING!!!

Another moan... the prices are good in Asda compared to some other supermarkets, but some of Daisy's toiletries that we purchase every time have jumped up by 25p!!! They were not previously rolled back or part of any offer, they have just gone up. Her skin is sensitive, so I won't switch brands, but I am annoyed. Our shopping bill is creeping up every time we shop. Things will be changing in January for us and I will be blogging about this after Christmas.

We got our turkey, a small one, because that's all we need. It isn't actually that small and it cost £12. I wanted a crown, but they were £16, so we went for the whole turkey and I will use the darker meat for different meals...any ideas??? I only like the breast meat and actually prefer to eat it cold. 

The remaining Christmas shopping will be done this week by my OH (armed with a list of course) and we won't be going over the top! Our next planned shop falls between Christmas and New Year, but we will only top-up locally with a couple of fresh things and not do a massive shop. I have a huge store at the moment (although I am working through the freezer at the moment) and this will see us into January. We always crave 'gravy dinners' after Christmas, casseroles etc.

Would you like me to post my menus as I work through my stores, saving money on the food shop throughout January? 

Back to my shopping experience...

The till ladies in Asda are always lovely. Daisy has her own fan club! The lady who served us yesterday said that she thought it was quiet in there and next weekend would be horrendous. She said that people seem to be getting a few things in their weekly shop towards Christmas this year and the remainder will do a huge shop at the weekend as they normally would for Christmas. We are doing a separate Christmas shop, but we will be using our savings tin which we have been adding to throughout the year.  So maybe shopping habits are changing to spread the cost, but there is so much choice and Christmas convenience out there to tempt people into spending too much.

As I was leaving the store with my heavy trolley, I was faced with very rude people who barged past me and I was struggling to control my trolley in the wind and sloping path. They could have let me pass as I had the full trolley, but no, they barged past, eager to shop. Not one person let me through! It was my right to walk on that path as much as there's, it's just that I have good manners and they don't. I suspect that all they could think about was getting out of the wind and getting on with their shopping. We get up early on a Sunday to travel to Asda to get on with our shopping. Incidentally, not one person said thank you for me waiting! I accidentally knocked a lady as she barged past me (well I suppose she knocked into me as I was stationary) and I said sorry...she ignored me, didn't even look at me.


After putting the shopping away and a spot of lunch, we took Daisy and the dogs for a walk. Daisy loves it in her back carrier, all wrapped up snuggly in her snowsuit, watching from up high. It was raining and really windy, but she was happy and dry. I'll share some photos soon (I haven't loaded them onto my laptop yet).   

The evening was Strictly again!

I was so pleased to see both Susanna and Sophie through and look forward to the final next weekend. Does anyone else enjoy strictly?

Thanks for reading, I would love to hear from you.

Mandy x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

I've had my hair cut!

Hi everyone!

Well the title isn't very exciting, but for me it is...

This was my first haircut in 20 months...that's almost two years!!!

I used to have my hair cut every 6-8 weeks and have it coloured by a mobile hairdresser. I stopped using her because she was continually cutting it shorter than I requested. Then we got a new hairdresser who cut our hair as a favour (a friend of my son) and we paid a very small amount for it.

Circumstances have meant that we haven't been able to have her cut our hair for a while and I actually cut my own hair! Not something I would do again though. My daughter visited her salon, but I just left mine to grow. I ended up looking like a scarecrow and asked to have a much needed restyle.

Yesterday I had very long hair cut off to shoulder length and although I don't like my hair being this short, it was badly needed. It will grow again and hopefully I will look after it better now with regular trims.

I colour my own hair and buy the dye when it's on offer. A job I hate doing, but I'm not ready to be grey yet!

I have 'let myself go' in many ways over the past couple of years and didn't seem to care. This is due to living with stress and the constant feeling of 'what's the point?' I expect bad things to always happen because they usually do!

A new year approaching makes me think about what the future holds for us and I really want to think more positively about things then.

I will start to compile a list of small goals that I want to achieve - I think it helps me to have something to work to. This could be as simple as making time for myself to paint my nails. I used to do this all the time and now I don't bother, even though I know it makes me happy. Perhaps I need to put down my thoughts on paper and then I can free-up some space in my mind for more important things. Then coping with the big stuff when it is thrown at us should be easier???

I am hoping to get going with my Christmas plans now...

Back soon,

Mandy x

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Plans for Christmas and a sewing room...

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the lack of posts, but now things are a bit better, I will try harder.

I completely lost all interest in cooking and baking and felt that it became a chore. This is not me and I've been looking through my cheap recipes to inspire me again into cooking from scratch. It's not all been bad, I just couldn't be bothered! Stress does horrible things to you, both physically and emotionally and you have to snap out of it and start thinking positively about stuff.

For me, Christmas is my favourite time of year and making plans for this is helpful to my lack of motivation. Christmas Day is going to be very simple and Boxing Day is when I will entertain my small family. I love creating a buffet table for a calm and relaxing meal that you can revisit as many times as you want. We chat, we watch the tele and play board games. This year Daisy will enjoy it more as she loves it when  her Aunties and Uncle are here.

I have done some shopping, but need to make a list and stick to it now. I still have to embark on my Christmas baking etc, but it definitely won't stress me out because we keep it simple. I no longer buy pointless novelty presents just to fill a stocking, I make sure everything is wanted or useful. Obviously we will be concentrating on Daisy and looking out for toys for this next stage in her development. She is walking well now and curious about everything - cupboard locks are essential!

My initial plans are to work through the food we have in the freezers to make room for a few Christmas goodies that we wouldn't normally treat ourselves to. I have quite a lot of packets and mixes from Approved Food that need using too. This will free up space on top of my kitchen cupboards for our savoury treats and a little bit of drink! I make snowballs on Christmas Day evening and we love to drink port at Christmas too. We rarely drink at any other time of the year and even then, it's only a little - Daisy still doesn't sleep through the night :(

This year Christmas will be relaxed...

we will watch Christmas films

we will eat food we don't normally treat ourselves to

we will enjoy a little drink

we will enjoy each others company

we will sit down and relax

we will play with  Daisy and whatever Father Christmas brings her

That's my plan!

Now to other plans...

I have been working hard trying to sort out the house. My utility room is going to be a proper laundry room, not a dumping ground! Charlotte and I did another bootsale on Saturday - It was a bit rubbish because it was so cold. People with babies were sensible and stayed at home, so I didn't sell my baby items :(
What I did sell, is the little bits and bobs for 20p, so I did clear some crap that has been hanging around for a while. I have now boxed up and packed away everything into the garage for next year. There it is not in the way and I don't have to look at it. As I continue to tidy, I will add to this pile with stuff that we can easily live without. It makes it so much easier to keep a room tidy and clean with less stuff to move around. I already spend a lot of my day with Daisy, but I want to be able to restart my hobbies while she is having her nap. I have lots of plans for this and my lovely husband is currently decorating the spare room. It is going to have a bed in it, but the rest of the space is for my sewing room!!! A place where I can have my sewing machine set up, all my fabric stored where I can see what I've got, a space to relax, enjoy and create. I'm really excited about it and I will show you when it's finished..

Plans being made and positive thinking...

a new year means new beginnings and hopefully better times ahead.

Does anyone have any tips or advice for a relaxed Christmas???

Please share your tips in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

A special birthday!

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all well. Today's post is all about one person - my lovely daughter Charlotte. I'll be back soon, things are calmer at the moment. I have replied to previous comments now, thank you for your concern and advice and best wishes. After Charlotte's birthday, I start to concentrate on Christmas preparations and will share these with you shortly.



I hope you have a lovely day and many more to follow x

Charlotte has requested a fruit cake for her birthday so I'd better get baking!

Thanks for reading

Mandy x

Friday, 8 November 2013

Clothing a baby on the cheap...

Hi everyone!

Thank you for the supportive comments on my last post xxx

Each time I write a post, things will have got a bit worse at home, which is why there are gaps in my writing. Daisy is fine though, happy, chatty and walking really well now. She brings joy to us each and every day and is very much worth the struggles we face.

Just lately, my son's girlfriend has introduced me to buying from a facebook group which is local. Now I don't like facebook and I don't have facebook because in my experience it can be used as a vessel for people to bully and be very cruel behind a computer screen or phone. This 'for sale' group was accessed via my son's girlfriend as she has purchased some items for Christmas. She works in the town and picks stuff up to or from work so she doesn't need to go out of her way. She purchased two bundles of baby clothes on my behalf. They cost £20 in total and I had not seen what I was getting for my £20. This was risky, but I trusted her judgement because she knows Daisy's style that I dress her in. I have been moving towards more leggings and jogging bottoms and less dresses because of the crawling, but now Daisy is upright for most of the day. I have been going for darker colours because so many of her clothes have become stained where she is a messy eater (but feeding herself) even with a bib.

I have bought Daisy new clothes, but I do back up my supplies with as much second-hand stuff as possible. At a carboot sale, I would pay 20p for a vest, 50p for a babygro, top or bottom and £1 for a dress or jacket. Snowsuits are worth £2 to me and I normally stick to these prices when buying. I also sell for what I would be prepared to pay and this seems to generally be the going rate for baby clothes. So with this as a guide, I actually did really well with my bundles! I received 71 items and I broke down my purchases to se if it was good value to me:

10 x vests = £2
4 x babygro = £2
29 x tops = £14.50
20 x bottoms = £10
4 x dresses = £4
1 x cardy = 50p
1 x jacket = £1
1 x snowsuit = £2
1 x knickers = 20p

This little lot would have cost me £36.20 at a carboot sale, but I got it for £20! There was a massive saving here and there was only a couple of tops that I didn't like (leopard print is too old for a 1 year old in my opinion) which I will carboot myself and probably easily sell.

Daisy has had new sleepwear recently and other bits and pieces and we will buy her some nice outfits for Christmas and obviously her new shoes in Clarks very soon, but when she messes up her clothes so easily, I am so glad for clothes just for playing in. When I was a little girl (and for my own children), you had clothes for best (visiting family etc) and school uniform and clothes for playing in. You had wad we called 'scruffs' for playing outside in too. It didn't matter if these were ruined because they were 'scruffs' and that was what they were meant for!

I think I'm getting the balance right for clothing Daisy without breaking the bank.

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Friday, 1 November 2013

A Simple Tea...

Hi everyone!

Thank you for your comments, kind and loyal considering my gap in blogging. I would be lying if I said I was back on track (even more trouble as expected) but I am trying to focus on the simple things that make me happy. One of these is food! 

Daisy has been off her food for a while because of illness and teething, but she does love what I call a 'gravy dinner'. Yesterday I made the most simple of mince dishes - mince in gravy. It was plain, easy, simple, but really tasty! Daisy ate quite a lot which makes me happy too.

I browned some mince with a chopped onion, added a sprinkle of parsley and a little water to prevent it from sticking to the pan. I made up some gravy (we use Aunt Bessie's gravy granules because most others contain milk!) and stirred that in. I left it to simmer while I boiled some potatoes. I served them as mash (OH is much better at mashing than me and adds dijon mustard...yum, yum) and peas and baby corn (frozen veg so quick and easy). It was a lovely tea which I thought would lack flavour, but didn't.

We were full up for pudding, but Daisy had a treat for eating her tea of soya ice-cream with a few sprinkles and broken up dairy-free chocolate buttons. She ate all of that! The soya ice-cream has real vanilla pods in it and is actually lovely. She is still on her first tiny packet of chocolate buttons, so this was a real treat that she enjoyed...nice and soothing on the gums too.

The crap may continue...but I will try and make things as 'normal' as possible for Daisy (she's 14 months old today!)

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

There will be trouble ahead...

Hi everyone or anyone who has stuck by me with my lack of posts this month!

I expect a lot of you, like Jane, guessed that something's been going on and none of it pleasant. It's true to say that October has been one of the worst months of my life (and I've had a lot of awful months/years in the past). All down to YKW (thanks Jane, I will use this term from now on) I'm afraid, but I'm not going to dwell on it here. Basically things have taken a huge turn and we have been threatened with the Police for kidnap (our holiday) and tons more grief since, including the Police arriving at our house to check on Daisy. YKW wants her back (to get a council house) and I said no, it has to be done gradually when she has suitable housing. She then told the Police, who came here, they were happy with our situation (she told them a pack of lies too) and left. Now we are threatened with the courts, although I've not heard anything yet.

Our holiday (Daisy's 1st holiday) was ruined by YKW. We came home early because we couldn't enjoy it with the constant bombardment of cruel text messages and threat of North Yorkshire Police looking for us (which they weren't because we had done nothing wrong). I'll try to do a post on our short holiday with a few photos another day.

Health has been another issue for us this month... Daisy had a bad cold that lasted two weeks and prevented her from having the MMR etc, then more teething and finally the jabs were done last week. She's teething again now, but apart from that, she's fine. OH had the cold and now has another one! Obviously we are both extremely stressed and upset by past and future events. I had the cold and have been suffering with my back too.

Blogland is where I go to escape the reality of our situation, so my blog will be the same now. I will try to share thriftiness with you and happier times. Thanks for reading xxx

I will finish with some exciting news...

Daisy is walking!!!

Early days, but she is determined. Looks like we'll be off to Clarks before long.

Mandy x

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

I made some money!!!

Hi everyone!

I've been away because we are a poorly household. Daisy has been ill for a week now, just a cold, but hard to explain to a 13 month old. On Saturday morning, Charlotte and I set off early to the carboot sale, leaving Grampy to look after Daisy at home (both of them poorly). Charlotte has escaped it so far, but I felt awful! I still went because the next two weekends we are on holiday and the money would come in handy.

I took the most money I have ever taken at a boot sale - £117!!! I know some people take more, but I sell cheaply to get rid of unwanted clutter. There were sales of 10p, 20p, 50p and up to £2 on Daisy's outgrown snowsuits, coats and clothes. One lady bought £15 worth of baby clothes and I thought that was a result, until later... a couple asked how much the babygros, vests etc were in the boxes. The man then asked me how much for the whole six boxes! I then set about adding up roughly what these things would be if sold individually. It was £45 and he offered £30. Charlotte jumped in with "£35" and they took them all. I know I wouldn't have sold every item anyway, so my decluttering head was firmly on! Grampy was really happy that six boxes have now gone from our house, Daisy has some spending money for our holiday and I have some money to buy her new clothes.

We set off with the car seats down and a full boot and returned with the seats up again and empty bags and boxes. We will do one more when I get back from Yorkshire to get some more Christmas money. so this means going through each and every room ruthlessly to clear the clutter and get some cash for Christmas. It really has spurred me on to sort the house and break the cycle of hoarding.

I'm busy this week, nursing a poorly baby and packing for our holiday, so I'll be back with holiday photos soon.

Mandy x

Monday, 30 September 2013 we come!

Hi everyone!

Hope you had a good weekend, mine was ok, grocery shopping and dying my hair!

Well, just to let you know that our week away from it all is booked and paid for!!!

We are heading to Yorkshire, not far from Richmond. We have booked a cottage, although it is more like a huge farmhouse. It's bigger than we need, but the location is perfect. There are beautiful views from every window and fantastic walks from the doorstep. The road to the cottage is narrow and steep and it gets cut off during bad weather. Could it snow in October???

We plan to take it easy and show Daisy the sights. We do know this area of Yorkshire, but plan to discover new places of interest. I have already been researching cheap days out and where to eat if we don't take food out with us. We may spend a lot of time in and around the cottage...whatever the weather, we will enjoy ourselves.

I will take lots of photos to show you why we love Yorkshire.

In the meantime... there's lots to be getting on with.

Mandy x

Friday, 27 September 2013

My Tesco F&F Haul...

Hi everyone!

Yes I've been spending money, mainly on Daisy because she is actually growing out of her 3-6 month clothing. I still have some bits and pieces that have either been presents or clothes passed on to us for her to grow into too. I am not a fan of Tesco and usually shop in Asda or Mothercare for Daisy's things. I had a rethink about Tesco for clothes because Asda's range for babies is not as good as it used to be and Mothercare, although beautiful and well-made, is a bit pricey for things that Daisy will get mucky and stain. She is feeding herself a lot now, but the mess!!!

So this is what I got her:

*   a pack of 3 white vests   *   £2.50, plain and simple, all that we need.

*   10 x small bibs   *   £6.00, we use these when we are feeding her or for the dribbles.

*   2 x hot pink leggings   *   £5.00, these go with a lot of her tops and she has grown out of the others.

*   navy floral leggings   *   £3.00, dark leggings don't show the stains like pastel ones!

*   bunny rabbit leggings   *   £3.00, because leggings are ideal for crawling.

*   cow babygro with hood   *   £7.00, perfect for lazy days.

*   rabbit hat   *   £3.00, this is cotton for now before it gets too cold.

*   2 x headbands   *   £2.00, way too big! She will grow into them.

*   pink fluffy coat   *   £8.00, Daisy gets messy and we get through coats too. We have enough for this winter now to see us through.

*   pink fluffy snowsuit   *   £10.00, in a larger size, ready for snow!!!

*   navy pre-walker shoes   *   £4.00, she slips in socks and tights and has grown out of her pram shoes.

 Total cost : £53.50

I also treated myself to some new underwear totalling £24.50. Sounds a lot, but one bra is £8 and my tights are £3 per pair. I neglect myself now because I put Daisy first just like I did when my children were little, but when you've got holes in your knickers... something has to be done... you never might get hit by a bus!!!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Mandy x

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Preparing for autumn and winter...

Hi everyone!

I know it's been a while, but like I said before, I'm not much fun at the moment. Each day brings more issues to deal with.

I am still preparing for the colder months ahead and have a photo to share with you. My lovely Charlotte went to a carboot sale on Sunday and bought Daisy a few bits for the colder weather. Auntie Harriet (my son's girlfriend) also went and bought Daisy a cosy fluffy dressing gown.

That's a shadow of me taking the photo at the bottom, not dirt!!!

I don't think I should take photos on the carpet, it looks disgusting here, sorry!

Anyway, now I feel even worse :-(

Charlotte bought her two coats (I think £1 each), both 9-12 months which are a bit big at the moment, but she will grow into them soon. Ashley and Harriet bought her the dressing gown (£1 I think) as I said, for cosy evenings after her bath and charlotte bought the book (20p) and cat top (50p) because Daisy likes the cat top Charlotte wears!

We went to Mothercare a couple of weeks ago and bought her a beautiful red duffle coat for the winter (£22 though), some tights, two pairs of fluffy slippers and fleece sleepsuits. Every little bit adds up, but she has mainly summer clothes at the moment and we need to stock up before it really gets cold.

I did an order online for Tescos and that came yesterday. I will show you that another day. I need to write a list of what she still needs and go carbooting! You can normally pick up clothes really cheap for babies that are hardly worn. Most babies grow fast (not Daisy) so the clothes look like new.

Talking of carbooting...I have been busy sorting, decluttering and pricing up items to sell.  I plan to go through each room in the house, deciding what isn't used or needed. I'm being ruthless because there is constantly new things coming into the house for Daisy and we need to make room. As she gets new stuff, some old stuff has to go. I want my house to be quick and easy to clean.

Meals have been homemade from scratch and thrifty but meal planning has 'gone out the window' while we deal with these constant stresses from our youngest.

Thank you to Jane and Frugal in Bucks for their care and concern, I have read your comments xxx

I'll be back with my Tesco haul and hopefully something thrifty to share.

By the way, we are trying to get up to Yorkshire for a holiday in a couple of weeks, but haven't booked anything yet. Any suggestions??? We love the Dales rather than the Moors. I know, I know, that's not thrifty, but we seriously need to get away from this stress and we have been saving since Christmas for Daisy's first holiday. If you can recommend anywhere to me, please leave a comment. 

Mandy x 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Sweet and Sour Turkey...a recipe

Hi everyone!

Sorry I haven't been around for a week. Troubled times here I'm afraid...the usual stuff we deal with week in week out. I'm nursing the headache from hell, brought on by stress I expect (had it for two days now) and feeling a bit down. This does not make good reading on a thrifty blog, so I've stayed away.

Thank you for all the lovely comments about Daisy's immunisations. Sadly she couldn't have them because her mummy wasn't there to give consent. I have written consent now, so hopefully they will be done next week. She did have her very overdue nine month check though and is fine.

Through my horrid headache yesterday I did manage to make a lovely tea. I'm not sure it was thrifty because the turkey steaks cost £3.33 (3 for £10 deal). I make stuff up as I go along when I'm cooking sometimes and yesterday was one of those times.

Sweet and Sour Turkey

1.   Fry turkey steaks in a little olive oil (I chopped into bite-size pieces).

2.   Add chopped red, green and yellow peppers, few spring onions, a good flick of paprika and continue to fry.

3.   Add a tin of pineapple and stir.

4.   Make the sauce in a different pan - combine a carton of pasatta, 2 tbsp of honey, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp cider vinegar  and 2 tbsp soy sauce.

5.   Heat the sauce through and taste. Adjust until you're happy with the sauce (I added a little more honey because the bitterness of the tomato was still coming through) and add to the meat pan.

6.   I simmered this for 30mins, but check the packet to see how long your turkey needs and check it is cooked through.

7.   Serve with rice (I use boil-in-the-bag because I'm rubbish at cooking rice)

It was delicious!!!

Daisy's version had no soy, vinegar or honey. She loved it too.

This could be made without meat, or with chicken or pork, I just bought turkey for a change.

I hope to be back with some thrifty tips etc soon... let's see what life throws at us first though. Positive thinking is not easy at the moment :-(

Thursday, 12 September 2013

My thoughts turn to Autumn and Winter...

Hi everyone!

I've been away from blogging this week because Daisy has needed my time more than ever. She now has four back teeth poking through and she has suffered with it. She just wants cuddles. Tomorrow I will make matters worse for her...her next set of immunisations :-(

I know I promised a post on meal planning/shopping and how I did a thrifty party for Daisy, but these will have to wait, sorry!

Back to my post title...

The last couple of days have been a bit chilly here. I've heard of people putting their heating on, but we won't be doing that just yet. Ideally I want to get to October, but I obviously have Daisy to think about. She was shivering after getting out of the bath last night, so I put a cardy on over her pjs and thin tights under. I always cuddle her with a blanket wrapped around her once she's ready for bed to snuggle and she soon warmed up. I also slept in a cardy because my arms are always cold and I generally seem to feel the cold.

Now I'm thinking about what I need to do to prepare for the colder days and nights and what I need to buy. I obviously need to buy new outdoor wear for Daisy because she was very small last winter and has grown out of all her little hats/bonnets, coats and snowsuits, although we do have one pair of knitted mittens that fit. She has loads of warm blankets for when we're out and about and her cosy toes for the pram. She has sleeping bags for her cot because she won't stay under a blanket at night and it's dangerous to try because she could put her head under. I will need to get a snowsuit and coat, mittens and hats. She will also need a few new bits of clothing for winter and tights. She is growing out of her 3-6 months clothing now, but quite a lot of her 6-9 month stuff is summery. I will just put tights and cardies with those bits. Whenever I go carbooting, I buy knitted cardies for Daisy. I can't knit (yet) and the bought cardies are not warm enough, so I have bought bigger sizes when I have seen them. I don't think it will be long and we will be visiting Clarks for her first pair of shoes! She's not walking yet but standing with furniture for support. It's definitely going to be an expense this winter anyway.

I need a decent coat, a waterproof one. I will be looking out for one (second hand). My daughter picked up a fantastic coat, a good make, at a charity shop for a few pounds last year and it keeps her warm and dry when she walks Flo. I layer up to keep warm and will keep on wearing the same clothes I've had for years, although I do need to get the sewing basket out! I will pick up things if I see them, but I could manage as long as I can get the washing dry.

There are other things to consider for if snow comes, like food stocks and salt for our sloping drive. I need to do a list!

The slowcooker is coming out in a minute for some braising steak I found at the bottom of the freezer. We had dumplings the other day but could manage them again :-), so I will add diced potato and have it all in one pot (less washing up and electric) and then add some dumpling mix from my Approved Food stash (not the real atora ones I made the other day - yum yum!)

Is anyone else planning for the colder weather yet?

Mandy x

Friday, 6 September 2013

Auntie Charlotte...the best auntie in the world!

Hi everyone!

This is a post to show just how important  Auntie Charlotte is to Daisy...

She was there when Daisy was still in her mummy's tummy.
She took her mummy to most of her medical appointments.
She went to most of her scans.
She took a lot of time off work for this.

She was there when mummy was in hospital, whatever the time.
She rushed home from work to take mummy to hospital when we couldn't get hold off Grampy.
She looked after mummy when she was sick and tried to cheer her up.

She was there when Daisy was born.
She took time off work to visit Daisy and mummy in hospital and stayed there all day.

She gives Daisy loads of cuddles.
She looks after Daisy to help Grandma and Grampy out.

She plays with Daisy...they have lots of fun!
She sings to Daisy too.
She takes her places.
She buys her lovely things.

She said she would be the best auntie in the world...and Daisy knows she is.

A few photos to show you what I mean...

Mandy x

Charlotte rushed home from work to take me to hospital to join Ashley and Alice and remained the calm one while I cried! Alice is seriously ill here with pre-eclampsia.

Daisy is only a few minutes old here. Charlotte's first cuddle with her.

This is Daisy's first day at home.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Two recipes... Creamy Paprika Pork and Easy Chocolate Dessert

Hi everyone!

These recipes are what we had for tea last night...

Creamy Paprika Pork

1.   Brown some diced pork in a little oil and add a chopped onion, peppers and mushrooms.

2.   Add 2tsp of paprika and 1 tbsp of flour and stir. Remove from the heat.

3.   Gradually stir in half a pint of beef stock and return to the heat, stirring.

4.   Mix in a good squirt of tomato puree and season with black pepper and mixed herbs.

5.   Simmer on the top of the cooker for 45 mins to 1 hour (check pork is cooked and tender). Check it is not sticking to the pan and add more stock if necessary (I had to).

6. Stir in a small carton of double cream before serving.

We had this with boiled potatoes and green beans from the garden. I don't give exact quantities when it's my own recipes, because I am a guess and throw it in type of cook! It depends how many people you are serving and your own preferences with herbs and veg etc. This made a change from pork casserole, which is what I would normally do with diced pork. You could cook this is the oven too.

Easy Chocolate Dessert

150g marshmallows
50g butter
250g dark chocolate (I used the value kind)
4tbsp warm water
284ml carton of double cream
1tsp vanilla

1.   Melt the marshmallows, butter and chocolate with water over a gentle heat. Cool.

2.   Whisk the cream with the vanilla until firm.

3.      Fold the chocolate mix into the cream and put into serving dishes.

It is ready to eat straight away as it sets quickly with the marshmallows. Be's very rich and sickly! This is a Nigella recipe that I wrote down off one of her programmes but I can't remember which... I'm thinking maybe Nigella Express??? I didn't write down the title, so I made one up! It is easy to make and it is a chocolate dessert but I'm sure she had a proper name for it!

Sorry no photos because we ate the pork before I thought about it and I haven't presented the chocolate dessert well (we have loads left in the fridge). You could pipe cream on the top or grate chocolate etc, but I had to make dinner double quick as Daisy was hanging off my leg most of the time! She is standing up against everything now and just wants to climb.

Hope you enjoy the recipes

Mandy x 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Daisy's birthday...more photos...

Hi everyone!

As promised, more photos... Hopefully my blog will become more interesting now that I can upload photos again, especially food!

I didn't get much done yesterday because Daisy is teething again. She now has teeth numbers 9 and 10 poking through. They are in completely random places diagonal to each other, but not next to the existing teeth! I think there are more on the way too. It's all happening now that she's one, she can pull herself up anywhere she likes and stands for quite some time with support. Soon she'll be walking.

Thanks for all the lovely comments xxx

Mandy x

Daisy started her birthday off with her first ever dippy egg from our own chickens.

Grampy showed her the birthday cake and she said "duck duck"!
You'll notice that she has a broken wing :-(

Having fun with Auntie Charlotte and the lovely present she gave her.

Blowing out the candle with mummy.

Tucking into her birthday lunch.

Monday, 2 September 2013

A very special birthday...

Hi everyone!

Just a quick post to share a photo with you...

Happy 1st birthday Daisy-May
1st September 2013

She looks really grown up in this photo, but her party dress is age 6-9 months and it's too big! Her little party shoes are too big too. No smiles here because she is a little overwhelmed by it all. We had a lovely day and they'll be more photos to follow (now I've found a way around it to upload them) when I've found new homes for all of her new toys.

Thank you to all of you that have left me kind and encouraging comments about Daisy in the past. This first photo of her on my blog is for you xxx

Mandy x

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Busy times...

Hi everyone!

Sorry but I won't have much time for blogging until Monday.

I am busy planning and organising Daisy's birthday celebrations.

I will do a post on a thrifty birthday party next week.

I have a lot of baking to do!

Thank you for the lovely comments on my last post.

Back soon xxx

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Cotswolds and Adam's Farm...

Hi everyone!

I hope you've had a great bank holiday!

On Sunday we took Daisy here

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you'll know about Daisy's love of farm animals, particularly ducks and chickens.

We took a drive to Banbury and then into the Cotswolds. It is so beautiful there, we've been to many different parts before, but never to Adam's Farm. Daisy's favourite part was walking around the rare breeds bit outside. This was a special pre-birthday treat for Daisy and Grampy who both celebrate birthdays in September.

We made our trip as thrifty as we could...

Admission was £17 for the two of us and Daisy was free.
We bought two bags of feed for £1.20.
We took a picnic which we ate in the car because it was raining lightly.
We were tempted, but didn't buy ice-creams.
We were entertained for several hours.

The admission fee was reasonable and we didn't have to pay for Daisy. The animal feed was excellent entertainment because Daisy loved watching Grampy feed the goats and pigs. Daisy had an adventure just eating her lunch in the car, she was grown up sat next to Grandma in the back with her food on her lap, not in the highchair! Ice-cream wouldn't have been fair because Daisy is lactose intolerant and Grandma didn't want to attract wasps!!! We had a fun day out which we rarely do now.

Before we left we had to walk through the gift shop to exit...

Daisy got a few more birthday presents and then we spotted a cuddly chicken... it wasn't cheap! Grampy treated her...not so thrifty.

Daisy is a very special little girl...originally we hoped she would continue to grow from the 20 week scan to get to 23 weeks when she could survive outside the womb. We had the worry of a very premature baby, spending months in the neo-natal unit, facing all the problems that premature babies do for most of the pregnancy. It would be many months later when we got the news from a growth scan that she was a sufficient weight and gestation to stand a better chance and not need too much special care. The blood flow through the cord wasn't always good and she could be an emergency case at any was very stressful. There was an awful lot of monitoring and appointments and overnight stays in maternity, but she fought on and was only a month early weighing 6lb. Hospital staff said she was the smallest baby they'd had on the postnatal ward in a long time. She was lucky, she was fine without an incubator.

All children are special, but Daisy has struggled since weighing only 10oz at 20 weeks. She overcame that and thankfully doesn't understand her living situation now. She doesn't have a daddy and rarely sees her mummy...but she has us and we are doing our best. Grampy works extremely hard and decided to spoil her. I know that I don't need to justify how we spend money, but I do write a thrifty blog and others probably wouldn't see the need to spend so much for Daisy's presents (she already has birthday presents we bought before). Her toys normally come from car boot sales and I will wash them and make them look like new. Grampy may treat her when we do our food shopping to books, but she's not spoilt. For her birthday we are spoiling her...she has cards, presents, decorations, a small party with our little family and a lot of attention and love.

It will be her 1st birthday on Sunday and she has done so well to get there. She is a lovely little girl who brings so much joy to our troubled lives. We are planning a short break in Yorkshire to take her on her first holiday. Again, not absolutely necessary, but we are creating memories for her childhood (like we did for our own children) and the scrapbook will continue...

I will need to be as thrifty as possible in the meantime!

Thanks for reading,

Mandy xxx 

Friday, 23 August 2013

The garden is producing...

Hi everyone!

Our garden is producing very tasty runner beans that are not stringy!

We have loads of tomatoes waiting to ripen and delicious courgettes.

The chickens are laying eggs, a good source of protein for little Daisy-May, whose looking forward to her first ever dippy egg for breakfast on her first birthday.

There is an abundance of parsley (my favourite herb) and the carrots are nearly ready.

We didn't plant a huge amount this year, but we are getting meals out of it and that's a cheaper way to eat!

Thank you for my lovely comments yesterday

Mandy xxx

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

When things don't go according to plan...

Hi everyone!

Well things have definitely not gone to plan...

We had trouble over the weekend and this meant that I was stressed and pre-occupied, so I didn't meal plan for our fortnightly shop :-(

There was no list :-(

I had to think hard and remember what I had in the cupboards, fridge and freezer...

I didn't forget anything important but we spent more than we wanted to.

On the plus side... we are lucky...

my husband is self-employed and has work and is well enough to work
we have enough money to spend on groceries
we have food in the cupboards, fridge and freezer
we have afforded to buy Daisy-May some lovely presents, cards and wrapping paper for her 1st birthday



Daisy is lactose intolerant and her food is more expensive. We buy lactofree soft cheese which is £1.74 a pack and alpro yoghurts which are £1.50 for four. I have bought other dairy free products in the past but they are slowly disappearing off the shelves. I have to really think about what she eats so I am quite good at remembering her shopping list.

Blogger is now allowing me to reply to comments in the comments section! So from now on, if you leave me a comment, I will reply there rather than posting my replies within a blog post.

More positive news - I have changed Daisy's room around and got rid of the bed in there. She has room for her cot (but not yet because she is too restless in the night and we want her settled first before this big change) and I made her a lovely book corner with mats, blankets, cushions, teddies and her book basket. She loves it because she is able to select books and enjoy them independently. She can crawl around safely too. I just have one area to sort out for the loft.

I have started to sort out my utility room and have lots of papers to get through (a chore that I do a bit each day). I completely cleared my ironing, although I have a small pile now because obviously I have done more washing since.

The living room has been decluttered so that some of Daisy's things are in her room now and she can access her toy boxes independently and safely now too.

The carboot pile is growing! Everything there has been labelled and boxed ready to go when we decide to do one. As I tidy each room, I seriously consider whether I need things or not and the house is beginning to look better for it.

I have several scrapbooks, where I stick in cuttings of craft projects or ideas that I would like to recreate. I had a flick through yesterday and found loads of things that I am capable of making and have the right materials for. This is my motivation to get sorted so I can have my sewing room/spare bedroom. I have loads of ideas to make it pretty and would love to have my jobs done in the morning so Daisy and I can have free time in the afternoons to have fun! That's my aim!!! This also means less time spent on the computer, so I will need to be more organised in preparing blog posts that are useful. I want to share what I do to be thrifty and also my homemade achievements. For me, it is mainly new recipes that I have developed to be cheap, quick to prepare and easy. In time, hopefully I will have some sewing to share with you too!

I won't put too much pressure on myself though because like my title says, sometimes 'things don't go according to plan' and my priority will always be Daisy-May.

I will post up our weekly menus from next week (what we've eaten this week) and eventually get around to my menu planning post. I want to write it properly, instead of rambling on. I have found these posts so useful so would love to pass on how I save money now. Please feel free to share what helps you save money as we go. I would love to hear from you!

I'm off now but all being well, I will be back soon...

Mandy x

Friday, 16 August 2013

Changing the way I food shop...

Hi everyone!

On Sunday we will head off to the supermarket to do a fortnightly shop. We haven't been for a month because of lovely hubby's back and had the last shop delivered. My last shop was considerably cheaper because I worked to a list (and yes, a cream cake treat was on there!) On Sunday I will take a proper list, not just the reminders that I normally take and stick to it.

I will need to get nappies and baby stuff for Daisy and her birthday card etc because our next shop falls on her actual birthday. We will do online that week for a different day. The 1st September will be all about our precious little grandaughter.

Tomorrow I will sit down and meal plan for the next two weeks, taking into account what I already have in the house. With all the braising steak left in the freezer, beef casserole and dumplings will definitely be on there. The slowcooker will be out again! It's raining here today and making me think ahead to the Autumn months and what needs to be done in preparation. More lists ahead!

Sylvia - nice to hear from you!

Lean thinker - great to have you back! I have made a bbq sauce and poured it over the belly pork slices before going in the oven. You need to line the roasting tin with greaseproof first, or deal with a sticky mess to clean off. We had it with veggie rissotto...really yummy!


Have a great weekend,

Mandy x

Monday, 12 August 2013

Changing the way we eat...baking day and feeding the ducks!

Hi everyone!

It's been a busy weekend...

On Saturday, grampy took Daisy for a long walk to see the farm animals (she slept most of the way) while I had the chance to do some baking. I've got quite a few packet cake mixes that need using up, but they require an electric whisk and Daisy is petrified of our mixer. This was my opportunity to make a couple of madeira cakes. Two packets filled two large sandwich tins and a small one. The larger cakes were sandwiched together with value strawberry jam and dusted with icing sugar. Lovely hubby will take this to work in his packed lunch. I have frozen the smaller cake. I also made three apple cakes (leave me a comment if you would like the recipe) for hubby. It wouldn't be his first choice of cake (he loves victoria sandwich), but I had some eating apples that were past their best. I do give our chickens fruit and veg that is past it's best, but these were perfect to use to fill the cake tin. Our chickens would actually prefer to eat those apples as apple cake! One cake is in the tin and the others have been frozen. I am gradually ploughing my way through my approved food stocks.

Yesterday, we went out in the afternoon after clearing away the Sunday lunch things. As you know, Daisy is obsessed with farm animals (particularly chickens), so we took her to feed the ducks at the Fawsley Estate (Northamptonshire). We definitely got more than we bargained for... as I threw some bread and corn, along came lots of ducks and ducklings, several sheep and the swans heard about it too! Thankfully the geese stayed away (I'm not keen) and so did the swans, but the sheep and ducks were loving their treat. I took some lovely photos, but sadly I don't know how to get them on here now from my camera, I used to be able to upload them :-(

When we first got there, Daisy was asleep, so we stayed in the truck while hubby walked the dogs around the huge pond. We had a great time and all it cost was a handful of poultry corn feed, a couple of slices of bread and a small amount of fuel to get there. Daisy's reaction to the white Aylesbury duck was lovely...just like Jemima Puddleduck! We are also heavily into Peter rabbit at the moment, since I discovered it on the tele. Daisy has a cuddly Jemima which we bought from the carboot sale for 10 or 20p (I can't remember), and she washed up beautifully and Daisy loves her.

Changing the way we eat...

slowly, we have been making changes to our diet. We used to eat a lot of meat but now we don't! We can't afford to eat the same amount now. Sunday lunch has been a big change... we used to always have a joint or a chicken. Last week we had roast beef for the first time in ages (it was lurking at the bottom of the freezer) and this fed us several meals. Yesterday I made a roast out of of belly pork slices. The fat goes crispy and produces lovely dripping for the roasties. We had it with cheesy courgettes (from the garden), stuffing, yorkshire pudding (AF mix wasn't that nice), spring greens, carrots, broccoli and gravy. As far as we were concerned, it was our Sunday roast! I will also do this with pork chops, chicken portions, thighs, drumsticks, even chicken breasts too. 

When we do have meat, we have a lot less than we used to, especially when making mince or braising steak meals. I will stretch the meat with vegetables which is easily done when making a stew or casserole. We are now using what the garden is giving us... the courgettes are growing well and the tomatoes are small but growing. The strawberries have finished now, but the runner beans have started to appear. We are not experienced gardeners or vegetable growers, but we are getting our garden to produce food that tastes so much nicer than shop bought and the seeds cost a fraction of what buying veg and salad each week does. We failed on the cucumbers, which is a shame because we get through those and have to buy them. Charlotte takes a salad to work everyday (not this week, she's on her holidays), so the living lettuce that I planted has come in handy...thanks for the idea Sue


Shirley - hi and welcome to my blog, I'm glad you're enjoying it. Thank you for your lovely comment, Frugal Queen has given me lots of new readers, so thanks for stopping by! I had a great weekend, thanks x

Sylvia (markdebby) - Thanks for your comment, quiet days don't happen here with an 11 month old baby and two dogs in the house!


Hope you had a great weekend too and thanks for reading,

Mandy x